Ann Friedman

Ann Friedman is a columnist for New York magazine's website and for the Columbia Journalism Review. She also makes pie charts for The Hairpin and Los Angeles magazine. Her work has appeared in ELLE, Esquire, Newsweek, The Observer, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and many other outlets. She lives in Los Angeles, but travels so often the best place to find her is online at

Recent Articles

The Experience Gap

Obama's base still wants a positive political experience -- not just a set of policy positions.

Supporters cheer in Chicago on election night 2008 after major networks called Iowa for Obama. (Flickr/Brian Beatty)
An IBM executive brief from 2008 asks, "Do individuals feel like your brand is relevant to their lifestyle? ... Or, as they wander from store to store, do your potential customers forget your brand as it blurs in their minds with those of competitors?" The solution? Immersive retail: a "memorable, interactive and emotional" experience full of "personalized dialogues." It's "more about involving the customer than it is about the merchandise." Taking advice from IBM at a time when every coffee-house in Brooklyn is full of hipsters pecking at Mac PowerBooks might not seem like the best idea. But the IBM brief does help to explain Barack Obama's popularity in 2008 -- in fact, it could have been inspired by Obama's presidential run. Democrats and progressives -- especially young people who had never been involved in politics before -- were taken with the entire Obama experience, not just a series of campaign promises. Just two years later, everyone agrees that Obama's party is having...

Long-Distance Relationships and Gendered Expectations.

Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee Yesterday I saw Going the Distance , the new rom-com about a dilemma faced by a lot of young professional couples: What happens when job opportunities put you in different cities? The movie -- which I thought was better than a lot of films in this genre -- is a decent depiction of how, in heterosexual couples, there is more of an expectation that the woman should suffer a professional setback or divert her career path in order to preserve the relationship. Drew Barrymore 's character is a 31-year-old intern who makes many references to the fact that she delayed her career because she moved for a previous boyfriend. Today, DCist has an interview with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee , who recently got engaged to Kevin Johnson , the mayor of Sacramento, CA: One of the things that I've been hearing from people in my neighborhood and in the larger community that has surprised me, is the assumption that even if Mayor Fenty is reelected you might...

The Forever Culture War

Even as we make progress on specific issues, the broader culture war seems to get uglier and uglier.

Protesters celebrating California's gay-marriage ban at the state Capitol in Sacramento. (Flickr/Fritz Liess)
In a long and often-cited Atlantic cover story published during the 2008 presidential race, Andrew Sullivan announced that he was supporting Barack Obama because his election would put an end to "the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying ... a war about war -- and about culture and about religion and about race." Like Sullivan, voters were receptive to Obama's promises to be a post-ideological president who would defuse America's most explosive political elements. Yet in many ways, the opposite has happened. Today a particularly nasty strain of right-wing extremism is flourishing: draconian immigration policies, heated opposition to the establishment of an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, the Tea Party movement, claims that the president is a Muslim. As the sun set on the Bush years, it seemed like this brand of conservatism was becoming extinct -- despite the persistence of talk-radio hate speech and the...

The New Workplace Sexism

What men say to other men when women's backs are turned is damaging, too.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men (AMC/Frank Ockenfels)
Mad Men , which recently kicked off its fourth season, tends to spark big-picture conversations about social change. Jon Hamm, who plays the handsome protagonist Don Draper, was asked by a Time reader last week how office gender roles have changed since the 1960s, when the show takes place. "There's a cordialness that men had when dealing with the opposite sex, even when they were being blatantly sexist," Hamm replied. "But that's been replaced with men treating women like absolute garbage and not even being polite about it, which is too bad." Elizabeth Moss, who plays Don Draper's co-worker Peggy Olsen, expressed similar sentiments in 2007, telling TV Guide that the biggest difference between her character's life in the 1960s and her own is "probably just the blatant sexism." She continued, "I think there's obviously still sexism today, it's just different." While I agree with Moss and Hamm that it is more frowned upon (thanks, feminism!), I do think that "blatantly sexist" behavior...

All Politics Is Identity Politics

We can't forget that ideology is shaped by personal experience.

Amy Gutmann, author of Identity in Democracy. (Flickr/World Affairs Council of Philadelphia)
Are there two political forces more vilified than interest groups and identity politics? No matter what your ideology or political party, if you want to prove that you are truly committed to the betterment of our nation, you are almost required to speak out against these pernicious influences. Organizing with other people who share your particular identity and interests? That's selfish. Practically anti-democratic. And, many have argued in this magazine and in other progressive venues over the past 20 years, it's harmful to liberalism. Kathleen M. Sullivan, writing in the Prospect in 1998, summarized Nancy Rosenblum's book, Membership and Morals : "Rather than socializing members for democracy, groups are likely to be exclusionary, snobbish, and competitive vis-a-vis others. The internal cooperation they foster in no way guarantees that they will be ... civic, virtuous, or deliberative in relation to the larger polity." In 2004, Michael Lind argued in these pages that, in order to...