Sarah Blustain

Sarah Blustain is the former deputy editor of the American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Lash or the Eyelashes

Amy Chua and Peggy Orenstein explore and illustrate the pitfalls of parenting.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , By Amy Chua, Penguin Press, 235 pages, $25.95 Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture , By Peggy Orenstein, Harper, 244 pages, $25.99 It's hard to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua's memoir of her descent into sadistically disciplined parenting, as anything other than a fabulously successful publishing hoax. In case you missed the hoopla, this story of harsh, ambitious, and unrelenting parenting has turned Chua, a Yale Law professor, into the woman everyone either loves to hate or wants to emulate. With smug confidence, she relates how she set out to make sure that her two girls, Sophia and Lulu, would be straight-A students and never engage in any activity in which they might not win a (gold) medal. A-minuses led to massive drilling at home, and even poorly executed birthday cards the girls made were thrown back in their faces. "I don't want this," she told Lulu, age 4, about the card...

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Do women have the clout that they ought to in progressive politics?

Siobhan Sam Bennett, President/CEO - Women's Campaign Forum, at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in 2010. (Flickr/Daniel Alexander)
Few things in the progressive world have changed as dramatically since 1990 as the role and power of women in public life. But the change has not been all in one direction. And 20 years later, it's fair to ask the question: Do women, on the issues of highest priority to women, have the clout that they ought to in progressive politics? The early 1990s seemed like a promising new beginning for progressive women, driven in part by the discouraging politics and policies of the previous decade. In 1989, the Supreme Court had ruled in the Webster decision, allowing restrictions on the use of state funds, facilities, and employees for services related to abortion. Then, in 1991, women watched in astonishment as Anita Hill faced a panel of 14 white men intent on discrediting her testimony and her motives. That image of a black woman being viciously confronted, says Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, president of the Women's Campaign Forum, was a "cultural tsunami" for women. Reflecting now on the heady...

This Is Murder?

A 30-year-old mother with a history of dug abuse is charged with first and second degree murder after her child is stillborn.Is prosecuting her really the solution?

There's no doubt that 30-year-old Theresa Hernandez has had her troubles. An intermittent user of methamphetamines, she had her 32-week pregnancy end in April 2004 with the birth of a stillborn boy. But "troubles" doesn't begin to describe what came next: Doctors told police her stillborn baby had tested positive for meth, and that September Hernandez was charged with first- and second-degree murder, both based on child abuse. It was the first time in Oklahoma history that a woman had ever been prosecuted for murder after suffering a stillbirth -- despite the absence of evidence tying meth use to prematurity or stillbirth. The situation got even worse. Hernandez's public defender recommended that she accept a 25-year plea bargain -- despite the fact that Oklahoma has no laws under which she might have been convicted of murder. Hernandez refused, and spent three years in jail awaiting a resolution to her case. This September Hernandez accepted a plea of second-degree murder; her...

No Country for Mothers

The U.S. average life expectancy is greater than ever -- for everyone but pregnant women.

Good news! if you are an ordinary mortal living in the United States, your chances of staying alive are better than ever. According to new government numbers, the rate of Americans dying in 2004 (the most recent year to be calculated) hit a record low, while life expectancy -- for blacks and whites, men and women -- hit a record high. Men were closing their historic life-expectancy gap with women, and African Americans were closing their life-expectancy gap with whites. Even the babies were doing well: The infant mortality rate dropped, too. Sadly, however, if you are a pregnant mortal living in the United States today, your chances of dying appear to be greater than ever. Yes, the total number of women who die in childbirth in America is low. But according to the Centers for Disease Control's new "National Vital Statistics Report," the number of women dying in or around childbirth has risen -- putting the United States behind some unsurprising countries, like Switzerland and Sweden,...


SEEKING ANTI-ABORTION LAWYER, ASAP. There's a lot of mopping up to do after Gonzales v. Carhart , and Americans United for Life, one of the central addresses for model anti-abortion legislation, is getting busy. In a letter on AUL's website , under the headline "A New Dawn," the group's president lays out its strategy for a post- Carhart era. The decision, he writes, restores deference to the states, reinforces the importance of informed consent, and "opens the door for utilizing all our research on the negative impact of abortion on women." Which means, he continues, that they'll be looking at litigation and legislation in the states, and "we expect to be very busy." In order to "take full advantage of these new opportunities," AUL, which is holding its annual "Legal Institute" is in Chicago this week, is "looking to hire two additional attorneys as quickly as funding permits." Send resumes to Clarke D. Forsythe, Esq., President, AUL. --Sarah Blustain