Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and a feminist scholar who has written eight books. She can be reached through her website at

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Gina Barreca

Gina Barreca

Not That I'm Bitter

Don't Miss The Bliss Of Ordinary Days

Don't Miss The Bliss Of Ordinary Days

July 2, 2015

Never, ever take for granted the glory of a day when nothing bad happens.

  • Picking A Woman Who's Right On The Money

    June 24, 2015

    America's been discussing women's influence on our nation's history, destiny and character. And we managed to talk about women's contributions for almost, oh, an entire quarter of an hour until the conversation veered back to men.

  • Dad's Advice? Just Don't Fall For That Moron

    June 17, 2015

    The most important thing my father ever said to me was, "You can always take the next bus home."

  • Why Kickstarting A Wedding Is Doing It Wrong

    June 9, 2015

    Proms, graduation parties, weddings: Do these rites of passage still signal the way our culture celebrates life's significant moments?

  • Beseeching The Patron Saint Of Barbie Shoes

    June 2, 2015

    Raised in an old-time Roman Catholic household, as a kid I never left the dead alone. I bothered them constantly, asking for preference, wheedling for favors and begging for extra credit.

  • The $150,000 Purse And Other 'Wife Bonuses'

    May 27, 2015

    There's a new book giving primates a bad name. It's not doing women much good, either.

  • How To Give Yourself A Good Talking To

    May 20, 2015

    During your inner monologues, those little speeches you give to yourself throughout the day, do you address yourself by name? Scientists say you should.

  • Is Don Draper The All-American Dad?

    May 13, 2015

    Is it possible to be a bad man and a good father?

  • From Restless Sleeper To World-Class Napper

    May 6, 2015

    I was always a good talker and good eater. Family stories of my birth have me in the delivery room, clutching my placenta and belting out "Everything's Coming Up Roses" then demanding some lasagna. But I was never a good sleeper.

  • A Proactive, Impactful Look At Words I Despise

    April 29, 2015

    Although I love language, there are certain words that make me break out in hives. I have an allergic reaction when I see or hear them: I shiver as my temperature rises, I turn a mottled shade somewhere between mauve and crimson and my jaw clamps shut.

  • You Don't Need A Bikini Bridge To Enjoy The Beach — Just A Suit

    April 21, 2015

    When you're thinking about bathing suit season, do me a personal favor, OK? Start appreciating your body before you start disrespecting it. Your body — including your thighs, your upper arms, your stomach and your tush — is not your enemy.

  • A Little Housekeeping For The Head

    April 14, 2015

    Two things I do for maintenance: I get a manicure once a month and I see my therapist about every six weeks. I am happy to report that, at this point, my nails crack more often than I do.

  • Time To Put The Brakes On Being Busy

    April 8, 2015

    The small kid in the bunny suit was deeply engrossed in an incessantly beeping tablet game when her mother asked her to pass the box of Cheerios to the cashier.

  • What Makes An Apology Real? Guilt? Forgiveness?

    March 31, 2015

    What goes into the perfect apology? My family wasn't big on apologies. There was too much pride, too much hurt and too little empathy. We made up for it by being big on guilt and denial.

  • Are Fraternities Stuck In Bad Old Ways?

    March 24, 2015

    Can American college students learn that drunk and stupid is no way to go through life?

  • Doodlers Unite — We Live On The Margins

    March 16, 2015

    Do you doodle? And what do you do now, if you don't doodle anymore?

  • Learning Lessons From Rotten Teachers

    March 12, 2015

    I had two rotten teachers during my school years.

  • Give Me 50 Shades Of Bond Every Time

    March 2, 2015

    With the casting of 50-year-old Monica Bellucci as the female lead opposite 47-year-old Daniel Craig in the forthcoming "Spectre," we've officially transitioned from "Bond Girls" to "Bond Women." Does that mean our culture is growing up — or just aging out?

  • Should Anybody Care How Hard You Tried?

    February 24, 2015

    Do you believe that "showing effort" should count more than it does, or do you think it's a disingenuously misleading reward system undermining the American character, both in school and out?

  • Why Men Are Masters Of The Breakfast Domain

    February 18, 2015

    Why will men, including ones who don't cook any other meal, cheerfully make breakfast? Is it because if they make toast without burning it, it becomes "amazingly good toast"? Is it because when they add a "magic ingredient" (taco sauce) to their eggs, they can then call them "my mean scrambled eggs" or refer to themselves in the third person as "The Omelet Master"?

  • Safe, Secure, Confined? Get Out Of Your Box

    February 10, 2015

    Does your household contain members about whom you might say they "derive comfort and security from enclosed spaces" and instead of trying to "work things out" are "more inclined to simply run away from their problems or avoid them altogether"?

  • 'Fifty Shades' Of Subjugation Hurts

    February 3, 2015

    How did we go from Lesley Gore belting out "You Don't Own Me," in 1963 — a song that includes the line "Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay" — to the point where Ana Steele, the protagonist from "Fifty Shades of Grey" who appears more than 50 years later, can say, "Why do I want to spend every single minute with this controlling sex god? Oh yes, I've fallen in love with him," as she's being belted in — or tied up?

  • Work Is A Big Part Of Making A Life

    January 27, 2015

    "What's your goal in life?" I asked a cheerful young man at an alumni event. "I want to retire by 35" was his snappy answer.

  • Can 'Realistic Romance' Still Be Hot And Steamy?

    January 21, 2015

    Is the new designation for books — "Realistic Romance" — a contradiction in terms? Is it a classic oxymoron right up there with "free gift," "business ethics" and "adult children"?

  • Turn It Up! I'm Older, But I'm Dancing

    January 13, 2015

    Just as "one size fits all" is an incomplete sentence, so is describing people as "older:" Even in terms of sentence construction it sidesteps the real question. Older than what? Older than whom? Older than fashion models? My cat is older than many fashion models. I won't even discuss the fact that she also weighs more.

  • Never Mind Mindfulness, Pay Attention — That's Life Going By

    January 6, 2015

    I'm pretty much done with mindfulness. I'm just going to start paying attention. Detachment is now as overrated as quinoa and just about as inspiring.

  • My Top 10 Everyday But Special Things

    December 30, 2014

    What is the most ridiculous, apparently trivial and yet now somehow essential thing for which you are most genuinely grateful?

  • No Middle Ground Between 'Thank You' And Ingratitude

    December 23, 2014

    If we were better at saying thank you, there wouldn't be 16 aisles in every stationery store displaying cards in multiple typefaces geared toward a wide range of age groups and socioeconomic demographics inscribed with those two words.

  • My Parents' Best Gifts Didn't Come Wrapped

    December 17, 2014

    My parents didn't spend too much time worrying about how my brother and I would turn out as adults. If we were happy doing whatever we were doing when we were kids, that was enough for them.

  • Just Not Buying 'The Night Before Christmas'

    December 8, 2014

    When Clement C. Moore wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas" — better known as "The Night Before Christmas" — I'm sure he didn't mean to lie. I just think he had no idea what he was talking about.

  • A Christmas Escape From Grandmother's Domain

    December 1, 2014

    We moved from my grandmother's house on a fiercely cold, grizzled winter morning. My uncles drove from Brooklyn to Long Island with the heavy pieces of furniture lashed to the open beds of their trucks or tied precariously onto the tops of their cars.

  • Five Tips For Handling Holiday Food, Relatives

    November 26, 2014

    Here are the five essential tips guaranteed to make this coming season the most satisfying, sustaining and delicious experience for everyone on your holiday list.

  • Loving Him Tender — Thanksgiving With Elvis

    November 18, 2014

    When Elvis phoned to say he wanted to come to the house for Thanksgiving, I told him right away not to expect any special treatment. "That's all right, mama," he drawled.

  • Women Should Care For Themselves First

    November 11, 2014

    We all know how to make other people's lives better, right? We're very good at that.

  • Sex Talk The Socratic-Sicilian Way

    November 5, 2014

    "Use the Socratic method when having the birds-and-bees chat with your child," advised an earnest article recently published in a reputable magazine. "Ask your child 'When do you think is a good time to have sex?'"

  • 'The Affair' Will Shatter Your Own Comfort Zone

    October 28, 2014

    Want to watch something really scary? Want to see something on television that's practically guaranteed to keep you and your spouse awake, lying rigidly next to each other in bed and attentive to clues about whether anything wicked is lurking outside your peripheral vision?

  • Women's Work Is Not Free Or Cut Rate

    October 21, 2014

    Here's something women need to stop doing to other women: We need to stop asking each other to lower our fees, cut our rates or work for free because we're members of the same sex.

  • Connection Is What Makes Marriage Great

    October 15, 2014

    Here's what I've learned in 23 years of marriage: Love isn't blind, but it can be hard of hearing.

  • Thankfully, Skirt Size Doesn't Actually Cause Cancer

    October 8, 2014

    When I hear "British Medical Journal" I get down on one knee: That's how in awe I've always been of the work published by this most distinguished of professional publications — that is, until the BMJ published a recent study conducted by researchers at University College London titled "Association of skirt size and post menopausal breast cancer risk in older women."

  • I May Be Out Of Order, But That Could Be A Plus

    September 30, 2014

    I have two weird habits that went unrecognized as I was growing up. I'm trying to decide whether that laissez-faire approach was a loss or a bonus.

  • Apple Watch Is An Ankle Monitor That Nags

    September 16, 2014

    Apple is coming out with a new device to be worn on your wrist. They're not calling it an "iWatch" because they don't want you to think they'll be watching.

  • Sure I'm Shameless — It's A Gift

    September 10, 2014

    What three gifts you were given at birth? I'm not asking about your accomplishments or achievements. I'm certainly not asking what you made of yourself, but I am asking you to decide from what you were made.

  • Joan Rivers: Stiletto Wit, Brave, Honest

    September 5, 2014

    I once opened for Joan Rivers at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. She was coming in from New York to do a fundraiser, and the house was packed. I was there to warm up the crowd and introduce her. As somebody who had spent her life working on women's comedy, Rivers was my idol. I could recite several of her older sets by heart. ("I have friend who made a mistake with her medications. She confused her birth control pills with her Valium. She has nine kids but she doesn't give a s---.")

  • Feet Deserve Better Than Just Limping Along

    September 3, 2014

    I broke my left foot, but it's not that big a deal: Apparently it's been broken for several weeks and I didn't even know it. I just figured that the warranty was up on that one, too, because the other foot has been in and out of the repair shop for years.

  • 10 Truths To Know About Labor

    August 28, 2014

    1. Never look down on somebody who holds a job and rides the bus to the end of the line. These are the people who labor their whole lives but are never rewarded with tangible success. Not every dog has its day; some simply work their tails off. My father was one of those guys: never missed a day, never missed a beat and barely made a dime. But he taught my brother and me how to get a job done. Old Italians would grab their kids and say, "The more you have in there," pointing to our heads, "the less you have to put on there," pointing to our backs. My brother and I benefited from my father's integrity, his stamina and his gratitude for having a job.

  • Teaching Arts Feeds Curiosity, Creativity, Connection

    August 19, 2014

    We need to keep teaching the arts in our schools.

  • My Digital Life: Faith, Hope And Soggy Pizza

    August 12, 2014

    I used to know how things worked. Now I don't have a clue.

  • Breaking Through The Fog Of Panic

    July 29, 2014

    Sometimes it's not enough to be focused — sometimes you need to accept help and sometimes you need to be flexible.

  • We're Teaching To The Test — Not Students' Futures

    July 22, 2014

    I'm worried that we're no longer teaching students how to think critically or to write well.

  • I Won't Take Growing Old Sitting Down

    July 16, 2014

    I've lived my life with enthusiasm, courage, raucousness and passion. Why on earth would I want to grow old gracefully?

  • Today Show's Matt Lauer Is So Last Century

    July 8, 2014

    How about we rename "The Today Show" the "Yesterday Show" since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953?

  • 15 Things You Should Know About Food

    July 2, 2014

    1. Strawberries should not be as big as yams. Strawberries should be the size of your thumbnail and not, for example, the size of a Spaldeen. If a strawberry is as big as a rubber ball, it will taste like a rubber ball.

  • Our Song: 'We're Gonna Make It After All'

    June 26, 2014

    Can you turn the world on with your smile? Can you take day a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

  • Hillary Clinton — World-Class Troublemaker

    June 10, 2014

    Will women vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016?

  • June Rites — Two Gowns, The Future To Go

    June 3, 2014

    Welcome to June, official month of cheerful announcements, elaborate ceremonies and the writing of hundreds of checks to distant relations, many of whom you would not recognize even if you were facing each other in an elevator. Welcome, in other words, to the season of graduations and weddings.

  • Women Grow Up Fearing, Fending Off Creeps

    May 27, 2014

    Yes, all women, all girls, grow up learning ways to avoid attracting the attention of unnerving guys; it's no doubt built into our DNA, along with an affection for miniatures and the early songs of Patsy Cline.

  • Don't Get Hung Up On Your Phone — Look Up

    May 21, 2014

    If your phone is smarter than you, it is not time to get a new phone: It's time to get a new life.

  • Spring Cleaning For The Soul

    May 15, 2014

    No. 1. I will stop purchasing objects from flea markets, antique fairs and on-line dealers in a thinly disguised quest for my long lost and occasionally misspent youth. I will remind myself that buying a small nearly empty bottle containing six whiffs of Evening in Paris cologne will not conjure up my robust aunts or miraculously manifest their soft padded shoulders against which I might fall into a dreamless sleep as I used to on Sunday afternoons. I will remind myself that possessing the midnight blue and silver-capped bottle will merely force me to regret spending more money on an empty vessel than they, in their frugality and wisdom, would have spent for a full one. In my life, not only do such items evoke my own mortality but they need dusting. Plus the more ridiculous of them make me recall vividly the phrase my beloved aunts uttered on a daily basis: "Gina, for a smart girl, you're not very bright."

  • When A Mother Doesn't Like Being a Mom

    May 8, 2014

    Dear Mom,

  • Nobody's Going To Tell Me To 'Ban Bossy'

    April 29, 2014

    I've been bullied into writing about the "Ban Bossy" movement.

  • Awaiting Fate Is The Hardest Part

    April 23, 2014

    Waiting to learn results of a decision you believe will decide your destiny is the emotional equivalent of having an itch in your shoulder blade right below where you can reach.

  • When A Wave And A Smile Are Magic

    April 17, 2014

    You know how you get into those moods where you convince yourself that the only thing to do when you're absolutely miserable is to make yourself even more miserable, as if misery were some kind of contest?

  • Gwyneth Needs To Recouple With Reality

    April 1, 2014

    How do you spell conscious uncoupling? Where I came from, we always spelled it the way Tammy Wynette sang it, which is D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

  • Not Playing The Shapewear Bondage Game

    March 27, 2014

    Could you be talked into purchasing a foundation undergarment so restrictive, so unyielding and so draconian it makes a wetsuit look like a nightgown?

  • Sex Tips On Special In Supermarket Line

    March 20, 2014

    On the cover of four magazines on the newsstand this month is a version of the headline: "What Does Your Partner Want In Bed?"

  • Let's All Take The New SATs! (Or Not!)

    March 12, 2014

    The new SAT exam has parents and students attempting to master the almost impossibly rigorous demands of, umm, the multiple choice question. Want to know how you would score?

  • Rules For Women Who Are The Boss

    February 27, 2014

    When Forbes reports that between 1997 and 2013 the number of businesses owned by women has increased by 59 percent, why do many female business leaders still prefer to think of themselves as miraculously gender-free? Have you ever heard a man say something along the lines of "Don't think of me as man; just think of me as your boss?" I haven't, but I'm still hearing a surprising number of women singing this refrain.

  • Women Unravel Dreams To Men's Dismay

    February 19, 2014

    I have this recurring dream where — have you stopped reading yet?

  • How To Get The Valentine's Day You Want

    February 13, 2014

    Can you get what you want for Valentine's Day, no matter how personal, eccentric or whimsical? If you want to wear a new pair of crystal earrings on Feb. 14, or eat handmade chocolates or have a dozen red roses suffuse their seductive scent throughout your softly lit bedroom, can you be certain that this will happen?

  • 'Afflicted By Computer Interruptus? Call Now!'

    February 6, 2014

    In the interest of discovering the effect of technology on creativity and concentration ("If You Pay For Auto Insurance You Better Read This"), I am doing today's column in an entirely new way ("Want To Publish Your Book?") by permitting my incoming computer messages to remain visible ("Laura Rossi tagged you on Facebook") as I write.

  • Judge Judy: Make Men Wear Condoms

    January 30, 2014

    So Judge Judy calls and says "You're the feminist, right?"

  • Clearing Out Clutter Is Terrifying

    January 23, 2014

    I've just tidied up my life and now I can't do a thing with it.

  • Funny Women Get Us Where We Live

    January 16, 2014

    Are men obsolete? Geneticists might argue and the folks on Fox News certainly believe it's a hot topic, but NBC, where Amy Poehler and Tina Fey just triumphed at the Golden Globes, and ABC, where Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting the Oscars, seem to be confident that they are —at least when it comes to hosting awards shows.

  • Laugh Often And 19 More Rules To Live By

    January 9, 2014

    I've made a list of 20 rules to live by.

  • Confessions Of A Promiscuous Shopper

    December 26, 2013

    "Will this make me happy every day?" I have a friend who asks herself that question every time she considers buying something.

  • Ideal Gift? Cross Bathroom Scale Off List

    December 12, 2013

    Whoever said "It's the thought that counts" never got a bathroom scale for Christmas.

  • Can Women Ever Be Good Enough?

    November 29, 2013

    If you want to get into an argument with a woman, compliment her.

  • Humanities Are At The Heart Of Real Education

    November 14, 2013

    "What's the purpose of studying the humanities: literature, languages, philosophy, history and the arts?"

  • Why Are Women Left Holding The Bag?

    October 31, 2013

    Not only do women hold up half the sky. We do it while carrying a 500-pound purse.

  • Scary Men Different From Scary Women

    October 17, 2013

    With Halloween trying to sneak up on us, it's time to look without fear at the differences between what makes men scary and what makes women scary.

  • How A Customer Became A Sucker And Then Got Mad

    October 3, 2013

    "There's one born every minute." That's what they say about the pushovers and poor saps who fall for bait-and-switch deals. It's what they say about folks who believe they're being treated fairly by strangers who promise them amazing offers.

  • Using Reality TV To Reveal Your Personality

    September 19, 2013

    I've been fascinated by personality tests ever since I abandoned those quizzes where you try to find out the shape of your face. At this point in my life I don't care what shape my face is. Or what shape my whole head is for that matter. What am I, a professor of geometry?

  • If You're Wearing Houndstooth, You've Been Had

    September 5, 2013

    It's time to look at this fall's hot new fashions. I heard you've been feeling good about yourself and it's time to take you down a notch.

  • Unlearning The Kindergarten Lessons Of Life

    August 8, 2013

  • Lusting Boss Casts Object Of His Desire Onto The Street

    July 25, 2013

    Last week I saw a girl wearing a yellow dress so tight it should have been made out of "caution" tape. I might well have been one of the few middle-aged heterosexual women looking at her and thinking "God bless America." The glazed-eyed lingering glances of admiring men indicated that they were also giving thanks but probably for different reasons.

  • Good Girls Say 'No' — And Good Women Should, Too

    July 11, 2013

    A good girl is defined as one who almost always says "no." A good woman is defined as one who almost always says "yes."

  • Movies Centering On Women Rare But Welcome

    July 3, 2013

    What do Hannah Arendt, Sandra Bullock, Mary McCarthy and Melissa McCarthy have in common?

  • Check Your Bumper Sticker At The Door

    June 27, 2013

    There are inspirational posters in my doctor's waiting room. One announces to those with aching bunions, open lesions or incipient Ménière's disease, "Seeing what others don't is another kind of vision."

  • Women Over 40 — Not Seen, But Heard

    June 13, 2013

    Ever notice how women get noisy as we age? Ever notice how the quiet, deferential, focused good girl hits a certain point and morphs into a combination of Betty White, Bette Midler and Mae West?

  • Anthony Weiner — We've Seen Enough Of You

    May 22, 2013

    Anthony Weiner, I'm looking at you, so stop tweeting for a minute and put the cameras away. Mark Sanford, I don't care if you won, you should listen, too. And so should anybody else running for office, because I'm about to explain The Five Rules Candidates Should Follow.

  • Nature Is Best Viewed From The Deck

    May 2, 2013

    Unless they're asking for spare change, people are willing to engage in conversations with folks they haven't met before for one reason: Perfect strangers are far more likely to be charmed by our adorable eccentricities than are our loved ones. Their willingness to listen without sighing or twitching is what makes strangers perfect.

  • Women Shouldn't Use Men For Measure

    April 18, 2013

    Imagine hearing the phrase: "Wow, you're just like one of the boys!" Then imagine hearing the phrase: "Wow, you're just like every other woman!"

  • Growing Up With Annette And Margaret

    April 9, 2013

    Although they represented the opposite poles of femininity — the intimidating, well-respected and unyielding Iron Lady vs. the adorable, well-beloved and sassy Cutie Pie — both Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello shaped my universe growing up.

  • A Feminist Looks Down From The Penthouse

    March 21, 2013

    A new book suggests that ambitious women should "lean in" to achieve success.

  • Social Networks Like Going Back To High School

    March 7, 2013

    Social networking makes teenagers of us all. Lots of my ridiculously successful friends — some of whom appear regularly on television, give TED talks and are the kind of people who get harassed in restaurants by their fans (while my fans remain remarkably good-mannered and never, ever come over to introduce themselves or say a word) — will still not permit themselves to have a Facebook account because the thought of people unfriending them is terrifying.

  • Here's The Answer — Don't Give Men Guns

    January 24, 2013

    When we look at the acts of almost unspeakable gun violence making news and breaking hearts, it doesn't take Rachel Maddow or Wayne LaPierre to target the fact that men are responsible. We don't need to hit the archives for historical documentation. What we need to do is this: We need to stop selling guns to men.