Brand X Chromosome
As for sexism, that never really went away – not if you monitor how women, left and right, are treated by the media.
Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin? Both still get "bitch-slapped'' around in the most virulent sexist terms. Women's looks, their clothing, even their voices – all are not-so-fair game, no matter how accomplished they may be.
Still, somehow, "the feminists'' remain the enemy in the endless battle to protect women's rights.
That's what's happening in seven states, where there are attempts to define personhood as beginning at conception. In Oklahoma, the legislature recently approved a move that would compel doctors to fill out 10-page forms on each abortion they perform – complete with questions about the woman's relationship with the sperminator – and then post all the details on a public website.
Also putting feminism in the spotlight are two new publications. There's Maria Shriver's report, A Woman's Nation Changes Everything, co-written with the liberal Center for American Progress. And there's When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, a book by Gail Collins, the first female editor of The New York Times' editorial page.
The Shriver report is a 400-plus page effort that examines how far women have come in a society that has yet to catch up with the changes the second wave, '60s and '70s feminists, fought to bring about.
Know that, here in the Great Pink North, where we have socialized health care and legally mandated maternity leaves, we are ahead of our U.S. sisters. That said, despite our greater numbers in the workforce and halls of academia, Canadian women still lag behind on everything from how many seats we fill in Parliament to how many corner offices we occupy.
And, of course, there's the persistent wage gap which is not just because "women's work" is undervalued but also because women bear the greater burden of child-rearing, elder care and housework. That means our paycheques and pensions are lower and more of us, especially in our "golden'' years, end up impoverished.
As for Collins' book, well, it is a masterpiece of little stories of huge significance. The woman who couldn't get a lease unless it was signed by her institutionalized mental patient husband. The woman who was shouted out of traffic court by the judge for showing up in slacks.
Oh yes, it really was like that. Mad Men is not made up, not at all.
As Collins writes in an open letter to young women on CNN's website, "Back then, if you wanted a career that involved travel, you'd have to have become a flight attendant ...''
"Coffee, tea ... or me?'' was the line for "stewardesses."
In fact, the back of the line is where you usually found women.
Now, despite the efforts of some hard-fighting young feminists with websites such as feministing.com and shamelessmag.com, many young women reject the F-word because it's been stigmatized as representing a hairy-legs-and- Birkenstocks pack of man-haters.
What a way to keep women in their place: with the "feminazi" lie. And, as we all know, young people are oh so label-conscious.
As my Twitter pal Cristina Simonetto – an ad copywriter, so she's the expert – wrote the other day, "Feminism needs to rebrand.''
Trouble is, too many misogynists control both the media and the message.
So, while feminism may be back in the news, women still have yet to move closer to the head of the lines.