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Ain't She Sweet

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L.A. based writer Caitlin Flanagan gets profiled, and demonstrates some of the more hypocritical aspects of her personality, in this month's Elle. Ms. Flanagan has been criticized before, in places like Beverly-Hills based Ms., but the Elle article is particularly well-written, and Elle is not generally known for having a set political agenda, unless you count the trumpeting of one shoe designer over another. (Thanks to's Broadsheet for pointing it out.)

Both articles address some controversies over Ms. Flanagan's opinions about women who work as professionals rather than stay home with their children. All right, that is a consistently controversial subject, but if she really wants to stay home with her kids and takes pride in it, fine, good for her. But both of these articles contest her ideas while praising her writing style, which is, in fact, barf-inducing.

In the introduction to the anthology The Art of the Personal Essay, its editor Phillip Lopate writes, "So often the "plot" of a personal essay, its drama, its suspense, consists in watching how far the essayist can drop past his or her psychic defenses toward deeper levels of honesty." He adds that the essayist's job is to explore the contradictory self, in fact, that "The harvesting of self-contraction is an intrinsic part of the personal essay form."