Selected Publications

My Mistake: A Memoir,” The San Francisco Chronicle, January 3, 2014. A review of the unmistakeable new memoir by Daniel Menaker.

The Signature of All Things,” The San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 2013. A review of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new historical novel.

Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom,” The Nation, July 22-29, 2013. An article on the discrimination mothers face in the workforce.

Mother Daughter Me,” The San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2013. A review of Katie Hafner’s memoir about mothers, daughters, and confronting the past.

Speaking out about Violence against Women,” The Guardian, June 5, 2013. An opinion piece on the ways we do and do not talk about violence against women.

In the Body of the World,” The San Francisco Chronicle, May 12, 2013. A review of Eve Ensler’s stunning memoir about cancer, violence, and what it means to heal.

Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace,” The San Francisco Chronicle, March 31, 2013. A review of Beverly Donofrio’s memoir about rape and transcendence.

American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath,” The San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2013. A review of Carl Rollyson’s biography of the poet on the 50th anniversary of Plath’s death.

The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done, or Failed to Do in War,” The San Francisco Chronicle, February 1, 2013. A review of Kevin Site’s remarkable portrait of all the things soldiers carry.

The Girl Who Fell to Earth,” The San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 2013. A review of Sophia Al-Maria’s memoir of growing up Arab-American.

An Unspoken Risk of Vaginal Birth,” The New York Times, October 24, 2012. A first person piece on vaginal birth injuries and the politics surrounding childbirth.

Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2012. A review of Rachel Cusk’s memoir of divorce.

“Dearie, A Review,” The San Francisco Chronicle, August 13, 2012. A review of Bob Spitz’s Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child.

As of August 2012, I will begin (again) publishing under my maiden name: Ashley Nelson. Enjoy!

“Double Time, A Review,” The San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 2012. A review of Jane Roper’s Double Time — How I Survived and Mostly Thrived — Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins.

“Juliette Gordon Low, A Review,” The San Francisco Chronicle, March 18, 2012. A review of Stacy A. Cordery’s Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts.

“Margaret Sanger, A Review,” The San Francisco Chronicle, December 4, 2011. A review of Jean H. Baker’s Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion.

“The ‘Personhood’ Amendment and Misogyny in Mississippi,” The Guardian, November 8, 2011. An opinion piece on how low Mississippi can go…

How I Benefit as an American Mother Abroad,” The Guardian, March 8, 2011. A personal essay on the impact social programs can have on motherhood.

Secrets of the Dead,” The New Statesman, February 14, 2011. A review of Nicole Krauss’s very good Great House.

“A New Battle on Abortion Rights,” The Guardian, February 3, 2011. An essay on the Right’s latest anti-abortion efforts.

The Twisted Sisterhood,” The Washington Post, October 31, 2010. A review of The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships by Kelly Valen.

Child Benefit’s Greater Dividend,” The Guardian, October 15, 2010. When their child benefit was cut, middle and upper class British mothers were furious — if only, I lament, American women had such things to fight for…

In Memoriam: Ella May Wiggins, Southern Labor Activist,The Nation, September 14, 2010. An essay that honors the great union activist Ella May Wiggins and, in the wake of Pastor Terry Jones, mourns the fact that other, better, fringe radicals aren’t more celebrated.

“On A World According to Women,The Times Literary Supplement, September 10, 2010. A review of Jane McLoughlin’s A World According to Women. Available on-line only to TLS subscribers.

The Myth of the Welfare Queen,” The New Statesman, August 9, 2010. A piece on the breakdown of America’s welfare system, and why Britain would be foolish to follow suit.

When Women Flaunt Their Toys,The Nation, May 30, 2010. An essay on Sex and the City, women, and spending that asks, among other things, why we get so upset over Carrie’s Manolo Blahniks. Republished in The Globe and Mail.

America and the Pill,” The Washington Post, May 30, 2010. A review of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation by Elaine Tyler May. Republished in The Guardian Weekly.

Oklahoma’s Sick Anti-Abortion Law,The Guardian, May 5, 2010. Making women undergo an ultrasound before an abortion isn’t about healthcare; it’s about punishing women.

Help! My Daughter’s a Girly Girl,” Salon, March 21, 2010. A first person essay on the challenges — for both my daughter and myself — of raising a “girly girl.”

Me and My Mum Friends,” The Guardian, March 14, 2010. What Mommy wars? A look at the intimate and very often non-judgmental friendships between mothers.

Why Settle For Mr. Good Enough,” The Guardian, February 14, 2010. After a look at Lori Gottlieb’s new book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, I wonder why we still can’t leave single women over thirty alone!

Healthcare’s About the Economy, Stupid,” The Guardian, February 4, 2010. Despite what Republicans say, if healthcare isn’t an economic issue, I don’t know what is.

“The Pursuit of Female Happiness,” The Guardian, October 3, 2009. Why studies showing women’s increasing unhappiness shouldn’t convince us they can’t still have it all.

Cleaning up US Healthcare’s Mess,” The Guardian, July 31, 2009. After spending several (happy) days in a London hospital, I argue that Obama needs to start telling Americans about the good government can do when it comes to healthcare.

He Had a Dream,” The Guardian, January 19, 2009. Essay on the benefits and challenges of talking to my three year old about race in America.

“Keep an Open Mind on National Health Care,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 22, 2008. (Not available on-line.) Republished as “NHS in the USA,” in The Guardian, December 22, 2008. Having moved to England a year ago, I argue that Americans should put aside all the fear mongering that goes with national health care in the States and embrace the British model.

“Giving Social Welfare a Good Name,” The Guardian, August 20, 2008. After 8 months in London, I wonder why social programs — like Britain’s child care programs and national health system — don’t take off in the States. After all, what’s not to love?

“Carrying On: Where We Got By Walking in Their Manolos,” The Washington Post, May 18, 2008. Reporting from the world premiere of the new Sex and the City movie in London, I discuss how the series used fantasy to empower women — and even turned this snooty intellectual into a rabid fan.

“Southern Roots,” The Guardian, May 8, 2008. An opinion piece on why Americans have such a hard time admitting they may be — even a little bit — racist.

“Stop the Mommy Madness,” Salon, April 30, 2008. Interview with Amy Richards about her new book Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself.

“Speaking in Code,” The Guardian, March 27, 2008. An opinion piece on how Obama — thankfully — unveiled the coded way in which Americans talk about race.

“As Seen On TV: Women’s Rights and Quality Television,” Quality American Television and Beyond, eds. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, I.B. Tauris, October 2007. From I Love Lucy to Sex and the City, I examine how women’s rights have often been fought — and won — on the small screen.

Dixie Chicks Among Esteemed Outlaws,The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 2007. In the wake of the Dixie Chicks scandal (and recent Grammy wins) , I argue that country music has always been controversial and even a bit liberal. Republished and available at

“Having It All: Desperate Housewives’ Flimsy Feminism.” Reading “Desperate Housewives”: Beyond the White Picket Fence, eds. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, I.B. Tauris, September 2006. An essay on how the popular series reenacts society’s schizophrenic relationship to women’s progress in this “post-feminist” age.

“Americanitis: Self-Help and the American Dream in Six Feet Under,” Reading Six Feet Under: TV To Die For, eds. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, I.B. Tauris, June 2005. An analysis of how Six Feet Under is a little more than conflicted (naturally!) about self-help, America’s favorite past-time.

Southern Ms.,” The Nation, November 18, 2004. A profile of a unique conference of southern feminists. Reprinted on AlterNet, November 27, 2004.

Cycles of News and Violence,” The Boston Globe, November 14, 2004. Review of The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow’s Headlines by Loren Coleman.

“The Myth of Unskilled Labor,” The San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 2004. Review of The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker by Mike Rose.

Before August 2004, I published under my maiden name, Ashley Nelson.

“The Truth About Women and the Recession,” The W Effect: Bush’s War on Women, ed. Laura Flanders, Feminist Press, June 2004.

“Sister Carrie Meets Carrie Bradshaw: Exploring Progress, Politics, and Single Women in ‘Sex and the City’ and Beyond,” Reading Sex and the City, eds. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004; Translated into Japanese. Given the historical portrait of single women in popular culture and politics, I argue that Sex and the City may be the best thing that’s happened to singletons – ever.

“My Life is Just Beginning,” Salon, November 17, 2003. Interview with Joanna Lipper, author of Growing Up Fast, on teenage pregnancy.

“The Truth About Women and the Recession,” AlterNet, July 29, 2003. How are women faring in the recession? Not as well as some reports suggest.

“The Pinking of Peace Politics,” AlterNet, April 25, 2003. Can women be anti-war without being called girly-girls?

“Diary of the Bridget Joneses,” The Nation, December 23, 2002. Review of The Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century by Betsy Israel.

“My Sex and the City Bus Tour from Hell,” Salon, November 14, 2002. Can the show I consider fun and feminist really amount to this – drooling over Jimmy Choo shoes and hooting at random men?

“Miss Bradshaw Goes to Washington: The Marriage Movement, American Families, and Sex and the City,” PopPolitics, July 14, 2002. A defense of Sex and the City, in light of the current marriage mania in politics and popular culture.

Sluts, Gossip, and Girl Power,The Brooklyn Rail, Summer 2002. Review of Emily White’s Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut.

“The Proposal Sounds Good, Gets It Wrong,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 23, 2002. (Not available on-line.) On marriage promotion in welfare reform.

“To Eminem: Will the Real Slim Shady Please Shut Up,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 8, 2001. (Not available on-line). Op-ed that asks why we tolerate abuse when it’s directed at women more than other disadvantaged groups.

Lucky: Consumption Without Consequence,” Dissent, Fall 2000. Review of the debut issue of Lucky, the “shopping magazine.”