Ellen Goodman


American Journalist, Speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning Syndicated Columnist

Author Quotes

If there's a single message passed down from each generation of American parents to their children, it is a two-word line: Better Yourself. And if there's a temple of self-betterment in each town, it is the local school. We have worshiped there for some time.

We criticize mothers for closeness. We criticize fathers for distance. How many of us have expected less from our fathers and appreciated what they gave us more? How many of us always let them off the hook?

If women can sleep their way to the top, how come they aren't there?

We owned what we learned back there; the experience and the growth are grafted into our lives.

In the biotech revolution, it is the human body, not iron or steel or plastic, that's at the source. Are the biocapitalists going to be allowed to dig without consent into our genetic codes, then market them?

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives ... not looking for flaws, but for potential.

Maybe at 20 you can write well, but I don’t think you could do what I do. Some things have to happen to you first.

Well, I do not think that women should train in the Ann Coulter School of Opinion-Hurling. I avoid leaving teeth marks on innocent ankles. We don't need more women — or men — in the Strunk and Food Fight Stylebook. There are many ways to be heard. But writing out loud, saying what you think on the op-ed page or in the blogosphere, on talk radio or in politics, requires a little hide-toughening.

Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience - unless they are still up.

What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.

My generation is the first in my species to have put fitness next to godliness on the scale of things. Keeping in shape has become THE imperative of our middle age. The heaviest burden of guilt we carry into our forties is flab. Our sense of failure is measured by the grade on a stress test.

What he labels sexual, she labels harassment.

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

When speech is divorced from speaker and word from meaning, what is left is just ritual, language as ritual.

People have been writing premature obituaries on the women's movement since its beginning.

When we describe what the other person is really like, I suppose we often picture what we want. We look through the prism of our need.

All in all, I am not surprised that the people who want to unravel the social contract start with young adults. Those who are urged to feel afraid, very afraid, have both the greatest sense of independence and the most finely honed skepticism about government.

Politics isn't polarized between ideas as much as it is divided between teams in an endless color war. The famous geopolitical map of 2000 painted the states red and blue.

When you live alone, you can be sure that the person who squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle wasn't committing a hostile act.

Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition to them. Once the chorus of cultural values was full of ministers, teachers, neighbors, leaders. They demanded more conformity, but offered more support. Now the messengers are violent cartoon characters, rappers and celebrities selling sneakers. Parents are considered "responsible" only if they are successful in their resistance. That's what makes child-raising harder. It's not just that American families have less time with their kids; it's that we have to spend more of this time doing battle with our own culture.

Pro-choice supporters are often heard using the cool language of the courts and the vocabulary of rights. Americans who are deeply ambivalent about abortion often miss the sound of caring.

Would somebody please tell George W. Bush that he is not Commander in Chief of the Judiciary? No matter how 'hot' he looked in his flight suit, black robes require a cooler demeanor.

As for keeping the attack dogs from nibbling away your courage? My theory, after decades in this business, is that you only give a few people the right to make you feel rotten. You have a handful of chits to give out, penuriously, to those you trust and respect. You don't give them to just anyone with an e-mail address and an epithet.

The millions of women who have had abortions do not regard them as a victory. For most they were failures — whether of contraception or relationships — accompanied by mixed feelings of regret and relief.

You can fire your secretary, divorce your spouse, abandon your children. But they remain your co-authors forever.

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American Journalist, Speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning Syndicated Columnist