Susan J. Douglas

Susan J. Douglas is the author of Where the Girls Are, The Mommy Myth, and other works of cultural history and criticism. She is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies and chair of the department at the University of Michigan, where she has taught since 1996. Her work has appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Ms., The Village Voice, and In These Times. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Q & A

Where are you from?
Jersey Girl

Who are your favorite writers?
S.J. Perleman, H.L. Mencken, Katha Pollitt, Hendrick Hertzberg, David Sedaris, Matt Taibbi, Anna Quindlen (her columns), Barbara Ehrenreich

Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Actually one of the biggest influences had been the work of video artist Joan Braderman (see “Joan Does Dynasty”)

What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Photography, cooking, travel

What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Always say thank you to those who have helped you—completely simple and often the most frequently ignored advice

What is your favorite quote?
It’s a tie: The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do” (unknown, I think) and “A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” (Oscar Wilde)

What is the question most commonly asked by your readers?  What is the answer?
“When Are you writing a sequel to Where the Girls Are?” Really, for the last five years that has been the number one question. So now I can say, “Here it is.”

What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, I had to get tenure…actually, my first book was a scholarly book on the early history of radio, and I loved going back to the 1890s and early 1900s to write about radio when it really seemed like magic. But for my first trade book, Where the Girls Are, I wanted to write about the powerful media images that had shaped baby boom women as they grew up, and I also wanted to translate the important academic work on the representations of women in the media into everyday language that most girls and women could understand and appreciate.

Where do you write?
On a bed, until my back gave out—that way you can spread everything out around you while you write



Women today are inundated with conflicting messages from the mass media: they must either be strong leaders in complete command or sex kittens obsessed with finding and pleasing a man. In The...