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Susan Braudy

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Lisa Bloom's Think

Posted: 06/13/11 07:53 PM ET

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, by Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is smart. Lisa Bloom is gorgeous.

A Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA who went on to Yale Law school, and then became an award-winning legal analyst for CBS, she's somebody who knows from TV makeup and Botox. This mother of two exhorts all us women to ignore signals from our culture that there can be a bigger payoff for being sexy than brainy. "Many of us spend more time looking in the mirror than looking out at our planet," says Bloom because, as she explains, this behavior can be justified as rational.

She invites us to push back. We must reclaim our brains.

She reminds us how far we've come in her lifetime. Before the 1963 Equal Pay Act, it was legal and universal to pay women less than men for the same work. And sexual harassment on the job was not actionable until 1986.

But despite this revolution fought for by such as her mom, the powerful women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, Bloom notes that more than two-thirds of women don't know what Roe v. Wade is.

This dichotomy has been part of women's lives for a very long time. When I worked at Ms magazine in the 1970s, many of my fellow editors went too far. They didn't replace lost teeth, appeared to come to work in clothes they'd slept in, and referred malevolently to younger women who didn't eschew makeup as "lipstick feminists." Of course, obvious truths were never mentioned: like the fact that physical surfaces can make or break a career and that Gloria Steinem's legs were a potent weapon in gender wars for power.

Bloom's point is well-taken and is brilliantly and entertainingly argued. She even slyly finishes her lively book with a tip of the hat to what has been part of women's culture forever. She gives us "unrecipes" for family cooking such as "beginner burritos," "easy as pie" -- as well as her guiding principle: serve food "warm, moist, and tasty."

Before her cooking chapter, however, she names and evaluates her favorite books which include Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. She calls this the most important book of the last decade, filled with page-turning non-fiction stories of the lives of hundreds of millions of women and girls who are serfs and objects in brutal cultures. And most important it describes specific programs fighting sexual slavery, genital mutilation, mothers dying in childbirth.

Buy this book. You'll be entertained and educated.