Profile for Avital Norman Nathman

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Mommie Dearest: Talking About Abortion At Book Club

book club

One of the awesome things about having a new book out [The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality] is that sometimes people actually want to talk to you about it! I’ve been having a blast the past couple of months traveling across the country doing bookstore readings and signings. Each place I visit, there’s always a handful of folks who come up and want to talk all things motherhood.

In New York City, many of the people in the audience wanted to touch on how the media portrays women — particularly those who are mothers — versus men. In Portland, Oregon, I heard from women who were increasingly frustrated by the work/home divide and the tired notion of “having it all.” Chicago found me chatting with young college students who had come to the book reading as part of a class field trip. We talked about their relationships with their own mothers and the concerns they had about becoming mothers themselves.

And then, there was book club. Last week, I was invited to join in for a local book club that had read my book for the month of February. I was pretty excited. I arrived at the host’s house, eager to hear what everyone thought of the book. After some snacking, drinking and a bunch of chit-chatting, they started to dig into the book. They had some questions for me, ranging from how I got the idea to create the book, to whether or not I used a pen name. (Let’s just say that if I had chosen a pen name, I probably would have gone with one that gets pronounced and written correctly at least 50 percent of the time …)

I also got to hear reactions to specific essays in the book, which is always nice. One that stuck out to the women in this group in particular was Liz Henry’s “The Macaroni and Cheese Dilemma.” Liz’s essay talks about choosing to have an abortion, and why that choice was the best for her family. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: Are We Ready To Design Our Babies In A Lab?

laboratory

I can still remember some of the quieter moments of my pregnancy: laying on the couch, my fingers trailing over my ever-expanding belly, wondering about the baby inside and if everything would be okay. During our first ultrasound appointment around 20 weeks, the tech had been concerned about the size of the baby’s kidneys and some fluid that surrounded them. He pointed it out to me on the screen, and later on the printed pictures we were given to take home. To me, the blurry image looked no more like a baby than a Rorschach inkblot test, but I so desperately tried to see what the tech saw. In the weeks that followed my anxiety shot through the roof. Was this a random anomaly? Was it something I did? Was it something I could have prevented? Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: A Pregnant Person Is A Person First

pregnant woman

Growing up, I thought the perfect host was a combination of Betty Crocker and Donna Reed: perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect food, and perfect personality all coming together to ensure her guests are well taken care of.

However, Steve Martin, a Republican State Senator from Virginia, has a different take on the what it means to be a good host. He recently received a Valentine’s Day Card from the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition asking the state Senator to protect women’s reproductive health options — everything from raising healthy children to having access to safe, legal abortion. Martin took it upon himself to reply publicly via his Facebook page. His response originally included the following:

“…I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it to remain alive.” Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: How Friendships Change When You Have Kids

friendship

Within our group of friends, my husband and I were the first to get pregnant and have a kid. More than seven years later, I can now look back and see how much my friendships, particularly with my child-free friends, changed. I may not have realized it at the time, but in retrospect we experienced a few growing pains, so to speak.

When there’s any big life change — whether it’s marriage, a big move, or switch in jobs — friendships can be impacted. But there’s something about having kids that adds a little extra something to the equation. Sometimes it can be good, other times not so much. But what I’ve found to be true — both for myself and from talking to friends — is that most friendships post-baby tend to follow the same sort of pattern: Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: 3 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Even Think Of Disciplining Someone Else’s Child

Babies In Restaurants
Mommie Dearest: 6 Things To Consider When Bringing Babies To Restaurants
Six things to consider when bringing babies to restaurants. Read More »
Sloth Mom
sloth mom
Forget it, Tiger Mothers. I want to make Sloth Mom happen. Read More »
"I Don't Like Kids"
screaming child
This woman not only doesn't want kids, she doesn't like them. Read More »
misbehaving child

When it comes to disciplining your children, there’s no end to the opinions you’ll receive. Be strict! Be gentle! Give them free reign! Allow them to fail! Time outs! No time outs! Punishment! Allow them to experience natural consequences! It’s enough to make any parent’s head spin. But what happens when somebody goes beyond offering discipline advice and goes straight to disciplining your child themselves?

Over on xoJane, Sydney Scott took on the unpopular opinion, “I Think It’s OK To Discipline A Stranger’s Child,” writing:

 Being reprimanded by strangers isn’t anything new to me. … The rule was that as long as an adult wasn’t creepy or trying to kidnap you, they were an authority figure, and their word was law. So, it’s kind of weird for me to encounter parents who don’t want anyone else ever disciplining their child.

I get where Scott is coming from. She brings up the “It Takes a Village” mindset as part of her argument, and you’re not going to find a bigger proponent of that mindset than me. Having an only child, my husband and I intentionally made the decision to build up a solid community made up of other families with children of all ages, as well as child-free adults But there is a big difference between intentional villages that support each other in a variety of ways and strangers coming up to my child and disciplining him out of the blue. Keep reading »

The Soapbox: Piers Morgan, It Shouldn’t Be So Hard For You To Interview Janet Mock

CNN Chyron: "Was A Boy Until Age 18"
Janet Mock Q&A
Frisky Q&A: Janet Mock, Author Of Redefining Realness
Janet Mock speaks to us about being a transgender woman of color. Read More »

If there was one thing Piers Morgan got right in his interview with writer Janet Mock last night, it was when he called her, “brave, frank, and honest” about coming out as transgender. Sadly, the interview sort of falls apart after that.

From almost the start of the interview, the header “Was a boy until age 18” ran across the screen, insinuating that Mock wasn’t truly a girl or woman until she had genital reconstruction surgery. That is not only incredibly reductive regarding gender, but missed the entire point of Mock’s new memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More about her road to girlhood, which began far earlier than one moment in Thailand at age 18.

Instead of treating the topic of disclosure with the nuance and sensitivity that it deserves, Morgan went straight for the sensational, wanting to know how the various men Mock has dated have reacted when she finally told them about being trans. He treated Mock, her body, and her past as a spectacle, rather than with respect as befitting the lived experiences of a fellow human being. (You can read the transcript here, although Morgan’s responses on Twitter are a better illustration of his blowhard behavior.) Keep reading »

Frisky Q&A: Janet Mock, Author Of Redefining Realness

Frisky Q&A: Janet Mock, Author Of Redefining Realness

After being the subject of a 2011 Marie Claire profile, writer and activist Janet Mock decided to tell her story in her own words. And what a story it is. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, is out this week. It’s a brave, honest and gripping memoir detailing Mock’s turbulent childhood and experiences as a young trans woman finding herself.

Despite digging deep and sharing intimate details of her past, Mock still manages to pepper her book with vital LGBT statistics and snippets of important history regarding trans women. While her debut book is most certainly a memoir, it also provides a carefully crafted way to begin discussing the very real issues and challenges many trans women and men face on a daily basis. After quickly devouring the book, I had the pleasure of speaking with the author herself. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: What If The Media Reported On Male Politicians Who Are Fathers Like It Reports On Wendy Davis?

Double Standards
hillary clinton photo
Hillary Clinton on the double standard against women. Read More »
Mom Vs. Dad
Which parent takes the lead when parenting? Read More »
Frisky Sexism
All of The Frisky's posts about sexism. Read More »
Wendy Davis was a teen mom

When a woman attempts to find some semblance of “having it all,” she automatically becomes demonized. We can’t seem to rise up in the ranks — whether it’s in the corporate world or in politics — without our personal lives, particularly our mothering skills, being called into question.

The latest female politician in the hot seat is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who is running for governor on the Democratic ticket. She has recently been skewered (again) for having been both a young mother and a single mother. The focus circumventing her actual politics (like her support for women’s reproductive rights) and instead revolve around how she is as a mother. A reporter for Fusion even asked Davis to respond to a blog post by Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol Palin — seriously, her — that called Davis a woman “whose ambition and ego were so big she couldn’t have both a career and kids at the same time.” Both Jessica Luther and Carolyn Edgar wrote insightful pieces this week explaining why these allegations are egregious, erroneous, and just plain clueless.

I could spend hours picking apart what is wrong about these attacks. Instead, I’d like to note that we hardly ever see male politicians skewered for their parenting. We look past that aspect of their personal lives — for the most part, barring a mistress or financial scandal — and focus on their politics. A male politician who is also a father gets to be, first and foremost, a male politician. But a female politician who is also a mother? It’s completely different. Keep reading »

Mommie Dearest: 6 Things To Consider When Bringing Babies To Restaurants

Mommie Dearest: 6 Things To Consider When Bringing Babies To Restaurants

Earlier this month, the head chef of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, Grant Achatz, made headlines when he tweeted about some of his patrons:

The facts: Dinner at this chi-chi eatery restaurant requires a $210+ non-refundable/exchangeable tickets to be purchased two to three months in advance, and they’re only good for the date and time that you paid for. The dining couple in question had a babysitter that fell through. Not wanting to waste their reservation or the money they had already paid, they ended up at Alinea with their eight-month-old baby, much to the chagrin of their fellow diners and Chef Achatz. Keep reading »

Real Talk: Real-Life Teen Moms Sound Off On Study Claiming “Teen Mom” Reduced Teen Pregnancies

Real Talk: Real-Life Teen Moms Sound Off On Study Claiming "Teen Mom" Reduced Teen Pregnancies

There never seems to be a moment where young parenthood isn’t in the spotlight. But it’s gotten a recent boost this week after the The New York Times reported on a recent study purporting that shows like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have helped in the reduction of teen pregnancies. The study suggested as many as 20,000 teen pregnancies were prevented in 2010 because of young adults watching those shows.

Many outlets have been reporting on this study, but very few are including the thoughts or opinions from those they’re talking about. So, after the jump, here’s a roundtable discussion conducted over email with Gloria Malone and Natasha Vianna, who are both tireless advocates for teen moms and their families.

Keep reading »

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