There are a lot of worries parents might have as their child heads off to school: academic struggles, not getting along with teachers or classmates, bad behavior. The potential consequences for these concerns are worrisome as well. As a mother (and one who used to teach high school social studies), I don’t think it’s all that unusual to fret over things like these.
But one thing I didn’t think I’d have to be worried about is the possibility of my son being suspended for his sense of style. A 13-year-old 8th grader from Kansas was recently suspended for wearing a Vera Bradley handbag while attending school.
Suspended. For having a quilted bag. Seriously. Keep reading »
A woman goes through life with a number of labels that she doesn’t have any control over, either by birth or by society’s imposition. But one label she should get to choose is whether she wants to be someone’s “wife” or not. This should be a right for all of us.
A recent piece on Salon.com by soon-to-be-married author Tracy Clark-Flory about the word “wife” really pissed me off. Clark-Flory wrote about going over the language of her wedding ceremony script with her fiancé and getting to the part that says “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Husband? Wife? I could barely conceal my gagging sounds. He said something to the effect of, “Ew, gross.”
It makes me feel like Betty Draper, like I should be fetching his slippers and a scotch on the rocks — and remembering to get the roast bird out of the oven. (In reality, I’ve only just recently expanded my cooking repertoire beyond Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and things you put in the microwave. He, however, will roast a chicken and make a rustic tart from scratch — all in one night.) I am a daughter, partner and friend — but a wife? I can’t help but imagine saying “I’m his wife” with heavy air quotes, a roll of the eyes or exaggerated feminine cheer.
Clark-Flory then expresses concern that the Middle English/Old English terms for “wife” and “husband” translate, roughly, to “vagina” and “householder.” It’s not that I don’t understand Clark-Flory’s discomfort with both words or their histories (although dredging up the Old English definition? really?). But I’m uneasy with how glib she was about that choice when so many people are scrambling to have the same one. Keep reading »
When it comes to mothering and the so-called “Mommy Wars,” the one debate that will seemingly never die is the one centered around breastfeeding. I’ve written extensively about breastfeeding in the past, and in my day job I work on finding accessible ways to educate pregnant women about breastfeeding, in the hopes that they’ll at least be open to trying it out once their baby is born. I’m of the mind that “breast is best,” but I’m also painfully aware that we as a country and society do not make it easy in the slightest for women —particularly working women or those from lower socio-economic backgrounds— to breastfeed. I was a big fan of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week and I try and support women who want to breastfeeding but lack resources/information/help. I also try to support and provide information for pregnant women who aren’t sure about whether they will nurse or not. And, when possible, I help connect parents who want their babies to have breast milk with mothers who have an excess supply. I also will not shame, harass, or harangue a woman who chooses to or needs to formula feed their baby for whatever reason.
I will, however, call out someone who uses faulty logic as reasoning for not nursing her hypothetical future child. Karla A. Erickson’s “Explaining Why, Next Time, I Won’t Breastfeed” was a recent op/ed in the Iowa Press-Citizen that purports to use breastfeeding as the cause of uneven and unequal division of labor when it comes to parenting. Keep reading »
“So? What are you having?”
Throughout my pregnancy, that was the number one question I received, tied only with: “How are you feeling?” At first I was polite about it, telling folks that it was too early to tell, but that we weren’t finding out anyway until the birth. After I passed 20 weeks, I attempted to answer all the Nosy Nellies as diplomatically as I could. I said that we would be happy with either a boy or girl, as long as the baby was healthy. Yet as my belly expanded, my patience shrank and I found myself coming up with more creative ways to answer the increasingly frequent queries over “what” we were having. “Fingers crossed it’s not a kitten!” was one of my favorite go-to replies.
And, for those keeping track – no, we did not have a kitten, but rather a beautiful baby boy. Still, the questions kept coming. Since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl (and because, you know, colors are for everyone), my son wore a rainbow of onesies, which only seemed to confuse folks. Multiple times a day I would have people question why my son was wearing purple. Or pink. Or even yellow. I did not get the same stares or questions when he donned his blue, green or brown onesies. Our society, one that is heavily entrenched in traditional, stereotypical gender roles, seems to want to plug children into these boxes as quickly as possible — even before they’re born — and that can be both frustrating and confusing. Keep reading »
My brother grew up with four sisters in the house. I know, right? Come to find out, there’s more to having a bunch of sisters than just growing up to be a ladies’ man. A new study published in the Journal of Politics has found that boys with sisters are more likely to grow up to be Republicans and also to do less housework. You might think that being exposed to more girls early on might prompt a boy to be more egalitarian — but apparently you would be wrong. Keep reading »
Here’s this article entitled, “The Flip Side Of Being A Female Breadwinner,” another one of those what-does-it-all-mean pieces (yes, there’s an evolutionary psychologist quoted, if you’re playing Navel-Gazey Trend Story Bingo back at home) that takes one person’s experience and blows it up in hopes of making a statement, vaguely tinged with some kind of shame about not doing things properly, about the way women and men live and work now and the way things should be, or ought to be.
The ultimate conclusion of these kinds of pieces? Life is complicated, and no you can’t have it all, and no, we have never heard of anyone who is not a white, middle-class woman because if we did we would have to approach this topic with actual thought and nuance and situate it in a socio-historical context that took long-term economic and political trends into account, and that would be harder than drawing simplistic conclusions about culture and gender roles according to a self-selected sample of friends and “experts.”
I don’t think there’s a “flip side” of being a female breadwinner because I don’t think there are exactly two ways to be a female breadwinner: a way in which everyone is happy in a world of gender roles gone topsy-turvy, and a way in which everyone is swimming miserably upstream. Women — particularly single mothers, particularly women of color- — have been “breadwinning” for years. Keep reading »
Just in case you weren’t clear why we still need feminism to break down the sexism of culturally-prescribed gender roles: MTV announced yesterday it greenlit a new reality TV show called “Guy Court” which will straight-up judge bros on their bro-itude. Explains Yahoo:
In the half-hour comedic courtroom series “Guy Court,” which will premiere in fall 2013, the laws of manhood will be upheld as some familiar MTV2 faces will determine the guilt or innocence of a variety of cases in accordance with Guy Code. Each real life case will be judged, defended and prosecuted with the perfect combination of comedy and justice. Keep reading »
Professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reese is promoting a new memoir, My Foot Is Too Big For The Glass Slipper, which hops on the bandwagon of a somewhat popular theme for memoirs-by-strong-ladies these days: she says her life and marriage have improved by being “submissive” to her husband, pro surfer Laird Hamilton. Keep reading »
Fox News, what a bunch of bozos. Jessica Valenti, founding editor of Feministing, noticed something curious about the photo accompanying an article on FoxNews.com about “traditional gender roles.” Further research confirmed that the couple getting married in the photo (presumably who Fox News felt represented traditional gender roles in a marriage) was not that of a man and a woman, but two women. Lela McArthur and Stephanie Figarelle were married in Anchorage, Alaska, on February 14, 2012, and their photo — shot by the Associated Press — had previously been used in a Huffington Post story on romance around the world. Fox News removed the photo from their story as soon as they realized their “error.” [Jessica Valenti]