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 »
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 »
It’s no secret that becoming a new parent can be one of the most trying times in a person’s life. Seven years later, I can still vividly remember those first few hours and days together, despite the foggy haze of sleeplessness I was in. A plethora of hormones coursed through my body, screwing with my emotions. I’d be happy but I’d cry, I’d be sleepy but couldn’t quell the anxiety that gripped me. I had read countless books and taken a few classes in order to prepare me for this moment. I still felt completely out of my depths.
Welcome to motherhood.
Thankfully, I had an incredible support system: an equally tired husband who had managed to cobble together a month of paternity leave (through FMLA, using up paid vacation, and taking unpaid time off), parents and in-laws who lived no more than two hours away, a doting doula who helped me not only through labor and delivery but with breastfeeding as well, eager friends, and even a visiting nurse provided by the hospital via our insurance. I was fortunate and privileged. Besides many sleepless nights and some stained shirts, I escaped my son’s infancy relatively unscathed. Yet, the same can’t be said for everyone. Keep reading »
As 2013 draws to a close, let’s take a look at the Good, the Meh, and the Ugly in the world of motherhood this past year. Keep reading »
I’m not sure if you heard, but Beyoncé recently dropped a new album, causing everyone to question what they thought they knew about music, videos, and even feminism. Nothing highlights the latter better than both the video for “Pretty Hurts,” about airbrushed beauty culture, and her song “Flawless,” where Beyoncé samples parts of writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous TEDx talk, “We Should All Be Feminists.”
Google “Beyoncé, New Album, Feminism” and a laundry list of articles pop up, each one promising to explain to you why Bey is (or isn’t!) a bonafide feminist. Many dissect her new songs and videos; others refer to past albums, quotes, or performances. And one even purports that it was motherhood that made Beyoncé come out as a feminist. From Bee Rowlatt’s piece in the UK’s Telegraph:
“It’s no coincidence that Beyoncé’s first album since the birth of her daughter is a towering blast of female empowerment – it is becoming a mother that has brought new and daring sensitivity to her work.” Keep reading »
There’s an old Chris Rock bit where he explains that his only job as the father of a girl is to keep her off the pole. The joke itself is a tired one, incredibly sexist with a dollop of slut-shaming on the side. Yet at the center of its warped core is something many parents can relate to: the immense responsibility that comes with raising children.
I’ll let you in on a little parenting secret. While there are times that I question the smaller, day-to-day parenting decisions, the one thing that freaks me out the most is that overall I am responsible for helping to raise a good person. And, what if I fuck that all up? Keep reading »
Earlier this week, Jessica asked the question that passes through the mind of many a woman: How do you know — really know — if you want to have kids? It’s a good question and an important one. Kids are a big decision. They’re not like those cute, fuzzy chicks people buy as gifts on Easter only to realize that they grow up to be chickens, so they just return them or get rid of them somehow. No. Kids are a bit more complicated than that.
But is there actually any way to know for sure? You would think as the mother of a 7-year-old, who has been-there, done-that, and has pondered the same questions Jessica brought up, I would have at least some answers. But unfortunately, I don’t.
Because, if there’s one, solid rule that I’ve figured out in my short time parenting, it’s that there’s no one right answer that will fit everyone across the board. What works for one woman/couple/family may not work for another. And that’s okay. Keep reading »
Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivikkah in our household) is upon us, bringing about the start of the winter holiday season. What better time, then, to think about our families? Regardless of our relationships with our families, there’s no doubt that, for better or worse, they shape who we are.
Just in time for the holidays, Natalie Angier took a look at the changing American family over at the New York Times. Not only is the make-up of American families changing, but it’s doing so at a rapid pace:
“Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago.”
I only have to look as far as my own family to see this. I’m the child of two immigrants, my mother having moved to the United States when she was a toddler, while my father emigrated from Israel at 28. I now currently live with my husband, our son, and my brother, who has lived on and off with us for the last seven-and-a-half years. Keep reading »
In the back of my mind, I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t in my current profession, I would absolutely love to be a sex health educator.
I remember being that kid — the one whose parents gave her all sorts of illustrated books geared at children illustrating your body and all the “special changes” it went through. I dutifully pointed out these pictures to any friend that came over for a playdate, much to their surprise, disgust or delight.
When I was in high school, I was the regional community service leader of a Jewish youth group. In between organizing canned food drives and playground clean-ups, I instituted a workshop on safe sex, complete with an accompanying VHS of a “90210″ episode on condoms. Hey! It was the mid-’90s and we were all for everything and anything Beverly Hills. #DylanAndKelly4Ever.
When I was teaching high school, I would have students come up to me after receiving a sex ed lecture asking if I could help them make an appointment with a local clinic just to get checked out. Hearing that one in four sexually active women have HPV really seemed to sink in (this was before the vaccine was regularly available). Keep reading »
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 »