You know Avital Norman Nathman as the columnist behind Mommie Dearest, our feminist parenting column. But Avital is also the “mom” of her first book, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood To Fit Reality.
The anthology explores the same ground she writes about here on The Frisky, like teen parents, postpartum depression, the changing face of the American family. Contributors included maternal health advocate/model Christy Turlington Burns, New York Times Motherlode blogger K.J. Dell’Antonia, Feministing co-founder Jessica Valenti, Manifesta co-author Jennifer Baumgardner, The Radical Housewife blogger Shannon Drury, and many others.
I’m not saying this just because Avital is one of our columnists — I genuinely loved The Good Mother Myth. It provoked me to think about feminism and motherhood in ways I hadn’t before and opened my eyes more to how gender identity, race and class alter the experience. I gave Avital a call over Skype to chat about her book, myths surrounding motherhood, and how to know when you’re ready to have kids. Our interview, after the jump: Keep reading »
New mothers in the United Arab Emirates are now required by law to breastfeed their babies for two years, according to a clause in the country’s Child Rights law. Mothers who cannot nurse would be provided with a wet nurse by the government. One viewpoint held by the council is that children have the right to be breastfed, according to Islamic teaching; another compared not breastfeeding — just giving your baby formula — to child neglect. Keep reading »
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 »
“Today, the choir will sing, but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry. If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here.”
It’s not often the Catholic Church does something that I actually like. So I am very pleased to read that when Pope Francis baptized 32 babies yesterday, he first told all the mothers sitting in the pews of the Sistine Chapel not to feel shy about breastfeeding. How awesome is that? Last month, the Pope also told an Italian newspaper that he encouraged a mother to nurse her hungry child in the church, even though she seemed hesitant to do so — perhaps out of fear that it would be frowned upon by fellow churchgoers. Hey, it happens practically everywhere else. By encouraging nursing moms to breastfeed when they — and their babies! — see fit, the Pope is making a strong statement that breastfeeding should not be looked at as risqué or sinful. That’s a message moms everywhere need to hear. [Independent UK] [Image of breastfeeding mother via Shutterstock; image of Pope Francis via Getty]
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 »
Another good reason for teens to have restricted use of technology that makes it easier for stupid stuff to happen: a 13-year-old girl allegedly took a picture on SnapChat of her mother and 14-year-old sister — both topless in a hot tub — and it got spread around a couple of Missouri high schools. 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 »
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 »
When I arrived at the basement of the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts, I found folk musician Ani DiFranco in the midst of trying to get her six-month-old son Dante down for a nap. Minutes later I spotted the young baby — still very much awake — strapped into a carrier about to head out on a walk. This meshing of work and life happens daily for DiFranco, who is back on the road after having taken some time off to have her second child. Like his sister before him, Dante has joined DiFranco on tour, and the singer has been relearning how to split her time between motherhood and music.
While her son (hopefully) walked his way into a nap, DiFranco and I discussed everything from hitting the road as a mother of two, the notion of “having it all,” her ever-growing relationship with her fans and so much more. Keep reading »