Howdy, howdy, howdy! I’m posting from my not-so-undisclosed ski holiday location this morning. I fell down a lot yesterday, which I’m choosing to interpret as a sign of my increasing confidence. I’m much less afraid to fall than I was in the past, and putting yourself in conditions in which you might fail is the only way to learn new skills, right? I’m thinking that there’s a lesson for my professional life in all of this. . . .
You may not believe me–I wish I had a video to prove it–but I went down a ski cross course yesterday, and I only fell down once or twice! It’s true. Ski cross was my favorite Olympic sport last year–it’s the one in which four to six skiers race down a steep, twisty course with all kinds of jumps on it–it’s pretty much Roller Derby downhill on skis. Now, I’m not saying that this ski cross course was at all like the one in the Olympics or the X Games, and I never caught big air (or any air at all), but it was a ski cross course! I went up a big bump, and down; up a big bump, and down (still upright); up a big bump and down (still upright!); up a big bump and then omigodthere’sasteepsharprightturninthetrack so I intentionally put myself down to the left into a comfy snow drift. Ahhhh!
In case you can’t remember exactly what ski cross–also called skiier cross–is, here’s a reminder.
I continued to fall down a lot yesterday, especially after lunch, but it was good: I learned to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again, all by myself! That’s actually a pretty big deal for me, because unlike most other skiers at my level, I weigh more than 40 or 50 pounds and have a lower center of gravity than most grade-school children.
Since this is a roundup, I’ve got some linky goodness for you all. Here are some interesting articles for your sleepy Sunday afternoon reading pleasure:
- Katherine Wentworth Rinne writes about her decision in 1992 to leave academia behind for a life as an independent scholar (h/t to reader and commenter Indyanna for this one.) She doesn’t describe the “push” factors in her choice to resign a faculty position at the University of Arkansas, just the “pull” factors, so we can’t say that her position was either stable or personally and professionally supportive. Rinne is quite up front about the financial consequences for her independent life–and they’re not happy in my view. In the end, I can’t help thinking that she would have published her book (just out last month at Yale University Press) faster had she stayed in academia (if that were an option for her–we don’t know.) In other words, for all but a few superstar public intellectuals, institutional affiliation (not to mention a salary, health insurance, and TIAA-CREF) woud seem to be a good thing. I don’t believe that we have to quit our day jobs in order to reach audiences interested in our scholarship–and in our day jobs, we are educating part of that audience to appreciate our research.
- Dr. Crazy has a nice recent post on the rhetoric of budget austerity: “The money does have to come from somewhere. We all know that. But let’s not pretend that belt-tightening in itself is a moral good, that fiscal conservatism is the path to heaven, that budgetary decisions are not motivated by ideology. Let’s not pretend that conservatism equals realism and liberalism equals magical thinking. Let’s not pretend that we won’t get exactly what we pay for if we continue down this path at the federal and state levels.” Another thing that I notice about this world in which raising taxes is verboten: those of us who are public employees are always discussed as though we are not taxpayers and citizens too. We’ve been rhetorically reduced to “welfare queens” “sucking at the public teat” as though our work has no value, as though we’re not paying our freight, and as though we are not citizens of the body politic.
- I’ve read through this article by Frances Kissling twice about what the pro-choice movement needs to do in order to save itself, but 1) I can’t see where her prescriptions are likely to help save our reproductive rights, and 2) her call to ask the state to do more for pregnant women and mothers is coming at exactly the wrong moment in our history. (Talk about a pipe dream–that’s a hash pipe dream, friends.) Don’t get me wrong here–Kissling is right that the professional pro-choicers are on the wrong track, but it’s not for the reasons she suggests. Please tell me if I’m missing something important, but I just don’t think that saying that late term abortions are bad bad tragic awful and horrible and should never happen is a winning message. (Evidence, please?)
Here’s my idea for pro-choicers: what worked for the movement to decriminalize abortion in the 1960s were appeals to emotion based on real women’s experiences. For too long, the professional pro-choicers have thought abortion advocacy is an intellectual proposition rather than an emotional one, and for too long, women have been acquiescent in our silence while the forced pregnancy crowd has effectively and freely used emotion to erase the human incubators of fetuses to make abortion all about the murder of cuddly little babies. Telling stories like U.S. Reps Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier did on the floor of the House of Representatives last Thursday night, in newspapers and magazines, on television and blogs, etc., is a lot likelier to move the needle on reproductive choice.
Think about it: Abolitionists wrote tirelessly about the injustice of slavery and the evils it perpetuated among white and black Americans alike, but Harriet Beecher Stowe’s dramatic rendering of Eliza’s escape with little Harry across the semi-frozen Ohio River did a lot more to put free readers in the mind of the enslaved mother and her heroic determination not to let her master sell her little boy away from her. I think some ugly stories about women bleeding out and nearly (or actually) dying as their physicians sought a non-Catholic hospital, and stories about women forced to endure a stillbirth or horrific, life-threatening late-term miscarriage (for example) might wake people up to the stupidity of permitting state control over our lives and bodies. Because the truth is that if you are a heterosexual woman, it really could happen to you, too.