Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.
. . . . .
But while states give such solicitous attention to women planning to have an abortion, they ignore the needs of women planning to give birth. Bringing a child into the world is also a life-changing decision. Too many women have to make that choice without similar protections. It is time to demand equality and tell our legislatures to enact the Defense of Motherhood Act.
. . . . .
Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. They would also have to emphasize that working women in the United States can expect to see their wages drop 9 to 16 percent for each child and that having a child makes it significantly less likely that an unmarried woman will ever marry. Continue Reading »
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Howdy! Didja miss me? One of the reasons–aside from spring break!–I’ve been offline recently is that I have some real-life presentations to prepare and research talks to get ready. For example, tomorrow I’ll be hitching up Seminar, my commuter horse, and high-tailin’ it down to Denver tomorrow right after class to convene a discussion on feminist blogging at the MCA Denver as part of the Feminism & Co. program this year.
I’ve been doing a little reading and reflecting on the feminist blogosphere lately, a timely undertaking since I’m sure you’ve all heard of the recent $hitstorm inspired by New York Magazine’s linkbaiting article on so-called feminist “retro-wives.” Inevitably, this hi-larious fiction in turn inspired a foul and NSFW (but delicious) parody. Perhaps just as inevitably, the women profiled in the original article complain that their comments were taken completely out of context and distorted beyond reason (h/t to Echidne for both of these last two links.)
The internet is an outrage machine, innit? I’ll be talking tomorrow night about the ways in which blogging fits in with the history of feminism as well as addressing some of the personal and professional issues that come up in blogging and other social media tools. Continue Reading »
How cool is this? I’ve been invited to talk about feminist blogging at the March 28, 2013 Feminism & Co. event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
I’ll be joined by Ru Johnson of Westword, Heather Janssen of Get Born, Ellie Kevorkian of Violet Against Women, and Camille Bright-Smith of BlogInSong on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street. More details about the 4-week series of events are here. Continue Reading »
Some of you have probably heard of Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012) because of his platform as the resident linguist for NPR’s Fresh Air. A few weeks ago, we learned that Aaron James, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, published a book in 2012 called Assholes: A Theory, and this article describing James’s book made me laugh out loud:
So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?
James was at the beach when he began mulling those questions. “I was watching one of the usual miscreants surf by on a wave and thought, Gosh, he’s an asshole.” Not an intellectual breakthrough, he concedes, but his reaction had what he calls “cognitive content.” In other words, his statement was more than a mere expression of feeling. He started sketching a theory of assholes, refining his thinking at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where he spent a year as a fellow in 2009.
Now here’s the part I really like as a historian. James pushes beyond the linguist’s focus on the word to explore the history and philosophy of the asshole avant la lettre:
He consulted Rousseau (who, James notes, was something of an asshole himself on account of his shabby parenting skills), Hobbes (especially his views on the “Foole” who breaks the social contract), Kant (his notion of self-conceit in particular), and more-recent scholarship on psychopaths. He spoke with psychologists, lawyers, and anthropologists, all of whom suggested asshole reading lists. “There are a lot of similar characters studied in other disciplines, like the free rider or the amoralist or the cheater,” James says, calling his time at Stanford an “interdisciplinary education in asshole theory.”
James argues for a three-part definition of assholes that boils down to this: Continue Reading »
Posted under unhappy endings
UPDATED, 10:21 MDT
One feature of Ryan Lizza’s very good intellectual biography of Michele Bachmann from The New Yorker last week contains this curious explanation of her development as a politician:
For many years, Bachmann has said that she showed up at the convention on a whim and nominated herself at the urging of some friends. She was, she suggests, an accidental candidate. This version of history has become central to her political biography and is repeated in most profiles of her. A 2009 column by George F. Will, for example, says that “on the spur of the moment” some Bachmann allies suggested nominating her.
But she already had a long history of political activism—the Carter and Reagan campaigns, her anti-abortion and education activism, her school-board race—and she had been targeting [former Minnesota State Senator Gary] Laidig for a year.According to an article in the Stillwater Gazette,on October 6, 1999, Bachmann was talking about running against Laidig months before she went to the convention. “I tried to present information to Senator Laidig on Profile of Learning, he was not interested,” she said. “And I told him that if he’s not willing to be more responsive to the citizens, that I may have to run for his seat.” She told the St. Paul Pioneer Pressthat she had decided to run against Laidig a year earlier.
Once again, we have white women’s political activism cast as a “whim” or “spur of the moment” decision, rather than the result of careful planning and strategic thinking: “Oh my heck, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout politics! I just care so deeply about the children that I had to get involved!” Very cannily, Bachmann’s signature issue in Minnesota state politics was activism on behalf of home schoolers and charter schools–in other words, as a concerned mother. She is smart to rewrite her biography this way, and I’m sure Will grasps that it just wouldn’t do to have a female presidential candidate who looked at all ambitious, or even scheming–even though she threatened Laidig with a primary several times: According to Lizza, “Laidig defended the education laws in the State Senate, which made him a target for Bachmann. “Michele came to me on several occasions and to my face said, ‘If you don’t vote to get rid of School to Work and Profiles, I will run against you,’ ” he said.”
Not very ladylike! Continue Reading »
Writing about parenting decisions on the internet is hazardous if you are a mother. It doesn’t matter that the mistake in question wasn’t yours, and that instead it was a nurse’s fault that your child received the wrong vaccine. If you are a mother, you will only be attacked as a neglectful mother/helicopter parent/narcissist/etc. (Don’t believe me? Just skim some of the first comments, if you dare. I’m still trying to wrap my head around her being called both neglectful AND a helicopter parent. Awesome!)
If you as a mother simultaneously transfused blood into your child WHILE lifting a burning car off of her body, you’ll still be told U R doin’ it RONG. You’re a helicopter (or Jaws of Life) parent! Parents do too much for their kids these days! What a narcissist–why would you write about a private trauma like that? It was dangerously irresponsible for you not to call 911 and let the paramedics handle that! Take take take–that’s all they’ll ever learn if you do everything for them!!!!11!!!1!1!
It’s difficult for me to imagine that a father who wrote a similar essay would be subject to such patronizing, dismissive, and nasty lectures from anonymous (and not-so-anonymous) commenters and tweeters. In fact, in the world I inhabit, I think it’s quite plausible that he’d be offered warm, gooey cookies for an essay like that, even (or especially?) from feminist writers. Continue Reading »
Maybe it wasn’t all of a sudden–maybe it’s a process that has happened over the last few years, or maybe I was born this way, but I find myself wanting to align myself with the queer bloggers ever more closely. The queer bloggers I read and feel a comradeship with don’t think that there is only one way to be a good lesbian or gay man. They don’t police the language that other gays and lesbians use to write about or talk about their own experiences. We sometimes disagree, but they don’t feel the need to lecture me about daring to write about queerness or question the authenticity of my queer sensibilities.
Some of you heterosexualists, especially some of you who identify online as mothers: not so much! Continue Reading »
Good morning, y’all! It’s another changeable day here in southern Maine, so just in case I end up spending the day at the beach and you don’t, here are a few items that will keep you entertained indoors:
- First of all, have you been reading Tenured Radical lately? It’s difficult to keep up with that woman, but I particularly loved Thursday’s cranky screed, “Question: Why Do Development Offices Raise Money for Sports When Academics Are Being Cut?” Excellent question! As many of you know, I’m opposed philosophically and budgetarily to the free men’s sports farm clubsthat even Podunk Colleges and Directional State U.’s feel the need to provide to the for-profit teams of the NBA and the NFL, but when even sports-loving dyke proffies start wondering about the size and heft of the Athletic Department’s budget, compared to (for example) the Classics Department, somehow I feel less like the vox clamantis in deserto. (And I don’t actually read a word of Latin!) Repeat after me: club sports good, free farm clubs bad.
- TR also shares what not to do when pi$$ed off by your colleagues. (What is it with the peeing, boys? Seriously?)
- In “Fat Girl Woes,” New Kid on the Hallway writes, “You know what really annoys me? The way some stores that carry my size online won’t carry that size in the stores. I mean, clearly those stores would like to sell me stuff and take my money, but they don’t want me actually to shop in the store? You know, in public?” (She’s not just a student-blogger any more–she has finished her law degree and really needs to wear suits pretty much all day long in her new career.) I’ve noticed over the last several years that the combined forces of vanity sizing (what was once an 7-8 or a 5-6 is now a 4 or XS, for example) plus the fat discrimination New Kid reports means that the range of sizes represented on most store racks is narrower than ever.
- Joyce Chaplin reviews Mary Beth Norton’s new book, Separated by their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World, in tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review (h/t Blake at Down and Out in Denver.) Chaplin writes, “The materials are rich, but most historians will be surprised that Norton goes after them with the equivalent of a power tool that has lost its edge. [Ed. note: OUCH!] Continue Reading »
Thanks for your kind comments and e-mails–our family emergency has been resolved. I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth could keep me away from the Berkshire Conference 2011, especially considering that there won’t be another one until 2014! Well, friends–there isn’t a lot that would keep me away from it, but there’s something I haven’t told you about Famille Historiann before that might put this into perspective: Continue Reading »