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Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Call for More Visible Parenting

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Paul Tudor Jones, a billionaire hedge funder, spoke on a panel of investors at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce in April; although the attendees were asked not to record the proceedings, the Washington Post retrieved a copy of the event from the university, who taped it as part of their official records. In the recording, Jones is heard telling the audience that women cannot succeed in the macro trading industry once they become parents. In talking about a woman who started at E.F. Hutton with him in the 1970s, he said:

“[…] as soon as that baby’s lips touched that girls bosom, forget it, [audience laughter] every single investment idea, every desire to understand, every desire to understand what’s going to go up, what’s going to go down, is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never understand but the emotion between that mother and that baby. And I’ve just seen it happen over and over again.” (qtd. in Dries para. 7)  Read the rest of this entry

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In this post, we both wanted to talk about the insane coverage of Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian as they progress through pregnancy at roughly the same time. It doesn’t take much to observe the vast differences between how the media and public respond to these two women. As I started to organize my thoughts around them, I zeroed in on the language used to describe each of their bodies.

A quick search shows that headlines about Kim K often refer to her “bump” (I hate that word) as something she is showing off, or displaying in an “immoderate” manner. Some samples:

“Kim Kardashian continued to parade her baby bump”

“Kim Kardashian isn’t shy about flaunting her pregnancy”

Since when is being pregnant and being in public considered “parading” and “flaunting”? It’s not like she was wearing a shirt with a hole for her midsection or something.  I think it’s because they perceive her as sexually available and attractive, but a little bigger than the average “hot” starlet (I don’t endorse this verbage, by the way. She’s tiny! But compared to other super-thin sex symbols…) Now that she is gaining some weight with her pregnancy, they are punishing her by making the clothes and actions she’s always worn/taken into a kind of grotesque. Almost every single article about Kardashian features quotes from her fitness trainer reassuring the public that Kim  will be thin again. WHAT? HOW IS THAT RELEVANT? Why is the public so worried?

A much-maligned look for Kim

A much-maligned look for Kim

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Let’s not create another Ariel Castro.

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As we watch with relief as the three women escaped from their Ohio kidnapper after a decade of captivity, abuse, and rape, I am overwhelmed with incredulity. It is at least the third or fourth story of a kidnap victim reemerging that I’ve heard in recent years, although it is dwarfed by the number of kidnap victims found murdered.
What I am incredulous about is this: the stories are reported, the successes celebrated, and the losses mourned. And yet no one seems to be questioning the very premise of these atrocities:  why are men kidnapping, raping, and killing women?  Why are we reporting on just the events, and not the underlying structures? What are we teaching boys on the grander scale that is producing these outliers – men capable of treating women as less than objects? It infuriates me, it really does.

I firmly believe that the small lessons that occur in everyday life accumulate and create the extreme cases. For example, when we allow little comments and actions about the right of boys to dominate or oppress girls, we create a culture,  a sometimes-invisible wash of bias that lets outright hatred grow. In other words, the little things make a difference.

What am I really trying to say here? Well, I think I’m just trying to say that the little instances of power imbalance and gender bias are not received as “little” by the sick individuals who become predators. And that by allowing a culture of bias we create a rich environment for men like Ariel Castro to justify their horrific actions. I’m so thankful that Amanda, Gina, Michelle, and Amanda’s daughter are now out of his hands, but we cannot simply celebrate their freedom. Let’s be furious that in the past few decades, we’ve heard so many stories of men on the fringes stealing and destroying the lives of women: raping, beating, and degrading them. Let’s be furious that Castro has blamed Amanda, Gina and Michelle for their fate by saying they shouldn’t have gotten in his car. Let’s keep being furious until there are less men capable of this kind of crime.

Timely Thoughts

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In this section, called “Timely Thoughts,” Jen and I want to have the chance to write short posts about things that are current in the media and world. It’s kind of  like an academic-style twitter post! It gives us a chance to bring things up for discussion right as they’re happening, rather than waiting to compose a larger post.

Parenting Product Recommendations

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This is the kind of post I searched for when we were preparing to have our daughter, when our research on a bunch of different areas of baby care completely overwhelmed me. I greatly appreciated the parenting blogs that told me a few items they had found helpful as parents. Here are a few of mine:

  1. Cloth Diapers

Holy overwhelming amounts of products, Batman! This is the item that made me want to give up on more than one occasion, and thankfully we found a couple of companies that made cloth diapering easy for all of us.  There are a lot of different, wonderful companies out there, so certainly ask around and try out a few different ones (we did), but here is what worked best for us:

–       For the first five months, we used Chinese pre-folds cloth diapers and  Thirsties Duo-Wrap plastic covers (this is the updated system many of our parents used; if you’re in your late thirties and up, your parents will remember these).

Thirsties Duo-Wrap Cover over a Cloth DiaperInstead of using the old safety pin method to hold the cloth part closed, Snappis are the way to go. They can go in the dishwasher in the silverware hold, while the diapers and covers just run through the washer (covers need to be hung to dry, but they dry in a flash). If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of these, don’t be! Thanks to YouTube, you can watch a lot of helpful videos on how to tri-fold the diapers in different ways and use the Snappis; different folds work better for girls and boys, due to how they pee, but we found the angel fold the easiest for our little girl. Read the rest of this entry

Does Visibility Mean Anything Anymore?

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The other day I was sitting in my local Barnes and Noble when I noticed the mural above the café. It featured a line of famous male authors in a café setting. I scanned for some famous female authors (hey, they like coffee too!), but only saw faceless female companions to the guys.

Now, I’m not the kind of gal who usually writes to companies, because I get busy and forget. But then I thought – “hey! I’ve got a blog now! I’ve got to do stuff like this and report back!” I wrote the following email to fine folks at Barnes and Noble:

Hey there,

Today I was in one of the cafes of Barnes and Noble in ******. I am really glad there’s a bookstore in *******, because I am a book nerd and bookstores are a dying breed.

That said, I noticed something odd when I was there. Above the cafe was a beautiful graphic of famous authors sitting together in a cafe. The image stretched along the whole cafe, and featured the names of the famous authors along the bottom: Hemingway, Orwell, Nabokov, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Elliot.

Notice something off? They’re all men. And they’re all European. Now, to be fair, I found Woolf around the corner, against the wall (hidden from plain view). Now, I totally get it that it’s impossible to represent all of literary greatness on one silly mural, and I understand that it’s impossible to please everyone — none of these great authors should be left off. BUT,and it’s a huge one, there are three women depicted at this cafe sitting with the male authors. Faceless, unnamed women. Why in the world wouldn’t they be one of the many phenomenal female writers (and writers of color) that make up our literary heritage? How about: Allende, Oates, Rowling, Bronte, Austen, Shelley, Dickinson, Walker, Atwood, Morrison, or Angelou. Read the rest of this entry