Friday, February 24, 2017

A Guide to Effective Activism When Activism Becomes Fashionable


For the first time in my life, activism is cool. Donald Trump may indeed be making America great again--by forcing white people to realize how prevalent racism is, by getting people who had no problem with surveillance under President Obama to assert a right to privacy, by impelling people to rise up and proclaim that dissent is indeed patriotic. For most of my life, I felt like my interest in changing the world made me a weirdo. Now, you have to be engaged to be cool.

It's wonderful. It's a chance to spur real change in this country. But activism as a trend can become activism as style instead of substance. That doesn't have to happen. Here's how to make your activism meaningful, whether you've been doing it for 30 years or 30 days.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Tyranny of the Good Mother: How We Use Beliefs About Motherhood to Control Women


When I was three years old, I decided I had had enough of life as a mere mortal. The bedtimes, the grueling chore load, the parents who just didn't understand the oppression of life at three...it was all too much.

I needed an upgrade, and that's why I became the Virgin Mary. I donned a veil, demanded to be addressed as Mary, and regaled my parents with tales of the birth of my son, our lord and savior.

It was the last time I was widely regarded as a good mother. Because once a woman becomes a real mother, everyone--even self-styled feminists--is eager to regale her with tales of the many ways she is failing.

Friday, February 17, 2017

7 Ways Social Justice Organizations Unintentionally Exclude Mothers


Many social justice organizations continue to presume that a child-free, unencumbered activist is the default--and perhaps the ideal. It's why no one bats an eye when meetings last five hours, protests are dangerous, and spaces are hostile to children. You can't have a diverse, intersectional organization that excludes mothers. Exclusionary practices hurt marginalized mothers, particularly poor ones, the hardest.

Eighty-one percent of women eventually become mothers. So as I've repeatedly hammered in this blog, if you care about women, you need to care about mothers. Most social justice organizations don't intentionally exclude mothers. But as any caring activists should know, if you're not being intentionally inclusive, you're keeping people out.

Addressing the many unintentional ways social justice organizations exclude mothers makes activism accessible to a much broader coalition. That means more effective movements and more rapid change.

It's Not 'Political Correctness' to Treat People With Decency and Engage in Rational Debate


Republicans love to scream about political correctness run amok. They claim that requests for slur-free speech have killed the First Amendment. And then, inexplicably, they demand freedom from criticism of their own speech--never, it seems, noting the contradiction.

Whining about political correctness, of course, has never been rooted in reason. Opponents of basic decency are inherently unreasonable. That's why my husband has begun insisting that, some day soon, Donald Trump will look directly into a camera and proclaim, "I never ran for president." His supporters will lambaste anyone who points to evidence that he did indeed run.

So I'm reluctant to address whining about political correctness. But I hold out hope that at least some Republican opponents of political correctness can be persuaded.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What is Patriarchal Motherhood?


When I refer to patriarchal motherhood, I'm referencing two distinct phenomena:


  • The sexism women face as mothers; and 
  • The unchecked assumptions associated with being a mother in a patriarchal society. 

So what is patriarchal motherhood? It's like the air we breathe: omnipresent, and so taken for granted that it goes largely unnoticed. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Life These Days: A Typical Day at Four Months

Every day, Athena does so many things I want to log. She started saying "Mama" last week, and it sparked a panic that one day she'll want to know about her childhood and I'll have failed to log it all. Of course, no adult actually seeks out an hour-by-hour log of their childhood. My agony over the failure to catalog every event is just one prong of the maternal guilt our society demands of all mothers.

I think I will start using this blog to log some of Athena's life, though. We're very much in the haze of new parenthood--that time that everyone says they forget, that time which childless people cannot possibly understand. Our lives are filled to the brim. There is no spare time, and we must rigidly adhere to a schedule if we are to have any leisure time at all. Most people tell us it gets better, but I sort of enjoy having such a full existence. It helps me feel less guilty about the things I'm not doing.

So here's what a typical weekday looks like for us. If you're planning to have a child and intend to breastfeed, aim for gender equality, and practice attachment parenting, life will probably look pretty similar for you.