Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Feminist + feminist = awesome

Friday, February 14th, 2014

This entry from the RHW archives first went up on January 4, 2011, but I figure it’s still relevant three years later–after all, feminist love is always, ALWAYS the best love.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 

roses

 

I posted the following in reply to Jill at Feministe, who wondered, while reading her New York Times last Sunday: “are feminist marriages more satisfying?

I’m a hetero feminist woman married to a hetero feminist man. On paper, we look like a “traditional” pair, as he earns our family’s living while I tend to our two kiddos.

But thanks to feminism, we understand that home-based caregiving, while unpaid, is a job like any other. My at-home parent status does not give my husband license to lounge on the couch after work while I scrub myself silly. The household grunt work is still everyone’s responsibility, just as it would be if I worked outside the home. Feminism upends “traditional” expectations, to everyone’s benefit: my kids have a close and loving relationship with their dad, who puts in quality time AND quantity time with them; my time building a freelance writing career is not seen as a detriment to our family; our foundation of mutual trust and respect gets us through the times in our relationship that are shitty.

FEMINISM is our secret! Pass it on!

A very white lady holiday

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

 

Though the  holidays kept me, your ever-lovin’ Radical Housewife, too busy to blog (that spiked eggnog can’t drink itself, ya know) I did spend the rare moments I could escape my family learning new hashtags on Twitter:

#twitterfeminism

According to Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current, feminist action that occurs on Twitter isn’t “real” feminism, in part because her feelings have been hurt sometimes.  Ohhh-kay……

#stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity

According to Adele Wilde-Blavatsky via HuffPo, this hashtag is necessary because HER feelings were hurt sometimes, too!  And something to do with Beyonce, I think.  The hashtag was so blindingly dumb that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

#RighteousRetreat

According to Ani DiFranco, hosting a songwriting retreat at a Louisiana plantation that whitewashed (PUN INTENDED) its slave history was not big deal–in fact, in her cancellation announcement she wrote “i believe that people must go to [slave plantations turned into fancy resorts!] with awareness and with compassionate energy and meditate on what has happened and absorb some of the reverberating pain with their attention and their awareness.”  She later apologized, then apologized AGAIN for giving the world’s lamest non-apology.

#NotAllGreenPeople, #stopblamingKermitweneedunity

According to white lady Anne Chastain, it is possible to rise above racial disharmony just by wishing it so!  As she wrote on Twitter: “I’m not white, black or hispanic, I tell my kindergarteners. I’m beyond all that. I’m green: one w/nature.”  These hashtags were created to mock Chastain, who likened the negative response online to “lynching.”  REALLY.

I drank my eggnog looking like this:

 

5zkav

 

I hate it when dumb white lady feminists ruin things for me, another white lady feminist!

Yep, I’m white.  Just look at me!  I’m descended from Northern Europeans and I live in Minnesota: the only color I get is boiled lobster crimson when I’ve been out in the sun too long.  Like the white ladies mentioned above, I’ve benefited from white privilege in a hundred million ways.  I’m not very happy about it, but there it is.  I do whatever I can to unpack my privilege, to be aware of it, to learn from it, to give my children the information that they need to do the same (because as you have seen from their photographs, they’re white, too).

I’m a cis-gendered, middle-class, hetero white feminist lady.  Does it hurt when call-out culture calls ME out?  OH MY GAWD YES.  Of course it hurts. It hurts so much that against my better judgment I want to get out my Diversity Bingo card and wave it around (if you’re a white liberal like me, you have one, even though it embarrasses you to admit it).  I see words like “racist” or “heteronormative” or “trans-exclusionary” and want to hit the caps lock IMMEDIATELY AND TWEET “OH NO, THAT MIGHT BE SOME WHITE FEMINISTS, BUT IT SURE AS HELL ISN’T ME, NOPE, YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG, THERE IS NO WAY THAT I COULD EVER, NO NO NO NO NO NO.”

Which doesn’t help at all and is over 140 characters besides.

So what can white lady feminists do instead?  I always like to give my readers advice, so here it comes: I suggest we grab a cup of eggnog (confidential to “Green Liberation”: Silk makes a vegan version I highly recommend), step away from the TWEET button and take it all in.  Read, listen, think.  Stash the Diversity Bingo card in the drawer with the holiday gifts that don’t fit.  Pay attention.  Go to the store and buy more eggnog because in January it’s on sale.  Read, listen, think.  It’s not that hard.

And behave yourselves, dammit!  If any of you ruin Easter I will hunt you down and break the ears off your chocolate fertility symbols!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven alternatives to Miley Cyrus

Monday, October 7th, 2013

 

As the parent of a 13-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, I have an interest in the ongoing pop culture debates over art vs. raunch, nakedness vs. maturity, empowerment vs. exploitation.

But I am also an admitted fan of pop music, and in my considered opinion, the stuff Miley Cyrus is putting out is just boring.

I could spend hours discussing the impact of Rihanna, Ke$ha and Britney on impressionable children, because “We Found Love,” “Tik Tok,” and “Toxic” are kickass singles.  I tried “We Can’t Stop,” but I don’t get it.  I don’t even think it would be a good Rihanna record.

As a result, Miley’s antics with foam fingers, teddy bears, and cultural appropriation are not even on my kids’ radar–but they might be on yours. If that true, then I’m here to help!  Below is a Radical Housewife-approved list of hip-hop/pop gems by women that I guarantee inspiring mad twerking that you can feel good about.

 

Your kids might be surprised to learn that this talk show host used to be cool:

 

Mary’s groove is as fierce as her clothes are hideous:

 

Everyone in my house loves M.I.A.–and the family that galangs together, stays together:

 

Miley DREAMS of being as hot as Neneh Cherry:

 

Amanda Blank is Brooklyn’s answer to Ke$ha (and that’s a good thing):

 

One of my closest college pals went to high school with Santigold, a totally pointless factoid I trot out to seem “hip”:

 

And Le Tigre, of course:

 

If you disagree with these selections, please refrain from writing me an open letter.  I’d prefer you just leave me a comment.

 

 

 

Away from the numbers

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

 

(If you don’t know the song the above title refers to, allow me to introduce you to the Jam.  You can thank me later.)

 

It’s back to school time, dear readers, so you get a quiz: what is the gender of the child in the 44 shirt below?

 

 

The August 2013 issue of the Minnesota Women’s Press featured the theme “What She Wore,” which is your big clue that the child in the photograph is yours truly in 1972.

I write about my “Free to Be…You and Me”  childhood a lot, not so much to idealize it as to wonder what the hell happened to that period in American culture when gender neutrality was a viable fashion option for people of all ages.  I’m not saying that gender neutrality is perfect, but hell, it’s got to be better than today’s compulsory superhero vs. princess gender binary coding–as well as its opposite, the mad ping-ponging from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Mommy blogger Katie Vyktoriah knew she would get mileage out of a story called “What Happened When My Son Wore a Pink Headband to Walmart,” including a coveted repost on HuffPo and the sympathy of millions when the story when viral.

Too bad it was fake.

 

When my first child was born in 2000, I searched high and low for number shirts, naively expecting that such things would be available at Target and other fine purveyors of children’s wear.  Instead I found aisles of blue Thomas the Tank Engine onesies and pink Cinderella tops and nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, in between.

It’s hard out here for a mama.  Just imagine how hard it is for kids!  And when it’s hard for kids, mamas do things they ordinarily wouldn’t.  As I write in my column for the aformentioned MWP issue, my own mother shocked the hell out of me when she dragged me (and I mean that literally) into the Southdale Dayton’s in 1984.

My mother steered me toward the juniors department, where she yanked Guess tops off the racks. “These shoulder pads will make you look fantastic,” she announced happily.  They didn’t. My mother howled with frustration every time she fished a pair of puffy ovals out of the trash. I didn’t want to disappoint her (or my junior high friends; we were a heavily padded bunch), but the sudden insistence on feminine performance didn’t sit well with me. I was a girl, but I didn’t want to be girly, for girly style was not only fussy and impractical, it was weak. It was wimpy. It was dumb. 

 

 

Fortunately, as I write in the piece, a li’l book called Whipping Girl helped to straighten (pun very much intended) me out, as did parenting, a job that is too complicated and messy to fit in an either/or box.  I remained resentful of my mother for those horrific Dayton’s trips for years until I realized a disturbing truth:

If I knew of a product that would armor my children against social condemnation, I would put it on my Visa card in a hurry. 

 

 

 

Speaking of numbers, this time of year always shocks me into realizing that my kids are really and truly growing up.  As the saying goes, the years are short but the days are soooooooo looooooong.  Every year I snap first day pictures of the dynamic duo on the front stoop, and after the bus pulls away, I load the pictures up and compare them to years past.

Damn.  Remember when they were six and one?  Eight and three?  Twelve and seven?  I do.

Parents are routinely cautioned about sleepless nights and dirty diapers, but they aren’t warned about how much crazier things get when we realize that OUR BABIES are going to be vulnerable in the stupidest, most meaningless ways.

And that we will do stupid things as we attempt to protect them.

Elliott and Miriam of the future, if you are reading these words in a Google cache somewhere in the mid-21st century, know this: to me, you are both number one.  I love you no matter what.  Please forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

 

Hi there!  My name is Shannon, and I am a feminist housewife.

 

This is me in my kitchen.  Behind my arm is –NO JOKE–a loaf of homemade gluten-free bread.  I am a housewife, and a damn good one!

Do you like my apron?  it’s from the HOTDISH Militia, a group that fundraises for abortion clinics with tasty casseroles–the acronym stands for Hand Over The Decision It Should (be) Hers.  I support affordable access to the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, including abortion on demand, without apology.  That’s feminist, baby!

Combine my job with my passion, et voilà: you get me, a feminist housewife!

I didn’t aspire to be a feminist housewife when I grew up.  As a child, I wanted to write books.  As a child, I assumed that writing books would magically make money appear.

Ha, ha.

Six-year-old Shannon can be blamed for her ignorance, but what excuse does Kelly Makino, a self-identified feminist, have?  From New York Magazine’s March 17, 2013 cover story “The Retro Wife”:

The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Oh Mrs. Makino!  You retrograde goofball, you.  In case you missed this lecture in Women’s Studies 101, let me break it down for you. Choosing your choice is feminist, sure!  But GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

I can’t pick on only Kelly, though, for the author of the piece, Lisa Miller, makes some mind-boggling observations of her own:

I prepare our daughter’s lunch box every morning with ritualistic care, as if sending her off to school with a bologna sandwich made by me can work as an amulet against all the pain of my irregular, inevitable absences. I believe that I have a special gift for arranging playdates, pediatrician appointments, and piano lessons….

 

 

“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?”

Again, I must ask: what makes a girl a GIRL?  Is it a baby?  An apron?  A kickass banana bread recipe?  A Pinterest account?

What makes a boy a BOY?  A wife?

I made a choice to be my kids’ caregiver, but that choice wasn’t made in a vacuum.  My hubby and I had to weigh some very harsh realities.  Who made more money?  Who would probably ALWAYS make more money?  Who could count on consistent work for the next two decades?  If you guessed the BOY, you’re right!  You win a wife.*

Understanding how patriarchal capitalism works is feminist. GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

For the record, I am terrible at arranging playdates.  My vag has nothing to do with it–I am not only forgetful, I hate using the telephone.  I’d rather bake you a rice-tapioca-soy flour loaf.  If you want our kids to hang out, you’d better have my e-mail–or better yet, Matt’s!

All of this is very funny in the echo chamber of the internets.  I really don’t care whether Kelly Makino, Lisa Miller, or hell, Sheryl Sandberg is a housewife or not.  I DO care when one pretty white New Yorker’s lifestyle is trotted out as “proof” that women are this or that and feminism is a failure blah blah blah, because you know that articles like these delight conservatives eager to push back on women’s rights,  especially reproductive rights.  Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential contender, has already said he’d support a fetal personhood bill that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.  Without control over their fertility, women would be stuck in the kitchen making hotdish (and this is the important part) whether they want to or not.

It’s a future too horrible to contemplate.

Maybe I’ll cook a pie.  That would make me feel better.

 

*offer not valid for women

 

Mansplaining through the centuries

Friday, February 8th, 2013

 

The National Women’s History Museum posted this 1916 pamphlet on their Facebook page yesterday:

HA HA HA!

“Women are not suffering from any injustice which giving them the ballot would rectify.”

HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Isn’t it hilarious what those poor misguided idiots thought about women’s suffrage a hundred years ago?  One has to wonder what feminists of the 22nd century will think of debates happening today. What do you think my great-grandchildren will think of these words, written in 2013:

“We’ve got equal pay, and female CEO’s just as greedy and criminal as the males. So what do we need the ERA for?”

HA HA HA HA HA …ha ha….sniff sniff…..*sob*…gawd have mercy….

 

Yes, folks, I wrote an essay for Minnesota Public Radio News calling for action on the long-delayed Equal Rights Amendment and got myself soundly mansplained in the comments.  And if you think that’s enough to make a white woman (earning 77 cents for every white man’s dollar) bawl her eyes out, consider that the wage gap is FAR worse for women of color: like 62 cents (African-American women) and 54 cents (Hispanic women) worse.

An Equal Rights Amendment would sure help.

The same gentleman also insisted that “we’ve got equal sports,” which I found kinda funny in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.  I don’t remember weeks of hype leading up to the WNBA Finals last fall–and I was paying attention, because 2012 was the year my daughter and I became hardcore Minnesota Lynx fans. Maya Moore, the Lynx forward whom my daughter wants to be when she grows up, earns $45,000 a year.  Moore was the WNBA’s number one draft pick in 2011.  The NBA’s top pick that year, Kyrie Irving, was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a two-year deal worth nearly $23 MILLION DOLLARS. Wow! Is that “equal sports”?

Would an Equal Rights Amendment bring these wildly disparate pro basketball salaries into alignment?   Free market mansplainers will squawk “hell no!” but I say we give it a try!

 

I could write a (long-threatened!) women’s studies dissertation disproving these gentleman’s claims, but I have two children, a marriage, and fresh grief that runs deeper than the sorrows of First World Woman.  I urge YOU, however, to keep talking about the real need for the ERA to your friends, colleagues, unfortunately unavoidable mansplainers, and most importantly, your elected representatives.  Your signature on this White House petition would be nice, too.

 

 

 

 

In praise of gender warriors

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

“You’re born naked and the rest is drag.

 

My daughter recently asked me if my favorite television star (that would be Mama Ru, of course, the genius who uttered the quote above) was a man who dressed like a woman.  I said, “no, honey.  RuPaul is a man who dresses like a drag queen.  There’s a big difference.”

“What is the difference?” she wondered.

“Well,” I said, “I’m a woman, and you don’t see me wearing six inch platforms, candy-colored couture gowns, and wigs the size of small dogs, do you?”  She shook her head.  Her mom is so obviously NOT a drag queen!  As I’ve mentioned before, my idea of dressing up is slipping on a pair of new Chuck Taylors.

In fact, I present pretty butch for someone who’s a straight married housewife.  I don’t want to sleep with Rachel Maddow, but I would love it if she’d take me shopping.

 

 

I love that belt.

All this begs the question: do clothes make the wo/man?  You know they don’t, and for that we must be grateful to the gender warriors who have made it okay to play dress-up, including folks like Amelia Bloomer and others in American feminism’s first wave.

That’s what civil rights are about, after all: FREEDOM.  To live life honestly, with dignity and autonomy, with all the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.  In 21st century America, you might meet women who say they’re not feminists, but you’re not going to find any who think they shouldn’t have the right to vote…or wear pants.

 

We may be in the fourth or fifth wave of feminism nowadays, but  millions still struggle every day against the rigidity of gender conformity.  My friend Andrea wrote a very moving account of the crap that she, as a nonconforming trans person, goes through just to use a public toilet.  We posted it on the Minnesota NOW blog on Transgender Day of Remembrance, because Andrea has justification for her bathroom anxiety–in 2011, a trans woman in Maryland was nearly beaten to death for attempting to enter the McDonald’s restroom door marked with the stick figure in a skirt.  You remember the case because the manager of the restaurant filmed the whole damned thing on his phone.

As Andrea put it, “all this, for a bathroom.”

Gender performance is in the news again today, as Carnival Cruises has just announced that having drag performers IN DRAG on a DRAG-THEMED CRUISE would be a security risk.  Because when a guy puts on a dress, al Qaeda wins!

 

Gender rigidity hurts everyone, on a continuum of hideous violence on one end to incredible annoyance on the other.  The sickening queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are WERKING to make the world a little safer, and a little saner, for us all.

I hope their fans get their money back.

 

UPDATED: Carnival came to their senses and reversed the drag ban.  Jesus is a biscuit!

 

 

 

 

 

We are all made of scars

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

 

One of the great things about working for a feminist media outlet is being assigned stories that are actually a pleasure to research and write.  In fact, I regularly get hipped to people, places, and things that make me kick myself and think “why the hell didn’t I know about this?”  In the last year alone I’ve learned about the fab musical “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” the wildly talented pop-funk singer-songwriter Mayda, and now, the photography project Of Scars.

 

 

You can read my full-length feature for the Minnesota Women’s Press here.  It contains the who, what, where, when, why and how of the project, which in their words “explores all the facets of living with the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer through photography, education, networking and community outreach.”

On my blog, however, I can be as opinionated and decidedly non-newsy as I please.  I can tell you about how I’ve been thinking about Of Scars nearly every day since Kate and Elli allowed me into their studio to take a peek at the pictures.

 

 

I’m a feminist, but I hate my body.  As I’ve written here before, I am a feminist because I hate my body–I recognize that patriarchal capitalism wants me to hate my body, and I’m fighting that shit every time I look in the mirror.  Self-acceptance is a truly radical act, and one I’m striving towards every day.

Most of the time I fail.

In my Women’s Press piece, I make reference to a “smiling model who posed topless in a Wonder Woman costume” (above, she appears in the SFW version from the Of Scars website). Here in my blog I can add that her smile was one of the fiercest, most kickass things I’ve ever seen.  As I held her photograph in my hands, I wondered what it would take for me to feel the same fearlessness about myself.  Here was my genuine, unedited, terrifying thought:

Would my body need to be mutilated for me to appreciate it?  Would it need to be pulled back from the brink of death to be loved unconditionally?  

Several days ago, Lady Gaga responded to criticism about gaining 25 pounds by posting pictures of herself in a bikini on her website.  She looks fabulous, as shapely and delicious as Marilyn Monroe in her prime.  As much as I appreciate the gesture, as well as Gaga’s admission of eating disorders and her hope to “BREED some m$therf*cking COMPASSION” by doing it, I couldn’t help experiencing another genuine, unedited, terrifying thought:

Are you kidding me? This gorgeous young woman is supposed to be the face of “bravery” and “body acceptance”?!  Give me a break.  Where are HER scars?  If she truly was bulimic, she has ‘em–bite marks on the fingers she used to make herself puke.  I want to see THOSE.  

These decidedly NON-compassionate thoughts are my scars on display.  These scars have covered decades of cuts, some big (“outta my way, fat bitch!) and some small (“you need foundation to cover up that splotchy skin of yours”).

Kate told me in her studio that breast cancer magnifies and multiplies everything women feel about their bodies and by extension, themselves.   I think she’s right.  I’m grateful that she and Elli are using their art and their studio to begin this important conversation.  We all have scars to share with each other, and ways we can learn from one another, no matter what the demon we’re battling.

If you’re in the Twin Cities on September 29, you can view Of Scars, the photography exhibition, for yourself.  I’d like to know what you see.

 

 

All photos of non-internationally famous pop stars by Of Scars and are used with permission.

 

The writings of “an extreme liberal/feminist/atheist and occupy supporter”

Friday, September 14th, 2012

 

Sigh.

Yes, that’s me, tippity-tap-tapping away at my dented Compaq for your reading enjoyment.  I do my writing on the dining room table, though.  Who can type on a couch?  Here’s a small sampling of what I’ve had published lately.  Interpret according to your identity politics*:

 

Global patriarchy back in business. Minnesota Women’s Press, September 2012.

 

 

Periods of great national stress tend to demand scapegoats, even ones as unlikely as Sandra Fluke, the law school student at Georgetown who was called a slut and a prostitute after testifying before a Congressional committee in favor of legislation supporting birth control. The control of women and their bodies is a political imperative in cultures around the world and in eras throughout human history, and nothing brings out misogyny more than global recession, prolonged war and environmental catastrophe. Women are the canaries in this ever-deepening coal mine. 

 

Lawn signs have their place, but shouldn’t neighbors be talking too?  Minnesota Public Radio News, September 12, 2012.

 

She wouldn’t have learned much from me, but she might have learned something from other neighbors at National Night Out. Neighbors like the gay couple across the alley and the lesbian couple several doors down. Lest she think that all GLBT people in the area are in a mad dash to the altar, she could also have met the singleton known to mingle in Palm Springs at Dinah Shore Weekend.

And these were just the folks who were out; untold others could be B (bisexual), or T (transgender), or part of the rainbow of difference in countless other ways. At our block’s annual event last month, there were elderly neighbors, toddler neighbors, surly teenage neighbors, neighbors of color, white neighbors, a neighbor in a wheelchair, a neighbor with multiple disabilities, gluten-free neighbors who avoided the brownies and vegetarian neighbors who avoided the hot dogs.

 

“An Atheist Grieves.” Atheist Voices of Minnesota. Edited by Bill Lehto.  Freethought House, 2012.
(enter to win your own signed copy of the book HERE!)

 

My son and daughter, ages 11 and 6 respectively, have never attended a funeral. By the time I was Elliott’s age I’d lost both of my Greatest Generation-era grandfathers; Elliott and Miriam’s four grandparents are Baby Boomers who are reaping the benefits of the late 20th century’s scientific advances, including the once-mocked theory that smoking cigarettes is a bad idea.  My kids are lucky, though they don’t know it.

The nearest my children have come to the reality of death occurred in November of 2007, when my very dear friend Liz succumbed to colon cancer when she was only 35.  Her death was painful, but foreseeable; during the final year of her life she was seriously ill, with more surgeries and hospital visits than I could count.  I visited her as often as I could, but for my Minneapolis-based children her death outside Boston happened offstage, not unlike the lead character’s mother in Bambi.  Instead of an echoing gunshot, my children heard the telephone ring at an hour too early for good news and the dull thud of my body as I slumped to the floor.

 

Finally, we have something that I didn’t write, but it’s too hilarious not to repost here.  It’s in reference to a comment I made in support of a piece by fellow MPR scribe Haddayr Copley-Woods:

 

 

How, HOW, did this young lady** discover my secret?  For years I’ve endeavored to hide my liberalism, my feminism, my atheism, and my socialist tendencies from the world!   Sure, the masthead photos on this website feature the word “abortion” twice, but doesn’t everybody’s?

Doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

*my parents are under no illusions whatsoever about me working in an office. They know my all-time favorite job (other than child-rearing of course! derp) was selling used CDs at Cheapo.  Gotta aim big, you guys!

**yes, Nicole, I know how to do Google searches too.  In fact, it took me just a few clicks to discover that your boyfriend of nearly six years still hasn’t proposed, much to your family & friends’ chagrin.  My “liberal/feminist/atheist and occupy supporter” advice would be to propose to him yourself, but you probably wouldn’t listen.  If you’re truly as antifeminist as you claim, you ought to ask your Facebook pal Rush Limbaugh for his opinion, which I’m guessing would be: “stop putting out, you dirty tramp.”

 

 

 

Why you’ll never be mom enough

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Tits out, ladies!

Unhook your bras and settle in for another battle in the Mommy Wars 2012, kicked into gear ever since Hilary Rosen thoughtlessly insisted that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.”  And maybe you heard about that Elisabeth Badinter book?

Why, even the New York Times devoted an opinion page to a debate it called “Motherhood vs. Feminism”   (this happened, like, a whole week and a half before the infamous Time magazine boob cover, so you can be forgiven for not recalling it).

Yes: motherhood VERSUS feminism, as if the two are mutually exclusive.  Please direct your attention to the left of your screen, to the “About Me” widget, for my thoughtful perspective.*

One of the NYT essays is titled “Let’s Not Pass Judgement.”  It’s not as good as the piece by Annie Urban, which you really MUST read, but I agree with its sentiment.  Women shouldn’t be fighting each other for our “choices”–we should be wagging our shame fingers at the systems that conspire against us, consumer culture and patriarchal capitalism in particular.  Repeat after me: class wars, not Mommy Wars.

I’ve been thinking about this not-passing-of-judgment thing.  A few weeks ago, a feminist site I enjoy posted a photo on Facebook of the now-infamous Tanorexic Mom, wondering if all the harsh criticism of this woman’s “choice” to fry her pale skin wasn’t antithetical to the feminist ideal of to each her own?

Hmm.

 

HMMMMMMMM.

Once again, we must return to the tricky notion of “choice.”  This woman chose to change her appearance rather drastically.  But did she, really?  Let’s ask our frenemy, good old consumer culture.  Pale women are told to buy creams and tanning beds to look acceptable.  Dark women are told to buy fading creams and treatments (like Photoshop) to look acceptable.  It doesn’t take long for these messages to tip vulnerable people into obsession, if not outright mental illness.

Is Patricia Krentcil mom enough?  A lot of people don’t think so.  For one thing, she is awfully ugly…unlike the lovely Jamie Lynne Grumet, she of the boob seen ’round the world:

 

 

Breastfeeding is, of course, a very good thing.  Unlike tanning, it has clear health benefits and does not cause cancer.  The fact that Grumet nurses her 4-year-old threatens me not a whit.  Her defiant stance, however, coupled with the hysterical cover copy, adds more fuel to the already tired notion of breastfeeding as a lifestyle “choice,”  and that’s when I get pissed.

I hate to break it to y’all, but nursing a baby is a biological function.  Our bodies are designed to do it–but please do not confuse this fact with a moral judgment upon you for not doing it!  PLEASE!  If you feel threatened by what you perceive to be my judgment, you are going to waste your time battling little old ME, not demanding change from the systems that conspire against a truly family-friendly society.

Suck on this: the United States is one of only four countries in the world that does not offer some kind of paid maternity leave.  The other three are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.  The latter country has an annual per capita income of $1600, so I can see why they can’t afford it.  The USA, not so much.

Would you “choose” to nurse your child if you had the “choice” to take paid maternity leave?  I bet you would.  And no matter your skin color, your body size or shape, you’d look damned good doing it.

According to patriarchal capitalism, you are NOT mom enough, and you never will be.  You have to hate yourself to buy what they’re selling….tanning packages, magazines, economic systems that trickle down slower than a dried-up teat (and that’s s-l-o-w).

So tuck those boobs back in and start shopping!

 

 

*short version: it’s bullshit

 

 


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"With The Radical Housewife, Shannon Drury shares her journey as a stay-at-home mother and activist, filling in a wide gap within the feminist sphere. Drury not only takes the reader through her own feminist awakening and activist career, but also provides a bit of Feminist 101, reviewing the history of US feminism in an easily accessible way. A mixture of unflinching honesty and snarky humor, this book serves as a necessary reminder that mothers are an integral part of the feminist movement, despite not always being recognized as such." --Avital Norman Nathman, editor of The Good Mother Myth