Welcome to the September 13 14, 2009 edition of the Carnival of Feminist Parenting. Sorry it’s late, I was finding it hard to type yesterday due to having decapitated my finger with a potato peeler (don’t ask).
There have been precisely two submissions this month which haven’t come from me – three if you count two people suggesting the same piece. The second piece which was suggested seems to have disappeared along with the blog it was posted on, unfortunately. I know I’ve gone on about this before, but it really is getting me down. If there aren’t a decent number of submissions this month, I am considering stopping the Carnival; there doesn’t seem much point in having a Carnival without submissions, and I feel a little like I’m shouting into a void.
That said, there are a lot of posts to look at in this month’s carnival because I’ve been bookmarking all of my own favourites. So here they are, enjoy the carnival – and please, please, if you write or read a post which you like and think would be relevant, submit it!
“There is no such thing as Superwoman, or Supermum. We need to lose the martyr image and stop taking it all on for the sake of appearances or because our partners won’t lift a finger or because we think it’s “just what women do.” We should not be complicit in our oppression, in our degradation. The unhappiness, the depression, the feelings of inadequacy and anger…these are all too common threads in the fabric of mothering. We are people with dreams and desires and needs. We are worthy of respect and authority and autonomy.”
And here are the posts I’ve found around the blogosphere over the past month.
“So, “motherhood” is that patriarchal institution, essentially, and “mothering,” especially feminist mothering, is a more active, positive place from which to move. I like this separation because it allows us to critique societal expectations of mothers without getting to a point where the only way out is to jettison being a mother altogether. It suggests that, dammit, yes, mothering can be a feminist practice, it can be a creative practice, it can be a liberating practice – an expanding practice, as La Lubu suggests.”
“If you are an adult in my daughter’s life, know this: it’s not about me. It’s about her. If she comes to you about birth control, help her. Take her to Planned Parenthood. Give her condoms. If it means you have to take her to another state to help her get an abortion, because it’s what she needs and we live in a state with parental notification laws, then take her. Go with her, and hold her hand, and hug her afterwards, and make sure she has someone to talk to. Sure, you can tell her that she can talk to me – you can offer to help her do it. But if she doesn’t want to, if she’s scared or ashamed or just too overwhelmed, that’s OK. It’s more important that she gets what she needs than that I know about it.”
“This is when, in a sane society, her physician or nurse would nod, draw on hir vast knowledge of and experience with medications appropriate for breastfeeding, and say “No problem, that only rules out a very few classes of drugs, there are lots of things we can try still.” Or, barring that, would reach for the copy of Hale’s zie keeps handy in hir office, or would call one of the many breastfeeding-knowledgeable pharmacists zie keeps on file as references. The woman and the health care provider she employs would then work together to pick a medication most appropriate for her particular situation.
That is not what usually happens. Too often (ever would be too often), the physician, upon hearing said disclosure, automatically replies “I don’t want to give you anything until you wean/terminate breastfeeding/stop doing that.”
There is so much wrong with this situation, I hardly know where to start.”
“To my American hospital-birthing friends: you know this matters to you, whether you wanted food in labor or not, whether you were at an enlightened hospital or not; know also that it matters to me. To my American homebirthing- and birth-center-using-friends: it’s not enough to just escape the system. We aren’t all that lucky (approximately 12% of intended homebirths transfer in labor), and we don’t all want to. The system has to get better for when we need it, for when our sisters need it, for when our sisters want it. To my non-American or non-birthing friends: Birth rights are reproductive rights are human rights. What happens to one of us happens to all. As voz_latina says: “There can be no equality until all women have control over all aspects of our bodies. Birth, transition status, personhood.””
Just like athletics: exploring a childbirth analogy the last one in this edition from Raising My Boychick.
“One of the arguments used against “natural childbirth” is “we don’t allow people to be in pain in any other circumstance: why would we allow women to hurt in birth?” But it simply isn’t true, and the disproof brings me to one of my favorite childbirth analogies: athletics. The metaphor of birth as marathon has certainly been done before, but if you will indulge me, I wish to explore some of the specifically misogynistic implications of this particular assertion using this particular analogy once again.”
“The only objection I can see to women not staying at home with babies is when it comes to breastfeeding as something only women are biologically equipped to do. But even that objection has no substance once you examine it more closely. I agree that breastfeeding is undeniably easier if you don’t have to go straight back to work and deal with the headache of pumping. We are very lucky we have decent maternity leave provisions in the UK which mean many are able to stay at home long enough for their baby to have started some solids which helps. So yes, it is difficult but not impossible. It is a testament to the love and dedication breastfeeding working mothers feel for their children that they are willing to express, dash back to their child at lunchtime for a feed or reverse cycle and feed all night. If workplaces and employers were more flexible and we were able to bring our young babies to work, or we could cross-nurse this would not be an issue. But paid work outside the home and breastfeeding are not mutually exclusive.”
“Mirrors. Useful tools in which to check you’ve got your buttons done up before you leave the house, or something to approach with caution and never, ever naked? Where do you sit on the spectrum and if you’ve had a child(ren) has this changed? Once stretchmarks, breast changes, lost muscle tone, altered vagina or cesarean scars are taken into account it is a rare body which is left entirely unchanged by the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. How do we cope with these changes? Ought we to see motherhood as an affliction that has destroyed our bodies, opting to ‘fix’ the ‘damage’ with a ‘mummy tuck’ or gruelling diet and exercise regime?
Or could we view motherhood as an opportunity to reclaim our bodies and selves from the pernicious messages delivered by the media and fashion industries which tell us how to look, what to wear and above all to measure our worth in terms of an unattainable, airbrushed standard of perfection?”
“In India, a disabled girl-child is usually at the receiving end of a lot of contempt and neglect. Women with disabilities have been consistently denied their rights. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court recently allowed a 19-year-old mentally challenged orphan girl to carry on with a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault. The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling had earlier ordered medical termination of pregnancy (MTP).”
“It has been through pregnancy that I see “Feminism” with new eyes and I see much more red than I ever saw before. Red bias, red intentions, red discrimination, red narrowness…I see red. Reproductive health rights are arrows pointing to the majority of heterosexual, young white women. Sexuality and spirituality are rarely explored as an interlaced relationship. The conferences change names, but still move in their same agenda. “Liberal” and “progressive” are thrown around without much depth and review. Blog wars still flare from time to time, roaming from appropriation to racism, but after a few months of quiet, you’ll still find the same bloggers rowing in the currents of mainstream thought and contributing to US-centric, heteronormative rhetoric that alientates and ostracizes “unpopular” issues like the fact WE ARE STILL AT WAR IN IRAQ, WE ARE NOT A POST-RACE SOCIETY BECAUSE WE HAVE A BI-RACIAL PRESIDENT, and the violence of poverty and rape still choke the life out of womyn everywhere in the world.”
“The nicest thing was after the birth I could have a bath in my own home, sit on the sofa, and watch TV with a cup of tea,” says Katrina Fox, 29, a full-time mother from Bournemouth who gave birth to her daughter Casia at home eight months ago. She joins a growing number of women who have decided to have a home birth. Though still only accounting for less than 3% of births in the UK, the Office of National Statistics shows there has been an 8% increase in the number of home births since 2006, and this figure is thought to be rising.”
“The other day I was on the playground with my campers, who are going into third grade, and the topic of pregnancy came up. Several of the kids were adopted, as was one of my co-counselors, so conversations about different kinds of families and how they are made had come up before, but never in this much detail.
I suddenly remembered that it is difficult to answer kids’ questions: they are blunt and persistent, having yet to be hushed by what society deems acceptable to discuss in polite company. How do we talk to children about immensely complicated issues, in language that’s simple enough to understand but doesn’t shed necessary intricacies and ambiguities?”
“There’s no such thing as a “Mr. Mom.” Yes, I know—but hilarious ’80s movie starring Michael Keaton fighting a rogue vacuum cleaner aside, that role actually has a real name, which is “Dad.” (Or Father, Daddy, Pops, Old Man, Pater Familias, or some other variation thereof.) “Mr. Mom” implies that parenting (and/or cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) is only something women can do, which is factually incorrect.”
“When people see me out and about with Wriggly they think I’m a stay at home mum, because I’m a woman and he’s little. When people see Wriggly’s dad out and about with him they almost always conclude he’s in paid work and having a day off.
Enlightened societal attitudes to sharing parenting? Nope, not there yet.”
“I’ve been out of town supporting some friends while they had a baby.”
“Awwww. Was it a boy or a girl?”
I’ve had a great deal of trouble with this instant reaction. Is that really the most important thing you could think of to ask?
I usually just tell them the assigned sex* and leave it at that. I’ve called a couple of people out on their reaction: “Would you have said the same thing if I’d said [the other sex]?” The answer has always been “yes”, and I’ve been in situations where it hasn’t felt appropriate to go on and point out “well, why ask, then?”
“In Canada, corporal punishment has long since been outlawed but this is not the case in the United States. As millions of children return to school they do so with the knowledge that along with new friends and lessons,that the paddle is also awaiting them. Despite much documented evidence that spanking is bad, adults continue to be violent with children, in the false belief that it encourages them to alter behaviour that we have deemed unpleasant or dangerous. I have spoken at length about my own dances with the belt and the trauma that is caused but many today feel that because they were spanked and turned out fine, that violence against children is acceptable.”
“It is bad enough that the patriarchal society that we live in still limits women’s choices. But it is even worse when one woman looks down on another woman for the choices that she has made. That is why I will not and I cannot support any politician or any group, female or not, that seeks to limit the choices that women have. Especially when they themselves have benefitted from some of the choices that were available to them.”
“She hasn’t told us so, but her camp counselor told my husband that the boys are teasing her about her hair. “You look like a boy!” is their main chant. This led to a discussion about teasing, boys and gender. Sadly I have to admit that we immediately think “What are those boys’ parents teaching them?” But I quickly recall that gendered expectations are pervasive in our sexist society. Girls|Boys, there is no in between.”
“At least this year, I thought, there will be no battles over whether Barbie and her wardrobe will inhabit our house, no pop-psych deconstructions of the Little Mermaid trading her voice for a husband. We won’t debate whether Power Rangers provide badly needed female action heroes or equal opportunity violence. It will be all Duplos, Play Doh and Beanie Babies.
But I was wrong.
As we assembled the farm set, we found that the father plugged into a round hole in the driver’s seat of the tractor but the mother — literally a square peg in a round hole — didn’t. And so it began.”
“It’s a silly rhyme – not worth mentioning, right? In the grand scheme of ESP, probably not. But when our kids are subtlely buying into the idea that it’s perfectly normal for moms to do all the caregiving and dads to tune out the family, we’re setting up the next generation to unconsciously act out this age-old inequality (with both parents missing out on a lot of fun).”
“Despite the fact that 89 per cent of people who experience repeat incidents of domestic violence are women, despite the fact that two women are killed every week by a male partner or former partner, despite the fact that one in four women will experience domestic violence and that it accounts for between 16 per cent and one quarter of all recorded crime, the Mail reckons schools shouldn’t teach children that it’s wrong, clearly because it’s part of an insidious feminist agenda which wants to see men removed from society altogether.”
“It is fascinating that despite living in a household where gender roles are not defined, this young man has already drawn a clear line in the sand regarding male and female roles. Sitting with my friend I theorized that perhaps he learned this at school. She’d previously described a little girl that claimed her son as “husband” and not only is he tasked with hugging her before leaving on a daily basis but they frequently play together in the kitchen. He sits at the table while she “cooks” him a meal. Again, these stereotypical gender roles are perplexing. All of the children in the class have mothers that work outside of the home and at least 90% are doctors – MD or PhDs. I mention this because these women are in powerful positions and yet the children still buy into the stereotypes.”
“Somebody please raise your hand and explain to me who will be paying the taxes that will sustain this country if there are no future generations? I really want to know. If you think you’re so smart, explain to me who’s going to be wiping your ass at the nursing home, or finding a cure for your Alzheimer’s, or even driving the ambulance when you go into cardiac arrest, if there are no more people being born and taking up these jobs? Who’s going to pay the taxes into the system that gives you EMTs, and police, and transportation, and Medicaid, and Social Security? Do you think that when you’re 80, the 80 yr old next to you is going to be doing all these things? Obviously not. No, it’s probably going to be a 20-something year old; a child born years and years from now – maybe a child born to my children. So clearly children are not obsolete. And wouldn’t you rather have healthy, happy children who were taken care of by their mothers/fathers and by society? Wouldn’t you want the person in charge of curing your cancer to have those few extra IQ points and be in overall good health? Well, you probably didn’t think that one through too well, did ya?”
“To which my response is: fuck. Right. Off. I’m not going to be told when and how and with whom I may breed, by anyone, thanks. My body is mine: it’s not a tool of your crumbling kyriarchy, it’s not a self-replicating node in your future white race, and it’s not a mute block to shore up a class structure contorting in the face of global migration. Fuck off with your misogynist frothings: I’m not anyone’s baby-making machine. I don’t care when I ‘should’ get pregnant. I’ll carry a child when I want, or not at all.”
“I now recognize the fallacy of my ways. And I must begrudgingly admit that there might be some grain of truth in her accusations. I am now actively trying to be more equitable in my treatment of my children. I am now actively trying to raise people—not men or women but people, people who think critically, who act not out of fear but out of rational thought, who are independent and confident in themselves and driven from within.”
“When we had our baby and started amassing books, I was quite frankly amazed and disturbed at how sexist so many children’s books are. Including books my progressive friends and I remember quite fondly, though vaguely or in gender-ideology-free snippets. Stuff I found myself unable to read aloud with the cheerful, engaging enthusiasm one attempts to inject into even the most exhausted of readings when one hopes to raise a lifelong book-lover. Mrs. Mallard gets the little ducky babies all nice and tidy to meet Dad after his big trip; Daddy drives Mommy and the kids to the grocery store and, wow, Daddy’s such a good driver; always with the pretty-and-nurturing women/girls and strong-and-active men/boys; the sort of repetitive crap that elicits eye-rolling and a sarcastic voice from me. What are feminist bookworm parents to do?”
That concludes this edition, I really hope you’ve enjoyed it. As I said at the beginning, please please submit your blog article or one you’ve read and loved to the next edition of the Carnival of Feminist Parenting using our carnival submission form. The next edition will be posted on Sunday 11th October 2009 and the submission deadline is Sunday 4th October. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the Carnival home page.