Welcome to the October 11, 2009 edition of the Carnival of Feminist Parenting. There have been quite a few submissions this month, for which I am very grateful! But don’t rest on your laurels, people – get submitting for next month’s Carnival!
Without further ado, the Carnival!
“And gradually, once the dust had settled, my child learned more things. He learned that mothers live small rented houses in poor areas, but fathers live in their own, larger houses in nicer areas. He learned that mothers have tiny televisions and fathers have huge widescreen High Definition affairs with surround sound and cinemascope. He learned that going to the supermarket with his mother takes forever by foot and involves heavy bags being lugged back home, but that doing it with his father is a quick two minute job in the car…
But, he also learns that his father changes nappies now. That his mother does DIY. That fathers can and in often do see their children even when they’ve split from the mother. That mothers don’t always put barriers to access even if the paths of men they don’t like and have reason not to like. That his father also cooks and cleans. That his mother also sometimes sits down and rests in front of the television with a beer.”
“Part of the shock of this story, is that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger. How different would the reaction to this incident have been, had it been the mother that decided to slap the girl? Many would have seen it as a disciplinary action, rather than a case of chid abuse. Unlike adults, children are deemed not to exist with the right to live lives free of violence. Unless it is extreme, we don’t consider it abusive and therefore, we refuse to accept that any violence regardless of the reason is wrong.
If one adult were to slap another, we would have no problem understanding that this situation was not only inherently violent but wrong, however; when it comes to children because of their lack of social power, the situation is often read quite differently. Children have few voices to advocate on their behalf and even those who regularly comment on family values, fail to actually put the best interest of the child first.”
“Parents of course have the right (within legal limits) to raise their children as they see fit. But for the life of me I can find no logical reason why circumcision should be recommended for day-old babies who are many years away from engaging in the types of behaviors which would put them at risk for HIV and other infections.
“But it also lowers the risk of penile cancer!” people like to mention when the topic of circumcision comes up, but the fact is that this type of cancer is extraordinarily rare in the US. Only 0.2% of cancers in men and 0.1% of cancer deaths in men in the United States are from penile cancer. Contrast this with the fact that 16% of US men will face prostate cancer in their lifetimes — and yet we do not remove the prostate at birth. Or the fact that 12% of US women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes — and yet we do not remove breast tissue at birth.”
“I know exactly how lucky I am to be in the position that I am in, and to be able to say with confidence that I never considered terminating this pregnancy. But not everyone is as well off as I am – and even I have not always been where I am today. If I had gotten pregnant, say, ten years ago, my circumstances would have been entirely different. I was still in school, still living paycheque to paycheque, and although I can’t remember who my boyfriend was at the time, I can guarantee that neither of us was at all ready for parenthood. If had gotten pregnant then, would I have had an abortion? I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I would at least have considered it.
And I would have considered myself lucky, even then, to have had the option of not continuing the pregnancy, and of avoiding the huge financial and emotional costs of bearing a child that I was not equipped to raise at that point in my life.”
“There’s also an assumption that “responsible” eating/parenting requires retention of vast stores of information about every little situation, every bite, every nutrient, every variable that puts your body or your child closer to what’s best. What, you DIDN’T know that mustard has X points / that blueberries are a super food / that that toy was recalled last month / that Montessori education has the following positive outcomes / that the latest IOM or BMJ study says such-and-such / that it’s bad to be too hovering / that it’s bad to be too inattentive / that carbs are good now? / that carbs are still bad? What are you, selfish? Or just stupid and benighted, one of those sheeple who just parents/eats unthinkingly with no connoisseurship, health-consciousness, or taste?
Moreover, all those little details have to coalesce into a Special Way of Doing Things. An eating program, a “healthy lifestyle,” a parenting philosophy. Nothing can work in practice if it doesn’t work in theory, because it’s the theory that distinguishes you from those poor slobs who just do whatever they want. You certainly can’t just eat on the fly, enjoying what tastes good and what makes you feel good. You have to have a special way you eat that you tell people about with a convert’s zeal. And you certainly can’t just parent on the fly. You have to have even the smallest decision be part of a consistent parenting ethic more substantial than “It was what happened to work right then, for me. For you it might be different.“
And one more from JMegan - Feminism in Schools: Teaching Feminism When You’re Not a Feminist posted by Ashley at Small Strokes.
“If someone decides not to teach feminism, this does not make him/her a bad teacher or a bad person. Perhaps they feel they don’t know enough about feminism to do it justice and, therefore, leave it alone. Perhaps they, unlike us, don’t think about feminism every day and, therefore, just haven’t thought about teaching it before. Perhaps they didn’t have time to teach feminism because they were busy teaching about another historically marginalized group. I highly doubt, in this day and age, with such progressive teachers in the classroom, that many teachers don’t teach feminism because they are anti-feminist.
Although I absolutely agree that the concept and historical aspect of feminism is important for our youth to understand, I don’t know that it is necessary to explicitly teach feminism in order for the same effect to happen. As L alluded to in her guest post, simply rearranging the classroom or, as Laura herself mentioned in her guest post, allowing girls to have as much as a say as boys can help girls feel empowered, which is as much a part of feminism as anything else. As Sophia suggested in her guest post, teaching the literature and history of women is also integral. And you don’t have to be a feminist or even talk about feminism to do any of these things.”
“As a semi-screwed up human being who never expected to be a good parent, I’ve always been aware that my son would one day leave me. This is not meant to be a bad thing – holding on to him too closely would only harm him. My primary role is to allow him to be himself, grow self-assured and competent in a safe, loving environment. Hopefully from out of those, he will learn to make himself happy.
He’s starting high school next week, and it feels like overnight he stopped being mama’s kid. He was never a mamby-pamby shmuck, but he did still seem to like talking to his mom to a degree. Now it’s all embarrassment and don’t-be-so- affectionate. I respect his need to get away from hovering mommy, but it is so haaaarrrrrd for me. I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect how much it would take for me to mind my own business and give him room. I didn’t expect to be torn in two by my equal desire to be a good parent and my need to protect him from everything. I didn’t expect to need to protect myself from being separated from the odd little space alien I gave birth to, the critter who helped me reconceive myself as not being the horrible person I’d thought I was.”
Chally presents How Can Feminist Mums Avoid Being Humourless Childhood-Ruiners? posted by Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town.
“Feminist households are the households in which children are being brought up to believe that anything is possible. That their lives are an open book. That they are in charge of their own destiny. That they deserve to live free of violence and oppression, as well as having an obligation to treat others with respect. Non-feminist households are the households where children are being raised to believe that their gender roles are rigidly prescribed, that their life must conform to strict, narrow guidelines, and that if they stray an inch outside of those guidelines – in sexuality, in body type, in gender identity or presentation, in reproductive choices, in career path – that they should live in shame and fear and guilt. Non-feminist households are the households where the parents ridicule their children for expressing themselves, where they send the daughter to another room to breastfeed, where they deride the son who wants to be a nurse, where they explode in anger when a son turns out to be gay, where they excommunicate when the daughter becomes a son. Those are the angry and humourless households. Not mine.”
“Parents will tell you they know for sure which characteristics are caused by gender because they have both a daughter and a son of their own. Never mind the sample size, they have been able to see it for themselves and you should ditch that feminist foolery. This is how you can get the seemingly contradictory outcome where parents tell you boys are the noisy ones, and they know this because they have two children and their son is the noisier of the two. And yet other parents will tell you that girls are the noisy ones, and they know this because they have two daughters who are real ‘chatterboxes’ (ie. gender appropriate form of noisiness).”
“If you lived in a world where you were constantly confronted by new things, which you were expected to assimilate and understand quickly and without showing concern? If you pretty much never got to choose your own activities? If you were regularly touched, lifted and restrained without your permission? If you lived at the mercy of, however loving, people who were in total charge of your comings and goings, your access to food and drink, your access to activities you enjoy?
I’m not trying to say that we all traumatise our children horribly for no reason. This is not mother-blaming central. But too often we don’t see children as people; we don’t think, hey, if I were taken from something I was absorbed in, strapped into a pushchair and hurried down the road without anyone checking I understood what was going on, would I scream and struggle? Probably.”
Janet Fraser presents If it involves women, it’s a feminist issue. Right? posted at Looking Glass Alice.
“Just because my body has the potential to grow people and then feed them for years at a time doesn’t mean I think every woman must do this, that it is morally superior, that it makes me a better person, or that life is lacking for those who choose not to use that potential. It’s just the reality of my life and the lives of most women in the world for I figure that most women do bear children. Men’s bodies don’t do what mine has the potential to do, fact.
Some of us do it under truly vile conditions, in places where we’re enslaved, in households where our lives are not our own because of abuse. A very small number of us do it joyfully, with full embrace and try also to improve the world while we do it.
Regardless of this, it is because it is done by women that it must be a feminist issue.”
“I’m not calling toddlers abusers, of course. I emphatically do not subscribe to the school of thought that we enter the world as little monsters/devils/dictators/savages who need to be “civilized” (or worse, “whipped into shape”) by adults. Rather, we enter this world primed to attach to and learn from the older humans around us, and all of childhood is naught but practice at adulthood. That’s why playing “house” and pretend “work” are universal, why toddlers start mimicking us as soon as possible, why they always want to “help” (no matter how much their “help” is actually a hindrance).
No, the problem is not with toddlers, who are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, but with the triggers we as parents have brought to this gig: the problem is that we were abused in the first place, that our bodies were not considered ours, that our nos were ignored, that others felt free to violate us, that those who should have protected us instead turned aside and pretended not to see. And for that, of course, I blame the kyriarchy.”
“The love a parent gives a child should not be like that pineapple candle holder. There should not be conditions or strings attached. The love I give The Kid has no strings. There is not an act she could perform that would cause me to stop loving her, or to do something that might cause her to believe that I do. Sure, there could be things that she could do that would make me angry or that could even hurt me. She might even (hopefully not) someday do something illegal or unthinkable, and you can believe that I would cry and bargain with unseen deities and be the first one to call the cops…but I would still love her. When she is away I call her. When I am sick I still make time for her. I make time daily for her alone, whether it is one on one cooking time, time for her to read to me, a walk and talk, a window shopping trip there is always time set aside just for her. I try to make sure that there are little things to reassure her that she is loved.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Breastfeeding is icky! Boobs are ugly if not being used as sexual objects! Fuck that, and fuck you if you hold similar sentiments. Breast feeding is natural and necessary, and actually not comparable at all to having bowel movements in public, can people let that dumbass non-metaphor go already? It’s stupid and could not be less accurate. No one forces you to ogle an already uncomfortable mother, avert your prissy eyes. The author of this comment posts what she calls a “rant” under the comic.
God, how immature is this person? I’m a feminist, but I’m going to refer to breasts that are used in their biological function as veiny flesh bags. And then I, as someone who clearly does not have children, am going to suggest that you simply take your baby into a germ infested bathroom to feed her. Nice.”
That concludes this edition of the Carnival of Feminist Parenting. Submit your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Everyone did so well making this month’s Carnival a success – let’s do the same for next month shall we?