Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year

Happy New Year's eve, everyone.

As promised in previous New Year posts, no big resolutions or pronouncements of change coming from here. What will 2015 be like? I suspect we'll all acquire a few new good habits and maybe some that aren't so good as well. But I know we'll muddle through somehow. Which is totally enough. More than enough.  If you think about it, flourishing and blossoming and soaring are all great, but how much of your life is made up of these soaring-through-the-clouds moments? Not very many. The majority of the time, we're muddling through. And we should give ourselves credit for being such damn good muddlers in a busy, complicated world. So I guess there's my New Year's message. Go forth and muddle through. Muddle through like a motherfucker.

I feel like maybe that should be on a t-shirt.

In other news, there were some great feminist moments in 2014. Plenty of other feminist sources have compiled lists, so I'll leave it to them. And I'll leave it to you to go find these fabulous lists.

Today in baby animals, there's this:

baby orca with mom
Baby orca born to endangered whale population 

and this, although this story is not actually about baby manatees, but it is an excellent excuse to post a picture of one:
manatee calf with mother
Manatees died in lower numbers in 2014

and this, although he is most definitely not a baby, he is the coolest dwarf elephant ever of all times, and he kinda look like a baby, so...

dwarf elephant
A Dwarf Elephant With Outsized Attitude


And finally, today in things that are true:
Giving someone your full attention is every bit as valuable as giving them some material thing.

Exhale into cat, inhale into cow.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I want to join this club

http://online.wsj.com/articles/read-slowly-to-benefit-your-brain-and-cut-stress-1410823086


An excerpt:
Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour.

The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading.

Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

This is not a coincidence

Dozens protest Mars Hill Church after leader resignations and Mark Driscoll apology
In a reversal of what normally happens inside a church, about 65 people stood outside Mars Hill Church in Bellevue on Sunday and called on the pastor of the mega-church to acknowledge his sins and repent.
The quiet, peaceful demonstration — “It’s very unusual to have evangelicals protesting,” said participant Jim Henderson — was directed at the church’s controversial, authoritarian and domineering co-founder and senior pastor, Mark Driscoll.
...
The pastor’s attitudes toward women, and belief in male dominance of marriage, has caused some Mars Hill members to leave and a few to show up Sunday outside the church.
“I am an ex-member who left a couple years ago, because my views on life and women evolved,” said Elizabeth Smith. “I come from a Jewish family, a family with strong women. It appeared, at the church, most development attention was given to me. Women were seen as accessories in marriage.”
Rob Smith (no kin), a former program director at Mars Hill, cited Driscoll’s “disregard for women’s voices,” adding: ”In the church’s view, women are just objectives. They are there to please their husbands. In my theology, Jesus freed women. Jesus was surrounded by strong women.”
Driscoll has also apologized for hiring a firm to spike sales of his co-authored book “Real Marriage” to get it on the New York Times bestseller list. Notes of attribution have been added in another book where he was accused of lifting thoughts from other authors.
I know how most of the people within evangelical circles will spin this. This is an isolated individual acting on his own. He has made some mistakes, and don't we all need the grace of God?

The fact is, you see this happening again and again at one church after another. It's not a coincidence. There is a consistent culture within evangelical churches where male leaders are elevated to a status that is beyond question or challenge (and if you want to challenge them, you'll be shown the door in short order). It leads to serious misbehavior, in one form or another every time. Every. Single. Time. If it hasn't happened yet, it will.

His Royal Highness
In the vast majority of the cases, nothing will happen to His Royal Highness. He will admit to his "sin" in some half-assed way and ask for forgiveness. Then he's immediately in the clear, and the onus is shifted to those who are having trouble coping with the fallout. As they try to heal from the harm done, they will be labeled "unforgiving," and will be shamed and punished for not letting it go and moving on already. This is thought to be Christian Behavior. Why? Because this is not a church - it's a cult of personality.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In the News

From Women Who Run Tech Startups Are Catching Up:
Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. That’s according to new research presented at a recent conference in San Francisco organized by Women 2.0, a media company devoted to women founders in the tech industry. It indicates female entrepreneurs, who have traditionally lagged behind their male counterparts, are catching up, at least by some measures.
 Interesting, no?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Mirror Test II

So there's this guy I know. We'll call him Frank. Frank has a heart condition, and has had to undergo numerous medical treatments and takes several medications every day. Everyone says it's a blessing that he has such good health insurance. In fact, years ago Frank switched jobs to work for his current employer precisely because the medical and dental insurance were so good. All of his working life he has faithfully paid his portion of the premium, and now it's paying off. He's getting the care he needs.

In another office down the hall from Frank there's a young woman. We'll call her Megan. Megan also had a couple different employers to choose from and like Frank, one of the reasons she chose her current employer is because of the health coverage. All of her working life she has faithfully paid her portion of the health insurance premium. In conjunction with her employer, she is paying for health insurance.

Nobody ever says that Frank is wanting something for free. Nobody refers to his employer as Uncle Sugar. Nobody suggests that he ought not get the medical care he needs because his "lifestyle" brought on this particular need. Nobody says "if you want to dance you have to pay the piper." This in spite of the fact that Frank spent years eating lots of red meat and very few fruits and veggies, and living an extremely sedentary lifestyle. He made personal choices that directly contributed to his current condition. Yet everyone is happy that Frank was able to purchase health care coverage at an affordable price.

But Megan? If she wants her health insurance to cover her prescriptions (such as contraception) then she is wanting something for free. She is whoring herself out to Uncle Sugar. She's asking us to pay for something that results from her personal choices - from her "lifestyle." If she wants to dance, then she ought to pay the piper. Nobody remembers that she is doing the exact same thing that Frank is doing - working a job where she earns affordable insurance coverage as a part of her compensation package.

Funny, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy National Princess Week

Did you know that's a thing? Well it is. Apparently it's always the last full week of April. In honor of Princess Week:

These fantastic images from Dina Goldstein:
http://dinagoldstein.com/fallen-princesses/


On pink princesses, and missing the point

The princess and the dragon

The other princess problem

Princesses and cowboys and knights

Princess pros and cons

And finally:


Keep them little

Certain people who spend too much time on Amazon may have come across this book:



The counterpart for boys is this:



Interesting, no?

Monday, April 7, 2014

On pink princesses, and missing the point

Over at Slate, Allison Benedikt is piling on to the latest trend of admonishing parents of little girls who take issue with the non-stop pinkifying and princessifying of everything having anything to do with little girls. We all need to stop expressing our contempt for the pink and the princessy and just chill out already.

Advising parents to just chill out already is a popular meme these days, but if you take the central claims of this particular chill out argument, what you find is a complete failure to deal with the actual underlying issues. It's a fabulous exercise in missing the point. So let's take a look:

1. Benedikt writes that disgust for the pink and princessy "has always struck me as some weird sort of female self-loathing." The writers she quotes also assume that underneath the rejection of the pink glitter there's a profound dislike for and devaluation of femininity.

Little blond girl in pink princess costume
The thing is, nobody here stops to ask where this version of femininity came from, why it's so astonishingly dominant in every item that will ever be marketed to or for girls (from diapers to prom dresses to school supplies to power tools to assault rifles for the love of god), or what other, more serious, gender messages might accompany it. The sheer ubiquity of the pink princess crap in itself should give one pause. The monolithic vision of what femininity amounts to (and how it's valued, and how flexible it is, and how it fosters - or not - a sense of autonomy and an open range of viable choices for girls...) in this view should give one pause. The very act of equating the massive princess marketing machine with "female culture" is absurd. And damaging.

2.  Benedikt et al scoff at the idea that girls who play at being princesses will grow up to be princesses. As if this is what we're worried about. As if it's just as simple and straight forward as that.

Adult blond woman in sexy pink princess costume
But you can grow up to be a princess.
Here's a little more subtle look at the dynamic here. Girls (and boys) who are taught to mindlessly embody the prefab identities and scripts that are provided for them by the princess marketing machine are internalizing a whole range of gendered attitudes about themselves that will become much more damaging as they grow up. As parents, modeling a mindless engagement with and internalization of these identities and scripts sets the stage. As the pink princesses grow up and begin to navigate their developing sexuality, explore their career and life options, etc. this habit of mindless engagement will not serve them well. Which leads us to the third (implied) claim here.

3. Parents of little girls can either roll their eyes in disgust, or embrace the pink princess phenomenon. Make your choice.

This right here is the biggest issue. The pink princess dynamic in our culture needs to be addressed. Girls need to understand that they will be presented with problematic versions of femininity their whole lives, and the best thing they can do is learn to habitually engage with these hypotheses on what it means to be a girl/woman in a rational way. By the same token, boys will be presented with problematic versions of masculinity their whole lives, and the best thing they can do is learn to habitually engage with these hypotheses on what it means to be a boy/man in a rational way. Seeing yourself as having options, trying out different activities and roles, embracing the things that work for you and letting the rest fall by the way... these are all a part of growing up to be a functional, thriving adult. For a girl or a boy.

Mother and daughter, talking
Talking with kids - a parent's superpower
As we all know, there are more options for parents than mindlessly rejecting or embracing the prefab roles. Parents can actually (are you ready for it?) talk to their kids about these things. They can talk about how fun it is to play dress up, but how hard it is to really be a princess (or a superhero, or a ninja, or whatever) full time. After all, princesses and superheroes and ninjas don't get to play soccer, go camping or biking, do messy crafts like finger painting, engage in rough-housing with their siblings and friends, have sleepovers, bake cookies, etc.  They might get their dress/cape/ninja costume dirty. And lord knows a princess would never get her dress dirty, or break a nail, or try to run in her absurd little plastic high-heeled shoes.