Friday, April 30, 2010

That Post on Natural Childbirth

Apparently this one has been coming for awhile, so here it is.

I realize some of the things I say here may piss some people off, so I'm going to attempt to tread lightly while speaking some truth. So let's start with some procedural comments and disclaimers.

I am not a fan of extreme positions in general. First of all, I think that extreme positions are often the result of intellectual laziness or kneejerk reactions or a lack of the nuance and subtlety that's required to get a grasp on the complicated, fluid reality of human experience. I think that staking out and defending extreme positions requires us to over generalize and try to tell metanarratives that silence real voices and delegitimize real lived experiences. And finally, insisting that we are always and everywhere required to choose between extreme positions, besides being logically fallacious, often ends up being a silencing technique that stifles constructive dialogue.

So nothing I have to say on the tricky topic of childbirth is going to be coming from any of the extreme positions. This means that nothing I have to say on the topic is some cleverly disguised way to say something like this "natural childbirth is the only good way to give birth and if you don't have natural childbirth then you are lazy/a coward/a tool of the patriarchy/a bad mom." If you suspect that I'm saying something like this, you might go back and carefully reread the section that seemed problematic to you. If it still seems like I'm saying that, then go ahead and send some hatemail.

Second, most of what I have to say about childbirth is not about mothers personally, but about the cultural system in which they are carrying and birthing and mothering their children. It is entirely possible to critique a system without by extension condemning the people who are functioning within that system through no fault of their own. I can note, for example, that a particular company has a very corrupt corporate culture without indicting the moral sensibility or behavior of each and every employee of that company. The same thing is true of a cultural critique. I assume that all of us live and develop within a cultural framework that shapes who we are and how we perceive things and what choices we make in profound and subtle ways. This doesn't mean I think that all women are unthinking automatons who are helplessly blown about by the prevailing cultural winds. But I also reject the opposite notion that a person can be entirely independent and throw off all the influences of the culture in which they are embedded and make choices that are entirely unconstrained by their cultural framework. As usual, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these extremes.


There's a disturbing trend in feminist discourse that goes something like this:

  • x (for example childbirth, breastfeeding, having a career or being a stay at home mom) is drawn to our attention as a locus of patriarchal control
  • advocacy work is done to fight off the patriarchal control and encourage practices that are thought to be better/healthier for women
  • the advocacy groups go a bit too far in their encouragement of the better/healthier practices and women begin to feel that their choices are now being curtailed in the opposite direction
  • a backlash ensues in which we seem to feel that we have to deny the often well-documented and undeniable benefits of this thing the advocacy groups are fighting for.
Hence you see feminists denying that breastmilk is nutritionally better than formula, or that births with fewer medical interventions are, generally speaking, safer for mothers and babies. And this puts us in a really strange and irrational position, because we're having to deny facts that are well-established through mountains of research. So this whole thing is troubling to me, because this version of feminism requires women to behave in an irrational way, which simply confirms one of the most misogynistic assumptions our culture makes about women. Talk about playing into your opponents hands.

Beyond the strategic issue this raises, there's the fact that this pattern of discourse keeps us running on the hamster wheel of finger pointing and in-fighting. And the tragedy is that this prevents us from having the conversations we really should be having about the systemic forces that make it so hard to maintain our physical autonomy and make truly free well-informed choices. The day that a woman choosing natural childbirth receives the same amount of physical, social, and personal support as a woman going the medicalized route is the day when we can start talking about free choices. The day when women are really given the whole truth about the risks involved with various medical interventions and aren't bullied and hurried and eye-rolled into conforming to whatever the medical professionals they're working with want for their birth experience is the day when we can start talking about free choices. And the day when real support and encouragement and birth assistance is available to women of all socioeconomic backgrounds is the day when we can start talking about free choices.

I've been told that by merely noting that natural childbirth was an empowering experience for me I'm oppressing women for whom natural childbirth was not an option. And I'm sorry, but that's bullshit, and that silences me and delegitimizes my experience. I don't have to deny that natural childbirth was the best option for me and my baby in order to make it OK that you couldn't or didn't want to go that route. That's just not how it works.

While I was pregnant I did a ton of research and read piles of scientific studies and books that traced the history of childbirth and documents that argued for and against our current model of hyper-medicalized childbirth. I read the statistics about your chances of having a c-section if you go the epidural-pitocin route. I read about our high c-section rates and the accompanying high rate of maternal mortality and the host of other negative consequences that follow from unnecessary c-sections. I read about the physiological processes that occur naturally within a mother’s body during childbirth that benefit both mother and baby, and how these processes are interrupted or derailed by medical interventions, including epidurals. I also read about how these processes have been denigrated and dismissed by the patriarchal medical establishment that tends to believe that there's nothing that occurs naturally that can't be synthetically duplicated. (Ironically, after reading this I was actually told by a nurse "oh honey, pitocin is just the same as oxytocin." Ha! The timing was deliciously ironic.) I processed all of this and talked it over with friends and my partner and decided that I was going to try to do it naturally.

My decision was based on the fact that, all other things being equal, natural childbirth is healthier for the mother and the baby than any of the other options. This is a non-normative, purely descriptive, well-documented fact. This doesn't mean every single woman who decides to have a baby should be able to do it naturally and is a failure if she doesn't. This doesn't mean that women who decide to have medical interventions are bad moms. It just means that if you are fully informed and willing and able and supported in your choice, it's the best way to go if maximizing the health of you and your baby is your goal.

And for me, personally, taking the natural route was also a defiant act of standing up to the bullying and the smirking and the micromanaging and the distrust of women's bodies that's so prevalent in the medical industry. It was me saying "Fuck you and your patriarchal fucking attitude toward my body and my mental toughness and my instinctive knowledge of how to birth my own fucking baby." And I took on natural childbirth, which was tough and painful and stressful and one of the hardest things I've ever done, and I fucking kicked its ass, and it was an incredibly empowering experience. Because what I learned was not that natural childbirth isn't that hard or painful, but that I was stronger than I had ever had a chance to discover before. I've broken bones and torn ligaments and had concussions and root canals and dislocated joints before. I've played through the pain and run half marathons and climbed mountains and flipped a car at 50 mph. But this was entirely different, and required a different kind of physical strength and mental grit. But if I'm not allowed to say this, because somehow my experience of childbirth means that you have to feel guilty or deficient concerning your childbirth experience, how does that help us as a group?

I realize that not all women experience childbirth the way I did, and I realize that not all women approach childbirth with the kind of resources and physical health and support that I had. But my point is that silencing people when they talk about the flaws of our overly-medicalized, patriarchal approach to childbirth or about their personal experience of natural childbirth is not the answer. By merely mentioning that I experienced natural childbirth or that I am aware of the benefits of it, I am not committing myself to a hardline approach in which everyone has to have natural childbirth or they're a bad mom. There is middle ground here, and knee-jerk reactions do nothing to further the dialogue and improve the conditions of real women. And denying the empirical facts concerning childbirth and breastfeeding just makes us seem silly and irrational. Instead, we should acknowledge the facts and do what we can to make systemic changes so that these choices are viable options and women are truly supported in the whole range of choices they might make.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Miscellanea

I see the headline School Lunches a National Security Threat and I'm like "Yes! They totally are! Thank god someone's finally acknowledging this!" But then I find out it's just a case of obesity-hysteria rolled together with some generic Homeland Security hysteria. And based on all the aggressive pop-up ads I'm guessing it's sponsored by SlimFast. The thing is, I could run down the 101 ways that school lunches really are a threat to us as a nation. The high fructose corn syrup. The artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The hydrogenated oil. The excessive packaging that all ends up in the landfill. The BPA in the packaging that leeches into the food when it's reheated. The hormones and antibiotics in the incredibly low-grade meat. All serious threats. If you'd like to see exactly what these threats look like on a daily basis, check out my new favorite: Fed Up With Lunch.

In Somalia, the pirates are now at war with "Islamist rebels" who are known to have links to al Qaeda. I believe this is a case where we cheer for the pirates, so that's kinda fun. It also brings to mind this fabulous tax day comic, which I neglected to post on tax day because I was too busy doing my taxes:

Sadly, Abby Sunderland has been forced to cancel her solo attempt to sail non-stop around the world due to mechanical problems. The thing is, she still kicks ass, so there's that. There's also the fact that there's another 16 y/o girl sailing solo around the world right now (Jessica Watson). This pretty much proves that there are smart, independent teenage girls out there who have higher aspirations than acting slutty on reality TV or having one meaningless, heartbreaking hook-up after another, so perhaps the alarmists among us can breath a little sigh of relief.

And finally, in Arizona racial profiling is now not only perfectly legal, but mandated. So, yay for all those law enforcement officers who enjoy racial profiling!

What did I miss?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Video of the Day

From Yo Gabba Gabba. Turn up the volume on this one.

Clusterfuck of the Day

Now that I've typed in that title, I think I'll make this a regular feature. So much material, so little time...

It seems that Jillian Michaels' announcement that she won't ruin her body with a pregnancy is causing a mild uproar. "How dare she send such a negative message to women about pregnancy?" "Doesn't she know about the many, many women who have endured pregnancy and childbirth and are still smokin' hot?" "Doesn't she realize that there are some things that are more important than your appearance?" "Doesn't she realize we will all age and experience all sorts of changes to our bodies that will not after all reduce our value as human beings or signal the end of the world?" And on and on. ***

The thing is, I don't really think this is about Jillian Michaels. In this case (as in the instances of fat-shaming she engages in), I think she's just thoughtlessly parroting the ideas that we accept as a culture. And generally speaking, you can make good money and build a lucrative career off of this practice. It seems to be working for her, anyway. But the idea she was parroting merits a closer look.

In our culture, pregnancy and childbirth have successfully been constructed as a terribly dangerous, generally traumatic and damaging experience. When pregnancy and childbirth are portrayed in TV shows and movies everything is out of control. The mother is terrified and helpless and in intense pain. Medical professionals swoop in and rescue her and the baby from the dangerous unmanageable process of childbirth. The woman is rendered irrational by it all, and must be handled and controlled by the medical-industrial complex in order to protect her baby from her irrationality and basic physical incompetence. They deliver the baby while she lays passive in the grip of agony, or screams and curses at anyone who is nearby. Afterwards she becomes an unattractive, sexless creature whose only interest is cutting off her hair, gaining weight, wearing comfortable shoes, discussing different brands of diapers and slings and strollers and formula with other moms, and watching daytime TV ad nauseam. And this is just simply the way it is, we are taught to believe.

Given this cultural fact, why would Michaels, or any other woman, think she could "handle doing that to her body?" You'd have to reallyreallyreally want a baby to be willing to do that to yourself.

Of course, one result of this construction of pregnancy and childbirth is the massive profits to be made by the micromanagement of pregnancy and childbirth, with its plethora of unecessary interventions. There are hefty egos involved as well as the necessity of having passive, compliant bodies at your disposal when trying to manage institutional schedules and timeframes and processes. But I think the cultural mythology surrounding pregnancy in America has deeper roots than these capitalistic concerns.

The fact is, generally speaking, women's bodies are pretty well equipped to handle pregnancy and childbirth, and in the vast majority of cases, will do it just fine without complicated interventions and medical procedures. In fact, it's often these very medical interventions that cause "complications" in labor and childbirth that they must then be rescued from. What if we were to shift our understanding of pregnancy and childbirth to encompass these facts? It seems to me that in a patriarchal culture, it's hard for us to just accept the fact that there's something women naturally do really well that men can't do. We must either problematize it or fetishize it in order to make it mesh with our shared conceptual framework.

In the Victorian era, the "special abilities" of women were fetishized. Our reproductive capacities made us special and morally superior but also frail and unfit for the public arena and politics and those complex decision-making processes that would hurt our pretty little heads and could potentially damage our reproductive capabilities by diverting our energy away from our sensitive lady parts. So on the one hand you had this extreme reverence for childbearing (concurrent with the need for a high birth rate to feed the increasingly industrial economic machinery, of course) and nurturing and homemaking and the angel in the house. But on the other hand women's reproductive capabilities were thought to have a crippling effect on women which by necessity prevented them from being fully autonomous.

So either way the patriarchy wins, right? Either childbearing is like this superpower that women have which should be their main life work and prevents them from gaining any kind of social power or engaging in any fulfilling activities outside of the home, or it's the terrifying deficiency of the female body which endangers both mother and baby from which they must be rescued by the paternalistic machinery of the modern day western medical establishment. But what if we rejected both options? What if we looked at the reality of the situation and viewed childbirth as this thing that women do, and it can be quite painful, and it can be very empowering, and sometimes you need medical help, and you for sure need support that is mom-centered and focused on your particular needs, and you need accurate timely information and to be treated as if you were a rational, autonomous adult, but really, you can do it?

While I was pregnant I read all these studies of the subjective (self-reported) experience of pain in childbirth as well as studies which tried to capture objective measures of pain and compared them among women in different cultures. In cultural contexts where childbirth is less medicalized, and not thought of as a painful traumatic experience, both measures of pain experienced were significantly lower. In other words, if the mother dreaded childbirth and had been taught that it was a horrible experience, her pain was far, far worse. Even within the same culture, women who feel mistreated by their medical attendants experience much worse pain. Of course, this is because of the well-documented connection between the hormones our bodies make when we're fearful, anxious, or stressed out, and our experience of pain. If you've been taught your whole life to view something as a very painful experience, and to fear it, you'll experience much more pain. But if you've been taught to view it as a tough experience that requires a lot of strength but is nevertheless tolerable, you'll experience less pain and be more focused on the mechanics of the situation.

Of course, this doesn't mean we should downplay the pain women experience, or browbeat them about their choices, or exhort them to toughen up and get over it already. But it does mean that if women are mentally prepared and well-informed and well-supported, they're more likely to be capable of and willing to take on natural childbirth in a way that preserves and enhances their sense of physical and mental autonomy. Beyond that, it's physically good for both mother and baby, and exposes them to less risk, and makes the process of beginning breastfeeding easier, and leaves the mother with a very different sense of the experience of childbirth than those who are helplessly inserted into the medical machine and regurgitated later with a baby in hand and a long healing process ahead of them. And this is incredibly empowering, in my experience.

But there's nothing about our current cultural view of and approach to pregnancy and childbirth that would provide this mental preparation and balanced understanding of the process of childbirth, or make the kind of support mothers need readily available. And this means that for most women, their sense of bodily integrity and autonomy is ripped from them during childbirth. They are swept into the current of inevitability and made to feel that they are dealing with something that is above their paygrade, and which they would be foolish to try to manage or intervene in. The incompetence of anyone who is not highly trained when it comes to childbirth is widely accepted, so that exerting your will in any way, and actively delivering your baby (with or without the assistance of medical attendants) is seen as blatant disregard for the well-being of your child. And then the infamous "bad mother" card comes into play.

So this is how we perpetuate a profound daily harm to women. First of all, it's important to remember that the experience of childbirth varies from woman to woman even within a shared cultural framework. But beyond that, much of what determines our experience of it is based on our cultural mythology and the stance toward pregnancy and childbirth that this instills deep within our psychological makeup. If we were to start portraying childbirth as something that women are inherently good at given the right kind of support, and that is hard but doable and rewarding, women would have a drastically different experience of it. They would experience a sense of regained control over and connection to their bodies' capabilities. And this would be such a leap forward when it comes to reproductive freedom. Because remember, reproductive freedom isn't just about determining if and when you want to have a child - it's also about maintaining control over your body throughout the process of reproduction. And this is something that is too often neglected and underprioritized.

***Clarification: These are not my comments or my thoughts on Ms. Michael's choice, and they do not in any way reflect my attitude toward her decision and justification of it. These are either direct quotes or paraphrases of comments that were made concerning her choice on other websites. If you have a problem with any of these statements, please do not send me hatemail or leave perplexing comments here, since I am not interested in defending these statements that I never made and in fact think are hugely problematic. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Blog for Fair Pay Day: What would it mean if there weren't a $10,622 wage gap?

What would it mean? For one thing, it would mean that most women would end up with significantly more retirement savings. After spending months and months watching my mom wade through the mountains of paperwork and administrative obstructionism involved in getting the VA benefits that my grandmother should automatically get based on my grandpa's military service, this seems particularly relevant to me.

Also, it's 420 y'all. Have a good one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Official IRS chapstick. Contains hemp oil, incidentally.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The Case Against Emergency Preparedness

By now you've probably heard about the DA in Wisconsin who is threatening intimidating advising teachers not to teach the new state-mandated sex ed curriculum lest they be charged with encouraging minors to "engage in sexual behavior, whether as a victim or an offender."

First of all, there are a few interesting facts to point out here. Apparently in the conceptual framework of right-wing nutjobs like Scott Southworth, sexual activity only ever involves victims and offenders. It couldn't be the case that both parties were consenting and interested and enjoying themselves.

Second, sexual activity is illegal for minors in Wisconsin. Is anyone else going WTF? about this? Everywhere I've lived before this is not the case, and the issue of statutory rape involves a certain age difference (usually 24 to 36 months), so that two kids messing around consensually can't be said to be violating any laws. But I'm told this is not the case in every state, so OK, in Wisconsin teens are legally prohibited from having The Sex. Technically this explains Southworth's view that sex between minors can only ever be a case of victims and offenders interacting. Or two offenders who are simultaneously victims since they can't consent to sex? Or something. And to me that means that the apparently-reasonable-when-it-comes-to-adolescent-sexuality state legislature should be working on overturning the existing law prohibiting sex between consenting teens. But I want to look at Southworth's underlying reasoning for threatening potential sex-ed teachers.

Southworth's claim is that teaching kids about contraception and safe sex is like teaching them how to make mixed drinks. It's illegal for minors to drink alcohol, so we shouldn't instruct them on how to do it. It's also illegal for minors to have sex, so we shouldn't teach them how to do it. This is what we like to call an Argument from Analogy. And you have to be very careful with these types of arguments. They're generally very psychologically compelling, and thus are widely used. But they often hide major flaws in reasoning, and are generally thought not to really prove that much amongst people who do logic and critical thinking for a living. So let's look at Southworth's A from A.

The entire argument rests on this claim: Teaching kids about safe sex is like teaching kids how to drink alcohol. But if you examine this claim closely you'll notice a problem. Teaching kids about safe sex is not the same as Cosmo Magazine cover featuring this article: Arouse him like crazy!  3 surprising pleasure triggers, How to hit his G-spot, Where he hopes you'll linger; and The most satisfying sex position: it turns him on and it feels awesome for you; and 45 ways to get even closer to him!teaching kids how to have sex. If you're interested in going after people who are teaching kids how to have sex, perhaps you should be scrutinizing the media they consume for so many hours of every day because, I hate to tell ya, that's where they're learning how to have sex. You wanna talk about sexual positions and sexual expectations within relationships and who owes what to whom and how to get your rocks off and how to please your man etc, etc, etc? Look to the movies and TV shows and magazines and websites and porn they're consuming, my friend. However, it's generally not the case that this kind of stuff is found in sex ed materials. Instead you'll usually find a lot of talk about how your anatomy works and how reproduction occurs and how STDs are transmitted and how the various forms of contraception work and maybe some talk about the emotional risks involved in sexual relationships. Which is rather different. So the claim that teaching kids about contraception is the moral equivalent of teaching them how to make a margarita doesn't fly. At all.

But what if it did? What if we just granted the claim that teaching kids about safe sex is like teaching kids how to drink alcohol and therefore we shouldn't do either one? What follows from this? Well, there's a lot of things that follow from it, and I doubt Southworth would be willing to go along with them. If we shouldn't teach kids about safe sex because we shouldn't teach them how to make mixed drinks, then we also shouldn't teach them about emergency preparedness. You know all those drills they do at schools now to prepare for a terrorist attack or school shooting? They outta be illegal. Why? Because if we prepare for a nightmare scenario like that, then we're also giving our stamp of approval to the actions of terrorists and school shooters. If there are any profoundly unhappy kids out there on the verge of bringing Grandpa's arsenal to school and blowing everyone away, by rehearsing what we'd do in the case of a school shooting, we're telling them it's OK to unleash the violence. And what about drivers ed? Let's talk about the parallel between sex ed and drivers ed.

In drivers ed you spend a lot of time talking about safety. You spend a lot of time talking about what to do if you get in an accident. Of course, nobody wants you to get in an accident. Indeed, everyone sincerely hopes you don't. But they also think you'll be better off in life if you do in fact know what to do if an accident happens. The problem is that deliberately causing a motor vehicle accident is a criminal act. So by Southworth's reasoning, if deliberately causing an accident is illegal, and drivers ed teachers are teaching new drivers what to do in the event of an accident, then drivers ed teachers are encouraging new drivers "to engage in [illegal motor vehicle accident] behavior, whether as a victim or an offender." See how that works?

Now I'll be the first to admit that comparing car accidents with consensual sexual activity is ridiculous on a number of levels. But this is all hypothetically based on Southworth's argument from analogy. And once you've consented to going into the land of bizarre arguments from analogy, you've pretty much consented to whatever absurd and stupak results that follow from such arguments. [Hint: the way to respond to me here is to point out that this last claim of mine amounts to a slippery slope argument...]

But even if we take a step back and use Southworth's own argument about alcohol consumption and sex, unreasonable things follow. For instance, even mentioning to minors the practice of using designated drivers, or calling someone for a ride, or electing to walk rather than drive when you've been drinking would be a criminal violation according to his reasoning. After all, minors aren't supposed to be drinking in the first place, so we're prohibited from talking to them about how to minimize the danger to themselves and others that can follow from drinking too much alcohol. In fact, the entire DARE program and the Meth Project and other similar programs will have to be cancelled, because telling kids about what meth use does to your body is a criminal act, given the fact that meth use is criminal.

Beyond that, what does this say about the nature of education? Generally speaking we think of education as something that prepares you for the future in some way. When students begin taking driver's ed, they don't actually have their licenses, and often aren't even old enough to have a license yet. Indeed, it would be illegal for them to drive by themselves right now, without a license. But we know that some day soon they will get a license, and we want them to be as safe as possible when that day comes. When kids take classes about how our political system works, they're not generally old enough to vote yet. Indeed, it would be illegal for them to vote. But we know someday they will be old enough to vote, and we hope they'll be conscientious, informed citizens when that time comes. When kids take Home Ec (or whatever they call it these days) they're not usually running a household yet, but we assume someday they will be. And so on. So here are a couple of other relevant things we know. Most people have sex at some point in their lives, and most people consume alcohol at some point in their lives. While we're in the business of teaching them how to be a citizen in a democracy and how to drive and how to run a household why not teach them how to be safe and make good decisions concerning sex and alcohol?

Of course, this all assumes that we're trying to be reasonable and realistic and actually prepare kids for the world in which they'll be adults, rather than trying to ram our own political agenda down the throats of others...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Please god my kids don't grow up to have Family Values™

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Haters:

  1. Be a part of a parents group who organizes an alternative prom once your hateful conservative school district cancels prom in order to avoid having to allow a lesbian couple to attend.

  2. Tell the lesbian couple, as well as any other social outcasts who you view as less than human that the prom will be held at location A.

  3. Secretly organize the real prom at location B for all the kids you deem worthy of experiencing the alleged magic of prom night.

  4. Let your kids watch all this hatefulness unfold as they dance the night away, secure in their unearned privilege, and feel smug and self-satisfied that they're internalizing your bigoted, small-minded, petty, hateful worldview.

And it's all done in the name of Christianity and Family Values, y'all. Please god my kids grow up to be thoughtful and inclusive and compassionate and open-minded rather than people with Family Values.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Miscellanea

Some things to think about, which I may or may not expand upon at a later date:
  • I haven't written anything about the recent spate of fail issuing forth from Amanda Palmer because it's surprisingly depressing to me. I'm not a huge fan, but I always admired (some of) her music and her attitude from a distance, and for some reason I always thought of her as a feminist type. But her recent douchey behavior has cured me of that misconception, and it's all a little too depressing to rehash, so I'll let you Google it on your own if you haven't been following the discussion.
  • Lately I've been thinking a lot about how daycare and elementary school teachers refer to all of a child's peers and classmates as their "friends." I get the idea behind it, but it seems really misguided to me. When my stepdaughter was still in daycare I was informed one day that she had punched one of her friends. They wouldn't tell me who, and couldn't tell me what events had preceded the conflict. On the way home, she told me it was the kid in her class who was notorious for picking on the other kids, and that he had pulled her hair, knocked down her tower of blocks, ruined her painting, and stuffed sand down her jacket on the playground. By late afternoon she had had enough and punched him. But no amount of this kind of bullying makes the teachers drop the "everyone is your friend" script. This script is continued at her elementary school, and the teachers in my daughters classroom at daycare do the same. So it's clearly a trend in educational theory and practice. But it seems like another Lie We Tell Our Kids, and counter productive in the whole How to Help Kids Deal With Bullies project, and it dilutes the meaning of the word "friend," in my opinion. I mean, a kid who treats you like that is not your friend, and you should be free to see it that way, and say it, and avoid him or her. Am I overreacting?
  • I read this morning that a number of movie theaters have started offering sensory-friendly showings for kids with autism in which the lights are not dimmed all the way, the volume is lower, and kids are free to move around the theater. This seems like a nice example of a way in which we as a society can make adjustments to make life easier for those who aren't neurotypical instead of simply continuing to act like they're a bunch of problem children who should learn how to function like we naturally do. And since this is Autism Awareness month I'm sure there will be more discussion of ways we can change our neurotypical-centric practices coming soon.
  • There's a fairly good article on CNN today about the benefits of breastfeeding that manages not to be mother-blaming and actually points to the total lack of social support for breastfeeding moms in our culture. I'm always sort of surprised that the fact that breastmilk is healthier than formula is still a headline news type of thing, but am glad it didn't turn into the typical mom-bashing extravaganza that these things often do.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Imminent Return

Three people digging clams during a low tide on a beach in Washington state.
So...I'm back home after a week of visiting family, digging clams, playing in the sand, wandering around several airports for hours upon end with a restless two year old, etc, etc. I hope you all had a great week, and at some point soon I promise to start posting real posts, with words and everything. But right now I've gotta go play Easter Bunny and hide eggs all over the house. So Happy Easter y'all. Chat with you soon.