Category Archives: babies

Making Babies and Making Money: Pregnancy and Worker’s Rights

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that I find completely fascinating, and super important for all families. The case is brought by Peggy Young, a UPS employee that was denied her request to change work duties after being advised that she should not lift over 20 lbs. She was pregnant.

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The details of her case can be found here, but in a nutshell there is a Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978) that requires that employers give the same accommodations to women affected by pregnancy or child birth that it would give to employees that are temporarily disabled/injured. To be clear, the UPS will allow a change of duty not only for workers injured on the job, but also for workers who lose their license because they are convicted of a DUI. So drunk drivers can switch roles and continue to earn a living, but pregnant women made a choice and so they are shit out of luck. (Actual comment from NY Times op-ed: “Pregnancy isn’t a disease. In fact as I understand it, it is a choice. These women became pregnant due to their own actions. They can no longer do the work they were hired to do. Why is that such a big deal. It isn’t an injury.”)

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I had a fascinating chat with my coworker about this case. She claimed that if what feminism fights for is gender equality, then you must err on the side of UPS. Because men cannot get pregnant, accommodating pregnant women is giving them preferential treatment. And she was hung up on that word, equal. As if equal here meant equivalent. But I don’t think equality means we all must be the same. And in my dream world where the patriarchy is dismantled, I do not imagine a world where men and women are alike. I imagine a world where your personality and your physical characteristics aren’t policed by societal gender norms. I imagine a world where everyone is free to express themselves compassionately, and explore interests that are close to their heart without any thought to what girls and boys are supposed to like or do. I don’t claim that men and women are the same, but it’s important to remember that making statements like “women can get pregnant and men can’t” as proof that we will always remain different/unequal erases women who are unable to conceive, or women who do not want to bear children, as well as a range of trans experiences. Not all women are able to bear children, not all women menstruate, and plenty of folks live outside of the bodily gendered binaries we assume. We mustn’t be biologically reductive.

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i imagine the dude she kills is the embodiment of misogyny. so satisfying.

 

And equality has never been about equivalency. Separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional for education, because being equivalent doesn’t always mean that the spirit of equality is being honored. I do not think that being injured or disabled is the same as getting pregnant, however in both cases the ableness of one’s body is compromised. We have determined that folks that are injured or disabled have a right to work, and that right should be extended to those who are pregnant.

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And what is so interesting to me, is that this is actually a conservative issue. The state has a vested interest in regulating families, and in encouraging its citizens to procreate so that there are evermore citizens. It’s similar to gay marriage, an issue I am always confounded by. Marriage is a conservative value, and if you truly value the nuclear family and two parent home, then you should be an advocate for gay marriage. The more people creating those kinds of unions, the more those values continue to guide our society and the more regulated sex and the family continues to be by the state. The same with this issue. Encouraging women to become mothers by assuring that their jobs will be safe and they will be able to work and earn is not exactly a liberal fantasy. In this case, the state should recognize it’s interest both in regulating the family and encouraging the work force. It should be a no brainer.

obviously

And yet. I wonder how the justices will see this. They have seriously let me down recently, and I fear that people will conflate the issue of pregnancy advocacy, which is a feminist issue, with leftist liberalism and dismiss it. But it’s important to remember that feminism isn’t liberal or conservative, and that the interests of women across race and class lines span a broad array of values and belief systems. Reproductive rights don’t begin and end with abortion. Folks should be able to get or not get pregnant, to access the full range of care they need, to determine the state of their bodies, and to do so while pursuing their economic and personal goals. Peggy should not have been forced into unpaid leave because she was temporarily limited, while ‘light duty’ remains available for other workers. If the choice to drink and drive is accommodated, then the choice to create new life should also be accommodated. And yet, misogyny runs so deep that for some, any chance to demean or limit women must be taken. We do indeed treat pregnant women poorly, often limiting their autonomy and assuming they must be protected (or assuming they must be protected against.) It astounds me that some parties will vote against their own interests because something is seen as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’. Those two sides, they are made up, they are socially upheld and constructed. Kind of like gender (ZING!)

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Separate but equal is bullshit, and thinking about equality and social justice in terms of equivalency and sameness  misses the point entirely. Social justice is freedom from sameness, it is permission to be different and live on your own terms. It is a world where your choices aren’t determined by your gender, or your race, or your ability to participate as a cog in the capitalist machine. It’s a world where pregnant women can continue to work, where both families and single folks are supported. How hard is that to understand?

My Totally Not Serious Pregnancy Scare (and the overblown feelings that followed)

There was never an actual moment where I might have been pregnant.

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I was basically 24 hours late. My body was doing kind of pre-period stuff, but it wasn’t happening in full force. I know that your body changes over time and reacts to what’s happening in your life now and that one day late isn’t cause for alarm. The thing is, I haven’t been late since I started the pill, years ago. So I just had the briefest of thoughts yesterday morning: man, it’d be real crazy if I were pregnant. I didn’t panic, or obsess. It wasn’t a real possibility.

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But once I thought it, I couldn’t un-think it.

I didn’t tell my partner because it wasn’t a situation, it was just a thought. And probably also because we are both excited to make a new human one day in the future and I didn’t wanna burden him with this brief and crazy and unfeasible notion. So I didn’t say anything.

JUNOSHRUG

I called one of my very best-est friends on my way home from work and said ‘This isn’t a real situation but like can you just remind me that it’s not possible’ and she did because she is wonderful and that’s what friends do. And we talked about all the reasons I couldn’t be (I’m on the pill, I almost always use condoms, periods can change as we get older so this isn’t a reliable sign) and also the reasons that now would be not the best time (I’m applying to go to grad school and PhDs take like 5 years, I have very little money and lots of student debt, I’m going to move in a few months to go to aforementioned school, I’m really just a pseud-adult and not a real grown up so caring for another human would be a stretch.) She is a good friend for dealing with the craziness of a ‘situation’ that is really just a crazy thought/wish, and for telling me what I already know.

besties

 

Now you may be thinking: Alex, you needn’t have a baby right now if you don’t wanna have one, even if you did find yourself pregnant. And you’d be right. I am lucky enough to live in a state where I could become not-pregnant fairly easily. And I believe with every fiber of my being that a woman should be able to make that choice if it’s right for her, and I detest the men (and yes, it’s men) who are attempting to strip women of that right using furtive, deceptive measures. But if we’re being honest here (and I’d like to think that we are), I would have a baby this minute if I became pregnant. Because I very much want to be a mom. And because I am lucky enough to have a partner that I think would make an incredible dad, and we are both excited for that journey. And I very much want my own mother to be a part of my pregnancy, and then my child’s life. And so if it happened, I wouldn’t have the heart to un-do it.

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So, not to bury the lead (already did that in the title I guess) but I’m not pregnant. Proof appeared last night, at which time I informed my partner that even though I hadn’t ever really thought I was or been worried, I wasn’t. And then I felt something weird: disappointment, and relief.

Neither of those feelings really seemed appropriate given the parameters of the situation. I was never really scared about it, because I haven’t ovulated in almost a decade so it was never a thing that was really happening. So why would I feel relieved? Except that we put much of the burden of sexually responsibility on girls, and I’ve always felt that it was my job to be responsible with my body. And along with this responsibility we instill a great amount of fear. And so even though I knew the facts, I was scared that somehow I had messed up, that I had slipped, that somehow my body had betrayed me because it knows how badly I want to have a baby someday and maybe it decided to take matters into it’s own hands. Maybe my uterus staged a coup.

vive la revolution!
vive la revolution!

So yea, I was relieved that I was still responsible, that my life was still going the way I’ve been planning. But then, I was also palpably disappointed. And I told my friend later ‘I’d never get pregnant right now on purpose because that would be an insane choice, but if it happened on accident I could justify the choice. I could get away with it.’ So I felt simultaneously like I’d dodged a bullet, and missed the chance to use an accident to get away with starting a journey I really do want to take.

Which is why I take what amounts to all the possible precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen. Because, while there may never be a perfect time to have a kid, there are better and less good times. And this time would be less good. And I want to feel like I am capable, like I have the resources, like I am ready to focus on a small human and not myself for the foreseeable future. And I am not ready to do that now. I need to focus on school, on my own path, on my own relationships. And as much as I am amped to get pregnant and create new life one day and would like to start immediately, I can’t make time go faster and I can’t deny that the best decision is to wait.

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I’m pretty surprised by the intensity of my feelings about this not actual scare. I’m totally aware of my own desire to be a mom, but I didn’t know I’d react so strongly to such a none-situation. I know everyone has complicated thoughts and feelings about being a parent. It’s not for everyone (although we assume that all women are nurturing and want to be moms and are probably bad/wrong if they don’t) and it doesn’t always work out and sometimes the timing is off and also sometimes it’s great and kids are a joy and fun and add a wild new dimension to your life. I have a bestie who never wants kids and that’s fine and I don’t tell her ‘you’ll change your mind’ because maybe she won’t and she is still wonderful, obviously. Another bestie just had a precious nugget 7 weeks ago and she adores her but also it’s hard and there are lots of conflicting emotions and very little sleep, for her and her hubby, and that family is officially a work in progress for basically ever. Getting pregnant is a big deal, for your body and your relationships and your future. It’s not a solution to a problem or a babysitting job or a vacation. Becoming a parent is a choice, and if you choose yes that choice lasts forever (God knows Ken & Patricia are still parenting me, also they’re awesome/supportive/loving/hip/the best.)

the.best.
the best parents a girl could ask for ❤

 

For now, I’ll just be over here feeling the feels and continuing to make moves towards the blurry future. One day I’ll have the thought ‘What if I’m pregnant?’ and I will feel joy and I will tell my partner right away and I hope that day is right after school is finished and we aren’t moving and we have jobs and my parents will be excited and they’ll help and….

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Who knows really. But I’m not pregnant. Not today.

Gwyneth Paltrow On Working Moms (was she always this insufferable?)

In general, I think it’s pretty weird when fans of celebrities, musicians or actors, think that they somehow know that person. Our fame-whore culture depends on this idea, that celebrities are their ‘real selves’ in interviews and that we, the fans, have access to them completely. But this isn’t true, it never really has been, and for the most part, you do not know anything that really matters about the folks that get worshipped on stage and screen.

That being said, this academy award winning actress has said enough kind of obnoxious things that I am getting a distinct feeling that, well, I do NOT like her.

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But I’m not here to throw shade just for the sake of throwing shade. I’m here to tell you about some comments she made in a recent interview with E! News that are super out of touch, and also violate what I think is a key understanding amongst feminists, women, and all who stand as allies. Which is we stick together and acknowledge our differences without throwing shade or making implications about the circumstances or choices of others. We need to stick together.

This hilarious retort in the New York Post sums up my feelings of snark about her thoughts. Here are some of her thoughts:

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening… When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

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Yea, and their should be haters after that comment, which is sprinkled in with other laments about how she doesn’t like to play the lead because then she has to be on set every day. And about how she limits herself to one movie a year. And I mean, yea, in her world I guess those things can be a bummer.

But to say that being a movie star who gets paid millions of dollars per film is harder than being a working mom with a 9-5p? I just-

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The thing is, we shouldn’t be counting other people’s money or making assumptions about their lives. I am not saying that she has an easy time, parenting. And now that she is separated she will be a single mom and that is rough and a hard thing for families to go through. But it’s super bad form for her to say that other moms have it easier. Because other mom’s have to worry about things like child care and how to afford it, and how to take time off if they need to care for a sick kid. They need to worry about health insurance, making dinner after a full day, and the overarching pressure that comes with being a family breadwinner and knowing that if you lose your job your family will suffer.

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Money does not solve all your problems, and indeed it can create new ones. But money can buy you lots of help, and savings can mean security. Working mother’s should be sticking together, working to implement family leave, sponsored child care, and the full range of reproductive choices every woman and mother needs to make the best decisions for herself and her family. Whining about how hard your life is and speculating that ‘regular working moms’ have it easier is just… counterproductive. And it’s obnoxious. And it’s not helping to promote any of the issues that could help not just you, oscar-winning Gwyneth, but all mom’s everywhere.

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Bottom line: speculation about how hard or easy anyone else has it in this life is a complete waste of time. Everyone has their own shit, even people with trust funds and lots of cash to burn. It doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes greedy or obnoxious or out of touch, but we can all be those things. These quotes are so cringe-worthy because she sounds so out of touch with the reality of other people’s live, and there is a complete lack of empathy. We all need more empathy for each other, so that we can work together. And especially moms because moms are amazing and so are dads and parenting is a feat of total courage and faith. I’d like for our culture to start putting their money where their mouth is, and instead of just talking about how amazing moms are actually start to help them with concrete policies and programs. Lets forget about Gwyneth all together, I don’t wanna hate on her and her silly comments. I just want to focus on the moms that matter. Which is all moms.

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Goldie Blox!: Happy Monday

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl last night (I don’t have cable, and I don’t care about football.) However, I did listen out for news about the score, and the halftime show, and most of all the ads. The MissRepresentation Project has launched a new app allowing you to call out sexist advertising, which is super dope. But there was at least one ad last night that go the #mediawelike tag instead of the #notbuyingit has tag of shame.

You may remember this video (if you are tuned into this kind of thing…) featuring company CEO and inventor, Debbie Sterling:

Goldie Blox, the toy company this video helped fund, won a contest by Intuit to become the first small business to run a commercial during the Super Bowl. Here is the ad they got for 4 mill:

Love it. Girls building things. Because there are still folks who think that gender bias is wishy washy bullshit, and that the wage gap is a result of women preferring certain kinds of jobs (which happen to be lower wage gigs) and that boys are just better at STEM. But we teach little girls and little boys a different set of rules about the world they grow up in. They are guided towards different skill sets and different mind sets, even different rules for what is acceptable interactive behavior. I can only hope that this ad is the first of many big breaks for Goldie Blox and companies like it, so that little girls and little boys can live in a world with ever more expansive possibilities.

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Rage Post: When Republicans Say Fucked Up Things

I fear this post is episode 1 of what will surely be an ongoing and arduous journey. I will try not to angry post about every dumb thing that comes out of some white man politician’s mouth, cause really, I don’t have that much free time on my hands and neither do you. But this is, well, rul bad, and it’s Friday and YOLO so let’s go ahead and rage.  Here. Watch.

Seethe.

If you can’t bear to watch that, here it is in good old text form.

Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication…  And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say enough of that nonsense.

First of all, Mike Huckabee doesn’t know any women. At least not any women who like him.

But seriously, this is some really gross and disgusting bullshit. It is a complete distortion of reality. He is trying to make is seem as though the government is rescuing us female damsels with birth control because we don’t have the power to control our bodies without them. That is so twisted it’s almost funny.

First of all, having access to safe and affordable contraception isn’t anyone’s only goal in life, asshole. But it is super cool and it does provide women with added autonomy and mobility in their lives and decision making. Next, birth control is not the government rescuing women. Tax payers are not paying the cost of covered contraception. The ACA mandates that insurance must cover birth control because it is a necessary part of a woman’s overall health (SIDENOTE: the first time I picked up my BC at CVS and the pharmistist was like “Oh, it’s covered now” my jaw dropped, I put my debit card back and said “I fucking love Barack Obama” and she said “Yea girl.” End Scene.) And it is integral. 99% of women who are sexually active have used contraception. Providing us with what we need is not rescuing us, it’s a reaction to women’s continual demands that our sexual health is paramount, and that our health depends on these resources. Taking birth control does not mean our bodies are out of control, and birth control isn’t about a lack of self control, you ignorant prick. If almost all women have used birth control, including the virgins and sluts and wives and girlfriends the single ladies and the mothers, then what you are saying is that all women are wanton harlets. That isn’t true. And if it was true, it would be 100% A-OK BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Also, new rule: I hereby ban the use of the terms libido and Uncle Sugar, forthwith, from now until eternity please and thank you EW goodbye.

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how they really think it’s possible that this shit will fly. Do they really think that making access to contraception harder is doing women a favor? And do they really think we will believe that? I also don’t get how they don’t see the irony of trying to block access to birth control while keeping their Viagra prescriptions filled to the max and covered by insurance. Holy sexist double standard batman!

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I am really sick of hearing old [mostly] white guys talk about women’s bodies and women’s wants and needs. Just stop. If you have never stopped to think about what it would be like to be pregnant and scared, stop proposing legislation that would affect young girls and women in ways that you will never have to understand and don’t even deign to try and empathize with. I feel like I’m totally rambling… it’s hard to even write coherent sentences after reading that quote. Maybe it’d be a good idea to just let them keep running their mouths, so they can continue to alienate folks who give a shit about women (which, fortunately, it quite a few people) and then those folks will use their voting power and then they will all go away. I am hopeful that the back lash against feminism and the gains made thanks to the tireless work of activists will be over soon and we can stop having these ridiculous conversations. If that sounds naivee, well it’s Friday and I can’t be pessimistic all the time and damnit I still believe that Obama is dope and a step in the right direction and maybe we’ll see women get to even numbers in the political arena in my lifetime. Maybe one will even make it all the way…

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A girl can dream.

Further Reading: Five Important Sex Ed Lessons for Republican Lawmakers

Mommy Rules: Maternity Leave

It’s time for the second installment of Mommy Rules! This story will be told in part by gifs featuring the character of Jess, from New Girl, because they’re hilarious and remind me of Belle for lots of reasons. Like:

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Reason #1
Reason #2. sometimes we are hater-ade partners #noshame
Reason #2. sometimes we are hater-ade partners #noshame
Yup. Reason 3.
Yup. Reason 3.

Other than a lack of bangs, Belle resembles Zooey’s character closely. Trust me.

Ok, once upon a time… or on a dark and stormy night… or, to begin at the beginning…

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It started with a phone call. This isn’t a gif, my sincerest apologies (blame Google image search!)

This is a phone call regarding maternity leave. Belle needs to figure this out. And apparently she needs to figure this out right now in this exact moment even though she’s less than halfway through gestation…

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Quick detour! Did you know that the US is almost the only developed nations in the world without paid maternity and/or family leave?

Super bummer.
Super bummer. Canada and Eastern Europe putting us to SHAME.

So that’s 8 countries total, in the whole wide world, with absolutely no guaranteed paid maternity/family leave. Not just the developed world.  We are 1 of only 8 on the whole effing globe. Pretty pathetic, huh?

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Belle’s maternity leave is unpaid. Given that our country has no legislation mandating paid leave, she is not surprised. She does have the option to use up her sick leave, which is paid, in place of maternity leave. Not logical. What is even more upsetting, is that during the course of her call, the representative she spoke with referred to her leave as ‘sick leave’, made it clear that paperwork would need to be submitted as soon as possible to ensure it would be approved, and ended saying ‘the procedure is the same regardless of the illness you are taking leave for.’

what?!
what?!

Eeemmmm k. A few things to remember:

1) Being pregnant is not the same thing as being ill. Pregnancy is not a dsyfunction. In fact, one might argue that it is the ULTIMATE FUNCTION. Biologically speaking, we must procreate so the species survives. It is obviously cool that we’ve evolved to the point where we can choose whether or not we want to be parents. Awesome. But for mother nature/human animals/ species surviving purposes, the biological function of reproduction is a big deal and super cool and a sign of one’s body working. It’s not the same thing as a cold or the flu or cancer. Treating it this way will likely result in reactions like this:

Get. It. Together.
Get. It. Together.

2) Things like maternity leave should be available to employees everywhere. The information regarding these leaves should be easily found and communicated. There shouldn’t be a need for approval, although I understand the need to inform one’s employer for scheduling/temporary replacement reasons. But why, in this moment, when so much is changing in a women’s life and body, should she have to be worried about a leave of absence almost 1/2 a year away?

Because, damnit, it’s hard enough growing another human inside your body until that creature can exist on its own. Now she has to deal with paperwork and insensitive HR personnel?!

UUUUGGGGHHHHHH
UUUUGGGGHHHHHH

I dream of a day when Moms everywhere can take off to care for their newborns without worrying how that will work or how they’ll survive or if they’ll still have jobs.

CHYEA!
CHYEA!

And maybe even how about not just Moms but also DADS CAUSE THEY ARE IN FACT ALSO PARENTS GASP OMG DREAM BIG!

the 'Yay we're pregnant!' stage.
the ‘Yay we’re pregnant!’ stage.
The realization stage. Usually lasts approximately for the rest of your dad life.
The moment of realization. This stage usually lasts approximately the rest of your dad life.
And hopefully, the 'in between all the other crap' moments. This gif is gratuitous and I don't care!
And hopefully, the ‘in between all the other crap’ moments. This gif is gratuitous and I don’t care!

Mommy Rules: Magazines

Ah, motherhood. A state of being so fraught with cultural meaning and weight, it’s a monolithic symbol that’s been constructed and reconstructed since the freakin’ dawn of time. And I think it’s fucking great. I think that women being able to sustain two lives with one body is absolutely the coolest thing in the whole wide world. (You can read more about that here.)

I am officially at the point in my life where I have lots of wedding and baby shower announcements in my newsfeed. Eek. One of my very best friends, we’ll call her Belle,  is preggo with what will I’m sure be smart/sassy/talented/epically gorgeous little girl whom I will always call sugar bean. I am excited and jealous and absolutely cannot wait to start teaching that precious child all the tricks of the trade. Belle has been sending me weekly belly photos, which make me long to be there, and also keeping me abreast of some of the nonsense that happens when you are visibly pregnant. With her permission, I’m gonna share some of those stories in an ongoing new series: MOMMY RULES.

Here are some dope Mom’s:

THAT. FACE.
THAT. FACE.
Powerful, resilient, and raised one smart cookie!
Powerful, resilient, and raised one smart cookie!
Oh, this is my mom. She is holding the orchid i got her for mother's day and wearing a pin with a baby pic of me. Precious.
Oh, this is my mom. She is holding the orchid I got her for mother’s day and wearing a pin with a baby pic of me. Precious.

Obviously there are too many dope mom’s to list, and that list would overlap a whole lot with my ‘dope women’ list, obviously.  So this series is dedicated to all the dope ladies who are also moms out there. And to sugar bean (love you already boo bear!)

Our first story takes place in a maternity store (photos not edited, please excuse touch screen spelling errors!):

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After making a purchase, Belle was offered a choice between 2 magazines: Parenting and the Top 150 Cupcake Recipes of 2013. She hates baking. She was immediately offended and outwardly irritated.

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The magazines themselves lived up to her expectations.

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Ov.

I think my main concern with her story (other than the poor sales person on the receiving end of her anger LOL) is that Parenting magazine seems like it would be more accurately named Mothering, or Parenting for Women. I shudder to think of the variety of stories written whose main function is to make women feel insecure and inferior. It sounds like the main theme is ‘You’re doing it wrong!‘ Your choices, your post baby body, your relationships. I mean good lord, how are women supposed to get their kids fed and clothed between the constant bouts of anxiety and their obsessive worrying about doing it right and looking perfect to boot?!

And the cupcakes? Do I even need to say it? The assumption that ‘all mother’s must know how to and enjoy (or at least fake enjoy) baking’ is insane. Because mothers are, what I like to refer to as, people. And people, generally, are all super complicated and unique, with lots of different interests and passions. And being good at baking is not a pre-requisite for being a human, or for being a mom. The above mentioned Kristin (hey boo!) is an excellent baker and colleague/bestie of Belle’s, and it’s great that she loves to bake and has a side gig and lots of talent! We love that! But that’s not all mother’s… or all women… or all people. However, people have lots of opinions on how mother’s should act, and because we revere mother’s and give them all kinds of status, we also feel as though we can criticize and critique their behavior. This is often done publicly, face to face, with no remorse or embarrassment. These magazine offerings are a kind of critique, and while Belle felt angry because the choices were limited and stupid, my anger extends to the fact that the choices offered were also a judgment on the perceived behaviors of the store’s clientele.

So mom’s beware. You are being watched, judged, and held accountable.

But hey, at least it’s not the late 50’s…

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Ah, smoking while pregnant. Those were the days…

This is Too Good

So first, let’s laugh. Seriously, I’ve watched like like half a dozen times. For the record, this post is gonna be more frivolous than serious. (Ok I am really annoyed that I can’t embed this, but its VERY worth opening the extra window I promise.)

VIDEO STEVE COLBERT HILARIOUS

Colbert just hits the nail on the head. Women’s health issues are categorically denied importance. It’s really only been a little over 50 years that they tested drugs on both sexes, figuring that testing on men was good enough. And Viagra was the fasted approved drug by the FDA ever. And of course no one has a problem covering that under health insurance. As if boners are the most important problem doctors have to consider. Barf. For some women, their yearly gyno visit isn’t covered because it’s considered a specialist. And of course Freud blamed the uterus for everything from hysteria to insomnia. But I digress.

Colbert’s performance here is flawless and brilliant. Obviously providing birth control will not mean that everyone starts orgies in the street. And if you don’t wanna pay for abortions or support welfare for large families, THEN WHAT IS YOUR PLAN??? Sex is not simple and it’s not wrong, and people must have options. My absolute favorite moment is the T-Rex arms. Go watch it again. The truth is, women have been using birth control for centuries, it has just always been primitive and unreliable. And the issue is severely gendered given the nature of motherhood which is incontestable vs. fatherhood which is always in question. I already resent having to carry the burden of birth control with my internal hormone system while boys get to take it on and off. And then I mean breast pumps, how can you not support breast pumps? If your stance is that you want people (or at least some people) to be fruitful and multiply, how can you object to helping those babies get fed? I’m baffled.

Now, that woman at the end I could just slap. The lack of empathy and sisterhood is truly nauseating. To compare abuse counseling to a mani/pedi is unforgivable. To deny the next generations access to safe sex is selfish, and to me it illustrates how fucked up our leadership system is. Because this is really not a question of morals. Birth control is something that even adults in monogamous hetero relationships need, not just people having “bad sex.” The people who oppose this are obviously not thinking logically and they aren’t thinking about the needs of the people. They are thinking along strict ideological lines with no flexibility and no logical rules, and this is no way to govern. It’s silly and irresponsible, not to mention mean, pushy and severely irritating.

Ok well, I’m gonna watch that video again because he just nails it. If you’d like to read up on my previous thoughts on birth control, here are some posts you may enjoy:

Will.I.Ain’t (Jerk!)

Wrap it up and Keep it Clean

Follow up! The Emphasis on Safe Sex Continues…

Maternal Instincts

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to you guys about this here before, but I am a care-giver. That is to say, a babysitter. My boo bear’s name is Ryan, and she is about 20 months old. I have been watching her since she was teeny tiny, 5 months old, and last spring I was with her every single day for about 4 hours. This year I’m down to 2 days a week because her mom is pregnant with a baby brother, and so she’s only coaching a few days. I have watched Ryan grow an unbelievable amount in this year. She walks, runs, climbs, eats, counts, sings, and dances. She talks up a storm, tells me what she wants and what she is doing. She says my name and ‘I love you’ and sometimes she says them together. She is unbelievably adorable, and ornery, and so so smart. I love her like she is mine, and sometimes I am overwhelmed by the things I want for her. She astounds me, regularly, so often it’s hard to comprehend. She is the highlight of my weeks, my favorite obligation, the light at the end of my tunnels.

Wanting kids is something that women are ‘supposed’ to do. Maternal instinct is supposedly hardwired in us. But of course this is ridiculous. I know men who are naturally great with kids (my father, for starters) and women who feel awkward around babies and little ones, so this skill is clearly just about different personalities. I have always been in awe of parent/child relationships, and lately, I have been feeling the pull.

Here is another quote from Appetites, this time from the epilogue. It articulates very clearly my awe and amazement for women’s bodies and their power and their strength. Author Caroline Knapp describes watching her sister give birth:

“The next split seconds, though, are the ones I want to remember, for a birth really is the most extraordinary feat of nature, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such profound respect for the female body or such awe in its presence. A body creating a body; a woman’s body, equipped with this exquisite knowledge and stunning capacity to create life, and then to house it and protect it and nurture it thought its own web of cord and fluid, and then to bring it into the world, producing human life itself… this is quite truly the stuff of miracles, and it begins in the body of a woman, and it springs from the body of a woman, and it takes your breath away.”

I am always saying that women’s bodies are amazing because they are built to sustain two lives. This is such an extraordinary capability, one men can’t even touch. And while motherhood has been given saintly status, women’s bodies have been continually demeaned, demoted, other-ed. Our bodies are continually controlled, judged, limited, even hated. Our ability to give birth isn’t seen as amazing, it’s seen as weird. Furthermore, the very strengths we posses, things like flexibility, bodies that have enough strength and fat to create another body, emotionality and desire for connection, all of these things are cast as weaknesses. As wrong.

But they are strengths. Women have a higher pain tolerance than men, emotional and physical. We get tossed around, used and abused, we are playing against a stacked deck. And all the while, we have within us, what our culture values so much, this incredible strength and power. I have been yearning lately, yearning to feel my body accomplish this feat. I want to hold a tiny little person, a replica that I incubated and nurtured, that I gave birth to, I want to rock that little nugget to sleep. Now, I am not delusional, and I am well aware that my life right now cannot be about this. I have no money, no time, no place for this child. My three room apartment in alphabet city is not child proof, no room for a crib, and the crabs would not agree to diaper duty. I have no partner. It is impossible.

And so for now I just wait. I wait for the day when this miracle becomes possible for me, and until then I get to play with Ry, marvel at how she learns and grows. I can watch other women experience their own journey to motherhood, and I can keep saying (loudly) how awesome and strong and mind-blowing women are. Even those who don’t want to have kids have strength within them, the very capacity itself a statement. When the time is right and I get my own boo bear, I can already feel how amped I’ll be to practice yoga pregnant and dance pregnant and feel my body grow to accommodate this developing life  and experience that moment where my body takes over and expels the very potential of the human race, a tiny new person. This capability is an awe inspiring gift, it is not a burden. Our bodies are not rogue or out of control or needing. Our bodies are incredible.

The Mani/Pedi Dilemma

The ladies on The View never cease to rile me up. In this clip they are discussing a J Crew add, seen below, that shows the company president painting her son’s toe nails.

You can watch the video clip here (you know Barbara is not letting me embed that ish, sorry!)

Now, seriously, what even is the problem? We are so concerned with gender, people think I exaggerate when I say that we start to learn the rules before we can even speak. But the controversy over this add proves it. Children don’t understand adult concepts. The boy likes pink, he probably thinks its cool that you can make your toe nails a different color. He isn’t trying to express his femininity, although if he was that would probably be ok. But we are all so worried that the categories are going to be blurred, we forget how kids work. I babysit an amazing 20 month old named Ryan, and she is amazing. Smart, quirky, gorgeous, and she is so energetic. She’s a precious monkey, always trying to climb on everything (and with no sense of gravity, eek!) Ryan doesn’t think of herself as a tomboy, she is just a toddler who is talkative and wants to climb. But every adult around her describes her that way. Why are we so quick to place those labels?

I can’t stress it enough, that gender matters because its how we categorize one another. When we are confused about gender, it is seriously unnerving. And of course, gender and sexuality are uniquely and complexly linked, and sexuality is also really important because, like gender, its part of how we shape our interactions. I would argue that gender and sexuality are the number one most important tool we use when choosing how to approach, talk to, connect with, manipulate, and learn about people. And the reason its so important is because along these lines, there are those with the fun rules (straight males, and even gay males though to a lesser extent) and those with much more limiting rules (all women.) So obviously, keeping the delineations clear is important to those who want to maintain the status quo, keep all the fun for themselves, and keep the balance of power uneven. I am all for blurring the lines, living in grey space/queer space. And I totally understand why this would make people itchy. Without black and white categories, rules are there ain’t no rules. It would significantly change the way that we’ve learned to interact with strangers, it would change the rules of dating/courtship, it would change workplace hierarchy and friendships. I think that breaking down gender roles and rules is maybe the most important step we need to take as a culture, if we are ever truly going to accepts the humanity of every single person. But if this ad is all it takes to fire people up, I fear we have an oh so long way to go.