First week back to work after vacation is nearly impossible. That’s all I have to say about this week. Here’s two weeks of my favorites – hope you’ve been great!
Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex – Ferrett Steinmetz at Good Men Project
“…Yes, all these boys and girls and genderqueers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.
You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.
You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure. And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it…”
Visible Bodies, Photo Exhibition By Wolfgang, Features Transgender Narratives Retold – James Nichols at The Huffington Post
“…Through a process that pairs captions and stories written by participants with close collaboration between the subject and photographer, the work produced through this project allows individuals to communicate to the viewer what gender identity means to themselves through a variety of mediums. “Visible Bodies” is part of a fledgling movement of transgender people telling their own, personal stories, often in contrast to the biased and narrow framework transgender narratives are constructed about them in mainstream media.
The project itself began as a small student initiative at the University of California, San Diego, gaining an immense amount of community support and interest and eventually blossoming into an exhibition with over 30 participants. The gallery opened on May 11 at the San Diego LGBT Pride office, drawing in a crowd of over 200 people.
“Every photo tells a different story, one that is personal to the participant instead of being dictated by the producers or photographer,” said Liat Wexler, co-producer of the project in a statement to The Huffington Post. “The process of collaborating with Wolfgang, the photographer, empowered the participants and gave them a chance to see themselves in a new light.”…”
White Is the New White – Aura Bogado at The Nation
“…Orange Is the New Black defenders repeatedly tell me that Kerman is invested in prison reform. She very well might be. But the problem here lies in the fact that her investment in the issue has been repaid through a very different kind of investment in her by book publishers and budding media empires like Netflix. I don’t necessarily doubt that Kerman wants to see a change in the criminal justice system—just like I don’t doubt that she’s made a cottage industry for herself doing so. This started about a decade ago, when Kerman began selling “Free Piper” T-shirts through Paypal. As a bestselling author who’s sold the rights to stories of women that aren’t even hers, she’s profited from the criminalization of black and brown women who are disproportionately targeted for prison cages.
But most often, Orange Is the New Black fans tell me I need to give the series a real chance. If I can just get through the first two episodes, I’ll be content by episode three. And so I watched and cringed through six whole episodes, called it quits and hope to never again see another one in my entire life. With very little exception, I saw wildly racist tropes: black women who, aside from fanaticizing about fried chicken, are called monkeys and Crazy Eyes; a Boricua mother who connives with her daughter for the sexual attentions of a white prison guard; an Asian woman who never speaks; and a crazy Latina woman who tucks away in a bathroom stall to photograph her vagina (the pornographic image is indiscriminately paraded throughout an entire episode)…”
For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids – Jennifer Havery at The Huffington Post
“…My students write racial autobiography papers. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment: describe the impact of racial identity in your life — not race generally, but your race and any significant experiences, teachings and thoughts pertaining to that identity at various life stages. I require that they interview two family members about their experiences of and beliefs about being “x.” (As it turns out, this is a really hard assignment for white students for reasons that are important and revealing. More on that in another venue.)
Time and again, my white students write that “everybody’s equal” is the “most important” thing their parents taught them about race. Time and again, a not-insignificant number of them then proceed to describe their present trepidation about a.) telling their parents they date interracially; b.) bringing home a Latino/a or black classmate; c.) Thanksgiving break, when everyone will silently tolerate the family member who makes racist comments; or d.) something else that reveals how deeply and clearly these students know this “most important teaching” doesn’t mean a hell of a lot to their actual white experience.
Few notice the contradiction they have themselves managed to describe in the space of only four pages.
I struggled to make sense of these papers for a long time. Then, Nurture Shock (not a book about race) gave me some help. It reports on social scientists’ studies to figure out why so many white kids have such poor facility in engaging racial difference and challenging racism despite their exposure to (liberalish) white culture’s “everybody’s equal” mantras. Turns out our kids, literally, don’t know what “everybody is equal” means. It’s an empty phrase. A numbed out flourish. (Sugar.)…”
Why Are America’s Postpartum Practices So Rough on New Mothers? – Hillary Brenhouse at The Daily Beast
“…I heard stories of women vacuuming upon arriving home after a day and a half in the hospital; of new moms waiting until the six-week checkup to make their postnatal complications known; of visitors turning up and instantly asking for coffee; of lactation consultants who were meant to, but did not, take insurance; of a postpartum doula who, when she was summoned by a mother one month postlabor, said, “You’re too far along to need me.” A popular site that advises women on how to find and work with a baby nurse counsels: “Ask your baby nurse what she likes to eat and stock up at the supermarket.” It is true that hiring a postpartum helper is far less expensive in, say, Hong Kong than in the U.S. But the problem is not one of money. The problem is that no one recognizes the new mother as a recuperating person, and she does not see herself as one. For the mourning or the injured, we will activate a meal tree. For the woman who is torturously fatigued, who has lost one 10th of her body’s blood supply, who can scarcely pee for the stiches running up her perineum, we will not.
A number of things have changed since the American frontier closed: women work outside the home, and the U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid maternal leave; families are geographically scattered; childbirth has become medicalized, and medical treatment, costly. Still, immigrants to the U.S. and their children have found ways to observe a period of postpartum repose. There is, in Flushing, Queens, more than one Chinese confinement center, and the institutions run a fairly brisk business. I met with an Argentine woman, Andreina Botto, who kept some version of the cuarentena for two straight months. A South American nanny looked after her other children and prepared endless batches of fatty soups for Botto to sup. Botto was visited weekly by a Chinese doctor ($150 per rather lengthy visit), and by his instruction stayed in her pajamas most days, made sure to keep warm, and consumed fish oil. She sure didn’t diet; she ate in order to lactate and froze the excess milk…”
Take Back Your Pregnancy – Emily Oster at The Wall Street Journal
In reality, medical care during pregnancy seemed to be one long list of rules. Being pregnant was a good deal like being a child again. There was always someone telling me what to do, but the recommendations from books and medical associations were vague and sometimes contradictory. It started right away. “You can only have two cups of coffee a day.” I wondered why. What did the numbers say about how risky one, two or three cups were? This wasn’t discussed anywhere.
The key to good decision making is evaluating the available information—the data—and combining it with your own estimates of pluses and minuses. As an economist, I do this every day. It turns out, however, that this kind of training isn’t really done much in medical schools. Medical school tends to focus much more, appropriately, on the mechanics of being a doctor.
When I asked my doctor about drinking wine, she said that one or two glasses a week was “probably fine.” But “probably fine” isn’t a number. In search of real answers, I combed through hundreds of studies—the ones that the recommendations were based on—to get to the good data. This is where another part of my training as an economist came in: I knew enough to read the numbers correctly. What I found was surprising.
The key problem lies in separating correlation from causation. The claim that you should stop having coffee while pregnant, for instance, is based on causal reasoning: If you change nothing else, you’ll be less likely to have a miscarriage if you drink less coffee. But what we see in the data is only a correlation—the women who drink coffee are more likely to miscarry. There are also many other differences between women who drink coffee and those who don’t, differences that could themselves be responsible for the differences in miscarriage rates…”
How What We Know About Midwifery Can Change Breastfeeding For All Families – Sharon Muza at Science and Sensibility
“…As we honor World Breastfeeding Week, those of us who deliver or receive midwifery care have much to celebrate. In every study we can identify, midwifery care increases the likelihood that a woman will initiate breastfeeding (Hatem, Sandall, Devane, Soltani & Gates, 2008). Even with national breastfeeding initiation rates at a recent high of 77% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013), depending on the setting, the rates of initiation and ongoing breastfeeding for women under the care of midwives well exceed national averages.
Preliminary data from a sample of more than 24,000 home and birth center births attended by midwives showed remarkable breastfeeding rates. Less than one percent of all mothers never breastfed. Eighty-five percent were exclusively breastfeeding through to the final postpartum visit, which is typically at the six week mark. A full 97% were at least partially breastfeeding at six weeks (Cheyney, 2012).
Benchmarking data that tracks breastfeeding initiation rates for families receiving care from certified midwives and certified nurse midwives showed significantly higher rates than those whose care was provided by an OB: 78.6% as compared to 51% at the time the report was compiled (American College of Nurse Midwives [ACNM], 2012)…”
I Do Not Want My Daughter to Be ‘Nice’ – Catherine Newman at The New York Times
“…My 10-year-old daughter, Birdy, is not nice, not exactly. She is deeply kind, profoundly compassionate and, probably, the most ethical person I know — but she will not smile at you unless either she is genuinely glad to see you or you’re telling her a joke that has something scatological for a punch line.
This makes her different from me. Sure, I spent the first half of the ’90s wearing a thrifted suede jacket that I had accessorized with a neon-green sticker across the back, expressing a somewhat negative attitude regarding the patriarchy (let’s just say it’s unprintable here). But even then, I smiled at everyone. Because I wanted everyone to like me. Everyone!
I am a radical, card-carrying feminist, and still I put out smiles indiscriminately, hoping to please not only friends and family but also my son’s orthodontist, the barista who rolls his eyes while I fumble apologetically through my wallet, and the ex-boyfriend who cheated on me. If I had all that energy back — all the hours and neurochemicals and facial musculature I have expended in my wanton pursuit of likedness — I could propel myself to Mars and back. Or, at the very least, write the book “Mars and Back: Gendered Constraints and Wasted Smiling.”
But it is not one thing or another, of course. My mostly pleasant way might get me more freelance work. And friendliness tends to put people at ease — loved ones, neighbors, waitresses — which is a good thing. Plus, smiling probably makes me feel happier, according to all those studies about self-fulfilling emotional prophesies. I know that our sweet-hearted son, who is 13, has always had the experience of niceness being its own reward. What can I do to help? he asks. Please, take mine, he insists, and smiles, and everyone says, “Oh, aren’t you nice!” and “What a lovely young man!” (Or sometimes, because he kind of looks like a girl, “What a lovely young lady!”) But, if I can speak frankly here, you really don’t worry about boys being too nice, do you? He still has the power and privilege of masculinity on his side, so, as far as I’m concerned, the nicer the better…”