Perhaps my being late on this post for the past few weeks has been just enough of a change in the universe for my football team to start winning. Then a family wedding, and then a lost phone, has kept me away. Hope your highs have been high, and the lows not too low. Either way, another week has begun! Happy Monday, and here are the favorites from last week!
What It Means to Love Mothers – Mimi Khuc at Black Girl Dangerous
“…What this disciplining, this undermining, looks like for many other women, especially poor women of color, single mothers, disabled mothers, women with mental illness, mothers in non-nuclear family formations, queer families: structural and legal violence that withholds support, that pressures women to marry, that humiliates and punishes “incompetent” mothers, that takes children away. Women of color in the U.S. have particularly had to fear the family welfare state, with its appalling history of intervention to “save” children from their own mothers, a long-standing form of cultural and actual genocide. Acknowledging the very real issues of domestic violence and abuse, we can still critique the state for the ways it readily reads mothers of color as bad mothers, and approaches compromised mothering as an individual pathology to be remedied by punishment and the extraction of children (and placing those children in the compromised, often abusive, system of state care), instead of as a condition of “living under siege” within violent structures that consistently work to undermine that very mothering. In the private sphere, women of color, especially immigrant women (sometimes “imported” directly from other countries), take on the labor of displaced mothering, as low- or no-wage nannies to care for wealthier women’s children, to make enough money to support their own children whom they now cannot mother. This, all this, is the systematic undermining of motherhood, often in the name of children, or “the family,” or even women themselves.
Who “deserves” to be a mother and to have support in their mothering — and who gets to dictate these criteria? What happens to mothers who cannot perform good motherhood? What happens to how they feel about themselves, their mental well-being, their relationships with their children, their relationships with any co-parents? What happens to their support systems? In turn, what happens to the viability and safety of their families?
If we really love children as we say, if we really think mothering future generations is one of the most important contributions to society, one of its critical social labors, then what would a societal support system look like that truly embraces mothers, mothering, and child-raising? It would require acknowledging the real, back-breaking, heart-breaking, soul-crushing work that is parenting, to not erase these things when we celebrate the ways parenting is life-giving, breathtaking, meaningful, and transformative. It would require expanding parenting into a social concern, a social good, because one woman cannot and should not do it all. In this way, child-raising becomes a community responsibility — and mothers, parents, the leaders of community child-raising. It would require creating structures that enable mothering in all its forms, and, most of all, enable mothers to be full people. Being a full person is foundational to being a good mother; we need to see and nurture the full personhoods of mothers. We need to love mothers as much as we love children…”
A good birth experience is more than the baby being delivered alive – Joanna Moorhead at The Guardian
“…Ask any child development specialist, and they’ll tell you the same thing: the best predictor of a child’s future wellbeing, future educational attainment, future mental health and future happiness is the quality of the bond formed between that child and his or her primary caregivers in the hours, days, months and years after birth. When a woman begins her life as a mother feeling low in confidence, unsure about how she feels about her child and unhappy in herself, she won’t be as able to give herself to the bonding process as she will if she embarks on motherhood feeling in control, empowered and validated by the experience. Give a new mother confidence, and you give her the best possible start in the hardest job in the world – and that’s the best possible start you can give her baby, too. Give her a good birth experience, and the road ahead is at least on a level, and maybe even downhill. Give her a traumatic birth, and you give her a hill to climb – and, of course, she has a baby to carry as well. Birth isn’t just about two people still breathing: we’re doing the next generation a huge injustice by assuming it is…”
Found on the Facebook page of the awesome Notes from a Student Midwife
My Harassers – Hannah Price
“…Hannah Price: I grew up in Fort Collins, Colo., and never experienced men publicly expressing their sexual interest in me till I moved to Philadelphia. At the time it was an unusual experience and threw me off guard.
TMN: Describe the moment when you turn your camera on the guy.
HP: Once a guy catcalls me, depending on the situation, I would either candidly take their photograph or walk up to them and ask if I can take their photograph. They usually agree and we talk about our lives as I make their portrait.
TMN: You do a lot of portrait work. How much of yourself is in each shot?
HP: I always make sure the lighting and composition is as beautiful as possible and try and capture what is interesting about the person.
TMN: Editing a series like this, do you detach yourself?
“…Women have come a long way fighting for equality in the home, and career and academic fields, however there is a group of young girls who will never get a chance to experience the progression because of these disparities.
Obviously, a group of mainstream feminists can not solve the issues that plague the women of the inner-city, and even if they could it would be a lose, lose situation.
If mainstream feminists continue to have little involvement in the progression of lower-income women, who have much more to lose in the sexist battle for fair pay and equal opportunity, there will continue to be a creation of sub-feminism categories from women whose issues aren’t being heard. But if there is such a thing as a caped, feminist crusade that fights for the equality of ALL women, especially those who might be brown, not the “right kind of immigrants” and/or living in lower-income communities, they’ll be looked at as guilted saviours.
Before any saving, or continued indifference can be given between the various feminists groups, dialogue needs to take place to bridge the gap. It’ll probably be long time before this happen, but communication will have a better chance at working once there there is a genuine concern for different problems that women face despite their individual struggle and background. Focused groups are great for combing through special interests, but unity for all women must be the main objective…”
Gloria Steinem Speaks Out About Miley Cyrus, Ends The Debate Forever – HuffPost Women
“…I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed … But given the game as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest is in all of its states … the single greatest source of scholarship money for women in the United States. If a contest based only on appearance was the single greatest source of scholarship money for men, we would be saying, “This is why China wins.” You know? It’s ridiculous. But that’s the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists…”
Many Teens Admit to Coercing Others Into Sex – Nancy Shute at NPR
“…A multiple-choice online survey conducted in 2010 and 2011 asked 1,058 teenagers and young adults, ages 14 to 21, whether they’d ever “kissed, touched, or done anything sexual with another person when that person did not want you to?”
Nine percent said yes. Eight percent had kissed or touched someone when they knew the other person did not want to. Three percent got someone to give in to unwilling sex. Three percent attempted to rape the person, and 2 percent completed a rape. (The numbers don’t add up because some perpetrators admitted to more than one behavior.)
This may be the first survey to ask questions like these, and the researchers caution that because of the relatively small number of youths involved, the results aren’t definitive. But they are certainly chilling…”
More Thoughts on Expanding Midwifery: Action Steps – Notes From a Student Midwife
“…Historically, I would argue that midwifery has been a women-centered profession. It’s in the name, for sure: “to be with woman.” It is still considered by many to be “women’s work” and often we talk about “women-centered care.” There’s the assumption that midwives are about “mamas and babies.” When we talk about the midwifery model of care, we’re generally talking about women’s reproductive health–by which we mean people who were born as females and fit into the gendered binary ideal of female. There’s also an assumption (at least here in the U.S.) that the people providing the care are also women. All of these assumptions add up to a partial truth. The whole truth is, ironically enough, is more simple than that: midwifery care is for everybody and can be provided by anybody, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. Period.
As a woman of color, I think a lot about my positioning and the ways in which I am seen and not seen in the culture I live in. I am a college-educated woman with a lot of resources at my disposal…but I have to work hard to find myself reflected in the broader culture of this country. I also have to work really, really hard to find myself reflected in the world of nursing or midwifery. Because of the resources I have access to, this experience ranges from a mild inconvenience to sometimes an uncomfortable dissonance, and at times more intense frustration and anger. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced true disparity in my health care or education. Sadly, I can’t say the same is true for many of the marginalized communities in this country.
When I think about potential steps that major midwifery organizations can take to walk the talk of inclusion, I dream big, but also recognize that sometimes the small steps mean a lot. Here are a few of my ideas at this moment in time.
Show more images of diverse families.
I think many organizations are getting better about this, but images matter. They are the reflection of an organization’s values. When only certain types of families are portrayed, the underlying message says “We only serve this kind of cliente.”…”
Bills increasing abortion access signed by Gov. Jerry Brown – Josh Richman at Mercury News
“…California on Wednesday became the only state in the nation this year to increase access to abortions, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing more medical professionals to perform abortions.
AB154 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would let nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with special training perform abortion by aspiration — in which the uterus’ contents are suctioned out — which is the most common kind of first-trimester abortion. The Assembly passed the bill on a 50-25 vote in May, and the state Senate passed it on a 50-25 vote in August, with most Democrats and no Republicans voting for it…”
President Obama Nominates Janet Yellen to Head the Federal Reserve – Jessica Mason Pieklo at RH Reality Check
“…President Obama made history Wednesday, announcing thenomination of Janet Yellen
as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Yellen currently serves as vice chair of the Federal Reserve and would replace Ben Bernanke when he steps down in January. If confirmed, Yellen would be the first female chair of the Federal Reserve.
Yellen’s nomination comes aftermonths of public speculation on who the president would pick to follow Bernanke. Early reports indicated the president was planning on nominating Larry Summers, a former economic advisor to the president with close ties to Wall Street. Summers’ potential nomination sparked pushback from Democrats who criticized Summers’ cozy relationship with the banking industry. That pushback resulted in Summers withdrawing his name from consideration in mid-September, citing the possibility of a potentially bruising confirmation battle…
In the Rose Garden of the White House Wednesday, President Obama called Yellen a “proven leader” who was “tough” and “exceptionally well qualified” to lead the Federal Reserve. In particular, the president pointed to Yellen’s reputation as a consensus builder who was open to new ideas and understood the “human” element in economic policy. “American workers and their families will have a champion in Janet Yellen,” the president said.
In her comments after the nomination, Yellen echoed the president’s focus on working families, promising that if confirmed she would help them make up for lost ground during the recession. “The mandate of the Federal Reserve is to serve all people,” said Yellen, who promised leadership that would include objectivity, integrity, and calls for consensus when setting economic policy…”
100 Men Explain Why They Think Vaginas Are Awesome and Important – Jazmine Hughes at Jezebel
That Time When DC Stopped Funding Domestic Violence Shelters While Both Congressional Gyms Stayed Open – Mattea Kramer and Jo Comerford at The Nation
“…In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.
If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some sheltersraised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as 6 million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.
But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.
Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from eleven states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically, 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average, around thirty of them are children, ten of whom have cancer.
Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14. But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism—remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million—treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”…”