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Category Archives: children

Via feministe: The arguement for paying moms less

The fact that mothers are under scrutiny for how much time they ‘waste’ while at work (taking phone calls from kids and having to pick them up on snow days etc) is itself sexist. Why don’t we ask how it is men can be productive, considering how constantly distracted they are by sex? Why don’t we ask how it is smokers can be productive? I repeat: the focus on women parents is sexist – and I’m not even tackling the inherent hypocrisy in pretending that we as a society care about families, while offering to pay those who do the family work less than others, thereby making it necessary for them to work even longer hours to make the money needed to cover the costs of working etc.

Only women are under this kind of scrutiny: how they dress, how much they weigh (overweight women make less money), how assertive they are or aren’t, how they choose lower paid jobs naturally (without consideration to why the jobs women choose pay less or what influences job choices), if they have children can they be as productive as those without children, if they don’t have children they are going to take maternity leave. Only women face these stereotypes; only women are always found wanting, found to be the makers of the sexism that prevents their success.

Yet, there are literally thousands of ways to ‘waste‘ time at work. Read More »

I told this story to someone at school today. We moved into a new house a few months back. Before we moved things in, we took the girls through. Little F, just three years old, was excited. This house is a bit newer than the 100+ year old row house were were renting. One architectural detail amused her, however. In the upstairs bedroom, she encountered, for the first time, a closet. She walked into the closet, turned a full circle and looked up at me, with her brows furrowed in confusion (Elise has a particularly expressive face). She said “What’s this for mama?”

This first term of my MA program has been challenging: so much to do and so little time. I’ve been managing to do my homework late nights (so two-year-old Monkey  isn’t at the babysitter’s very much) and still bring in good marks.

This last week though, I’ve had final papers to put together and was too tired to rely on late nights so Monkey was at the sitter’s two days in a row for almost full days. This is the first time she has been with another person besides her father and I for so long.

The second day she ran into my arms and declared that she had missed me. She kept hugging me tight and repeating how much she’d missed me all the way home. Back at home she threw herself in my arms again and declared that she had missed me. “Oh, I missed you too little bug,” I said. She put her hands on my cheeks and said, “tell me why”.

So I did.

It happened for the first time today. I had successfully persuaded my older daughter to shed her clothes for a bath and was negotiating the younger daughter’s diaper when the youngest said something so sweet I wanted my husband to hear it. I walked to the top of the stairs and called him up. As he approached, I noticed my older daughter, naked, flitting about nervously, looking for someplace to hide herself. She didn’t want her father to see her naked. This is the first time she has felt uncomfortable about nudity in all her few years. She dashed into the bathroom. I smiled at her and, without saying anything, I closed the door as my husband came to the top of the steps. My little girl is growing up.

Here’s a comment I wrote on a feministing post about a woman who had a baby at 15 and dares to be proud of it at 22. Too many people, even in the feministing community, feel that having children is a right we should bestow only on monied people of the right age demographic: http://www.feministing.com/archives/014718.html#comments

She’s getting the attention because she’s smart and savvy. Had she done any other adult-like thing successfully at 15 that framed her life as she continued into college and gone on to talk about it in a campus newspaper, she would have been lauded in this forum…

But having a baby is different, it seems. And talking back to efforts to frame her as cheap are different it seems. Because she had a baby before our culture thinks she is ready to have a baby (forget whether she thinks she is ready… and hell, many people aren’t ready to have babies at 30, or 40, but we do, because that is what we do…) Also the crux is that teenage mothers = poverty.

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I have two daughters who love listening to the sugary soundtrack from Mary Poppins and so I’ve had much more opportunity than some to re-learn the song lyrics as an adult, wonder at what is packaged as children’s media and shake my head at the ubiquity of rape myths. 

So, do gentlemen rape? 

No, according to Mary Poppins as she sings “Jolly Holiday”. Gentlemen do not rape; rape is the province of the lower classes. 

It’s subtle but it’s there. Bert has just sung his part of the duet about what a wonderful person Mary Poppins is – practically perfect, indeed. She really has a high bar to reach in order to merit his praise. What does he have to do, or not do, to gain her praise? Not force her into unwanted sexual activity.

(This part reminds me of parenting: a father changes a diaper and he’s a hero, a mother changes 100 diapers and she is boring.)

It’s all there in the song. Bert’s “blood is blue” because he “wouldn’t think of pressing [his] advantage” which is, in turn, the reason that “a lady needn’t fear when [he is] near”. Add to that mix that “forbearance is the hallmark of [his] creed” and we have completed what is so special about Bert. In essence, because he is a gentleman he won’t push Mary Poppins into unwanted sexual activity; he will not attempt to rape her. 

Is my point that gentlemen do rape? Is it that we set the bar far too low for men?

Actually, I think my point is that this is a children’s song, from a children’s movie. How young children begin their schooling in society’s dominant narratives about men, women and sex.