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Archive for the ‘fatherhood’ Category

From “The secret to work-life balance: less work” in The Atlantic by Jenny Anderson:

One in five working moms say it’s not just difficult, but very difficult, versus 12 percent of working dads. And mothers are twice as likely as fathers to say parenthood has hurt their career.

But one group in the study appeared to emerge at least moderately content: moms who work part time. They’re more likely to take the juggling act in stride (only 11 percent of them say it’s “very difficult” to balance work life and home life) and they’re also more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their children.

There’s only one problem with part-time work, in my experience, and that was the way in which my career completely stalled during that phase. In some ways this wasn’t a problem at the time because I had other priorities and I also managed to launch a writing career on the side during it all. But inevitably, I grew bored with the career dormancy and that boredom became a little damaging for me in the end.

Being back at work full-time I am well aware that work-life balance is out the window. And instead, I am running on the adrenaline of a challenging new role as well as the sudden thrill of being taken seriously again.

 

 

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Before my son was born, I did not cry much. For instance, I was able to successfully navigate the untimely demise of both Rickey and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas without so much as shedding a tear.

This was partly because I was raised by single mother, so my uncles, afraid I might turn out to be a ‘momma’s boy,’ drilled into me their understanding of the emotional life of a Black man. That is, I was to be quiet, strong and angry about the inequality of Black life. This anger, however, could be channeled constructively with sports or drowned with alcohol, but it was to be never, ever be expressed with tears.

Therefore, for the first 25 years of my life, I seldom cried. When I graduated from undergrad and grad school, I barely smiled. When Bambi’s mom caught an L, I didn’t feel a thing. I even made through Will asking uncle Phil, “How come he don’t want me” without feeling much.

I was, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of a sensitive thug—then something strange happened. On April 17, 2008, my son was born…and the floodgates opened. Now, I rarely get through a day without something messing with my allergies.

From “I never cried until my son was born (because patriarchy), but now I cry at every damn thing” by Lawrence Ware at Very Smart Brothas.

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‘Work and family’ writing, if it is without radical feminism, has become vanity writing for successful, entitled women.

As was true of her previous book, there’s very little advice in “Women Who Work” that is specific to women. A reading list at the back contains fifty-three books and ted Talk recommendations—thirty-nine of which were authored by men. There’s no shortage of woman-targeted branding throughout the book—“You are a woman who works,” Ivanka writes, over and over again—but the first actual mention of a gendered situation occurs on page ninety-four, when she notes that women, more than men, can face negative repercussions when they try to negotiate a raise. Her counsel, though, is entirely general: do your research; prove your worth. On page one hundred and four, she finally lays out a woman-specific suggestion: we should be more like men and apply for jobs for which we’re not completely qualified. Given the circumstances, it’s almost funny. In a later section on work/life balance—a “myth,” according to Ivanka, who nonetheless advocates finding a “work/life rhythm that’s optimal for you”—there’s quite a bit of advice about working through and around pregnancy and motherhood, mostly in the form of quotes from Rosie Pope, an entrepreneur who briefly had her own Bravo show called “Pregnant in Heels.”

The other quoted experts—and there are hundreds—are all over the map. There’s Stephen Covey, the business consultant and teacher who wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” There’s Socrates. There’s Toni Morrison, who is quoted as saying, “Bit by bit, she had claimed herself. Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” (Ivanka does not note that those lines are from the novel “Beloved” and refer to freedom from actual slavery; in this context, they are used as the chapter divider before a section on time management, in which she asks women, “Are you a slave to your time or the master of it?”) There’s Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the feminist author and activist who once wrote, Ivanka has learned, “Life is a verb, not a noun.” There’s a woman with a food blog “dedicated to turning veggies and fruit into spiralized noodles” who appears to offer advice on resilience.

From a thrillingly irritable book review by Jia Tolentino in The New York Post – “Ivanka Trump wrote a painfully oblivious book for basically no one”. 

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After reading Cruzvillegas’ warm book and exhibition, I felt renewed. I walked outside and gazed upon the dead patches on our lawn (that none of our neighbors have) and my children’s scattered toys (that every other parent picks up), and for once wasn’t annoyed:

Not long after photographing this autoconstrucción, I decided to set aside my long held hostility toward Instagram and gave it a try. Would it be possible, I wondered, to approach this communal and fragmentary medium with the spirit of generosity as Cruzvillegas describes it (providing things and/or knowledge to oneself as shares or bits of life-term research)?

From “Popsicle #25: The autoconstruccion suites” at Little Brown Mushroom. I can’t remember if I have posted this before.. but I am posting it again.

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From film critic, Matt Zoller Seitz in Roger Ebert.

We watched “Aliens” anyway. It went over well. The biggest challenge was dissuading kids from trying to predict every single thing that was going to happen. This is a generation of talkers. They have to comment on everything. No thought can go unexpressed. Maybe this was true when I was a kid as well (I honestly don’t remember), but rather than endlessly correct them I decided to just roll with it, exercising my slumber party guardian veto power during scenes that I felt pretty sure would enthrall them if they would just shut up for five minutes (I was rarely proved wrong in my guesses). But it was a sharp crowd, and for the most part the movie went over quite well, for an analog-era science fiction spectacular that’s turning 30 next year.

One boy said that Ripley in her hyper sleep chamber looked like Sleeping Beauty. As this was an intentional reference on writer-director James Cameron’s part (there’s a Snow White reference an hour later) this seemed like a promising note on which to begin the screening.  “I like the way this looks,” one said. “It’s futuristic but it’s old school. It’s almost steampunk.” “This is like Team Fortress 2,” another remarked. “Dude, shut up, this was made like 20 years before Team Fortress 2,” said the kid next to him. “This is, like, every science fiction movie ever made,” another said, as Ripley operated the power loader for the first time.

“This movie has so many cliches in it,” a boy said when Colonial Marines disembarked the drop ship and made their way through rainy darkness to enter the alien-infested colony. My son told him, “This movie was made in 1986. It invented all the cliches.” Another of his friends was impressed by the “personal data transmitters” implanted in the colonists—impressed that someone had thought of that back in 1986.

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Good arguments here from Cristy Clark in Overland as a response to Deveny’s ‘financial abortion’ article.

To start with, this argument completely ignores the rights of the child. According to articles 7–9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have the right to know and have a connection to their parents. Exceptions are provided for situations where ‘separation is necessary for the best interests of the child’, but a man’s desire to avoid child support payments doesn’t qualify. Even in cases when separation is warranted, it is rarely permanent in nature, leaving the door open for personal growth and renewed connection.

But the main problem with Deveny’s argument is that it buys into the neoliberal narrative of individual choice by completely ignoring the broader structural issues that fundamentally constrain women’s choices. The reality is that too many pregnant women already face a stark decision to undergo a medical termination or to risk a life of increased poverty and structural discrimination. While some women will opt to have an abortion (which, by the way, is still a criminal offence in much of Australia), termination should not be the only available option for women to avoid systematic disadvantage.

Just as we should fight for the rights of those women who want access to safe, accessible and affordable abortion, we should also be fighting for the rights of women who instead choose to carry their pregnancies to term. If not, we are punishing women for not having an abortion when a man wanted them to, and that reeks of the kind of coercive control that has no place in the feminist movement.

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This article by Catherine Deveny on the ABC called “Financial abortion: Should men be able to ‘opt out’ of parenthood?” is infuriatingly limited.

I have recently come to the conclusion that, as a feminist, I support men being able to opt out of fatherhood early in a pregnancy via what is known as a financial abortion.

I believe a woman should not be forced to become a mother any more than a man should be forced to become a father. If a man has not said, “I want to have a child with you now-ish”, it is fair to assume he doesn’t, and therefore should be able to legally withdraw from becoming a parent.

It would also be less traumatic for children, and more empowering for women.

A financial abortion (also known as a paper abortion or a statutory abort) would essentially enable men to cut all financial and emotional ties with a child in the early stages of pregnancy.

Men can ‘opt out’ already. Don’t have sex with women, get a vasectomy, take lots and lots of responsibility for contraception. Oh.. you mean not that kind of “control over reproductive choices”.

Men can have more control than they do currently over whether parenthood happens (see my paragraph above), but just like women they don’t have full control over conception. Pregnancy is not something you can ‘make happen’.. you can provide circumstances that will facilitate pregnancy or which won’t… but conception is a biological action that happens outside of women’s and men’s control. We all need to carry responsibility for that.

It is not something one can ‘opt out of’ if you, like me, happen to enjoy the act of putting sperm near eggs inside women’s bodies.

What certain men are seeking to ‘opt out of’ is not whether parenthood can occur, it is the responsibility of parenthood. How very user choice, what part of reality might possibly be missing from this?

The parent with the ability to decide to carry a pregnancy to term (or not) is the one whose body has a foetus inside it. If we lived in another reality where men could choose to carry a foetus in their body to term then they could opt out of doing so.. and I am sure many women would be content to concede that right to men.

 

And of course on the wider issue of opting out, as someone said on my Facebook page, is this…

“In practice men do have this choice: courts won’t demand men conform to care and contact agreements & DHSCS has a poor record of enforcing compliance with child support assessments/ agreements. Women’s access to abortion remains practically constrained and single mothers a group at high risk of poverty – these remain the bigger issues than further expanding masculine financial & paternal discretion.”

 

 

 

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