Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son on the cover of Elle.
Archive for the ‘feminist motherhood’ Category
This is so, so good.
I remembered the time that I asked him to watch the kids and I came back to find that he had traded them for remote control cars. When I shrilly demanded to know where the kids were he hid under a blanket and whispered, “Kids are hard.” I yelled that he was a bad parent, and that only a moron would trade the kids in for remote control cars. This is why I had never left him alone with the kids before. But now I realize that he was never going to learn to not trade the kids in for toys if I never trusted him enough to figure it out for himself. In this society that constantly tells men that women are better at not selling kids for toys, is it no wonder that my husband sold our kids for toys?
And then I thought about all of the times that I have messed up and he didn’t yell at me. What about the time he asked me to get the tires changed on the truck and I had them replaced with milk crates? Did he yell then? No, he just smiled and said, “Silly woman.”
From Ijeoma Oluo, who is wonderful and if you don’t already follow her writing you must, with “Another woman discovers she’s been abusing her husband” in Medium.
Me, on this topic:
There was only one group of unmarried women for whom the birthrate increased in recent years: those 35 and older. In many cases, they are having babies outside of marriage by choice, with more resources and education than the typical single mother.
They are still a small minority. But if these trends continue, single motherhood could become less of a sign of family instability. It could increasingly become one of the new ways people are choosing to form families, in an era when both marriage and divorce are declining.
From Claire Cain Miller’s “Single motherhood, in decline over all, rises for women 25 and older” in The New York Times.
I just want to say… single motherhood has always been a sign of “the ways people are choosing to form families”.
In my opinion, we do an enormous “let them eat cake” disservice to our community when we obfuscate the circumstances that help us write, publish and in some way succeed. I can’t claim the wealth of the first author (not even close); nor do I have the connections of the second. I don’t have their fame either. But I do have a huge advantage over the writer who is living paycheck to paycheck, or lonely and isolated, or dealing with a medical condition, or working a full-time job.
How can I be so sure? Because I used to be poor, overworked and overwhelmed. And I produced zero books during that time. Throughout my 20s, I was married to an addict who tried valiantly (but failed, over and over) to stay straight. We had three children, one with autism, and lived in poverty for a long, wretched time. In my 30s I divorced the man because it was the only way out of constant crisis. For the next 10 years, I worked two jobs and raised my three kids alone, without child support or the involvement of their dad.
I published my first novel at 39, but only after a teaching stint where I met some influential writers and three months living with my parents while I completed the first draft. After turning in that manuscript, I landed a pretty cushy magazine editor’s job. A year later, I met my second husband. For the first time I had a true partner, someone I could rely on who was there in every way for me and our kids. Life got easier. I produced a nonfiction book, a second novel and about 30 essays within a relatively short time.
From Ann Bauer’s “”Sponsored” by my husband; Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from” in Salon.
I am proud to announce that I have a chapter in the newly published book, Mothers at the Margins: Stories of Challenge, Resistance and Love, edited by Lisa Raith, Jenny Jones and Marie Porter. My chapter is on the responses from all my lovely readers to my 10 Questions About Your Feminist Parenting that I have been running on this blog since 2007.
You can purchase the book here if you so desire.
The Bad Mother letters usually raised the question of informed consent. But the kids were visually sophisticated, involved in setting the scene, in producing the desired effects for the images and in editing them. When I was putting together “Immediate Family,” I gave each child the pictures of themselves and asked them to remove those they didn’t want published. Emmett, who was 13 at the time, asked me to exclude one picture from the book. He had been playing Bugs Bunny and fell asleep still wearing nothing but long white socks on his arms, meant to look like the white legs of a rabbit. He was uncomfortable not because of the nudity but because he said those socks made him look like a dork. It was a question of dignity.
Maintaining the dignity of my subjects has grown to be, over the years, an imperative in my work, both in the taking of the pictures and in their presentation. As my father weakened with brain cancer, I tried to photograph him, in the manner of Richard Avedon or Jim Goldberg, whose work I admire. But I put away my camera when I began to see that photographing his loss of dignity would cause him pain. (Once, after his death, I was asked what he had died from, and I replied, “Terminal pride.”) I did not take a picture on the day that Larry picked up my father in his arms and carried him like a child to the bathroom, both of their faces anguished. To do so would have been crossing a line.
It’s hard to know just where to draw that stomach-roiling line, especially in cases when the subject is willing to give so much. But how can they be so willing? Is it fearlessness or naïveté? Those people who are unafraid to show themselves to the camera disarm me with the purity and innocence of their openness.
Larry, for example. Almost the first thing I did after I met Larry Mann in 1969 was to photograph him, and I haven’t stopped since. At our age, past the prime of life, we are given to sinew and sag, and Larry bears, with his trademark stoicism, the further affliction of a late-onset muscular dystrophy. In recent years, when many of his major muscles have withered, he has allowed me to take pictures of his body that make me squirm with embarrassment for him. I call this project “Proud Flesh.” In taking these pictures, I joined the thinly populated group of women who have looked unflinchingly at men, and who frequently have been punished for doing so. Remember poor Psyche, chastised by the gods for daring to lift the lantern that illuminated her sleeping lover. I can think of numberless male artists, from Bonnard to Weston to Stieglitz, who have photographed their lovers and spouses, but I have trouble finding parallel examples among my sister photographers. The act of looking appraisingly at a man, studying his body and asking to photograph him, is a brazen venture for a woman; for a male photographer, these acts are commonplace, even expected.
One of the most intelligent discussions on mothers creating art and documenting the lives of their children in public that I’ve yet seen. Sally Mann’s Exposure in The New York Times.