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Archive for the ‘motherhood sux’ Category

New CDC recommendations released Tuesday state that all women of childbearing age should abstain entirely from alcohol, unless they use contraceptives. Come again? On first reading, one might think that they are on to something. Everyone knows that drinking during pregnancy is bad. Well…the research is actually mixed. But, aside from attempting to address the real problem of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which can have lasting impact on children, it makes a lot of bad assumptions about women, it’s unrealistic, and it might not be entirely evidence-based.
My first thought when reading the report was that this type of government recommendation sounds like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale. In Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, a theocratic dictatorship takes away women’s rights and separates them into classes. Fertile women of childbearing age are kept as handmaids for reproductive purposes by the ruling class after a large portion of the female population becomes sterile due to pollution and sexually transmitted diseases. They live under strict control of their wealthy male captors, and are treated as vessels for potential life.

From Steph on Grounded Parents with “The CDC Can Rip the Wine Glass Out of My Childbearing-Aged Hand”.

I have written about the policing of pregnant women and alcohol .. oh, once or twice before..

Compare and contrast

Light drinking during pregnancy

Mystery results

Public health message of the day: don’t trust women, especially when they’re incubating

Whenever people start talking about the “unborn child”

 

 

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From the Danish.

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My son Zain was born with the kind of reflux and colic that no doctor seemed able to cure. He screamed for up to eight or nine hours a day for the first twelve months of his life. There was nothing I could do but push him up and down the streets of my neighbourhood at all hours of the night and day. So much of those long hours of walking are in my next book, which doesn’t really focus on motherhood at all but rather, on a close and intimate portrayal of all those people and places I observed while walking. It wasn’t just that it was the first time in my life in which I had given myself permission to sit on a bench on the river or to hang out in a park all day and really look at those everyday things I had never taken the time to notice before, it was also that everything had so much more emotional intensity and significance than it had previously had. It doesn’t last forever but there is this crazed state you exist in, in those early months, that is something right out The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I remember, distinctly, standing on the Parramatta River, looking at Jamie Eastwood’s mural on the footpath which depicts the local Indigenous population trying to fight off the boats in that same place where the ferries were now coming in to dock at Parramatta Pier. The whole place seemed so heart-breakingly gorgeous and tragic in a way that I think I could never understand if I wasn’t in such a heightened emotional state. That space is now the central image that my next book revolves around. It was feeling that space in such a different way that made me realise I needed to write a book about it.  I wrote a lot during that first year of being a mother. It wasn’t the kind of long concentrated writing I had done before but I came out of it with a lot of lines scrawled on bits of paper that turned into great things some time later.

From “Who gives a shit? On motherhood and the arts” by Felicity Castagna in the Southerly Journal. 

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I do not say to my daughter that I think there is chicken stock in the vegetable soup and chicken salt on the chips we ordered. She is eating them gratefully, but this is a small town. Too small for vegetarians.

I do not say to him how much are you reminded of your honeymoon with your ex on this trip.

I do not say please take the children for a walk, please make them shower and organise their meals and break up their fights. Because these are my children, not his. And he is already doing so much.  I do not say, please, I just need some quiet time alone.

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This year my resolution involves more beauty, more connection. That is, for just a year I will try prioritising both in my life, like they are needs. Like it is not enough to notice and enjoy them as they occur but that I may choose a direction or a moment over others simply because it will deliver either beauty or connection to me. That sometimes that choice would otherwise look frivolous or even reckless.

Fittingly, I then spent the beginning of 2016 travelling around Tasmania, me and my two children and the boyfriend that I now have. Doesn’t it sound strange to say you ‘have’ someone and doesn’t it seem strange to say boyfriend, at this stage? And who knows what else you find strange about that declaration. He’s appeared here and there on the blog already but this is still something of a coming out.

Some of the trip was also spent with family and friends and some of it was just the four of us, going happily crazy together in a little car.

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Picnic dinner outside a cabin with my brother. These nachos I cooked us tasted stupidly good after a day hiking in Cradle Mountain.

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Tasmania being, generally, ridiculously beautiful.

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Lauca and the boyfriend are two of the dots over on that rock island in the centre of the photo.

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And then because it is Australia, a wallaby comes up to the boyfriend on the beach.

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The boyfriend and I discovered Tasmanian Pinots. We drank them by fires in cabins, we drank them skinnydipping in an indoor pool at night, we drank them in caravan parks, we drank them on beaches.

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Lauca looking out to sea.

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And then I found Cormac looking out to sea, too.

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We did a lot of hiking. Big walks and big views are some of my favourite things in the whole world. The children mostly claim the same. And apparently, the boyfriend also acquired a taste for hiking somewhere along the way on our trip.

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And we swam a lot, even if it was cold. We found completely empty beaches and then a little more patience for the next leg of the trip. Cormac also found an incredible number of sticks that he in love with and amassed in the car as imaginary weapons.

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We also visited Port Arthur and the kids were, in turns, fascinated by and heartbroken by the history. We had lengthy discussions about inequality and the justice system and oh, how we did homeschool.

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Even now, with Lauca aged ten and Cormac six years old, I am still amazed by the powers of goddamn craft with my kids.

They were both quite tired, and frankly, rather shitty to be with until I squeaked them into the last convict peg doll making session available at the site and then, woah, little powerhouses of pep and gratitude after that for the rest of the day.

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The boyfriend proudly presents pizza he made and Internet he obtained for me one evening when I am feeling particularly wretched about the lack of solitude I am experiencing  while road-tripping with kids.

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The boyfriend sleeping.

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The wedding we attended at the MONA of one of my best friends. Cormac in the foreground watching the dance floor.

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Lauca with grown up hair at the wedding. Aw, little button.

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Oh, how MONA loves come and dicks and pussies and shit. Fortunately, Cormac is in a peak toilet humour stage.

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Here in Daily Life:

Chabon suggests, “I think it was training. We were practiced doing it together and we had our lines down. Also, people are not very observant, thank God”.

That’s the thing about sexual relationships, isn’t it? Part of it is real but part of it is always appearance, too. This facade is as much for yourselves as it is for others. Because a sense of self both feeds and is fed by intimate relationships. Ironically, the pressure to stay together is precisely what may be limiting passion in those women Waldman observed from in the mothers’ group. Children may have nothing to do with it. People stop having sex when they get bored with one another, too, but they are prevented from ending relationships by the pressure to ‘perform’ relationships.

Waldman wanted women to be more passionate, but there are limits to how comfortable any of us are with the pursuit of desire by women, and particularly, with mothers focusing on it. Having been a single parent for a couple of years I now find myself falling in love with another man and re-partnering. Sexual desire prioritises itself in a new relationship. Libido is all-consuming, it does not require conscious effort. In fact, it can be confrontingly disruptive to the calm necessary for parenting. I ask myself, is this how someone’s mother behaves?

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All of this.

G.G.: Can you give some specific examples of what you see as mainstream feminism aiding capitalist exploitation?

N.F.: Sure. In the 1970s, feminists developed a powerful critique of the postwar cultural ideal known as the “family wage.” That ideal held that women should be full-time homemakers and their husbands should be the family’s sole (or at least principal) breadwinners, earning enough to support an entire household. Certainly, only a minority of American families managed to achieve this ideal. But it had enormous currency in a phase of capitalism premised on mass-production manufacturing and relatively well-paid unionized work for (especially white) men. All that changed, however, with the eruption of second-wave feminism, which rejected the family wage as sexist, a pillar of male domination and women’s dependency. At this stage, the movement still shared the anticapitalist ethos of the New Left. Its critique was not aimed at valorizing wage labor, still less at denigrating unpaid carework. On the contrary, the feminists of this period were challenging the androcentrism of a society that prioritized “profits over people,” economic production over human and social reproduction. They sought to transform the system’s deep structures and animating values — in part by decentering wage work and valorizing unwaged activities, especially the socially necessary carework performed by women.

G.G.: So how has the critique of the family wage changed?

N.F.: Today, the feminist critique of the family wage has assumed an altogether different cast. Its overwhelming thrust is now to validate the new, more “modern” household ideal of the “two earner family,” which requires women’s employment and squeezes out time for unpaid carework. In endorsing this ideal, the mainstream feminism of the present aligns itself with the needs and values of contemporary neoliberal capitalism. This capitalism has conscripted women into the paid work force on a massive scale, while also exporting manufacturing to the global south, weakening trade unions, and proliferating low-paid, precarious McJobs. What this has meant, of course, is declining real wages, a sharp rise in the number of hours of paid work per household needed to support a family, and a desperate scramble to transfer carework to others in order to free up more time for paid work. How ironic, then, that it is given a feminist gloss! The feminist critique of the family wage, once directed against capitalism’s devaluation of caregiving, now serves to intensify capitalism’s valorization of waged labor.

G.G.: But not all feminist efforts focus on upper-class women. What about the project of providing small loans (“microcredit”) to poor women in underdeveloped countries to help them develop small businesses?

Feminist tropes are invoked to legitimate policies that are deeply harmful to the overwhelming majority of women, as well as to children and men.

N.F.: I’m really glad you asked about this because it’s another example of the way in which feminist ideas are being twisted to serve neoliberal, capitalist ends. Microcredit is touted as a way of “empowering” women in poor rural regions of the global south. But it is also supposed to represent a new, more participatory, bottom-up way of combating poverty, which releases grass-roots entrepreneurial energies, while avoiding the bureaucratic red tape of the large-scale, state-led development projects of the previous period. So microcredit is as much about the glorification of the market and the vilification of the state as it is about gender equality. In fact, it weaves those ideas together in a dubious amalgam, invoking feminism to dress up free-market ideology.

But the whole thing is a sleight of hand. Microcredit became the rage at exactly the moment when international financial institutions were pushing “structural adjustment” on the global south — setting conditions on loans that require postcolonial states to liberalize and privatize their economies, to slash social spending, and to abandon macro-level anti-poverty and employment policies. And there is no way whatsoever that microlending can replace those policies. It’s a cruel hoax to suggest otherwise.

So here again feminist tropes are invoked to legitimate policies that are deeply harmful to the overwhelming majority of women, as well as to children and men.

From “A feminism where ‘leaning in’ means leaning on others’ with Gary Gutting interviewing Nancy Fraser in The New York Times.

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