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This is perfect

if you are waiting for the right girl
the really truly special one who blows
your mind and cock and the girl shop
doesn’t have her in yet you can take
a loan girl until the right one comes
and then you can return the other one
since they mostly dust off fine
you might just have to wait a long time
to buy the girl you’re looking for
and even then she may not be available
straight away but thankfully
there are women who will let you
take them home with nothing sparkly
you can drive them round and round
for free while looking for a better one
there are women who will wait
in the passenger seat

– Bronwyn Lovell

You must see these photos.

Homicide. Suicide by hanging. A great deal of drinking, mainly of whiskey, mainly by men. Blood pooled on the floor. Chairs overturned. Many weapons: guns and knives and ropes. Burned Cabin, where a burned skeleton is barely visible, Dark Bathroom, which contains a dead woman in a bathtub beside an empty liquor bottle, and Unpapered Bedroom, in a boarding house where an unknown woman has been found dead.

In Frances Glessner Lee’s dioramas, the world is harsh and dark and dangerous to women. “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” her series of nineteen models from the fifties, are all crime scenes. Glessner Lee built the dioramas, she said, “to convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”

From “Death and feminism in a nutshell” by Nicole Cooley in the Paris Review. 

There has been a lot written about poverty and its effects on how parents feed their children – food affordability, cheap calories, risk-taking and new foods etc – but this article picks up on something else important that hasn’t been said so much…

An overwhelming majority of the wealthy parents told me that they routinely said “no” to requests for junk food. In 96% of high-income families, at least one parent reported that they regularly decline such requests.

Poor parents honored their kids’ junk food requests to nourish them emotionally, not to harm their health.

Parents from poor families, however, almost always said “yes” to junk food. Only 13% of low-income families had a parent that reported regularly declining their kids’ requests.

One reason for this disparity is that kids’ food requests meant drastically different things to the parents.

For parents raising their kids in poverty, having to say “no” was a part of daily life. Their financial circumstances forced them to deny their children’s requests — for a new pair of Nikes, say, or a trip to Disneyland — all the time. This wasn’t tough for the kids alone; it also left the poor parents feeling guilty and inadequate.

Next to all the things poor parents truly couldn’t afford, junk food was something they could often say “yes” to. Poor parents told me they could almost always scrounge up a dollar to buy their kids a can of soda or a bag of chips. So when poor parents could afford to oblige such requests, they did.

Honoring requests for junk food allowed poor parents to show their children that they loved them, heard them and could meet their needs. As one low-income single mother told me: “They want it, they’ll get it. One day they’ll know. They’ll know I love them, and that’s all that matters.”

Junk food purchases not only brought smiles to kids’ faces, but also gave parents something equally vital: a sense of worth and competence as parents in an environment where those feelings were constantly jeopardized.

To wealthy parents, kids’ food requests meant something entirely different. Raising their kids in affluent environment, wealthy parents were regularly able to meet most of their children’s material needs and wants. Wealthy parents could almost always say “yes,” whether it was to the latest iPhone or a college education.

With an abundance of opportunities to honor their kids’ desires, high-income parents could more readily stomach saying “no” to requests for junk food. Doing so wasn’t always easy, but it also wasn’t nearly as distressing for wealthy parents as for poor ones.

From “Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthy?” by Priya Fielding-Singh in the Los Angeles Times. 

Neither of us sees marriage as an achievement, but instead as a mechanism we’ve chosen to bind us closer. Marriage makes you family, which was especially important to us, since neither of us particularly want children; and family means sticking together through the tough spots, and coming out with a love that is deeper and stronger for it. That felt like a big, difficult, fascinating experiment – a challenge and an adventure. I felt lucky, having entered the relationship open primarily to him as a person, rather than evaluating him as a potential husband, to feel that I saw him with a clarity that might have been absent had I been trying to slot him into a preconceived role. By the time we decided to get married, I didn’t feel like I needed him to complete me or to offer some tangible thing I couldn’t secure myself, but simply that my life was at its best when we were each other’s companions, champions, and great loves.

From Jill Filipovic’s “Why I changed my mind about marriage” in Cosmopolitan. Like Jill, I have changed my mind and am about to get married, too. And like Jill, I still think it is a sexist institution.

Maybe I share some of her sentiments because for both of us our marriages will be about family but not about having babies. For Jill  it is because she doesn’t want children, where as for me it is because I have four already, (two of my own and two stepchildren).

Your son in his dressing gown, busking on your street, without having practiced.

This goes in some interesting and very unexpected directions… breastfeeding, single parenting and the gendered expectations of sacrifice and care work.

From “Selma Blair: I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court, I’ll be on the right side of history” by Sophie Heawood in The Guardian. 

“I was about 34. And I thought, maybe that’s right, I’ve never loved somebody unconditionally – I’ve been in love, I’ve been in lust, I’ve been crazy about someone, but I’ve never really still… no. It rang true.” This was after her two-year marriage to Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet had ended. “And then my son had some health issues and he really needed the breast milk, so that really was my job. I thought: ‘Aaaah, I guess I can die now, I got him through that!’ But I depleted myself, too, and I’m still recovering. I still have to remind myself that my own body needs healthier fats than fried food.”

She recently bought the film rights to a novel she loved, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, which is about a woman who has been caring for her sick mother for years, but one day just gets in her car and drives, only to end up in a mysterious town where nothing grows and everything has been lost and discarded from elsewhere. “It was so simple, but also metaphysical and magic. It really lifted a veil in my mind. There are so many women to play, so much room for them.” So she wrote the proposal and is now pitching it, with her as producer and possibly as the lead. She has no other work lined up “and it feels like my only salvation. I had to do this.”

But then she started talking to men in meetings about it. “They just sit like lumps, going: ‘I don’t want to like this character because she left her mother.’ Well, one, she left her mother for a drive, and two, you can’t like a woman who’s broken her back to take care of other people her whole life? You’re not gonna follow this heroine?

“Once I had my child, I realised how unfair life has been for women. When you deal with potential custody issues, which we ended up not having, but you look into it and realise this is all geared towards men now, and the court systems usually loathe single mothers. I thought, I do not have this fight in me, I don’t know how to deal with this. We’re too powerful, so we dim our shine to get through stuff. I didn’t even realise until people started speaking up how really kind of… furious… we should be allowed to be.”

Joy is coming

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SMILF-CraveTV.jpg

Much of the darkness stems from the cultural and economic quicksand in which Bridgette Bird (Shaw) finds herself: As a would-be hookup says to her late in the first episode, “You’re living in a small room with a 2-year-old.” Working as a part-time nanny while going on acting auditions—all while trying to raise her young child, Larry—the show follows her efforts to simply keep her little family afloat, even as she makes bad decisions, acts impulsively, and tries to renew some semblance of a sex life.

While the episodes are distinctly carved up according to various misadventures (Bridgette is stuck at work while her child needs a clinic visit, Bridgette scrambles for cash to pay overdue rent), much of the ongoing narrative unfolds like an earnest indie film, inserting abrupt character backstories and plot complications at a sporadic pace. We gradually learn that Bridgette struggles with an eating disorder, that she has nannied for the same cluelessly bourgeois family (led by a reliably great Connie Britton) for years, that she has talent as an actor. But a big part of her identity is bound up with the feeling that she’s stuck, too. After being encouraged to start a vision board by a wealthier acquaintance who assures her it will help “actualize” her dreams into reality, she asks to borrow magazines, tape, scissors—then quietly adds, “I’m gonna need a dream, too.” By the end of the third episode, the strange admixture of lacerating humor and downbeat drama has gelled into something more potent and politically savvy than the sex-centric first episode might suggest.

From “SMILF is a good show with a horrible title” by Alex McLevy in AV Club. 

I really liked this series. It captured lots about the single motherhood experience – the suffocating combinations of financial and time poverty; the lack of adult space; the penalties for sexuality; the cost of childcare ‘help’ from family; the vulnerability to judgement for your parenting; the intense intimacy between mother and child.

It’s not perfect, and it’s quite dark, but I think it is probably the best series about mothering while poor since Roseanne

This is good. “The speakers’ circuit is where original thinkers go to die” by Simon Kuper in Financial Times.