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On the female gaze

The man who wrote this piece is pretty clueless about feminism, but he manages to cover a lot of interesting ground anyway. “What happens when women create explicit paintings of men?” in Elle, by John H Richardson.

“There doesn’t seem to be any real home for any of these,” she continues a bit sadly. “It doesn’t go in the kids’ room; it doesn’t go in the living room; it doesn’t go in the dining room. Decoration is still an important element for painting, and when you have something with an aggressive subject matter, it doesn’t know its place.”

But does she intend to keep doing them, I ask, even if they don’t sell?

“Yeah,” she answers. “I mean, I might die with all these dicks, for all I care.”

On mothering teenagers

I have a teenager and a near-teenager and I’m going to say something really loud so it’s really clear: Parenting a teenager is the hardest, loneliest, most emotionally trying phase I’ve ever experienced as a mother, and by far puts the biggest strain on my marriage, and our family as a whole.

There. I said it.

And it’s LONELY. Did I mention that? Because there seems to be an expectation or idea that the kid is “already raised,” that they’re “done.” That since they can bathe and dress and feed themselves, parenting them isn’t as difficult as caring for a newborn.

Of course this isn’t Parenting Struggle Olympics, but I have to say, in my experience, newborns don’t have shit on teenagers. Okay, they may literally have shit, and newborns are physicallymore exhausting, but when it comes to emotional and mental toil, teenagers have proven significantly more trying than those tiny bundles of squishy milk breath.

And here’s why: Setting aside postpartum depression and anxiety, newborns are relatively simple. They’re difficult, but overall, kind of simple. They need clothing, holding, feeding, changing, bathing. It’s an incredible amount of work, but it’s a clean difficulty, a straightforward work, and if we surrender, and stop trying to control the little monsters every waking moment to FIT INTO OUR EXCEL SPREADSHEET OF BABY, we settle into a little groove.

And oh, they offer so much in return, and so immediately: Smiles, coos, new developments every damn week. Baby breath. Chubby thighs. Their little bottoms in the air when they sleep.Omg I want another baby.

And babies, well, they tend to not go for the jugular.

I can’t recall a single time my infant said a thing that touched my deepest insecurity as a parent, a personality trait I’m ashamed of, a real flaw I have that is suddenly being held against me by a human whose cell phone bill I pay for.

From “Why aren’t we talking about parenting teenagers. I’m lost AF” by renegademama. God, I really, really appreciated finding this post. I have been feeling so lonely as a mother of a teenager and have been trying to finish writing a piece about all this stuff for a while now… but, man, it is hard.

Finally, ethical milk

As a vegetarian, I have been wanting ethical milk products for a very long time. I am so, so pleased to see the How Now dairy take off, and may there by many more.

Most people perhaps are not aware that to produce the milk we desire, cows are kept almost continually pregnant, with calves taken away from their mothers within 24 hours so that milk can be harvested for human consumption – a process that leaves both mother and baby deeply distressed and bellowing for each other for days. Palmer (and animal welfare groups) estimates between 400,000 and 800,000 of male calves (known within the industry as ‘bobby calves’) are sent to slaughter, as is a significant portion of females and while a cow has a natural life expectancy of 20-30 years, most dairy cows are slaughtered around the four-to-five-year-mark once their milk dries up.

From “What is ‘kind milk’? Meet the dairy starting a revolution” by Dilvin Yasa in SBS. 

2500

From “The woman who rode Australia’s longest trekking route – a photo essay” in The Guardian. 

Gorgeous. 

On home

What we don’t realize is that this shift from partial to total is the outward sign of a more sinister change that occurred during the housing bubble leading up to the Great Recession: Average Americans began thinking of their homes as monetary objects to be bought, sold, invested in—consumed—rather than places to be experienced, places in which our complex lives as human beings unfold.

 

And

It’s time we reconsidered the house as a place instead of an object, to be lived in, rather than consumed; time we stopped thinking of a home as something that constantly has to be “improved”; time we enjoyed the historicity of our old houses, or the personality of our new houses.

From “Are home renovations necessary?” by Kate Wagner in Curbed.

You say, Did you put your lunch in your bag? Unfortunately children are banned from putting their lunches in the first time you ask, so they haven’t. Your little kid says, We’re not allowed to take anything in packets anymore. You take all the lunch out of its packets and put it in an old McDonald’s bag and just shake it as hard as you can, being sure to quickly step in the cat shit. You type GET PAPER TOWEL into your brain calendar.

The children GET OUT THE FRONT DOOR after you yell it into their faces six or seven times. In the car, they argue about what radio station to listen to. They argue about what Spotify playlist to listen to. Your little kid kicks the back of your big kid’s chair. Your big kid looks at her funny. Your little kid hates him. Your big kid tells her she doesn’t have any friends. You play a funny prank which is to drive your car into oncoming traffic.

You’re halfway to school when your little kid tells you she forgot to bring the poster you made for her homework. You tell her she has to learn to take responsibility for her own things, while chucking a dangerous u-turn and going back into the house and finding the poster under every Shopkins toy ever made. When you get back in the car she’s crying because your big kid told her horses made of marshmallows don’t exist.

A man cuts you off and then gives you the finger. You think about following him to work and shouting at him about it and then hiding in the staff room to eat Arnott’s assorted cream biscuits while someone else worries about what your kids are doing.

This whole piece, “School Run: a horror story” by Anna Spargo-Ryan is terrific.

She said some of the cases she heard involved women who sought police protection from domestic violence, only to end up in jail for unpaid fines. Other reports involved children “being born on [jail] cell floors”, and mothers under anaesthetic giving consent to the removal of their children.

Ms McLeod said there needed to be significant and “obvious” changes to laws and sentencing practices that led to Aboriginal Australians being thrown in jail for minor offences.

“If you jail people because they’re disqualified from driving, but they need to drive, they’re going to continue to drive. If you assist them to get a licence, then you solve the problem,” she said.

“If you’re jailing a kid – in NSW for example – for stealing a bottle of soda water, [you should] install a drinking foundation so they can have a drink on the way home. These solutions are so obvious that they have to be seriously taken.”

From here in The Sydney Morning Herald by Michael Koziol.

Rarely will you see someone so desperate for insight and so far from attaining it…

I steer the conversation to the subject of how utterly detached from the real world elites seem to have become. “Elitism, the way I would define it, is obtainable,” he replies. “All that stands between you and being elite is your own investment in yourself.”

I tell Rosenthal that I’ve met many people in America who work as hard as him and his friends – harder, in fact – but struggle to make ends meet. He acknowledges that he’s benefited from considerable advantage, but insists we now live in an era in which “the internet is the great equaliser”.

“What are you doing to create the utility for yourself? Are you introducing people so they can collaborate?” he says. Struggling Americans, he adds, might want to “host a dinner. Invite 10 strangers. See what happens.”

Rosenthal presses on with his thesis, telling me there are just not enough people in the world who will “excessively commit their lives to something. Journalism, cheese, automobiles, whatever. Rocket ships – perfect example. Everyone wants to work at SpaceX, no one wants to go to engineering school.”

We drive to the top of the mountain. Rosenthal reflects on its future. “Is a great album going to be recorded here?” he asks. “Is the film-maker of our time going to think of the movie they’ll make? Will a company get formed that becomes the next Google?” He adds: “It’s just sort of an endless pool of opportunity for the world at large.”

Altruism is a powerful marketing brand, and Rosenthal and his friends have become experts at using the idea to promote their business. But when I ask exactly what they’ve been doing for the public good outside of their conferences, little appears to be happening.

From “Welcome to Powder Mountain – a utopian club for the millennial elite” by Paul Lewis in The Guardian. 

 

Trapped in binaries, we get confusing messages about how social change happens, both from the larger culture and from our own lefty culture. It only takes a few vs. it takes millionsIt’s all about policy or it’s all about culture shiftWe only need civil disobedience or we only need to win elections. No one knows exactly what formula will ward off the authoritarianism looming over our country and the world, but that formula probably doesn’t include the word “only.” There should and will be many tactical experiments in this period of political, cultural, and spiritual churn. Critique is easy. Actually running such an experiment is hard.

On Sunday night, Alicia Garza asked on her Facebook timeline what we think is required to build a movement in the millions. In my humble 33-year view of social change, I believe that it takes everything. Everything we’ve got. Every member, every leader, every ally, every platform, every tactic and every dime—all directed toward specific goals at specific moments. The moments when your big ideas have the potential to become reality don’t come around that often. When they do, we have to move. We can’t predict what will come out of each tactic, but we move fast and big and on faith.

And

After these big cultural moments, I always hear two refrains: “That’s just symbolic, not real change,” and “This is nice, but the question is, what actions are they really going to take?” Hell, I’ve said these things myself before I knew better. But symbols matter, and there are better questions to ask. Our affinity for symbols is the main thing that makes us human. If the left can’t deal symbolically, we are truly sunk. And of course “What actions are they going to take?” is the next question after an NFL protest/women’s march/Golden Globes moment. Duh. I’ve pledged to work harder, bypass that obvious question, and go straight to this one: How are we going to make the next thing happen?

I keep hearing that celebrities are too shallow to do much beyond sartorial protest, and to that I say, so what? Most people are too shallow to do more than the bare minimum on anything. I’ll take that shallow action over nothing any day. In fact, let’s go even further and lower our bars for participation on everything, so people can do something shallow and then do the next thing.

From “The Lefty Critique of #TimesUp is Tired and Self-Defeating” by Rinku Sen in The Nation. 

As I’ve talked about before, I believe the pursuit of perfection stifles social change.