Video: November 2014 To The Contrary Appearance

I appeared as a panelist on this week’s episode of To The Contrary, and discussed the 2014 election results, paid parental leave and advancing women in the workplace, and women as peacemakers. You can watch a video of the show here:

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Video: June 2014 To The Contrary Appearance

I appeared as a panelist on a recent episode of To The Contrary, and discussed home births, Pope Francis offering advice to have more children, and the World Bank and advancing progress for women worldwide. You can watch a video of the show here or here:

Also, I recently appeared on the awesome podcast Fortnight on the Internets, run by my hilarious and incisive friends Alison the Business Casual and Alpine McGregor. We discussed online misogyny and #YesAllWomen. You can listen to that here.

 

The Unsung Heroes Of Mother’s Day: Friends

Please pardon me for publishing this about a week late. I am, after all, a new mom.

Friends don’t get enough recognition on Mother’s Day, and they really should. Before I became a mom, I associated Mother’s Day with family. Don’t forget to call mom! Get her some flowers. Say something nice to grandma. But the commercial aspects of Mother’s Day as a biological event only carry us so far.

After all, even before I became a mom, I was aware how painful this day can be for many. For those facing infertility, or loss of pregnancies, children, or parents. For those whose mothers and families have shunned them for their sexual orientation. For those left feeling unrecognized or unappreciated as step-parents, or caregivers, or birth parents. For those who have families that don’t look like the kind that get slapped on the back of a minivan with those little white stencil stickers.

I knew, before experiencing this first Mother’s Day as a mom, that it is friends who carry us through the hard parts of family. What I didn’t know is how much friends could and often would rise to support my journey as a new mom.

During these past 11 months, I have learned how incredibly isolating new motherhood can, at times, feel. There is this crying baby that won’t respond to anything and you haven’t slept or showered in several days and OMG! And then there are those first forays into parenting in front of others. Breastfeeding in public or taking a baby to a restaurant — these are often represented not as personal decisions but something that must be guided by what others think. Being honest can be intimated as a matter of (poor) etiquette: talking about your children is boring, posting pictures of your baby on social media is aggrandizing, discussing the details of birth is TMI. Some people stop giving a shit about you. Some people assume you’ve stopped giving a shit about your career. Sometimes people say judgmental things about your parenting decisions, and it feels like a rusty knife scraping the folds of your psyche.

But the overwhelming truth I have learned is this: Entering into motherhood, like other major life changes, reveals who your true friends are, and sometimes those answers are surprising. People who might have seemed more like casual acquaintances come out of the woodwork, offering support and handwritten cards in the mail. Colleagues and professional contacts who, without prompt, make proactive space to let you know your child is welcome at an after-hours gathering. It has been especially moving to me to see how some of my intentionally child-free feminist friends who really, really, and rightfully don’t like the assumption of a “mother” role for women have noiselessly made space to accommodate a new me, and my little one; and but also how loud-and-proud feminist mothers have welcomed me with open arms and helped me negotiate the complicated feelings that come with being newly beholden to a little one who needs you all the time. Blessed are those who acknowledge that it can take much more time for me to respond to and initiate calls, texts and emails, or make carefree plans to do “adult” things, and value me with patience for what I can give now.

Motherhood is something that we can’t do without support, and usually it’s family that gets the acknowledgement. It is friends, those who are mothers and non-mothers, who are the unsung heroes of Mother’s Day. I was delighted and surprised to learn on my first Mother’s Day as a mom that I would be flooded with love, support and well-wishes not just from family, but from friends. Thank you.

Mitt, Assault Weapons and Single Parents

Last night, Mitt Romney appeared to blame mass shootings on single-parent families.

His non-sequitur response to debate moderator “Don’t You Silence Me” Candy Crowley’s delightfully rogue question as to whether the Republican presidential nominee would support the reinstatement of expired bans on assault weaponry that used to enjoy Republican support is important for several reasons.

1. We have a fundamental violence problem.

Violence cuts across poverty, it cuts across wealth, it cuts across privilege. The problem is not who does it but that we as a culture refuse to confront guns, we refuse to confront dominance, we refuse to confront the reality that the only accomplishment of the sham war on drugs is the mass incarceration of African American men. Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan and his House Republicans buddies refuse to reauthorize 18 years of bipartisan support for the Violence Against Women Act. It is as dangerous to lay the blame for violence on the feet of single parents as it is to lay it on Marilyn Manson, because naming a black sheep is exactly how to pull attention away from the fact the whole farm is burning.

2. It’s time to get real about guns.

Whether you are a PhD student in Aurora, a mentally ill undergrad in Virginia, two Littleton high school students from wealthy two-parent families, an abuser whose girlfriend is trying to leave, or frankly anyone in the United States, guns are easier to get your hands on than the more popular Happy Meal toys. The Supreme Court is an outpost of the National Rifle Association devoted to trampling the rights of local governments to regulate guns. There is not a single defensible reason to have assault weapons on the consumer market. In this climate, the gun lobby sits there smugly like a Grover Norquist of mass death above the silence of elected officials. No action was taken after a sitting member of Congress was shot.

3. Basically, Mitt told those slutty women to put assault weapons between the knees.

Single parent families are part of life, and a class divide is at work. More than 40 percent of births take place outside a marriage, with just 10 percent of those attributed to college-educated women. Last night Mitt outright lied about his well-documented intention to allow employers to dictate which women can get birth control and which can’t, and it’s also unclear how his plan to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood, his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, and his running mates’ assertion that rape is a “method of conception” will increase two-parent families so there won’t be any more violence.

Let’s face it, people are driven to have consensual sex (how fun!) and half the population is encouraged to grow up with toy guns and violent entertainment until they too are big enough to carry a concealed AK-47 wherever they want.

For some time Mitt Romney has appeared to agree with those who believe a woman with an IUD is committing mass murder for years at a time. What is most frightening is that now he is saying a woman who raises children without the watchful eye of a man is responsible for mass murder in our streets, schools and movie theaters.

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