Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Friday Five

From Roganda:

So Valentine's Day is coming up, and my impulse to be timely has overcome my dislike of mush, so today's question concerns love.
"Love is omni-inclusive, progressively exquisite, understanding and tender and compassionately attuned to other than self." R. Buckminster Fuller.
What are five ways that people in your life (any relation: child, parent, spiritual advisor, friend, etc. etc.) have demonstrated through their actions that they love you--whether they meant to or not? (bonus points for interesting, unusual, unexpected or especially subtle examples).

1. Adam moved to Austin with me, leaving a job in his field, and didn't divorce me, even though I was incredibly busy with graduate school, we were both depressed and his job situation sucked. That's love, baby. (There was also the time he let me use his toothbrush, but my parents read this blog, so out of deference to their sensibilities, I'll leave that one to the imagination. . .)

2. My parents have done so much for me, it's hard to single out one instance - one that particularly stands out is when I was in college and got into a financial bind. I worried and stressed and freaked out about how I was going to tell my folks that I'd spent all the money for the current semester and everything for the next one as well. When I finally called them and 'fessed up, they were wonderfully understanding and didn't berate me or anything. I cannot convey to you the relief I felt.

3. Gina has driven multiple times from Birmingham to Austin, twice to help me after children were born. God knows, anybody who'd willingly do that drive must love me.

4. Merideth watched my kids once a week for several months so that I could take a class at the University. Yes, every week she drove to my house with her two kids, and stayed with my two (including picking Drew up from school) until Adam came home from work. There are stars in her crown, as my mother says. . .

5. My aunt Bernice, who had no children used to invite me to stay with her - she would take me to libraries and museums and bookstores - all sorts of interesting and exciting places. She was divorced and widowed and it couldn't have been easy for her to have a very high-energy kid staying with her and interupting her routines, but she never made me feel any less than welcome.

Friday Fivers listed to the right, although the list is out of date - look for it to be updated later today.

Whew - I did it! (It may be like this for a while - late Friday Fives, only a few posts a week, but I'm trying and it will get better as my life gets into more of a routine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Why Feminism Is Still Necessary

Drew brought home a reader for his homework recently - it was a short book, published in 1998, about jobs, with typical children's book illustrations.

The plot: A classroom of primary school age children make a list on the blackboard of their parents' jobs.

Jobs and genders described or implied:
1. Primary school teacher (of the class making the list) - woman
2. School bus driver - woman
3. Builder - man
4. Teacher - a woman, reading a picture book to a group of young children gathered around a table - my guess from the semiotic clues is Kindergarten teacher
5. Teacher - a man, wearing a tie, sitting on a desk, with hardback books on it and a blackboard behind him, no other children or adults in the picture. We can't read what's on the blackboard, but it looks like some sort of diagram - my guess, high school teacher or college professor
6. Dentist - man
7. An ambiguous group of three women caring for a mixed age group of children in the park, with the caption "Fred's mom, Jack's mom, and Lindsey's mom take care of children." My guess is stay-at-home moms. Later, when we see the list the class has compiled, this group is described as "babysitters"
8. Firefighter - man
9. Mechanic - man
10. Fastfood cook (described as "cook" on the list) - woman
11. A female hairdresser cutting a woman's hair and a male barber (this is the obvious word that spring to mind, based on the illustration) cutting a man's hair, both described as "hair stylist" on the list
12. A female, stereotypical nurse (in a white hat - when was the last time you saw a nurse in one of those hats?) with the caption "Angel's mom takes care of sick people," described on the list as a nurse
13. Seamstress - woman
14. A man in a lab coat with a stethoscope - the caption is "Su Ling's dad takes care of sick children," described on the list as doctor
15. Architect - woman
16. Two secretaries, both women
17. House painter - man

Something to note: in nearly every way, the author of this book went out of her way to be politically correct. The job titles are nonsexist (e. g. firefighter rather than fireman), various ethnic groups are represented (although it's worth pointing out that the mechanic and the seamstress are African American and the doctor's Asian), and there's a kid in the class in a wheelchair. But, get a load of that division of labor!

None of the men have jobs traditionally associated with women. The only woman who doesn't have a "pink collar" job is the architect. Not only that, but we get three women associated with child care and two with secretarial work, plus the emphasized gender division of primary school teacher vs. high school or college teacher and nurse vs. doctor. This list could easily have appeared in a book published in 1955 without shocking or surprising anyone (at least in terms of gender).

Drew read the book out loud to me, as per his homework assignment, and then we had a "teachable moment" (actually about 15) in which we discussed the different kinds of jobs people we know have (our dentist who's a woman, a man we know who stays home with his kids, women scientists, male cooks, etc.). Hopefully have counteracted the insidious sexism. . .

I'm Not Dead

Well, here I am, back at last. Sorry for the long absence. I've been ten kinds of busy, and also kind of in retreat from my real life. Anyway, I'm going to try again to update my blog more regularly and do the Friday Fives.

Not a lot of news since my last post - Franny had her birthday and is now 4, Alec is rolling over both ways and looks like he'll be crawling soon, and Drew's reading like a champ and doing multiplication (in first grade! they've really upped the standards from when I was in school).

A few links - real content coming soon. . .

my February column

Adrienne's column from last week

Interesting excerpt from The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels