I watched Trump’s inauguration address along with, according to him, trillions of other people. I was pained by the vitriolic rhetoric and us-versus-them mentality, and then I wasted an hour sinking deeper into misery scrolling through other people’s responses to the event. (See our very liberal, very smart friend’s response to Trump here.) Some were funny. Some were depressing. One, however, really scared me.
I can’t be sure that the post was real, but the woman’s confusion and fear seemed to be viscerally genuine. She wrote that she had been trying to have a baby and had just been to the doctor and been told she was pregnant. She was overjoyed—until she realized that it was Trump’s inauguration day. “Now I’m torn,” (and I paraphrase), “I don’t want my baby associated with that horrible man, so I’m considering getting an abortion.”
I was floored. I am not pro-Trump; I remember telling my husband through tears late on Election Night, “you PROMISED me he wouldn’t win!” as if it were his fault. With David, I understand the fear and pain and worry about the future of the country when someone counter to your views gains political preeminence. But even if we’d elected Big Brother or Hitler or even Dracula to be president, I would never consider having an abortion just because the announcements coincided. Maybe it’s my stubborn Irish heritage, but I could never concede the fight like that: he may have won the presidency…
But I will win the war.
I’m not talking about a partisan war, or even a political one. I’m talking about the fight for goodness, morality and human rights. Women, especially, have a superpower in the war we are all fighting—but it’s not one we generally think about. Continue reading →
Trump has proven himself a pretty despicable human being, but when we blanket-charge him with racism we join with him in his insufficiently considered blather.
Trump is known for insults. To be fair, so was Winston Churchill, but the difference is between some of the greatest English zingers of recorded history and the sad equivalent of playground bully mouthing off. “Not nice,” “dopey,” “unfair,” “a joke,” “a real dummy,” “overrated,” and one of his favorites, “loser,” show up again and again on Trump’s Twitter feed. They’re his go-to favorites, blown off at the least sense of competition or loss of ego. Thinking people, whatever their party lines, dislike this unthinking, imprecise brazenness (Josh talks about what people do like about this kind of talk here). But in our dislike for Trump (or any politician) do we sometimes also speak with (fatal) imprecision?
We have got a thing against racism in this country. “Racist” is almost the most serious charge there is, in certain prominent circles at least. Until the election, I thought that making multiple comments that were perceived as racist or misogynistic was automatic political suicide. (For most politicians, I’m still confident that it would be. I suppose Trump avoided his political demise by appealing to a different audience than most politicians.) Continue reading →
Disclaimers: This is not meant to demean moms who bottle feed. This is not meant to demean moms who nurse in private. This is not meant to demean anyone except pornography enthusiasts (may the babies of the world barf on you).
The short version: Pornography is taking away our ability to pick different lenses for the bodies around us; we are reading the form of the body as if it had only one meaning (sexual) instead of in the context of the situation. Breastfeeding in public fights the objectification of women’s bodies by re-humanizing the body and connecting it to a functional reality (what’s more real than a hungry baby?). As we stop banishing it to nursing rooms or blanketing it under nursing covers, a healthier social understanding of bodies could result. Continue reading →
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and unless you’ve been under a figurative rock gnawing on stale lovelessness your entire life, you know that you need to get your rear in gear. “Show her you care!”: every billboard and commercial on primetime warns reminds men that their love is on the line here. If you’re a Real Man, you will show her you care by purchasing one of the following: diamonds, chocolates, and/or roses[i]. The list of acceptable gifts is short and sweet—or rather, long-stemmed and caloric. The point of this holiday seems to be “put your money where your mouth is.” As Eliza Doolittle puts it, “don’t talk of stars, burning above: if you’re in love, SHOW ME.”
My daughter, you are no longer a baby. This is impossible to me. You are more than a year old right now and I marvel at how big you’re getting. You were trying to stand in an ice cream bucket the other day—giggling as it fell over again and again—an ice cream bucket that we could bathe you in when you were just born. Your growing feet and toes are the foundation for the past miracles of standing and your first, tottering steps—and now for running, jumping, climbing the stairs at the playground outside, and the endless enjoyment as we play “this little piggy” while you sit (and sit, and sit, and waaait) on the potty. Your increased size is paralleled by increased ability and comprehension. Dad and I are amazed every time you show some new understanding: a new sign, a new animal sound, a new mimicry. The other day I told you in pre-dinner end-of-day frustration, “I’m tired, too, but soon Daddy will be home and then we can bug HIM.” You looked at me seriously… and then signed “bug” (as in insect).
I’ve experienced the double blessing of watching myself grow next to you. People joke, “She’s getting so big! And so is Alsina!” Oh ha ha. I’m eight months plus two weeks pregnant, and things have definitely changed dramatically. Moving my bulk around is a huge commitment, and sometimes I wake up at two am half off the bed—having, apparently, decided halfway that it wasn’t worth the effort of getting all the way up to go to the bathroom. It’s not just a big belly added on to the front of my normal frame, either: I can’t even get pre-pregnancy pants up around my ankles, much less my now-herculean thighs, and pre-pregnancy blouses have the same issue around burgeoning… other places.
“Sex-stereotyping against her gender nonconformity” was the reason given by the plaintiff, Ann Hopkins, for her firm’s failure to promote her. “Often co-workers described her as aggressive, foul-mouthed, demanding, and impatient with other staff members.” Most incendiary to our sexism-sensitive society, a coworker suggested she “walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry” in order to increase her chances for promotion. Continue reading →
I just finished reading The Good Earth, a portrayal of thousands of years of ancient Chinese history wrapped up in the life of one man. Wang Lung is a father and farmer living in a world of tradition, superstition and blunt mortality, whose existence revolves around the dispassionate but life-giving land. Pearl S. Buck writes,
“There was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods . . . Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together— together— producing the fruit of this earth.”
The land is both nurturing and uncaring, life-providing and destroying. It exists beyond the little lives and little centuries. What in Modernity compares; how can we understand with our tiny first world problems and contingency-sparse existence? Yet as one reads, the vitality of the land imprints like a footprint in the soil of a freshly turned mind; one can feel one’s sympathies and world view shifting and even temporarily settling into an ancient order of life, of death, of birth. It is somehow familiar to some primal ancestral self, still stirring in the blood from ages ago.