Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 11.20

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Wouldn’t an anti-blasphemy law make it unlawful to publish most religious texts as most religious texts are clearly blasphemous from the POV of most other religions?
    Indeed, wouldn’t it, if actually zealously enforced, make it impossible to practice religion outside of one’s own home?

  2. @infinitemonkey: Yeah, evil villain slips UV poison into city’s water supply and threatens to turn on a UV ray unless the city forks over $57,000,000,000. Bruce Willis must risk his life to gain access to the city’s only supply of SPF50 sunblock before time runs out. “Die Hard 7: Die Blue and Flaccid”

  3. So seriously, is it really that bad to teach girls that you aren’t going to be a perfect mom and a perfect career woman and that juggling the two is hard and most of us will have to make sacrifices… and that that’s okay? Instead of setting this bullshit expectation that YOU CAN DO IT ALL AND SHOULD! Because I’m kind of tired of that message. You CANNOT do it ALL. You can’t. No one can. And I think that’s okay to tell our daughters… instead of leaving them feeling like failures for NOT doing it all and doing it all well later, and believing that somehow all the other moms are pulling it off.

    Reality: Unless you’re married to a man who makes less than you, you are going to be the one making the majority of sacrifices in child rearing.

  4. @Elyse:

    I’m with you on that. While perhaps the original speech was poorly phrased, I know so many women who feel like they have to do everything perfectly, and don’t give themselves a break. Or they simply try and make it look like they do everything perfectly while keeping a lot of bad stuff inside, and everything implodes.

    It just ain’t pretty, and the sooner young girls hear that they don’t have to be an idealized version of a woman/wife/mother/Barbie/Stepford Wife, the happier they’re going to be in the long run.

    Okay, this was a wee bit discouraging and condescending (i.e. – you’re gonna be the one to raise the kids so just accept it now), but the heart of the message is correct. MUCH editing is needed, and a wider audience. Because anyone – male or female – needs to learn that compromise is the route to sanity.

    My neighbor’s Mom gave her the best new-mother advice EVER, I thought. When her daughter (now 11) was born, she told her “Okay, you can have spotlessly clean floors *all* the time, or you can enjoy your child. I recommend the latter.” Cool lady.

  5. @Elyse:

    Why shouldn’t we teach our sons that they are equal partners in domestic and childcare responsibilities? Why shouldn’t we teach our daughters that they don’t have to “do it all”, but their career isn’t the part they have to sacrifice, because they deserve to have a husband who will do as much as the child care work as they will?

  6. Re: Child care. Shouldn’t we try to strive for a society more supportive of the idea that parents, both mothers and fathers, are equal partners in child-rearing and set up to support that so that nobody would have to feel the time spent in child-rearing was, in fact, a sacrifice?
    (OK, that may be more utopian than immediately practical, I suppose)

  7. @catgirl:

    Did I say that men shouldn’t have to do anything at home? I don’t think I did. So I’m not sure why you’re arguing with me.

    Women are taught that they can and should do IT ALL… EVERYTHING. Because you CAN. And that’s not only idealistic, but it’s a stupid and unfair expectation.

    But you can’t.

    And when you have a kid and a career, sacrifices have to be made. This isn’t news to men. They already do it. Their responsibilities to their family can be dictated within the family, but certainly being married to a supermom helps ease the burden of responsibility. If your wife is doing it all, and insisting she can, what is left for you to do?

    Also. the person who makes less money is usually the one who has to make more career sacrifices. Because, you know, they make less money… it’s a logistical thing. Women still generally make less than men… and less than their husbands. Until that changes, there’s not a lot you can do about who makes the sacrifices in the home.

    But the you can do everything message is double edged… and that can be changed. Supermom is a myth, and while it’s meant to be empowering, it’s not.

  8. @catgirl:
    I very much agree. The problem with the message is that (a) it is directed at girls, specifically and (b) it is basically telling our future generation of girls to just live with the problem rather than fix the problem.

    My husband makes less money than I do and if we ever have kids, he will be the stay-at-home-dad. People already treat us like we are crazy because he buys the groceries, cooks and cleans while I work 12 hour days + go to school. Boys and girls need to begin to expect working and parenting to be equal opportunity obligations. My mom (A student, great at math, should have gone to college) stayed home while my dad (C/D student, barely graduated HS) worked. That was probably not the best work-career scenario for our family but it was what was expected.

    Also, my employer is very flexible with comp time, working from home, etc., making things much easier for people who have childcare emergencies. This should be expected as well, instead of allowing employers to force the choice between work and family.

  9. Oh, and maybe a clearer, more specific point to make about this: we shouldn’t be telling GIRLS who do not yet have a career or a husband or children that they should be planning in advance for this sacrifice.

    If we are ever going to have as many wives making more than their husbands as vice versa, it is not going to help if we discourage the girls from the outset.

    I do absolutely agree, however, that society should not be making women (grown women who have made their career/family choices) feel like failures if they cannot be Supermoms. I know I couldn’t do it.

  10. @infinitemonkey: The thing to do would be to incorporate as “The New Church of Atheism”, then insist that all those nasty Xtians, Muslims, Satanists, and any other god(s)-botherers are committing blasphemy. One could probably incorporate in California, which has a very open-minded acceptance of pretty much anything anyone calls a “religion”.

    Me, I’m an adherent to the True Faith of the Sacred Cat. [There are two core beliefs: A) The ruler of the Universe exists in the corporeal form of a sacred green cat in a temple on the planet Mars; B) If someone believes that, said person will believe anything. And there is that bridge in Brooklyn…] Hence, anyone who denies the right of cats to be worshipped – or who contends that a cat couldn’t survive on airless Mars – is committing blasphemy.

    You have been warned.

  11. O.M.G I shit you not — as soon I read the headlines (I am filling in right now for the lady who is usually at the reception desk) I was messing around on the internet and clicked the dropdown bar of my browser and HOLY CRAP the ken-welch article was in there!

    SCARY.

  12. @Elyse: THANK YOU!

    And for those who say we should teach our young boys well, I have a wonderful husband that helps out an awful lot and I STILL feel like a failure sometimes even though he helps me out. With a full time job and a child, it’s pretty freakin hard and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be going through school as well. I know feeling like a failure is irrational, but it IS there and we need to make sure we teach our young girls that sacrifices will have to be made, but they can decide how they will go about doing that and they are not failures because they can’t do it all.

  13. @Elyse: @Surly Nymph: I agree, I think you’ve nailed it. I think both boys and girls should be taught home economics.

    But more importantly we have to teach our children that you can have anything without paying a price. As you said, no one can have it all that lie I believe was dreamed up by the ad men in the 1970’s.

    We live in an age where we want the thing without paying the price for the thing. We want coffee without caffine, cigarettes without the cancer, we want gluttony without obesity, to be thin without dieting, aclaim without talent, riches without labour. We want to pollute the earth without polluting the earth. We want a family without giving our careers, we want a career without giving up on family life.

    “That which achieve at too little cost we esteem too little”- Paine, The Crisis in America

    We should teach our children that both options (or more likely some mix of the two) are equally valid. Just because the religious right have always said that “being a mum is the most important job” doesn’t mean that being a mum isn’t an important job. Even a blindman can hit the bullseye every now and then.

    The Marxist critique of Feminism is that Feminism was all about “nice” middle class girls getting into the “nice” middle class professions of their brothers. Their children being raised by the “help” (which was often already the case). While working class women had always worked, mill girls etc, and had to bring up their children as well.

    That’s why Feminists think it’s vital that a tiny number middle class women become CEOs while increasing the minimum wage to £7ph for everyone, men & women, would lift 5 million women out of poverty. Rivers of ink are spent decrying “tits on page three” while barely a word is spoken about the millions of elderly women living on £6000 a year state pension because they’d not wealthy enough to save for their old age. The shortage of female MPs is a “disgrace” but lack of access to birth control and abortion isn’t worthy of a single word. Female liberation is a part of the class struggle, not a replacement for it.

  14. @Elyse:

    Why should the person who makes less money do more domestic and childcare work? Plus, since women make less on average already, asking them to sacrifice their careers more than men will end up with them continually earning less. It might seem like the most “logical” choice for the person earning less to put less into their career, but that cycle is self-feeding. Women as a group won’t make as much or more than men as long as women are still expected to sacrifice their careers because they already make less.

  15. @Elyse: And when you have a kid and a career, sacrifices have to be made.

    I agree with the sentiment, but the way you express it is misleading. Each one of us has 24 hours each day to fill. A child will take a good chunk of that. So will a high-pressure job, a serious religious commitment, or an internet gaming addiction. I gave up Command and Conquer to finish a novel, but I didn’t call it a sacrifice. I called it a choice.

    In every person’s life there will be a discrepancy between what we hope to accomplish and what we actually do. Perhaps parenthood brings this out more, but it is not unique. I want to be a super-programmer, a super-cook, a super-gardener, a super-woodworker, a super-husband and a few other things that I have no talent for at all. I realize I cannot be all these things and in my darker moments I realize will probably be none of them. That’s where beer comes in…

  16. @russellsugden:

    That’s why Feminists think it’s vital that a tiny number middle class women become CEOs while increasing the minimum wage to £7ph for everyone, men & women, would lift 5 million women out of poverty.

    Whoa, where are you getting your view of feminism? I’m sure there are feminists who care more about middle class women than all poor people, but that’s certainly not the mainstream of feminism. I hang out on several blogs that would be labeled as “feminist blogs”, but there are as many posts about classism and poverty, both domestic and worldwide as there are posts about “typical” feminist topics. Recently there was a huge discussion about tipping in restaurants, and how that relates to the different minimum wage that servers get. It’s really a straw man of feminism to claim that we don’t care about minimum wages or poverty in general.

    Rivers of ink are spent decrying “tits on page three” while barely a word is spoken about the millions of elderly women living on £6000 a year state pension because they’d not wealthy enough to save for their old age.

    First of all, caring about one issue doesn’t mean we don’t care can’t care about “more important” issues. Secondly, this is factually false.

    The shortage of female MPs is a “disgrace” but lack of access to birth control and abortion isn’t worthy of a single word.

    There has been huge outrage over access to abortion and birth control, particularly as it relates to U.S. involvement. We we glad when Obama overturned the “global gag rule”, and pissed off when the Pope condemned condoms. Do I really need to link to the posts on these topics on feminist blogs? You could probably go to any feminist blog and find posts about abortion and birth control access for poor women without looking very far. In fact, several blogs have been heavily posting about the Stupak amendment and how it would limit access to abortion for poor women in the United States.

    Female liberation is a part of the class struggle, not a replacement for it.

    Who ever said that it was a replacement for it? What we want is to not be asked to “take one for the team” on feminist issues so that other causes can progress more easily.

  17. @catgirl:

    Because that’s the way it works. The person who makes more money brings home more money. Kids don’t pay for themselves. “Let’s cut our income by more than half” isn’t usually an option.

    I’m not the one who made it this way.

  18. @Elyse:

    Because that’s the way it works.

    Yep, because that’s just how it is and we shouldn’t try to change it, but instead we should stay in an self-perpetuating cycle and just accept it.

    Why do you assume that you’d have to cut your income by more than half if you expect the higher-earning partner to contribute equally to domestic and childcare work?

    I’m not the one who made it this way.

    That’s a poor excuse for tolerating anything.

  19. @catgirl:

    You know, you don’t HAVE to choose that life… you can also choose NOT to have kids and no one has to make career and financial sacrifices.

    I still don’t know where I said that men don’t have to contribute to raising children. Because… um… I don’t remember saying that… and that’s not what I think… and if you think that’s what I think, you should give my husband a call.

    All I said is that we shouldn’t be sending the message that being a girl means that you can have everything and it’s totally doable and it’s the reasonable and expected thing. It’s not. We need to stop telling girls this.

    And we need to stop portraying dads as asshole slackers who do nothing but bring home a paycheck.

  20. @catgirl: Yep, because that’s just how it is and we shouldn’t try to change it, but instead we should stay in an self-perpetuating cycle and just accept it.

    Woah! No, what Elyse is saying is just plain logic. You don’t have to make the one with less money stay home, but isn’t that the logical choice when you concider financial expenses for a growing child? This isn’t a matter of keeping a minority down, this is just thinking rationally regarding a given situation. If the man is making less money than it’s perfectly logical to have him stay home with a baby.

  21. @davew:
    I agree, this is about opportunity cost, the idea that making one choice leads to the loss of other choices. All girls should be taught about this because everyone should be taught about this. Ignorance of opportunity costs is only one way in which a failure to understand basic economic concepts causes problems for people.

    @Elyse:

    And we need to stop portraying dads as asshole slackers who do nothing but bring home a paycheck.

    Yep, this problem is a much about male expectations as female ones. In most contexts a man who gives up or scaled back on his job to do more around the house is seen as less of a man by too many people. As long as this is true it will be nearly impossible to balance out expectations on women.

  22. @davew: In every person’s life there will be a discrepancy between what we hope to accomplish and what we actually do. Perhaps parenthood brings this out more, but it is not unique.

    This is true but I don’t think Elyse was trying to say it was unique. The topic is teaching young girls the reality of trying to do everything and Elyse is addressing that.

    I think the whole “biting off more than you can chew” adage goes without saying in any given situation.

  23. @Elyse: I didn’t slog through the whole thread here, so sorry if this was already covered, but I’ll give you my thoughts on it – no, we shouldn’t tell girls they are obligated to be superwomen. But if we see a problem, I don’t think the answer should be, “Well, women just have to give up something, then.” We should be shifting the focus on making society, education and the workplace more family-friendly, so both parents can make the best individual decisions for them and their children.

    It’s also not impossible for women to be happy with both a career and kids. I’d include myself among them, and I like that I can provide that example for my daughter. It’s not what every woman has to do by any means, but it’s also wrong to tell girls it’s impossible or unfufilling for anyone, because that’s simply not true. I would much rather teach my daughter to fight to change things that are unjust than teach her she just has to put up with the world as is, especially when it could limit her.

  24. @Surly Nymph:

    First of all, why does either parent have to stay home? I respect people’s right to make that choice, but that’s not the best choice for every family. Second, it’s often much easier and more “logical” to maintain the status quo. It’s not intentionally keeping someone down, and I didn’t suggest that it was. But it’s still a self-perpetuating cycle, regardless of intention.

  25. @catgirl: First of all, why does either parent have to stay home? I respect people’s right to make that choice, but that’s not the best choice for every family.

    I never said that is was. What I was saying was that if a family wants someone to stay home to take care of the children, it’s perfectly logical that it would be the person making less money.

    @Jen: It’s also not impossible for women to be happy with both a career and kids. I’d include myself among them, and I like that I can provide that example for my daughter. It’s not what every woman has to do by any means, but it’s also wrong to tell girls it’s impossible or unfufilling for anyone, because that’s simply not true.

    I don’t think Elyse was trying to say that we should teach girls that it’s impossible, just that we should be realistic when we talk to them about these issues.

    Along the lines of: “You can surely achieve whatever you want to out of life, just know that it won’t be easy and don’t be hard on yourself if you discover that you have to make sacrifices along the way. You do what you feel is right and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.”

  26. @Jen: “We should be shifting the focus on making society, education and the workplace more family-friendly, so both parents can make the best individual decisions for them and their children.”

    So people without children get to make even more sacrifices so the parents don’t have to. Where do I sign?

  27. I still think all we are doing is creating a self-perpetuating cycle of gender disparity in salaries, who does most of the household work, and who (if anyone) stays home with the kids if we give girls (and only girls) this message early on.

    I hear the message as “You know, girls, it might be hard to have a career and a family. And that’s OK and everyone makes different choices about their work-life balance. BUT, since you might choose to focus on your family in the future, maybe you should be more realistic with your career choice and not bother with medical school because it would just be a waste of your time.”

    They’re effectively suggesting that girls predict their future and their future choices and plan for sacrifices that they don’t even know if they’ll have to make before they have to make them. Maybe they’ll end up marrying a big-shot lawyer and decide to stay home, maybe they’ll marry an underemployed artist like I did and decide to work, maybe they’ll make a crap-ass ton of money and be able to hire a housekeeper, nanny, personal chef, and driver and do whatever they want. But they can’t know the future when they are teenagers!

  28. One thing I think we need to teach girls is that it is sufficient to be a “good-enough” mother. Take the pressure off, rather than promote the idea of being a Perfect Mother â„¢. FSM knows I got hit with a lot of the latter in my youth, back in the early 70s: If you expect to have a career, you won’t be Super Mommy! You’ll miss Baby’s First Step! Your children will become drug-addled juvenile delinquents! You will be a Bad Woman!

    My Offspring had to deal with Mummy working all day and going to law school at night. The guilt dripped off me back then, despite the fact that he had fantastic daycare, a father, and a parental unit in my then-boyfriend. What he remembers is the visits to the Tar Pits and Disneyland and cooking with me and my listening to him when he wanted to talk to me. It took me some years to realise that the kid was just fine, that the guilt trip hadn’t a basis in any discernible reality.

    Given that not every little girl wants to grow up to have children, and that, even if she has children, they do grow up, it’s more than insulting to tell her that she should hem in her career choices, that, if she can’t do it all perfectly, she should cling to old stereotypes that demand she be restricted to child-rearing and husband-caretaking, whether she wants to do so or not.

  29. The most ridiculous part of the original Guardian article was the “role models for girls.” Three athletes, a pop singer (among whose positive traits listed is attractiveness), and Hillary Clinton? That’s the best they could do?

  30. @jen. Bah no linkey love on iPhone comments :(

    Oh well.

    I totally agree with you. Not all of us can
    do it all, though. And there’s no shame in that. And to come to a place where a woman is happy with career and motherhood requires her to accept her limitations and accept that she’ll sacrifice for both during the course of doing both. Sometimes you’re not the excellent worker. And sometimes you’re not the excellent
    mom. And sometimes you’re giving your all to both and coming up with failure on both sides. It’s human. It’s okay. And it’s also okay to not want to try to do it all and to choose one or the other.

    A few years ago I was in a premed program. I went on long term bc and was not apologetic that I did not intend to be a doctor and a mother. Women would roll their eyes at me and tell me LOTS of women do it and it’s totally realistic. But I didn’t want both. I didn’t want the stress of both. I had the choice and wasn’t going to sacrifice my kid for school and career or school and career for my kid.

    Then I changed my mind about med school because I realized I did want a family. But see that was the wrong move too because I could have still done both. But I’m not a hands in five cookie jars kind of girl. I can’t handle all that. Choosing one or the other was the right choice for me. And that’s totally okay.

    And I’m on the train and rambling. So I’ll stop now.

  31. I agree that advance planning can be difficult, but for me it was worth it. I have my Ph.D. and am now a very happy stay-at-home mom to my 2 year old. I have my degree in Molecular Biology and towards the end of my program realized I didn’t love it enough to want to make it my life. I saw one female tenured prof in her office, writing a grant proposal, with her one-day old baby beside her in a carry cot on the floor. I didn’t love it enough to do that. She did, and that’s fine.
    Around the time I finished, I divorced my starter husband and started dating my now-husband. When my husband and I started talking seriously about marriage and a family, we decided that I would stay home with our future child (I wanted to do so, and we both thought it was important for us to do it this way) and we planned accordingly. We financed cars and houses on my husband’s salary alone, so when I stopped working we wouldn’t lose our house. Our house not huge, we keep our cars till they stop running and we shop at Walmart. When we started we didn’t know it would take us 6 years, and a trip to Ethiopia to adopt our son, to become parents, but we had a plan for how we would be as a family and it is working out wonderfully. My husband is also not a slacker ass-hole. He is a very involved dad, and took nearly 6 weeks accumulated holiday time when we came home.
    I knew I couldn’t do it all, and I love what I’m doing. However, if I had a career I loved and was ambitious in my work, the decision would have been a lot harder. I’m pretty lucky that way.

    I think that telling girls realities about their fertility is important too. A lot of women think they can go gung ho at a career in their twenties and thirties, get married (or not) and have babies in their forties easily. It can happen, but even with IVF it is a not a sure thing at all, and the odds are not in your favour. Most clinics in Canada will not perform IVF on anyone over 45 years old.
    Just my totally rambling thoughts on choices that women (and men) have to make.

  32. @CanadaLes: I also have my Ph.D. in the sciences. I do want kids in the future but haven’t ruled out a future in academia. Maybe the question isn’t whether I care enough about science to bring in my one-day-old baby but whether academia should allow for career paths that include time off or part-time options to have children. I think the same applies for men in academia if they want time off or part-time options for raising children.
    I do applaud your advanced planning when it came to your family choices and I think more people should think about these issues in a realistic manner.

  33. manda_bf
    I agree with you that many careers, especially “publish or perish” academia needs to have more than one option for academics who want a family. Maybe this, or the next, generation of women scientists (and men too!) will come up with something more workable. I think a lot of women currently get stuck on the “Mommy Track” (especially in business), passed over for promotions and opportunities due to part time work or home responsibilities that too often still fall to women, like who stays home when the baby is sick?
    I think being a tenured prof in academia is very difficult with children, but can be rewarding for those who love it, having a supportive spouse helps of course! And it can be a bit flexible for sick days and field trips and such, but it’s not really a part-time friendly job! There are many who make it work, and probably not too many that have to bring one day old babies to the lab. Although, a one day old baby in the lab is a bit easier to deal with that a one year old baby in the lab! They don’t stay where you put them at that age!

  34. I think that there needs to be more transparency toward both sexes about the difficulties in juggling the careers and childrearing. I’ve known a number of women who are quite bitter about the fact that they let their careers slide to focus on child rearing because they made less money than their male or female partners. They were surprised at the power imbalances that can crop up in the relationship when one partner’s career is given priority in the family. Most have said to me that they are most bitter not about what they lost but about the fact that no one told them what they would lose.
    Interestingly, the guys I’ve known with male partners who’ve been the partner who put child rearing ahead of the career seem to be more satisfied with their choices. Of course, my sample sizes are all too small to be scientific, but I wonder if there is a reason for this. Was my generation of men given a more hardnosed realistic view of things?

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