Thursday, October 27, 2005

Finally, a Guy Who is Willing to Tell Women How to Lead Their Sex Lives

It's been so long since men were brave enough to tell women that pursuing sex without marriage will make them unhappy, and that having sex before marriage will make their partner less likely to marry them. Finally, someome stepped up to the plate.

http://www.slate.com/id/2128818/?nav=tap3

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Generation of Women Rejects Old-Age Feminism

Here is a conversation I had with Angela Riley, a law professor in California and Scott's former law school classmate:

Angela:

Did anyone hear on NPR a few days ago a commentary about new commercials that re-entrench stereotypical gender roles for women? Apparently, there are TV commercials that play off an "aging" woman's maternal urges as well as one making fun of women with PMS. the commentator (about our age, I think) spoke about how she was appalled and offended by the commercials and how you would never have seen them 10 years ago. But test audiences of women in their 20s (and younger) LIKE these commercials. They think they're funny and they're ready to embrace their baby-hungriness and find nothing disempowering about men laughing at pms or women in general. The commentator's conclusion -- which I found interesting and kind of sad -- was that it's partly a matter of age/generational thinking. She basically said she's "too old" to think this public "take" on women is acceptable. But, apparently, the days of women vigilantly defending our equality in the public and private spheres is no longer en vogue or, according to women a decade or so younger than us, even necessary.

So, the more entrenched i get in my own views about women's power and trying to live a life that i think respects what's come before me and, of course, trying to set an example for younger women out there, i begin to wonder if this is merely me showing my age....... according to the 16-25 year olds, maybe i am supposed to just "get over it already."


Marianna:

I MUST be pointing out something obvious, but maybe it's a good thing that the next generation of women isn't offended by stereotypes; maybe they feel secure enough to find them funny. After all, guys don't get offended by playgirl-type magazines, or by jokes stereotyping them as macho duds. They know they run the world, and no amount of jokes canchange that. Maybe today's young women are so sure of their future (perhaps wrongly so, as we, older and wiser women know :)) and that they are on equal footing with the men that the commercials don't bother them. Because the only reason all those commercials and jokes are offensive is because they reinforce the notion that women are driven by hormones (the PMS references) and can't be trusted with serious jobs. If the commercials and the jokes didn't have that effect, then who cares about their existence? Maybe today's young women rightly or wrongly don't believe that the image of women as hormonal sissies exists anymore. So they laugh at the jokes. Hopefully, they are right and Title VII will be this archaic law that no one remembers.

Angela:

I think you're absolutely right. I work with a woman who is about 55, was in a class of something like 6 women at stanford law, etc., and I have found that I am much less sensitive is that the right word?) to some issues of gender than she is precisely because, as you suggested, I feel less threateneed by the blurring of these lines than she does. And I think that's probably what's happening with this younger generation of women. At least I do hope that's what's happening. And I wonder how I could evolve my own thinking -- or if it's even possible to do so -- so as not to lose touch with the women who are "coming up."

Marianna:

Don't evolve your thinking. You'll need to be there when the younger generation realizes that gender equality is a myth and runs to you for comfort. As a discrimination lawyer, Scott has met many women who've sued their employers for discrimination and said "I never thought I'd be filing a discrimination lawsuit." They thought women who claim discrimination are whiners - i.e., they didn't think discrimination existed. I was among those women (although I've never actually sued); I thought that America is the land of milk and honey and, unlike Belarus, where everyone hates the Jews, everything is perfect here, and eternal love rules the land. Fast forward 16 years later, and I'm the older woman who knows that the younger women will soon come to the same realization I've experienced.

What does everyone think?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Stay-at-home Moms: What's Wrong with This Definition?

I think this point deserved an oritinal posting. By now, it is obvious to everyone that what parents do inside and outside the home is work. Whoever does not understand that, let me know, and I will yell at you (I'm very good at that).

However, whoever coined the phrase "stay-at-home mom"? When I hear "stay-at-home," the image that comes to mind is not frantic running around with the diapers, feeding, cleaning, cooking. It's a leisurly lunch followed by shopping and some light reading in the afternoon. Which "stay-at-home mom" does that?

So I think 2 things:

1. Forgive the sexism, but a guy must have coined the term "stay-at-home" mom.
2. If it were the "work-at-home" mom, not "stay-at-home" mom, there would be much less animosity among the women who work inside and outside the home. Basically, they (I don't exactly know who "they" are, but still . . . ) got us to doubt each other by the oldest "divide and conquer" trick.

I find this sad (ok, it pisses me off, but I thought it was more refined to say "I find this sad").

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mothers of the world, unite!

I submit that it's time to do away with all the negativity that, intentionally or not, appears to characterize many of this blog’s posts and comments regarding women who stay at home with their children. Let’s stop hinting that stay-at-home moms are, perhaps, a little less intelligent than the rest of us and, hence, able to handle the brain-numbing monotony some believe characterize day-to-day child-rearing. Enough of the claims that folks who eschew disposable diapers in favor of infant potty training as neo-luddites (come on!). Just as the conversation on this blog is often characterized by skepticism and even hostility when it comes “staying at home,” discussions in my “new moms’ group” - attended primarily by those who do not work outside the home at all- tend to be openly critical of those who leave their children with others so that they can go to work. Perhaps we should pause to identify the underlying cause of all this hostility.

In contemporary American society there is little space for women with children to live up to all the role requirements of motherhood while remaining active in the world of work. Whatever choice we make when it comes to raising our children, be it staying at home, opting for daycare so we can work full-time or something in between, there is someone out there standing in judgment of us. Worse still, we ourselves feel keenly that we have given up something in choosing which brand of motherhood to adopt. It is not surprising, although it is still a travesty, that mothers are defensively critical of others who made the choice forgone.

I would like to have it all. I find caring for my child immensely challenging and rewarding work. I don’t want to hand my baby off to anyone else despite what Bazelon suggests in her Slate article. In fact, it actually hurts when I leave her with my partner so I can spend a few hours at the office. Why is it that I cannot bring her with me? Why is a baby’s occasional fussing inappropriate for the workplace while the ringing of phones, clicking of keyboards, constant conversations and other assorted workplace noises are tolerated without a thought? My office even makes it difficult for me to pump as there is no private space available short of sitting on one of the many toilets in the ladies’ room.

Instead of casting critical glances at one another, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers should recognize that we are all working desperately to do right by our children and ourselves. Our criticism should be directed toward the social order that places us in such a difficult position.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Babies Without Diapers: Mothers Without Lives

I stole the title to this posting from the article below. It was written in response to a New York Times article on the advantages of toilet-training children from infanthood. I'll let the article speak for itself.

http://slate.msn.com/id/2128061/

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Misogynism, 21-century style

Today, I attended a lunch organized by Association of Women Lawyers (AWL). At the event, a magistrate judge Gorrence (Eastern District of Wisconsin) said that when she applied for her first job out of law school (20-odd years ago), a male interviewer (there were few, if any, female interviewers back then) asked her if she is one of those "feminists." Another member (a state court judge) noted that for those times, that was an enlightened question. Everyone at the table agreed.

Today, misogynism is much more subtle. For example, one of Scott's former law school classmates - she is a law professor now - says that students ask her to substantiate her propositions of law. That, by itself, is ok, except that students do not ask male professors questions like that. I am guessing that students themselves do not realize that they treat female professors differently from the male ones. This is an innate subconscious mistrust of women. (Does she really know what she's talking about? Sounds like she's making it up.)

I am not sure if this is progress. On the one hand, it is not ok to denigrate women overtly. On the other hand, the subconscious mistrust of women is harder to eradicate. First, people would have to acknowledge it, and no one would, because it is simply not cool anymore. Everyone considers himself enlightened, and who wants to be uncool?

I am happy to report that I myself do not have this prejudice. In law school, I gave a hard time to all professors. Just ask Johnson - he still has nightmares about me raising my hand in class every two minutes and making all kinds of unintelligent statements (ok, I was going to say "all kinds of stupid crap," but that would be uncool, and, as this posting demonstrates, it's not cool being uncool).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Harriet Miers, continued...

I go back and forth between thinking that Harriet Miers is a joke and feeling bad because other people (read: Scott) won't stop trashing her. On the one hand, her dubious distinction on the Supreme Court will be the lack of any academic honors and Constitutional law experience; on the other hand, she is not evil, so people should not make fun of her for sport. I also feel very unsure of her views. Yes, I know, Supreme Court appointments are all about legal brilliance regardless of ideology, but everyone knows that's not true. The last time a President appointed a Justice of opposite ideology (his name rhymes with "Footer") was when the President was wrong about that Justice's ideology.

Some say she's evangelical and will definitely overturn Roe v. Wade. Others (Democrats) are watching the discord within the Republican party and are sitting back and enjoying the show. The Democrats think "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," i.e., if a lot of Republicans hate her, she can't be that bad. As a side note, this is the first time that Republicans are behaving like Democrats: they can't agree and are weakening themselves by airing their disagreement in public.

Yes, I'm ambivalent about Miers. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that ambivalence is a rare state of mind for me. Here's an interesting thought: if we're going to have unqualified people on the Supreme Court, why not appoint me?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Maureen Reagan, Your Moment Has Arrived!

Maureen Reagan has said:

I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there.

Well, my friends: the equality is finally here. The men have Justice Thomas, and the women will now have Harriet Miers.

On a related topic, here's what my friend Christine said about Ms. Miers's qualifications:

I am reminded of a joke that played in the 1980s, when Elizabeth Taylor was a plump matron married to Sen. John Warner: We all dreamed of looking like Elizabeth Taylor, and now, God help us, we do. Well, we all dreamed of being qualified to be Supreme Court Justices. . . .

Monday, October 03, 2005

The things our daughters (hopefully) will take for granted

I'd like to wish mothers everywhere a very hapy new year. (I do not necessarily want fathers to have a rotten year, but this is a mothers' blog. The fathers can go and start their own blog).

Today, we take it for granted that a woman could, if she chose to, have a career. She might hit a glass ceiling somewhere (or make it "she probably will hit a glass ceiling somewhere), but until then, she could have a rewarding career. We forget that it was not always so. Here's a story from my friend Melissa whose baby shower I attended last weekend:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's great to have a place to think about and discuss work and being a mom. I'm proud to be able to show my daughter that I'm a woman who has a career. As a very small child (maybe three years old), I remember thinking how I wished I was a "boy" so I could be a lawyer or doctor. Thank goodness I didn't let my gender stop me! :) I'm glad our daughters are living in a time when it's accepted and in many ways expected that a woman develop her own career.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Having grown up in the Soviet Union, I didn't have the apprehension that I won't have a career because I am a woman (over there, they hate Jews, not women, which is much better). Of course, my adult life is here, and my husband and I spend hours and hours figuring out how I could be a mother to Piper and not have a paper clip counting job.

Such are my thoughts on a bright morning the day before Rosh Hashana.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Young women turning to full-time motherhood, Or eeks there goes fifty years of feminism

My fellow blogger writes:

"...these women could have careers (as much as Title VII will protect from bumps on the career path), but they're choosing motherhood...".

This is a serious bias against motherhood which I find disturbing. Why is motherhood set versus having a career.

The 1950's are criticized because gender roles were clearly identified with little room for movement. Women were returned to the home after their foray into the working world of WWII Rosie the rivitor when the men returned from war and needed the jobs.

The 60's counter culture railed against this pidgeon-holing of women and feminism emerged once again. Women could do it all, was the theme. Wonderful! Except doing it all can be exhausting. Perhaps these young women are making a choice to do both options-have a career and have children, but not at the same time.

Feminism is about choice for women. Does motherhood have such low value in our culture as to be distained. That is a sad commentary. Becoming a mother is a powerful act by a women's body. Being a mother is challenging to the very core emotionally, physically and hopefully intellectually. Successful nuturing of human beings from birth onward is valuable to society but apparently not as valuable as, say making decisions as a CEO. Perhaps it is devalued because it is not a paid position and any poor, uneducated, unintelligent woman can become a mother.