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Guardian: Debbie Stoller Interview

Debbie Stoller is interviewed by Zoe Williams for the Guardian on the knitting wave, feminism, men, and more:

In person, she elaborates: “Women’s work is never done, and it’s drudgery, and it’s tedious, and you always have to do it again the next day. But you know, here at Bust a lot of the work we do is drudgery. It’s all work. Taking care of the home, or putting out a magazine, or picking up the garbage, it’s all work. Even this job, which is my dream job, is not always so satisfying. This is the thing that I feel 1970s feminists got really fucked-up in. That was the aim of any life – you can become president, you can become anything you want to be, and any fulfilment you’re going to get, as a woman, will be to do with the job that you have.”

And she’s right – I think this might be the core battle in modern feminism. The status of paid employment as an elevated pursuit that would provide self-expression and self-respect, regardless of its nature, held total sway at a time when women were fighting to get into the workplace. Now that we’re in, that ideal – of perfect fulfilment through work – very rarely obtains. Surveys in this country and in America show women often saying that they’d rather be at home with their kids after all. Data points like that are used more and more often by the Daily Mail, by far-right pundits like Ann Coulter, by rightwing, mainly American, academics, as evidence that the feminist revolution was a terrible mistake. Conclusions that would have been heresy in the 80s – women were betrayed by the quest for equality, work just makes them unhappy, they would have been better off at home – are trotted out with alarming shamelessness now. There are far too few people like Stoller, pointing out the obvious – some women find work a grind because that’s exactly what it is. Men find it a grind as well.

The secret to gender parity doesn’t lie in shunting women from one arena of toil to another, then back again; it lies in everybody being able to range freely between one probably partly boring pursuit and another, according to his or her ambition, without certain activities being irrationally denigrated for their traditionally female associations. This point needs to be made, trenchantly and repeatedly, and knitting is as good a way in as any.

This excellent read via Dr. B.

Feminist Blogs

I am currently rearranging my blog links into categories, one of which is “feminist blogs.” I am including not only those people who write on feminism, but also those who declare themselves expressly feminist, pro-feminist, womanist, etc.

If, when it appears I am completed, you would consider yourself a blogging person who falls into this category but is not included on this list, let me know here in the comments. Male bloggers, please give me permission to include you, as I know some men occasionally have issues with the label. Conversely, if you find yourself on the list and don’t think you should be there, plase let me know. No backlash, I swear.

AND, if you are a feminist blogger who is not already included in my list of links, drop me a line and I’ll include you. Link for all!

His Mother’s Son

Dav Pilkey is hands-down my favorite children’s author for the Captain Underpants series, our favorite bedtime book “When Cats Dream,” and this new-to-us series about a simple dragon’s daily life. Pilkey also wrote the Dumb Bunny series, “Kat Kong,” and “Dogzilla.”

Last night a friend came over for dinner and we talked about children’s literature. I gave him a copy of one of E’s books we received for Christmas from a Feministe reader, a Dav Pilkey book about mourning and loss. In “A Friend For Dragon,” the lonely dragon is tricked by a pesky snake into thinking an apple is his friend. When the apple eventually perishes in the most suspicious of ways, the dragon is heartbroken.

It’s a wonderful book, as are all of Pilkey’s books. I was relating this to my friend last night, telling him how much I love Pilkey’s eye for silly.

Ethan turned to me and rolled his eyes. “Ness,” he said.


“Ness, Mom.” He ate a bite of spaghetti. “Silly. Ness.”

My friend and I looked at one another, astonished at what had just occurred. “Did you just correct my grammar?” I asked Ethan.

“Yup. It’s silliness. This spaghetti doesn’t taste very well.”

Thus, at last night’s dinner, my son not only corrected my grammar, but he also insulted my cooking. Nonetheless I’m proud of him. I mean, he corrected my grammar. It sort of reminds me of that thing with the box. He is his mother’s son.


We rolled snow around the yard in near silence, asses in the air, rolling, rolling like arctic dung beetles and occasionally stopping for a mini-snowball fight. Include one pause to glare at a man trying to park in front of my driveway to save himself some time walking to the basketball game. Later, include a healthy dose of hot chocolate and what-will-we-have-for-dinner fantasies.

Meet Mister Snowman, as christened by Ethan. What you can’t tell from this picture is that this six-feet tall Mister Snowman took up nearly all the snow in my double lot, and even some scraped off the top of my hedges. Frugal and psychotic, we are.

Feministe Anti-Awards, Part Deux

You’ll never win a Koufax or a Bloggy, but at Feministe, everyone quick and witty is a winner. The only change to this round of award-giving and award-taking is that you must have a blog and you must provide a corresponding picture of some sort, proving that you deserve the award. Screen captures count as a picture. Be creative.

Rules for the Feministe Anti-Awards:

  1. Write on your own blog why you think you should win the award of your choice. Include pictures! Be thorough, not greedy.
  2. First person to nominate him/herself for the award wins the award. No, really. Leave a comment here if you cannot trackback, or use the Trackback Pinger.
  3. More categories will be added if any latecomers want an award of their own; however, no additional categories will be added until all of these are taken.
  4. Copy the award picture to your blog, announcing your undeniable win.

And the categories are:
The “Hare Beats the Turtle” Award

The “Grammar Police and How!” Award Maureen proudly takes this one!

The “Most Selfish Blogger” Award Dance an Irish jig for Tas!

The “Obscenely Crooked Toe (Or Nose)” Award Shake a maraca for Mizz Kittie’s eleventh toe!

The “Most Creative Pet Name” Award I almost didn’t take this one because fish are involved, but Sid wins for her goldfish named Bacon, who died before she could take a picture. He did that to spite you, you know.

The “Most Belly Button Lint” Award I’m giving this one to Jeremy, even though he won’t let Emily, his proud girlfriend, take a picture.

The “My Mom Doesn’t Know About My Blog” Award Joel’s mom totally doesn’t know about his blog. Proof in Lynn’s sidebar moblog.

The “Burningbird Lost in the Woods” Award AAH takes this one, beating out Shelley at her own award!

The “I Should Be Ashamed of My Liquor Cabinet But I’m Not” Award Fred Vincy should be ashamed of his liquor cabinet for not stocking Mary’s bottle o’ gin!

The “Loveliest Office Supplies” Award Dr. B’s obsession is a bit out of hand. Cheerio!

The “Your Mother Wears Army Boots” Award A hearty cheer for Lubu!

The “Most Egregious Hate Mail” Award This one goes to Grace at Dr. Laura’s Worst Nightmare for examples one and two. Excellent examples of hate mail!

The “Eden’s Snake” Award Amanda poses as a snake in the garden of Eden, except that she is the one bathed in light. Snakes always get a bad wrap!

The “Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing” Award Lynn scrambles for a few awards, but takes this one for the little sheep wolf’s ears taped on, beside Jesus in the manger. That one is definitely a winner, not the sad picture of the liquor cabinet.

The “Land Mine” Award

and finally,
The “Academic Asshat” Award

Remember that pictures are necessary to win (whatever that means).

Feministe Anti-Awards Update

Everyone clammored after the awards, but no more categories are to be offered until someone antes up and takes the The “Shameless Meme Spreader” Award and The “Ugliest, Hairiest Raised Mole” Award.

Don’t make me take a picture of my moles aplenty. While many of them are raised, alas, none of them are hairy.

The Feministe Anti-Awards

I’m tired of being passed up for awards, and I’m sure you are too. Thus, I announce the Feministe Anti-Awards, a game of speed and wit, and preferably a boatload of pictures.

Rules for the Feministe Anti-Awards:

  1. Write on your own blog why you think you should win the award of your choice. Include pictures if necessary. Be thorough, not greedy.
  2. First person to nominate him/herself for the award wins the award. No, really. Leave a comment here if you cannot trackback, or use the Trackback Pinger.
  3. More categories will be added if any latecomers want an award of their own; however, no additional categories will be added until all of these are taken. Show us your moles, or take one for the team and give yourself the Brown Eye Award.
  4. Copy the picture to your blog, announcing your undeniable win.

And the categories are:
The “Most Shameful Stash” Award Congratulations to eRobin!

The “Reddest Hair” Award Congratulations to Krista!

The “Prettiest Car” Award Although SB provided pictures of her pretty CATS to claim this award, we will allow it because cats can hypothetically be modes of transportation. How many cats does it take to drive a sled?

The “Brownest Eye” Award Congratulations to Newswriter!

The “Brown Eye” Award Congratulations to the blogless Ryan!

The “No One Reads My Blog But It’s Really Good, I Swear” Award Congratulations to Amy!

The “Bad (In the Good Way) Mother” Award Do a little dance for the Purple Elephant!

The “Angry Feminist” Award Congratulations to Amanda (as nominated by Trish who broke the rules by nominating someone other than herself. Bad.)

The “Middle-Class Punk Rock Slummer” Award Congratulations to Jane!

The “Shameless Meme Spreader” Award Scribbling Woman wins by a nose!

The “Ugliest, Hairiest Raised Mole” Award Tild takes one for the team!

The “Messiest Desk” Award Congratulations to Roxanne!

The “Pretty Good Blogger… For a Man” Award Bang a gong for T.Rex!

The “Green Coffee Mug” Award Congratulations to Lorn!

The “I Can’t Believe I Blogged About This” Award Congratulations to Carmen! Lab Kat is a close runner-up.

The “Bigass Group Blog” Award A fist in the air for Feminist Blogs, nominated by Amanda who knows better.

The “I’m Ashamed I Own This Book” Award Congratulations to Trish!

The “Pinkest Lipstick” Award Congratulations to Bird!

The “Cutest Child(ren) Other Than Ethan” Award Congratulations to PickleJuice!

The “Pretentious Math Whiz” Award Toot a whistle for Raznor!
and finally

The “Codpiece” Award Congratulations to the greedy Ryan for accepting a second award on behalf of S.O.C.K.

Good luck, folks.

1/8/05: This round is over! Keep an eye out for round two.

1/9/05: Part Deux is in full effect. Get your Anti-Award now!

Blog Award Nominee, Ahoy!

Not only am I nominated for the best overall blog at the Koufax Awards, bit I’m also up for Best Single Issue blog for feminism.

I’m up against Alas and Echidne, as far as feminism is concerned, along with everyone else nominated, so I doubt I’ll win this one at all. Or the other one.

Therefore I nominate myself for the Spanglemonkey Always a Bridesmaid Award, and then I’ll give and receive it, and congratulate myself with a very hefty pat on the back. Hooray.

You know what? I’m making up my own awards thingie…

Andrea Yates and NOW

I am not the biggest fan of NOW, but being the most recognized feminist organization in the United States, feel the need to come to NOW’s defense in this instance.

Jay Tea at Wizbang, in discussing the recent ruling to re-try and -sentence Andrea Yates, wonders:

It was really driven home to me this time, though, when it came out that the National Organization for Women had raised the funds for the appeal. Does NOW really want to be associated with a woman who murdered all five of her children?

It goes even deeper than that. I happen to be pro-choice on the abortion issue, as is NOW, but do they really want to leave themselves open to charges that they favor the right of women to kill their children on a whole new front?

Allow me.

Ignoring the implications of baby-killing and NOW in the pro-abortion rights movement, NOW does not support “the right of women to kill their children.” Thie difference between the abortion of an unviable fetus and the killing of five self-sustaining children is something I never hope to argue with a man who declares himself pro-choice. Bad choice of language, Jay Tea.

Yates, if a victim of anything, is a victim of bad medical care and of an illness that was not well-known or oft discussed until after her murder case broke the news. Post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis are now well-recognized as forms of serious illness that must be watched for, treated, and maintained after the birth of a child. Yates was considered by all experts in the trial, but for the expert whose testimony was rescinded, to be emotionally unwell and did not know right from wrong at the time of the killing. Add that she had been removed from her medication and was isolated from outside help by virtue of her family’s lifestyle, despite everyone knowing and later publicly acknowledging that she was unfit to watch the children, and this case becomes the ultimate tragic example of how poor medical treatment for mental health plays out in the most horrific ways.

NOW’s support for Yates was again and again announced by the organization to be an attempt to ensure that the judiciary, the medical community, and the culture-at-large “consider tragedies of this sort in the full context of the nature of postpartum depression,” and calls for more research into the illness. In addition, NOW took an official stance on the nature of this post-pregnancy condition where no official literature existed before.

Previously dismissed as the “baby blues,” postpartum depression is a virtually paralyzing condition of depression brought on by the onslaught of hormones and trauma on the body after the birth of a child. On the other hand, postpartum psychosis is recognized by the government as:

a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers. This illness can happen quickly, often within the first 3 months after childbirth. Women can lose touch with reality, often having auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t actually happening, like a person talking) and delusions (seeing things differently from what they are). Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common. Other symptoms include insomnia (not being able to sleep), feeling agitated (unsettled) and angry, and strange feelings and behaviors. Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication. Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else.

Sounds like Andrea Yates.

Antepartum symptoms are often observed as well, as they were in the Yates case.

After the Yates trial broke, many women came forward on a public level to announce that they could, in some dark and often shameful way, sympathize with the illness and the outcome. Some admitted that they too had felt so unfit, depressed, and/or desperate, that they had thought about hurting their children. And then they often felt worse that they had had these uncontrollable thoughts and feelings at all. But the outcome of this public discussion became an important commentary on the isolation of parenthood, gender roles in marriage and parenting, household responsibilities, the importance of sound mental health, and the societal expectations of motherhood. Women were allowed to admit that good motherhood is not instinctual, but learned, and that it takes many women some time to bond with their children in truly meaningful ways.

One reason that the Yates case is so shocking on a gender level is because it smacks to the ground the notion that motherhood comes naturally.

Why does the testimony of Patrick Dietz matter? This comes to mind:

The effect of Dietz’ testimony was to give jurors the impression that Yates had killed the children believing she could escape responsibility by pretending to be insane, based on the non-existent episode of Law & Order.

As does this (from the comments of Wizbang):

The prosecution used it to impeach a defense expert witness, i.e., made the expert and her opinion look less credible. The implication was that the expert did not factor in that Yates got the idea from this program when rendering an opinion whether she knew right from wrong.

Then, in his closing, the prosecutor argued that Yates got the idea to kill her kids from the L&O episode she saw, therefore she had both premeditation, the necessary intent, and knew right from wrong. One problem: She never saw the episode because it does not exist…

[The courts] do overturn verdicts for insufficient evidence. An element of the offense that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt is her mental state, i.e., premeditation, intent, etc. Except for Dietz, all the evidence from the experts was that she was nuts. If you subtract Dietz because his evidence was false, all you are left with is evidence that she did not know right from wrong.

Andrea Yates’ lawyers will not seek her freedom. Even if she wins the retrial, she will be under watch by the court system and will likely remain institutionalized for the majority of her life. In addition, if necessary, the state has the opportunity to try Yates for the death of two other children, an option they likely decided to guard in case of some unexpected turn during an appeal like this one.

NOW fought for the rights of this woman because it became apparent very quickly that she does not belong in a prison, but in a hospital. And unlike the assertions of those who commented at Wizbang that NOW supported the notion that “anyone at home with 5 kids would go crazy,” I have yet to find anything by any member of NOW that supports that assertion. These antequated and stereotypical renderings of mental illness do no one any favors, especially those in dire need of treatment for mental health.

If one good thing came from this tragedy, it is the new recognition of the necessity of women’s mental health in motherhood and in the postpartum period. I can’t think of much else to incite optimism whatsoever.