Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas Story is a Pro-Choice Story

I've been busy eating up a storm in Miami with my family, but I wanted to link to this Christmas reflection even if it is a little late. In this reflection, the Rev. Dr. Maria LaSala writes about how the Annunciation story found in the New Testament is really a piece of pro-choice Scripture. As someone who has frequently heard Christian anti-choice advocates use the Annunciation story to promote an anti-choice message, proclaiming the tired old, "What if Mary had had an abortion?!?!" I find LaSala's reflection much more theologically accurate and refreshing. If God had faith in a woman's moral agency, why can't Christians demonstrate that same faith today and give women the right to make reproductive decisions?

My favorite painting of the Annunciation - by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rest in Peace Christopher Hitchens!

Christopher Hitchens, 62, died last night from esophageal cancer. 

 The outspoken atheist was, in my opinion, one of the world's most talented writers and public intellectuals. I respect him for the way he fearlessly voiced his opinions, and the way he seemed to write in order to genuinely work through his own moral philosophy; a philosophy that admittedly changed over time. I do not agree with every argument Hitchens has put forth. His position on Islam and the way he spoke about women who wear the veil, in particular, made me uncomfortable at times. But even though I disagreed with him at times, and think he might have just gotten certain things wrong, I will miss his intellect, his writing, and the comically ruthless way he tore apart the arguments of his opponents in debates. Moreover, despite claims that he was a misogynist, I've heard him speak quite eloquently on the myriad ways religion harms women (including the below quote) and the way the cult of Mother Theresa fosters a belief that women don't have rights. He was not a traditional feminist, by any means, but I think his writing frequently promoted a feminist political project.

 Rest in peace Mr. Hitchens. You will be missed! 

"The cure for poverty has a name, in fact: it's called the empowerment of women. If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrine—religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you'll throw in a handful of seeds perhaps and some credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase. It doesn't matter; try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia, it works—works all the time. Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has. Wherever you look in the world and you try to remove the shackles of ignorance and disease stupidity from women, it is invariably the clericy that stands in the way, or in the case of—now, furthermore, if you are going to grant this to Catholic charities, say, which I would hope are doing a lot of work in Africa, if I was a member of a church that had preached that AIDS was not as bad as condoms, I'd be putting some conscience money into Africa too, I must say."  --Christopher Hitchens

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grad School Barbie

I'm not in grad school anymore, but Grad School Barbie is hilarious.

Although, if I were in charge of  designing Grad School Barbie I would also include the following accessories:

- College sweatshirt, black leggings, Uggs, and a Longchamp Bag. The official uniform of the female grad student!
- A coffee thermos
- Stacks and stacks of books and huge piles of printed articles that are impossible to organize
- At least a dozen highlighters
- Panels for the stomach, thighs, and butt that show the inevitable weight gain that comes when you live on a diet of coffee, Pirate's Booty, bagels, peanut butter and jelly, and whiskey sours and realize you're not going to get up from your desk, let alone go to the gym, for the next few years

Grad School Barbie would come pre-styled with her dirty hair piled on top of her head in what I like to call a "doodle."

Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Barbie would come pre-programmed with the phrases:

- "Gender is a social construct!"
- "I'm offended!"
- "That is highly problematic."
- "Intersectionality!"
- "According to Foucault's History of Sexuality vol. 3...."
- "Heteronormativity!"

Good luck with finals and PhD applications everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thinking About Job Creation? Look Close to Home

Check out my op-ed in the Connecticut Mirror!

In it, I argue that investing in early childhood care and education is a critical economic development model because it impacts women in two ways: it helps women, who provide the majority of caregiving, get the child care they need to work and helps women in the child care industry earn a better salary and maintain a higher-quality of life.

I've been disappointed in how male-oriented Obama's economic recovery plans have been, with their focus on construction and green energy (and let's not forget those auto industry and Wall Street bailouts!) As Linda Hirshman pointed out, these industries are dominated by men; women make up only nine percent of construction workers and twelve percent of engineers (who do a good deal of the work on green energy). Catalyst reports that 22.6 percent of auto industry employees are women and only 18.8 percent of the executives, managers and senior-level officers on Wall Street are women (men also make much more).

I'm a huge fan of programs that support women who want to go into these male-dominated fields, and I would have loved it if the economic recovery plan included incentives for these male-dominated professions to hire more women. But as I understand it, the plan didn't, which means that our economic recovery plan is really a plan to help put money back into the wallets of men.

Part of the issue is that construction is still seen as a golden economic recovery model, due largely to the success of similar plans implemented by Roosevelt and Eisenhower. However, when Roosevelt and Eisenhower instituted their plans, women didn't make up 46 percent of the workforce, like they do today. I fear, however, that another implicit reason behind such a male-oriented recovery plan is the assumption that men are still the head-of-household; the main breadwinner whose salary and ability to work is critical for his family and sense of self. Women's work is often thought of as a luxury, something that women want to do for "extra money," for fun, or because they're selfish (this would be the conservative, get-back-in-the-home argument). The assumption is that women have a man's salary to fall back on.

But this simply isn't true. Many families need two salaries to survive, and many women provide the only financial support for their families and children. Moreover, we shouldn't be sending any message that "women's work" is less important.

By investing in female-dominated fields, such as child care, we help women find jobs and increase their earning potential. Moreover, by investing in child care, we help all women have the support that they need to work, whether as a child care provider, teacher, or Wall Street executive.

Smart Girls At the Party!*

College Prowler has published a list of colleges with the "smartest women." I have no idea what it is actually based on but....Wellesley is number 3!

Smart girls rock :-)
* Title completely stolen from Amy Poehler's awesome show.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Twilight vs. Harry Potter

Team Hermione all the way! She is such a great female character. She's even smarter than the boys!