I’m a girl.

That is the newest phrase in our house…this week.

A few weeks ago the favorite term was “super.” Everything was super.
“Ima, your shirt is super beautiful.”
“I’m super tired.”
“My belly is super hungry!”
You get the idea.
Every few weeks a new word or phrase weaves its way into EZ’s lexicon while I smile and nod as he tests it out in his everyday speech. Eventually what starts out as sweet and amusing (I mean, who doesn’t love hearing a three year old insert the term “actually” at the start of each sentence) grows almost tiresome after a few weeks of hearing it ad nauseum. And, like the good mother that I am, I tend to tune it out, until miraculously one day – *poof* – it’s gone.
Yet lately, the phrase du jour has given me pause, as it is unlike any of the previous ones that have been tested and tried out by my little three and a half year old. It started off innocently enough a couple of weeks ago. We usually have a little heart to heart initiated by EZ while I put him to sleep. Normally we discuss what happened during the day or he’ll remind me if something exciting is coming up on the horizon. This time was a bit different.
“Ima? You’re a girl.”
“Yup.”
“I want to be a girl.”
Naturally curious, I asked him why he wanted to be a girl.
“Girls like to go on the swings. I like to go on the swings.”
In his mind it all made sense. I refrained from delving into the fact that I was pretty sure boys enjoyed swings as well, and instead made an agreeable noise. That placated him and he fell asleep minutes later.
Days past and I didn’t really dwell on our conversation all that much beyond the requisite “aw, isnt this cute” posting of it on Facebook. Then, just the other day EZ let me know that…
“I’m going to be a girl now. Just pretend.”
I smiled and nodded and waited for him to continue, but that was it. That was the extent of it all. Apparently, just pretending to be a girl doesn’t seem to differ from being regular old EZ. He plays the same games, chooses the same books to read and still loudly proclaims his love of all things poop” and “fart.” The only difference is that occasionally he’ll remind me that he’s a girl. It’s usually prefaced with an additional reminder that I am a girl as well.
Interestingly enough, he doesn’t proclaim that he’s a girl when I paint his toenails or when as he dons a tank top of mine to wear as his dress while he prances around to Lady Gaga (please, no judgement, she makes laundry time slightly bearable).
Of course, in my feminist biased mind, I’m patting myself on the back for raising such an open child, one who can seamlessly flow between gender realms. In reality? I realize he’s a perfectly normal toddler, experimenting with all of the new ideas and concepts he is learning. While I almost wish there was a hidden message or subtext to it all, in the grand scheme of things I feel that this is just another one of those phrases and phases he’s been testing out. And in my mind…it’s just super.

The Case Against The Case Against Breastfeeding

There is an article in this month’s The Atlantic that attempts to make a case against breastfeeding. Before discussing the article, I will be upfront and “out” myself as a lactivist. Perhaps you are already rolling your eyes, certain that I can’t be objective about an article making its case against breastfeeding, when I am such a staunch supporter of breastfeeding and breastfeeding rights. I am not here, however, to take Ms. Rosin’s article apart point by point and explain why I feel “breast is best”. Instead, I want to look at the overall point of her article, without even delving into the actual argument over breast vs. formula because I do not believe that is truly the point of Ms. Rosin’s article in the first place.
Ms. Rosin begins her article by painting a picture of her play group basically shunning her after she declares that she wants to stop breastfeeding her infant son. She then goes on to stereotype and judge the women who she feels have stereotyped and judged her. The rest of the article sees her bitterly grasping at straws, attempting to build a flimsy case against breastfeeding. Despite the title of the article, Ms. Rosin even comments that she will miss breastfeeding and more importantly that, “…so overall, yes, breast is probably best.”
What Ms. Rosin really seems to have a problem with is judgement, and I do not fault her for that one bit. Yet, at the same time, she seems to dole it out in heaps in her article. She plays the “feminist card” and whines that breastfeeding does not make for an equal marriage; That in taking on the burden of breastfeeding, women are then opening up themselves to take on the rest of the domestic agenda. If there is inequality in a marriage, I highly doubt that it stems solely from the choice to breastfeed. That seems too simplistic of an argument that gives little credit to women as well creating an extremely slippery slope as far as defining parental roles. Further playing into her concept of the feminist ideal, she laments that as she has aged she sees less of her female friends in positions of power or success, assuming they somehow disappeared when they had children. Both of these assumptions make me cringe because it pits women against each other. To say that success is only merited by what occurs in the workplace is narrow minded and further fuels the flames of the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Why say that because a woman decided not to go back to work once she had children she disappeared? Why feel sorry for her if that is her choice. On the flip side, it is not right to attack mother’s who do go back to work either. Neither side is right, yet when we lash out and judge the other side, then what is the point anymore?
In my mind, being a feminist gives me the power and the choice to decide what I will do with my life. My choice works for me and my family, and that does not mean it is any better or worse than your choice, it is just different. And to bad mouth one choice in order to push an agenda seems spiteful and bitter to me, especially when that agenda is full of holes and weak arguments.
There is plenty of guilt that weaves its way through parenting and we do not need yet another article to further plant seeds of doubt and guilt into anyone’s mind. I have more to say, but I have a son who needs to nurse ;)

Dialogue

While I love to write and can write about this topic for days, I sometimes wish there was a way to have an ongoing dialogue about it as well. That is what I loved about my Master’s thesis. I was able to interview a wide range of women in their 20s about what was important to them, how they felt about feminism and we could have a discussion. Sometimes it sparked heated debate, other times it caused me to question my own ideals, and at times it was just great fun talking about one of my favorite topics with interesting women. While the blog-o-sphere is a fabulous tool, and allows me to publicly ponder and process ideas, it lacks that immediate give and take you get when surrounded with people as eager as you are to dissect and discuss. 

I have so many topics I’d like to discuss but I’m also interested in hearing what others are excited about. 
Pregnancy, birth options, breastfeeding, working, staying at home, stereotypes & stigmas, gender issues, and on and on…so, what to talk about first? 

MamaFesto

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve last posted. I could use the excuse that I’ve been too busy being a mom and a wife but that would be wrong. I could just use the blanket excuse that life just got too hectic. And, while that is true it is no real excuse either. There is always some time here and there.
I think I just lost steam for a bit. Perhaps it was because I was more tired than usual due to lack of sleep. Maybe it was due to the winter blues or being cooped up inside for a many months while the temperatures dropped. Maybe I just lost my spark for a bit. Whatever it was, the fog is slowly dissipated and my creative juices are flowing back.
I missed them.
I think I got a jump start when my son got accepted into preschool for next year. He’ll be going three days a week for a couple hours a day. Immediately, after first congratulating us, people started asking, “so…what will you do with all that time off?!”
I’m not sure that nine hours a week constitutes a ton of time off, especially when you factor in driving to and from school to drop off and pick up the kid. It’s clearly not enough time to get a “real” job, so…what am I going to do with that time?
I’ve decided to start writing again. Now the trouble is sorting through all of the ideas that I have. One idea kept repeatedly popping up in my mind and I realized it connected to this sadly forgotten about blog.
While I was writing my thesis statement I was in my mid twenties and curious to see how my peers felt about feminism and its place (or lack there of) in their lives. Now, I’m married, a year away from thirty and the mother of a two year old. I am still curious about this topic but my shift has changed in accordance with my own life circumstances. Where is the space/place for feminism in motherhood? I am aware it is different for every mother, and that is what I am curious about. Just as I went and interviewed many young women in their twenties about their relationship (or lack there of) with feminism, I feel the urge to do so with my fellow mamas. I’ve already touched on this topic briefly in a previous blog post, but I would like to delve deeper and really understand the different perspectives surrounding this phenomenon. I’ve dubbed my foray into this subject “MamaFesto” – this idea that motherhood and feminism can exist together – the key is to find out how. I hope those who are interested join me on this journey and share their own experiences along the way.
On a small side note – while I still love the name “The 33rd Flavor” (for this indeed is truly the next step in my own research) I’ve dubbed this section of my blog “MamaFesto” and have added a graphic that expresses that. The graphic was created by the extremely talented Kym Bixler.

my PSA of the day

While I haven’t really even begun to delve into the whole concept of feminism as it pertains to women in their 20s(I’m getting there, I promise!), I wanted to take a second to write about an issue that concerns all women – feminist or not. In my previous life as a social studies teacher I did my best to impart to my students how precious the gift of democracy is. I urged them all to register to vote when they turned eighteen and that their vote did in fact matter. I wish I could scream from the rooftops to let everyone know that with this election, it is even more important than ever to get out and vote and make sure your voice is heard.
I go back and forth between being deathly afraid and outrageously angry at the so-called vice presidential pick of Sarah Palin. I am afraid that people will see something in her that they feel will be a positive thing and vote her into office. With all the glaring evidence that screams the opposite, I still fear that people will vote against women and for Sarah Palin.
Just to drive home my fear, let me share some articles that shine the light clearly on what I mean:
Sarah Palin’s sex-ed stance
Women paying for own rape kits under Sarah Palin’s term as Mayor of Wasilla.
Fiscally irresponsible
and if you need any more convincing, let other Women Against Sarah Palin show you what I mean.
The fact that a woman in office could essential end rights that other women so valiantly fought for scares me. And, like I mentioned before, angers me as well! I have never been this fired up about an election before. I want to encourage others who may be intrigued by Ms. Palin because she’s a female candidate to do research and see what she is truly all about. How she is not for women in every sense. Please, read the wise words of Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem and heck, even Margaret Cho on this one…

So, where were we?

I wonder if I had a full time job, would I be better able to keep up with this blog?

As it is, I have brief moments of genius where I think of something fabulous and noteworthy I want to blog about, but then I get distracted by EZ tossing a ball at my head, demanding we play or I look up and realize it’s almost dinner time and nothing is on the stove. Of course, by the time EZ is tucked away in bed and I have a few moments to write I have completely forgotten what it was that I wanted to write about.

sigh.

Is there a middle ground?

Not to start a new invasion of the “Mommy Wars” but let’s go there anyway…

There have been many battles waged. The premise that working moms were abandoning their children while feminists cried out that women who stayed home were oppressed. Then a wave of women declaring that feminism allowed them to make the *choice* of whether to go to work or stay home and a number of women dropped out of the workplace to raise their families. Although some feminists still suggest that staying home is “the wrong choice” and that the idea of “choice” in the first place is a misnomer. This articlefrom 2005 provides a good overview of this idea.

While interviewing women for my thesis, this was one issue that I saw over and over again. Childless women pondering what will happen when they do have kids – will they leave the workforce and if so is that a slap in the face to the women who have fought to get them to that position in the first place? New mothers wondering if going back to work so quickly was the right choice – were their children hurting from it or learning feminist ideals from it. And then the mothers who stayed home wondering how they could promote feminist ideals while vacuuming the living room and baking peach cobbler.

In my mind I struggle with the question of “How does a stay-at-home mom ensure her feminist ideals shine through?”. I’m not asking whether or not it is considered feminist to stay at home or not. Let somebody else fight that one. I consider myself a feminist and I do, in fact, stay at home, so clearly my take on that is clear. But my real concern is how not to slip into the Betty Friedan described fear of the Feminine Mystique.

In true mama fashion, my son has woken up from his nap, so these musings must wait for a little bit…