I thought about writing about how we went to the other side of the lake to get two car loads of firewood this weekend. The kids helped a ton because they were having so much fun.
I thought about writing about trying to get Mr. P to finish up his math sheet (it wasn't technically homework, because it's work he was supposed to be doing in class but in class he was coloring his pants green with a marker, trying to make "a Smaug costume"). We did some modification of hopscotch, which he at least enjoyed. I don't know if the math concept got any traction, but the numbers got written down.
I thought about writing about reproductive rights. Have you read what is happening at the local and state level in this country?? It is HORRIFYING. (And it's been happening for a while, am I the only one that's been a little slow on the uptake? Why is this not a topic of discussion?) And yet I feel tongue-tied.
I've always been pro-choice, but abortion just isn't a comfortable topic. It's not something you bring up at the dinner table or on the playground. It's so personal, so emotional, we take it so seriously. And of course we do. I've got kids — miraculous entire human beings that were once invisibly small nausea-inducing indeterminate balls of cells burrowing into my uterus. Hey, you and I and everybody ever were once invisibly small nausea-inducing indeterminate balls of cells burrowing into someone's uterus! It's not like we can deny there's nothing at all there until some magic line of time... Where, after all, could such a magic line be? Conception? Implantation? 12 weeks? 20 weeks? There's got to be someone out there ridiculously horrible enough to say that every ovulation deserves a chance at fertilization. To which we should all cry, But what about all the dying sperm??!!?
Nature is so cruelly profligate, if you think about it. All this pain and striving and struggling and joy and every living thing constantly approaching death...
But all that, as important as it feels, is a bunch of smoke and noise that just distracts from the one thing that is crystal clear — if women do not have control over their reproductive lives, then they don't have control over their lives. And if we don't have control over our lives, we will never be fully equal citizens of the world.
Looks like I did more than think about writing about reproductive rights.
You'll be happy to know that I really did only think about writing about gun control.
Related, but a little less eww — I read an interesting thing this morning, on how porn makes people, even women, more sexist. (I only said a *little* less eww...) Even women with feminist values. I'd say it's probably not just porn, either. That book I still keep meaning to write about, Homeward Bound, paints a complex and slightly uncomfortable picture of the "movement" of women "taking back the home", which I am, somewhat uncomfortably, kind of a part of. I keep wanting to write about it, but it's complicated.
I've also been thinking about Harry Potter (it's hard not to, with the audio book filling many hours of the day in our house and car and occaisional snippets of the movies being watched with supervision; the movies are a huge disappointment when watched with the books fresh in mind, btw). The unfortunate thing is that although Rowling treats female characters vastly better than many of the male sci fi authors I've read, these books are not exactly a bastion of feminism. Mr. P himself said recently, "I've noticed there are lots of books about boys and not very many about girls." I said Laura! and, Hermione was important! But he has a point. The biggest-deal woman in the books is probably Professor McGonagle. But the good guy (Dumbledore), the bad guy (Voldemort), the tortored double-crosser-actually-in-the-end-good-guy-but-it's-complicated (Snape), the original good guy (Gryffindor), the original bad guy (Slytherin)... You get the picture. Most of the serious subjects are taught by men. The stupidest subject (Divination) is taught by a particularly dippy woman. People sometimes complain that although there are four school houses, named for the four founders of Hogwarts, only two seem to matter at all (Gryffindor and Slytherin). What I hadn't realized until our recent bought of all-things-Harry-Potter-all-the-time is that Gryffindor and Slytherin were men. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, the apparent unnotables, were women.
Anyway, I was feeling sad and disappointed about all this but then I remembered the powerful thing that I do think Rowling got very very right. Do you remember Winky, the unhappily freed house elf? (She didn't make it into the movies, another strike against them.) House elves are bound by magic or evolution or simply psychology, we're never quite sure, to do exactly what their owners demand. Any attempt at disloyalty sends the disobedient elf into fits of physically harming themselves. No matter how horrible their masters are to them, the house elves are viciously loyal. We meet Winky after she's been freed (or "sacked", in her opinion) and she's so ashamed and miserable about it she can't even function. She finally makes a small show of backbone when she declares that she has not sunk so low as to accept wages for her work.
The whole house elf story line, and especially that scene with Winky, is quite the commentary on oppression and status quo and how the oppressed are usually somehow coopted by the status quo into helping to continue it. Whether you want to read it as a feminist allegory to balance out the standard heavy weighting of major characters to the masculine side or more simply as a comment on class, it's good stuff.
Finally, speaking of Britain and class, I've been really appreciating following A Girl Called Jack, she's got a cookbook coming out, which I can't wait to see, all recipes with a strict eye for budget (seems like she usually lists less than 2 pounds for 4 servings) because she started blogging about food when she was an unemployed single mother of a toddler, waiting for benefits that got hung up in the UK's welfare system. Now she's speaking out strongly against the austerity policies that have been so popular but really don't seem to be getting most people out of this bloody recession.
And speaking of that, Planet Money had a compelling segment on the origins and failings of the poverty line metric recently.