A mother’s day rant

1.  If you’re a full-time daycare, don’t have “Muffins with Mom”.

2.  If you decide to have “Muffins with Mom” anyway, don’t put a sign-up sheet in the lobby where everyone can see which moms obviously don’t love their children enough to leave work to spent 30 min eating store-bought muffins with them at daycare.

3.  Also, the next day don’t ask the moms who weren’t there why they weren’t there and then tell them that they were the only mom who wasn’t there and little DC was so upset.  (Especially if the reason according to DC that ze was upset was because ze had to have grapes instead of muffins like all the other kids because ze’s allergic to wheat.  Or maybe especially if that’s not the reason.)

I wonder how many moms are going to show up in Dad’s place for Donuts with Dad, which I assume they’re also having.  Of course, little DC2 won’t have dad there either because he’s traveling for work that week.

I’m actually only slightly irritated, and mainly at the patriarchy.  And to be honest, I would have checked the no box even if I hadn’t had a P&T meeting scheduled a month and a half in advance at exactly that time.  I am willing to sacrifice DC a little bit so that other mothers can also feel free to check the “no” box if they need to or want to.  (And at the time I checked “No” there were two other “No”s, one with a written “I’m out of town” excuse.)  I suppose that makes me a terrible mother, but I don’t want hir to feel like this is a big deal, and based on conversations with hir the evening of the event, ze was indeed upset by the lack of muffin and not at all by the lack of mommy.  (And yes, a “better” set of parents would have brought gluten-free muffins, but DC2 has gf cookies provided specifically for these kinds of events, and I didn’t really realize that it was Thursday until I got to daycare and saw the ladies setting up for the party, because the end of the semester is busy.)

I have the solace that deep down I believe that these little upsets truly are character building and learning to weather having to eat grapes when the other kids have muffins so as to avoid getting a rash is just one of those things that makes a person stronger.  Obviously we shouldn’t try to create character building incidents because that’s sadistic, but it’s not such a big deal when they happen.  Especially when grapes are actually better than grocery store muffins.

or with music

Do you think there’s any point …

Occasionally we stumble upon mommy-blogs in which the author is extremely anxious about the cleanliness of her house or her lack of making beautiful baked goods or what she’s doing or not doing with her children or I don’t know, whatever it is that the NYTimes is telling women and mothers to be anxious about.  Sometimes her husband is a lazy asshole and she feels like she can never measure up to his wants and needs while still taking care of the children and house (and sometimes, though not always, her job).  And she’s worried about her (normal-range) weight to boot.

And sometimes I will “poo” in her comments section, questioning why she believes that magazine or blog article she read telling her that her life is worthless if her kitchen floor isn’t sparkly.  (I haven’t seen articles like that, but bloggers claim they exist.  Maybe they have subscriptions to Patriarchy Monthly:  Keeping women down since the beginning of time?)

This little scat packet of mine rarely goes over well.  I’m not the target demo.  The target demo is other women who also feel like their kitchen floor will never be clean enough who are supposed to commiserate.  *shudder.*

And I wonder… is there any point to saying, “Cleanliness is next to cleanser, not next to Godliness” and “Why are you making yourself miserable because you don’t measure up to some artificial standard created by the patriarchy?”  (Because the blogger is always miserable.  And she always blames herself and never the magazines.)  Not usually in those words, but it doesn’t actually matter how gently or politely the words are phrased.  Harsh comments and gentle comments get the same response.

If it weren’t for the patriarchy or those women’s magazines, would they find something else to be miserable about?  Is it really the patriarchy bringing them down, and would understanding it do any good?

Really what I ought to do is to completely leechblock such blogs so I don’t have to read them myself, because they depress me.  Reading about women who are upset when they don’t need to be depresses me.  I don’t like reading about people who stay with lazy husbands they don’t love and don’t communicate with who make them miserable (and say all relationships are like that, anyone who says differently is lying, so why change).  I don’t like reading about people feeling guilty and anxious and worthless because they’re buying the line that the patriarchy is selling them.  I don’t like reading about people being determined to stay miserable and anxious.

And no, I don’t blame these women, but it makes me feel sad and helpless to see the comments agreeing that that’s just the way life is and everybody feels like that and all women are worthless and not measuring up to arbitrary standards that they believe are important that don’t have to be important.  And voices of dissent get attacked– it’s self-policing.  Will it always stay that way?  And is one lone blogging voice saying no, don’t believe it, doing more harm than good?

What’s the point?

How to write a good book for girls

Step 1:  Make a good book for kids.

Step 2: Make sure there are girls in it, at least 50%, and not in like subservient roles and crap.

Step 3: Make sure those girls are people first, and girls second (or third or fourth or whatever they are defined by besides their presentation as female).

That is all.

Don’t punch down

Racists punch down.  Misogynists punch down.  Bullies punch down.

If you’re in the majority, if you’re protected by privilege, even if you’re not as protected as a tall, wealthy, Christian, white male would be… don’t punch down to the people worse off than  you.

Don’t blame an entire group for the failings of a few members if that group is lower than you on life’s difficulty setting.  It’s not their job to police everybody who shares the discriminated against characteristic.  (Whereas you might be able to make an argument that there is nobody else to police the wealthy tall white male “Christians” but wealthy tall white male “Christians” themselves.)

If you’re going to punch a group, then punch up.

If you find the action of a single person or small group of people to be despicable, then call out that action.  Call out those people.  Don’t blame the entire group.  Don’t do things that are racist just because a black guy killed a cop or because a small group of terrorists killed a group of comic strip writers.  Extend the same courtesy to less privileged groups that you do to the most privileged groups, because without doing that, the patriarchy will never be defeated.

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Another note on privilege

Have you ever noticed that nobody ever says “those racists got what’s coming to them” or “if they didn’t want to get killed they shouldn’t have been racist.”

But they do say, “if they didn’t want to get killed/raped/etc.” they shouldn’t have provoked/been someplace where they could be noticed by/etc. a person in power?

You don’t get blamed if you get hurt when you’re punching down.  Nobody expects people to shoot back.  When they do, you can’t be blamed for not expecting it.  But punching up?  You should have known better.  Don’t carry a gun if you’re not white.  Do everything the police office says, no matter how illegally he is treating you.  Don’t speak out against rapists or internet harassers.  If you do, you deserve to become a target (except that you never deserve that).

If you are in a group with less privilege it is always automatically your fault (by popular opinion, though not in truth, never in truth).  You are not innocent specifically because you are not a Christian (or atheist– only the super-privileged are allowed to admit to atheism) white male.  It’s like your original sin– not being born with privilege.

Because you’re not privileged, then you should *know* that the world is a dangerous and scary place and you have to stay in your home, wearing a burqa, surrounded by robot body-guards.  If you’re privileged then you don’t have to do that because the world simply *isn’t* a dangerous and scary place for you.  You have to actively seek a career like drug-trafficking before people start going, “hey, you should have done something to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.”  It’s simply unthinkable that it could ever be a Christian white guy’s fault.

Wouldn’t it be nice if nobody ever thought to victim blame?  If everybody were extended the same grace that white guys in power are given?  That we could focus on the people causing the crimes rather than the people victimized by them?

But that’s patriarchy for you.  Culture is against you, therefore you’re in double-jeopardy.  You’re damned from the start.  And doubly so if you try to fight it, if you try to do what those white Christian (and atheist) guys take for granted every moment of every day.

Link love in absentia

Slimy Baltimore fox affiliate caught faking kill a cop protest chant.

Reading for Hope in Unjust Times.

Why is Conservative Comedy unfunny?  Probably because it punches down and most of us know we’re not supposed to be explicitly racist/sexist/etc.

I had some of this cheese at a restaurant and it was so delicious and tasty

Racism is the mechanism by which white people learn to be just fine with horrendous evil.”

I wish everyone could have the protection that the invisible backpack of white privilege confers.

Would you rather be rich in the 1950s or poor in the 2014s? has a very different answer if you’re not a white male.  Though judging from the comments section on the original article, not anywhere near different enough.  I hope we keep moving forward on equality, but judging from the cycles in history, I have my doubts.

Scalzi Hollywoods up Christmas.  My favorite is the photo in the second comment.

Surprise (not really a surprise):  tech journalism is sexist!

20 years of racial profiling comics.  How can we make things better?

Ask the grumpies: My boss is kind of implicitly sexist (or maybe credentialist)– what do I do?

Telecommuting Guy asks:

I work (telecommute long-distance) for a small company as a developer.  The organizational structure is very flat– there’s the owner/boss, then as a developer I have a boss for programming but not for other aspects of the job.  Essentially I have one guy as my boss for programming but in all other aspects, the owner/boss is my direct boss.  Unfortunately the boss/owner is kind of a jerk.  Fortunately I only really have to deal with him when we’re working on grants and a few other things.  Recently we were working on a grant, and, as is the case for many companies in my field, the only woman employed at the company and the only person without a PhD (other than the clerical work that our company out-sources) is the grant-writer.  During our conference calls on this project, it was obvious that the boss was extra jerky when talking with her. (Not explicitly sexist, but frequently short and condescending in a way that was noticeable, especially compared to how he treated everyone else.)  I don’t like this, but I’ve only been employed at this company for a little over 6 months.  I don’t feel like I can address it to the boss directly.  The chain of command isn’t really through my programming boss– he only gets final say on code, not anything else.  I want to be a good guy because I care about making tech more equitable, but when push comes to shove, I find I’m too worried about my own employment stability to make any waves.

I enjoy this job, for the most part, and it would be difficult to find another one that fits my skills and allows me to telecommute (which I need to do because my wife is a tenured [humanities] professor in a small town –we don’t want to go back to living apart).  Is there anything I can do that would help but won’t get me fired?  Also, the grant writer does great work and the company has been very successful with grants.

Oh gee, that’s a tough one.  Probably Wandering Scientist is a better person to ask.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to just go up to your boss (or, better, your manager, and then your manager talks to the boss) and address this issue straight-on, discussing implicit bias, and how important it is that such a great employee as your grant-writer is valued and feels valued.  (Using your Crucial Conversations skills.)  You would help make sure there were systems in place that would encourage a great work environment for everyone.

This is not an ideal world.  You haven’t been with the company long.  Your boss is kind of a jerk and you don’t know how he’ll react if you bring anything like this up.  And, on top of that, you’re telecommuting.

You probably don’t want to bring it up directly with the grant-writer either.  It might make her feel worse (though it might also make her feel less gas-lighted), or encourage her to find new employment, which might be better for her, but maybe not so good for the long-term viability of the company at which you work.  Also, gossip also has a way of getting around and it sounds like you can’t afford it to.

We will say that there are things that you can do to help your colleague feel more valued.  When she says things that are ignored and then repeated by someone else, say, “Yes, that’s just what [grant-writer] was saying,” or “[Grant-writer] made that point too.”  When she does great work, thank her.  Say good things about her work to other colleagues.  After each grant has been sent off, send her a thank-you email detailing what great work she did and cc the boss in.

Other than that, we don’t know what to suggest.  Perhaps as you gain seniority it will become easier to speak up.  Or maybe someone else will speak up and you can back them up.  We wish we had better advice for you.  #2 thinks you should submit to Ask A Manager, and pronto.

Grumpy Nation, what would you do in this situation?  What would you suggest Telecommuting Guy do?

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