I use this blog as a thinking space; it’s not polished/organized, and that’s on purpose. You’ll find entries that relate to my interdisciplinary interests (see word cloud in sidebar). While I will be excited for comments here and in other venues, lurkers are very welcome.
I’ve been reading Fed up: Emotional Labor, Women, and The Way Forward with some friends lately, and even though I’ve thought a lot about emotional labor, I’m still finding a lot to think about. First, what Hartley terms “emotional labor” I think of more as “mental load”–that is, the cost of being the keeper of the lists. Part of the mental load is emotional labor, but it seems more expansive to me than just emotional stuff. Some of the work I do because it defaults to me as a woman has little to do with emotion work, except in the sense that everyone is happier when things run smoothly. I haven’t finished the book yet and so I’m hoping Hartley has some better answers for me, but I’ve been really interested in her interviews with people who have chosen to “drop balls” on purpose–that is, they decide not to do everything and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe my house is dirty but my book is done (I can dream!), and I can live with that. Maybe the dogs eat the cheap, less healthy kibble because that’s what my husband picked up at the grocery (they like the cheap stuff better anyway). Maybe we go out for dinner even when we feel like we can’t afford it because you can’t place a monetary value on sanity. I’m still trying to figure out which balls might be okay to drop because, true to form, I’d like to drop them thoughtfully … but the idea certainly has some appeal!
Another part of the book that I think is worth mentioning: Hartley addresses relationship dynamics in same-sex couples, and she also profiles a stay-at-home-husband who says emotional labor/mental load is not a gender issue. I’m really glad she takes these issues up. I maintain that this IS a gender issue because women are predominantly expected to do this labor and because men are rewarded/praised for it when they do it, even if they are the stay-at-home partner … but the more important point is to get this kind of labor recognized and valued.
The new semester started this week, and I’m taking a new approach to research time. I’ve committed to a twice-weekly writing group (in hopes that I can always make at least one of the meetings), and I’ve blocked 2.5 days for research. I’ve also instituted a rule that I won’t work in the evenings after I go home. I’m taking to heart Get a Life PhD‘s philosophy that an overworked brain is not as productive. So, Tuesday afternoons and all day Thursdays and Fridays are for research.
The other thing that 2.5 research days does for me is it allows me a little wiggle room to be accommodating. I’m supposed (based on my contract where research is 40% of my job) to be spending 2 days per week on research, and my problem in the past has been that meetings and other peoples’ needs encroach on my scholarship time. This allows me to say yes to some of these things–half a days’ worth–each week that encroach on the time I’ve set aside. That, in turn, makes me feel empowered to say no to any meetings beyond that flex time.
I’ve also learned that I really need to be out of the house to be my most productive. Being in the office can be okay depending on the time and who’s around and wants to talk, so I may alternate work sites between the office, library, coffee shops, etc.
I have a lot to get done in the coming semester, and it’s going to happen, darnit! 🙂
As I take a break from all that hard writing, my latest pop-culture obsession is Madam Secretary. Sadly, the show’s already canceled, but it’s had a good run and I’m sure it will go out with a bang. What I love about it is that Tia Leoni plays a Secretary of State who is a woman in a world designed for men, and her gender often drives the persuasive tactics she uses, but it doesn’t define her as a human. Also big props to the show for modeling a strong (heterosexual) marriage that doesn’t suffer for its female member’s star power. And the writing! This is just a good show.
Today is the last day of my National Humanities Center residency. This place is fantastic, and I highly encourage applying for their semester- and year-long residencies. I attended a program about those and I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned and/or what my experience here has been like. In short, though: This is a peaceful place to work. It has incredible library resources. They feed you and the food is good. The camaraderie is great. And the daily practice here is flexibility—my time was my own, and I was able to adjust to whatever worked for me on any given day.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about myself during this month is that I need to do a better job of compartmentalizing. I came here with scattered notes and I’m leaving with almost 50,000+ words of something that resembles a rough draft book manuscript. I also finished an article revision and wrote a conference presentation, and I taught an online class for the last week. For me, that’s a phenomenally productive month. If I’m going to finish this book, though, I know that I have to find ways to save mental energy for writing. For me, it’s less about time than about focus. I have to figure out how to let go of worrying about students, what needs restocking in the fridge, who’s taking care of the pets, etc. for long enough to get some writing accomplished. Updates on strategies for that to come.
Ultrasound-for-abortion laws are in the news again. They last peaked around 2012, but Missouri and Ohio and Georgia have all recently passed laws that have garnered a lot of attention. I’ve written extensively about ultrasound-for-abortion laws and the logics that undergird them elsewhere. Here, I’m going to offer one quick piece of logic–not opinion, but logic–and then some action points. (Note: These action points are mostly difficult things. But I’ve seen people so passionate about these recent bills that I have to assume they are willing to do difficult things.)
Logic: So long as we as a nation believe it’s morally correct NOT to force people to donate blood and organs, it is contradictory to make the abortion debate about anything but bodily autonomy. Autonomy is where we MUST begin.
Action items for people who are genuinely committed to saving lives
- Become an organ donor. Talk to your family about your wishes so they are aware.
- Donate blood.
- Educate others on the importance of being an organ donor and donating blood. Emphasize the important role of universal donors.
- Sign up to be a bone marrow donor.
- Sign up to be a living kidney donor.
- Donate money or time to your local hospital, the Children’s Miracle Network, or the Ronald McDonald House.
Action items for people who genuinely want to help prevent abortions
- Advocate for comprehensive sex education in your local school system.
- If you are a parent, teach your children about consent, safe sex, and responsibility. Do so early and often.
- Work with local initiatives to make contraception available.
- Empower girls to make their own decisions about their bodies.
- Encourage body positivity.
- Volunteer with the Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or similar role-modeling organizations.
- Donate to Planned Parenthood (You read that correctly; Planned Parenthood does SO much to prevent abortions.) or a similar family planning organization.
- Become a foster parent and teach your children about consent, safe sex, and responsibility.
- Adopt from foster care and teach your children about consent, safe sex, and responsibility.
- Adopt, period, and teach your children about consent, safe sex, and responsibility.
I’ve been struggling really hard to get writing done lately. That is at least in part because I have too many projects to think about and I’m having a hard time with focus. It’s also because some of the projects I’m working on matter so much to me that it’s hard to think clearly. I’m returning to Get a Life, PhD, which was a space that helped me a lot when I was a graduate student and pre-tenure. I especially like the ground rules post. I’m beginning with some time off to re-set, and then I’ll see about setting some of my own ground rules.