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.


NYTimes: U.S. parents beginning to prefer daughters?


I’ve been absent for a while because I’ve been on maternity leave. In December, I had a little girl. We named her Caroline, after my grandmother. Caroline was diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome at about 20 weeks, back in August. She was beautiful and lived for several hours. She changed our lives.



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Gender neutral language

“Gender neutral version of French sparks backlash.” What a headline. Yes, of course it does. Anytime language changes, especially if sexual politics are involved, there will always be some old curmudgeon saying: “Why, back in my day we just spoke the way it felt natural! My way is and will forever be the only correct way! Because I say so! Language doesn’t change! Now make me a sandwich!”

What really gets me about this story, though, is that the suggested language change–which does away with the automatic masculinization of plurals that is common in latinate languages–apparently “has offended swaths of traditionalists.” At the same time, the ONLY resistance reported herein is by the “sole British member” of the French Academy, “France’s 400-year-old voice of authority on language.” Yes, this is absolutely how language change occurs. Let’s ask an old British dude who thinks an academy can control language about a language that isn’t even his own and print his opinion. That should be credible.


I don’t even have the energy for this. Go read the story here –>


Emotional labor is the unpaid job men still don’t understand

I highly recommend this piece from Harper’s.

The subtitle really says it all: “Emotional labor is the unpaid job men still don’t understand.” In this article, Gemma Hartley relates the experience of asking for her male partner to hire a house cleaning service as her Mother’s Day gift. Doing this job well required labor–calling around, getting quotes, getting recommendations, finding the best service, negotiating a contract. It’s the sort of labor that women do, unasked and unthanked, every day. And let’s just say up front: Hiring a cleaning service is a comparatively easy, first-world kind of task. But for Hartley’s husband–who she tells us is “a good man, and a good feminist ally,” and I believe her–this request was quite a struggle. (Read the story to get the full gist.)

Hartley relates this experience to explain a larger phenomenon–that in which women in heterosexual relationships have become household managers. Or rather, have continued to be household managers (a role once referred to as homemaking) while also holding down full-time jobs. This is not a new revelation; a lot has been published on the “second shift.” Even women with husbands who are “good feminist allies” find that they are the taskmasters, keepers of the lists, organizers of the schedules, makers of appointments, planners of meals, and so on. They are the ones required to take the initiative to keep the household running. Even the best male partners often only help when asked. And, as Hartley says in response to a simple cleaning task, “I don’t want to have to ask.”

And when women ask too much or too often, or when they complain about this constellation (I can’t call it a division) of labor? Well, there’s a word for that. Nag. (Actually, there are a lot of words for that. Nag is a relatively nice one.)

Disturbingly, and Hartley doesn’t so much go into this, the women-as-bearers-of-labor role extends beyond the home and into the workplace. In my academic department, for example, we have four administrative roles. These are sometimes hard to fill because they take away from the time needed for research, which is needed for promotion–in other words, they often equate to unrewarded labor. All of these positions are held by women (and, yes, our department has more men than women available to serve). We also have a committee that is known for being time-consuming, and I just sat through a faculty meeting where the only three straight white men who were eligible declined to serve. Meanwhile, every single person not bearing these characteristics (a total of 7) have already served. Why? Because we are expected to and, unlike the men, will be punished if we do not. This is anecdotal evidence, but the research supports it.

So, what to do? Well, it’s far more complicated than this, but here’s a start. Men, pay attention and take initiative–at home and in the workplace. Do the work. Do NOT ask a woman what work needs to be done or how to do it–figure it out yourself, and then do it. And don’t expect to be thanked. And keep doing it. Even when you’re tired. Especially when you’re tired. Also, point out when you see women being asked to do free labor, give them options for refusal when possible, and point out when you see them being pressured or put down for refusing. Do this especially when it is a risk to your reputation. And women: Say no and don’t feel bad about it. Make it a goal to say no at least once a week. Don’t apologize for it. And do your level best to make it apparent when you experience retribution for refusing to do uncompensated labor.

(I just gave the guys more work. That was on purpose. They have more work to do.)

On merit-based immigration

Last month, Time published a Buzzfeed-style quiz asking “Find out of President Trump would let you immigrate to America.” (Here it is.) Many people quickly discovered that under the proposed merit-based system, the RAISE Act, they did not qualify to even apply. Feministing followed up with a story pointing out that the quiz, which was aimed at generating empathy and did so successfully, missed out on some key elements of the immigration process: the exhausting visa application process, the complexities of class-based discrimination, the quiz’s focus on privileged readers as its audience. These are worth thinking about–although I also applaud Time for trying to make the issue more understandable to the average reader. Read more here: