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.
… means caring for animals. H/T to the DAR Facebook page of sharing this; I’d never heard this history before. Here’s an excerpt, with the link at the bottom.
These Extraordinary Women Spoke Up For Animals When No One Else Would
In the late 1800s, the treatment of animals was not a topic of concern or conversation. Animals were considered utilitarian, and consequently, inhumane treatment was commonplace. But a small group of extraordinary women, led by Caroline Earle White, raised their voices to fight animal cruelty in the most profound ways. The historic impact they made continues to this day through the work of the Women’s Humane Society.
Initially, it was the mistreatment of carriage horses in Philadelphia (e.g. drivers beating their exhausted and malnourished charges) that spurred Caroline, a devoted humanitarian and highly educated woman from a prominent family of abolitionists and suffragists, to go on a passionate crusade to improve conditions for all animals. …
This idea is not new, but this article is a pretty good explanation of–and gives a name to–this phenomenon where women dare to exist in public spaces: Patriarchy Chicken. The idea is that women don’t leap out of men’s way when moving around in public.
The first time I read about this practice, I will admit that I snickered. I was pretty sure that I had not, in fact, spent my life privileging men’s space in public. Then I went to work: parked my car and walked the half mile across campus to my office. I consciously did not alter my pace or trajectory for those around me, and I counted 0 women, 0 non-binary folks, and 7 men who were explicitly taken aback by this. And, for my part, it was hard not to move out of the way. So now, I play Patriarchy Chicken.