Here's what's on our day-after-Thanksgiving radar:
• One cool thing we can do surrounding Thanksgiving is remember and honor Native American struggles for self-determination and liberation. Red Power activists issued a proclamation to the US government when they occupied Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971, and it was pretty rad. [The New Inquiry]
• Many female saints were women who were radically opposed to traditional gender norms and fought against following the path they were expected to take. Here's a list of ten feminists who were canonized. [Autostraddle]
• Clyde Peterson is working on a new stop-motion film about LGBTQ youth and schizophrenia called Torrey Pines. If you're interested in any of these things, help Kickstart the project. [Torrey Pines, Kickstarter]
There is a wedding scene at the beginning of Andrew Dosunmu's Mother of George that exudes such richness, visual beauty, magic, and love, that I wanted to be in it. At a traditional Nigerian wedding ceremony in Brooklyn, main characters Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach De Bankole) forge a union that's blessed by elders, Orishas and full of lively music, hennaed hands, and shimmering gold fabric.
Photo: The New York Times piece on the "opt-out generation" focused on the lives of upper-crust ladies.
If there's one thing the wives and husbands profiled in The New York Times magazine's opt-out generation cover story can agree on, it's that someone needs to pick up the house and get dinner on the table.
And while two of those wives mention having hired someone to help with domestic labor, Judith Warner's reporting shows that this work largely falls to the women themselves—the wives and moms who had made good money (one's salary was $500,000 at her peak) at careers in corporate sales and network news production, and then left to give their full attention to their families.
Welcome to Family Drama! For the next eight weeks, we'll be guest blogging on Bitch about the portrayals of families on TV and in movies. We'll delve into what makes fictional families functional (or not), different types of familial arrangements in media, relationships between family members, and a ton of other issues.
Our background is that we're siblings whose family has often been defined as "dysfunctional." This label is a simple umbrella term that covers the myriad problems of abuses, rotating caregivers, and ever-present instability we've faced. When we were young, no one ever dissected or defined that term for us. As adults, we've had to unpack it for ourselves.
On the sitcom The Office, as in real life, middle class working mothers are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
They often face the choice of either compromising their career—working part-time or quitting altogether—or feeling like an absent mother. Men, on the other hand, are typically not held to the same standard. Rarely do employers worry whether their male employees will have children and scale back their working hours. Seldom do people worry whether men can "have it all." The Office paints a fairly balanced portrait of what it means when a husband and wife clash over their careers and their families. In the evolving relationship of Pam and Jim in the American version of the series, the married coworkers are equally responsible for their marriage's breakdown, and they should be equally responsible for fixing it—if it can, in fact, be fixed.
The show's central relationship echoes dynamics that feminist writers have pointed out for decades. This week is the 50th anniversary of the Feminine Mystique, the book which so clearly articulated the tension between the roles expected of women in their work and home lives. Writer Stephanie Coontz spelled out the real-life statistics behind this continuing conflict this week in a great New York Times piece:
When family and work obligations collide, mothers remain much more likely than fathers to cut back or drop out of work. But unlike the situation in the 1960s, this is not because most people believe this is the preferable order of things. Rather, it is often a reasonable response to the fact that our political and economic institutions lag way behind our personal ideals....Female professionals are twice as likely to quit work as other married mothers when their husbands work 50 hours or more a week and more than three times more likely to quit when their husbands work 60 hours or more.
There's a difficult scene in toward the beginning of Candace Walsh's memoir, Licking The Spoon, where five-year-old Walsh is essentially force-fed her dinner amidst tears, gagging, and vomit. This particularly heartbreaking image propelled me back to my own memories of sitting at my childhood dinner table, locked in a fierce battle between myself, my father, and food. Walsh's tantalizing descriptions of both the recipes and people in her life help pull the reader into a story that's a perfect mix of memoir and indulgent foodie read. I spoke with Walsh about the challenges of writing a memoir, the notion of choosing our own families, and the erotic potential of food.
What compelled you to write a memoir in your forties? It's a relatively young age.
CANDACE WALSH: I was very influenced by Anais Nin, who kept a diary her entire life. I also kept a diary from childhood through my early twenties. I saw that I had lots of material. I had a consciousness of the narrative as it unfolded. It seemed to have an arc. I also didn't want to wait because I felt like the story elements were fresh in my mind now, in a way that they wouldn't be when I was, say, 65.
There's that axiom that can be seen as a curse: "May you live in interesting times." I had to overcome a lot of challenges. My parents were young and didn't have their acts together. There was a lot of addiction, rage, dysfunction, sadness and pain in my family during my childhood. But at the same time, as I grew up, the culture was shifting. People started telling the truth about their experiences, instead of keeping silent and perpetuating them. There have also been so many epic civil rights gains for gay people in the last 20 years. So I felt that I had a personal story to tell which highlights the relationship between those dynamics.
Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't. This week: When is it a "good" time to have a baby?
The holidays don't always go down as planned, but don't let that stress you out. If family starts to rub you the wrong way, that meal for 12 turns into some basic carbon, or all of these holiday fools stress out your non-observant vacation, take five, find your quiet spot, and listen to this calm-down mix.
Anne-Marie Slaughter's new cover story for the Atlantic is out today. In it, she discusses how "women still can't have it all" and outlines some possible solutions to the work-life conundrum she's faced in her career as a professor and government official.