Maybe it is because I am breast-feeding my own son and am used to seeing women whip out a boob to put in baby's mouth at the drop of a hat, but when I saw the cover of TIME this week, I didn't find it all that odd.
Frankly, my first thought was, "Great! A picture of a woman breast-feeding!" After the uproar in 2009 about Facebook removing photos of breastfeeding mothers, as well as the rise of "lactivists" staging nursing sit-ins everywhere from airports to the Hirshhorn Museum—places that had asked women to stop nursing their babies—I usually appreciate seeing breastfeeding in the media. Obviously, though, when we have steps forward, we have steps back. The TIME cover is problematic in several ways, its problems well-pointed out in a previous Bitch post. Also unfortunate is the way the image coats the story inside, which covers "attachment parenting" with a greasy, unfriendly film.
Though it may seem like old news now, Ann Romney's positioning by the GOP as the epitome of womanly motherhood is important here. It is no secret that the Romney family is out-of-this-world wealthy. Ann Romney's stayed-at-home child-rearing therefore brings up many issues, including nutrition access for the less-than-wealthy and what it is to be a mother raising children in poverty today. If "all mothers are working mothers," as Mitt Romney would have us believe, does that include ones who are much poorer, and ones who are of in need of government assistance and better nutrition?
Anne Sexton was born in Newton, Masachusetts in 1928. Sexton was the youngest of three daughters and quickly earned the title of the wild child. At seventeen, her parents sent her to Rogers Hall Boarding School in Lowell, Massachusetts to try and cure the rebellious side in her. After graduating from school, Sexton attended what she would later call a "finishing school" before she met and eloped with Alfred Sexton II in 1948. For a short time after their marriage, she modeled for a small agency. But after her husband was sent to Korea for a time, Sexton gave up modeling to be like a typical '50s housewife—but she was anything but.
Darnell Martin's I Like It Like That may push the boundaries of the Bechdel Test, but its insights into black Latina motherhood, sisterhood, and professional identity are fascinating, rare, and in need of recognition.
With twenty studio albums under her belt, and another coming out in the new year, she is still as bad-ass as ever. While her new songs may not hold the same personal angst as earlier ones, they are still infused with a strong point of view, activist spirit, and feminist ideology. I recently had the chance to talk with Ani about her music, her (ever-changing) feminism, motherhood and everything else in between.
Over the weekend, St. Vincent's upcoming album, Strange Mercy, started streaming on NPR. The woman behind the band, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Annie Clark, started out as a member of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' tour mate. She is known for juxtaposing sweet, Feist-like vocals with dark, often violent imagery. The disconnect between body and soul (that is, between the material and spiritual) is a central theme of her third album. The newest single, Cruel," examines this disconnect in the context of the trivial cruelties of day to day family life.
With little over a week to go, it's hard to imagine anything stopping William and Kate walking down the aisle—but that wasn't always the case. Up until their engagement was announced, it was assumed that one woman stood in Kate's way: her mother.
Some women I've written about before, celebs like Jennifer Aniston, sidestep the issue all the time instead of owning their ambivalence (or however they feel! Just own it!). Barbara Walters and Oprah talked about how it is a difficult thing. So why don't we hear more women talking about the flip side of having kids—or rather, why don't we have more proud childfree role models out there?
Oprah and Babs talk about how tough it is to have kids as a working woman—or in Oprah's case, the unambiguous lack of regret in regards to opting out. Skip to 7:30 in the video, where the discussion about having kids starts. Transcript after the jump.
In my opinion, the strangest persistent belief about childfree women is that we're selfish. From the jump, this is problematic as this logic negates the experiences of infertile women, women ambivalent about motherhood and parenting, and women who would—for any number of reasons and because of any combination of circumstances—perhaps like to be mothers but have opted out nonetheless. It's also a pretty big slap in the face to queer women, who may not face the same social pressures to procreate but may still be held to the same weirdo standard when they don't have children.