Saturday, February 21, 2004

Chick Blogging

Some great feminist writing is happening in the circle of blogs I read, this week:

Echidne of the Snakes has an excellent post about the meaning of feminism and the efforts of the right wing to redefine and distort the concept. She may be a minor Greek goddess, but there's nothing minor about her writing and analysis here.

Pen-Elayne expands expands on the media's tendency to focus on feminist involvement in culture-wars issues, like single-sex golf clubs, and to ignore the serious work feminist organizations do on "unsexy" issues like reproductive health care in developing countries.

Trish Wilson continues to be all over "father's rights" activist Lowell Jaks' kidnapping of his son Alec Jaks. She does a great job of puncturing the rhetoric of the father's rights movement, particularly when she quotes the posts they make among themselves when they think no one else is watching. Did you know that the U.S. government - wait, make that the "femerment" - is run entirely by and for women? Yeah, neither did I.

Speaking of punctured myths, Ms. Musings links to a report from a Purdue University social scientist laying the whole tired "Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" thing to rest. Erina MacGeorge's study title says it all: "The Myth of Gender Cultures: Similarities Outweigh Differences in Men's and Women's Provision of and Responses to Supportive Communication." I want to take a look at the actual article, because I have a sneaking suspicion that by "men and women" she means "male and female undergraduates" - who often aren't representative of the whole adult population. But her essential point can't be made often enough: the psychological "gender differences" that are made so much of usually amount to a small average difference and a huuuuge amount of overlap. Men and women are much more alike than we are different. (Which some seem to find threatening, but I digress.)

Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged brought my attention to the Slate nanny debate between Barbara Ehrenreich, Sara Mosle, and the repellent Caitlin Flanagan. I had never encountered Flanagan before, but she lost me in the first two paragraphs of the article that touched off the debate, when she talks about sneering at bad mommies who use daycare at a time when she was staying home and had a full-time nanny to do the (literal) shitwork. She repents of that, kind of, but it sets the tone for her entire discussion of the work/parenting/childcare dilemma. Her basic thesis is that "feminists" who want to have jobs oppress the lower-class women they hire to look after their children. Completely absent is any consideration of these children's fathers, who apparently bear no responsibility for their children's care. I also like the assumption that women rich enough to hire nannies are all "feminists," and therefore the feminist movement is to blame for their choices. Also completely absent is any significant discussion of the 95% of us who will never be in the position of trying to decide how we should treat our full-time servants.