Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jon and Kate Plus 8

Just about every newspaper, blog, and cable news show has commentary today about last night's Season Premiere of "Jon & Kate Plus 8." For those who have been under a rock or have managed to avoid grocery stores for the last month, Jon & Kate Gosselin and their 8 children (a set of twins and a set of sextuplets - all conceived using fertility drugs) are the stars of a reality show on TLC all about the struggles of an otherwise "normal" family raising 8 children.

Well...that's what it USED to be about. NOW it's all about the struggles of the marriage between Jon & Kate amidst rumors of infidelity on both partners. On the season premiere, Jon apologized for his "actions" though he did not make clear just what those "actions" entailed. Kate flat out denied rumors that she had been unfaithful. Jon may have just been cavorting around bars with a young college woman, but honestly, if that's all there was to it I think he would've just came out and said, "No I did not cheat on my wife" instead of being oh so coy about his "actions."

Sounds like a nighttime soap opera and definitely not a great environment for 8 young kids to be around, right? Right. So amongst all the hoopla, commentary, and snarky analysis many people are asking "Why continue the show if it is such a strain on your marriage and your family?"

I have read that the show is exploitative, the Gosselin's care more about being celebrities than they do about their children, and I have read some particularly nasty comments geared mostly towards Kate because "she's the one who wants to keep doing the show."

Yet none of the commentary I have read addresses WHY they chose to do the show in the first place and WHY they may be choosing to continue it (other than being obsessed with fame, of course). Perhaps it is because their family's entire financial well being rests upon the money they get from the show, the free stuff they get from sponsors, not having to worry about medical and dental care for 10 people, etc.??

Before the show Jon was an IT analyst and Kate was a nurse. Respectable positions for sure, but definitely not rollin' in the dough. Plus with 8 kids, obviously one parent is probably going to quit working thus cutting the family income in half. And for 8 kids under the age of 5, I'm pretty sure you need a lot of dough. Just ask "Octomom" who of course is a menace to society because she has birthed multiples while poor and unmarried. Unlike Kate Gosselin who prior to "Jon and Kate Gate" (I made that one up myself!) was the picture perfect mom - married and able to financially support her multiple bundles of joy.

But now that bitch is paying the price for being so money hungry and of course also for "emasculating" her husband. (You know, like asking him to do stuff...) but whatever. Maybe this conversation should be centered around what it takes to raise kids and possibly questioning whether it's a good idea for ANYONE to have multiple children at one time through fertility drugs. I'm generally not a fan of restricting women's reproductive choices if you know what I mean, but perhaps there should be some sort of regulation of fertility drugs? I ask the question because I really don't know. But it can't be normal or good for a woman's body to give birth to more than 3 babies at one time. OUCH. (I use the number 3 because triplets have been known to happen naturally but I haven't heard of quadruplets or more happening without fertility drugs). I guess I should stop to point out that getting pregnant through fertility drugs increases your chances of having "multiples" BY A LOT.

A lot of times women will do an "embryo reduction" if more than two embryos were implanted through the drugs, but that is also controversial because some consider it abortion.

But regardless of what I think about someone using fertility drugs and choosing to have 8 children, the fact is that the Gosselin's have 8 children who need their parents to try to work things out, and that would probably be more likely to happen without a camera crew following them around every day and without tabloids circulating rumors on a daily basis.

The problem lies in the fact that without the show, the books, the free stuff, the money... it's near impossible for the family to take care of all of those kids. Yes there are families who do it, but most of those families have older kids who can help with the younger kids (like the Duggers, don't get me started on them) but the average person just cannot financially support a family of 10.

I don't really care about Jon and Kate's extramarital affairs, and after watching part of the Season Premiere, I'm not all that interested in watching "the drama unfold." I do hope that Jon and Kate do what's best for their kids no matter what they decide to do with the show and whether or not they decide to stay together. It seems to me like they both really do love their kids and want what's best for them, like any other normal parents. But I do hope that when we talk about raising kids and especially about raising multiples, that class issues are brought to the forefront. Raising 8 kids is hard, but it's even harder when you are poor. I just find it very interesting that one woman chooses to have 8 kids (okay 14) and she is a national disgrace. But yet other women like Kate Gosselin and Michelle Dugger choose to have 8-18 kids and they get their own shows that make them look like super moms and get collective "awws" from society. Well, Kate may not be getting the "awws" anymore but her 8 kids sure are. Can't say the same for "Octokids." (sorry I couldn't resist)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Target Women: Laundry!

I'm not going to post EVERY Target Women segment on here... just the ones that are extremely funny. Ok ok, you should probably just get used to me posting every Target Women segment ever made. Because they are hilarious!!

Laundry is so fun!

And now I have to go do laundry... it is my drug of choice. It makes me feel like a cute little bear is putting me in a tub of fuzzy! So many new exciting laundry technologies!

God, I love Sarah Haskins.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Masculine Mystique?

Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was about "the problem that had no name." This problem turned out to be a society in the 1950s and early 60s that told women they should only find fulfillment from being a wife and mother.

History and Family Studies Professor Stephanie Coontz writes:

“The feminine mystique” of the 1950s and 1960s did not just tell women to become “happy homemakers.” It also laid out a laundry list of things that a woman was not supposed to do or feel. Women were told that it was “abnormal” to want to excel, either athletically or academically. A “normal” woman, according to the mystique, found emotional and sexual fulfillment in dependence and passivity.

Society today, Stephanie notes, is quite different. Girls now do many things and act in ways that used to be considered masculine without anyone batting an eye. However, boys seem to have a very rigid definition of masculinity and often berate each other (and get berated by adults) for participating in behavior deemed to feminine.

I saw this growing up and still see it around me as an adult. Anything from dressing nice, to crying, to sharing one's feelings, to having an Asia poster in your house apparently makes you gay and not masculine.

We now live in a society where it is ok for girls to like "boy things" (yay!) but still not ok for boys to like "girl things" (hmm...)

This is not just about trucks and dolls or sports and...dolls? (I don't really what little girls who didn't play sports did for fun. I always played sports. Go figure) But actually it leads into a more important topic of work life balance and parenting. Work life balance is still seen by the majority of people as a women's issue.

As long as these debates focus on what mothers choose to do, and ignore the choices that fathers could make, we won’t take the next step needed for gender equity—the fight to make parental leave and reduced work hours available for both mothers and fathers, and to convince men as well as women to take full advantage of work-family policies.

Today’s problem with no name is how to maximize women’s choices in work and family life without letting those choices bolster men’s primary position in the labor force and reinforce their secondary position in the family.

I actually think the "masculine mystique" is (sadly) alive and well. I kinda feel bad for men in this regard (OMG, are feminists allowed to do that?!). The definition of feminine and what it means to be a woman has changed so much over the last 50 years (at least in mainstream society). And I'm not just talking about stupid "You can be tough AND sexy" ads geared towards women, but women have real choices that just weren't there before the 1960s. Many of these choices involve acting in ways that were for a long time considered masculine. But even today, if we see a man staying home to take care of the kids, he's still referred to as a "Mr. Mom." Really? Why can't he just be "Dad?" Granted, this situation is becoming increasingly more common.

But in order for it to succeed, work-life balance does need to become an issue for both men and women instead of just women. And really, back to the larger issue of the "masculine mystique" men should be able to embrace their "feminine" side without being ridiculed. Seriously, what's the worst possible insult men dish out to each other? Usually it's something along the lines of "don't be such a girl." And usually it's more crude than that, but you can use your imagination. Bottom line, we should make our definition of masculinity as broad (no pun intended) as our definition of femininity, and that will benefit both genders.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Diversity on the Supreme Court

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama asking him to consider nominating a woman to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court (who has announced his retirement). As the Senators put it:

The most important thing is to nominate an exceptionally well-qualified, intelligent person to replace Justice Souter -- and we are convinced that person should be a woman. Women make up more than half of our population, but right now hold only one seat out of nine on the United States Supreme Court. This is out of balance. In order for the Court to be relevant, it needs to be diverse and better reflect America.

I agree with the Senators that the Supreme Court should, if at all possible, reflect the landscape of America. Now obviously this should not come at the expense of having qualified individuals on the Court. When it comes to any job, the most qualified person out of all the applicants should get it. If a man and a woman walk into a job interview, and the man has more experience, more education, etc. he should clearly get the job even if there are hardly any women in the company.

The problem is it’s not always such a clear cut case. Sometimes you have multiple people who are equally qualified. And it’s even harder with something like the Supreme Court. I don’t know the stats on all of the potential nominees, but I am sure that there are numerous extremely qualified intelligent individuals of both genders who could potentially serve on the Court.

I think having two or more females on the Supreme Court would be beneficial to a nation where approximately 50% of the population is female. Having a female perspective on the Court is not only important with “hot button” issues like reproductive rights. But the Court is currently hearing a case to decide if a school was within its legal rights to strip search a 13 year old girl because she was suspected of having ibuprofen on her.

Based on some of the comments by the current judges in the oral arguments for this case, a more balanced female perspective is definitely needed. Take, for example, Justice Stephen Breyer who equates a minor getting strip searched to changing for gym.

Why is this a major thing to say strip down to your underclothes, which children do when they change for gym?

Breyer continues...

In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear. Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's beyond human experience.

Justice Ruth Ginsberg (the only woman on the Court) seemed to be the only person who had a serious issue with what took place.

What was done in the case … it wasn't just that they were stripped to their underwear! They were asked to shake their bra out, to stretch the top of their pants and shake that out!

The other Justices couldn’t see why this could be potentially very humiliating and damaging to a young girl. (Even though they had an “amicus brief” filed by the National Association of Social Workers and National Association of School Psychologists arguing just that)

It should never have been done unless absolutely necessary. And if it was absolutely necessary (i.e. the safety of other students was in question), a female police officer should’ve been brought in, along with the girl’s parents.

It is very likely that a woman will be appointed as the next Supreme Court Justice, and I think this is a good thing. I think having a balance not just in gender, but in perspective and opinions will be beneficial for everyone. And I think it’s even better that there are so many well qualified women up for the job. Furthermore, I’m glad that the insistence for more women on the Court is coming from both sides of the aisle.

Ike Baby Boom

Good thing we got our electricity back within 3 days. Otherwise, who knows what might've happened! :)

Ike Baby Boom

Blogger = Rocket Science?

Apparently I am slightly "Blogger impaired." For example, I am trying to comment on my own post (in response to another comment) but my comment keeps disappearing. I type it and then select "Google Account" as my "profile" (which is what I signed in with) and it disappears. Tried to do it again using name/url. Same thing. Does Blogger hate me or am I missing something?

Also, how do I "follow" people? Some people don't have a "follow" link on their page, at least not one that I see anyways.

I need help! I don't want to go back to Xanga, with its freaking Ann Coulter ads all over my page! But I need to be able to comment on my own posts, obviously.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Welcome to Little Ms. Sunshine!

This is a new blog for me, basically replacing my Xanga which is a personal blog I've had since 2004! (Stone age in blogging years, I know). It is most definitely time for a change. I struggled with what I wanted to call my blog, but I decided to go with one of my favorite movies, adding a small play on words.

I love Little Miss Sunshine because it's about a "dysfunctional" family who on the outside seem to have nothing going for them. But the one thing they have going is they love each other deeply and they come together in the end in a hilarious yet touching way. A funny quote from the movie (one of many) is [SPOILER ALERT] after they get pulled over with Grandpa's body in the trunk (he died of natural causes, and the hospital was going to make them stay and process paperwork, but they had to make it to the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant). Anyways, the dad says..."Everybody just pretend to be normal!"

In a way, I think that's what many of us do every day. We pretend to be normal. But what is normal? Is this blog going to be normal? I don't know. It's probably going to have somewhat of a feminist perspective (hence the "Ms.") but I don't want it to be exclusively a feminist blog, or an academic blog, or a political blog. I want it to be MY blog. I want it to be personal. Sometimes the personal is political. Sometimes I might just want to vent. Sometimes I might want to share something funny. Sometime I might want to share something not funny at all, but heartbreaking.

I welcome conversation. I welcome criticism as long as it's done respectfully. I do want people to read it, but even if they don't that's okay. This is mostly for me anyways. I love reading and writing and learning. So hopefully this will be an outlet for all of the above.