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Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 02:56 PM PDT

Is Your Babysitter a Guy?

by Redstocking

Have you used male babysitters or nannies? When did your child first have a male teacher? Has your child ever asked you why there are no male teachers in his day care center, kindergarten, or grade school? Would you encourage your son to babysit or pursue a career in early childhood education?

I would have hired four of my five brothers and all six of my nephews as babysitters. Amusingly, the one who would have taken his charges out on the roof is the great father of six, grandfather of six. I still remember how delighted we were when one of my young uncles came to babysit. My Uncle Frank, six foot five, would hang from the top of the swing set, and we were allowed to keep all the money that fell out of his pockets. He held my brothers up to the ceiling when they were misbehaving, which I particularly enjoyed and they remember fondly. My youngest brothers were 15 and 17 when my daughter Emma was born. Going on vacation with her favorite nonparents was pure joy for her.

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Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 10:03 AM PDT

Sexism, Misandry, and Male-Bashing

by Redstocking

Here is a short test of your sexism:
If you want your son to always have a job, encourage him to train as a home health aide. His greater physical strength is a tremendous advantage.

Personal Note: I have five younger brothers. My mother had five younger brothers. Her three youngest brothers were closer to my age than hers, and were my big brothers. I have two grandson, five and 17 months. I attended Fordham University as a sophomore the year they admitted women as freshmen and was often the only women in my classes. My male bosses has been more supportive than my female bosses. I struggle with misogyny.

Misandry, hatred and disdain for men in general, is probably the most underused word in progressive political debate. Although a lifelong feminist, I have always loathed knee-jerk male-bashing and defended men against stereotyping. Wikipedia has a decent definition of sexism: "Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred of people based on their sex rather than their individual merits." Both men and women can be sexists; both men and women can be the victim of sexism.

The glorification of the macho man is sexist. The idea that little boys can't cry or wear pink or play with dolls is sexist. The denial that fathers are just as loving, nurturing parents as women is sexist. Questioning the masculinity of a man who stays home and cares for his children is sexist. Expectations that daughters are better qualified to care for aging parents are sexist. .

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My four daughters have turned out wonderfully--well educated, professionally successful, happily married, excellent mothers. I wonder what diagnosis they would earn now. Certainly, I worried at least three of them were bipolar, if not spawns of Satan. Only the youngest was perceived as well-adjusted by our schools. As a foursome, they are  frightening, although pictures would delude you into thinking they are sweet. You would have to go to Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience  to see the evidence.

Names are changed to protest the guilty. Emma  (1973) was the Adventurer; Michelle (1975) was the Strategist (a kind word for Machiavelli) and Scientist; Jane (1978) was the Writer and Critic of the Existential Order of Things; Molly (1982) was the gifted CEO/Human Relations Specialist. Here were some diagnostic indicators. Obviously not all applied to all four daughters.

   

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Afterword: This diary is meant to be provocative.  I am so pleased by all the excellent comments and interactions between commenters. If America were a family friendly society, I doubt so many children would be diagnosed with serious mental illness and prescribed psychiatric medication. I am not questioning that some children's lives are turned around by the right dose of the right meds, carefully supervised by psychiatrists and parents who are true partners..

I  am the mother of 4 daughters; the grandma of five grandkids, 5 and under; the big sister of 5 younger brothers; the aunt of 11; the great aunt of 8; the oldest of 45 first cousins. I am a psychiatric social worker and children's and young adult librarian. As a therapist I have worked with clients with serious mental illness.  I have been involved with many  hundreds of kids  for all my 66 years.

 I am also a manic depressive, diagnosed at age 40 in 1985. My life was better before diagnosis and treatment although I have taken meds for 26 years. Too often psychiatrist seem to want to drug away the radical feminist pacifist I have always been, who doesn't value obedience and always questions authority.  In my 20s I edited world famous psychiatrist, occasionally with  scissors (early  70s cut and paste).  They were soul healers, not drug pushers. It took ten years to find a medication that helped more than it hurt. I read about it on the Internet and shopped for a psychiatrist that would partner with me to experiment. This year, I might have found one that actually worked at the smallest possible dose.

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Are you outraged  when 2 month olds are cared for by strangers for 10 hours a day  because there is no genuine paternity and maternity leave? Are you outraged that  childhood bipolar disorder has only been discovered in the United States? Are you outraged that 2 year olds and 3 years olds are pushed into early academics, that 5 year olds are perceived as backward if they can't read before leaving kindergarten? Do you outraged that teaching for the standardized tests is replacing art, music, recess and gym? Are you  outraged that our four year olds are taking  dangerous anti-psychotics not proven safe for chronic schizophrenics?Are you outraged  that poor immigration women are exploited as nannies and home health aides? A nonviolent revolution as sweeping as the civil rights movement is required to make the US a child-friendly, family-friendly, elder-friendly, human -friendly society. Join me.

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I was born the day after Trinity, the first atom bomb test. From age 5, duck-and-cover, hide-under-our-desks drills in my Catholic school were as frequent as tests. I was terrified of nuclear war. We lived one mile away from an air force base. Whenever I heard planes, I ran out into the backyard and tried to  to determine if they were American or Russian, using my library book on aircraft identification. When I was 7, Stalin died. I asked my parents if this meant  we would not be killed by atom bombs.

In 1954 I had a severe case of the measles, and my Grandma  came to help nurse me. Grandma was a lifelong Democrat since she voted in the first election open to women. With loathing, she was listening to the Joseph McCarthy army hearings. My eyes hurt too much to read, so I listened obsessively. Hatred of McCarthy's voice probably shaped my entire political development.

In 1956, just turning eleven, I fell madly in love with Jack Kennedy as he made an unsuccessful bid for the vice presidential nomination. I was initially attracted by his Catholicism; ten minutes later I was smitten by his intelligence, wit, and charm. I was luckier than his other women. Loving Jack Kennedy was wonderful for me. From 1956 to 1963, I read everything I could about Kennedy, politics, American history.

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Which, if any, experiences did you share?

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Cross-posted everywhere

Disclaimer: A former Hillary supporter, I have been working my heart out for Obama online and locally from the day of Clinton's concession speech. I have totally avoided PUMA blogs; all I know about them, I know from their attackers. Responding to this post by talking about PUMAs will strike me as the equivalent of "the dog ate my homework."

Every time a poster or commenter mocks and excoriates the PUMAs as batshit crazy or uses dogwhistle language reserved for denigrating women, it brutally rips open all the wounds of rabid misogyny inflicted on women during the primary campaign by the media, progressive blogs, and Obama supporters. You are guaranteeing that another PUMA will never come around and vote for Obama; you might as well openly support McCain.

At 63, I am a lifelong feminist, the older sister of 5 brothers, the mother of 4 grown daughters, the grandma of a toddler grandson with 2 granddaughters on the way, the oldest of 45 first cousins, the 24/7 caregiver of my mom for 4 years. I birthed 4 babies without drugs including 2 at home (9 lbs and 10 lbs).

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I don't know enough derogatory words to express the full depth of my disgust with Maureen Dowd, who each week manages singlehandedly to undermine the reputation of the New York Times as a serious newspaper. She has consistently ridiculed Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and now her target is Barack Obama. Often her cringe-worthy columns seem suitable only for the psychiatrist's office in a loony bin.

In her biography, she has expressed her conviction that intelligent men don't marry brilliant women like herself, and she reserves special venom for any man or woman who casts doubt on her belief (all Democratic presidential candidates and their spouses).

Not having Hillary to lambaste every week seems to be causing a total breakdown. In Sunday's New York Times, Dowd has surpassed herself, using my and many people's favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, as her weapon of ridicule. It would be more accurate to say she was using the movie version, not the book.

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I am a social worker who treats children and teens. I am concerned that gifted, creative children, sometimes misfits in our regimented society, are being misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, and threatened with a lifetime of dangerous medications and social stigma. Having that dire diagnosis imposed on you at age six severely comprises your ability to lead a normal life. What devastating effect must it have on a  young child to be told he has a permanently broken brain.

Twenty years ago, psychiatry believed that bipolar disorder strikes in the late teens, that it was impossible to diagnose in children or early adolescents. Now psychiatrists occasionally diagnose bipolar disorder in four year olds, after too brief examination. Is diagnosing kids as bipolar an unthinking way to squelch kids who are divergent thinkers, who think too fast, talk too fast, get bored too easily in our increasing test-oriented schools?

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Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 11:35 AM PDT

St. Jane Austen, Defend Me

by Redstocking

Having been viciously attacked as a dried up old hag a few minutes away from the grave at Clintonistas for Obama, I changed my blogger identity. Absolutely no one insults me like that unless they spent 9 months in my body:)

Instead of a sweet picture of me with my grandson, I have a wedding picture of me and my sexy English husband, one month older than Obama. My success at seducing my Mr. Darcy to give up home, job, friends,  and English citizenship to swim the Atlantic for me reduces my crone credibililty. The silver hair was false advertising.

I no longer give family details. I identify myself as a New York City writer. "Jane Austen is my patron saint and defender. My weapons are mordant Austen quotes such as "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?" I am considering this warning on my blog sidebar: "I take serously my moral obligation to reduce net venom by deleting imbecilic insults with lamentable grammar and spelling. Jane Austen would have been a brilliant blogger.

Discuss

Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:21 PM PDT

Can a Feminist Be a Misogynist?

by Redstocking

Cross-posted at Feminism in 2008 Election and Beyond, Obama--Criticism and Support

Warning: pedantry ahead. Let's distinguish between misogyny, misandry, and sexism. Misogyny is hatred and disdain for women in general. Misandry, hatred and disdain for men in general, is probably the most underused word in political debate. Although a lifelong feminist, I have always loathed knee-jerk male-bashing and defended men against stereotyping all my life. Wikipedia has a decent definition of sexism: "Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred of people based on their sex rather than their individual merits."

I struggle greatly with my own misogyny. I was much more comfortable being the only girl in my political science classes at Fordham than attending an all girls Catholic College in my freshman year. I credit my 5 younger brothers and 5 young uncles. My four daughters might have contributed to the misogyny too:) Working in the women-dominated fields of librarianship and social work has been a terribly bad fit for me with dire economic consequences.

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I am new here, and I am trouble. Perhaps the Obama and Clinton supporters should stop squabbling with each other and concentrate on me. I do believe that she who laughs, lasts, so humor might temper my elder arrogance.  My name is Mary Joan, and I am far more a Joan than a Mary. Imagine how much more fun Western art would be if Mary, the mother of God, and Joan of Arc had exchanged wardrobes.

I am one day older than the atom bomb, born the day after Trinity (I expect birthday greetings very soon if you know your history:) I was a 1960s radical nonviolent pacifist and am a card-carrying member of the War Resister's League. I can go spectacularly limp if you try to drag me from the demonstration. I have not changed as I raised 4 daughters, took care of my dying parents, worked as a public librarian and social worker. I am not a dried up old crone. My English husband, 16 years younger, gave up job and country to swim the Atlantic to marry  me.

We need a nonviolent revolution to transform America into a  children-friendly, family-friendly, elder-friendly, human-being-friendly society that is not the disgrace of most of the world. If you want to have children or take care of your aging parents, you would be better off moving almost anywhere in the world.

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