First, updates from Miri’s Grad School Saga: it’s over! I’m going to Columbia University next year, which means my very very long-awaited move to New York City is happening in less than six months. Needless to say, I AM EXCITED. If any of you live there, you should let me know! I plan to get involved with CFI-NY and whatever else is there, so you’ll probably see me around.
1. Ania Bula is raising money for a book about her experiences with chronic illness as a skeptic. There are eight days left to contribute money; please consider it if you have some to spare!
Chronic illness is an invitation for everyone to comment: either with regards to a cause, a treatment, or otherwise. Suddenly, everyone’s aunt is an expert and everyone’s fad diet a cure. You wade through a constant stream of ignorance and lies, in a desperate attempt to find peace and a stop to pain. In my years living with both disorders I have been faith healed, poked, prodded, stuffed with powders and magic potions, and now is my opportunity to tell everyone about it.
2. Kate writes about how therapists are trained in the U.S. and what’s wrong with it:
I want budding counselors to begin their education by learning about ALL kinds of people and systems. I want to stop assuming that living in the world gives you enough life experience to counsel anyone. Because you know who can afford to go to college for two degrees, who are encouraged and supported in doing so? Mostly privileged people. Do you know who we’re really bad at providing mental health services for? The underprivileged.
3. Nico Lang responds to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece about “the good racist people” and reiterates that bigotry is not necessarily borne out of anger and hatred:
No one thinks of themselves as a bigot. They don’t look in the mirror and say, “I hate gay people. I am a homophobe.” Those women didn’t hate me. They loved me so much that they didn’t want me to stay the way I was. They didn’t want me to experience an eternity of damnation. They wanted to save me, just like my mother did. My mother didn’t want me to come home crying or have to stay up late with me because I was too scared to go to school the next day. She didn’t want the world to break my heart at such a young age, and it was too hard to ask everyone around me to change. So she asked me to change and broke my heart her own way. I was the one being punished again for not understanding what being different meant.
4. Beckie discusses Reeva Steenkamp’s murder and how most of the media coverage of it focused on her killer, Oscar Pistorius, and his achievements:
Of course, Pistorius must be considered innocent until proven guilty; nevertheless, the focus on the athlete as victim in the case is misplaced. Whatever anguish the former hero might be feeling, it is Steenkamp who is the victim. Many articles on the subject seem to be treating her death merely as an addendum to the story of Pistorius’ trial and the demise of his sparkling reputation. She in mentioned only in passing: as collateral damage in the fall of a sporting great.
5. Ozy suggests that education could be improved if we taught less stuff.
6. Foz makes the case for public breastfeeding:
Because at the end of the day, while having children is certainly a choice, our insistence on categorising the decision as a mere affectation of lifestyle – as though, if parenthood were to suddenly drop out of vogue like 70s decor or the poodle perm, we’d all just move on to shoulder pads and rollerblading instead – is a blinkered refusal to acknowledge its necessity. It might be an ugly, dirty job as far as some are concerned; but like rubbish collection and sewage maintenance, we still need someone to do it. Allowing for the inevitable, ongoing presence of children in public – and, as a consequence, admitting that their best interests must are also the best interests of society – doesn’t mean you have to worship at the altar of parenthood. Rather, it’s simply an acknowledgement that public spaces are shared spaces, and that sometimes, our personal comfort levels are going to be transgressed or trumped by the rights and needs of others.
This is a feminist issue because women, no matter their economic status, are expected to have flexible schedules. Men, on the other hand, are expected to have rigid, 9-5 type jobs that they just couldn’t possibly take a day off from. Society is structured so that women are expected to leave early when a child falls ill at school or pushes the school swing-hog off the swing set and gets suspended for the day. Anyone who is or knows a mother knows the hell moms get for having to take off, but fewer people recognize that we set up this structure by not allowing people to telecommute or by ridiculing the male parent into pressuring Mom to take care of it. If we allowed for one or two days a week of telecommuting in fields where this is reasonable, then we might have a chance of breaking down that structure.
8. Ally Fogg has some reflections on anger and feminism:
Anger is not incompatible with compassion and empathy, it is often the product of them. Indeed, unless it is tempered with compassion and empathy, anger can easily be misdirected into fascism and hatred. When I despair of debates on gender (which is often) it is usually because those involved, on either or both sides, have found their anger but lost their compassion. That is a dangerous mix.
9. An anonymous Harvard student wrote a heartbreaking piece in their school newspaper about living with schizophrenia and being unable to get adequate treatment:
What they never tell you about schizophrenia is that you never really believe it, internalize it, identify with it. Mornings are agonizing because every day in the haze of waking up I briefly remember all over again who I am and what I have lost. I remember the friends that I am terrified will see me differently if I tell them; I remember that on my bad days I scare people in class and on the subway; I remember that the academic career for which I had worked is now improbable. I remember that the measure of success for too many of my days will be that I have not killed myself.
Self-promote and all that! (Links to specific posts work better than links to entire blogs.)