On Being a Mama

April 9, 2009

I promise this is not going to become a Motherhood Blog where I reflect all the time on my ever-so-unique situation of motherhood and the wonder of my Amazing Child. Heaven knows there are plenty of those blogs out there and don’t we all just love to read them? Actually there are some great and interesting ones out there, including some UU blogs that deal with motherhood/parenthood which I love. But I do get a kick out of some of the blogs I see that are not just for friends or family, but apparently for the world to see the Wonder of Child X and deal, in great detail, with the daily minutiae of parenthood. Fitting for children of babyboomers who often forget that the world does not revolve around them and their WonderBabies.

But. Still I wanted to briefly point out two cool blogs on motherhood:

Raising My Boy Chick – written by a feminist, queer-identified, male-partnered mama raising a boy. Sounds familiar to me.

And Mothers for Women’s Lib which is a blog out of the UK that I just saw this morning with this post On Raising Male Children. Exciting, I think. And then I read, “I’ve read a lot in the radical feminist blogosphere about how radical feminist women ought to refuse to care for male children.” Are. You. Kidding. Me? What a great way to give feminism a good and reasonable name. I mean, where are these bloggers that refuse to raise male children and what, might I ask, do they DO with them? As a feminist mama four weeks into raising a precious little boy, and as a feminist scholar (in-progress), this seems like both a bad idea in practical and moral terms (that is, giving away your child), but also pretty unhelpful in terms of feminism. How are we to reshape our world if we only raise feminist daughters? The blog Mothers for Women’s Lib makes a very similar point, btw.

This raises an important question as to how we might raise feminist sons. Or, if you are not happy with the f-word, I mean sons that are responsible, loving, kind, into equality, justice, race/gender/class awareness and analysis, and that sort of thing. It is hard to undo how our world makes far too many men. I hope we can do better in raising our little one. I, of course, welcome comments about how you do this. So much learning to do. Such high stakes.

But for now, he is asleep on my chest in his little carrier, precious, lovely, perfect, and innocent. A pretty special time. Even if I am delirious with sleep depravation and my poor cats are traumatized by having their position as my babies usurped.

Time to nurse.



On the question: Can you be a person of faith and a feminist?

December 16, 2008

Wow. There is a post over at www.feministing.com, a third-wave feminist blog which I tend to really like (although the style is not always exactly my style), titled Can you love God and feminism? I was a little shocked by the title, but thought that perhaps it was simply meant to be provocative.

Um, I think it was actually serious. And even if it wasn’t meant to be serious, many readers are taking it that way. The post is about a very conservative brand of Christianity that is very sexist, and then somehow asks, from that, if feminism and loving God are somehow incommensurable. I think the author of the post does not really think this, but also has not thought out (well-enough) the implications of her framing. It leaves open the door for the worst framings of Christians and feminists… Christians who must somehow be incapable of valuing equality and the full humanity of all people, or feminists who are somehow incapable of connecting with or unwilling or uninterested in the divine. I feel like to ask, “Can you love God and love feminism?” is like asking, “Can you love men and be a feminist?” Or “Are all feminists feminazis?” It is just a bad way to frame the question that doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the issues or people involved.

As someone whose job and studies as a doctoral student and, you know, like my entire life calling, is, in many ways, at the intersection of feminism and faith, reading many of the comments was like a huge punch in the stomach. I suppose it is good. A good reality check. A good time to reach out to people. A good encouragement to post more about this on my own blog.

I encourage those of you who are are feminists of faith to include your voices in the comments over at the post on feministing. You have to register once in order to comment, but it only takes a second. There are so many posters on there who have clearly been convinced by more conservative parts of religion, particularly Christianity, that the patriarchal versions of Christianity are somehow all there is of it. There are likewise rather naive framings of Paul and Jesus and the bible as all totally feminist friendly. Oh, is there outreach work to be done. What surprises me so much is so many self-identified feminist posters who are so dismissive of the experiences of people who are feminists and people of faith. Like just totally excluding them as valid, dismissing them as “duped” or tricked or just wrong. How very unfeminist.

One question that someone posted that perhaps readers here could help with is: Does anyone have suggestions on where to get your feminist Christian fix? I’ve been trying to find some sort of blog or magazine or anything, and I know there’s a lot of academic work out there, but is there anything a bit more…I don’t know, enjoyable to consume?

Sadly (I need to remedy this) I am much more familiar with the academic work, and not more popular stuff. Anyone have any ideas?

Scott Wells on Good Food (Food Post II)

May 26, 2007

Well, it seems like this is the weekend for food posts. I suggest you go over to Boy in the Bands and read Scott Well’s a healthy, sustainable diet (i.e. buying locally, eating good, whole foods). I think I underemphasize this in my wanna-be-veganism. Since a big part of my eating thoughts and practice have to do with the environment and wanting to be more gentle on it, I should point this out more. Buying organic Spinach from California uses a darn lot of gas to get it over here to MA, not to mention the fertilizer trucked in from who-knows-where. Anyway, local is good. Whole food/real food that you actually have to buy and then cook yourself is harder work than veggie rice bowls from Trader Joe’s (ahem, note to self).

There is a chapter about this in The Simple Living Guide (chapter 9 cooking and nutrition), a book which is really great at being reasonable, yet encouraging about living a simpler life. It is one of the few books that makes it seem do-able, rather than just overwhelming.

Over at Trivium: More on Ethical Eating (Food Post I)

May 25, 2007

Over at Trivium, Jaime Goodwin writes about how annoying he finds it that most of the food at church events is dull – that is, vegetarian or vegan, and that he feels like those who make this food are saying that they are better somehow better. He notes that “he has a hard time with the ethical eating concept.” It was interesting for me to read, given that I am working on a post that responds to the New York Times op-ed piece irresponsibly titled “Death By Veganism” and I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions lately. (More on the NYTimes article very soon.)

I appreciated Jaime’s post – it gives me pause to reflect on the way I go about my life and how I can most lovingly and gently share my excitement about the potential for veganism in terms of compassion for animals and environmental friendliness, while at the same time bend over backward to be non-judgmental and empathetic to the choices and trade-offs we all make in doing our best to live out a life that balances high ethical standards with the realities of life in today’s world.

A few thoughts:

Jaimie writes:

Again.. my respect for another’s beliefs is why I have such a hard time with Ethical Eating as a concept. To me the concept is this… I made a choice to eat a certain way, I like my choice, now I am going to point out that everyone else who has not yet made this choice that they are not as good of a Unitarian Universalist as I am. I care more about Health and the environment than they do, and my life has become much better than theirs because of this choice.

What? You say… you do not mean to send this message? I believe you. I know that you do not MEAN to send this message, but you are sending it… to me. I would imagine to others as well.

This relates to a dilemma for vegans and vegetarians. Granted, there are some that are over-zealous and who literally do say, “I care more about health and the environment than [meat-eaters], and my life has become much better than theirs because of this choice.” But I think most don’t say this or think this. It seems to me that the very fact of being vegetarian or vegan is often understood to send the message that other ways of eating are not adequate or good enough. But, when I foster kittens, no one understand this to mean that they should foster kittens or are bad because they don’t help stray animals. Or when I drive a fuel efficient car and tell people how much I like it, this isn’t interpreted as meaning that they should drive a Scion or feel bad about the car they drive. Yet, these are the exact reasons that I am vegan (or, more honestly, an almost-vegan) – the desire for animals not to suffer and the environment. As I have asked before, is there no way to share my excitement about veganism or the benefits I see to it (like I do with kitten rescuing or fuel-efficient car-driving) without it being interpreted as judgemental? I ask this just to point out that it is a difficult balance, and that all of us on every side should be understanding about the difficulty in balancing this and how food and food choices go very deep, no matter what our choices are.

As I have noted before, to me, my vegetarianism/veganism is one way that I try to live out the values that are important to me – care for the environment, love of animals and the desire that they not suffer. BUT, I do SO MANY not good things or not good enough things. I drive too much. I fly too much (especially bad). I use a hair-dryer too much. A clothes dryer too much. Too many paper towels. Don’t buy enough local food. Could foster more cats. Could volunteer more. The list goes on. To me, vegetarianism/veganism is where I feel like I am able to make a difference. But it is just one way to make the world a better place. It is the way I do it. Others do it their own way. I think we need to both call each other to be our best selves – to do our best – and yet understand that we are all struggling along in this world together, doing the best we can. It is a hard balance. We don’t always all get it right. I guess what I hope is that I can do my part in sharing vegetarianism/veganism as one option, while also making clear that it is just one option and that we need to all support each other in a range of choices we make, particularly as a faith community.

Jaime also writes, “personally I think vegan eating is dangerous and unhealthy.” I will address this in my post on the NYTimes Op-Ed piece on veganism, but I just hate it when people don’t want me to judge their food choices, and then go and judge mine. A well-planned vegan diet is neither dangerous or unhealthy. There are many studies that confirm this. Many examples of healthy vegans. Just like any diet, vegan diets need to be well-planned. There is quite a bit of evidence that meat-heavy diets can be very unhealthy. If you eat all steak and eggs and bacon and whole milk and fried potatoes, you are going to be in trouble. Just like if you drink only soy milk, eat potato chips, drink pepsi, eat cashews, and cucumbers for your vegan diet.

But more on all this later.

In short, thanks for your honest post, Trivium. Vegetarians and vegans out there! Try to be FRIENDLY, LOVING and EMPATHETIC. Maybe I’ll start a FLEUNJVV movement – friendly, loving, empatheic, understanding, non-judgemental vegetarians and vegans…

Christian Blogs I Like (and other musings on Christianity)

May 15, 2007

Well, I was sitting here thinking about writing a post about how I still wish sometimes that I could find a way to make Christianity work for me. There is a long history to this, and I think it is mostly a longing for tradition, for familiarity, for a personal God that is right there with you, for well-defined framework. But, honestly, that is a long post that needs more thinking, so enough on that. It does bring to mind the recent post at Arbitrary Marks that resonated with me about Unitarian Universalism and why we don’t have widespread appeal:

We’re peeling back the curtain on a magic show, explaining the tricks, and then going on with the show, asking everyone to applaud when the rabbit is pulled from the hat.

I’m not saying I do (or don’t) agree with the whole post, but I think that there is something to that statement for me, in that when the tricks of Christianity were thought out, the curtain was pulled back, I couldn’t really deal with it anymore. It had to be real-er for me. So, that is why I like Unitarian Universalism, is because we have, in a sense, said “Okay, we’re not going to pretend like we have the number one best way of doing things. We’re open to lots of different ways.” So you can still talk about Jesus but you don’t have to only talk about Jesus (which drives me nuts a Christian churches – Jesus this, Jesus that – as you can see, there is a reason that this didn’t work for me). (Can I just say I know this is not completely articulate, but this isn’t a newspaper – it is a blog – and I sometimes use it to work out thoughts.)

So I think my basic point of the musings thus far is that it works for me to explain the tricks of religion (so-to-speak) and acknowledge we don’t really actually know how it works, and that there are lots of legit paths to trying to understand how the world works, none of which we can really say is right. Various possibilities for relating to the divine… or for praying… or for personifying God…. or ways of relating to the world in a spiritual yet non-theistic way…. you get the picture.

For me, sticking with Christianity you still have to talk about Jesus like he is somehow more important than other people, or that Biblical stories are somehow more powerful or meaningful than other stories. I don’t see anyway around it. You just can’t be Christian without somehow favoring the Christian narrative. And I just can’t bring myself to do that. Yet, I can really really understand why people prefer to have that sort of framework rather that the really broad possibilities that Unitarian Universalism presents. It is harder, I think. At least for me.

Now to the starting point of this post which are two Christian blogs that I like. I am always so happy to find Christian things that don’t turn me off or make me feel weird. There is a church here in Boston called Hope Church that is one of the few Christian churches like that for me – I can go and everyone feels pretty normal, non-dogmatic, and non-annoying. I hardly ever feel like rolling my eyes or ranting. These blogs seems similar:

Going Jesus which I saw linked on Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show Maybe it was the WTFWJD tee-shirt that made me feel like this was a blog that I could relate to. (Note that recently the blog has focused on her baby. But there is other content if you go further back.)

And Real Live Preacher which I’ve seen in a few other contexts, including mentioned on Going Jesus.

Neat Blog to Share

May 3, 2007

A friend recently pointed out a great blog to me – Take Action for a Better World. The blog deals with a range of issues (click here to see his list – includes Unitarian Universalism!) but I was especially excited to read some of his postings on vegetarianism/veganism/animals issues. In his description he writes, “This site was created knowing that our role as advocates is not to judge, condemn, or punish, but to inspire, encourage, and uplift.” I especially appreciate the idea that he is not out to judge or condemn but to inspire, encourage and uplift. Yay for friendly vegetarians. He is also a trainer for the Institute for Humane Education which I think is a great group.