Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writers Needed - Independent Girls, Inc.

Check it out:

Independent Girls, Inc. is a new nonprofit organization based in Florida , that aims to provide positive role models for girls, to get them thinking about goal setting and success, and to give them the tools to be self-confident, emotionally grounded, healthy, and independent. The main tool for doing this is a website, www.independentgirls.org (to be launched before the end of 2009). Each week the site will feature a different role model for girls as well as an article related to positive, healthy girls' development. The site will send regularly scheduled
e-mails to girls and parents who subscribe. Independent Girls' goal is to
create a counterbalance to the celebrity-saturated, image-based culture of 9 –15 year old girls by providing girls with the strong, positive female role models who are currently missing from teen media and by addressing issues germane to girls’ healthy development.

Independent Girls seeks people to write original content for the website and weekly newsletters. Writers will identify, research, and write about topics and trends salient to 9 – 15 year old girls, with an emphasis on what is important/necessary to becoming a healthy, balanced, emotionally grounded, confident girls. Additional emphasis will be placed on understanding popular culture and developing the critical thinking skills necessary to becoming media literate/savvy.

Weekly articles should provide girls with information about things that girls
deal with between the ages of 9 - 15, for example self-esteem, body image, puberty, bullying/ cyberbullying, healthy relationships, eating disorders, healthy eating/nutrition, exercise, time management/stress management, goal setting, leadership, cliques and popularity, frenemies, peer pressure, financial independence, internet safety, and media awareness. Articles should be between 250-500 words long; some topics may need to be covered in a series of articles. Articles should be informative and easy to read and, most importantly, must engage girls. Articles should answer questions that girls have (and perhaps even answer questions that girls didn't even know that they had).

The site will also feature blogs where writers can have on-going editorial columns about different topics.

Please contact Julie Simons if you are interested in getting involved with this project: julie@independentgirls.org/561-352-3511. Compensation will be per article published and will be based on both the length of the article and how ready for publication the article is upon receipt by Independent Girls.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scary Black People.

Because that's the theme of this week, isn't it? Whether it's our President who is called a liar in the middle of his televised address to Congress - and I don't remember that *ever* happening before, even to the latest Bush, who was lying nearly all the time - or Serena Williams, who so frightened the line judge that said judge said that Williams had actually threatened her life - it seems that when Black people speak, everyone else has a strong reaction. The reaction to Obama was simply, clearly, one of disrespect. The reaction to Williams was one of fear (because when Black women get angry, dontcha know, there's reason to fear for your life).

I'm disgusted. (And even more disgusted that John Effing McInroe had anything to say about Williams. Come on. The only *possible* response from McInroe would be something along the lines of, "Hey, that wasn't such a big deal. I've done worse.") What really chaps my hide is the notion that it's particularly unseemly because she is a woman.

But here's where it gets ugly. I looked up the story from Yahoo, just because it was there on my browser and it was accessible. Take a look at the link that the Yahoo story is directing readers to. The YouTube title is: "Serena Williams screams to Line judge "I would kill you" and later on goes away [HQ] US OPEN Kim Clijsters Semi-Finals Women." She didn't, in fact, threaten to kill the line judge. But it gets even worse: this is a video *response* to the event, so if you watch, you can see both the perpetuation of lies about Serena Williams *and* some good old American racism of all flavors. I don't advise watching or reading the comments unless you like high blood pressure. But the Yahoo "sportswriter" apparently felt that this was an appropriate link for readers to follow to get the "full" story.

If you're curious, here's a better link to the altercation.

Meanwhile, there are punishments for being an angry Black woman. Serena, I'm so sorry this is happening.

Crabs in a barrel.

Tenured Radical has a post up about saying no to excess work in academe. It's a good post. I liked it, with the exception of the tiny little part where she writes:

If any attention is called by those who are working hardest to those who are making themselves unavailable, shrieks about academic freedom, child care, and commuting rend the land (despite the great number of people with small children, or who are in commuting relationships, who do manage to come to work.) At the risk of annoying the hard-working parents who do come to work and carry a fair load with the rest of us, I need to ask: if you have a child and I don't, and we get paid the same salary, why am I doing your work for you? I didn't have children because I wanted the time: instead, I got no child and I got no time. You get someone to help you navigate the nursing home, I'll end up with a big bottle of Klonopin mixed in a bowl of ice cream.

The implication, of course, is that it is the parents who are not pulling their weight (yes, I know she says earlier that most parents do come to work, but it is still parents who are the problem in this paragraph). This opinion is not limited to TR (who, in the comments, seems to feel less that it is parents actually not doing the work and more that she should be able to suggest, for the purpose of her argument, that it is parents not doing the work). Almost anyone, parent or not, has heard this idea in the workplace. Parents very often volunteer to take early-morning classes specifically to avoid being perceived as someone asking for special favors, though I've had colleagues who have had special arrangements made so that they could go home to care for their pet (which, by the way, is fine with me - but I think it's interesting that there is not a chorus, in these cases, of "why should I have to do your work so that you can go home to walk the dog?"). Or, as TR mentions, the commuters; I had a colleague once who lived a good hour outside of town. Had she been allowed to leave early to miss rush hour, we would have had to work later. (I was happy to do this, by the way, but she was not allowed to do so.)

In bringing in one of her reasons not to have a child, TR also trots out the old, I-made-the-choice-not-to-do-this-but-you-made-the-choice-to-do-it-so-why-should-I-have-to-accomodate-you-in-any-way? This is a common response to those of us struggling to balance parenting and working out of the home. I have been surprised at the vehemence with which people I would think would otherwise be sensitive feminists respond to this issue.

Don't be fooled. The issue is not that a few parents make a big deal out of needing to rush home to pick up little Johnny and therefore can't make a committee meeting. The issue is that, in academe, as in many other places, we are crabs in a barrel. We know, as TR has pointed out, that if one of us is working less than the others, someone else will have to work more to make up for this slacking. And so we watch carefully to see who is doing what and who is excusing what.

It isn't fair that parents get special consideration for their children's needs when others who need special consideration for a host of other needs don't get it. It's also not fair that mothers in academe are mostly adjuncts because academe isn't a place that accomodates mothers. Too bad, right? Guess we should have thought of that and elected either not to have children or found another profession. But I don't accept this response - I think we have a responsibility to change the system. Academic parents - largely mothers, I would hazard a guess - have forced the beginnings of a change in academe by at least making the problems of balancing academic work and parenting public. The literature itself has become a new field of study. People are paying attention to these issues, and while we have not necessarily made great strides - I can think of one person who has been made to give up her maternity leave entirely to chair her department and teach additional classes beyond her normal courseload - we have at least begun to take small steps.

The response to this, from some corners, is a great, wailing, "that's not fair!" And in some cases, it's not, and this should be rectified. No one should be able to use their children as an excuse to get out of work. But at the same time, hopefully, we're all here together in academe for the long haul. When my son is very young, I might ask not to teach a night class. When my son is a little older, though, I could teach a couple of night classes a semester. So why not think about rotating teaching schedules over longer periods of time, for instance? Not getting out of work - balancing the work, recognizing that people (not just parents) have different needs at different times. You write best in the early morning and have a book to finish? I can teach at 8am this year so you don't have to. And so on.

I don't really want to write about this next part, but it's happened so often that I feel the need to talk about it.

The conversation in the comments on TR's blog focused on parenting. She didn't like that. She felt the parents were "obsessing" and that this focus, when her whole post was almost entirely about something else, simply illustrated that parents insist on focusing only and always about their children.

She didn't understand the weight of what she had written about parents, which is why it became the topic of conversation. She totally missed that she had used the most pervasive negative stereotype, that stereotype that parents don't pull their own weight.

The reason I'm writing about this here is that I'm reminded of some of the huge feminist blow-ups that have happened when one person has pointed out that another person has said something offensive. You can go read the comment thread for yourself and come to your own determination. But I'm left with the sad awareness that someone whose blog I like thinks it's ok to make nasty asides about academic parents and feels that calling her out on this is selfish and blog-hoggy (I left 3 out of 46 comments) and in my case, a bully. It is also stunning to once again see that explaining why these kinds of comments are so painful for and detrimental to academic parents is often perceived as claiming parenthood as a privileged status.


Until we can learn not to scapegoat each other, whether we do so with real venom or with rhetorical flourish, for the purpose of making a larger point, we are not going to get anywhere with making any real change in our workloads - or anything else.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Internet v. duck-feeding

Tonight we fed the ducks at the pond; we were heading out with stale bread when our neighbor stopped us, ran to his garage, and brought out a huge bag of corn to give us. So we fed the ducks with abandon.

Then we drove to the mall for underwear and socks.

The semester has begun, and I've been thinking about how to keep my calm, unruffled mind as I move out of the summer and into the hectic season of school. Already, there are reasons to be ruffled. Chief among these is that I have grown accustomed, through the magic of the internet, to getting immediate answers to all of my questions. Often, I will get responses to my emails before I've even logged out of my account. This tends to lengthen my email sessions, and it's not uncommon that I can sit down, intending just to send a couple of messages, and look up two hours later, having had entire conferences in that time.

Only now, I'm waiting for responses from several people who do not use email frequently, and it. is. excruciating.

But I'm trying to look at this as a gift. I do so much work on email that I am always, always accessible. I check it frequently because someone just might need my help, have a question, need something from me. There was a time when we did this in order to stay in touch with our students - but students no longer rely on email. And so I'm thinking that there is room to disconnect, just a little. It would be ok for me to not check my email the first thing every morning and the last thing every night.

And then maybe we could do our underwear shopping and duck-feeding during the day.