I’d love your requests and recommendations for future Other Feminisms posts! The recent post about the elimination of periods was prompted by a reader email, and the discussion was so robust, that I’m planning two round-up posts to respond to your comments.
On Thursday, I’ll share your replies about writing rules as a substitute for teaching virtues. But today, I’d love to hear articles or ideas that have lingered in your mind, that you’d love to explore with the community here.
And I keep a list of books I’d like to read for my Other Feminisms projects here. I’m curious if you’ve read them/have recommendations about what to pick up next!
I often find myself very drawn to the feminine strengths for and role in what Alan Jacobs calls “invitation and repair” (https://blog.ayjay.org/tag/ir/), or Sara Hendren “critique and repair.”
So much of the coverage of the idea of how we can maintain and repair tends to be about the world of business (ex: software) or culture and politics or stuff (ex: manual trades). For example The Maintainers runs mostly along those lines (https://themaintainers.org/). Women can be involved in all that for sure. But when you start digging into older ideas of maintenance often specifically feminine things like home economics come up that are less discussed today.
Many of the Other Feminisms posts & discussions I find myself bringing up with my husband and friends tie into the underlying questions of 1) what is legitimate? and 2) what is valuable? In looking back through the archives, I’m reminded of how we’ve discussed the value of old age, care work, friendships, and accessibility, as well as the legitimacy of the female body in medicine and care work-as-labor. I’d love to know what other needs and activities people see dismissed as illegitimate/valueless, and then have a chance to discuss those activities/needs and our society’s perception of them in depth.
Related to above is a thought prompted by a link you shared about school lunches some time ago. I think it was by Virginia Sole-Smith. I don’t remember if she used the exact phrase “intensive mother,” but I remember being struck by how, to her, packing a lunch didn’t seem like valuable labor but rather a symptom of diet culture that ought to be rooted out. There wasn’t space for lunch packing to be labor that a mother or father valued doing. And it’s struck me not just from her piece but many times while reading family policy thinkpieces that there has been a common rhetorical method to present one’s family life/parenting situation both as underprivileged and as normative — and thus deserving of policy support — while other approaches are a result of bad socialization/values/etc. Understandable, but I’d love to discuss how to craft arguments and approaches that account for a variety of home situations and preferences as legitimate. I am mostly atuned to this with childcare, as I keep seeing my situation getting left out at both the local and national level, but I’m sure there are others and I’d love to discuss them.
This is admittedly a goofy suggestion, but it's one I've been thinking would be really fun to hear your thoughts on for a while: I would love if you wrote about the kind of moral reasoning you can see people doing on the subreddit Am I The A**hole? It is a fascinating place because people people don't have explicit moral commitments or arguments, so what you get is a really good reflection of the culture's unconscious moral commitments. Unsurprisingly, autonomy is the most frequently invoked principle.
What gets really interesting is when the principle of autonomy conflicts with other principles. You get to see people work their way through that tension, sometimes by asserting contradictory principles, sometimes by deciding to subordinate one principle to another. This post is the best example I've found of that kind of tension: https://www.reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole/comments/otvrul/aita_for_not_lying_about_why_i_could_not_remove/.
Unsure if this is within the purview of the Other Feminisms project, but I reflect often upon how lucky I've been (as a man) by pure chance to be exposed to so many of these views and experiences. Growing up with some close female friends who had an openness to share what they had dealt with--from terrible men on dates, to how they had been treated differently at work, to just how they felt navigating the world--made it much simpler for me to cultivate empathy and understanding of what women face on a lot of these fronts, and to be able to support and explain why a lot of policies and social changes discussed here are necessary. I suppose I wonder what we can do (without an undue burden of emotional labor on women) to share these experiences with a fair amount of well-meaning but ignorant people (usually men, but in the upper classes a lot of these experiences are foreign across the board) so that a broader social understanding or change can take place. I'm under no illusion of everyone magically understanding the challenges that women face at once. But I do wonder what we can do to spread this knowledge to people even more in an accessible and reasonable way, in the way that Other Feminisms has done that a lot, for me.
I am very interested in practical things - like, as unfortunate as it is that things are the way they are, they are in fact that way, so how can we best live in this unfortunate situation? There are a hundred variations on that. How can we best advocate for ourselves with doctors who aren't listening? How can we make sure we get good medical care when the whole system doesn't work well for women? How do we make decisions about work and family, given that the modern economy isn't ideal? How can we make advantageous decisions about where to live in a world where suburbia is the unfortunate norm? How do we teach our daughters (and sons!) about all this? How do we teach our daughters about their dignity as women when the whole world teaches them their dignity comes from being little men, and when we have our own insecurities about it?
I am new to this Substack newsletter (but so happy to have found it!), so please forgive me if this subject has been covered ad nauseam. As a millennial member of the sandwich generation, I have spent the last decade as a mother of two young children and caregiver to my parents, who both passed away from cancer. I stepped out of the workforce to be a caregiver, and I suddenly found myself at odds with a number of feminist arguments. I wrote about these "soundtracks" in this article: https://ifstudies.org/blog/welcome-home-a-womans-choice-to-prioritize-caregiving-over-career. While there have been few moments of light in this pandemic, one is that the value of care has become a political, societal, and cultural conversation. Unfortunately, I think we are still ignoring an important element: some women (and men, although we are talking about women here) want to care for their loved ones during critical life stages (namely, the beginning and end of life), and this choice is still stigmatized in favor of outsourcing this care. This stigmatization limits a woman's future opportunities. I would be interested to hear other's thoughts and experiences on this topic.
This isn't actually a suggestion for Leah, since my guess is that she already has a toppling tower of to-read books, but I'm currently reading "Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800 - 1939." It's fascinating & explores how tightly-knit, highly religious communities imagined, ostracized, policed, and cared for their weakest members, during a transition to modernity that was both uniquely promising and uniquely traumatic. If you're reading OF and have any interest in Jewish history (or history of disability/madness) I strongly suspect you'll get a lot out of it.
One more thing! I'm trying to work on a sex talk for my 12 year old daughter. I'm liking Christine Elba (?) "More than consent" thinking but I'd like some more smart commentary on delaying sex, sex in marriage, NFP ...for my very with it tween who likes ethics pod casts and RBG t shirts
I'd love to read The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability by Elizabeth Barnes. It's been on my list for years but I think I'd be less intimidated by reading it with a group (I took two required philosophy courses in undergrad as part of my university core of common studies - for some reason I have no problem reading academic theology but academic philosophy makes me nervous :-)
I think it would be great if you added to your reading lists biographies of women who may be considered radical collectivists -
Bolshevik Women by Barbara Evans Clements.
Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty, by Kate Hennessy.
Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life by Vivian Gornick
Also a shoutout for LeGuin, and The Dispossessed!
In terms of posts, I would love it if we got a monthly head-on take from you on a hot other-feminism-y topic. Like, why you think transhumanism, or SB8 in TX, or maintaining mask mandates for kids is dangerous. Or what you think is both good and flawed in effective altruism / the way we talk about covid / our current party system and how they discount the perspectives of women. A post that is slightly less conversational and more 'this is what exactly I think right now, and here's why' that can generate a vigorous conversation and a follow up post about how you've changed your mind (or not).
1. "Images or exhortations you use to remember the gravity of small acts of diligence?" question! My mind exploded with, "It's not just 1 or 2... I use like 5... no 20... no, more!" I struggle!! Link: https://otherfeminisms.substack.com/p/the-romance-of-regularity?s=r
2. Host an ESSAY CONTEST for us!? Or an IDEOLOGICAL TURING TEST? (idk what the two positions would be.) Hehee! Not asking so much is that? :-D (Spoiler: yes, it is!) Link to ITT Leah hosted in 2015: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2015/04/2015-ideological-turing-test-index-post.html ("What sin--if any--lies at the root of all other sin? And why?" was one Q for Christians and ppl 'LARP'ing Christians for the contest. "Name a book that shaped your moral sensibilities and talk a little about how. Fiction is fair game." was one prompt for non-Christians and ppl trying to pass as non-Christians in the contest.)
3. You once asked, "Who would you like me to interview?" Amy Chua! Not only do I like her because she staked out a controversial position on parenting, and then wrote a memoir about it which forced me to think.. (also, "Battle Hymn" is UTTERLY self-deprecating!) ...But also, I learned that when she did some high-profile writing dissecting the umm... tribe/hierarchy dynamics of another country, she got tons of vicious emails from those who stood to lose. I want to have enough of a "spine" to willingly go into something where I receive terrifying hate mail, based on convictions I hold.
Those are the first 3 things off the "mental queue"!! I'm sure there's more, oh, there is more. Thank you for asking.
It’s been almost a month and I’m back again but oh well! I clicked down a line of links this morning from a different substack expecting to find an interesting article about mother media and alas found only snark - but it made me think about the “other” in Other Feminisms and how wide can we make the other? Are there limits to the big tent or can we make an expansive definition of what is good in womanhood and motherhood and leave space for a variety of life paths? I would be interested in hearing where people think the line is but also in how they’ve been challenged or changed their mind to have a more open view of what women and mothers “ought” to do.
I wasn’t going to suggest anything this time around, counting on the many others to have plenty of good topics for a while!
And I apologize if this has already been suggested (haven’t had time to read the comments on this post yet!).
But it occurred to me today that we don’t have many practical conversations around rest. About how hard is it to admit we need it, the stigma that comes with it. About how counter it runs to the pace of our world, and how there is always something important that will fall behind if we do stop to rest (I’m a teacher by vocation and come from a family of teachers; it is a truth universally acknowledged that taking sick days and personal days generates more work than simply powering through!). About how needing rest often feels like failure, even though it is a need we were made to have.
It’s not that conversations around rest aren’t happening -- Saundra Daulton-Smith’s work on the types of rest has been helpful to me and in my family. And it’s always going to be a slow process to make a paradigm shift, right? Our paradigm shift is currently at the place where it’s ok to to talk about rest, as long as it’s someone else who is needing it! Hahaha!
I’ve personally also found help (with shifting rest paradigms) from other religious traditions than my own, namely Buddhist teachers and in the rather blended practice/teachings of yoga nidra. This kind of learning is something I would have been nervous about during my younger decades, but I have felt confident enough in my Christian faith these past few years to be able to learn from others and to find The Way that I firmly believe underlies all of reality (The Dao, as Lewis calls it in *The Abolition of Man*).
I would love to hear how these very real struggles with rest look in more lives than just my own. How others have been learning to give and receive permission for rest. Resources that have helped others. Etc.!
I'm interested in childbirth... How it's generally an awful experience for most women I've known and if they have practices to give women more freedom while maintaining good outcomes in other cultures , if there is any advocacy happening outside of home birth to make the experience better
I'm interested in how poor women want to parent but can't seem to find suitable partners ... So they neither benefit from the feminist advances at the top nor are they able to support children, especially several children. What makes the options for women in the bottom 1/2 of the economy so limited?
If anyone here ever wants to talk about Whit Stillman’s films I’d be… extremely down? In part because I just love ‘em, but also because I feel like his films jive really well with Christine Emba’s critiques of the sexual revolution and general discussions of romantic/sexual ethics in this space.
I'm also interested in discussing further what are the actual differences between men and women. We can say "men tend to be like this and women tend to be like that" but that leaves lots of room for exceptions, and I don't want any men in the women's bathroom, even if they're "feminine" in certain respects, and I think all women should have certain protections, even if they're "masculine" in certain respects.
The professional world was built for men because it was built during a time when women didn't really participate in it. I'm interested to look at the positive changes that have been made in the professional world because of the influence of women.