Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Some words about Muslims
I was skeptical when I came across the site A Muslim a Day. The site claims to "keep ignorance away" and seeks to break down negative, monolithic stereotypes of Muslims. The creator (a Muslim American who calls himself hijabman) features pictures and videos of Muslims from different regions engaged in a variety of activities.

My skepticism started to fade as I read the mission statement and looked at the photos. The project does not seek to objectify the Muslims featured. Rather, it seeks to capture the diversity and complexity of this faith. In particular, it does a great job showing the complexity of Muslim women. The women are pictured as subjects, active and often happy! It is a refeshing, complicated look at an identity that is often homogenized and underrepresented.

It is a great project. Super interesting. Check it out and spread the word. Maybe it will keep Islamophobia away!


Friday, September 21, 2007
Some words about maternal thinking
Last semester, I read a book that transformed my political thinking. The book, Maternal Thinking, claims that the behaviors associated with mothering can be transformative in today's political world. Turning militarism into a politics of peace. Sara Ruddick argues that Mothers bear the brunt of the job of nurturing, protecting and caring for children, and the maternal instinct can be tapped to galvanize a nonviolent, anti-militarist politics. She argues that the everyday chores of mothering foster a distinctly maternal style of thinking that fuses feeling, reflection and action. Maternal thinking breeds respect for individual differences, as well as a commitment to resolve disputes without fisticuffs. Importantly, Ruddick does not claim that maternal thinking is "natural" to women. On the contrary, she argues that this type of thinking is learned. And can be learned by all. But we don't learn these behaviors because Mothers are often ignored, under-valued and minimized in today's world.

I'm not a mother. There have been many years of my life where I wasn't sure I would ever be a mother. I may never be a woman who gives birth. But since reading the book, I've tried to become maternal. It is a life ideology. A commitment to revaluing behaviors that foster peace rather than violence.

Obviously I thought of Ruddick's book when Sally Field gave her Emmy's acceptance speech last week. Field cried that her award, "Belongs to all the mothers of the world....The mothers who stand with an open heart who wait for their children to come home from war...Let's face it, if mother's ruled the world...."

But we don't know what would happen if mothers ruled the world. Fox cut her off. Presumably because there were some GD's dropped in the speech. But the reasons for censorship are deeper than that. If maternal thinkers ruled the world, the world would look different. Our philosophies would be different. Our leaders would be different. I can imagine that world looks scary and impossible to many. And when faced with difference--different ideas, philosophies and orientations, we silence it. Minimize it. Ignore it. We don't work through it. We don't call attention to it. We certainly don't talk about it. Audre Lorde argues that "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

Last week, I talked to my Women's Studies' students about maternal thinking. I told them that all could stand on the margins with mothers who fight for peace--all could be nurturing, nonviolent and reflective. And this week the Sally Field example showed them what happens when they heed the call. The challenge is for maternal thinkers to keep trying to be heard.


America At Home
I never considered myself a homebody. In high school, college and the first couple years of graduate school I loved going out. Meeting people. Spending weekends out and about. Traveling. Exploring. A night in was almost a punishment.

As I've gotten older, those tendencies have decreased. I still love going out and do it a good deal (as my shutterfly account will show). But now I also enjoy being home. Relish the weekends when Drew and I can enjoy our routine. A reward to me is staying in, reading in bed, and relaxing in our home. A movie in rather than out. Breakfast made in our own kitchen and eaten while in our pajamas. I'm not sure when the change started. Or exactly why.

But the theme of this project really resonates with me.

The co-creator of the best-selling A Day in the Life and America 24/7 book series invites you to participate in America at Home, a nationwide photo project, September 17 to 23, 2007. For seven days, everyone in America is invited to join 100 of the nation's leading photojournalists to capture "the emotions of home." The goal of the project is to capture the extraordinary diversity that makes up American family life, representing a broad range of economic, geographic, racial, political, and socially diverse lifestyles.

The Daily Assignments range from Bedtime Rituals and Your Sanctuary. There are some photos on the site and more to come in a book

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Thursday, September 20, 2007
I'm a danger
Stolen from my friend Cagney.....

Things I love that maybe you shouldn't-

* Eating food that is way, way too hot to swallow
* Speaking my mind. Always. No matter the audience
* The smell of gasoline, Sharpies, White-Out and scotch tape
* Very hot showers
* Speaking in public
* Aggressive driving
* Making inappropriate jokes because I trust that people know I'm joking
* Karaoke
* Vodka and champagne and gin (often in the same night but rarely in the same drink)


Friday, September 07, 2007
Some words about the brain
As you prepare for a two hour, oral, comprehensive exam focusing on a field that started with Aristotle, goes through today and includes literature from sociology, political science, philosophy, queer and gender studies (etc, etc, etc), you start to go crazy. Crazy.

So, in five minutes your brain goes from:

There is no way I am going to learn all this. Maybe I should just take my chances and stop studying
Oh my god, I have to make a list of all the things I haven't yet studied. I will study them all tomorrow *make short list of backup plans should the PhD fail*
WTF is that article? Have I ever read that? I wonder if it is important.....
Oh my god, I have to make a list of all the things I haven't yet read, I will read them all tomorrow
Maybe I shouldn't study tomorrow, I need a break
Maybe I should be done studying for today, I need a break
Shit, did I get my friend a birthday card? Nope. Uh oh.
Fill out birthday card and give to her today