Time for Links

Who has seen this?

Earths! Everywhere!

Austerity in Kentucky

EXCITING

More reasons to move to Iceland, etc

This confirms all my suspicions

As does this

Emotional labor

Aw swell

5 billion in food stamp cuts over the next year. This is atrocious and terrifying, and it’s not just on Republicans, either. On the off chance you live in the Philadelphia area, Philabundance does great work and always needs help meeting demand for food.

Pregnant workers. Pregnant working women are contributing in two ways–the one the labor market rewards, and the bearing and birthing of workers on whom the economy depends. Something to keep in mind when we talk about “accommodations,” rather than “not punishing women for doing what keeps life, civilization, and your workforce moving along, at great personal cost.”

Hey Philly, let’s not screw this one up, ok?

I give the sexual revolution five more years. Childbirth also sounds increasingly terrifying.

Dinosaur sex. The evangelicals have purity bear–maybe we could have an NFP stegosaurus?

Fascinating

Nancy Wake, via The Toast, who,  by the way, whatever else you may say about them, pay their writers.

New Inquiry is all about the witches right now.

And finally

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12 thoughts on “Time for Links

  1. Do we really owe pregnant women a lot for having babies? I’m not sure I agree they’re any more responsible for keeping civilization going than the rest of us.

    Imagine this scenario: a single woman owns a company. One of her employees is a woman who gets pregnant and can no longer perform her job for physical reasons. The company owner can’t fire her, nor can she afford to hire someone else to make up for the work the pregnant woman can’t do. As a result, the company owner ends up working nearly double to pick up the slack.

    Meanwhile, her aging, elderly parents who are in her care have no one to look out for them, because their social security checks wouldn’t cover the expense of a caregiver. Their daughter (and only child) goes to their house every day to clean, cook, organize their pills, make sure they’re not too hot or cold so they don’t get sick, and takes them to all their doctor’s appointments and emergency room visits. As they age, this burden gets greater, as they become more frail, develop dementia, and need more help not only with ordinary household tasks but ones like washing the sheets everyday and doing more laundry as they become incontinent. All of these things take time which the daughter does not only because they’re her parents but also because as former contributing members of society they are owed just as much respect and gratitude as, well, future workers.

    But now she cant’ do any of those things for them, because somehow she owes it to her pregnant employee to take care of HER instead, because the only kind of relationship that counts is that of a mother to her baby, regardless of whether there’s a father in picture or not. In other words, if you’re not a woman who is reproducing, your time, relationships and loyalty to others has no value.

    Caring for people takes time and is hard. This isn’t something that was magically discovered by women who have babies. It’s not up to the rest of us to pick up the slack like were just sitting around twiddling our thumbs that whole time instead of investing our own time in our relationships and caring for those close to us who are far more deserving of our time than some virtual stranger who came along, got a job, and then got pregnant and expected everyone to drop their own burdens and come to their aid.

    • Yes, I do think pregnant women are doing something more than other people, all else being equal, because they are literally expending their bodily energy to bring new humans into the world.

      “Caring for people takes time and is hard. This isn’t something that was magically discovered by women who have babies.”

      Not sure what point you are trying to make here. No one is saying pregnant women are the only ones who care and work, but that the labor of pregnancy benefits the entire community.The work other women do is important too, but we generally reward that work with, say, a wage.

      Partially I think we just have different worldviews here. Yours seems very individualistic–that we should only be required to give our support to those we are personally connected to or care about.

      Finally, your scenario might be valid if we were talking about physical incapacity to do a job, but if you read the article, we’re talking about the likes of water bottles and bathroom breaks.

      I don’t think anyone “gets pregant, then expects everyone to drop their own burdens and come to their aid.” Nor do I think anyone is advocating that.

      But I do think pregnant women can reasonably expect society to support them in the work of bearing humans. That’s not just my feminism talking–it’s my pro-life politics as well.

    • In other words, like you say, caring for people takes time and is hard. And pregnant women are doing this every minute of every day, to the benefit of us all. This is valuable work, and should be treated as such.

    • I’d also say that I think your point about caring for an aged relative being important care work is a good one–and I would love to see an economy in which that work was visible and supported. But I think honoring pregnancy is a step toward that economy, not in conflict with it.

    • You didn’t give any kind of response as to what the woman in this scenario is supposed to do. And no, she doesn’t get paid to take care of her parents, and yet she’s expected to make helping the pregnant woman a priority.

      I don’t at all advocated a indivualistic society. Quite the opposite. I advocate the idea that no one person is allowed to step forward and claim themselves as the highest priority because we are connected to others and if we aren’t making an ongoing effort to help and support them, we should be. But that comes with prioritizng. I’m not going to make a woman that I have no connection with a priority, because I can should make my own family friends and priority.

      Where is the father of this baby? He’s the one who should be offering support. Where is her family? Where are the relationships that she should have been cultivating in her whole life who will in turn care for her out of loyalty and genuine love? You seem to be supporting a system where everyone cares only for themselves, but then, when there’s a baby in the picture, we all have to step in and help out. Why?

      “Not sure what point you are trying to make here. No one is saying pregnant women are the only ones who care and work, but that the labor of pregnancy benefits the entire community.The work other women do is important too, but we generally reward that work with, say, a wage.”

      Actually, no we don’t.

      “But I do think pregnant women can reasonably expect society to support them in the work of bearing humans.”

      Who? Everybody? That’s unrealistic in a society where women really aren’t that supportive of each other. I can’t reasonably expect that other women will stop sleeping around so that when I go on a date, I don’t get propositioned for sex. And yet when the women who shack up with their boyfriends and deposit harmful hormones into the environment for decades (which hurts me and the people I care about) decides to go off the pill and have a baby, suddenly I owe her something. In society, people should support each other. What you’re advocating is a one-way street. If people understood that sex comes with responsibility, and that it isn’t the most important thing in the world, there would automatically be a lot more support built in for women with children, and life would also be easier for those of us who aren’t married. Until that happens, I have to live my own life, and care for the ones I love, and let other people worry about themselves.

    • I don’t give any response because the woman in your scenario has *absolutely no bearing* on anything suggested by the article or my comments. This is not a scenario anyone is advocating. You are the only one bringing it up.

      So, you don’t have an individualistic worldview, but you do have a problem with a company supporting pregnant woman? Because somehow letting women sit down at work is placing a burden on you that makes it impossible for you to fulfill your obligations to your own family? I’m sorry, I’m just really confused here.

      “Where is the father of this baby? Where are her relatives?” Well, the father of this baby can’t dictate corporate policy about allowing his women to bring water bottles to work. You are positing this really bizarre reading in which allowing women to take care of basic bodily needs engendered by pregnancy at work means that she is otherwise completely alone. Do you believe that all pregnant women should stay home with wage-earning husbands? Or do you think that the only legitimate kind of support must come from intimate relations? Because otherwise I really can’t see how a loving and caring community and a work environment that allows a pregnant women to, say, carry a snack with her are in any way mutually exclusive.

      I’m kind of baffled; you seem to be arguing against an imaginary opponent here.

      “Actually, no we don’t.” Are we talking about care work? Because it’s true, we don’t reward that! But again, I think that’s part and parcel of of a society that devalues care work, like pregnancy.

      “That’s unrealistic in a society where women really aren’t that supportive of each other.”

      Well, again, we’re talking about advocating for societal and policy changes here. So, we can say that the sexual revolution will never be undone and we will never value life and pregnancy, or we can advocate for change.

      “And yet when the women who shack up with their boyfriends and deposit harmful hormones into the environment for decades (which hurts me and the people I care about) decides to go off the pill and have a baby, suddenly I owe her something.”

      Yes, babies are a good. They are the future. No matter how they are conceived, in what degree of sin, they are a gift to the community and we have a responsibility to care for them and those who bear them.

      Also, why are you assuming that every pregnant woman at work is morally culpable? Married pregnant women work too.

      I…really don’t know how I’m advocating a one way street. I think sexual continence and stable families are important and should be championed. I also think that care work, including pregnancy, should be recognized as work and supported by the market economy, and that policies that forward this should be championed.

      What I don’t think should be championed is the idea of a social contract where each side refuses to do the right thing till the other one does.

  2. Also, it’s not just women sleeping around that gets you propositioned on a date. It’s men too. It’s the entire messed-up attitude we have toward sex.

  3. From the article:

    “Young is a former UPS driver who requested a light-duty assignment from her employer after obtaining a doctor’s note indicating she should not lift more than 20 pounds. Since UPS did not allow light-duty assignments for pregnancy-related issues, she was forced to take unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy.”

    This woman is no longer able to do her job to the same extent that she was before. That means that other people will have to take over a good portion of her duties, while she gets paid the same amount. This is an extra cost to other people, who may or may not have people dependant on them who just don’t happen to be inside of them. But those duties and dependencies are ignored in favor of helping the pregnant woman. Who is going to lift those heavier boxes? Someone has to. The guy who is working two jobs already? The woman who is single and doesn’t have a husband bringing in a second pay-check? Someone has to lift those boxes. They don’t just vanish into thin air. This is a real-world problem and not just a theory.

    So, a company which is contributing in two ways–by providing jobs to people, and by paying taxes which in part go towards government financial help for those in need (like welfare), are now expected to pay into the system a third way: by paying the same amount of money to someone who is doing half the job. I don’t call that a reasonable accommodation, and I think it’s a cheap rhetorical tactic to lump it in with “being able to carry a water bottle.”

    Does the single woman who is caring for her aging parents get to put in half the hours and get the same pay so that she can care spend time with the people who gave birth to her? No. Does the single guy who’s caring for his disabled brother get to ask for the same? No. And how could a company possibly support all of these people? How could it make a profit and continue to provide those same jobs which are allowing people to live and work and support themselves? It couldn’t. Call me crazy, but giving that up in favor of “future workers” seems a little short-sighted.

    The government can and should provide for those who need special help. We all pay taxes towards that end (unless you don’t), and that’s a good thing. But I don’t understand where private corporations ended up being expected to take over this duty. A business is neither a charity nor a government.

    As for the sexual revolution, someone like me is doing my part by living a chaste life and making an extra effort to build good relationships of other kinds with those close to me, and by supporting myself. All of that adds up to a lot. I haven’t by any means promoted the attitude that “until this is fixed, I’m just going to opt out.” But because of how society is, I have to take care of myself and my own. I simply don’t have any extra to give to a woman I barely know who just happens to be pregnant, whether she’s married or not married or what have you. I have my own burdens to carry.

    This is not me imagining a fake scenario. This is you not having thought out the real-world consequences of blithely assuming that everyone should step up take over to help pregnant women. Those resources–time, energy, money–have to come from somewhere. They can’t just be pulled out of thin air.

    • I think you’re misreading here? Young requested a light duty assignment. This doesn’t mean she’s not working, it’s that her work in the company has changed temporarily. She’s taking care of the light packages, and every package she take care of is one someone else doesn’t have to. As far as I can tell, UPS allows this, just not in the case of pregnancy. This is a matter of bureaucratic flexibility, not someone being unable to work and still getting paid. I’m sorry you see classing this with water bottles a as a cheap rhetorical tactic, but the two cases really do not seem substantially different to me.

      A guy supporting his relative would not have a problem lifting heavy objects. He might need flexible hours, say, and I would have no problem pushing for that.

      The church says that the worker is more important than the work being done, and has long supported workers struggling to make their workplaces more humane, so I don’t think your argument about a corporation being neither a government nor charity holds. Workplaces placing their workers over productivity is a moral good. Welfare and the social safety net are good, but they are no substitute for a reform of the economy.

      And this is where I think we have different worldviews. You think paying your taxes, living a good life, caring for your own is enough in a morally corrupt society. I think the structures of our society, particular our workplaces, are corrupt and inimical to the good life–that these must be changed as much as our attitudes towards sex must be.

      Plenty of companies do in fact have more humane policies–family leave, vacation time, working hours. I still do think you are working with a fake scenario, because no, the changes involved, including heavy lifting, do not mean the worker can no longer work, nor do they place an substantial burden on other workers. In many case, as in the UPS, it’s simply a matter of extending a policy a company *already has in place*

      If you have a problem with even minor adjustments to make the workplace better for pregnant woman, I can only come back to pregnancy being a matter of the common good. And judging by the polling data cited in the article, a lot of other people think it is too.

  4. And what’s with the suggestion that I don’t pay my taxes? C’mon, that’s not cool.

    Let’s step away from this thread for the day, and if we still think it’s worth discussing tomorrow, we can pick it up then.

    • Sorry, I wasn’t implying that you don’t pay taxes. That was badly worded. As I was writing I realized that I actually know a lot of people (mostly young people) who think nothing of getting paid in cash in order to not have to pay taxes, sometimes even for full-time jobs, which is why I added that comment. They probably have a more libertarian view of politics than you do, though. Anyway, it wasn’t meant to be aimed at you. In general, I’m in favor of the government supporting those in need, and happy to pay into that system even if I never benefit from it personally. And let’s be honest, taxes can be pretty hefty at times, so I don’t think that’s a thing that should be dismissed. (Not saying that’s what you’re doing, but when we’re talking about supporting those who may need more help, everyone is already helping just by being an honest citizen.)

      My original objection was specifically to the idea you expressed that we owe women something who are having babies, not least of all because they are using their own bodies to bring a new human being into the world. But aren’t they gaining a lot directly, too? I just am at a loss as to why *I* should be grateful to them, when they’re gaining a lot more from the situation than I am, and, assuming they’re in a stable family situation, have a lot more support and help in their lives than I do. Don’t get me wrong; I like my life. I have a lot to be grateful for. But I don’t have the advantage of a second income, or paying lower taxes through marriage and having dependants, or having a man around to take out the garbage or make me feel safe if some rando tries to open my front door (which has happened more than once), or to give me a back rub when I’m tired. All of these extra things are emotionally and physically taxing. Who’s to say that over a lifetime they don’t add up to just as much of a burden as nine months of pregnancy? There have been whole books written about how people suffer physically through the loneliness of not having an intimate relationship. (Not just a physical one–intimate in the sense of feeling emotionally and spiritually close to another person.) Even giving birth, while traumatic and exhausting, I’m sure, has physical benefits such as lowering the risk of breast cancer. Women’s brains get flooded with hormones such as oxytocin which creates relaxation and happiness, both from being around their children and from having a romantic relationship.

      I don’t have any of that. And that’s fine. But I fail to see how a pregnant woman is some kind of selfless, self-sacrificing victim that we all owe some huge debt to for doing something as awful as having a baby. Sure, there are burdens that go with it. But I have burdens in my life that those women don’t have. It’s even. They just have burdens that get talked about a lot more because everyone fixates on marriage and children. (And even that is not a bad thing; it’s just a normal human tendency.)

      As for the article, I went back and read it again, and it does seem unfair that they allow light-duty assignments for some physical limitations but not pregnancy. So I am with you there. But that’s not because pregnant women deserve a lot of gratitude but because they are obviously making it harder for the pregnant women on purpose. I agree that that’s wrong.

      Some part of me wonders why she didn’t plan differently, though. It’s not like it was a secret that the job involved heavy lifting, which is pretty hard to do while pregnant. We’re all responsible for planning ahead in our own lives. I’ve changed jobs more than once in my life, and while it’s not easy, it’s something anyone can do if they try hard enough. That’s one of the great things about being American, cheesy as that may sound.

      Lastly, how is it feminist to elevate women who reproduce above other women? Because when you say we own some women more, it follows that the other women are owed less. It seems to me that that sets us back not only decades, but several millennia, to a pre-Christian era when women were valued primarily for their ability to reproduce. And a big part of having a pro-life stance is “if you can’t handle having a baby, don’t have sex.” It works pretty well for a lot of us.

    • I couldn’t find the story about the water bottle; the article doesn’t explain it. Is this a different case? Because not being able to bring a water bottle to work sounds like a basic human rights violation to me, unless there’s some highly specialized reason why it would be dangerous, like if she worked in a lab or something.

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