Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Links: Abortion Care Under Attack

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx joins Pro-Life members of Congress to demand that healthcare reform does not require taxpayer funded abortion or abortion insurance mandates. (Flickr/Rep. Virginia Foxx)
  • Several states have already banned abortion coverage in the state health insurance exchanges, and several more are looking at doing the same. [Guttmacher Institute]
  • Think Stupak was bad? A new bill would go even farther in banning abortion coverage. [Mother Jones]
  • Steph Herold talks about her Twitter hashtag #ihadanabortion. [The Daily Femme]
  • All this buzz about Natalie Portman's new ballet psychological thriller reminds one writer that she was once a ballerina with an eating disorder. [Crushable]
  • Another reason Robyn is awesome: "It's not politically correct any more to not be a feminist which is good, but for me, feminism is still necessary and that sucks." [AFP]
  • Hyde hurts poor women and women of color the most, says the illustrious Jessica Arons. [Campus Progress]
  • Thanks to the recession, more black women's hair salons are closing. At the same time, salons that traditionally serve a predominately white clientele are seeing an increase in diversity of its stylists. [Washington Post]
  • Amanda Hess reports on the protesters camped out outside Leroy Carhart's new clinic in Maryland. [TBD]
  • A women's soccer coach at Belmont University was reportedly fired after revealing she was a lesbian and that she and her partner were expecting a baby, but her firing has ignited pro-gay activism on campus. [Inside Higher Ed]
  • Impostor syndrome comes to life with a young woman who grades herself far below what her peers do in an academic setting. [Geek Feminism]
  • What holiday season would be complete without a bacon and sausage nativity? [Gawker]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Demographics of Twitter

Pew Research Center has now decided that Twitter is important enough to study on its own! Yet only 8 percent of all internet users—a full 6 percent of the population overall—actually use it.

The following chart was included in its most recent report and I thought it was sort of interesting. Among the findings: women and people of color, particularly Hispanics, are more likely to use Twitter than men and whites, respectively.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Report: 'Marriage Is in Real Trouble'

(Flickr/mircea tudorache)

Lately there's a lot of panic about marriage. That panic is reflected in the title of a report released The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2010 [PDF] this week titled "When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America." This annual report is co-produced by the National Marriage Project, a research project at the University of Virginia, and the Center for Marriage and Families, a sub-set of the conservative Institute for American Values, which counts among its scholars Prop 8 supporter and National Organization for Marriage spokesperson Maggie Gallagher.

The report notes several facts about marriage, notably something that I blogged about not that long ago, that marriage is remaining popular among the highly educated but falling in popularity among the less educated. The State of Our Unions report calls this group of people the "moderately educated," or those with high school degrees and maybe some college or vocational training. The executive summary notes begins by declaring "In middle America, marriage is in trouble."

And they seem to have the data to back such a statement up: Not only is the difference in those getting hitched in the first place, but it seems that the poorer you are, the more likely you are to get divorced. If you're highly educated, the likelihood of you getting divorced within your first 10 years of marriage is just 11 percent (down 4 percent from 1970). The "moderately educated," on the other hand, face a 37 percent (+1) chance of divorce or separation. The least educated, those without a high school diploma, in other words, have a 36 percent (-10) chance.

For the writers of this report, this is very bad news. They write, "For if marriage is increasingly unachievable for our moderately educated citizens—a group that represents 58 percent of the adult population, (age 25 to 60)—then it is likely that we will witness the emergence of a new society. For a substantial share of the United States, economic mobility will be out of reach, their children's life chances will diminish, and large numbers of young men will live apart from the civilizing power of married life."

That's quite the statement on this trend. Though it seems that marriage is becoming less popular among those who are less educated and the less educated are more likely to divorce within 10 years, I'm having a harder time finding it quite the crisis that the report makes it out to be. Though it's true that there's high correlation between marriage and "successful" children, it's tough to tell if marriage is the thing that's causing that success. The one useful thing Elizabeth Gilbert laid out in Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage, what many called a self-indulgent book, was a chapter on the history of marriage and many of its purported benefits. After analyzing the data, she notes that it stability, not marriage itself, that seems best for children.

That's not to knock marriage itself or those who want to get married. Even the authors of the report note that "being married" is an important value. Roughly three-quarters of every class of education believe marriage is important; 75 percent of the least educated, 76 percent of the moderately educated and 79 percent of the highly educated.

But if we're experiencing a trend where marriage is less important for some subsets of the population, it's hard for me to contemplate how that is a state of crisis. After are, there are lots of things that make the moderately educated unhappy. The crappy economy, for instance. And who's to say that this declining marriage rate among the moderately educated isn't just folks putting marriage off until they have better jobs? (Or jobs at all?) People are known to delay divorce in tough economic times, and it seems these days, they're delaying marriage as well (if not parenthood).

But it's hard to deny that the way we've set up marriage means that by default we've made marriage into a status symbol: a huge party that costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, joint tax filings, diamond engagement ring worth two month's salary, etc. It's no wonder the highly educated are finding marriage more attractive while the lower educated might find it less so. The report notes that there is a growing gap in America today, not just between the rich and the poor, but also a gap between the rich and the middle class. The gap in marriage interest seems easily explainable when you look at social and economic factors.

Instead, we're faced with panic over how marriage is in the decline (sometimes even blaming feminism). Even if marriage is in decline, I'm not convinced that that's the ultimate undoing of America. Surely other things, like rising poverty, poor public education, and serious social injustices hurt Americans far worse.

In the end, it's important not to view larger trends as something that can be blamed on the choices of individuals. And if some people are finding that marriage isn't for them—whether highly educated or not—it's important to respect that choice.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Separate But Equal? ESPN Launches Women's Site

(Flickr/Tulane Public Relations)

Yesterday ESPN announced it was launching a new site called ESPNW:
Presented in a blog format, will offer fan- and athlete-centric content geared toward female athletes and sports fans aged 18+. The site, supported by a Twitter and Facebook presence, will incorporate posts by top female sports columnists and bloggers, pro athletes, expert contributors and news from a variety of ESPN and non-ESPN news outlets. This 1.0 version of will serve as a precursor to a more robust web site with mobile applications and personalized content that will launch in Spring 2011.
If ESPN is trying to cater more to women with its content, it's about damn time. Title IX will have its 40th birthday in 2012. Women now account for 46 percent of NFL fans, which has sent the NFL merchandising team scrambling to make hay of female fans' purchasing power. American Women in Sports Media, founded back in 1988, boasts a membership of "over 600." And the National Sports Foundation, founded by tennis pioneer Billie Jean King, notes that sponsorships of women's sports have more than tripled from 1992 to 2000 to $1 billion and that two in five high school girls play some kind of varsity sport. While women still aren't the majority of fans or athletes, they're a quickly growing demographic in both sports and sports coverage. ESPNW seems aimed both at promoting both women sports writers and professional and college women athletes.

In some ways, I'm excited to see this new product. As a recently renewed sports fan, I've been looking for fan blogs and sports stories on my favorite teams -- but almost all of them have been written by men, with the occasional misogynist joke thrown in for good measure. The biggest fan blogs and professional sports journalism sites tend to be dominated both by male writers and male commentors. It's refreshing to read sports commentary written by women, but what's puzzling to me is why ESPN felt the need to put it on its own site rather than simply promote women within

Some of the content found on ESPNW is very similar to the kind of content already found on ESPN's main page, like their recaps of last night's NFL and NBA games. Other stories highlight the achievement of women athletes, like Kara Lawson's "Five Big Reasons to Watch Women's Basketball." None of it would -- or should -- look out of place on ESPN's main page.

ESPN is likely following the trends of other websites that have started rolling out female-only websites to varying degrees of success over the last few years: Jezebel is a subset of Gawker, the short-lived DoubleX stand-alone site for Slate, AOL's Lemondrop, and now the Hairpin is a counter (or supplement, depending on how you look at it) to the Awl. Such a move has been criticized by some, including Ann Friedman in The American Prospect, who argued at the time of DoubleX's launch, "When publishers create separate sites dedicated to women or to black people, they are signaling that they don't see a need to have their main site serve these people as core readers."

It's tough to criticize a new product that probably brought jobs to female sports writers in the middle of a tough economy and while newspapers around their country are cutting sports sections down or completely. But I do hope that if ESPNW performs well -- and who knows if it will -- I hope ESPN will take it as a lesson that they should continue hiring women sports writers and highlighting female athletes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wal-Mart Tries to Argue Against Class Action Discrimination Cases

(Flickr/Toban Black)

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could have major implications for pay discrimination. The case is Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the near-infamous class-action lawsuit that argued successfully that hundreds of thousands of female employees at Wal-Mart had been paid less than their male peers.

What's interesting about this case is that whether these women were discriminated against isn't the question -- much as it wasn't for Lily Ledbetter when she argued her case before the Supreme Court against Goodyear. Instead, we're starting to see a trend of employers accepting that they are guilty of discriminating against women on pay, but they're managing to find other ways to get out of paying the full price for that discrimination. At stake in Wal-Mart is two main things, which SCOTUSblog summarizes here:
The first question will be whether, under Federal court Rule 23, a lawsuit may seek a money verdict — in this case, a claim for back pay — when the class was created under a provision that limits remedies to corrective court orders, not money. Besides agreeing to hear that, the Court told the parties to file briefs and prepare to argue on a second question — whether the class was a proper one, under Rule 23, when it was cleared to go forward under Rule 23(b)(2). It is unclear whether the Court, if it answered that second question in the negative, would be signaling that the class case might still proceed under a different part of Rule 23 — part (b)(3), which does allow money claims.
It's that second question that legal experts are the most worried about. Wal-Mart is arguing that because this lawsuit includes women at all levels of employment, from management to the lowest level of employees, there's now way their cases can be argued together.

So if Wal-Mart argues this point successfully it's possible this could put an end to class action lawsuits as we know it. The whole idea behind class action lawsuits is that a number of people who have experienced a violation of the law can band together and leverage their power as a group.

If such lawsuits, especially on pay discrimination, are dismissed by the Supreme Court, that could mean that women further lack incentive to argue against discrimination. If each woman has to argue her case against her employee individually, or at least, as a smaller group of employees all at the same level (which, at small companies, can be a group of two or three people), then women will be less likely to be willing to argue their cases in court.

And furthermore, such a decision would ignores the fact that discrimination can be a systemic problem within a company. When women must argue discrimination in individual cases instead of as a group, that means companies would have little reason to address widespread problems of discrimination.

SCOTUSblog says the case is likely to be heard in March or April.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Annotated Listicle: Winter Blues Edition


Those of you that have read the most recent issue of Bitch magazine may have seen my lengthy rant against the listicle featured in most women's magazines. If you haven't read the most recent issue of Bitch you should run out and buy it (or better yet, subscribe). I generally find listicles annoying because they're often lazily written, filled with stereotypes, and almost always include encourage spending money.

So just for fun, I'm going to go through and annotate a listicle. This one comes from The Frisky, although there's no reason I'm picking on The Frisky particularly -- the kinds of listicles they run are pretty common to what most media outlets, on or offline, do. So without further ado, the list below is reprinted in regular text with my commentary in italics.

20 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues
Wendy Atterberry
11:30AM, 12/03/2010

We are less than three weeks away from the shortest day of the year and if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to feel the effects of the winter blues—or Seasonal Affective Disorder—begin to set in. Sure, we have a little distraction with the holidays, but come January if we haven’t set up some routine to break us out of a winter rut, we may find ourselves in danger of barely hanging on until spring. A few weeks ago, you shared some of your ideas for combating the winter blues, and after the jump is a roundup of some of those suggestions plus a few of my own to get us motivated to tackle the long months ahead.
  1. Wear bright colors. There's actually no evidence to suggest that wearing bright colors could affect your mood. This likely comes from the unsubstantiated idea of positive thinking projects a better mood.
  2. Change your light bulbs. I recommend Blues Busters, which produce a light like natural sunlight and cost about $7 a bulb. I started using them a few years ago and they’ve helped tremendously ease the effects of SAD. Blues Busters are energy efficient light bulbs and there actually is some evidence to think that more and better lighting can help elevate one's mood during winter months when sunlight is more scarce. However, there seems little reason to invest in these light bulbs in particular. It seems likely that any energy efficient light bulb would do the same thing just as well -- and cost a lot less. File this item in the category of trying to sell you shit.
  3. Squeeze in a daily daytime walk. If you can bundle up and get out on your lunch break for a 20-minute stroll, do it! If you can’t swing that, consider waking up a little earlier so you can catch a few drops of sunlight before work. If you take public transportation, get on one stop past yours so you can sneak in some sun before you’re stuck in an office all day and miss it. It is actually the case that exercise can help you combat the symptoms of depression. According to the Mayo clinic, exercise has a lot of benefits, but the reasons it works on depression includes that it causes your brain to release neurotransmitters and endorphins, surpresses immune system responses that can cause depression, and raises you're body temperature, which can have a calming effect.
  4. Take a Vitamin D supplement. A study published last year in Applied Nursing Research does seem to indicate that vitamin D can be of particular help to women in battling seasonal depression. However, the study wasn't large enough to be conclusive.
  5. Take St. John’s Wort. This helps ease mild depression associated with SAD, but if you’re on any medication, like birth control, make sure it doesn’t interfere. St. John's Wort is generally peddled by alt medicine practitioners (much of what they sell is proven to have no effect), St. John's Wort is a drug that contains hypericin, something that has an MAO inhibitor, similar to what you might find in commonly prescribed anti-depressants. But it seems like if you're going to suggest someone take a drug like St. John's Wort, it seems best to simply encourage her to see a physician that can describe the anti-depressant that might work best for her.
  6. Socialize more. Organize a weekly potluck or happy hour with friends. Join an evening knitting group or a neighborhood game night. The point is to get out of the rut of office-home-bed that’s so easy to fall into when it’s cold out. Filling some of your after-work hours with friends will help you stay positive and energized through the dark winter months. While social interaction with others is generally psychologically healthy, there's actually evidence that the way girls in particular are socialized from a young age -- to be deferential to others and more sensitive to others' feelings -- can actually increase the likelihood of depression in women.
  7. Invest in some fresh flowers. A burst of color does wonder for one’s mood, and flowers don’t have to be expensive. Carnations, long thought to be granny flowers, are making a bit of a comeback (I love a bunch of hot pink ones cut shorts and kept in something unexpected, like a vintage teacup). A five-dollar bunch can last up to ten days. There's no evidence to suggest that flowers might help with depression, seasonal or otherwise. File this under yet another tip that encourages you to spend money.
  8. Two words: Winter sports. Skiing, sledding, ice skating, snow boarding are great ways to stay active during the cold months. Even if you don’t live in an area where those activities are easily accessible (or affordable), simply hiking through the snow or making snowmen burns calories and gets you out in the fresh air and sunlight. Again, this goes back to the point about exercise.
  9. Paint your walls. It’s like taking the idea of fresh flowers to the next level. And if you don’t like the color, or if you are tired of it by spring, you can always paint over it! This seems to advice from the feng shui school of thought. While painting your house or apartment (assuming you can and you don't have a rental that won't allow you to), this is unlikely to help you with any actual depression problems.
  10. Whiskey. Hey, it keeps you warm and feeling good. So advise people to cheer up by consuming a depressant? Uh, OK.
  11. Eat a piece of chocolate a day. Eh, why not? Doctors say a small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) is good for you! Actually, though there is some research that shows chocolate has a temporary mood-booster quality, there's also other evidence that chocolate can actually be worse in the long run for depression (though it's possible this is correlation and not causation).
  12. Keep the shades open. Let the sunshine in! Like exercise, natural light does help with depression, but for a lot of people in winter months, they may go to work before it's light, come home after it's dark, and work in an office or cubicle that's not near an outside space. So, while this might be good advice, probably the best advice is trying to take a walk in the middle of the day.
  13. Invest in a light box. One of our readers recommends the Philips goLITE Blu Plus, which she says has helped her immensely. This is a commercial adaptation of the devices given to folks that live in geographic areas with little-to-no sunlight during the day. Again, it seems if you're really in desperate need of something like this, you should be talking with your doctor about depression. Otherwise, file this under selling you shit you don't need.
  14. Retail therapy. Help yourself, help the economy! Yeah. You know what's known to contribute to depression? Financial distress. You'd probably be better off putting that money into your Roth IRA or 401K.
  15. Warm drinks: tea, coffee, steamers, hot chocolate. Yum. Hey, I know holiday cheer generally comes with warm drinks, so I get why they suggested this. But still, let's not confuse temporary mood boosters with serious depression problems.
  16. Lots of sex. Also, yum. Prescribing sex goes back to the exercise advice. The problem is, if you're also suggesting women take anti-depressants (see #5), you need to remember they often have side effects that suppress sexual desire.
  17. Plan a spring break vacation. I’ve heard that the act of planning a vacation has more benefits than the actual vacation itself, so pick somewhere warm and start strategizing! OK, it's pretty clear this is unsubstantiated from the writer's own language. If planning vacations is something you enjoy, I guess go for it. Personally, I think this sounds stressful.
  18. Indulge in a facial or massage. Winter is brutal on our skin and I don’t know about you, but I get tense shoulders from wearing heavy layers and coats all day, so a monthly facial or massage through the winter months is a wonderful way to practice self-care and keep one’s spirits lifted. Although this blog post for the Mayo clinic's depression blog seems to indicate there's preliminary research that suggests massages might help with depression, I'm a tad skeptical, since it seems to be filed under their "alternative treatments" series -- and alternative treatments often vastly overestimate their effects on serious illnesses. This Reuters article notes that studies on massage and depression aren't scientifically rigorous, especially given that they haven't come up with a way to blind the studies. It seems likely the positive effects of this are due to taking time to relax. It seems likely you could have the same effects if you simply took some quiet time to de-stress each day.
  19. Try a new hobby. Winter is a great time to take up knitting, but regardless what the activity is, filling your time with something new — especially something you can do with others — helps break the winter rut and keep the blues away. As someone who's just re-taught herself knitting in the last year, I'm totally in support of people taking up hobbies they enjoy. But again, it's unclear how this might relate to seasonal depression.
  20. Listen to lively music. Again, chalk this up to alternative therapy mumbo jumbo. The New York Times, in an article about music therapy for depression, even says "there aren’t many credible studies of music therapy for depression." If listening to some Robyn gets you going, great. But don't let this make you believe it's a treatment for serious depression problems.

The main problem with this listicle is that it seems to lump together both serious depression problems (including SAD) with general "mood boosters" that probably do nothing to affect one's happiness or mood problems in the long run but are designed to cheer oneself up. That's all well and good, but it would've been nice for them to note that if you're experiencing serious problems with depression -- and give some tips for how to spot it in yourself and others -- then you should probably think about going to see a doctor or counselor. Instead they offer "retail therapy" and alternative treatments that are unlikely to work on serious problems with depression.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Daria Characters: Quinn Morgendorffer

Now that Daria is out on DVD, I bought it and have been working my way though it. Several episodes helped me get through a pretty devastating sickness earlier this week. Let me just say that I loved watching Daria marathons on MTV when I was growing up. The show's sharp social commentary picks at stereotypes prevalent in the 1990s. Granted, the show still perpetuates some stereotypes of its own, but watching it again, it has held up remarkably well over time.

I recently watched "Monster," an episode in season 2 of the show in which Daria and Jane follow Daria's sister Quinn around with a video camera for a class project. Quinn is supposed to be the ultimate stereotype of a pretty and popular high school girl that everyone hates -- that is, unless you were the pretty and popular girl in high school. She's presented as the opposite of the main character Daria, a smart and cynical teenager that provides entertaining sarcastic commentary but is definitely on the social periphery.

But these days, I began to see Quinn a little differently. In many ways, Quinn is an early version of a stereotype we've become intimately familiar with in the past decade: Girls that are under incredible pressure to be perfect. "Monster" reveals Quinn breaking down when discussing her pores -- "My pores are tiny!" she screams. "Stop zooming!" (Oh to think how this might have played out in the era of HD.) The breakdown reveals how much work her seemingly effortless perfection is for her.

Quinn also makes a speech near the end of "Monster" that reveals Quinn has given some thought to her position in the high school social class. I didn't transcribe the speech in full, but the gist of it is that everyone needs to be "good at something" and the something that Quinn is good at is being "attractive and popular." This is remarkably self-aware. She seems to have chosen to throw her effort into what she perceives to be her talent, even if it might be a shallow one.

What's interesting about this is that while Quinn views her her chief job in life is being "attractive and popular" it seems that her interaction with boys isn't anything beyond status. Though Quinn talks nearly constantly about boys, it's almost always as a way of collecting status symbols. She debates whether she wants a boyfriend whose parents have a beach house or a boyfriend whose parents have a ski cottage. Quinn often outright forgets the name of whatever boy has driven her somewhere because to her, they're interchangeable.

Quinn might spend much effort on her beauty, but the fact that she is attractive to the opposite sex is only relevant for what ride she can leverage or other perk she can get from a boy. In many ways, Quinn turns the notion of the revolving door that's usually reserved for girlfriends of the main male character on its head. To her it is the boys that revolve through her life interchangeably and the girls who are members of the fashion club are both her friends and her competition. In Quinn's life, it's the girls that matter the most.

This might be obnoxious, but in many ways, it's also remarkable that she can so adeptly identify how to leverage the power of her appearance. For Quinn, beauty is a form of power -- just so long as she can withstand the pressure.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Links: Retro Edition

  • Though I typically despise listicles, I can at least agree with the premise: The '90s rocked. [The Frisky]
  • Cristina Hendricks on her Johnny Walker: "I like my Green Label neat or I like my Gold Label chilled." [Grub Street]
  • Video: Katha Pollitt on Sarah Palin's gross misinterpretation of feminist history. [GritTV]
  • "I forgot to have children!" postcards [Cafe Press, via Lindsay Beyerstein]
  • Amanda Hess helps us navigate the history behind the New York Times' latest exercise in Sex and the City gender essentialism. [TBD]
  • If you're in New York this weekend, I'd highly recommend partaking in the Radical '80s Prom going on tonight. [Feministe]
  • How much is Netflix's stock worth? [Daily Intel]
  • Sandra Lee is terrible. [YouTube]
  • But, apparently also feminist for having her own career while her boyfriend wins the New York governorship. [Daily Best]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Birth Control Backlash?


New York Magazine recently published a cover story on the 50th anniversary of the pill (something a number of news outlets did months ago), but the story, written by Vanessa Grigoriadis, talks about how wonderful the pill (or the Pill, as she refers to it throughout the piece) is with one giant "but."
The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). Until the past couple of decades, even most die-hard feminists were still married at 25 and pregnant by 28, so they never had to deal with fertility problems, since a tiny percentage of women experience problems conceiving before the age of 28. Now many New York women have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence. For many, this passage into childbearing—a Gail Sheehy–esque one, with its own secrets and rituals—is as fraught a time as the one before was carefree.
Few things set the feminist blogosphere into rants quicker than birth control -- particularly discussions about the pill -- so I'm reluctant to pile on to what's already been said articulately and wonderfully by women I respect. But I do have a few more things to add.

First of all, while the pill (which includes it's alternative methods of the Nuvaring and the Depo-Provera shot) is very popular, it's only barely the most popular form of birth control. According to Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank, 28 percent of women choose the pill as their primary form of birth control. It's followed closely by tubular sterilization (27.1 percent), and more distantly followed by the condom (16.1 percent), male vasectomies (9.9 percent, and intrauterine devices, or IUDs (5.5 percent). Incidentally, IUDs, an effective form of birth control, come with hefty upfront costs that are rarely covered by insurance. It's possible IUDs would be more popular if they were more affordable.

In other words, while the pill has changed the world, it's more that the pill was the first such technology to help women take control over their reproductive lives. Other technologies have stepped in to offer a diverse set of choices for women, even if there are few choices for men -- something Grigoriadis, to her credit, takes time to point out.

Even though the story has a lot of great facts on the pill, how it works, and its importance today, what most women object to on reading Grigoriadis' story is the paragraph I highlighted above. Much of the article is devoted to hemming and hawing over women who delay childbearing too long and then struggle to get pregnant.

But that fiction, while convenient, simply isn't true for everyone. While it is true that women increased the average age of their first birth -- by about 3.6 years according to the Centers for Disease Control -- from 1970, the average age of first birth in America is still only 25 as of 2006. This is, of course, wildly subject to other demographic factors, including your race:

And, of course, the state that you live in. In New York state, the state that Grigoriadis says is plagued with women who are delaying their first pregnancy, the average age of first birth is 26.8. Still pretty young. Incidentally the state that has the highest age of first birth is Massachusetts -- 27.7 years -- just a year older and hardly the threat of 38 at which Grigoriadis hinted.

While averages mean that there are women having children at older ages, that also means there are women having babies at younger ages, too. She's choosing to focus on a specific demographic, a fact that she doesn't even bother to acknowledge.

I was also surprised that Grigoriadis didn't mention potential other, more practical, reasons women may be delaying their fist child. After all, America and Australia are the only two industrialized countries that don't mandate paid maternity leave for women. Furthermore, paternity leave is virtually nonexistent, except for among some high-paying professionals. That puts women in a compromised position from the start for asking more help of their partners with children.

What's more women earn less than their male peers, taking longer for women to set aside acceptable "savings" for their new family members. No wonder so many career-driven women want to wait until they've achieved a certain number of things in their careers before they "settle down" to have children.

But ultimately, it's hard for me to stomach this article scaring women that they're not having babies early enough when the reality is she's talking about a very small segment of relatively privileged women who are making choices to procreate later because they must to send their children to the right schools, have the right house with enough bedrooms, and worry over nutrition during pregnancy. And that is something that definitely can't be blamed on the pill.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...