For folks who don't know, the LRU is a compilation of items from the past week that may be of interest to VPers and is intended to broaden the kinds of conversations we have here.
To submit articles for next week's round-up, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have additional articles you'd like folks to know about this week, feel free to comment directly to this post.
As a reminder, in lieu of trigger warnings, I use keywords describing the themes of the piece. Please skim these before deciding to read the excerpt or click through for the full article. Outside sources are not safe spaces, and mainstream source's comments should almost always be avoided. The links I highlight don't necessarily reflect VP's views, or even my own, for that matter.
This week's round-up includes: changes in China's family planning policies; the benefits and drawbacks of the birth control pill; speaking about miscarriage; unpacking cultural distrust of women; setting the "first Thanksgiving" record straight; "mom" as a label and identity; Skyla v. Mirena IUDs; and nude bodies in various poses.
- China to Ease Longtime Policy of 1-Child Limit by Chrick Buckley at The New York Times (Keywords: China, family planning, one child policy, labor camps)
For decades, most urban couples have been restricted to having one child. That has been changing fitfully, with rules on the books that couples can have two children if both parents are single children. But that policy will now be further relaxed nationwide. Many rural couples already have two children, and some have more.
“This is the first time that a central document has clearly proposed allowing two children when a husband or wife is an only child,” said Wang Guangzhou, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “Now it’s just talking about launching this, but the specific policies have to be developed at the operational level.”
- The Birth Control Pill Has Become a Widely Prescribed Cure-All... But What About the Drawbacks? by Virginia Sole-Smith at Elle (Keywords: birth control pill, endometriosis, mood changes, depression)
“Thank God for the Pill,” my mom said. “Now you won’t have to suffer like I did.” She came of age pre-Advil and spent the first three days of her period cradling a hot-water bottle and throwing up everything she ate. My grandmother had even more dire stories about surviving as a teenage girl in World War II England (that would be before Advil or Ultra Thin Maxipads). The menstrual cycles of the Sole women have always been violent and all-consuming, but at last, liberation was at hand.
- The Other Taboo Of Miscarriage by sonjaessen at Motherhood is Magic (Keywords: pregnancy, miscarriage, reactions, feelings, guilt, infertility)
There is often a taboo linked to miscarriage — one that shouldn’t be there. Women don’t want to talk about their miscarriage experience for many reasons. Usually because it’s a personal and painful experience — and there is often self-blame involved (plus other people can be insensitive.) The woman questions what she did wrong. Was it that glass of wine and cigarette she had the day before she found out she was pregnant? Was it that smoked salmon she ate? And then there’s always the question, “What’s wrong with me?” More often than not, there were chromosomal abnormalities that caused the miscarriage.
However, there is another reaction that is even less talked about. It’s the reaction I had to my miscarriage.
It’s the realization that you’re not sad.
- How We Teach Our Kids That Women Are Liars by Soraya Chemaly at Role/Reboot (Keywords: gender, bias, misogyny, rape, childhood sexual abuse, victim blaming)
No one says, “You can’t trust women,” but distrust them we do. College students surveyed revealed that they think up to 50% of their female peers lie when they accuse someone of rape, despite wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies that show the incidence of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range, pretty much the same as false claims for other crimes. As late as 2003, people jokingly (wink, wink) referred to Philadelphia’s sex crimes unit as “the lying bitch unit.”
- Beyond the So-Called First Thanksgiving: 5 Children's Books That Set the Record Straight
by Debbie Reese at Indian Country Today Media Network (Keywords: Native people, first Thanksgiving, cultural appropriation, children's literature)
Your local bookstore probably has a special shelf this month filled with books about “The First Thanksgiving.” In most of them, Native peoples are stereotyped, and “Indian” instead of “Wampanoag” is used to identify the indigenous people. When the man known as Squanto is part of the stories, his value to the Pilgrims is that he can speak English, and he teaches them how to plant and hunt. The fact that he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Spain—if mentioned at all—is not addressed in the story because elaborating on it would up-end the feel-good story.
But there is an antidote to these books, and it goes beyond volumes that merely counter the feel-good tale. There are a multitude of works by Native writers who tell stories from their experience and history. While Thanksgiving is a good time to grab people’s attention about Wampanoag-European interactions, it does not need to frame the story. These books give a far more nuanced, and accurate, account of Indigenous Peoples. They will set children and adults alike straight on what really happened around the time of the so-called First Thanksgiving, and what Native life is like today.
- STOP CALLING ME "MOM" by Wench at Fat + ZOMGBABY (Keywords: pregnancy, parenting, gender essentialism, mentions of miscarriage, forced birth, adoption)
Secondly, while I myself am cis, and call myself "the pregnant lady" on the regular, YOU'RE NOT MY KID, STOP CALLING ME MOM. "Mom" is not and never will be my ACTUAL NAME. Perfect strangers calling me by something that's not my name? I find that profoundly disrespectful. I wouldn't stand for it even from members of my family. Ask me how "being a mom" is going? Sure. "How's it going, Mom?" Fuck you. That's not my name.
Furthermore, it's so reductionist to just refer to pregnant people as "mom" or any of those variants. Even once I have The Kid, and start filling that "parent" role, even if I go by "Mom" to The Kid, that will be but one part of my life and identity. Yes, it's going to be hugely important to me, and almost certainly take up a lot of my time and energy. But I'll also still be Wench, I'll also be my mom's daughter (and have relationships with the rest of my family, etc. and so on), I'll also still be married to The Man, I'll still be a knitter and a sewer and all of the other things I am. Continually referring to me and all the pregnant people reading this stuff as "Mom" just reduces us to that one thing.
- How does the Skyla IUD compare to the Mirena? by Dr. Jen Gunter (Keywords: birth control, IUDs, ovarian cysts, bleeding, pain)
There is a new IUD on the market called Skyla. It is made by Bayer, the same manufacturers who brought us the Mirena. Like the Mirena it contains the hormone levonorgestrel, although there are a few differences. The main difference the company is touting is the smaller size. Clearly, they manufacturers are targeting nulliparous women with the promise that a smaller size might mean an easier insertion.
- The Real Nude vs. The Posed Nude (NSFW) by Kate Hakala at Nerve (Keywords: nudity, photography, body image, breasts)
In a post entitled, "The Reality of Nude Photos," the writer explored the power of representation when it comes to posing the nude form. In the post, she put two photos of her nude body, taken minutes apart, side by side.
In the first she lies flat, her back arched, and her arms above her head. Her ribs are emphasized and her legs are bent and shapely. It is a photograph of a typically attractive female form in the eye of the media. In the second, she is hunched over, her breasts are hanging, and her stomach is naturally pouched. Both are the same woman, and yet, our reactions to the photographs are different.
Also, in case you missed it, VP is looking for new SSM candidates.
Thoughts on any of these stories (minus the SSM candidate announcement; questions and such about that are best directed to that post)? Also, please don't hesitate to share anything I -- among other VP readers -- may have missed! What have you been reading or writing this week?