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Posts Tagged ‘gender’

Track 13: Shut Up, Meat Loaf

Shut Up, Meat Loaf

Jennifer W. Spirko

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any music is improved by being played in a fast-moving car at night with the windows down. When that music is metal ballad, the speed, the darkness and the loudness of highway wind are all but required to fully enjoy it.

That might have summarized my relationship with Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell in college had it not been for a classic Mustang and a good friend.

By the time I was in college, Bat Out of Hell had been in release for a decade or so, its singles soaring through the local rock station of my youth. But, I didn’t really listen to the whole album until a friend copied it on a cassette. Some songs, we insisted, were “car songs,” and these were the obvious examples, since the longest and most fun of the bunch was about having sex in a car. (more…)

Track 2: Flow My Tears

Flow my tears

Claire Miller Skriletz

Flow my tears, fall from your springs…

How nice it must be to be able to cry at the right times, instead of sobbing for no apparent reason when life is going well. Or to be able to cry when someone close dies.

Exiled, forever, let me mourn.

Is self-imposed exile the same as being exiled? Claire pondered this as she considered how her relationships with friends and family had changed since she moved two thousand miles across the country four years earlier. She reminded herself again that no matter how hard it had been, it was the right decision. She had grown tired of her life before; even if life since had been hard emotionally, it was still worth it. The most recent visit to her friends and family had been the most difficult yet – her two closest friends didn’t seem so familiar anymore, despite her efforts to keep in touch. For the first time in their friendship, she and her friend Val had spent several hours together with long, uncomfortable pauses in conversation. (more…)

Kin Keeping and Emotional Labor

Before I read Katie McLaughlin’s essay, “The Invisible Burden That Leaves Moms Drained,” I hadn’t given much thought to kin keeping. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what kin keeping was.

Her essay appeared on my Facebook feed on a day, in which I was sick and sequestered to bed with nothing more to do than read Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, tweet, and scour Facebook for entertainment. As I read McLaughlin’s essay, I had an epiphany: I’m the kin keeper in our family, and this invisible labor leaves me emotionally spent and, frankly, exhausted.

Kin keeping requires tasks that build and foster relationships as well as encourage solidarity not only in your immediate family, but also in your extended family. McLaughlin notes that kin keeping includes what seems to be small or even trivial tasks: remembering birthdays and sending cards or presents; planning and organizing family events, vacations, and parties; picking out and wrapping holiday presents; sending thank you cards; keeping in touch with relatives who live out of town by phone, email, or video-conferencing; organizing the family’s schedule and planning vacations; and remembering who gave your child/children or partner which gift.

What might seem like small task on its own becomes more of a burden as the tasks pile up day in and out.

Kin keeping as (home)work

For example, while researching and writing this essay, I’ve bought a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s classmates; scheduled a play date; stuffed folders in her classroom, which I do every Friday; volunteered to do registration for Grandparents day for two days rather than the one I signed up for because they needed extra volunteers; rescheduled one of my appointments to attend a volunteer luncheon at her elementary school; designed, purchased and mailed invitations to my youngest sister’s bridal shower; organized catering for the shower and the forthcoming wedding; noticed that I still have to find decorations and made a note that I should have called my other sister about this yesterday (argh); drove an hour and 15 minutes see my two week-old nephew and back home; took both kids to Target to pick out Valentine’s Day cards for their classes and scrounged up time to write out the cards for the two-year old. (more…)

Feminist Resolutions

I know it’s June. (Related, how is it already June?) Six months into the year seems an unlikely time for New Year’s resolutions. (You make resolutions in January, not June, Kelly!) But maybe now is the time to re-up those resolutions about making yourself a kinder human being and to forget any resolution that only makes you hate yourself. Here are my suggestions of a few quality feminist resolutions. This essay first appeared in Women in Higher Education’s February 2016 issue. I’m returning to these five goals now to remind myself to be a better person than I often am. I hope you enjoy. Also, never forget to act like mediocre white men when you need that extra shot of confidence.

It’s February, but I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions. The start of the new year is a moment to review the year before, decide what you want to accomplish for the next year, and figure out what bad habits to drop. It is time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Anything seems possible at the beginning of the year.

Every year passed without a new me, who equated happiness and success with my weight and how much academic work I completed. At the start of 2016, I decided I’m over that noise.

New year…same resolutions

For years, my own resolutions revolved around weight, goals, feelings, and career. On January 1st, I would resolve to lose 10 or 20 lbs, find a tenure-track job, or finally be happy.

After the satisfied glow of resolving wore off, I felt worse about myself than I had before. When judging myself by society’s vision of success, I felt like a failure. I critiqued my body and mind, and found myself wanting a different body, brain, and life. (more…)

The Men Who Email Me

As I was driving home today from dropping off children at school and preschool, my mind drifted to the men who email me about my writing. I’m not quite sure why I decided to think about these men, who I’ve never met but who chose to contact me anyway. Perhaps, I thought about these men because of the discussions surrounding the #MoreThanMean video, in which men read the harassing tweets that other men send to women sports writers. The catch is that they read the tweets out loud to the writers. Some of the men can’t say what was tweeted aloud. The campaign hopes to bring attention to the online harassment of women in sports. Of course, online harassment of women writers is not just a problem for women who write about sports, but women who write about anything (and women on the internet more generally). I know this factually as well as intimately because it has happened to me.

In 2007, I started blogging at Religion in American History. When I began writing more about racial violence and white supremacy, commenters were not nice. When I wrote about the murder of George Tiller, a commenter threatened my life. I shrugged off the threat; my partner did not. After my book was published in 2011, I started receiving emails from men who read my work and expected me to respond to their criticisms. A Son of the Confederacy emailed to let me know how wrong I was about Nathan Bedford Forrest being a Klansman. He accused me of harming Forrest’s legacy. A man claiming to be the Second Coming of Jesus wrote me a letter, in which he called me “honey” and told me that I was wrong about the Klan, race, religion, and well, everything. If I only would visit him at his home, he would explain what was really happening in the world. I declined his invite. I laughed off the letter; a member of my department told me to contact the FBI.

On the Facebook page I created for Gospel According to the Klan, men have called me a racist, threatened to beat my ass, and promised to hunt me down and show me how wrong my racism is. None of these men seemed to recognize that I’m a historian that studies the Klan, not a member of the order. I took screenshots of their messages and reported them to Facebook. I tried to find humor in the situation.

These emails and messages were anomalies in my life that I tried to make into funny stories about the weirdness of being a scholar in the internet age. When freelance writing became my career, these were no longer anomalies but realities. I’m a woman who writes on the Internet, which means men email me to tell me what they think of what I’ve written whether I want to know or not. My attempts at humor are long gone.

This morning, I found myself thinking about all these men, who are strangers to me, and the routine similarity of their emails in tone, style, and content. 

The men who email me tell me that I’m wrong. I’ve made the wrong argument. I’ve missed the essential issue or the salient details. I’ve made errors and mistakes. I didn’t use data. I used too much data. They assert that gender is not as big of an issue as I make it out to be or that I don’t realize how hard it is to be a man. They assert that I can never be anything but wrong. (more…)