Monday, March 25, 2013

George Saunders, Stephen Toblowsky and Me

There are two kinds of people in the world, and I have been all of them. Infantile and wise. Majestic and wretched. Crestfallen and elated. Gracious and a horse’s ass. I have been these people and many, many more.

As a writer, this duplicity or plurality of being is important on many levels. Obviously, it's the name of my blog—Two Kinds of People (or 2KoP). I find that it’s a perfect vantage point from which to explore a whole variety of subjects in my writing—a sort of literary springboard.

I’m a self-admitted public radio (NPR) junkie, and two recent interviews have generated some writerly “ah-ha” moments that have made me understand that my interest in “Two Kinds of People” has something to offer all writers … read more on Write It Sideways.

[This post was originally published on Write It Sideways on March 25, 2013.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Steubenville and (Post) Feminism

feminism (noun)

the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.

There are two kind of people in the world: those who understand that rape is a crime, and those who make excuses for it. A couple of years ago, Forbes ran a post called "Who's Afraid of Post-feminism?" by Jenna Goudreau. After listening to and reading about the Steubenville rape and subsequent trial and conviction, I have to say that I'm not too happy to be living in post-feminist world, a world where a young female victim is still being blamed for the crimes committed against her by young men.

I am shocked that those boys and their friends thought it was OK to use new media to further victimize this young woman. I am shocked that traditional media further violated her by revealing her name and calling the conviction of the young men "a tragedy."

In the mid seventies, at the height of the modern feminism movement, the Take Back the Night (TBTN) movement began as stand against sexual violence. I know a young woman whose greatest fear is of being raped. She lives near a college campus and, in a sad irony, her terror began when she first heard students participating in a TBTN event as a young girl. Each year, as she heard the marchers protesting continued sexual violence in her own neighborhood, and realized that women were simply not safe—she was not safe.

And she's right.

Those young men in Stubenville shared their crimes across the interwebs and others participated, passing along appalling photos of the crime in process and adding lurid comments. No one called a halt. No one turned the Tweets over to the police or even to an adult who could intervene. That's a tragedy and, to my mind, a crime.

Until and unless we reach a point where women can make personal choices (good, bad or indifferent) and still be safe from sexual assault, until we stop hiding behind "boys will be boys" and victim blaming, then I'm revoking the "post" from post-feminism.

In 2009, Rebecca Whisnant wrote an essay called "Feminist Perspectives on Rape", found in the The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. She concludes:

"Feminist theorizing about rape draws on a rich tradition of feminist scholarship in many disciplines, as well as on women's insights into their own rape experiences and on the knowledge gained through decades of feminist anti-violence activism. As such theorizing continues to develop—growing both more radical in its challenges to patriarchal social and sexual assumptions, and more global and intersectional in its analysis—it constitutes an essential support for feminist movements against sexual violence."

When it comes to rape, there can be nothing "post" about feminism. When it comes to rape, we must all be feminists. Our feminism must become more radical in its challenges against sexual violence. Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is not a crime. Rape is.

So go ahead, call me a feminist. I can take it. How about you?

photo credit: Slutwalk NYC October 2011 Shankbone 28 by David Shankbone via a Creative Commons License

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sleepless in Chicago

You have to admit, Papa sleeping in a chair makes a good napping place for baby Molly.
There are two three kinds of people in the world: side sleepers (fetal or semi-fetal position), back sleepers (supine or royal position), and stomach sleepers (prone position). Unless, of course, you happen to be my dad (see photo), in which case your favorite sleeping position is in a chair, head thrown back and snoring loudly, or chin slumped to chest (usually going back and forth between the two).

Best practices in pediatrics these days say to put infants to sleep on their backs. According to the National Institute of Child Health's public information campaign called "Safe to Sleep" (formerly "Back to Sleep"), putting infants to sleep on their backs significantly reduces the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

This is great news for parents and babies of the 21st Century, but it comes decades too late for me. I was born when pediatric best practices said to put babies to sleep on their stomachs, so I am and always have been a stomach sleeper. This is more than you really need to know about me, but I bring it up because I have been told stop sleeping on my stomach.

I won't bore you with the medical reasons, but I will ask for your help. Except during pregnancy, I have always slept on my stomach. And while meeting my newborns was a joy beyond measure, being able to sleep on my stomach again was a very close second.

For years we were told it takes 21 days to break a bad habit or start a good one. I've never believed that statistic, and more recent research says the it really takes between 18 and 254 days, depending on your level of commitment and other factors. But even on the far end of that scale, the change happens only when you're making a conscious choice to change. Literally conscious—you are awake and alert and choosing to make a change. Here's my question: how do you change a habit when you are unconscious, i.e., asleep?

I'm doing everything I've been told to do to try to become a side sleeper (I'll never be able to sleep on my back, which is a good thing because it would probably involve snoring). I use one kind of pillow under my head, and sleep with another pillow between my knees, and a third in front of my chest to support the "upper" arm. But I'm still confused. What am I supposed to do with that "bottom" arm? Do I stick it under my head? Shove it down under the side pillow next to the "upper" arm? Nothing is working.

Shifting positions is problematic with all those pillows, too, not to mention disruptive to my husband's sleep. I've also been having even crazier dreams than usual, adding to my general feeling of exhaustion. If you have a suggestion, please let me know in the comments. I don't think I can last 254 days.

Have you ever had to change your sleeping habits? Or any other habit? Leave a comment if you have a good tip.