“Motherhood seems to be a no-win battle: however you decide to do (or not do) it, someone’s going to be criticizing you. You went to too great lengths trying to conceive. You didn’t go to great enough lengths. You had the baby too young. You should have kept the baby even though you were young. You shouldn’t have waited so long to try and have a baby. You’re a too involved mother. You’re not involved enough because you let your child play on the playground alone. It never ends.
It strikes me that while all this judgment goes on, the options available to women become fewer and fewer. I’m not even (just) talking about the right to choose—across the U.S., women have less access to birth control, health care, reproductive education, and post-partum support. So we give women less information about their bodies and reproduction, less control over their bodies, and less support during and after pregnancy—and then we criticize them fiercely for whatever they end up doing. This seems not only unfair to me but a recipe for societal disaster.” Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
(Thanks to Loribeth for this quote and an excellent book review)
I’ve made a couple of comments elsewhere centered around one larger issue, but figure at this point I should just write a full-blown blog post.
I’ve had several recent conversations with friends who’ve admitted they’ve fallen into a state of constant MSNBC watching, which in turn makes them feel powerless and worried for the future. I think many of us are worried about the rights of women, which are being eroded at a rapid rate here in the US in individual states. We’re worried about the looming catastrophe of global warming, this existential threat hovering over us all like a huge army of white walkers.
Meanwhile, on social media (and media in general) there is a circus going on distracting valuable allies from these real issues at stake. A new skirmish has ignited a battle over household inequality, and how many chores men do vs. women. Writers with books to sell are offering tales of how their husbands don’t do enough chores, tying these stories to overall research showing men do less than women. Is this research reputable? Probably…but do these hot takes help solve this problem? I’m going to say no.
Why not? Isn’t venting to our friends about how much our husbands/partners suck helpful? Well, it depends. Some interesting research has shown that venting can go in two different ways: co-brooding or co-reflection.
Co-brooding is “…the tendency to talk about problems in a passive way, wishing things had turned out differently and feelings of disappointment and dejection would simply go away…co-brooders also tend to focus on all the potentially bad consequences of a particular problem, often predicting future catastrophe.”
Co-brooding also can lead to depressive symptoms in all parties doing the venting. So, that’s not great.
On the other hand, there could be a right way to vent.
Co-reflection “…involves speculating about specific elements of a problem in order to gain a greater understanding of the situation. Using information gleaned from this process, individuals attempt to either seek a solution or prevent the negative event from occurring in the future. In co-reflection, individuals address their problems with the assumption they can do something about them.”
As a Stoic, I love anything that involves “doing something about it.”
And we can! So think of this post as a co-reflection with you all on how to make societal changes, so we don’t get caught co-brooding while Rome burns.
What can we do?
The best chance to change existing social policy is to help elect the right people–at the local, state and national level. The right people who support closing the wage gap, working mothers, subsidized childcare and reproductive rights. So basically, Democrats mostly. (Do your research.)
So how do we do this, as a tiny peon? Groups like Indivisible and Swing Left can help.
Here’s a few campaigns that I think can be impactful: