Engaging Anti-Choice (White) Women: How?

photo by Chloe S. at Unsplash.

This is my second try at writing a post about the reality of anti-abortion laws passing right now in America: despite the rhetoric about men who know nothing about women then creating policies about women’s bodies and health care, the reality is much more complex. It’s men, yes, but also white women. And as far as I can tell, those women who support such policies in the population more broadly are also white. The Atlantic has already done the fact checking. The first post I wrote was mostly snark and I figured that wasn’t useful save to vent my frustration. But that thinking got me to another place: as much as I feel it’s the job of other white women to call these anti-choice white women out and in, I am realizing I don’t know how. And part of the not knowing is not knowing what their deal really is.  Continue reading Engaging Anti-Choice (White) Women: How?

Thank You, The Babysitters Club

This is unlikely very surprising, but I was a precocious child. I read voraciously, cultivated fifty-cent words like ‘voraciously,’ and was generally an enterprising youth. My elementary school math book had paper punch-out dollars and change as part of a unit on money, quickly becoming the only math chapter I ever really loved (until the logic of geometry proofs). Among my many quirks was a deep love for the stationary aisle at any store, those multi-layered carbon receipt books in particular. When Staples opened it was a revelation. I loved the idea of documenting things, of creating a situation that warranted such documentation. Bring on the notebooks and fancy pens!

Imagine my utter delight when The Babysitters Club was published.

I credit The Babysitters Club with much of my itch to build small businesses. Tenacious Feminist is part of a larger consulting brand that includes my genealogical work, but it’s not my first foray into entrepreneurship. In addition to the lemonade stands and hours and hours of babysitting, I also created a sewing company that got me through grad school with my sanity mostly intact.

If you haven’t read the books, the gist of it is this: a bunch of preteen girls who do neighborhood babysitting in Stoneybrook, Connecticut, form a club so as to more efficiently sit for all the kids in town. They call it The Babysitters Club (BSC).

There are dozens of books in the series featuring the four main characters: Kristy, the tomboy-ish lead, daughter of divorce. MaryAnn, whose mom died when she was young, leaving her with an overprotective dad and a lifetime of sheepishness. Claudia, Japanese-American with uncanny fashion sense (I still remember reading about a giant purple sweater she wore). Stacey, diabetic with gorgeous blond hair and links to New York City. I wanted to be all of them.

Most readers might have been mostly interested in Stacey’s ongoing romance with boyfriend Logan or MaryAnn’s struggle for independence but me? I wanted the paperwork.

The club held open office hours at Claudia’s house twice a week, where she had a dedicated phone line. Parents could thus call one number and find an available sitter from several. As calls came in, the club consulted a calendar of their available time. Dates and names ere be pencilled in, pay rates recorded, dues to the club paid and tracked–the club had to fund said notebook as well as periodic pizza parties, after all.

Did I mention that THEY HAD THEIR OWN PHONE LINE? This felt like the epitome of business ventures to me. I wanted in. (This, btw, is the phone I eventually got installed in my room. It was amazing, but I still shared the line with the rest of my family).

The club also kept client records, a diary of difficult pets, weird neighbors, and kids’ various issues. Allergies? Noted. Neighbor rumored to be a witch? Accounted for.

LET ME IN YOUR CLUB. I had a collection of purposeless notecards, an old steno notebook (two columns? OMG the possibilities), and at least one four-colors-in-one pen.
80s cool. Don’t even get me started on Trapper Keepers, the best thing to happen to people who like to organize stuff since the invention of paper.

The example of the BSC stuck with me. Since I was 13ish and a regular sitter myself, I’ve been earning my own paychecks. My love for paperwork led me to fill out my own tax forms by myself when I had a proper job (in a pharmacy–boring but those first checks? hot damn). And the trappings of running a business have always excited me: from stickers to excel spreadsheets to ULINE catalogs to accounting software, those details fill me with glee. The BSC notebook has loomed large for me since I first read about it.

More importantly, though I didn’t think much about it at the time, is that seeing a group of young girls create their own company served as a form of representation for me: I could do that. And I think that’s been at the back of my mind ever since. Between the BSC’s carefully organized sitting business to Nancy Drew’s detective enterprise (though I don’t recall her getting paid), I read constantly–voraciously, even–about young women forging entrepreneurial paths. I have to credit them with contributing to who I was, in order for me to be who I now am.


Frugaler February: Recap

It’s time to recap how we did during Frugaler February! Sure, you’re reading this on February 27 and chuckling “but there’s still today and tomorrow!” I, however, only have time to write on February 27, so this post is what you get.

As you may recall, here are the rules:
  1. Eating in restaurants is limited to once a week.
  2. Coffee out is fine if it means I’m working in a coffee shop on my projects for a couple of hours. Muffins and related yummies are now generally on the no-go list (the expanding waistline is real, and I like baking more than coffee shop muffins).
  3. Don’t shop much–this is generally easy. Buy mostly essentials/needs, avoid the rest.
  4. I must move this body at least 3-4x/week. I’d gotten one good week in in January, after having an endless cold, only to spend most of last week injured. Ha. So this category needs work.
  5. Less booze. I like to imbibe. A glass of wine at night is fine by me. But maybe fewer nights? And probably not out as much, since booze is big money when it’s not happy hour.
So how’d we do?

We did generally very well at this. We ate out on Fridays, capping our weeks with a dinner we didn’t cook. We cheated twice-ish: once, we also got Chipotle on Saturday, and last Sunday friends we hadn’t seen in a while invited us over for games and Chinese take-out. The perk here is that technically Sunday started a new week, one that ends on a Thursday, so we did a pretty stellar job here. Another minor purchase: I got a slice of pumpkin bread and a yogurt parfait in the caf yesterday because I was hungry and working a very long day. It was worth the $4.75, but technically I broke the rules.

Category 1.

I broke the rules twice. Once, I got coffee as I started a long drive on a bleak gray day. And yesterday I got one on the way in to work for my very long day; I didn’t have coffee left in my office as I’d forgotten to get packets at the grocery store this last weekend. Not too bad, tho.

Category 2.

We did a great job here, tho things cropped up we didn’t initially expect that became essential-ish. One, decorations for a party we’re throwing for my inlaws this weekend. Two, a little gift for a young friend of ours who turned 12. Three, a donation to the endowment of an org I preside over that I meant to make in January and needed to make before our board meets this Friday 😆

Category 3.

Unrelated to money, but related to money. I signed up for StepBet–this was a $40 outlay that should go under category three, except that if I do what I’m supposed to do, I get my $40 plus some. I’m considering it neutral cash but the threat of losing $40 makes me get my steps in daily. I’ve been walking around the mall, over and over, on these cold days. I hate the mall, so this tells you how much I value $40.

Category 4.

Yeah, I probably did the least well here. I got a drink with every Friday dinner, and last night bought one while on a work dinner (work won’t buy booze). That’s my guiltiest splurge throughout February. I generally only imbibed on class days and weekends, so that’s some cutting back, but if I mean to do this, I need to actually mean to do it.

Also part of Frugaler February was reconsidering my kickboxing membership; I’m letting it go for now because I rarely make it, so that’ll save me $600. I may spend it later, but not now.

Overall, we did really well.

We had some unexpected essentials–an expensive plumbing repair and ill cat. What can you do. But we didn’t go out when bored (really hard in the long, dark winter) and we ate damn near everything we cooked and cooked nearly everything we ate. We won’t really see the benefits until my February credit card statement, which closes right about now, comes due at the end of March, but it’ll be really nice to have that smaller bill.

In the meantime, it’s almost Moderate March.
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Lindsay and the Feminism of “You’re The Worst”

“You’re the Worst” is in its last season on FX. On one level, the show is about four friends who are terrible people. As the show unfolds, however, it goes from an over-the-top depiction of their awfulness and into the deep complexities of why people behave as they do and the relationships that sustain them. Ultimately it’s a ridiculous, beautiful, hilarious and sad show and I’m sorry to see it go. And while each character could have their own post, I’m here to talk about Lindsay, played by Kether Donohue.



Lindsay, like all of the characters on “You’re the Worst,” is a wreck. She’s married when the show opens to a man she barely cares for, she’s selfish as hell, and usually comes across as remarkably unintelligent. She’s got one sister, Becca, who is also a disaster. As the show unfolds viewers learn about their upbringing; their mom was an actress who largely left them to raise themselves and jerked them from boyfriend to boyfriend. Lindsay’s had a series of jobs, none of which she particularly likes or understands because of her short attention span and unwillingness to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

Across the years, however, I’ve come to adore Lindsay and how the character works on the show.

She takes no shit from anyone.

She’s become increasingly better over time for her best friend, Gretchen; sometimes they’re still self-destructive together, but Lindsay often has pithy wisdom that cuts through Gretchen’s bullshit and the fog of her depression (the two things are sometimes but not always related).

Lindsay carries herself with great confidence, even when the situation does not warrant such boundless self-optimism. She’s a model unto others of caring less about what others think.

She knows she’s sexy as hell and has never considered apologizing for it. She’s often in low-cut tops and has glorious underthings.

She does what she wants in terms of her own sexuality. She wants a man, she gets one.



What’s especially a big deal about the last two here is that Lindsay’s a curvy lady and it makes no difference at all in how she is in the world. After watching the most recent episode I realized never once in five years has the show mentioned her weight.

There’s no diet storyline, no “I need to fit in this dress” motif, none of the usual tropes you get with voluptuous women on tv, particularly voluptuous women surrounded by thinner women, or hell, just shows with women at all! The writers seem to have made an active choice that Lindsay’s size is a non-thing; even while brawling with Becca or as she plumbs the depths of the problems with her mom, it doesn’t come up. This is a tremendous departure from damn near every show on tv. It’s glorious and liberating.

While “You’re the Worst” may not be the most obviously feminist show on TV, the choices the writers, costumers, and Kether Donohue have made in scripting, dressing and playing Lindsay make it one of the most strongly feminist shows. The radicalness of their choices can be seen just by doing a google image search for images of Lindsay from the show or for Donohue–the top options are predictably body-focused. But Lindsay, regardless of her faults, gives us a future in which such bullshit doesn’t matter. Let’s all give fewer fucks.



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Frugaler February

Having enjoyed both the Christmas season credit card bill and seen our appalling tax bill (thanks for that tax cut, jerks!), it’s time for us to get our financial house a bit more in order. We’re generally pretty good financial eggs, but we have a serious weak spot for dining out (the winter is long and the cats make us crazy, so we go out). I haven’t run the 2018 credit card report, but I’d bet dollars to donuts (both of which are on there) that the biggest category for us is dining–we’re not really shoppers and don’t travel much. Since I’m feeling broker than usual, so I’m putting us (well, at least me) on a Frugaler February. Frugaler February is about spending but also about what I choose to eat and do.

Here are the rules:
  1. Eating in restaurants is limited to once a week.
  2. Coffee out is fine if it means I’m working in a coffee shop on my projects for a couple of hours. Muffins and related yummies are now generally on the no-go list (the expanding waistline is real, and I like baking more than coffee shop muffins).
  3. Don’t shop much–this is generally easy. Buy mostly essentials/needs, avoid the rest.
  4. I must move this body at least 3-4x/week. I’d gotten one good week in in January, after having an endless cold, only to spend most of last week injured. Ha. So this category needs work.
  5. Less booze. I like to imbibe. A glass of wine at night is fine by me. But maybe fewer nights? And probably not out as much, since booze is big money when it’s not happy hour.

Other areas of effort include thinking about my karate studio membership: I go there for a kickboxing class (it’s like a high-energy self-defense class), but it’s an 18 minute drive with no traffic and a half an hour with it–that’s why I don’t go as much as I ought. It was easy in the summer, but I’ve barely made it in since October. Renewal is March 1. It’s a serious chunk of change, especially since we also have gym memberships and pay for training. I like doing it, but I don’t know that I like doing it at a rate of $100/month. So this needs real thought.

Four days in and tho my husband has no idea we/I’ve been doing this, things are going well. All we’ve purchased are groceries and cat food, including a pie we took to a night with some friends and ingredients for something to bring to a superbowl party last night. I stocked up on ground turkey because I had a digital coupon making it $1.48/pound, but it didn’t scan correctly so I’m headed back there for an adjustment today (and they’ll likely have to give it to me for free–state laws say if something scans wrong, you get it free here). We have enough food to basically not shop but for lunch supplies and some fresh veg for at least a week or two. The issue will be sticking to it when we’re tired or bored.

Don’t be a Rich Jerk

Good morning, dear readers! Today we’re going to have a fun chat about money and shame. It’s going to be one giant subtweet of Some People on the Internet. Let’s do it.

Let’s start here, with Tanja Hester’s pithy observations about charitable giving (you can source her points here):

Predictably, within a few short hours people were lamenting that we shouldn’t shame people on how they spend their money, because it was their money to spend.

Now the core of this point has some truth to it: we shouldn’t shame people on how they spend their money. If you saw this twitter thread last week you know the many ways in which poor people are shamed: if they pick up some fast food, if they have a smartphone, if they drive a decent car–all of their choices are policed by those who needn’t worry about such things. It has to do with control: some wealthier people seem to think they have the best ability to make choices and that poor people have made chronically bad choices, thus leading to poverty. You can’t throw a rock on the personal finance internet without hitting this kind of belief in bootstrap narratives. Even though most of America’s wealthiest players have made their money on far more than the sweat of their brows (family money, government subsidies and tax breaks only the wealthy enjoy, the ability to invest their money so as to make passive income, etc.), they’re treated as though they’re all self-made–and those who are struggling are often treated as the opposite, even though they make up far more of the population.

The recent government shutdown and the idiotic criticisms of government employees as not having substantial enough emergency funds to weather an unanticipated MONTH-LONG shutdown is a prime example. Suddenly every choice an employee ever made was up for public scrutiny, and the scrutinizing done by people who have no idea what the employees’ lives were like but who spoke like some kind of god-given authority.

Then some of the very same circles of people started talking about how we shouldn’t shame the rich for not giving to charity.

For me this hits on so many levels of things. One, peoples’ wealth-bias was showing here. Glaringly. They’re buying into the “wealthy people know best” narrative, and that narrative is garbage.

Next, you’re letting people who could make a serious difference off the charitable giving hook while also taking for granted how much less wealthy to downright poor people DO help each other out. We also need to talk about how so many people (cough, Jeff Bezos, cough) make their money by keeping others at stupidly low wages–and how when they do finally decide to be charitable, it’s often a tiny percentage of their wealth they give away; in reality, they could still be stupidly wealthy while paying people more and putting more money towards good causes.

You see, for example, I think shooting a car into space isn’t a good cause.

We have tremendous wealth disparity right now in the US and in the world at large. Shaming less-wealthy people for their lack of emergency funds while claiming wealthy people shouldn’t be shamed for their financial choices reflects not just a double standard but a double standard that promotes these ongoing disparities. It supports the “wealth knows best” approach and unsurprisingly rejects any awareness of systemic problems that exist, persist, and grow with wealth disparity.

We can fix this, and if shame’s what it takes, well, I’m all for it.


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Oh, hello there.

The last several months of 2018 were both a whirlwind and an eternity. My semester was one of the most challenging I’ve had, mostly in terms of numbers (a good thing, but exhausting as I rushed to get through all the exams, papers, and so on) and other work stresses I didn’t anticipate. On top of that were current events, and I spent a lot of time explaining those things, as best I could, to my students who both didn’t know the things that were happening (blissful college information bubble, I remember thee well) and/or didn’t understand what was happening. Spending so much time explaining to students–combined with a high level of stress about them, detailed below–utterly sapped my energy for blogging about the same.

Current events stressed me out far more than I remember happening before. I chalk this up to a couple of things. One, politics aren’t good. Arguably, they are worse in many ways than I’ve ever seen in my forty years, and I’ve seen a lot of assholes come and go. They feel more chaotic, and I don’t like that feeling of careening with little sense of where we’re going and when. Two, because I wasn’t doing much besides grading and otherwise working, I spent a lot of time online in between grading hours and I think I overdid it. There’s a point at which I have a solid understanding of events and really ought to walk away for my own sanity. I’m not good at that.

But we made it. 2018 is closing, and I don’t think many of us are sad to see it go. May 2019 be what you need it to be. May you find some peace with the world, with who you are, with the hardships and challenges you face.

Oh, and big big thanks to Bitches Get Riches for joining TF as a patron last fall!

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So, you say you’re an ally (thoughtful meanderings)

Good Monday to you. This morning the New Yorker is reporting that the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh ordered on Friday is looking like a sham given the ridiculous limits the White House has placed upon it. The self I worked to rebuild all weekend is feeling like garbage again, and so I’m writing this post. Continue reading So, you say you’re an ally (thoughtful meanderings)

New Normal?

I am trying to wrap my head around what has gone down today.

I did not watch all of the hearings. I was in class most of the time.

I am assuming that despite all of this, the GOP will fall in line and Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the supreme court.

That his abuse of women is a feature, not a bug, of him and many men like him.

That even if most Americans disagree, it doesn’t matter. But do most Americans disagree that misogyny is a problem? I don’t know.

I’m struggling with having spent my career advocating for women and teaching about working in and around systems to help women achieve change, and seeing so much of what’s happening now as a big fuck you to all of that.

I believe that this response–the visceral hatred, the rage of thwarted entitlement shown by Kavanaugh and his supporters like Grassley and Graham–is an angry tantrum by men who see their way of living (misogynist and racist capitalist ways of being) are threatened for realsy real. but I don’t know that we survive the tantrum enough as a political system to go back to fighting it.

I’ve seen so many women on social media talking about how tired they are. I am, too. I am exhausted to my marrow. The mere existence of this week’s events has left me drained of all energy, in part because it’s exhausting to feel invisible and irrelevant all the time.

I’m tired of having to be a warrior for obvious fucking shit.

Even if there’s a wave of democratic victories in November–women, too, in office in bigger numbers than in a long time–he’ll still be there, his sneering, contemptuous face a blight on the judicial system that, while flawed, has served the nation fairly well (barring exceptions) a long time.

My god I’m exhausted. I can turn it off and be someone else for a while–I can watch tv, dawdle the internet, grade papers–but it comes back, the realization that I am purely a sex and housekeeping object for a host of our population, and that they’d grind me up if they could, for fun, particularly if I threatened them.

I don’t know how we bounce back if, when, this man is confirmed.

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