Delia Ephron said it all in Sunday’s New York Times:
To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up.
Nothing more to say. At all.
Delia Ephron said it all in Sunday’s New York Times:
To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up.
Nothing more to say. At all.
Anne Lamott and I are friends. Okay, not personally, but I follow her on Facebook. (We did have a moment a decade ago when I shook her hand after she gave a talk up in Berkeley. But anyway.) When her latest post popped up in my news feed this morning, a bunch of bells went off. Abso-effing-lutely, I thought. I’ll have what she’s having. In her funny and inimitable way, she wrote about doing a “once-in-lifetime writerly thing”:
…one of those high octane events where you just KNOW you will feel completely better about yourself for the rest of your life in every way, because it means you will have truly arrived…And I got VERY lost. It has taken me four days, two Kissing dogs, church, three hikes, two huggy girlfriends, and two visiting brothers for me to get found.
Her point was that feeling whole, being happy, is an inside-out kind of deal, rather than vice versa:
My entire life I have believed that there was something I could achieve, own, lease or date that would make me feel permanently whole, and I’m pretty sure that this side of eternity, this will be my default mode. If only THIS would happen, or if only that would fall into place, or if I just met the right person, or got the right review, or got to live in a house with a fill-in-the-blank… But the horrible truth of life is that this whole less, being friends with your own heart, is ALWAYS going to be an inside job.
No kidding. It’s something we’ve written about a lot – on our blog, in Undecided, which, if you have in your to-read pile, just flip straight to the last two chapters. What Lamott wrote and what we found in our research on the science of happiness is this: That Next Best Thing? It might make you giddy for a while. But the elusive thing we call happiness? Probably not for the long haul. As we wrote once before:
We’ve bought into the idea that Happy is measurable, and especially for women it breaks down like this: Great career, with a fat paycheck and smug title. Exotic vacations (cue Facebook). Adorable family that shows well in the Christmas card photo. And, of course, scores well, too. Sexy as all get out (and thin to boot). A closet full of killer boots. (Okay, my own personal preference. Note: I do not measure up.) Yoga class and book club. And granite in the kitchen.
But here’s the spoiler: Quantitative research by UC-Riverside psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the How of Happiness, found that happiness is about 10 percent due to changed circumstances, like, for example, the blue pearl granite on my counter-tops. The rest? Your genes, your life and how you deal with it. In other words, all you, baby.
There’s a theory called the hedonic treadmill, and what it means is that we adapt to new situations, whether winning the lottery or getting fired from a job. Our happiness quotient might spike – or plummet –at first, but then we revert. And as Dan Ariely—author of The Upside of Irrationality and a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University—found is that the one-shot rush you get from, say, buying a new car or getting a raise is fleeting and, in fact, not nearly as lasting as the sense of well-being you get from meaningful experiences, whether large or small. Taking a vacation, say, or spending time doing the stuff you love or with the people you love – the memories of which can stick with you, change you, and teach you something significant about your Self. That’s the stuff, research shows, of which happy is made.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am as aspirational and as ambitious as the next woman. Maybe more so. I would also be the last to assert that we should blow off our dreams, to quit our quest to break through the glass ceiling at work, to rise above that nasty 77 cents on the dollar, or to stop fighting for true gender equity. But what I think is this. Maybe what we need to do is separate the outside from the inside.
Granted, being a woman of (ahem) a certain age, this may be all the product of hindsight, one of the few benefits of growing older. But what I have come to realize, and what Lamott reminded me today, is that the inner sense of well-being, the kind you can sink into like a comfy pillow after a long hard day, has more to do with who you are – than what you do or what you have. The fatter paycheck, the once in a lifetime writerly thing, that bigger better kitchen may be all that – and, in fact, probably are. But happiness itself, the kind that lasts? Something else entirely.
And often, that something else arises completely unannounced, triggered by a random memory that reminds you what it takes to throw that smile on your face., that puts you in touch with who you are and what you value. As it turns out, I had one of those moments just this morning when, listening to music while out on a run, up popped Bruce belting out “Pink Cadillac.” Which triggered all kinds of memories. Every single one of them delicious. (I’ll share. Just ask.)
And when I took a moment to reflect, I had an aha moment, not unlike Lamott’s. It reminded me what, within my own private universe, my own sense of happiness is all about. And that smile? Still there.
The Feminine Mystique is 50 years old; do you know where your equality is?
Here’s a hint: if you’re a woman living in America, it’s still pretty far out of reach. Because for as far as women have come in the ol’ US of A, the fact is that the state of affairs here–compared to most of the rest of the world, is pretty freaking abysmal. As Stephanie Coontz wrote in an op-ed entitled “Why Gender Equality Stalled” in Sunday’s NYT,
Astonishingly, despite the increased workload of families, and even though 70 percent of American children now live in households where every adult in the home is employed, in the past 20 years the United States has not passed any major federal initiative to help workers accommodate their family and work demands. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guaranteed covered workers up to 12 weeks unpaid leave after a child’s work or adoption or in case of a family illness. Although only about half the total workforce was eligible, it seemed a promising start. But aside from the belated requirement of the new Affordable Care Act that nursing mothers should be given a private space at work to pump breast milk, the FMLA turned out to be the inadequate end.
Meanwhile, since 1990 other nations with comparable resources have implemented a comprehensive agenda of “work-family reconciliation” acts. As a result, when the United States’ work-family policies are compared with those of countries at similar levels of economic and political development, the United States comes in dead last.
As I likely do not need to tell you, the number of hours worked expected from the average worker during the average workweek has ticked steadily up in recent years, making the idea of two full-time employees trying to raise a child while maintaining each of their careers near impossible. So someone steps down. Men are generally paid more than women–so guess which one tends to do the stepping down? And in fact, the more hours a man works, the more likely it is his female partner will quit her job. (And interestingly, married dads whose wives don’t work full time get paid more. Grrr.)
I have an extremely talented, very driven friend who works in New York, in a highly competitive, fast-evolving field. She is passionate about her work, and fiercely devoted to keeping her skills current. Her husband makes more money than her, and his job offers benefits. They’re thinking of having a baby. Her current boss won’t pay for leave–and, she’s been feeling pretty stagnant in her position. Up until recently, she’d been looking for a new job. But now, she’s thinking, well, maybe I’ll just take some time off when we have the baby. Child care is so expensive anyway. It’ll put her at a disadvantage later, but she doesn’t see much of a choice. She’s stopped looking for something new–despite the fact that she has not, as of yet, stopped taking the pill.
Sheryl Sandberg would call this a classic case of “leaning out”–taking oneself out of the game before it’s necessary in anticipation of work-life issues–and suggest that this friend of mine rethink her strategy, “lean in” instead. Even this friend of mine looks at is as a personal choice. But the thing is, in cases like this, the personal is, in fact, political.
Going back to Coontz’s piece:
The sociologist Pamela Stone studied a group of mothers who had made these decisions. Typically, she found, they phrased their decision in terms of a preference. But when they explained their ‘decision-making process,’ it became clear that most had made the ‘choice’ to quit work only as a last resort–when they could not get the flexible hours or part-time work they wanted, when their husbands would not or could not cut back their hours, and when they began to feel that their employers were hostile to their concerns. Under those conditions, Professor Stone notes, what was really a workplace problem for families became a private problem for women.
Every time we buy into that idea — that what’s going on with us has only to do with us — the movement stalls just a little bit more. It’s been fifty years since The Feminine Mystique… and twenty since the Family and Medical Leave Act. In order for things to change, we have to realize that what we are up against is bigger than the particular circumstances of our own lives.
Just as the miserable, Valium-popping suburban wives of Friedan’s day might have looked around at their gleaming linoleum and state-of-the-art vacuum cleaners and said, but I chose this, we too can look at everything as a personal choice. Or we can step back, take a broader look, and realize that while, yes, perhaps we did “lean out”–taking a lesser job in a lesser place because our husband made the big bucks, or taking some time off work with the baby because it “made more sense” even though, in an ideal world, we’d like to work, too–a huge, invisible (and not so invisible) part of why we “decided” to lean out is systemic. It’s cultural and it’s structural and it’s policy-determined and it is, in fact, political.
The graphic that ran with Coontz’s story is a color-coded world map that shows which countries have paid maternity leave, by weeks provided. Those in the “none” category included Palau, Papau New Guinea, Nauru, Western Samoa, Tonga, Suriname, and the United States. Aren’t we better than this?
Posted in culture, decision-making, why women?, worklife balance, workplace | Tagged "lean in", "Why Gender Equality Stalled", Affordable Care Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, flexible hours, leaning out, New York Times, Pamela Stone, part-time work, Sheryl Sandberg, Stephanie Coontz, The Feminine Mystique, work-family reconciliation | 3 Comments »
Something has been nagging at me ever since I read Christina Hoff Sommers’ Opinionator piece in Sunday’s New York Times. Did you catch it? It’s yet another essay lamenting the disconnect between today’s school system and, well, the nature of boys.
Her piece, which links declining male achievement with grade school culture, is pegged to a new study that found that, despite the fact that boys do just as well as girls on standardized tests, they are less likely to “get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college.”
No previous study, to my knowledge, has demonstrated that the well-known gender gap in school grades begins so early and is almost entirely attributable to differences in behavior. The researchers found that teachers rated boys as less proficient even when the boys did just as well as the girls on tests of reading, math and science. (The teachers did not know the test scores in advance.) If the teachers had not accounted for classroom behavior, the boys’ grades, like the girls’, would have matched their test scores.
Can we just stop with the “woe be the boys” bullshit? Arrgh.
Before I go on, let me assert my bias straight up. I myself am a girl. My two children are girls. All our pets, save one, have been female. One of my daughters and I wrote a whole book about, and for, women. And if you check the first paragraph of this post, you might surmise — correctly, in fact — that while most of you, my husband included, were watching the Super Bowl, I was snuggled up on the couch reading the newspaper. How girl can you get?
And so, yes, I may well be looking at this issue through pink-colored glasses, but what rankles me is the timing of all this tedious “end of men” business. I have no problem with Sommers’ point that boys struggle with school, more so than girls, because classrooms are set up to favor kids who can sit still, do as they’re told, and work independently, skills that girls tend to develop before boys do. In fact, I agree completely.
But hasn’t that always been the case? What creeps me out is my suspicion that the real reason we are so worried about boys of late is the fact that when it comes to college or grad school or scoring the job with the corner office, girls have started to catch up. Did we ever worry about grade school culture when, not that long ago, the majority of college grads were male? No need to answer.
I think back to my grade school days at a Catholic school in San Francisco taught by no-nonsense nuns who would put the fear of God into God himself. I still remember the names of the class trouble-makers who were sent regularly to the principal’s office for mouthing off, who were stuck on the bench at recess, who routinely flunked their spelling tests and, by seventh or eighth grade, were the first to smoke cigarettes and drink beer. Boys, every one. The girls, for the most part, got the gold stars and rarely got in trouble for anything more serious than rolling up their plaid skirts.
And yet, a few years down the line, most of those naughty little boys graduated from college, grad school even, and grew up to be highly successful men, pulling down the big bucks. As for the good little girls? Either married to them or working for them.
My point being, we had no problem with the ways in which schools privileged girls back in the days when we knew that, sooner or later, the boys would grow up to assume their rightful place. But now that girls have begun to hold their own, we wring our hands and kvetch about leveling the playing field.
As if anticipating my riff, Sommers ends her piece this way:
I can sympathize with those who roll their eyes at the relatively recent alarm over boys’ achievement. Where was the indignation when men dominated higher education, decade after decade? Isn’t it time for women and girls to enjoy the advantages? The impulse is understandable but misguided. I became a feminist in the 1970s because I did not appreciate male chauvinism. I still don’t. But the proper corrective to chauvinism is not to reverse it and practice it against males, but rather basic fairness. And fairness today requires us to address the serious educational deficits of boys and young men. The rise of women, however long overdue, does not require the fall of men.
I couldn’t agree more: The rise of women does not at all require the fall of men. Where I part company with Sommers, and the rest of the end-of-men contingent, is with the implication that the two are even related.
Posted in culture, feminism, gender roles | Tagged "End of Men", Christina Hoff Sommers, New York Times, school culture, Undecided: How to ditch the endless quest for perfect and find a career -- and life -- that works for you | 2 Comments »
There’s this great quote from Feminist icon Germaine Greer: When we talk about women having it all, what they really have all of is the work.” She was being somewhat facetious. But then again, not so much.
Which leads me to wonder: Would women be more powerful if we could just say no? A couple of recent studies just say yes.
Some say that women are hard-wired to please. Others say we’re socialized that way. In either case, we see it all the time: Good little girls doing as they’re told at home, eager for the stamp of approval from mommy or daddy. Older girls sitting still in class and turning in their homework on time to please their teachers.
But what’s surprising is that, according to a new study, even those of us raised with the “you go, girl” rhetoric never seem to outgrow our eagerness to please. According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, a paper presented at the American Economic Association meeting earlier this month confirms that even when we grow up, we’re much more likely to say “yes” when we want to say “no”.
The study focused on 47 business-school students who were asked to recall a time when they were asked to do a favor on the job when they really didn’t want to. And guess what?
The female participants did the favor, even though they were five times more likely than males to report having felt worn out. Perhaps they obliged because they were also twice as likely to have been worried about the consequences of saying no.
Ya think? The researchers further postulated that this willingness to do favors “may lead them to become overburdened with low-skill tasks.”
In other words, when we find ourselves locked into a continuing chorus of “Sure, I’ll be happy to…”, it not only saps our time, but zaps our power as well.
So much for the need to say no when we’re at work. Head on over to the homefront and you find another related power drain: According to a new study out of The University of California at Berkeley and Emory University, women who rule the roost at home are less likely “to pursue promotions and other career advancement steps at the office.” In other words, when you’re the CEO at home, you’re much less likely to ever come close to the C-suite at work:
“It appears that being in charge of household decisions may bring a semblance of power to women’s traditional role, to the point where women may have less desire to push against the obstacles to achieving additional power outside the home,” said UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen, a co-author of the study.
Despite the feminist movement and other gender equity efforts, women largely retain authority over child-rearing and household chores and finances, with men deferring to their expertise in these matters, researchers point out. This paradigm has had an impact on women’s career choices, the study implies.
Whether all this power over domestic decisions takes away our ambition by fulfilling our innate need for power – or simply drains our energy– who knows for sure. But, says Chen, when it comes to seizing power in the workplace, we ought to let some go at home. Women need to “at least partially abdicate their role of ultimate household deciders, and men must agree to share such decision making.”
In other words, there’s only so much of us to go around, and we should use ourselves wisely. The first step might be to reconsider the messaging we’ve been raised with: As we’ve written here and in our book, told we can have it all, we heard we must do it all. Told we can do anything, we heard that we could do everything – and we’d better do it perfectly. We are told to be grateful for all the choices we have, and, of course, we are, but the one crucial message that never got sent was this: every choice entails a trade-off. If you’re doing A, you can’t be doing B.
Or, in light of the studies above, you can’t be doing favors for someone else at work, and still have time to charge ahead on your own projects. Nor, apparently, can you run the household like a CEO — and have any mojo left when it comes to climbing the ladder at work. Which is to say, we need to give ourselves permission to let go. Or even abdicate. Even if it means that some things get done less than perfectly. Or not at all.
When you think about it, it’s all pretty simple. All we need do is learn to say no.
Posted in "What should I do with my life?", gender roles, workplace | Tagged Ambition gap, Emory University, Germaine Greer, Pleasers, Serena Chen, University of California at Berkeley, Wall street Journal, workplace | 1 Comment »
It’s easy to be appalled by things that happen elsewhere: the brutal, horrifying rape of the 23 year-old Indian student, so violent that she died of her injuries. Malala Yousufzai, the 15 year-old Pakistani schoolgirl/activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban. It’s easy to feel a sort of removed pity in the face of such tragedies. But what we should feel is urgency, and responsibility.
And not just because gender violence happens here, too. In Steubenville, Ohio, an equally despicable incident happened last August, when an unconscious 16 year-old girl was carried from party to party, and raped over and over again.
It would be hard to carry out such acts on someone you saw as human, equal and valuable. It would be hard to carry out such acts if such acts were (loudly) understood to be completely unacceptable.
Reading Sunday’s New York Times, I was struck by two pieces: Nicholas D. Kristof’s excellent “Is Delhi So Different From Steubenville?,” and Maureen Dowd’s article about the lack of women appointed to top spots by President Obama so far. When it comes to policy and representation, is the U.S. doing as well as it could? Hardly.
As Kristof writes,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done a superb job trying to put these issues on the global agenda, and I hope President Obama and Senator John Kerry will continue her efforts. But Congress has been pathetic. Not only did it fail to renew the Violence Against Women Act, but it has also stalled on the global version, the International Violence Against Women Act, which would name and shame foreign countries that tolerate gender violence.
Congress even failed to renew the landmark legislation against human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The obstacles were different in each case, but involved political polarization and paralysis. Can members of Congress not muster a stand on modern slavery?
(Hmm. I now understand better the results of a new survey from Public Policy Polling showing that Congress, with 9 percent approval, is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, lice or Genghis Khan.)
We can’t let Congress off the hook when it comes to these policies. According to Politifact, “On Dec. 11, 2012, U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and 119 other members of Congress signed a letter calling on House leaders to hold a vote on re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act.” That vote never happened.
But there’s more than policy to consider. As Dowd writes, citing New York Magazine, apparently Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has a better record of appointing top women than Obama. Here’s a bit more from her:
‘We don’t have to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women’ to excel in all fields, the president said on the trail, vowing to unfurl the future for ‘our daughters.’
It may be because the president knows what a matriarchal world he himself lives in that he assumes we understand that the most trusted people in his life have been female–his wife, his daughters, his mother, his grandmother, his mother-in-law, his closest aide, Valerie.
But this isn’t about how he feels, or what his comfort zone is, or who’s in his line of sight. It’s about what he projects to the world–not to mention to his own daughters.
What’s the connection, though, between getting women into top spots, and gender violence throughout the world?
It’s not just that women in such positions are more likely to give voice to the global issues often sidelined as “women’s issues.” It’s not just the inherent value in diversity, in having a broad range of voices and perspectives involved in the decision-making process. It not just “the optics”–the fact that seeing women standing next to the President might inspire a young girl to aim high, or subtly nudge the consciousness of those who see her there in the direction of expecting to see women in top spots. It’s all of it, and more. Consider this, from Kristof’s piece:
Skeptics fret that sexual violence is ingrained into us, making the problem hopeless. But just look at modern American history, for the rising status of women has led to substantial drops in rates of reported rape and domestic violence. Few people realize it, but Justice Department statistics suggest that the incidence of rape has fallen by three-quarters over the last four decades.
Likewise, the rate at which American women are assaulted by their domestic partners has fallen by more than half in the last two decades. That reflects a revolution in attitudes. Steven Pinker, in his book ‘The Better Angels of our Nature,’ notes that only half of Americans polled in 1987 said that it was always wrong for a man to beat his wife with a belt or a stick; a decade later, 86 percent said it was always wrong.
Will having more women in high-level positions eliminate all gender violence? No. But the correlation between the “rising status of women” and drops in rates of rape and domestic violence is not coincidence. There’s a link to seeing women in power–and empowered–and seeing them as equals. And when we see others as equals, we tend to treat them that way. Will policies like the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act eliminate all gender violence? No. But it will make crimes more easily prosecutable. All of it matters; every bit counts. It’s tragic that here, and all over the world, there are those who see women as targets. We should be doing all we can to change that.
Posted in culture, feminism, why women? | Tagged diversity, gender violence, International Violence Against Women Act, Malala Yousufzai, Maureen Dowd, New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof, Ohio, Politifact, President Obama, rape, Steubenville, Steven Pinker, Trafficking Victims Protection Act, U.S. Representative Gwen Moore, Violence Against Women Act | Leave a Comment »
In the wake of the horrific mass murders in Newtown, Conn., we’ve read plenty of newspaper articles, listened to numerous TV commentators, read hundreds of Facebook posts, all with the same message: we need to talk about gun control.
And yet. My biggest fear is that, once the grief and shock die down, so too will the resolve to take, in our President’s words, “meaningful action.” As Huffington Post polling editor Mark Blumenthal wrote on Friday, interest in gun control spiked after the 1999 massacre at Columbine, but faded within a year:
“The post-Columbine bump faded about a year later, and support for stricter gun laws remained roughly constant over the next eight years. Following the 2008 election, however, it dropped off considerably. By April 2010, Pew Research found more Americans placed greater importance on protecting the rights of gun owners (49 percent) than on restricting gun ownership (45 percent).”
I beg you: Do not let the outrage die.
We know why politicians are often loathe to put gun control front and center, hiding behind the Second Amendment (which, for the record, was designed to allow citizens to arm themselves against tyranny, not each other): the NRA and the powerful gun lobby, as well as the overwhelming number of Americans who own guns. (As Alex Pareene reports in Salon, America “is home to 310 million nonmilitary firearms. That’s nearly one gun for every resident of the country, or just about three for each ‘household’.”)
According to Sunday’s New York Times, after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011, the Justice Department made a list of measures to keep guns away from criminals and those with mental illness – a list that was predominantly shelved as campaign season approached. And, as the New York Times’ Nate Silver reports, over the years the very rhetoric surrounding firearms has changed:
For opponents of stricter gun laws, the debate has increasingly become one about Constitutional protections. Certainly, many opponents of gun control measures also argue that efforts to restrict gun ownership could backfire in various ways or will otherwise fail to reduce violence. But broadly speaking, they would prefer that the debate be about what they see as Constitutional rights, rather than the utilitarian consequences of gun control measures.
Their strategy may have been working. The polling evidence suggests that the public has gone from tending to back stricter gun control policies to a more ambiguous position in recent years. There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns – even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic.
Discouraging news. But what I wonder is why we can’t follow the lead of another group of outraged women, Mother Against Drunk Drivers, and, if nothing else, make owning a gun as socially unacceptable as driving drunk. Both can kill.
Could Women Against Guns be as powerful as Mothers Against Drunk Driving?
Obviously, there are other issues at play when it comes to Newtown, where 20 children who still believed in Santa Claus were killed by multiple gunshot wounds from a semiautomatic weapon — some of them shot as many as 11 times — in slightly less time than it takes to read this post.
Yes, we need to talk about mental health, to recognize and treat mental illness, no matter the cost. We need to remove the stigma around mental illness so that families are given the acceptance and understanding that would allow them to get their ill children adequate treatment and support. We need to talk about the prevalence of violence in video games, movies and TV shows, and its effects. We need to tackle the problems of schoolyard bullies and young people’s alienation once and for all.
But above and beyond the why is the how. What turns things deadly is America’s easy access to firearms, which makes acting on violent impulses quick, efficient and final. Had Adam Lanza been armed with a knife or a baseball bat, or even a single Saturday night special, how many children could he have killed in the 15 minutes before he was stopped?
I myself have never seen a real gun, except on the belt of a police officer. But I have been privy to the devastation they can leave:
• A neighbor’s twenty-something son, suffering from a severe depression, went up to his bedroom and shot himself in the head one evening while his mother was downstairs doing the dishes.
• A beautiful, ebullient, brilliant — and bipolar — young attorney, after a week of horrendous migraines, shot and killed herself one afternoon while her husband was at work.
• The young son of family friends was showing a playmate his father’s hunting rifle when it went off. And killed him. Though this happened before I was born, I heard the story over and over, a tale of heartbreak from which the family barely recovered.
In all these cases the firearms were perfectly legal. As were the guns used by Adam Lanza. They were owned and registered to his mother, who apparently kept them in the house.
According to Sunday’s Washington Post, Calif. Sen. Diane Feinstein told “Meet the Press” that she would introduce legislation to ban assault weapons at the start of the next Congress. (She sponsored a ban on semiautomatic weapons in 1994, after a mass shooting in San Francisco’s financial district. It expired in 2004). It’s a good first step. But frankly, it’s not enough for me. I won’t be happy until we consider owning a gun as socially suspect as getting behind the wheel after a couple of cocktails. Especially if there are kids in the house, or anyone with mental illness.
I know what comes next: When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Who cares? There will still be fewer guns on the street. And, by all definitions, neither Adam Lanza nor his mother were outlaws.
We have no problem turning drunk drivers or even smokers into pariahs. We would never let our kids hop into a car with an alcoholic at the wheel. But what about playing at the home of a playmate whose dad keeps a gun beside his bed – a gun designed to protect but, as statistics show, is likely to put the household at greater risk. According to Mark Rosenberg, president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health, speaking on NPR this past August:
.. a study that was done to look at whether having a firearm in your home actually does protect you, or whether it puts you at greater risk, showed that families and homes in which there was a gun, not only were they not protected against homicide, but the risk of gun homicide to people in those households was 2.7 times greater than the households without a gun. And the risk of suicide in those households was 4.8 times greater in the households with firearms.
So what can we do? Here’s a start:
• Put pressure on our elected officials to take “meaningful action”.
• Refuse to vote for any politicians, local or otherwise, who take money from the NRA, and let them know why you will not support them.
• If your community has a gun buy-back program, support it.
• Sign one of the many online petitions floating around the internet.
I’ve even heard, via Facebook, of the potential for a “One Million Child March on DC for Gun Control.” In the meantime, the most important thing we all can do is keep the conversation going: Mothers were the driving force to get drunks off the road. Can we women do the same when it comes to guns?
Those beautiful first-graders of Sandy Hook were America’s children. We are all their mothers.
Posted in culture, gender roles, why women? | Tagged Adam Lanza, Alex Pareene, Columbine, Conn., Gabrielle Giffords, gun control, Mark Blumenthal, Mark Rosenberg, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Nate Silver, National Rifle Association, New York Times, Newtown, Salon, Sandy Hook, Sen. Diane Feinstein, The Task Force for Global Health | Leave a Comment »