Some things I read that I loved.
Noticing different public treatment of parents of trans kids vs parents of “theybies”
The fact that reporting on trans children like Nicole has been far more sympathetic than reporting on Kathy Witterick and David Stocker’s decision not to gender their child Storm is itself very telling. While it may be confusing and shocking for the general public to imagine raising a transgendered child, the story of trans children becomes relatable by making transgenderism analogous to medical disability. It’s less than ideal, but no one can help it, and thankfully there is a course of treatment to be pursued. But the idea that parents like Kathy and David would willfully choose to offer gender self-determination to their child is apparently an outrage. Kathy and David’s parenting has been subject to pathologizing and hateful commentary from expert psychologists concerned about Storm’s development. While Nicole’s parents are portrayed as compassionate and reasonable, Kathy and David have been depicted as selfish, deceitful, impulsive, and manipulative radicals using their child to enact a damaging social experiment.
This post is from 2011, but I still see this split in 2018. The comparison to how disabilities are framed stuck out to me– somewhere I’m sure there is a parallel disability justice article that critiques pathologizing disabled kids rather than working to undermine narratives about which bodies are considered normal.
Great kids books about disability
We are about to start collecting kids books at my house, and I have been deeply appreciating the detailed reviews and lists at Books for Littles. This entire four-part series about kids books dealing with disability is fantastic. It starts with a primer on disability justice and the social model of disability, and includes some handy lists of problematic tropes in kids books as well as better features to look for. After that, big lists of recommended books! There are similar posts dealing with race, gender, fatness, single parenting, emotions, and many other common areas of failure in kids books.
Delusions of Mommy Brain
Of course, parents who do not go through pregnancy — including fathers, adoptive parents and L.G.B.T.Q. parents whose partners give birth — also experience psychological and physiological attachment, which some researchers have studied. But “daddy brain” is rarely discussed in a cultural or scientific context in association with cognitive decline.
Meanwhile, the cultural belief in “mommy brain” is so powerful that some studies have shown that pregnant women who walked into an experiment describing themselves as cognitively fuzzy were found in the lab to perform at a much higher level than what they reported. Were the cognitive changes just in their heads, or are our medical formulations missing something? In addition to the unscientific myths about hormonal women being best suited for the home and hearth, what else has propelled this broader misinterpretation about what “mommy brain” is and isn’t?
Argh, this article hits all the usual points that come up when discussing brains and biological sex. It pains me that it took the NYT to alert me that birth-induced dementia was a sexist myth.
Buses > ride shares
One of my favourite recurring themes is that Silicon Valley is not as smart as it thinks it is, it just picks easy problems. It is easy to provide luxury transit for a few rich people using a subsidy from venture capital, especially if you can temporarily get away with ignoring labour laws. It is much harder to provide economically sustainable transit for a lot of people, while following labour laws. When Uber and Lyft start trying to accomplish that much harder goal, it turns out they start to look like regular old public transit buses.
It’s telling that, even while transit agencies are being told to be more like Uber and Lyft, Uber and Lyft are increasingly mimicking buses. Both companies now have “shuttle” or “line” services that operate along preset routes with preset stops during peak commuter hours, just like a bus. It’s existential to the future of these start-ups that they stop subsidizing high-end solo rides and instead cram in the maximum number of riders per vehicle—in order words, that they reproduce a bus. The basic model—a big moving container of people on a fixed route—has never stopped working.
Have they always been displacegrounds?
Here in Victoria, playgrounds and their associated bylaws get used to displace homeless people. This article is about something else, but I snagged on this aside about the invention of playgrounds as a way to displace children from the public streets where they used to play.
The last great obstacle for those wanting to secure streetspace for cars were the angry mothers of America who saw their children killed or maimed by cars in the streets. Enter: the playground. That little zoological garden into which we still place our kids was an invention of the automobile industry as a way to appease mothers and get the little rascals out of the way.