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Friday, November 21, 2014

Grad students studying motherhood

In my graduate program, there is a woman studying mothering and the communication and media messages around it.

She's very interested in the portrayed roles of mothers versus fathers, who gets to keep more of their own identity in the media, if roles given by viewers create more or less sympathy for either the mother or the father.

Sounds interesting enough. Certainly she'll be studying a lot of the articles I've shared myself on social media, as she analyzes the content, puts little ones and zeros into excel spreadsheets and runs statistical analyses to flesh out answers to her research questions.

The paper she didn't present to the class was entitled:

"Don't be a boob: Bottles have nipples too"

She said the research looked at anti-breastfeeding campaigns.

First off, I'd need to see a really specific definition of terms for anti-breastfeeding. Are we talking formula adverts or simply mothers advocating formula use in forums meant for support? Are we talking hospitals giving out free samples of formula or nurses pushing formula on new frazzled mothers?

Secondly, the debate is full of emotion, high-strung and deeply-felt ideology, self-image and self-deprecation, and post-partum hormones. Are you sure you want to go around calling these women boobs? Especially if you haven't been there?

I guess, mostly, I was just disappointed to see that the academics doing studies on things like "portrayals of breast and formula feeding in the media" are no different from the commenters on op-eds about the same issue, who read the whole article then type in CAPSRAGE: I WASTED TEN MINUTES OF MY LIFE READING THIS. THIS IS A NON-ISSUE. WHY DO MOTHERS MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL OUT OF IT.

Like, I really hate to be all, 'don't talk about what you don't know about,' but if you lack the empathy to gauge the situation appropriately or even see all the key elements of what you should be studying...if you lack the ability to make the connections between media and science in a way that does not entirely drown out the very real struggles of very real people in the process...just, maybe go study something else, I guess?

When your lack of understanding of the issue at hand is so blatant and that's the issue you want to study as a PhD? And these are the papers that get published? These are the studies handed down in layman speak to breast and formula feeding moms everywhere, yearning for validation as their hormones swing them to Timbuktu and back?


Everyone in the classroom laughed uproariously at her jokey title, and they spent a few minutes going back and forth about how ridiculous all the women's feelings were about this and how everyone should probably just calm down about it.

Honestly, I'm probably just curmudgeonly, but I really don't think the phrase 'don't be a boob' is all that funny to begin with--when that was added to the obvious lack of any type of understanding for a mom attempting to nurse, I just checked out and let the side-eye take over.

And this wasn't even the paper this particular woman presented.


The one she presented was on mothers and fathers leaving their children in the back seat. She's trying to tie it to gender violence and is very interested in the roles society foists on mothers and fathers vs. their self-identities.  The first one is ... absolutely ridiculous, and the second one is ground broken so long ago I think my grandma was the academic working on it.

There's no point to this entry.

I'm just really suspicious now of studies coming out about parenthood. Apparently, very sound statistical studies can be run with no intuitive understanding of the topic being studied. And on the outside, that sounds fine. Because wouldn't being totally outside the topic being studied be ideal for objectivity? But in reality, if you are so removed from what you are talking about that basically 'you don't even go here', there are going to be very important correlations that you miss because you don't know to look for them. And there are going to be very tenuous connections you make too big a deal out of because you don't know they're actually not a big deal.

And a study can be presented any way the researcher wants. People say the numbers don't lie, but they can be emphasized or twisted any which way to make any point. May as well make legitimate points based in knowledge, right?



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  3. I couldn't find a proper email, so in response to your Times article "In Defense of Rioting," I must say these words to you: SHAME ON YOU.

    Your article is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin to refute...but I'll attempt anyway.

    First and foremost, your statements are in complete ignorance of the realities of the Black community. The fact that you smugly lecture everyone about something you clearly know nothing about is appalling.

    Furthermore, you have the gall to compare random acts of looting, much of what was initiated by Anarchist whites (watch the video tapes), to the Boston Tea Party almost 250 years ago? That's a bit of a stretch is it not? Maybe you could compare it to the Ax Handle Riots in Jacksonville in the '60s or even the Draft Riots in NYC during the Civil War (both of which had racial connotations and were perpetuated by white mobs), but to compare it to the Boston Tea Party? Maybe you're the one who needs a refresher course in American history?

    As for the act of rioting themselves, maybe you wouldn't feel the way you do about it, if you actually lived in a Black community? If there's anything the Black community needs, it's more job opportunities and businesses in our neighborhoods. How can we attract that if rioting is not only tolerated but encouraged?

    It is people espousing tolerance while in ignorance of the realities, why I continue to lose respect for so-called liberalism. Please in the future, do a bit more research before you publish.



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