Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why is it that websites about motherhood all assume that you're either American or British? Probably because the authors are based in the US or Britain, I know, but they also seem to reflect no understanding that cultural differences count for a whole lot when it comes to parenting and division of labor between spouses.

Why do I gripe about this? Because there seems to be precious little "out there" to help the poor benighted PakAmeristaniMom. Being the "mixed up product of a conservative upbringing and a liberal education" has its downside. Your brain stops accepting the patterns that you begin to emulate instinctively, so you overthink every little thing. Like whether you're going to sew a button on your husband's shirt, or act as if it would be a betrayal of every feminist nerve in your body. And, no, it doesn't help that I can see the humor in the situation. Remember the whole scene about the blender as a gift from the Steve Martin version of "Father of the Bride"?

More seriously though, with a baby in the picture, the frame shifts dramatically. As all parents know, and keep trying to tell you, even as they accept that you will never truly understand this until you are a parent yourself.

So here I am, surrounded by people telling me, no, taking it for granted, that my career will now take a back seat. And a part of me thinks I should be grateful, because employers here are truly much more understanding of the pressures on new mothers. But the price you pay for that understanding is that your career is taken less seriously. You are automatically out of the running for a lot of things.

I have it relatively easier, simply because of being a teacher. My friend the physicist is agonized because she is struggling in an all male preserve with her first faculty position, in a field where falling behind for a year means you're out of the race. My friend the lawyer no longer practices law, because she's too busy managing her home and husband and kids. Instead, she's started up a business organizing upscale children's birthday parties. How does someone who fought her father tooth and nail on her decision to go to law school just ditch it for kiddie birthday parties? At least the physicist friend relates to my dilemma. Everyone else just seems to assume that the answer is obvious. (Give up your job; stay at home and take care of the kid(s)).

I am getting tired of resenting my situation, even as I am incredibly grateful for the wonder that is my son. It ticks me off no end that men can have a career and a family, no problem, but that women do not enjoy that sheer simplicity.

More on this later. The gripe could be unending...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

So maybe the fears about the Virginia Tech shooter being linked to Islam by the media weren't totally unfounded after idiotic can you get?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

People who are sitting in the US and watching the news about Pakistan (I don't know how many there are, but I'd guess the number has increased substantially in the past six years), must think we're completely crazy. Of course, people sitting in Pakistan, watching the news about the US (and there's a substantially larger percentage of those), also think we're crazy. I, of course, have the dubious privilege of being able to say 'we' when referring to the Pakistani people or the American people.

University violence in Pakistan is usually related to one of two things. Either some professor is getting roughed up for not giving in to a thug's demand that he get away with using unfair means, or it's inter-party political violence. The idea that someone would walk in to a university classroom and randomly start shooting is quite alien, even though we're used to gun-related violence, otherwise. Plus, of course, everyone is now breathing a sigh of relief that the shooter was not Pakistani, or Muslim.

For my part, I've never understood why it's so easy to forget the humanity of those involved in a tragedy like this, just because it happens to be a tragedy at some geographical and cultural distance.

On the side of the globe where I currently reside, we're dealing with crises of a larger magnitude in terms of political significance. We have a government that is probably fomenting anarchy, just to make itself seem more indispensable to its Western allies. With a Democratic Congress, our resident military dictator will be worried. What better than to make it look like the capital is under siege by religious fanatics who look like ninjas? Before you start dismissing this as a conspiracy theory, consider the fact that this seminary and mosque is walking distance from the Pakistani military's intelligence headquarters, and has been illegally constructed on government property.

In fact, the conflict technically started when the government said it wanted its land back. The seminary and mosque have been there for years; convenient time to decide to dismantle mosques in the capital.

If you don't follow the news in Pakistan, then you have no clue what I'm talking about. Briefly, since October, a bunch of burq-clad seminary students have occupied a children's library connected (physically, not institutionally) with the seminary. This was supposed to be in protest of the government's drive to dismantle mosques that have been erected by encroaching illegally on to other people's, or the government's, property.

Such construction is completely illegal, of course, from the perspective of secular as well as religious law. Tearing down mosques is completely unacceptable from a religious point of view, but only if they are 'legitimate' mosques. That the organization or individual building and/or running the mosque should have legal possession of the land on which it is built is a prerequisite to this legitimacy.

So what is actually happening is that a bunch of college-aged students are up in arms over an issue that they don't appear to understand fully. Sound familiar? My Oberlin days were full of situations like that. The difference being that Oberlin students don't tend to violence.

Monday, April 16, 2007

So some people worry about posting twice in a day. Here I am, lucky if I get around to writing once a year. Oh well. Maybe I can manage once a week for the next month. How's that for a goal?