Good Stuff Friday
Despite it all, there is some good stuff out there.
We are two journalists writing about family and carework from a feminist perspective. Research, interviews and personal stories connecting systemic issues and family life; also, some 40+ mom humor. You can read past issues here. Follow us on Instagram @matriarchyreport.
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The good stuff we came across and wrote about this month.
1. I have a tweet-length attention span right now, and these two threads on the infant formula shortage were fascinating and helpful in getting a sense of what’s at stake here. Journalist Clara Jeffrey, who has reported on breastfeeding and formula, offers some helpful reminders why not everyone can breastfeed, that pumping is expensive and not an option for many people, for many different reasons.
I also loved this thread from historian Carla Cevasco, an historian of infant feeding. She breaks down the ways that breastfeeding and the use of formula have changed over the years, and takes aim at the idea that, before the advent of formula, breastfeeding suited all babies, all the time. 100% not true.
2. I talked to my mother a few weeks ago about her abortion in 1964, nine years before Roe. Given what we are currently facing around threats to abortion rights, I highly recommend the work of public health professional Hayley McMahon. She’s created this resource “for those who want to be better at talking about abortion and helping to de-stigmatize it.”
3. Birth workers to the rescue. Here are two stories about maternal health solutions (yes, solutions!): One is about Birthmark Doula Collective in New Orleans, which has organized to provide support to families in the wake of climate catastrophes, like Hurricane Laura. After Hurricane Katrina, several babies died of dehydration when food and water ran out at emergency response centers. The Birthmark Collective has organized to address that risk, through feeding kits, tools to sterilize bottles, and a 24-hour emergency parent-infant hotline, as well as other tools.
The other is about an Arizona-based program that provides pre and post-natal care to new parents. Community health workers “keep mothers on track with prenatal care, helping them have a healthy birth, and then stick around for up to two years after a baby is born, helping the new parent adjust.”
“It makes sense that there is a resurgence of jean skirts, long prairie dresses, and ill-fitting sacks. It’s a throwback to a simpler era when there was no internet, no Facebook, and men were men and women died in childbirth like God intended. This fashion regression mirrors a regression in our laws, with the rise in laws restricting women’s access to healthcare, laws targeting trans women, and book bans.”
5. The Black Dolls exhibit at the New York Historical Society is a beautiful and incredibly sad show, displaying over 100 cloth dolls made by African-American women in the 19th to the mid-20th century. It is a playful exhibit, with dolls made out of cloth, twine, string and even coconut shells, but it also makes real the horrors of racism and racial stereotypes in U.S. caregiving. As the curators of the show told The New York Times, the craftswomen who made the dolls were, “making aesthetic decisions about how to portray their Black subjects with dignity.”
Tell us: What are you reading, listening to, watching?
ICYMI: Recently from Matriarchy Report
Lane’s essay about why women need so much more than just Mother’s Day digs into her personal history and the systemic forces that explain why so many of us continue to fight to be seen as more than just “future mothers.”
This conversation about menopause between Allison and the queer feminist sex educator Heather Corinna covered everything from diet culture to great sex to the political and cultural power of people in menopause.
Lane explored the teen mental health crisis, reminding us that “Generation COVID” is actually doing just fine — it’s the circumstance they are grappling with that need to change.
And Allison wrote about strategies for climate resilience. We can’t just consume terrifying information about the climate. We need a plan for dealing with the emotional impacts of how scary the future seems.