Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Posting from the Driveway

I wanted to title this "Posting from the Porch" but I'm not on my porch, since it's tiny and my soft, comfy folding lounge chair (which I use maybe twice a year -- I hope that changes now that we'll finally have a deck at the new house) wouldn't fit there. I'm right next to the porch on the driveway, watching my sons ride their tricycles on the driveway and the sidewalk in front of the house and the neighbors' houses too (they turn around on one of the neighbors' driveways).

A few random things:

- Last Friday we changed the closing date on the new house. It was going to be at the end of June, but now it'll be at the end of July. Our broker (also a good friend) thinks that our financing won't go through until my husband is working at the new job. The good news (for me) is that I may not be here for the closing and the move since I want to travel to Brazil (more below). Oh, and we may end up putting this house on the market too, we'll see.

(the boys are now hoeing and digging in the backyard, so I had to turn the lounger around, I'm afraid to go closer to them because of the wireless signal).

- We've been debating this subject for months now and we've finally come to the conclusion that it'll be best for me to remain on a student visa for one more year. I wasn't planning on renewing it because I just want to be done -- I've been in graduate school for nine years and a tenth year doesn't sound very appealing. I still want to defend the dissertation ASAP, but I decided not to go "under" my husband's new visa for a few reasons:
  • It'll be easier for me to travel this summer (I'm scheduled to present papers at two conferences in Brazil) and it may be also less complicated to renew my visa there instead of getting a new one.
  • After I finish I can request what's called optional practical training which will allow me to work for a year [I'd forgo that if I went under my husband's visa]. Even if I finish now and request it, I don't want to work now* nor do I have any work prospects.
  • If I apply for any academic jobs this fall (I might, if there are any openings in this area) I'll still have an academic affiliation as opposed to not belonging anywhere.
(boys were making a big mess digging up, so now they're back riding tricycles and arguing about them -- sigh)

- Today I found out some pretty heated up discussions about The Dangerous Book for Boys which I reviewed last week. It all started with Moxie's review and the many passionate comments it received by women who were disturbed, even outraged by the fact that a book which contains many things that would be equally interesting for girls is titled and marketed for boys. I took issue with this on my post, pointing out that I was interested in most everything the book contained and the reason behind my lack of interest in other things was motivated by certain beliefs or cultural conditionings and had nothing to do with my gender.

Well, I found about Moxie's post** and its comments from Jody's great post on the subject. Among other things, such as excerpts of comments to the aforementioned post, she writes a great "Manifesto" which I'm citing here in its entirety:

Yes, there are differences between boy children and girl children. Yes, those differences are hardwired and socially reinforced and related to brain structure and hormonal make-up and the goddamn fucking patriarchy.

The differences between boys and girls follow bell curves, just like so many other aspects of human society, so that there are plenty of boys who like "girly" activities and plenty of girls who like the opposite, and frankly, it's easier for girls to cross the frontier than it is for boys.

We do the best we can with the materials at hand, and we understand that both boys and girls are getting screwed by their gender-policing environments, and we trust that they will struggle through and find their way with God's grace, the strength of their families, the power of their own amazing selves, and more than a little bit of luck.

In my perfect world, adults give children permission to define their identities for themselves as much as possible. Adults don't present them books or toys or fast-food meals that tell them "boys do this and girls do that." Because children should get to decide for themselves, as much as possible (and it's not very much people, not even in the perfect world, I'm not a raving idiot) what it means for them to be boys and girls. For themselves.

And anyone who thinks that labeling a book "for boys" or "for girls" isn't an exclusionary boundary-enforcing message from the patriarchy is living under the biggest rock in all creation. You're okay with marketing certain toys for one sex or another, but you don't expect or want the children actually to take those messages to heart? My God.

Well said Jody!!!

All right, my husband just got home from work and found me here blogging on the driveway, so I think I'm going to wrap this up!

P.S. I have another book review coming up and I still owe you my dangerous childhood stories :) I also want to write a bit more about dissertation and feedback, so I should be blogging a lot in the next few days. At least I hope so!

* I'm planning to try my hand a home/cyber schooling for a year with Kelvin, who's supposed to start kindergarten in the fall -- I suspect it won't work out, but then we'll have a year to sort out his schooling situation.

** The discussion in Ask Moxie is actually continuing with a post about the hypothetical book for girls and a post about books.


Left-handed Trees... said...

Ah, I love a catching-up post like this one! I felt a similar conflict with the "Dangerous" book. Maybe it's because I have two daughters: ones who adore fishing, go carts, clouds, trees, skimming stones...and getting dirty, playing with bugs, and all of it. I'd have probably loved that book if it was the "Dangerous book for kids". (Seriously, what would a "Dangerous book for Girls" have in it exactly???) I'm looking forward to your own "dangerous stories" from childhood and appreciating this post!

Aliki2006 said...

Cyber schooling? I'm intrigued...Are there good links with info about this that you can share?

kate said...

Hmm, have fun in Brazil this summer. Sounds like fun! And once you defend your dissertation, are you done? I hope you are able to finish soon.

I have been following the whole "Dangerous Book" thing, too. I don't have any girls, but I agree that it would have been better off as TDBFKids...

cloudscome said...

I love this catch up post but I can't remember all the things I wanted to comment on LOL! I am glad you gave the links for the Dangerous discussions because I haven't been following it and I should. I just shrugged over that book and thought whateva - I'm not going to buy it if I excludes ME! I'd love to have the information on how to build a gocart but I can't use that book if the message in the title is no girls. I am looking forward to your post on your dangerous childhood LOL because I know you had fun! I think you did some of the same stuff I did, but you were in Brazil and I was in Michigan and Ohio. Something to think about, huh?