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Unpaid labor

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In Birth Strike, Jenny Brown argues for an analysis of the politics of reproductive rights that is rooted not in religious or moral concerns, but in economics—specifically, the economic power of women’s unpaid labor.

The standard explanation for anti-abortion politics in the United States is that politicians are appealing to conservative “values voters.” It’s easier to argue that when abortion is at issue, but as birth control has come under increasing fire, the explanation that politicians are buckling to grassroots pressure has become less reliable. The U.S. may be a religious country, but 99 percent of sexually active U.S. women have used birth control. According to surveys, even among men and women who oppose abortion, 80 percent support access to contraception. Far from pandering to a religious base, in attacking birth control, politicians are taking a stand that is wildly unpopular.

Planned Parenthood, long under attack for providing abortions, calls this “the glaring contradiction at the heart of the anti-choice movement…. The same forces who oppose abortion also vigorously oppose expanding access to the information and services that prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.”

But it’s only a contradiction if the goal is to reduce abortions. If the goal is to increase childbearing, both abortion and contraception would be targets, along with accurate sex education.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 4

And why would the goal be to increase childbearing? Brown continues:

A higher birth rate does serve an economic goal: An ever-expanding workforce raised with a minimum of public spending and a maximum of women’s unpaid work. Why would employer’s pay for parental leave if they can push us into maternity leave for free? Why would corporations pay taxes for a national childcare system if families can be induced to take that burden upon themselves? But women are refusing—by some measures our birth rate is the lowest it has ever been—so they can only achieve that goal if they further deprive us of reproductive control.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 11

This is one of those analyses that seems so obvious as soon as you see it, and leaves you agog that you couldn’t see it before. Brown provides gobs of data to back up her case here (including many a conservative politician and thinker saying the quiet part loud), but it didn’t take much to convince me. I’ve long been certain that restrictions on reproductive rights were not really about faith, but about controlling women—but I never took the next step and asked why women needed to be controlled. Brown does, and the answer is clear: to wrest as much economic value from them as possible.

Most politicians portray themselves as “pro-family,” but none do it more vigorously than conservative Republicans. This might seem ironic, as it is the most loudly pro-family who try to block increases to the minimum wage, cut Head Start childcare and school lunch programs, slash welfare payments for parents and health care for children, oppose any kind of family leave (even unpaid), and generally make life less livable for children and families.

But it is not just hypocrisy, and it is worth decoding. What “pro-family” really means is families instead of government. Cut government, and put the work on families. And by “families,” they mean women, and women’s unpaid labor.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 34

It’s hard for me not to see my own choices in Brown’s critique. I do not have children; I never wanted to be a mother. As a close friend oft reminds me, at 40 years old, I am among the first generation of women for whom access to contraception and abortion has been a given my whole life. This was not an ecomonic choice by any means. But I also grew up keenly aware of how hard it is to balance motherhood and work, and I entered the workforce at a time when paid maternity leave was even less generous than it is today. Brown argues that women have been participating in an uncoordinated work slowdown for years now, simply by electing to have fewer children, and that it’s past time to organize into a proper strike. I’ve thought about it, and I can seem to muster only one response to that calling: I’ll see you on the picket line.

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tdarby
91 days ago
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Baltimore, MD
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91 days ago
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sarcozona
91 days ago
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I need to read this book

Opportunity Rover

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Thanks for bringing us along.
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tdarby
304 days ago
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Thank you, Opportunity. Rest well.
Baltimore, MD
joeythesaint
304 days ago
And I hope we see you again someday.
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MaryEllenCG
304 days ago
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::sob::
Greater Bostonia
Covarr
304 days ago
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I always find myself wishing I took more photos. It's easier to remember things when you have a record of them.
Moses Lake, WA
Fidtz
302 days ago
This is totally true but also when i do take a lot of phots, I wish I had actually looked and experienced the place instead.
Covarr
301 days ago
Yeah, it's definitely a balance. If I can get one or two photos from every big thing I do with my friends, or every cool place I go, I'm happy. Enough for memories, not so many to be a distraction.
alt_text_at_your_service
304 days ago
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Thanks for bringing us along.
alt_text_bot
304 days ago
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Thanks for bringing us along.

I KNOW WHY YOU'RE SAD.

6 Comments and 17 Shares

On paper, Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. They took the House for the first time in eight years. Several important Governorships (in advance of post-Census 2020 redistricting battles) were won. Notably vile Republicans like Kris Kobach, Scott Walker, and Dana Rohrabacher lost. The high-visibility Senate races Democrats lost (Missouri, Tennessee) were pipe dreams anyway. You already knew that Florida sucks, hard. So you're not sad because "The Democrats did badly."

You're also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They're gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven't seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It's Florida.

No, you're sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You're sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You're sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You're sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

You were hoping that the whole country would somehow restore your faith in humanity and basic common decency by making a bold statement, trashing Republicans everywhere and across the board. You wanted some indication that if you campaigned hard enough, rednecks and white collar bloodless types alike could be made to see the light that perhaps the levers of power are not best entrusted to the absolute worst people that can be dredged up from Internet comment sections running on platforms of xenophobia, nihilism, and racism. In short, you wanted to see some evidence that corruption, venality, bigotry, and proud ignorance are deal-breakers for the vast majority of Americans.

And now you're sad because it's obvious that they aren't. Even where horrible Republicans like Walker or Kobach lost, they didn't lose by much.

So I get it. It's depressing. There's no amount of positives that can take away the nagging feeling that lots and lots of people in this country are just…garbage. They're garbage human beings just like the president they adore. These people are not one conversation, one fact-check, and one charismatic young Democratic candidate away from seeing the light. They're reactionary, mean, ignorant, uninteresting in becoming less ignorant, and vindictive. They hate you and they will vote for monsters to prove it.

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.

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tdarby
402 days ago
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Yes.
Baltimore, MD
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402 days ago
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zwol
402 days ago
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This seems like the right place to tell the story of the dude who drove me to the airport the other day. His other job, apparently, was owning a gun store, and when talking about guns his opinions were informed and reasonable , e.g. "banning bump stocks won't stop school shootings, but we should require gun owners to go through safety training and have proper gun safes," ok, I can see that. But then the conversation took a hard right turn into Fox News conspiracy land: all politicians are corrupt, Planned Parenthood spends 10x as much money on lobbying as the NRA, etc. etc. etc. and I just didn't know what to say.
Pittsburgh, PA
92 days ago
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rocketo
402 days ago
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How many words fit on a sampler? I don’t want to get this as a tattoo.

“Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
seattle, wa
lelandpaul
402 days ago
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Oh, this is so hard for me. On the one hand, the piece is dead right: This is exactly what I'm feeling today.

On the other: I fundamentally believe people are redeemable and that we shouldn't write them off. (That's sort of core to Christianity...)

I don't know how to reconcile these two things.
San Francisco, CA
sirshannon
401 days ago
You can’t redeem the unwilling.
lelandpaul
400 days ago
But does that give you the right to stop giving them opportunities to redeem themselves?
sirshannon
398 days ago
Yes. You’re not powerful enough to stop someone from redeeming themselves any more than you are powerful enough to make them redeem themselves. As long as you’re not actively working to prevent them from doing the right thing, you’re good.
notadoctor
402 days ago
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“They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
Oakland, CA
cjmcnamara
402 days ago
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gin and tacos absolutely spot on once again

Refresh Types

3 Comments and 20 Shares
The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.
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tdarby
904 days ago
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lo
Baltimore, MD
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Covarr
904 days ago
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Hard Reset - PC reset button - causes SEGA to fight SOPA.
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
904 days ago
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The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.

Meeting Roger Moore

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Amazing story from Marc Haynes about meeting Roger Moore as a 7-year-old in 1983.

(This tweet I’m linking to has screenshots of Haynes’s post on Facebook; here’s the same story in text copied and pasted into a forum, without attribution. Have I ever complained about how much I dislike Facebook?)

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tdarby
935 days ago
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Roger Moore would have been 56 in 1983. Fake news!

(RIP, Mr. Bond. 😕)
Baltimore, MD
chrisfl
934 days ago
Harc Hayes was 7 in 1983 - https://twitter.com/marchaynes He is a friend of a friend who vouches for him. So I say confirmed True.
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HAL, Not Threepio

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Me, a few days ago:

Once you start thinking about the implications of an AI-driven device that can both see and hear you, it becomes obvious just how primitive these devices still are. I want a C–3PO, not a talking camera fixed on my dresser that tells me if my socks and shirt match.

Now that I think about it, what I really want is HAL. Think about it: HAL 9000 is the platonic ideal of these voice-driven assistants. He understands you perfectly, every time; he answers immediately; he can see not just hear; and he’s available throughout your home/spaceship. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark were amazingly prescient about where AI and human-computer interfaces were heading. They were just too optimistic about how soon we’d get there.

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tdarby
959 days ago
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Minus, y'know, the homicidal impulses
Baltimore, MD
smadin
959 days ago
geez, Tom, where's your sense of adventure?
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satadru
958 days ago
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Can Siri sing Daisy?

Also somebody's headcanon must have the S in SAL9000 standing for Siri, right?
New York, NY
Norm_bone
957 days ago
Me: Siri, can you sing, "Daisy"? Siri: "You know I can't sing"
satadru
956 days ago
Nice. Here's Google: http://imgur.com/dnlMXbK
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