The Right to Choose All of Life’s Roles

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

My local radio station airs a series called Perspectives that features members of the community and their thoughts on whatever strikes their fancy. This morning I listened to Jeremy Sherman share his perspective on talking politics with a libertarian friend he often disagrees with, and it boiled down to this: people don’t like talking about things they find boring, so details that don’t interest them – in his friend’s case, the complicated balance between necessary constraints and individual freedoms in society – are ignored and so strongly held beliefs are justified only with ideal-based rationalizations. Which makes sense to me – when two people are exclusively focused on separate aspects of an issue, it’s easy to wind up arguing over ideals without realizing you’re actually talking about completely different things. Getting into specifics can help you find common ground in shared beliefs.

So let’s talk details. The title of this post comes from one of my favorite chapters of (recently retired) Judge Nancy Gertner’s book, In Defense of Women, and here are some specific roles I think we should all be able to choose for ourselves free from social criticism or judgment:

  • Stay-at-home mother/father
  • Unmarried adult, whether or not you have children
  • Primary family provider, regardless of sex/gender
  • A romantically involved person, regardless of each person’s sex/gender
  • A sexually-active person who has no intention of having children

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but that’s the beauty of details: we can always add more.

Reviews: In Defense of Women

July 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I got completely sucked into Nancy Gertner’s memoirs, In Defense of Women, which cover her career as a lawyer and some of the major cases she worked on until becoming a Federal District Judge. Her cases spanned first-degree murder charges, sexual harassment and discrimination, and many civil rights violations of disadvantaged people.

Throughout the book, Gertner talks about what it was like for her to work in a highly male-dominated profession from the 1970’s onward, career ambitions and other life balances, and her determination not to just play it safe to get through difficult situations. (I’ll leave out the “having it all” reference that has gotten so much online attention lately, but she goes into those issues in the book too). Sometimes that involved wearing red suits in court, other times advising a client not to plead guilty for lesser charges when the situation didn’t call for it. Always it involved being awesome.

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Politics, Communication, and Therapy

June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Communication is clearly an issue in American politics. Politicians must work constantly to make sure they are projecting the message they intend to, and government officials attempting to shape public policy must convince those around them that their position is valid.

Recently, language in politics has been at the forefront of public consciousness. Evidence of the power of language in the political sphere has ranged from the backlash surrounding ignorant and inappropriate name calling earlier this year to the controversy surrounding state congressional (over)reactions to comments that include medical terms two weeks ago.

If the goal of politicians is to guide decisions that affect groups at all levels of society though, a failure to communicate is a fundamental problem that can cripple their ability to do their job. It is disheartening to watch politics play out as just a back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, towing party lines that in many ways are polar opposites by definition, each capitalizing on opportunities to act when they have decision-making power to do so and biding their time for the next power shift when they do not.

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Starting (to) Shift Matters

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Shift Matters is a blog written by Kate Sackett about the current state of American culture, with a particular focus on gender and related topics. I am a recent graduate from a large public university with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and I am interested in social justice issues, psychology, sociology, the media, and how discourse shapes perception.

I plan to discuss current events, intersections and intersectionality, reviews of movies/television/books, and personal experiences and dialogues around gender. The occasional picture of a dog standing on its hind legs while holding a purse may also surface…

Please leave comments/feedback/links whenever the mood strikes, as my purpose is not only to start dialogues with those around me but also with the online community.

This blog is my first concerted effort to publicly air my thoughts on gender and culture to shift popular norms and values as they continue to influence life in America today. Because shift matters.

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