Friday, June 18, 2010

In which I go off...a few times.

In a recent email to my grandpa, who asked how the BP oil disaster is affecting us here:
What is the BP oil disaster like for us here? People working in the fishing industry, people working for primarily seafood restaurants and for local seafood suppliers who get their wares from the Gulf - this is hitting them the hardest. The drilling ban is going to hit the people working in the offshore industry pretty hard if it continues. Beaches and birds are getting oiled as well, and we can occasionally smell some of the stink from the oil slick all the way up here. BP's actions in all of this were positively criminal, all done in the name of speed and greed, and now we are faced with months more of this - they say that if the relief drilling is successful, it might not be capped until late August-early September. But now that it's finally coming out that the structure of the well head is compromised, it may take much longer than that.

The news keeps getting worse each day, and everyone is upset and angry to some degree. This is worse than Katrina and the levee breaches - at least you could try to rebuild your house or try to fight to get your life back here in some way after that. What can we do with a massive oil geyser 5000 feet down in the water? Watch and wait and try not let it get to us.
I'm glad this has come out from Chris DeBarr today. Read it through. He says many things so much better than I have. Guess I'll forward that on to Grandpa.

Maitri has had some great recent posts concerning women in science. Go read them first:

Women in Science...Again
Women in Science...Again - Reading List

My comment on the first of her posts:

Woohoo, women in science! As the daughter of a woman in science who should have gone further and gotten her Ph. D. (my mom, not me), I’ve seen a lot of this business you’re describing. Yes, it does start at a very early age here, the brainwashing by gender from talking Barbie on up through the years, and we get so shocked…shocked!…by it because as a country, we’ve been deluded into thinking all the doors are open since we see women doing all kinds of things – but we don’t delve too far into the realities, which is that we still don’t have a strong government-subsidized family leave and child care program, women are still paid less than men on average, and life is still going to be harder for you if you have a vagina because women’s academic achievement has them outnumbering men so much in the colleges that the men are starting to whine about their supposed emasculation….and nobody wants to just tell the guys to buck up and work harder. Nobody wants to really change.

What I am left with from my own personal experience is that if my mom hadn’t had me at an early age, she’d have gone for that advanced degree, and have been damned good at it, too. To achieve in the highest echelons of science, women still have to act as though they’re men, only they still have to work harder. And it’s not just science, either – it’s the arts, too, and damn near any other profession with possibilities of advancement. This not only leaves women with tough choices in making a living, it makes motherhood some sort of lesser state for women. Nobody wins. Not much has changed except the bare veneer of acceptance of women in the workforce….because, really, the economy will collapse without it.

If women had loads of money and lobbyists at their disposal, I wonder how much things would change here… There are nascent mother’s movements like Moms Rising trying to get something started, but it’s an uphill battle with boulders in the way.

I saw it with my mother - the thwarted aspirations once I was in the picture, and she had me just before she turned twenty. I was mostly with my grandparents 'til she finished college, got out of a marriage that wasn't working, and got a job elsewhere, taking me with her. I never got the feeling that I was unloved, just the constant reminders that life was hard, especially if you were a single woman with a kid. And the easiest way, as a woman, to truly make a living doing what you wanted? No attachments, no strings, no children. Mom couldn't do that anymore, but I still had a chance....until I had my son seven-and-a-half years ago.

There's still a part of me, deep down, that wonders if being the mother of my son marks me as a failure in life somehow. I want to kill it, to shoot it down, to scream bloody murder at those who would want to resurrect it, at everyone who hears the word "mom" in descriptions of me and immediately tunes me out. Because, despite all the lip service we give to equality between the sexes, that's just words, even in this day and supposed enlightened age.

Just because a brilliant mind happens to have a vagina attached, don't stuff it down and into a category reserved for "girl with brains - what an anomaly". It ISN'T an anomaly. And the brains do not leave when children arrive. This keeps needing to be said over and over and over again. Doesn't the world get sick of it, ever? I mean, a broken record eventually gets smashed to bits, right?

I simply hope that, when the record is finally broken, women's backs don't go with it.


Kelly said...

I am not anywhere near a scientist but I do hold a bachelors degree, a very eclectic work history as well as a wealth of travel information. Once I became a mother, I was no longer eligible for any cocktail conversation beyond, "gee, that's the toughest job in the world." Being a mother is a fantastic experience for me but it's not my only one.

chrissie said...

I remember when I watched you facilitate a panel of health professionals in front of a building full of geniuses and you were introduced as a "mommy blogger." This pissed me off to no the time you seemed okay with it but it has always bothered me.