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7 Things I Want to Say to That Guy Watching Porn at the Library

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 - by Megan Fox
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For the past year and a half I’ve been fighting the Orland Park Public Library, trying to get them to stop allowing men to access porn — and even child porn — on library computers (they even permit public masturbation!). To date, not one man has come forward at a board meeting or in the press to say, “I want porn in the library! Don’t take my favorite pastime from me!” The reason is clear. No one thinks it’s okay to watch porn in the library, including the guys who do it. Still, libraries across the country continue to allow it and men continue to do watch porn at public libraries. Since I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to talk to one of these creeps, I thought maybe I could get some of them to respond to an open letter of sorts. Here are 7 questions I have for guys who watch porn at the library:

1. What do you think this is? An adult bookstore?

One of my all time favorite Cleveland reporters, Carl Monday, loves to sneak up on guys watching porn in the public library and shout at them, “Where do you think you are? An adult bookstore?”  Honestly, the question needs to be asked. There are places designated for guys to go and watch porn — and even to masturbate. They’re called porn shops and adult theaters. (Actually, I think they arrest guys caught masturbating there…so what does it say when porn shops call the cops on fondlers but a library refuses to do so?) On what planet is it okay to watch X- rated material — out in the open — in a public area where children are present and then to take your penis out and play with it? Seriously, I ask you … WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Have you no sense of shame?

2. Does your mother know you do this?

Everyone has a mother, even the library pervert. Does she know you do this? Better yet, what’s her name because I want to look her up and have a conversation with her about what you are doing. Do you know you are shaming your mother? Do you care?

3. Do you enjoy supporting child pornographers and sex traffickers?

Porn is a freedom … blah blah blah. Do you know that there’s absolutely no way for you to know if you are watching illegal porn perpetrated on victims by sex traffickers and child pornographers? Did you see that girl’s driver’s license? Do you know how old she is? Or how she got there or why she is performing in a porn video? You don’t know and you don’t care. Sex traffickers are making a fortune on girls in captivity. They make money by selling them to johns for sex, and then they videotape it and make money off of those who watch it online. You have no way of knowing if the women you are watching have consented or if they are there under duress. Do you care that you are supporting child sex traffickers? These men steal children from their families and rape them for years and sell them into this business. Those twenty-year-old women you watch were probably sold into porn as minors. Do you have a mother? A daughter? A sister? God forbid it ever happen to one of them. You should get on your knees and beg their forgiveness for contributing to the enslavement of other women around the world. You are a trafficker. Congratulations.

4. Do you realize you’re giving yourself erectile dysfunction?

Not that I care about your sex life, but if you want to have one someday you will stop using internet porn immediately. Studies show that men with internet porn addictions lose the ability to function sexually with real, live human beings. That’s right. ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. Just what every guy who loves porn wants for Christmas, right? I have a friend who went to an all male Catholic school years ago and the gym instructor told them one day, “Don’t be one of these guys who sits around masturbating all day. You’ll never amount to anything. It will drain you of your drive and motivation and you’ll be a loser. Only losers do that.” And now, it turns out that the gym teacher was right. Science proves it. Internet porn creates men who can’t get it up. I don’t know what you would call that, but I think we can safely say it’s not “winning at life.”

5. Don’t you ever want to have sex with an actual woman?

I don’t know any women who would actually have sex with a guy who watches porn at a public library. There are some women who are okay with porn at home, once in a while, but if they ever find out you watched porn in a library, on a bus, in a McDonald’s or other public place, they will not have sex with you. Ever. Here’s what you need to do to turn women on: get a job, get a life, get a hobby (that’s not in your pants), do something cool, excel at something and succeed at life. That doesn’t mean get rich. It means live a worthy life. It means get out of your mother’s basement, get off the video games and porn and go make something worthwhile out of yourself. A guy who can do that will get plenty of girls.  But waste your life away in front of a screen on virtual girls and no real woman will ever touch you down there.

6. Is your wife and/or parole officer aware you do this?

I know some of you are married and you watch porn at the library because you are hiding it from your wife. Shame. On. You. If you wanted to ogle other women who are not your wife you should not have married her. My advice is to go see the priest or pastor who married you, confess what you have done, and find out how to repair your marriage. Stop cheating on her at the public library, where children might be doing their homework. Your marriage is broken. Go fix it or get a divorce, but stop hiding in the library like a sleazy coward. Others of you are on parole and are court ordered not to be online because you are sex offenders. In those cases, is it worth it to you to go back to jail simply to get your fix? You realize you’re in a building near children, right? You are violating your parole. Stop it.

7. And you can’t do this at home because….?

And finally, if you must watch porn, is there any reason you don’t do it at home like a normal person? Clearly, there are only two reasons to watch porn in a library:

A. So the wife won’t find out;

B. Because you enjoy the thrill of behaving badly in public and being seen watching porn by women and children.

If you fall into the B category, you are a sicko. Your fetishes do not belong in a place where my children go to hear story time. Whatever psychological damage you have that you are working through belongs somewhere else. I hope that one day while you are doing what you are doing (and no librarian is stopping you or calling the police like she should be obligated to do), someone’s father comes along and shows you the consequences of your actions — the way someone would have done 50 years ago, when men weren’t afraid to be men. What you need is a trip to the woodshed and a meeting with a large stick … to the face … or something.

If you’re the local library pervert, I’d love to hear your answers to my questions in the comments section below. Please, enlighten me.

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Want to Avoid Raising a Brat? Here’s What You Need to Know

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Avner Zarmi

Boy confronts his mother

Picture the scenario: Your little boy comes home from kindergarten and you tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do. He responds with the ethos of the playground: “Mommy, you’re stupid!”

There are typically five kinds of maternal reactions (all of which I’ve actually seen, at one time or another), depending on what kind of day you’ve had and on your own personality. But before I get to the typical responses — and the proper responses — I want to explain to you the concept of chutzpah.

In many ways, our present society can be characterized as a time of chutzpah. This handy Hebrew word is almost untranslatable into English; the dictionary offers such terms as impudence, arrogance, presumptuousness, rebelliousness, and so on, but none of these seems adequate. Perhaps the best way to understand it is in terms of an old joke: Chutzpah is the quality exhibited by someone who kills his parents and then demands mercy from the court on the grounds that he’s an orphan.

The Talmud tells us, in the last mishna in Sota, Bë-‘iqvoth Mëshicha chutzpa yisgé (“In the steps of the Messiah, chutzpah will increase”), and then goes on to describe this generation characterized by chutzpah: “The young will put elders to shame, and elders will rise against little ones, ‘son shames father, daughter rises against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the members of his household’ [Micah VII, 6]. The face of the generation is that of a dog, and son is not shamed before his father….”

It sounds like a description of daily life around us.

So, getting back to the kindergarten boy who is mouthing off to Mommy, here are some of the typical responses:

1. You’re so hurt by the outburst that you simply say nothing; the tears begin to well up.

2. You philosophize: “What can I do? That’s how kids are these days.”

In both of the above two examples, you’ve already surrendered and chutzpah has won the day.

3. You respond, “I ask you to speak nicely.” You ask? This offers the chutpadik kid the choice of not “granting” your request.

4. You yell back, “Well, you’re really stupid!” You’ve just reverted to your own childhood. Al ta‘an kësil kë-ivvalto (“Don’t answer a fool according to his folly”; Proverbs XXVI,4). You’re the one who is supposed to know better.

5. You slap the kid. This last is especially dangerous. A slap in the face is never appropriate and is not a punishment; it’s a degradation. The child doesn’t learn from it that he’s done wrong; he learns that Mommy hates him.

Do you see yourself here? You’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way, at least, not in your family.

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Three Words You Should Never Say to a Young Mom

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Tricia Lott Williford
Photo Credit: Bridget Colla via Flickr

Photo Credit: Bridget Colla via Flickr

I held my friend’s brand new baby, and I almost heard myself dole out that verbal adage that evokes serious maternal guilt.  I bit my tongue just before I told her, “Enjoy every minute.”

Last night I met Cayden, a long-awaited newborn who is fifteen days old.  He was wide awake and snuggly, and I was as smitten as I’ve always been with those perfect little newborn eyelashes and impossibly tiny fingernails.  I swayed gently as we moms do, because putting a baby in our arms is like turning the crank on a wind-up toy.  When he started to cry, I pulled out all my best newborn tricks, and I assured his mom that as long as she felt comfortable, I wasn’t really at all afraid of fussing baby boys.  I’m highly familiar.

But then I remembered that sometimes the only thing the baby boy wants is his momma, not any fancy tricks from some lady who thinks she knows the drill.  I waved the white flag, handed all ten pounds of him back to his mom, and he quieted as soon as he heard the voice he had been listening to for nine months.

I listened as Cayden’s parents talked about his midnight routines, as my friend described the tears pouring down her face from utter exhaustion at 2 AM.  I remembered those earliest days when my husband and I were new parents, when we were staying up all night at the best slumber party ever, floating on the euphoric fact that we had together created a person.

And that’s when I almost said, “Enjoy it.  Enjoy every minute of this sacred season.”  Even now, recalling that sentiment makes me want to kick myself in the shins.

Thankfully, just before the words came spilling out of my mouth with the weight of a cliche that’s a million years old, I remembered the truth: the season is sacred and fleeting, but it’s not every-moment-enjoyable.  That giddy stage I mentioned lasted roughly four nights, and then the sleepless hours caught up to us.  We were unspeakably tired for a good many years, and that’s when I was lucky enough to have my husband with me to partner in parenting.

But the thing is, just when we were starting to find our groove, Robb died.  He was sick for twelve hours, he died quickly and tragically from a misdiagnosed infection, and I suddenly became a widowed, single mom of two boys who weren’t yet in kindergarten.  Some days I’m still reeling from the truth of that statement, even four years later.  I’m still on my own, and the sleepless nights of my children are awfully reminiscent of those newborn stages, but without a partner to commiserate with.

I was listening to a country station on Pandora the other day in the car when Trace Adkins began to sing the song “You’re Gonna Miss This.”  It’s a whole song about the same sentiment—how fast these years are, how we parents are supposed to take it all in and love it so much, even when the toilet is clogged again with little pairs of Superman underwear, someone is home from school yet again because we can’t seem to make it 24-hours-fever-free, and there’s a melted crayon bleeding all over the clothes in the dryer.

You’re gonna miss this, he sang.  Doubt it, I said aloud as I turned off the radio.

So, when I listened to Cayden’s parents talk about how tired they are as they’re learning the likes and dislikes, needs and wants of this baby boy who is forever theirs, I stopped just short of those words I hate.  The truth is, they will have some really great moments, but those moments might be scattered between some long stretches of really, really hard.

Sometimes she’ll be just so utterly exhausted that she can’t see straight or think clearly.  She’ll have spit-up spots on her shirts for the next eight months.  She’s going to get peed on and pooped on.  She’ll add “go to the bathroom” to her list of things to do today, just so she can feel a measure of productivity.  She’ll cry a lot, she won’t know why, and Cayden’s dad will have to learn to take the unspoken cues from a walking roller coaster of hormones.

She will learn how tough she really is, how little sleep she really needs, and the subtle differences between his hungry cry, his angry cry, and his scared cry.  She will hear him learn his voice and her name.  She will love him with a ferocity that could very well break her in half.  She will wear her heart outside her body, from this day forward.

Instead of empty words that mean very little to one in the trenches, I said, “I bet you’re so tired.  But you’ll find your stride and you’ll get some sleep again someday. It’s okay if you don’t love being awake at 2 AM.  That doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, it just means you don’t like being awake at ungodly hours.  You know what?  You’re winning at this.  Congratulations, new mom.  You look like a total pro.”

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Did You Receive Your ‘Wife Bonus’ This Year?

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In Lifestyles of the Rich and Non-Famous news, Manhattan bankers’ wives have negotiated bonuses for good “work” performance at home:

A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.

These real housewives aren’t the only ones measuring their net worth as moms in terms of career metrics, including potential financial gain. There are a slew of professional development experiences out there for women who have turned mothering into a career:

MamaCon, a mothers’ convention, proffers “…top-notch parenting development and education, self-care tips that really work, relationship support, amazing vendors, wine tasting, great food and outstanding entertainment.”

For Mom Bloggers (yes, it’s a title) there’s the Mom 2.0 Summit, “…the premier professional conference for influential mom bloggers and female entrepreneurs who create online content. Every year, women leaders in media and business converge at the Summit to compare notes, discuss ideas, and forecast what’s next for women online and in the marketplace.”

Minority and alternative parents who identify as “blogger or on-line influencers interested in connecting with brands and monetizing your blog” can attend the Niche Parent Network and Conference, a “diverse and multicultural network connecting digital parents with brands that want to reach them.”

There’s also a slew of BabyCons out there, including the New York Baby Show, “the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country.” Self-described as the “loving lollapalooza of Baby Shows,” it’s a 2-day product and information convention. Combine Buy Buy Baby with your local hospital’s first-time parenting class, load it with steroids, and you have the mother of all information-laden “how to be the perfect parent” events.

Has American culture crafted motherhood into a career choice? Is that necessarily a good thing? Or are we seeking to redefine motherhood in contemporary feminist terms, as a choice that doesn’t threaten or conflict with cultural expectations that a woman seek professional fulfillment beyond raising the next generation? Whether it is clever marketing or cultural conformity, does this put more pressure, not less, on today’s mothers?


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The Real #WarOnWomen in One Easy Tweet

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This is what happens when you lump in pregnancy with chlamydia and refuse to include any real discussions on family planning and career in sex education classes. Is it any wonder women believe the best way to self-advocate is to demand free access to drugs and surgical procedures so they can contain, control and abort?

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NYT Buries Research Revealing That Kids Need More Time With Mom, Less Dependence on Government

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
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The Old Gray Lady has decided there is “mounting evidence of advantages for children of working mothers.” It’s a politically correct headline that follows the newspaper’s classically liberal slant. But, like one of those extensive designer-drug warning labels, to find out what constitutes “advantages” you have to read the small print.

The “silver bullet” factoids boil down to daughters of working mothers who are 3% more likely to work than the daughters of stay-at-home mothers. The daughters of working moms are earning an average of 23% more and are 4% more likely to hold supervisory positions. And if those whopping statistics aren’t silvery enough, “sons of working mothers in those countries spent an additional hour a week caring for family members and 17 minutes more per week on housework.”

That’s it, myths about working mothers be damned. We’ve got a 4% increase in supervisory positions among their daughters and their sons are spending an extra 17 minutes a week cleaning house. Talk about numbers that change the culture. At this rate, if “working moms” were a TV show they’d be cancelled before their pilot even aired.

The Times brushes by a 2010 meta-analysis of 5 decades’ worth of data on the impact of working mothers on children, mumbling something about how working moms were defended by those statistics as well. However, the numbers beg to differ. According to that meta-analysis:

The positive effects were particularly strong for children from low-income or single-parent families; some studies showed negative effects in middle-class or two-income families.

Bottom line: If you’re a single parent, it’s better to work independently than to rely on or continuously demand more government subsidies. But if you’re part of a two-parent household, one of you should plan to be at home for the sake of your child’s long term well being, especially during those baby and toddler years.

In other words, the data still defends the limited government, pro-family position the Times is unwilling to take.

Nice try, New York Times. But once again you’ve only managed to prove that the hot air you blow is all “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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Common Core Is Making Kindergarten Way Too Academically Hardcore

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
Preschool on the Ballot

Photo: AP

What do you remember about the time you spent in kindergarten? For me, it was a magical time of singing, learning to skip, and playing make-believe in the post office our teacher had set up in our classroom (we used those little silver scissors to cut stamps out of construction paper, gluing them onto handmade envelopes with that sweet-smelling white paste). We played with blocks, painted masterpieces with tempera paint — one boy named Tony got paddled for smearing it on the walls — and played foursquare with bouncy red playground balls. And even though it was only half-day kindergarten, Mrs. Liptak made all thirty of us squirmy kids lie down for a short nap time. We were rewarded with a snack afterward and then piled onto the buses to go home. We learned our ABCs and numbers in kindergarten, but were not taught to read or add until first grade. Everything about it was fun and happy and it set the stage for more formal academics in the years to come.

If you have children in school now, you know that things have changed drastically. David Kohn writes at the New York Times:

But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up…

In the United States, more academic early education has spread rapidly in the past decade. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have contributed to more testing and more teacher-directed instruction.

Another reason: the Common Core State Standards, a detailed set of educational guidelines meant to ensure that students reach certain benchmarks between kindergarten and 12th grade. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both the math and language standards.

But does it work? Do tiny children need serious academic work at a young age in order to succeed later in life? Experts are increasingly saying no. Kohn cites several studies showing that children do worse when structured play is replaced with early didactic teaching. One study of 400,000 15-year-olds in more than 50 counties found that early school entry provided no advantage to students. Another study found that those who started school at age five had lower reading comprehension than those who start school later. A study of children who had attended “academically oriented” preschool classes vs. those who went to schools that encouraged “child initiated learning” discovered that by the end of fourth grade, the student who had received more formalized instruction earned significantly lower grades than children who were encouraged to learn through play, suggesting that the didactic instruction may have slowed their academic progress.

What do you think? Should preschool and kindergarten children be focused more on academics or should children be encouraged to play more and explore the world around them without the structure of formalized education?

Just for fun, I’ve copied and pasted the Common Core English Language Arts Standards below so you can get an idea of what children are now required to learn in kindergarten. You can see why there’s not much time for painting and playtime anymore — and why teachers are insisting they need full-day kindergarten to accomplish all of this in one year.


Conventions of Standard English:

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes).
Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
Recognize and name end punctuation.
Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

Knowledge of Language:

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowingduck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g.,walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

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Avengers’ Cobie Smulders Takes on New Threat in Unexpected

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Rare is the television actor who can successfully transition to a sustainable career in film. For every George Clooney, there’s a hundred David Schwimmers.

Cobie Smulders, who got her start on television and was once best known for her role on How I Met Your Mother, has been taking a run at it. Having played S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Smulders has a couple bigger roles in smaller films coming out this year.

One of her forthcoming projects is Unexpected, for which the first trailer recently dropped. Smulders plays a school teacher who becomes unintentionally pregnant and struggles with how to adjust. Her story parallels that of a black female student in the same predicament.

What themes ultimately emerge from the film remain to be seen. However, the trailer suggests an honest and forthright portrayal of how pregnancy changes lives, and how such unexpected change defines the human experience.

There doesn’t seem to be an agenda here, which proves refreshing. Bypassing debate of abortion, the film appears to deal with how the choice to bear and raise a child must proceed from a desire to do so, even if that desire proves conflicted.

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Son Comes Home with Bad Grades. Then His Father Decides to Give Him Some Tough-Love Motivation

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

What do you do when your child comes home with bad grades? Do you cuddle him (or her)? Or do you get angry and tell him he should do better? Or do you go further than that? Do you punish him by, say, not giving him pocket money or by grounding him for a few days?

One father decided to take it a bit further than that. When his son told him he failed his class, he gave his son a sledgehammer, threw his most prized possession (Xbox) in the garden and forced him to — completely and utterly — destroy it.

Like IJReview, I’m wondering what you think. Did this father go too far, or was it a great — although perhaps saddening — way to motivate his son to improve his grades?

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[EXPLOSIVE VIDEO] Gavin McInnes: Women Happier at Home With the Kids

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

What started out as a discussion of the (so-called) gender wage gap evolved into the verbal equivalent of a cage match on Hannity on Thursday when Gavin McInnes, author of The Death of Cool, told Fox News contributor Tamara Holder that part of the reason for the wage gap is that women are less ambitious than men.

“Women do earn less in America because they choose to,” McInnes said. “They would rather go to their daughter’s piano recital than stay all night at work working on a proposal. So they end up — they’re less ambitious. This is God’s way of saying women should be at home with the kids. They’re happier there.”

Holder looked like she had never been exposed to such a radial idea — a view that’s anathema to modern feminists. When McInnes doubled down and said that women often choose to prioritize their families over work, Holder spat, “Having a choice does not mean you’re less ambitious! Your comments are deplorable!”

McInnes’ words should have come with a trigger warning because at that point, Holder lapsed into incoherent mumbling, appealing to host Sean Hannity to stop McInnes’ vile words. “Sean…boy…like…you to — you’re a father with a daughter…”

“If you’re a real feminist, you would support housewives and see those as the heros — and women who work wasting their time,” McInnes continued.

As he often does, McInnes crossed that fine line. He went from provocative opining — making a perfectly valid point — to unhelpful hyperbole.

Seeing that he had activated Holder’s launch sequence — or trigger sequence — McInnes kept going, enjoying her inability to do much more than cover her ears and say, “Stop it!”

“You’d be happier at home with a husband and children.”

“Oh, boy…oh, boy…I’m literally…” the apoplectic Holder said.

“You don’t have a boyfriend,” McInnes said to her. “Look, you’re miserable. You would be so much happier with kids around you tonight. Imagine coming home. Mommy’s home!”

Too much, Gavin, too much.

But he did make an important point — which was probably lost in the drama about Holder’s lack of a husband — about women making different life choices than men. They work fewer hours, choose to stay home with their kids much more often than men, and choose professions that give them more flexibility because their hearts are drawn naturally — biologically and instinctively — to their homes and their families. Of course, there are exceptions, like Holder — women who choose to prioritize their careers over their families. But wouldn’t it be nice if, as McInnes suggested, stay-at-home mothers enjoyed the same respect and support (and tax benefits) in our culture that career women like Holder receive?

For more on this subject, check out the new PJTV series, The War on Men: The Gender Wage Gap Myth and Anti-Male Sexism At Work, where I weigh in on the wage gap myth and the so-called ‘War on Women.’

Also: I Spent 17 Years as a Stay-at-Home Mom and Have Zero Regrets




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It’s Not Even Funny How Wrong John Oliver Is About Paid Family Leave

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

John Oliver, HBO’s version of Jon Stewart, decided to celebrate Mother’s Day by using his late night platform to argue for federal paid family leave in America. It was a compelling, heavy-handed report loaded with half-truths meant to support an ideologically beautiful, yet economically unfeasible concept. Based on my years administering FMLA in New Jersey, here is the list of Oliver’s myths that need to be debunked if we’re going to take the argument for paid family leave seriously.

1. Selena Allen, whose baby was born 6 weeks premature. Oliver presents her as only being able to take a total of 4 weeks off of work, which indicates that Oliver is oblivious to the disability period associated with giving birth. According to the Department of Labor, pregnancy is viewed as a temporary disability the 30 days prior and 30 days after birth. That post-birth time frame automatically increases for women who deliver via C-section. The disability period can always be extended in either direction with a doctor’s note. While this may be considered an unpaid leave by your employer, you are entitled to run your sick time concurrent to the leave, and you may also pursue temporary disability payments from your state or private disability insurer. Allen should never have returned to work the week following giving birth. Whether or not she was correctly informed of the law is not included in Oliver’s story.

2. Oliver argues for paternity leave by pointing out that Major League Baseball fans didn’t appreciate one player taking off 3 games to attend the birth of his child. What Oliver doesn’t mention is that fathers are just as eligible to take advantage of FMLA to bond with their newly born, foster or adoptive children. You do not need to physically give birth to be entitled to FMLA.

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Sure, the Black Widow Action Figures Are Sexy, But Little Girls Still Want the Princess Fantasy

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

As if Joss Whedon weren’t in enough hot water along with the rest of the Marvel folks for not producing a Black Widow movie series, Disney adds the icing onto the sexist cake by rewriting Avengers: Age of Ultron to promote a new Captain America toy. That heroic motorcycle ride Black Widow took to save the day in the film? Captain America is the spokesman of choice to sell the Cycle Blast Quinjet. So much for the Widow’s most heroic on-screen moment yet.

At least I’m not the only one wondering where the Black Widow action figure is amidst all the Ultron marketing. Thanks to Disney/Marvel’s woeful lack of attention to a major on-screen character, entire websites have been created to “follow the symbolic annihilation of women through merchandise.” The main assertion is that Disney has “never” been good at marketing “non-Princess” or warrior-Princess (think: Leia) female characters through the toy market.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t Disney think female action figures will sell? Let’s not fool ourselves (like the ideologues do) into thinking this is about being anti-feminist. This is about money. If a toy company thinks a product will earn money, they’ll sell it. According to a 2005 MIT study on toys and gender, children prefer stereotyped masculine or feminine toys, a trait that extends to “young nonhuman primates.” An examination of the packaging and marketing of these toys determined that boys preferred aggressive, competitive toys like action figures, while girls aimed towards attractive, nurturing toys like Barbie or baby dolls. In other words, the historical biological roles of hunter/gatherer and birthing/nesting, by and large, still manifest as the preferred respective fantasies of children of both genders.

If contemporary feminists want to market a Black Widow action figure to girls, they’d better quit grumbling and follow Marvel’s suit in characterizing her as the nurturer and “mother” of the Avengers. They’d also be wise to take a cue from Time Warner’s DC Entertainment and Warner Brother’s Studio, who have paired up with toy makers Mattel and Lego to create a colorful line of attractive teen female superheroes to market to today’s young female toy buyers. Let’s face it: Black Widow’s black jumpsuit is sexy, but hardly appealing to a five year-old girl.

Forget about textbook ideologies. When it comes to sales, the customer is the only one who is always right.


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Is Motherhood a Blessing, or a Curse?

Sunday, May 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Women have innate superpowers. Thanks to a century-old patriarchal system of doctors, politicians and insurance companies, women have been fooled into believing they have no power. What’s worse, thanks to a cadre of covert female agents, women today willingly hand over their unique powers to the hands of government agents who control the “threat,” either through a strict drug regimen, surgical procedure or both.

Women who refuse to relinquish their power face fear and intimidation tactics: You will be in pain; you will lose your figure; your partners will leave you; no one will employ you; you will be alone. Who ever thought the power to bring forth new life would be so damned scary?

Despite our overwhelming biological urge to reproduce, young women today are told to push off pregnancy or avoid it entirely. The women who don’t fall for this charade, the ones who take the leap into pregnancy and motherhood, are punished with promises of horrific labor pain and traumatic birthing experiences. Think about it: When is the last time you saw a peaceful birth recounted on television? Walk into a new-parents-to-be class at your local hospital and you’ll find out the number one reason young women are attending: “I want to know how not to be afraid of the pain.”

Mother of modern American midwifery Ina May Gaskin has made natural birth a feminist crusade, and rightly so. The myth that women need to be strapped to a table and drugged in order to give birth (a common practice from the 1920s through the 1960s) has led to generations of women entering birthing classes out of sheer fear that their bodies will fail at exactly what they are designed to do best. Pregnancy fear is the culmination of a cultural obsession with obtaining the perfect female body. Gaskin explains:

Remember this, for it is as true as true gets:  Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine.  The Creator is not a careless mechanic.  Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo.  Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.

And yet, we live in a culture that correlates birth to illness, babies to growths that must be removed, and childbearing to disease. When is the last time a sex-ed curriculum didn’t lump in pregnancy with chlamydia as an unwanted, avoidable side effect? Is it any wonder, then, that the reproductive power of women is treated as a threat to the State to be feared and controlled?

This Mother’s Day it’s time to rethink the way we view mothers and motherhood in America. Fostering healthy pregnancies should be one of the top priorities of the feminist movement, as should supporting all mothers, whether they have given birth or given their hearts to an adoptive or foster child. Mothers are the providers and caretakers of life, the sustainers of a great nation. As Gaskin observes, “When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.”

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I Spent 17 Years as a Stay-at-Home Mom and Have Zero Regrets

Saturday, May 9th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard


During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, a controversy arose about the president allegedly funnelling money through his wife’s law firm for state business. When asked about it by a reporter, Hillary Clinton responded in her trademark caustic style:

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.

This was before her handlers realized that Hillary needed to be kept in a protective media-free zone for her own good, because when she speaks her mind, venom often flows out. Hillary likely thought it was virtuous to derisively dismiss stay-at-home mothers — housewives — who were putzing their lives away wiping snotty noses and baking cookies all day instead of participating in some meaningful paid labor.

The day Hillary made that comment I was at home with a 6-month-old baby. I remember thinking that she was a judgmental elitist who had no idea what I did all day and I was angry that she devalued stay-at-home moms without batting an eye.

When my husband and I got married, we made the decisions that if we were blessed with children, I would stay home with them. We started planning for it from Day One of our marriage — doing our best to live within our means and not become dependent on my income, which we anticipated would disappear once we had children.

It wasn’t easy — there are sacrifices when you choose to live on one income. We drove high-mileage cars (which my husband maintained and repaired), lived in a small, one-bathroom house with a “one butt kitchen,” and shopped for our clothing at yard sales and thrift stores. Things eventually improved as my husband advanced in his career, but there were a lot of Hamburger Helper years in the interim (ground beef was 89 cents a pound back then). I am blessed to have a hardworking husband who joyfully provided for all of our family’s needs over the years and who also made sacrifices so I could be home with our children (the ’68 Mercury Cougar comes to mind).

Of course, this also meant that I gave up having a career of my own. In fact, I was out of the workforce providing unpaid labor as the caretaker of our home and children for 17 years. My husband reminded me recently of a comment I made to him a few years ago as our kids were getting ready to leave home. I told him I was pretty sure I was unemployable after being out of the workforce for so long, but thought perhaps I could get a job as a Walmart greeter. (God is sure full of delicious surprises.)

I’m not here to judge mothers who work outside the home. I am in the “trust parents to make the best decisions for their own families” camp. But I am here to say that I have not — even for one minute — regretted my decision to stay home with my kids. I had the privilege of wiping their snotty noses 24-7 and teaching them to read — spending hours reading to them each day. I taught them to bake cookies, to throw a baseball, and to clean toilets. I homeschooled them and taught them to love learning and be curious about the world around them and to be suspicious of people who sound like they’re selling something. I was blessed to be able to do all of these things at a leisurely pace without having to rush back and forth to daycare or to school while trying to squeeze in all the mothering between dinner and bedtime and on weekends. I had dinner on the table every most nights when my husband arrived home from work and our family enjoyed leisurely meals together.

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This Is Amazing: Blind Pregnant Mom ‘Sees’ Her Unborn Baby for the First Time with 3D Printing

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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Tatiana Guerra, who lost her sight at age 17, was able to “see” her 20-week unborn baby through the miracle of 3D printing. The 30-year-old mother asked, “What does his face look like, doctor?” during a 3D ultrasound and she listened carefully as the doctor described her baby’s features. But then he surprised her by “printing” a 3D image of her baby and handing it to her, wrapped in a tiny blanket.

The video (actually an ad for Huggies diapers) captures her precious, emotional reaction to “seeing” her unborn baby for the first time — with her hands.

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