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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

Academic Flexibility 

There’s a flexibility myth in academia. It goes like this: Academic mothers have it much better than other professional mothers because of their flexible schedule—a luxury women in business, journalism, law, and medicine don’t enjoy—which allows them to set their own hours, and chart their individual paths to success.

It’s not a myth; it’s the truth. I just talked to a woman who is a lawyer at a big firm. She has a 4-year-old and she’s 6 months pregnant. And she has to fly out of state for work yet again next week. This is on top of having to be at the office 10 hours a day no matter what. 

Compared to this, my schedule that only requires me to be on campus 2 non-negotiable days a week and only between September and May is a miracle. Yes, I get paid 5 times less than the lawyer. But for me that doesn’t matter. I can spend tons of time with Klara, and it’s very important at times like right now when she’s going through a vulnerable period. It isn’t easy but if I had took be out of the house every day for any job, I’d be a wreck. 

I have no idea why academics so love to pity themselves and can’t recognize obvious advantages. Or at least not try to deny them.

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Not Podunkville

We are not a total podunkville here, folks. One of teacher aides at Klara’s daycare is a young woman from Saudi Arabia who is working on her PhD in educational leadership. I hate educational leadership but it’s fantastic that a woman from Saudi Arabia is getting a degree in any sort of leadership. It’s also such a joy to have a person with an accent at the daycare. 

In Need of Solidarity

And . . . I was right. Colleagues are actively and passionately denouncing our sister institution for being a money pit and turning us into an unwanted step-child who is not Daddy’s favorite (I kid you not, that’s the language that is being used). There is not a single peep, however, against the person who is actually to blame for this disaster: fucking Rauner.

People, people, people. We resent our brothers and sisters and not those who divide and conquer us in the process. This happens in families and in large communities. Instead of placing a laser-like focus on the culprit, we allow our energy to get dissipated and weaken ourselves by engaging in petty internecine struggles.

Diamond Haddock

I was looking for a haddock recipe and the first one I found informed me that “haddock is a cheap and affordable fish.” The author of the recipe has definitely never been to the Midwest where haddock is a far greater luxury than steak. I unpacked my haddock with my eyes closed because I didn’t want to see the sticker with the price and feel bad about buying something so extravagant.

In the end, I took some olive oil, crushed some garlic (mostly because I wanted to use my new and fashionable garlic crusher than for culinary reasons), mixed in some herbs, poured it all over the haddock and put it in the oven. Let’s see how this fish – that, at least, is somewhat cheaper than diamonds – turns out.

P.S. I remember back in the USSR my great-grandma would cook me soup with this fish. It was super delicious. And obviously not even remotely as expensive as it is here.

Beauty Contest 

In order to support the sorority I curate, I will be a judge at a male beauty contest.

This makes me feel ancient. 

Jazz Lover

Klara was cranky all day today. Maybe it’s teeth again, I don’t know. When she’s cranky, she wants me to carry her in my arms. I don’t remember if I shared this, but I actually trained for this at the gym before I had her. But even with the training, I can do 40 minutes max of carrying her around at her current weight of 24 lbs.

So I took her to the bookstore, and that distracted her for about an hour. Then I remembered that a student had invited me to a restaurant where his jazz band was going to perform. And what do you think? Klara loved the jazz. She was dancing to it and was totally into it.

I’m happy she loves music because N and I live as if music were never invented. We are more likely to drop acid than to turn on music for our own enjoyment. And if you know me at all, then you realize that there’s no chance I’d drop acid. N and I were both the “Prepare for your music lesson first, then you can play” kids, and this is the result. 

Literature Games

We had a day of creative assignments with students today. First, I asked them to write a short story in the style of the postwar Spanish writers who had to mask their political message and social criticism because of censorship. One group came up with a story about an obnoxious orange monkey who had a bunch of obnoxious children and wanted to rule everybody. It was lots of fun. 

Then I asked students to write the sentence “It’s Thursday” in the style of an Enlightened essayist, a Romantic poet, a realist novelist, and a modernist. Students are very creative. They came up with really good sentences. And this is a much better review activity than “Let’s make a list of the characteristics of modernist art.”

The Price of Triumphalism

A president’s approval ratings two months after inauguration do not matter because there is no election they can impact. Nobody will remember these ratings in 4 days, let alone 4 years. 

The endless triumphalist discussions of the ratings play the same role as the inane pussy marches. They create a sense that something big is on the verge of happening and prevent people from actually doing anything. 

Russian dissidents have existed for the past 15 years in the mode of “we are about to win.” In their narrative, Putin is about to flee the country in terror of the dissidents. In the meanwhile, Putin is as strong as ever. 

The triumphalist feelings of “we are about to get them! Something big is about to happen!” is one of the mechanisms by which consumer society keeps people docile. It substitutes the boring slog of grinding daily work that can bring change with the festive feeling of instant gratification that’s just around the corner.  

Wednesday Link Encyclopedia 

A brand that sells Jewishness to the Jew-curious. The disgust I feel for all of the participants is not to be described in words. 

It’s all about choice but only until the choices are made by people you detest. Then it’s all, “how dare you??”

And more on the fetish of choice

The best explanation for why the rich kids of #Occupy were so stuck on the rhetoric of 99%: “The class of liberal professionals who talk about reducing income inequality are not threatened by talk of taxing the 1 percent. But they would lose out from a broad equalization of incomes between the top 25 percent and the bottom 25 percent.”

Then this freak of nature won’t get a job and will blame the universe for it when the real reason for her unemployability is her insufferable self-pity. I took these hormones and functioned perfectly well because I’m not an immature drama queen. 

Anti-Romeo squads in India: this is what happens when you artificially create a shortage of women in a country. 

The bars and cafes I visited all posted super-progressive signs that told bigots to stay out and welcomed people of all colors inside. Some even had Black Lives Matter posters. But once in these businesses, there were only white people.” So true! These poor fools try so hard to demonstrate how inclusive they are but their desperation scares people off.

Are these freaks for real? Surely, they have to be invented. It’s too horrible to contemplate the possibility that some poor girl might have actually been cursed with such horrible parents. 

No wonder non-academics think we are lazy. When, when will academics stop whining about the hardships of adulthood?

If you believe in women’s freedom, you must support women’s choice to do whatever they want with their bodies.” I remember Echidne once said that soon we will hear claims that if women choose to have their faces beaten in by abusers, we must respect this choice. Of course, every form of subjection of women has been positioned as women’s choice. But the silly little bits of fluff like the author of the linked piece don’t know that. 

I don’t understand this freak out over a Christian sex educator. The worst she can do is make children laugh. The impact these teachings can have on anybody’s actual sex lives is nil.

Eastern European Wives Are the Best

A funny controversy broke out on Italian TV when a newscaster suggested that Italian men should marry Eastern European women for the following reasons:

They stay in the kitchen and cook. 

Yes, absolutely. We cook mountains of terribly unhealthy food the sight of which would give any doctor a heart attack. We also loudly denigrate any foodstuffs that belong to other cuisines and will make the life miserable for anybody who wants to eat them.

They’re women who clean the house. 

Yes. We also drive insane any husband who wants to do anything else but constantly improve with DIY projects the house that we clean.

They forgive adultery. 

Oh, absolutely. But only because Eastern European women cheat like they breathe. It would be weird not to forgive what you yourself constantly do.

They become mothers but don’t get fat. 

No, that’s a total myth. Getting fat is the central goal of our existence.

They always dress decently. 

Of course, there are different definitions of “decently”. If you mean the definition of “fit to be worn by a washed-out sex worker at a trucker hangout” or “fit to be worn by Kellyanne Conway”, which amounts to the same thing, then absolutely. 

They don’t whine, nag and complain. 

So true. Instead, we scream and throw cast-iron pans at people’s heads. 

And they obey a husband’s commands. 

Oh yes. We love to say things like, “My husband practically commanded me to buy the pearl necklace and I was forced to obey.” The terrified husband usually giggles nervously nearby.

These six female virtues make them great wives.

Without a doubt. The best wife is the one who guides the husband towards boundless joy with an iron fist and a crow voice.

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