Categories
Business

Care is essential to service work; products cancel or conceal embedded care work

Bookmarked Why Care Work is Critical to the Value of Information by Tara McMullinTara McMullin (explorewhatworks.com)

So here’s my not-so-wild hypothesis:

Services are stigmatized because they are feminized.

A service-based business is a care-based business—to one extent or another. All that client care, relationship-building, and personalization? That’s women’s work.

This is interesting stuff to think about as I start my consulting business. Also interesting when I think of how many solopreneurs in my field are women — and that they are often offering direct outreach services.

Information products… are services with the care work removed, automated, or embedded within them. The care work—to the extent it’s there at all—is deemphasized or made invisible.

Like companies hiding real workers behind AI pretending to be human.

With few exceptions, a high-end information product with glowing reviews and a passionate student community incorporates a massive amount of care work… Understanding and creating systems for care work is critical to the success of an information product.

Categories
House Lifestyle Mental Health

Home organization is often a quest for control

Liked Perfectionism and the Performance of Organizing by Virginia Sole-Smith (Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith)

Organizing is a complicated drug. It’s about instant gratification and control… But it’s also an illusion of control…

My husband calls it Nesting Mode when I get super into making the house better.

I’m not sure there is a more peak White Lady moment than texting your friends photos of your newly organized Tupperware drawer…

Lol I just reorganized my snack shelf this weekend and sent a photo to my mom and sister 😂

But lots of people, particularly straight women in cis het partnerships, play the role of the Noticer in their household, which tends to translate to also being the Organizer and resetting that balance requires the less organized partner to start valuing that there is now a place to put the permission slips and library books…

I’m working on letting go of more things / caring less — although I am extremely attuned to Noticing shit that “needs” to happen. I’m also trying to give my partner more opportunities to take ownership of how our house is organized, like having him help me figure out where to store our salad fixings after I removed them from the snack shelf where I’d been keeping them with the other nuts and dried fruit.

See also: The Mental Load

Categories
Future Building House

Designing a future based on the biases of the past

Liked Why the ‘Kitchen of the Future’ Always Fails Us by Rose Eveleth (Eater)

In a world full of incredible technology, why can we still not imagine anything more interesting than a woman making dinner alone?

Writing off all these hypothetical kitchens as nonsense ignores how powerful the effect of their messaging can be.

Gender role stereotypes are so obnoxious — even though in my household I am the one who cooks. We went to an open house in the fancy part of our neighborhood once just to see what it looked like inside. The realtor chatted with us, and as we’re walking out the door, he points at my husband and tells him, “She wants a new kitchen, and you’re gonna pay for it!”

😶

[Engineers and designers] operate on the premise that people don’t know what they need until it’s built for them. This is a useful principle in some ways, but when it comes to reconsidering how people interact with spaces and appliances they use every day with fluency, it results in an approach to innovation that only calls for talking, never listening.

The result is an array of potential futures that are strangely both unaware of the culture from which they spring, and at the same time constrained by it.

A “we know better” perspective? Here’s another opportunity for co-design.

Solving for problems with technology is exciting / venture capital-izable, while the more common “boring” problems that make a kitchen easier to use probably involve: improved storage, simpler / easier cleaning, and lower maintenance.

What would my dream kitchen have that I don’t have now?

  • A counter depth fridge with freezer on the bottom, not the side –> stop food from getting lost in the back of our fridge
  • An induction stovetop (currently have electric coil 😢) –> easy to clean stovetop that I won’t burn myself on
  • A hood range that actually vents outside –> healthier indoor air quality while I’m cooking
  • More counter space, especially next to the stovetop –> more room for mise en place / less stressful cooking
  • An easy-to-clean, low-maintenance countertop (currently have tile 😭) –> cleaner countertops that don’t always look grimy like tile grout
  • An easier-to-use pantry (ours has wire shelves that stuff falls through, and the shelves are too deep to see everything) –> less annoyance, easier access
  • Storage that’s easier for a short person like me to reach and use (I can’t reach half of the cabinet where we keep cups) –> less annoyance from lugging my stepstool around
  • Appliance storage so I don’t have to heft my heavy stand mixer up from floor level –> would use my appliances more often
  • Somewhere to store cat food (right now it’s in overflow storage under the stairs) –> save myself a trip down the hall

I could currently buy any of these things, if I had the money. No new inventions required.

New kitchen inventions I would like:

  • A blender that’s not a pain in the ass to wash.
  • Dishwashable non-stick pans.
  • Knives that hold their edge like carbon steel but don’t rust or react with red veggies.
  • Storage for tupperware — an apparently impossible problem 🤣

We’ve now lived in our house ten years without remodeling the 1988 kitchen 😂 Sure, a new kitchen would probably work a little better and be prettier. Yeah, I have a Pinterest inspo board, but I can admire pretty things without buying them. And how many hours of my and my husband’s lives do I really want to trade for a fancier kitchen?

See also: The Politics of Kitchen Design

Categories
Health Political Commentary Society

Whose responsibility is contraception?

Liked Vasectomy: The US men embracing permanent birth control (bbc.com)

Google Trends tracked a huge uptick in US searches for ‘vasectomy’, along with the related search terms “Roe” and “abortion”; search volume was even higher in places with trigger laws. A report from telehealth research company Innerbody Research showed searches for “where can I get a vasectomy” increased by 850% in the days after the news, with the biggest jumps in conservative states Texas and Florida. One practice in Florida told CBS News that the number of child-free men getting vasectomies under the age of 30 had doubled since the ruling.

Responsibility for birth control, even for long-term couples, has long fallen disproportionately to women; female sterilisation, oral contraceptives, IUDs and other options for women remain the most common forms of birth control in the US.

Honestly I was surprised at the breakdown of birth control. Nineteen percent rely on getting their tubes tied versus nine percent counting on their partner getting a vasectomy. Thirteen percent are on the pill, and another thirteen use the shot, ring and IUDs. (As of 2017.)

Littlejohn says real societal change will require a different line of thinking. “As long as we see this as something that men are doing to ‘lend a hand to their partners’ and being noble, in service of their partners’ not being able to prevent pregnancy,” she says, it perpetuates a narrative that men aren’t the default responsible party for contraception.

I like that conservatives are all “lol we’re going to make you have all the babies 😂 enjoy poverty suckers” and dudes are like “😳 wait I didn’t sign up for this.” Evangelicals are so out of touch with society they think everyone’s a misogynist like them who wants to treat their women like broodmares and have a dozen kids. Thankfully for women, that is not the case.

I am scared they’re coming for our birth control next, but I doubt they’ll restrict vasectomies because misogyny — they aren’t liable to give up control over their own bodies, they just want to control ours.

Lol ten years ago I wrote a shitty NaNo novel that was like a Hunger Games mashup with forced sterilization and forced birth and it was not nearly brutal enough. I’m someone who’s well off and lives in a blue state and likely will always have access to the contraception of my choice — and it still fucking sucks to live in a USA where I have to question if that will change. So I can see the appeal in a permanent option that would protect my decision not to have kids.

Categories
Self Care Society Work

Transforming ambition

Liked What Comes After Ambition? (elle.com)

Hustle culture is dead. Did American women’s drive go away, or has it morphed into something new—and maybe better?

For every woman who is burned out after placing too much value on work as a key component of her identity, the task isn’t letting go of ambition altogether. It’s relocating those ambitions beyond the traditional markers of money, title, and professional recognition. Ambition does not have to be limited to a quest for power at the expense of yourself and others. It can also be a drive for a more just world, a healthier self, a stronger community.

Categories
Society The Internet Websites

Overcoming the societal expectations making it hard for women to leave social media

Replied to The luxury of opting out of digital noise by Vicki Boykis (★ Vicki Boykis ★)

Facebook, for better or worse, is still the platform where social events are planned. Where parent groups exchange information. Where family pictures are shared and discussed. To willingly walk away from Facebook and all of its needy notifications is to experience both immense relief and complete ostracism.

And yet, many men I know personally, and online, have been able to walk away from Facebook entirely.

As I’ve struggled with my own balance of this…what I’ve realized…is that women have been distinctly asked [to] shoulder the burden of this specific digital noise.

I’d be much more interested in reading Cal Newport’s wife’s book about how she unplugged.

Ha! This is basically how I feel about Cal Newport. And I don’t even have kids 😂

This article was making me think more about why women aren’t as involved in the IndieWeb, and how to get more women involved. From the standpoint that a lot of mom duties are reliant on social media, seems like your best bet is to focus more on women who aren’t mothers – probably women in college and in their twenties.

What’s the value proposition of a personal website for that age group? I don’t know a lot of younger people so I’m not sure how things have changed since I was in college (yikes fifteen years ago), when every artist had their own portfolio website so it felt like you needed one too if you were in art or design. Now you can just run an Instagram, or set up a Behance portfolio or probably some other cooler website. After graduating, I blogged my internship so I’d have something fresh online if anyone looked me up. Today people have LinkedIn to put themselves out there for hiring. (I obviously still think it’s valuable to have your own site under your control, but I’m not 24 😁)

I think deeper connection is the answer here. When you graduate college, you and your friends go your separate ways. Facebook and Instagram give you the semblance of staying connected but without the frequent interaction of college you drift apart – and making new friends is much harder after college. So a better way to stay in touch and communicate could be compelling, especially to a savvy group aware of the damage social media can cause to young women.

Or, you go all in on the mommy blogger / lifestyle blogger scene and try to get everyone hooked up with webmentions to port the whole community over to a new system. For example, Emily Henderson’s blog still gets (lots of) rich threaded comments. The challenge there is that people congregate around the main blog, and probably a lot of commenters don’t have websites of their own. Do people commenting see a value to having their own website when they’re maintaining a community well enough through the comments on someone else’s blog? Community alone probably isn’t enough of a selling point.

Plus, what’s the value to Emily Henderson’s business in supporting webmentions and promoting her followers joining the IndieWeb and using its tools? (Besides the goodness of her heart and wanting to support an alternative system.) More lifestyle bloggers is more competition.

Another place I see lots of women is cooking blogs – just look at the invaluable comment section on Smitten Kitchen where each recipe has dozens of people who’ve shared the changes they made to the recipe, how it turned out, and what they’d change next time. That style of commenting realistically works better for webmentions than more threaded replies – and is a more demonstrably useful reason to have your own blog, so all your recipe notes are in one spot on your own blog as well as on displayed as a webmention on the original website 🤔 Yeah, cooking blogs seem like an audience who could benefit from the IndieWeb.

Categories
Environment Future Building Society

Re-doing the Industrial Revolution

Replied to The industrial re-revolution by Ed ConwayEd Conway (Ed Conway)

But here’s the thing. Every one of the discoveries I’ve mentioned above has a dark side. Because each of these revolutions entails the creation of greenhouse gases. There is carbon dioxide created in the manufacture of Portland cement, of steel, of glass, in the making of most chemicals, in the production of nitrogen-based fertilisers, in the electrolytic reaction at the heart of the Hall–Héroult process that creates aluminium, in the refining of most metals, in the minting of silicon chips and solar panels and the making of lithium ion batteries. I could go on.

The point here is that if we want a truly zero carbon world we don’t just have to replace power stations. We have to re-imagine how to do all of those processes above that comprise centuries of innovation. We have to re-do the industrial revolution all over again. And, as you can see above, that means far more than just working out a way of making green steel.

I would also add, reinventing what we do along with how we do it. The electric car, for example, has lower emissions (after production) (assuming electricity is from a green source), but roads and sprawl are part of our challenge. Simply updating our cars and the concrete we use to build roads won’t fix the stupid way we’ve designed communities and work that forces lots of time traveling to and from distant job centers, which requires us all to have cars that take a lot of energy and materials to produce in the first place. We have to change, which is perhaps even harder than reinventing green forms of existing technology, because everyone wants things to stay just as they are, simply greener.

That’s a big hurdle in my professional work: people want to recycle more, not buy less. To keep doing what they’re doing instead of adopting new ways. (I get it, change is hard, and when you’re barely keeping your head above water you can’t even think about doing things differently, especially when it might be just the little bit harder to drag you under the waves.) Convenience produces lots of waste, and we can’t always have it both ways. I’m not going to argue against convenience products given the lack of support structure for caregivers (usually women) – I’m not going to fault anyone for doing what they need to make their lives manageable.

Again, we must rethink how we do things to stop climate change from getting any worse than it is already going to be. The more I see how all pieces of society fit together, the more I realize that environmental justice and feminism and racial equity underpin our success in reducing emissions, because those shape how our society runs. The nuclear family, often run and fed and cared for by mom, isn’t working. We need to support caregivers. We probably should rethink single generation / single family households and embrace cohousing and broader concepts of family groups. We need a technological re-revolution on one side, and a social revolution on the other.

Categories
Food History Political Commentary Reflection

Rethinking “Grandma’s Food”

Replied to The Fallacy of Eating The Way Your Great-Grandmother Ate by Virginia Sole-Smith (Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith)

We cannot idolize their nutrition while ignoring the classism, racism, and misogyny on their tables.

A return to home-grown bounty and scratch cooking requires an investment of time and labor from someone. And because we live in a society that cannot reckon with how much this has cost, and continues to cost us, it takes a phenomenal level of privilege to either be that someone or hire that someone.”

I am really appreciating how Virginia Sole-Smith makes me rethink my attitudes about food. I’ve internalized a lot of cultural expectations that made me feel like I need to cook dinner every day from whole food ingredients or I’m letting down myself and my family and the caregiver mentality for women that I’m “supposed” to provide nutritious meals for me and my husband. I know I’m a food snob, but I’m trying to get better. Giving thought to the underlying classism and other gross -isms behind our food judgments helps me throw out the garbage ideas.

I do also believe in supporting a local food economy, and have the discretionary income to do so, so I do like to buy from local farmers. But also remembering that I work and have important hobbies and value spending time with friends — and recognizing whole food cooking requires a ton of work that people (women) used to either have to spend a ton of time preparing, or (under-)paid servants to do for them — so using shortcut ingredients or making simple meals or ordering takeout is totally legit. If cooking food comes out as a lower priority than my other activities I enjoy more, that’s a fair choice. Especially when a lot of our food judgments are tied in with fatphobia. Society wouldn’t think less of my husband for not cooking us fresh meals every day, so I don’t need to take that expectation on myself. I like baking, I don’t especially like cooking, why make myself do something I can afford not to?

I’m going to try thinking of my restaurant costs, DoorDash fees and driver tips as a feminism fee and redistributing my money to people who have to do gig work.

We’re also getting rid of our garden beds, because we haven’t enjoyed growing food like we thought we would, and if my husband doesn’t want to put in the work, why should I make myself? Gardening doesn’t give me the stress relief it purportedly gives other people, and I’d rather spend my time doing other things. I like the idea of self sufficiency, I like looking at pretty seeds, I support the idea of seed saving and heirloom foods, but that doesn’t add up to having the patience to actually garden. Especially when buying food from other people is honestly cheaper.

Categories
Political Commentary Society

Unpaid Caregiving is the Foundation of Capitalism

Bookmarked Free Female Labor Is The Plan by Jill Filipovic (Jill Filipovic)

Paid family leave is out because male power and independence requires female subordination

The plan is: Women work for free so that men can work for money, in a capitalist society in which money is necessary for safety, independence, and power.

More women in the workforce means that fewer men will be able to rely on a full-time wife at home who enables them to work full-time. It’s hard to overstate how huge of a professional benefit a stay-at-home wife is: Unlike nearly every working woman (stay-at-home husbands are growing in numbers but remain very rare), working men with stay-at-home wives can focus nearly 100% of their time and energy on work. They can go in early, stay late, and go to last-minute drinks with colleagues and clients… They have maximal professional freedom because there is someone else at home…

The American culture of overwork would not be possible without this free female labor and the men who rely on it. And this free female labor would not be so readily on offer if our political and workplace policies didn’t transparently incentivize it.

Categories
Personal Growth Society

Unlearning “Flattering”

Bookmarked How to Become Your Own Influencer by Anne Helen Petersen (Culture Study)

How long does it take to recover and re-anchor your own sense of style — and sense of self? When do we, as one reader floated in an Instagram thread last week, gain the confidence to dress as if we were immortal? Ask me in a year, five, ten, thirty. Because this shit is so hard to unlearn.

When someone pointed out that saying I found a particular style of jeans “unflattering” on me was, intentionally or not, inherently fatphobic, I recoiled. Some things look good on my body type, I remember thinking. That is not a value judgment.

But friends: it is. “Flattering” is the vernacular of body discipline. It is a way of convincing ourselves that an item of clothing is or is not for us, simply because of how someone else thinks a body should look in clothes. If that sounds weird to you, it’s because you’ve been swimming in this understanding of how your body should look in clothes your entire damn life: that legs should be long, breasts contained, skin smoothed, waists pronounced, measurements proportional. That if something does the opposite to our body, it should be rejected.

Shit, she’s right.

Probably ten years ago I paid to have a body analysis done to tell me what cut of shirt, what length skirt, what style pants would complement my body best, balance my “flaws” and accentuate my most traditionally attractive features. I stopped wearing dangly earrings because they accentuated my long neck, according to the stylist. Why give up clothes that give me joy for the sake of how I look to others? These days I mostly wear just whatever makes me feel good but there are still clothes I’m scared I can’t pull off. Which I think comes down to confidence – knowing it’s a look and not caring what anyone else thinks about how you look.