Friday, December 10, 2010

Time management: The new "women's thing"

I was just recalling how in the 1990s, the moms who had kids my kids’ ages always seemed to be plotting “Girls’ Nights Out” getaways, for which I could never work up any enthusiasm. There seemed to be an underlying sentiment of “let’s escape our meany husbands. We’ll show them! We’ll go out together!” Whereas all I wanted to do once the kids were in bed was either spend scarce time with my husband or hit the hay myself. I definitely had neither the inclination nor the energy to pile into a car and drive 45 minutes round trip to “seek refuge” with a bunch of women — or with anybody. Nothing sounded less relaxing.

Now the trend for adult women seems to be “getting my life organized”. Every other woman you meet claims to have “adult ADD”, or “ADD that went undiagnosed in childhood”. There’s a burgeoning industry aiming its products at this population, from life coaching to dedicated planners (since your Outlook sync-ed with your smartphone isn’t enough). Now I find this interesting: Boys are diagnosed with ADHD three times more often than are girls. Why, then, do I know so many women who claim to be ADD, while I can think of only one man who believes he is / was ADD (meaning he believes he is now, and was undiagnosed as a kid). Are all the not-diagnosed-as-children females now crawling out of the woodwork as adults? Perhaps, but I have another theory:

More moms work full-time now than a generation ago, including more single moms, of which there are both more in raw numbers and which make up a larger proportion of moms than they did a generation ago. That’s a lot of overwhelmed women, dancing as fast as they can to maintain a career (or just a job) as well as a household. And the men? They’ve never been expected to do as much householding as the women are, so little has changed for them: As kids, Mommy did all the heavy lifting carewise, and as adults, his mate does all the heavy lifting household- and carewise; the same attention span that served him (or didn’t) as a child, is serving him just fine as an adult. Whereas women’s attention spans are required to reach miles further than they did as kids, as well as miles further than the previous generations of women. Ergo, all the time management courses, dedicated planners, and life coaches.

Heck, I’d be at an attention deficit too if I didn’t have a partner who has my back. My guess is that a lot of the “adult ADD” among women would disappear if their partners, or the fathers of their kids, would hold up their end of the deal, by which I mean ALL it takes to run a household, which in my book includes child care and supervision; transportation; health care (meaning both appointments AND delousing); administrative duties (finances, social calendar, contact w/ schools); shopping (for groceries AND clothing AND school supplies AND birthday presents), cleanup and tidying; home, lawn, garden, and auto maintenance; meal planning and prep, including lunches, and on and on and on. In other words, scratch a woman who suffers from "adult ADD", and chances are you'll find a man in the equation who’s not pulling his weight.

Added Friday January 7, 2011: Just read yesterday that the Health Ministry is pulling Ritalin for adults from the health basket. I think I'm in favor.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bristol and Abstinence בריסטול והמנעות

Here I come, out of the closet. Confession: I’m a Bristol-watcher. Palin, that is. Ever since hockey-mom Sarah was nominated for the Vice Presidency, this family has been my window into the abstinence-only world of reproduction (that shouldn’t be happening in the same sentence, should it?). First things first: I think Bristol did a terrific job on Dancing With the Stars. I have no critique of her performance, despite the more than 1,400 comments generated by the Washington Post piece thereon, which quickly deteriorated into a bash-the-other-sideFest of which the commentors of both parties should be ashamed — not for bashing each other; that’s natural — but rather for failing to distinguish between fluff entertainment and politics.

My critique of Bristol is twofold. First of all, if, as she says, parenting is a 24-hour job, then why is she engaging in endeavors (dance competitions, speaking engagements, PSAs) that take her thousands of miles away from her not-yet-two-year-old?

Secondly, if she advocates sexual abstinence, what is she doing dancing provocatively in revealing costumes before millions of viewers? I know, I know: Sexy does not equal sexual, and being sexy does not equal engaging in sex. Still, I have a hard time ignoring the link between overtly seductive behavior — even if it’s pretend — and actual sex. Is there not a mixed message here?

I don’t know about others, but for me the mixed message here is about as hard to miss as the broad side of a barn, as is the illogic of abstinence-only education. My problem with AOE goes beyond the fact that it doesn’t work, ditto for its advocacy. My problem lies in this niggling sense I have that in their zeal to eradicate abortion, AOE advocates have lost sight of these starting-with-a-handicap girls and their babies.

Because I’ll give the AOE advocates credit for reading the stats, they have to
know that AOE doesn’t work: AOE-educated teens are still having sex (albeit delayed by an average of 18 months behind their non-AOE-educated peers — great, so 17-year-olds are doing it instead of 16-year-olds…only the former are 66% less likely than the latter to use protection) and still getting pregnant. So the AOE advocates know that babies “slip through” their net, and at the same rate as non-AOE babies. So where’s the Christian right’s zeal about young women’s futures? I suspect it’s trampled over by the ultimate goal of maintaining patriarchy.

Besides that, though, what’s going on here? Why are the AOE advocates willing to let babies “slip through”? I have a theory: We, all of us, pro- and anti-abortion, are secretly titillated by the image of a teen mom, and I have a hunch that it stems from the iconology of the Madonna. Why, then, is Europe so much more liberal about reproductive education and abortion than the US? I believe it has to do with our Puritan roots, which is why I don’t foresee any rapprochement on this issue: The Christian right simply sees terminating a pregnancy as a more grievous abomination unto the Lord than compelling a teenager, who has the most pessimistic profile for parenting, to give birth. Because after all, there’s life after having a baby at age 17: Just look at Bristol Palin.