I have a three-year-old son and work full-time, and so what that means is: I don’t read much. What I do end up reading is either work-related (because our stuff is amazing!) or related to child-rearing. As the mother of a young child in this country, I have a heightened awareness about how we socialize the genders. It begins from the moment they enter the world at the hospital—pink hat or blue hat? I took one of each when I left, but they put the blue one on him immediately post-birth. I don’t want to raise my son this way. I don’t want him to think that he is not okay if he likes the color pink, or wants to try on dresses, or play with dolls, or polish his toes. I want him to learn that it’s okay for him express his full range of emotions—that it is healthy and part of the human experience. I don’t want him to feel like he has to “man up.” My hope is that this generation will not even know the term because it will be obsolete. I recognize that it may be an uphill climb but it’s certainly a journey worth taking. Three pieces spoke to me as I thought about this and what I wanted to suggest for Weekend Reading:
The Mask You Live In is a film about masculinity in the United States and the impacts of socializing young boys in a way that disallows expressing anything but strength, power, and confidence. “We’ve constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that doesn’t give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity so we make them go prove it all the time.” The link is to the trailer, one I’ve watched before, but I wanted to share it. It’s heartbreaking and incredibly powerful—a good reminder that we need to actively work against overlaying this expectation on our children, teach them that it’s normal to have a full range of emotions, and help them find ways to express them.
“Talking to Boys the Way We Talk to Girls” is a great piece from the New York Times that states, as the title of the piece suggests, that it would be beneficial to young boys if we talked to them in the same way we talk to young girls. They cite several studies and provide examples—the behaviors were familiar but the outcomes disheartening.
… a 2017 study led by Emory University researchers discovered, among other things, that fathers also sing and smile more to their daughters, and they use language that is more “analytical” and that acknowledges their sadness far more than they do with their sons. The words they use with sons are more focused on achievement—such as “win” and “proud.” Researchers believe that these discrepancies in fathers’ language may contribute to “the consistent findings that girls outperform boys in school achievement outcomes.
Judy Chu, a human biologist, conducted a two-year study of 4- and 5-year-old boys and found that they were as astute as girls at reading other people’s emotions and at cultivating close, meaningful friendships. In her book “When Boys Become Boys” she maintains that by the time the boys reached first grade, sometimes earlier, they traded their innate empathy for a learned stoicism and greater emotional distance from friends. Interestingly, they adopted this new behavior in public, exclusively, but not at home or when their parents were around.
“Raising a Feminist Son” is another thoughtful piece, also from the New York Times, that actually provides tips that one might think are “no-brainers” but I think are harder for some to employ in the moment—they require some thought and contemplation.
Even as we’ve given girls more choices for the roles they play, boys’ worlds are still confined, social scientists say. They’re discouraged from having interests that are considered feminine. They’re told to be tough at all costs, or else to tamp down their so-called boy energy.
If we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices. As Gloria Steinem says, “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”
I just loved this terrific assortment of daylight and twilight astronomical maps of North America. It’s cool for a bunch of reasons, but especially because they prove me right—and I love being right—on two points I’ve argued about often:
- Seattle is north of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. (I’ve never crunched the numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the majority of Canadians live south of Seattle.) See map 2 for an illustration.
- How late the sun sets in your location is function not just of your latitude but of your longitude within your time zone. For example, Sandpoint, Idaho is north of Seattle but sunset there happens earlier than it does in Seattle. See map 3.
English is super weird.
In the battle of the Swinomish versus Skagit oil trains, a US District Court awards one point to the tribe. It’s about to get interesting.
Interviewed on Fresh Air this week, Sherman Alexie was heart-rending and thought-provoking, kind and wise and occasionally stern.
Finally, I call foul on KUOW’s headline, “to understand white liberal racism, read these private emails,” which would be more accurate if written as “it’s difficult to understand liberal racism by reading emails that were probably written by conservatives.”
The story is about emails sent to Seattle schools by parents objecting to a Black Lives Matter day. Yet there’s zero evidence that the emails were actually sent from liberals. All we know is that the emails came from parents who live in neighborhoods that tilt strongly liberal in national politics (which is essentially every neighborhood in Seattle). But hang on: all the emails referenced in the story came from Seattle’s whiter and somewhat more conservative northeast neighborhoods—and it wouldn’t be the least surprising if they were written by conservatives. There are, believe it or not, a lot of conservatives in Seattle.
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Consider that fully 8 percent of Seattle’s voters pulled the level for Donald Trump. That may not seem like much, but assuming that the voting population is a rough approximation of the city’s entire population, it still means that about 54,000 people in Seattle are Trump supporters. Isn’t it far more likely that this was the cohort objecting to BLM in the schools?
The article’s framing is a version of the ecological fallacy, the same mistake that led Washington Republicans astray when they litigated gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s performance at the ballot. Flip it around for a moment to see why it doesn’t add up: the headline is the logical equivalent of saying that the existence of pro-choice supporters in Idaho, a deep red state, is proof that conservatives support abortion rights.
On a personal note, I thought Black Lives Matter day at Seattle schools was both poorly communicated and also a tremendously positive experience. What I observed at my kid’s school was an inspiring act of solidarity among teachers, staff, and students, one that provoked an important and long-running conversation with my son. The KUOW story is good too: it’s an insightful look at how a few parents experienced the day and how schools and parents continue to struggle with race. Liberal racism is real, but we’re not going to understand it if we mistake it for something else.
Colleague Kelsey McComas lent me Claire Vaye Watkins’ Battleborn, and I flew through its rich, varied short stories in a week. The author steeps each narrative in the textured and storied landscape of the American West, illustrating a multitude of characters and voices from the very bramble and neon and sere, stretching sky that are signatures of arguably the most romanticized region of the US. Anyone needing a smart, engrossing dose of fiction right now, pick this up.
Another week in desperate need of some good news, and thankfully there’s a big one: the cost of solar power is falling much faster than anyone had predicted. This means that solar will soon be cheaper than coal—possibly as early as 2021. This will cause an enormous shift in global energy markets, and the analysts estimate that global demand for coal will drop off around 2026 as cheap renewable energy replaces coal plants around the world. In fact, BNEF estimates that, despite the federal government’s push to increase the burning of fossil fuels, America’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be half of what it is today.
Given these new trends, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels may also begin declining as early as 2026. The cost of both on-shore and off-shore wind power is also forecasted to fall precipitously in the next ten years or so, and they predict that by 2040 wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity. They also estimate that it will take an extra $5.3 trillion of investment to keep global warming to under the 2 degree Celsius mark, but It’s good to know we’re headed in the right direction, whether coal companies like it or not.
Also, researchers in Australia have developed a type of ink that captures the humidity out of air and converts it into hydrogen fuel. This means that we could someday coat our houses with paint that harvests solar energy and converts it into a zero-emissions fuel to power electric cars. More bad news for the fossil fuel industry, which is thankfully good news for the rest of the planet.
Bonus points for a new net-zero energy home being built on Bainbridge Island.