This Saturday, I bring you a few of the things from the week with some choice quotations rather than my own analysis, largely because I don’t have the brain capacity to provide any. Although there’s one story I’m so frustrated and weirded out by, I’m going to blog separately about it — so watch for that in the next couple of days.

First up, student barrister and mother Clare Gould, blogging at the f-word, a UK-based feminist blog, offers a witty and incisive critique of a popular series of British books that offer advice on how to raise boys.

Every newspaper and news bulletin is full of the problems that the parent of a boy will encounter. Raised suicide rates, drug abuse, criminality, sexual violence, poor exam results – it’s hardly surprising that parents want a magic pill. The problem was now personal to me. A few short months before, as I lay in the ultrasound suite in the hospital looking at my squirming baby son inside my belly, I found myself wondering how I would manage with what suddenly looked like a complex conundrum rather than a child.

. . .

Perhaps such myths and gender tales are comforting. Long engrained and part of the fabric of many’s parenting and upbringing, they are a comfortable rock in a changing world. They play to a fear that equality has gone ‘too far’. My feminist nature revolts however. I can’t find the science. I certainly can’t find the smoking gun. I can’t stomach the stereotypical assumptions. I can’t bear to see my children caged in gender stereotypes that limit both sexes as human beings. I want change but I also want something revolutionary. For once I would like to hear someone say the (apparently) unsayable – that perhaps at the root of it, men and women really aren’t all that different at all.

Then, on her weekly podcast over at RhRealityCheck, Amanda Marcotte interviews Aspen Baker, a “pro-voice” abortion activist, about her views on how to change the discourse surrounding women’s bodies and choices. I can’t quote the text extensively, because the audio has not been transcribed, but I will say I am continually fascinated by the way the contemporary pro-choice movement is percieved as resistence to women’s personal (and complicated) experiences of abortion when historically the campaign for meaningful access to abortion options has come directly out of women’s lived experience of reproductive decisions. While Baker’s work sounds spot-on in terms of giving women individual support, I think Amanda rightly pushes her to explain why she feels the need to separate herself from pro-choice activism.

And thirdly, the (disturbingly titled) Happy Days blog on the New York Times website, Simon Critchley offers a post on the usefulness of thinking that reminded me of Alain de Botton’s meditations on status anxiety.

An issue that came up in many of the comments was the relation between contemplation and action and the privilege that I seem to give to the former over the latter. Firstly, I would respond that contemplation is action (there is nothing passive about thinking) and action is sometimes contemplative (where I do not simply lose myself in thoughtless action, but think along with the act I undertake). But I concede that where Rousseau, Beckett or Melville might find this feeling for existence in bodily stillness, others might find it in vigorous physical activity. Nietzsche once said that all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.

Hope you’re all having a restful weekend. The weather here in Boston the past couple of days has (despite dire predictions) been gorgeous.

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