Example of Gaslighting of Women in the Wild

A public facebook post by Amadi Lovelace made the following points about the recent Trump baby gaffe (this link has the transcript, but also an autoplay video):

In talking about Trump and the baby, people seem to be focusing on the idea of “who yells at a baby?” And it is kind of in line with our questions about his temperament to frame this as Trump yelling at a baby.

But he didn’t yell at a baby. He yelled at a woman who had a baby.

And more importantly, he didn’t just yell at her, he gaslighted her, telling her at first that it was OK that her baby was fussing, and then acting like she was nuts for taking him at his word and should have somehow divined magically that he actually wanted her to leave.

This was an example of three horrible things all wrapped up in one. First, Trump’s tendency toward doublespeak, saying one thing, meaning the exact opposite and acting like everyone else is bizarre and ignorant for taking his words at face value. Second, the aforementioned gaslighting, which is an always an abuse tactic, full out.

Third, and this is a little more nuanced, it’s a prime example of the insidious way in which parenting forces women, especially, out of public life. When babies aren’t welcome somewhere, when babies start crying, it is mothers who are expected to stay home, mothers who are expected to take the baby out, mothers whose lives are interrupted.

It’s not “Trump yells at a baby.”

It’s “Trump uses abusive tactics and reinforces marginalization of women with children by yelling at mother of young baby.”

Sometimes brevity is the enemy of an accurate picture of just how bad something is.

Mother-friendly conference organising: an experiment

To see how far we could get with small fixes — improving the aspects of academic conferences that are pretty easy to change — I organized an experimental conference along with June Gruber, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder (and a fellow academic mom). The conference, held at the University of California Berkeley earlier this month, brought together an outstanding group of speakers using the latest psychological work to challenge misconceptions about the mind — from the idea that pursuing happiness is a good way to achieve it, to the idea that babies are born racist. We called the conference the Misconceptions of the Mind Conference: MoMiCon 2016. And we didn’t just invite the mommies: We invited the babies.

For more, go here.

The problem with calling breastfeeding “natural”

Nice discussion of what sounds like a great paper by  bioethicists Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill.

In a new paper recently published in Pediatrics, bioethicists Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill argue that the emphasis on the “natural” aspects of breast-feeding can easily backfire. By endorsing breast-feeding as natural, they say, breast-feeding advocates are reinforcing the idea that natural is A) something that actually exists and B) healthier. By setting up this dichotomy, these pro–breast-feeding campaigns might serve as unintentional fodder for concerns against “unnatural” interventions like vaccinations.

 

 

Brain scans reveal: babies can feel pain

One would have thought that it is completely obvious that babies can feel pain. Of course, it can be argued that there’s a gap between behavioural evidence and pain states. Still, isn’t that worry really just a philosophical one, as one hears doctors say?

Unfortunately, common sense appears to have failed in the case of infants and pain.

In the early 1980’s it was revealed that babies react chemically as adults do to what adults count as painful circumstances. It also turned that neonates needing surgical interventions were given NO pain relief. “Well that is completely horrible but,” one might have thought, “At least that will end now.”

No such luck. Recent brain scanning experiments show that even very young babies do indeed react much as adults do to what adults count as painful circumstances, but pain relief is not the norm.

The brains of babies ‘light up’ in a very similar way to adults when exposed to the same painful stimulus, a pioneering brain scanning study has discovered. It suggests that babies experience pain much like adults. As recently as the 1980s it was common practice for babies to be given neuromuscular blocks but no pain relief medication during surgery. In 2014 a review of neonatal pain management practice in intensive care highlighted that although such infants experience an average of 11 painful procedures per day 60% of babies do not receive any kind of pain medication.

(Journal Reference:
Sezgi Goksan, Caroline Hartley, Faith Emery, Naomi Cockrill, Ravi Poorun, Fiona Moultrie, Richard Rogers, Jon Campbell, Michael Sanders, Eleri Adams, Stuart Clare, Mark Jenkinson, Irene Tracey, Rebeccah Slater. fMRI reveals neural activity overlap between adult and infant pain. eLife, 2015; 4 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.06356)

The study comes out of the University of Oxford. I think it applies only to the UK. There has been an earler, 2011, study in Canada covering a wider age range and the results are similarly discouraging.

Narcissim: social learing theory vs psychoanaltic theory

From “Origins of narcissism in children,” in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences.

There’s an interesting theoretcal challenge here to the idea that problematic behavior is due to unconscious desires to make up for early wounds. Equally, we get some insight into how pretty rotten people can have quite nice parents.

Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). … Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age.

“Is it Child abuse to make a trans child ‘Change’?”

This is the topic for a NY Times “room for debate.” It is in response to the very sad suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a trans child whose parents loved almost everything about her, her mother said. Just not her being trans; they took her to conversion therapy to try to change her back to a boy named “Joshua” (her name at birth).

There’s a special feature to this NY Times debate. Everyone thinks it is an exceptionally bad idea to try to make a trans child change. This is the first “room for debate” I’ve seen when the other side has had no representation.

What happens at border crossings if your children don’t share your name.

The Guardian’s The Women’s Blog reports that over the last five years, an estimated 600 000 women have been stopped at border control because they were travelling under a different name from their children. This could be because they had divorced the children’s fathers, and had to revert to their previous surname, or because they had never changed their name in the first place but the children had taken their father’s name.

One of the women mentioned in the article, Helen Perry, who was stopped at the UK border in 2010 while travelling with her children, has launched the Parental Passport Campaign, asking for the optional addition of parents’ or guardians’ names on a child’s passport.

The article doesn’t mention fathers, but one can only assume that a man travelling alone with a child who does not share his name might also attract a certain amount of suspicion!

Until this is resolved I am keeping copies of their birth certificates in my children’s passports!

 

 

Leaning in, leaning back, overwork and gender

Interesting article.

And just as work has expanded to require employees’ round-the-clock attention, being a good mom has also started requiring ubiquity. Things were different in my own childhood, but today, parenting has become a full-time job: it requires attendance at an unending stream of birthday parties, school meetings, class performances, and soccer games, along with the procurement of tutors, classes, and enrichment activities, the arranging of play dates, the making of organic lunches, and the supervising of elaborate, labor-intensive homework projects than cannot be completed without extensive adult supervision.
Oh yes: By incredible coincidence, parenting was discovered to require the near-constant attention of at least one able-bodied adult at just about the same time women began to pour into the workforce in large numbers. Sorry ’bout that, girls!

We need to fight for our right to lean out, and we need to do it together, girls. If we’re going to fight the culture of workplace ubiquity, and the parallel and equally-pernicious culture of intensive parenting, we need to do it together — and we need to bring our husbands and boyfriends and male colleagues along, too. They need to lean out in solidarity, for their own sake as well as ours.
Women of the world, recline!