25 min read

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, Who *Needs* to Reinvent Our Social Safety Net?

White women keep missing the fucking memo. As I continued to research the provenance of "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" I learned more than the proverb's origin. White European men fabricated modern motherhood on a flawed premise. We cannot do the same; we need intersectionality, too.
Red metal fire extinguisher on green pastel wall.
Piotr Chrobot on Unsplash
This probably could have been edited way down! It's redundant, a bit unorganized but mostly there. I could have published as a series, or taken out half the info for later posting. BUT after 2 weeks, I decided to just hit post before the month was out. It's my dumpster anyway, right?
I am not asking for an entire half hour of your day. But I am asking for feedback-please let me know what you think...If longform is not your jam, you can tell me that too!

Who invented modern-day motherhood?

Who defined "motherhood" and everything it entails? Actually, it's the same answer my son gives whenever we discuss who is "responsible for all this crap." Dudes. Always the dudes. Clearly, it was not a mom or birth-abled body.

Motherhood as we know it, full of service, sacrifice, and subjugation was envisioned by Greek philosophers, over 2000 years ago. Aristotle decided we (women) were inferior creatures. Our purpose? To serve man.

It was Plato who wrote in The Republic, (after Aesop's version),“The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.” This begs the question my friends and I ask each other often: Why men?

Screenshots of texts on iPhone screens. Left image in blue bubble "Why are men?" with response in gray "Lmao What'd they'd do now" and image on right of a LinkedIn post sent "Dan Price on LinkedIn: "It doesn't affect me if companies pay low wages" and blue bubble "Why men?" Response a gif/meme of a small child with blond hair holding a stuffy with text "starts hyperventilating."
Screenshots of texts between friends, lamenting "Why are men?"

To be honest, the men who dreamed up "modern life" do not deserve any more of our attention. These bros were THE inventors of the patriarchy (and gender), the ones we get assigned at birth.

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention" is only a tiny part of sayings, beliefs, and norms we inherited from ancient philosophical "visionaries." White European men fabricated modern motherhood on an inane premise–women's "inherently" flawed bodies and minds.

Unfortunately, the lie that men are strong and women are weak remains firm in far to many brains. As we reimagine caregiving in the 21st century, we cannot repeat their B.S.. The same biases, based on falsehoods that certain bodies are biologically superior, effect every part of modern live, especially modern medicine, something birth-abled people interact with...a lot.

y BCE, the philosopher Aristotle described the female body as the inverse of the male body, with its genitalia “turn’d outside in.” Women were marked by their anatomical difference from men and medically defined as faulty, defective, deficient. But women also possessed an organ of the highest biological—and social—value: the uterus. Possession of this organ defined the purpose of women: to bear and raise children." Time Magazine- The Long History of Gender Bias in Medicine
The Long History of Gender Bias in Medicine | Time JUNE 17, 2021

Time's Long History of Gender Bias in Medicine above notes Aristotle's shit take on women's bodies (broken/flawed). Sadly, it only mentions intersectional disparities one time!

Healthcare is not the only offender of erasure, but it's often the most egregious. As I continued to research the provenance of "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" I learned more than the proverb's origin. I saw how "motherhood" excludes Black, Brown, LGBTQIA, and disabled "mom" voices from the conversation entirely.

Columbia University Professor Christina Mercer noted in The Nation, "The Philosophical Origins of Patriarchy: Plato, Hippocrates, and Aristotle laid the foundations on which centuries of sexism were built." Unfortunately Mercer, a gender studies and ancient philosophy expert, failed to mention how these persistant inequalities continue to impact some (Black women) more than others (white women).

"It’s easy for modern readers to respond to Hippocratic theories with ridicule. But to brush them aside as bad science is to miss a crucial point about Western medicine, its construction of gendered bodies, and persistent sexism. These first gynecologists, who seem genuinely concerned about their patients’ well-being, took the flourishing of every single woman to be bound up with her reproductive organs and related fluids, so that her health and the good of her society depended on her subjugation to procreation."

Mercer's piece left me with SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. Most of them, rhetorical.

How is a gender studies professor still fixated on gender binary?!

Why on mother earth is there talk of subjugation without a deeper mention of rape culture, (patriarchy's main tool of domination and terrorism for millennia)?!

How do these men (who encouraged young girls to have lots of sex to cure them of who-knows-what) seem "genuinely concerned" about anyone's well-being but their own?!

How in 2019, while publishing entire essays about patriarchy, discussing the effects of white men's values on our society for centuries, do white women NOT incorporate at least a few sentences about the most recent few centuries, including slavery?!

Why not co-author the piece? Why not reference at least one Black scholar?

And finally, how does one gloss over the more recent societal roles white men constructed? Patriarchy and white supremacy has caused them more pain, and in many cases, while white women made some gains (albeit at a snail's pace)?!

How does one skip Black woman's experience as forced caregiver?

How does one ignore Black mothers experiences (which are unique) entirely?

Apparently with ease. Mercer went on about the hypocrisy of the Hippocratic oath in medicine...which of course I found, um, hypocrisy itself.

"When the Hippocratic authors placed women in bondage to their procreative powers and to their husbands, they initiated a long-standing strategy in Western thought of reducing women’s health to their reproductive capacity and making men their wardens."

Her long-standing strategy to reduce women to "white women" is equally disturbing. True, marriage trapped women into procreation and unpaid labor (and still does). But Mercer fails to mention Black women's bondage was in actual chains; they were sold as property for forced labor. It's clear why progress stalled.

Statue celebrates ‘Mothers of Gynecology’ at Black women’s birthing conference
Atists present the ‘Mothers of Gynecology’ statue and address inequality for Black women’s health and infant mortality.

Filled with historical references and a deep examination of patriarchal society, Mercer leaves out more than just non-binary and trans people, but the entirety of women from the global majority. Yet, Black and Latina women have never had equal access to healthcare or reproductive justice.

To be crystal clear, NONE of these terms appear even once: intersectionality, race, racism, capitalism, exploitation of Black and Brown bodies. I might not have had the language yet, but I sure as shit wrote specifically about economic inequality due to systemic racism in 2019.

While addressing the state of women in the U.S., I was certain to devote an entire 2 sections to the inequities that persist for Black women. What does it say about feminism (and racism) in academia that a gender scholar and professor at Columbia did not? (Don't answer that.)

We did not need Breonna Taylor (or Sandra Bland) to fucking die to become aware of the benefits and pitfalls of white feminism. We didn't need to know Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, to know Black mom's are still losing their sons, and often their damn minds (and who could blame them!)

Mercer's essay laden with omissions could be called lazy or a by product of privilege; that's no excuse. To dismiss it as an oversight prevents progress towards shared liberation. I'm reminded by my colleagues daily: this is how racism persists.

Why give Mercer a pass? I won't ignore or downplay the impact of this erasure of white feminists. When people call you out, it's because they believe you can and will learn and do better.

Why do white women keep missing the fucking memo? No really, why?

As co-founders of Mission Equality Sharon Hurley Hall and Lea Jovy, noted in their "Black Paper" THIS is ALL by design.

"Many describe the extractive, destructive systems we’re forced to operate under as “broken”. The truth is that they are working exactly as intended, to benefit the few at the expense of the many, and to deliberately disadvantage some folks, while providing unearned advantages for others."

If you thought patriarchy was a well designed system, look at how goddamn well white supremacy is working. Educated white women continue to erase and "other" humans, while centering their own "bondage."

To be "unaware" is frankly weak scholarship. To "forget" the contributions of Black women, trans, and non-binary people to gender liberation or motherhood is what holds everyone back.

Bringing her point about patriarchy home, Mercer could have ended by mentioning our abysmal maternal healthcare. Not one word was wasted on birthing in capitalism or the maternal death rate in America (4x more for Black mothers, and in some places like NYC, 9x greater than white women).

Instead, Mercer's summation was only this:

"It’s unsettling to witness the ease with which a few men writing over two millennia ago laid the groundwork for centuries of sexism. It’s crushing to realize that so many of our contemporaries embrace the logic of those ancient arguments and happily subjugate women’s bodies in the name of the good."

Can we be honest? WTAF?! Calling the Greeks the first gynecologists is factually incorrect–there's more evidence from Egypt 4000 BC. What's unsettling to witness the ease with which many many white women writing only 4 years ago build upon the groundwork of centuries of racism and misogynoir.

It's abhorrent to NOT mention the history of American gynecology and cover the state of Black women's health simultaneously. Wonder why white women are so distrusted amongst Black women?

Misogyny and sexism will not end so long as white women center feminism without the context of those who birthed this nation and built the foundation of a "free" society, so girls could grow up to be college professors.

Black women's activism and advocacy helped every other human gain rights. If not for their fight for suffrage, white women would not have risen to new political heights to begin with.

Black women deserve better; and they deserve a freaking break.

Who gets to rest?

As a mom, it becomes necessary to invent time. Let me tell you, moms are goddamn innovative. Read a blog on how to survive morning sickness with a toddler–genius. Listen to the podcast One Bad Mother as she invites her cohost to describe a weekly genius moment, the VO (voice over) declaring "Oh my Gahhhhhd...that's fucking genius!"

Our need for rest, especially in the U.S., is undeniable. Yet, like "The struggle" which is real, everything is relative. For caregivers rest looks a lot different. We basically rest anytime we are not physically, mentally, or emotionally giving to anyone other than ourselves.

We do more than our share of problem solving and emotional, domestic, and invisible labor. Our need for an extended break is palpable but fraught with impossible choices. We choose to quit a situation we did not create, forced to choose between things we love. Any parent will tell you, "Work is the break" and if you love work, you pine away for it. Yet, it's more likely we quit our jobs first.

The irony is that "quitting" for moms is never a break. Partners, bosses, or postpartum depression make the decision for them. Sometimes we quit because our bodies say "ENOUGH."

Caregivers rarely quit quietly for a nice holiday to recover. We make declarations (hoping WE will adhere to them first.) It takes a herculean effort to say "enough" to our colleagues, family, and friends (even to ourselves) and have it stick.

Women, moms, aunties, and caregivers publicly exclaim "enough" for our collective, mutual benefit. We quit one obligation or expectation for another half hoping for permission from anyone, because we doubt the "break" will last. It usually doesn't.

Quitting is not an option for everyone. Pushing their bodies beyond the beyond, Black women have historically died from needing a break, literally. The rise in conversation around Black rest as resistance shows up in your feed for a reason. Because, Black women are still not allowed a moment to just be, to not worry, to dream without limits.

When the media goes off about motherhood, it's usually written by white people, mostly about white people, unless it's about race. If it's about moms, the default mom seems to be white, middle class, educated, and a go getter. She is also revered and treated quite differently by journalists.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, leader of a tiny wealthy nation recently resigned, saying it was Game Over on her career, for now. Journalist called her brave.

Arden didn't even need to call out the abuse she faced in office. Privilege is when wrongdoing is called out for you, your abuse comes out in the press, and people are outraged on your behalf. This does not happen nearly as often to other moms, especially Black moms, 80% of whom are the primary household breadwinner.

If we choose, white women can get loud, with a lot less fall out. We can kvetch, "You see this shit, right? Well, you are not crazy. You didn't make it up; it's real. You knew you were crushing it, but at what cost?"

When white women quit one of our 17 jobs, we usually have a soft place to land. We get pity (whether we want it or not, regardless of whether we deserve it).

Meanwhile Black women have to ask over and over, where is the outrage? They lose their children at the hands of police, recorded and replayed on loop. Media broadcasts a Black man calling out for his mom, again, and being killed, again. Black women stand up, crying out "You see this shit this time, right?!" Instead of solidarity, the world gaslights them, headlines twist stories, and they're crazy or angry). Who wouldn't be both?!

As long as women like PM Arden get headlines, and Black women and other marginalized people are not even mentioned, we fail to reinvent (waves hands) all of this. Period.

Rage for the patriarchy is my default too; I get it. The same guys who cooked-up women's inferiority also made up religion, The economy, biological race, and every other "invention" causing destruction of mother earth. Judeo-Christian religion ensured that patriarchy would outlive us all.

Patriarchy destroyed the fabric of a caring, collectivist, tribal society with strong women at the helm. But is the patriarchy the only thing that deserves our outrage or attention? Who needs our focus now?

The necessity to reinvent motherhood, to bail on the job description that Greek philosophers wrote, is clear. But, shit got way worse when we defined motherhood with a white feminist lens. Systemic inequity due to structural racism continues to cause racial wealth and wage gaps to widen, even as gender gaps have shrunk.

Feminists express impatience for equality, but for who? Who needs a solution now?

🔥 Hot Tip: The mother's who keep getting fucked the most by society. The single mom with part-time low-wage work; the partnered mom beaten down by poverty who can't make ends meet even with 2 FT working adults; the person abused by a partner equally caught in a cycle of punishment.

When half of Black households cannot meet their basic needs, when do they get to rest? Their rest, like their existence in midwifery or in healthcare gets erased by white supremacy.

If necessity really predicates invention, I guarantee that Black women are who we want inventing a feminist future. Not to burden them with more labor, but if anyone needs modern motherhood (or for that matter feminism itself) invented anew, it's Black mothers.

Why are Black women always so inventive? Where we see a glass ceiling, they see concrete, and are still patiently, tirelessly, planning the way out. Notice I didn't say "their" way out. They're smart and know we all go as one, or not at all.

Any and all "Future of Work" efforts must stop centering white women as the face of motherhood and the modern working woman. We can't continue to blatantly laud white women who take their leave graciously for something, that frankly, Black women do better, blindfolded, backwards, and in heels.

Yes, PM Jacinda Arden's resignation is what we all dream of. She also did it with as much conflict as most who love their work would; and she also did it with the confidence of a white woman.

If Jacinda Arden's "fixed" headline is the only progress we can expect from our current gender activism, anyone with a pulse can see we're fucked.

Ask better questions.

I cannot overstate this: Whether working women can have it all is the wrong question.

Why should anyone need to do so much? Why don't we have better representation in media? When will white women get the fucking memo? Why have we resigned ourselves to patriarchal violence? Why is our society only concerned with those who are close to having everything, and not pushing for those who barely have enough?

We need a whole new plan. My mom said often, "I’ll sleep when I’m dead." No need to unpack why that’s bad. And, I won’t dwell on how my workaholic mom had not heard of the term “mental health day” until a few weeks ago.

And yet, it is because my privilege (much of which came from my mom's nonstop work) which affords me mental insurance, an emergency break when I breakdown. I should probably lean into it more tbh—I have support, I have a network, and I can opt-out thanks to a white male partner with a big job and generational wealth. Yet it's because of this that I push myself, because my capacity is fucking relative.

On our grocery outting earlier, the kid had asked "Why should we get to buy whatever we need while others can't?" I respond with "Want to hear a crazy bananas stat? Guess how many families in the U.S. can't afford the basics..?" and before I could finish (food, rent, childcare), he guessed half, which is close. For Black families it's more than half.

Yes, I am that mom, and I do not lie to him; I teach him the truth I was never taught. I do this because we are all tired.

Every one deserves to sleep in a warm bed. We are every woman. Not a shock that Whitney sang truth. (When I say listen to Black women a dozen times, did you think it was for shits and giggles?)

Jacinda Arden is everyone of us, as is Michelle Obama who admitted to depression in 2020, and Selena Gomez who had a full-on breakdown, partly over constant body shaming. But, we also cannot skip over Arden's invisible labor or struggle as relative.

I am on a mission for my community, especially women, non-binary, trans, and disabled humans. My goal to get them paid is to gift them time...time to rest. It does push me beyond what's healthy, because I believe in it that much. Evidently I'm not alone. Amanda Montei, author of the new-ish blog Mad Moms, wrote a brilliant essay "Becoming an Art Monster in a Pandemic" about being a mom and writer, and managed to acknowledge white privilege several times. (It's not hard!)

"Suffering is not a precondition for creativity, but it often is for healing. We do it because we must, I suppose, and to save ourselves, but also because we can— because we have childcare, a partner we can exploit, a roof, provisions, the ability to rise early before the waged labor or caregiving responsibilities, and simply because we have, over time, gathered the emotional and intellectual strength to commit to making a thing, against the obstacles intentionally placed before us."

For white women, there's no "test" for the teary, even if we do end up breaking down in public. They will question our abilities or intellect. But, it's rare they question our femininity–and there's no challenge to our humanity. We are human, even if only to give birth. We can cry, quit, have choices, and access rest in a way many cannot.

White women get a pass, even in quitting, as PM Jacinda Arden. Calling her brave or blaming the patriarchy's drain on working moms, she "gets" to be the victim. AND she gets to make a choice. Pushed to the brink, if we want to, many white women can and do get to opt out of a breakdown.

This is the truth that we must face: quitting may be brave, but it's still a choice. The shit men say about or to her, while not innocuous, is not as noxious as what they say about or to Black women.

Chadwick Bozeman said, your purpose is not your work but "It's the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history." He also said, your purpose evolves; when you feel stuck, new things get added. I don't get up (late morning) to fix systems or write brand copy or facilitate complex projects because I was born to do it. I don't wake up thinking: today I will get closer to solving fair pay but I do get up driven to "to create a just world, where pay isn’t a measure of success and equal pay is a byproduct of widespread equality."

Everyone of us deserves a goddamn, long-ass vacay; no setting the alarm; no worries; a dreamy, uninterrupted restorative nap. (We need to fund our radical sabbaticals). Systemic racism demands we put our heads together, and our voices too.

Why isn't everyday a mental health day for everyone? Should we only get a few days of mental reprieve? The planet is crashing from "man's" failed inventions. We don't need more innovative tech. We already know what we need: to link arms and fight for all of us, with Black women out front (or taking a nap), and all of us close behind.

We need to catch a break.

When Michelle Obama was our 44th First Lady, she had little choice about giving up her career if she wanted her kids to be okay. Never once do I recall reading about her bravery for that. She pulled back because "Barak was busy being President," and I remember a lot more judgment directed at her and a lot less at the patriarchy than it was for Jacinda this past week.

She was brave af for pulling back, but braver still she wrote about it, went on Oprah and was clear that she did it for her girls and family. It was also very clear she knew she was still worthy, smart AF, and a role model for women everywhere.

But let's be clear: Michelle Obama could not opt out gracefully. The media didn't see her as a human and most days she was seen as the first Black First Lady, not simply the First Lady.

Black moms have to push on through...no one calls them brave if they resign. Imagine if Kamala Harris claimed burnout from politics and life as a parent..she would be ripped apart. Not once would it be framed as the system harming women. It would be her inability to cope or her shortcomings. (Granted Jacinda Arden had plenty of that too, but she gets to pass go and proceed straight to her bed.) As tired as we are, the only rest for the weary is for white women.

White women have a history of showing up only when it serves us. To opt out of conversations about systemic racism, white feminism, police violence, economic inequality, or intersectionality that is the definition of privileged. Every time we choose to opt out of the workforce, remember: choice was only available for some...and it's time we invent a better way forward, together, for all.

Being real about choice is only the start.

If you happened to be a handful that read my Summer Hot List, Writers are Hot, you know Luvvie Jones wrote one of my favorite articles ever—about how Black women always have to be the adult.

"Black women are the moral center of the universe and can’t nobody tell me different. In spite of the fact that we have our heads stepped on, we’re disrespected constantly, and treated like we are disposable, we show up. We speak up, show out, and stand up for everyone, even those who don’t deserve it." Black women are the Adults in the ROOM, ZORA, April 2020

Black women, however, are stuck as the "chaperone." Jones adds, "not because we want to be but because we have no other choice."

They "come correct" and overprepared, seemingly unbothered and unbossed another choice thrust upon them–to be strong regardless of how they're feeling).

Lamenting our loss of reproductive rights,without decolonizating access all those sterilized by force or deemed unworthy of contraception and medical care are erased. If we talk about choice, the discussion has to be real; we're in the fight of our lives, for all human rights.

Viola Davis, the star of the aptly named Woman King, recently noted, the fact that people aren't being honest is what's preventing connection. We're all stuck in this shit because privileged, helicopter parents with only "gifted" kids, post a picture perfect meal, clearly disconnected with parents fighting to get food on the table.

In an interview in Vanity Fair Davis noted the erasure that comes with being poor.

Well, necessity is the mother of invention. While there were a lot of moments of joy in the house, there was a lot of alcoholism and violence, too. So we had a sense of tragedy and deprivation, along with poverty. What comes with poverty is invisibility. Nobody talks about the poor. We just wanted to be somebody, desperately. And that’s what happened.

Complaining that you're tired of take out reinforces the invisibility of American families with 2 working adults (full time/all year) cannot afford the basic necessities of housing, childcare and food. Disaggregate the data by race and not shockingly, this accounts for slightly less than 1/4 of white families, but 52% and 59% of Black and Latina families, respectively.

Using their resources (their brains) they created ways to persevere, necessated by constant discrimination.

In her "Won't Back Down Interview" Davis spoke about being resourceful in the context of surviving poverty and of acting.

"Well I guess they say “Necessity is the mother of invention” because you have two stark choices when you find yourself in a really desperate situation. You can either fold and cave-in to it or you can become really passionate about getting out of it. When you’re really passionate, you’re going to grab hold of every rope you see, and wrap them around your arms and legs to claw your way out. And that’s the way I’ve felt in my life."

Because men hold onto political office with the same grip, it's clear power is the thing they're most passionate about. To keep that power, they shit on women all day long. There is constant body shaming, comments on their wardrobe, and questions about their age, weight, height, butt, and worth as a mother. (Biden can be 1,776 years old and still be the top dog.)

Michelle Obama took so much crap, she coined the phrase "When they go low, we go high." White women cheered, repeating her one liners, just as we did when Kamala Harris told Pence, "I'm speaking. I'm speaking."

Black women and non-binary people are the voices we emulate because they are progressive. They're always out front, analyzing the moment, unapologetically calling out "The Man" because they've seen white supremacy's role in patriarchy clearly for half a millenia. No need to be the canary in the coal mine. It's a waste of their breath.

"Mediocre white men"was something all women agreed on, but only one woman wrote a book about it. Black women, trans women and non-binary too, are the ones saying things that strike fear in the hearts of men (like Tiffany Cross did, before they fired her.)

As Michelle Obama pointed out, guys just are not that smart. Men use the tools they have to invent ways to stay in control, and most of it involves abuse, gaslighting, and economic oppression.

"I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart."–Michelle Obama

White women echo Black women because they're the ones dropping truth bombs. Like Davis, they are living their truth and wish we'd cut the shit and do the same.

Patriarchy Will Always Get Schooled by the Grownups in the Room.

I read several articles in the past 2 days saying PM Jacinda Ardern simply couldn't take the heat. Yet, she took questions like this (where a reporter asked if she was "hanging out" with the Finnish PM because "you're like BFFs and the same age." She handled reporters like this for 6 years, and answered them deftly.

This twitter video is a perfect example of how we show up: ready. The reporters question, and the deft AF response from these 2 brilliant politicians. Chef's kiss.

Do you know what a better job these Prime Ministers had to do in their small but powerful nations? Men sure do…which is why they ask this crap. Because it makes them chuckle to demean women.

He also knew Prime Minister Sanna Marin has heard nonstop crap about her gender and age since she took office, and she schooled him like my old boss in Advertising: Boy, bye.

Women get into politics or the media have to be that much more on the ball. Black women are standing on a pin head. When politicians like Angela Merkle and Hillary Clinton tire from being the grownups in a world full of peteluant children (white men), they can take a step back.

How could so many report on Jacinda Arden's resignation and NOT remark that Black women don't get the choice to opt out? How could she get on stage and not discuss it? If you write about the 50th anniversary of the Roe decision, talk about reproductive justice and its codependency on racial, gender, and climate justice; you must call out white supremacy.

Being from the Global Majority increases gender discrimination exponentially. If you don't amplify the invisible labor from Black women or mention intersectionality, you don't deserve the byline. #SorryNotSorry

Racial constructs benefit us, but we only read about racism when someone who is radicalized does something remarkable, or more often, suffers thanks to systemic racism like Brittney Griner.

We need to celebrate and be joyful when Black women succeed, and not just in being the “First.” Their success is not in relation to being branded as less than by a 600 year old lie. Instead, we need to remember when white women level up, quietly quit, or publicly resign, it is not only our gender or our grit that sees us through.

Without representation, feminism perpetuates the worship and staying power of the Unholy Trinity™️, full stop.

Remember, The Powers That Be are assholes. They will string white women along just long enough we believe we're making headway but pay them no mind when we need support. Complicity won’t save you. Worse, it will take longer until we’re all free.

Weak men will make a stink–praising white women's bravery, while saying shit behind her back. Hugging and crying with family after a mass shooting is not privilege; it's humility. Showing your humanity is not a weakness, but being a schmuck sure is.

They'll take a Prime Minister's legacy of innovation, democratic progress, and a community of care, and attempt to start a cat fight. Pitting us against each other keeps us distracted from their asinine behavior. It's a ruse. Don't fall for it.

Why should we stop showing our humanity? If anything, show it more. Show up and back each other up. So do the work and don't miss The Pink Elephant in the room. As Janice Gassam Asare, Ph.D. writes, "more must be done to ensure that people of various backgrounds feel respected, valued and included."

Amplify each other, and pass the mic, too. Celebrate women who show up and school the children like Arden did when questioned by this reporter. But only if you show up to fight for the children in shittier schools, too.

Like that "dude" report did, don't squander your chance to ask better fucking questions and work with those who are more than ready to GSD.

Being in the room is also a privilege; use the opportunity wisely.

Intersectionality or bust.

There’s Invisible Labor, and then there’s being rendered invisible.

Lamenting invisible labor is relative when you consider enslaved African women's labor was taxed. White women's labor was seen as volunteering, whereas Black women's labor was taxed as a commodity to incentivize Black men to marry white women, and to drive them further into poverty.

Quote "The 1643 tax was implemented as a “tithe” on African women’s agricultural labor, unlike European women’s labor which was not taxed. This posed a burden on free black families as it meant that their households were assessed an extra economic hurdle. Most people married within their race, but the tax surely did encourage some black men to choose to marry white women."
V Books: Prof. Tera Hunter Explores Slave Marriages In ‘Bound In Wedlock’ – VIBE.com

Black women, by force, birthed so many achievements and inventions; it’s high time we give them their due. Thankfully historians and journalists are telling new stories and unearthing new information that ensure Black women's work and contributions that benefited all women will not be obliterated.

Black women helped white women give birth (safer and more successfully than when white men got involved). Many were forced to breastfeed white babies and let their own infants starve. No longer allowed to attend white births when men medicalized birth for profit, white people started to die a shit ton more in childbirth, but as I said above, the impacts have been worse for Black pregant bodies.

In her new book, "Medical Bondage" writer and professor Deirdre Cooper centers stories of enslaved women who were forced into horrific medical experiments, reframing these victims as the mothers of modern gynecology. They were smart, inventive, supportive, and it's when they finally helped, replacing the men who quit assisting Doctor Sims ("the father of modern gynecology") the experiments became successful (white men kept failing on their own).

These "physicians denied these women their full humanity yet valued them as “medical superbodies” highly suited for medical experimentation."

How could anyone discuss patriarchy or motherhood and not address intersectionality? When we do we repeat the harm of denying Black women their full humanity.

In women's health, we must honor the vast experiences of all women, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people. As Ms. Cooper says,

"Anti-blackness can lead you to totally erasing that that slave hospital existed. It wasn’t because Sims said it, it was literally because black people didn’t matter. That’s why the first sentence on the first page of my book says, 'The first hospital for women in the United States was on a slave farm.'"

"The racist and unethical origins of modern gynecology is not something to skip over any more than the challenges of motherhood." If we're going to talk about reproductive justice and fight for choice in a post-Roe world, we have to get with the program, stat. Even period tracker app, Clue, posted about on their blog:

"Racial disparities in reproductive healthcare are still prevalent today. In the U.K., Black women are five times more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy, than white women. In the U.S., Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy, than white women. Additionally, non-white women in the U.S. are less likely to receive pain medication during and after birth."

If you care about “choice” over our eggs, or the ridiculous cost of eggs, remember those who have never had the access or options white women have.

We are fooling ourselves while fighting to have "it all."

In many ways we are not any closer to equality now than we were 50 years ago, but I will stick with hope that it won't take another 50 to get that back.

If we don’t include those who repeatedly show up, despite the burdens, and sit there compassionately, even as we are tearfully tired from our “struggles,” we aren’t being real about motherhood. We don't need to have it all; we need to ensure everyone has all that they need to be safe and thrive.

Every time we discuss the shit show that is capitalism, burnout culture, tech, lay offs, medicine and a global pandemic, climate change and storms, reproductive justice, freezing our eggs or the cost of eggs under inflation, we must remember Black women are dealing with it more–their bravery rebranded as resilience, instead of what it really is: revolutionary.

White people, especially fellow “progressive” white moms, instead of performances of allyship, it’s time to cut the shit.

Black women don’t need us to be their wall, like Portland's Wall of Moms. We need to be breaking down barriers, not build more, or worse be them.

They need us to grow up, quickly. Open the doors, windows, and let some damn air in to these stagnant rooms.

Get on board; follow their lead. Be like Lizzo who used an awards show, gifting her time to amplify 14 activists rather than talk about her win.

Teach children hard truths, get real about your blessings and struggles, and be ready to school everyone else who can't see the difference.

Every single time we discuss this Dumpster Fire, our Info best be laced with stories about, for, or by Black women. We better be citing their research and books. Link to Black experts and creators; put them on must-read lists. Refer them to clients and include them as references (which, by the way none of the white writers in the essays Op-Eds I referenced did).

Check bylines, experience, and then check for truth.

Do the work to dismantle white supremacy alongside gender norms and society's unrealistic expectations of caregivers, especially moms. Otherwise, there's no fire. It's just smoke and mirrors.