She’s One in a Bazelon: Guest Post


Posted by Laura Crawford:

How can Slate survive in the ultra-competitive blogosphere (kill me)? Slate has been sliding steadily in quality of articles and sources. Slate Editor Emily Bazelon has ruled the front page with many smug, neurotic, self-centered, articles about family life, the kind of family life that is unrecognizeable to most people. Her articles espousing an idea of a successful hearth and home are annoying, pathetic, and clog a source that otherwise could provide quality reporting. Furthermore, a person of Ms. Bazelon’s journalistic standing and respectability obsessing about things like veggie sticks and nail biting should make all young women in her field scared for their own possible descents into mommy madness. She contributes to Slate looking like a Rush Limbaugh joke, a bunch of whining self-absorbed middle aged white people who give lip service to real issues while all the while tossing and turning over whether to try urban chicken farming, how much money to send an unemployed son in San Francisco, or whether they can document their child’s potty training online without getting a visit in a few years from said kid armed with loaded shotgun.

Recently Bazelon’s “The Mac-and-Cheese Effect: Why family dinner makes working parents (especially moms) feel better” put me over the edge. Bazelon’s research to support her idea of family dinner being good for both working parents, in particular the mother, comes mainly from a study done by Brigham Young University. Anyone with some basic knowledge of Mormonism knows that BYU is their main center for higher learning and although not all of the students and faculty are Mormon, they still have to uphold a code of conduct not seen at many other schools. In order to maintain a traditional family structure Mormonism strongly encourages large families led by a working father and stay at home mother. If Mormons know so much about a happy home life, and the cure all that is the family dinner, then why was Utah ranked the most depressed state in the nation by Mental Health America? An ABC News article describing the mental health trend quotes psychiatrists pointing to a few contributing factors two of which were an underfunded educational system and a culture deeply rooted in the Mormon faith. So although the deeply religious Mormons are stupid and depressed, they’re the first people who should be directing your eating schedule.

Moreover, Bazelon’s solution to those moms who feel that after a long work day family dinner is another source of stress and an opportunity to be criticized, they just have to keep it simple, burritos and pasta, just like her. As many moms can tell you whether simple, complex, healthy, junky, formerly frozen, or take out, there are always opportunities for criticism and dismissal of dinner. A mother comments on Slate that her young children wake up and go to bed rather early making it impossible for her to always put together a meal, even an unhealthy one, by about 6 o`clock the time the little ones want to eat.

Men didn’t share in this reaction, on average. It would surely be a good thing if more fathers got a similar lift from walling off the dinner hour from the office. But for now, I’m glad that at least we mothers do.

Contradiction alert! Isn’t this article called “Why family dinner makes working parents feel better?” Then why does Bazelon admit that fathers in the BYU study did not feel better about the work-family conflict as mothers did. Basically this article backs up traditional idea about mothers, no matter how busy, how long their work days, mothers are failing their children if they do not create family dinner, and they’re failures on whole other levels if the meals are not healthy and organic, furthermore the traditional set-up makes them feel better about their little jobs as well. The article ends with Bazelon having her day made by her son Simon eating two pieces of vegetables, what standards for happiness this woman has. Let’s just hope he doesn’t learn to wipe his own ass anytime soon, her head may explode.

This is not the first time I have taken issue with The Baz, back in February I read an awful fluff piece of hers, “Bite Club: How I tried to cure my son’s fingernail biting.” I was going to write a critical response, noting her ridiculous sources, her inane hysteria over such tripe, the placement on the front page. But, I decided to do that but also really tear her a new one and lampoon her idea of tirelessly crusading in the pursuit of a sterilized, liberal domestic bliss bubble:

“I find it amazing that Slate’s editors have given this piece of tripe with undertones of Munchhausen written all over it, the distinction of front page news. Is this what motherhood has to offer educated American women? Obsessing over a munched on hang nail while your child is probably attending a poorly run elementary school populated by future pill popping gay bashers? Sign me up If this piece were front page news for the entertainment of readers with much more interesting lives to laugh at, then I apologize. Nothing makes me chuckle more than the thought of the author’s son being completely convinced that Mommy is f**kd in the head, while she manically searches for nail bitters online. Notice you never read about the child’s father reacting to the nail-biting fiasco. Though not having read many more of the author’s articles, I think it’s safe to assume he’s drinking himself into a stupor to numb the mental strain involved in not throttling such a woman. I really enjoyed the citations of early twentieth century texts to validate her concerns. All kinds of helpful information can be gleaned from such works like, homosexuality is a disease of the mind and body, and masturbation will turn you into an axe-wielding hairy-palmed, blind person. Joan Crawfords watch out this Mommy-Dearest is sneaking in to snatch your title Brava you stubby fingered hack”

So I was cruel for fun, said some things I probably wouldn’t say in those exact words to The Baz’s face, as is often a criticism of blogging and blogging responses. So my charges were cloaked in some absurdity, but she started it. She referenced absurd sources for an absurd article, fully disclosing an absurd vision of family. Besides citing crap sources The Baz also likes to inflate language. In “The Case of the Missing Veggie Sticks: Staving off my son’s panic attacks” the simple idea of what a panic attack truly is and how it is so different form what The Baz’s son experiences on a regular basis gets completely ignored. The Baz, an experienced journalist, falls prey to a stereotype of mothers everywhere, making their child’s scrapes into international incidents, believing their child to be unique and deserving of intense attention by everyone. The Mayo Clinic’s website states, “A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that develops for no apparent reason and that triggers severe physical reactions. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. ” Here is how The Baz describes her son’s panic attacks
By the time I saw him, he was crying, purple, practically vibrating, and shrieking, Where is my snack?

Panic attacks develop for no apparent reason, her son’s panic attack occurs for a very specific, obvious reason, he is a very spoiled baby who has been denied immediate satisfaction. When you are able to shriek, coordinate a sentence in such a way, a direct line of questioning you are not completely losing control, you are not in a similar state to someone having a heart attack, or dying. It’s strange that she still persists in describing it as a panic attack given she is able to describe the situation,

Simon was being asked to fend for himself, even if just in some small way, and when something went a little awry, he suddenly and completely discovered he couldn’t. Simon from week to week that his snack would be in his backpack, his backpack would be delivered to the park, and all he had to do was to look inside, take out the bag, and put the food into his mouth, he couldn’t quite manage it. Not without a panic attack.

I hope The Baz has some fucking great health-care coverage because with all these panic-attacks her son is really going to need some serious medical assistance. When someone can write a two page article about another non-issue and not even get a simple concept clear, such as what is a panic attack, how can one respond? How can someone say, stop this insanity! All I could offer was my expert medical opinion.

How I stave off panic attacks: Whiskey and ambien. Just slip some whiskey into his all natural organic apple juice for a midday snack and then by soccer he’ll be a little buzzed and not freak out when he doesn’t have his veggie sticks. The ambien is for you Ms Editor because otherwise, I don’t know how you could sleep at night publishing these kind of articles.

I had to laugh a little when reading “Is This Tantrum on the Record? the ground rules for writing about your kids.” Had The Baz possibly read my responses, or some like them? Could she see now that her obsessions and neurosis were turning off otherwise enthusiastic Slate readers? Did she now see that a tantrum is not a panic attack? Bazelon feels a twinge of panic herself after her son’s aborted search for himself on Google because he was unaware of the articles she had written about him for a well-known news site, while I lamented she hadn’t completed a search for an abortionist.

When I write about my kids, I’m not only thinking as their mother. I’m also thinking as a professional writer. Those two identities don’t always align—they just don’t.

Maybe for some, J.K Rowling doesn’t seem to have a problem, but clearly you do, what self-awareness she’s learned.

As a reader, I would hate to give up the pleasures of the late Marjorie Williams’ writing about her elementary-school-age children, for example, or Sandra Tsing Loh endlessly fretting over her kids’ schooling in the Atlantic.

Shit, there are more Bazelon’s out there I`m not even aware of.

We make them the potential victims of ruthless (if funny) harangues—harangues that, thanks to the bottomless Internet, might be around for a long, long time. Maybe I need new ground rules. Or maybe at some point it will be time to stop. Except not just yet. Last night, I was talking with Eli about his misadventures at recess and thought, ah, good topic.

Holy shit, she’s not stopping. The Mormon bullshit was offensive on a few levels but just wait, theres more Simon and Eli in store for all of us to enjoy.

I`m Gonna Git You Sucka

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