Agendas at Odds

December 7, 2007 at 12:40 am 4 comments

Sorry—I can’t help but rant a bit on this. There’s a values-validating piece in Science Daily about what makes people happy. Turns out that it’s not fancy cars or jewelry, but the simpler things in life.

A bar of chocolate, a long soak in the bath, a snooze in the middle of the afternoon, a leisurely stroll in the park. These are the things that make us the most happy, according to new research from The University of Nottingham.

Which rings perfectly true to me and almost every person I know. A dinner in a great restaurant is only as good as the person we’re with, the conversation we have. And we’d forego that dinner in a heartbeat to get more sleep. How, then, to explain the NY Times’s need to run articles that start off like this:

WHEN Jena Slosberg of Bedford, N.H., gave birth in March, she endured a labor that lasted 17 hours. But her discomfort was ultimately worth it, quite apart from the arrival of her daughter, Marin. In the recovery room, her husband, Paul, presented her with a pair of diamond earrings.

“I was on cloud nine,” Ms. Slosberg said. “It was the perfect present to make a frazzled, sleep-deprived, first-time mommy feel absolutely glamorous.” She added, “I wonder what 17 hours of labor will get me next time?”

If I had my druthers, the Old Gray Lady (which really should be renamed the Hip Brazilian-waxed Babe) would stop its incessant catering to the glam and glitzed and get real with the rest of us. Articles like this immortalize and encourage blatant materialism (future moms: now you know it’s a quid pro quo). I “pushed out” two kids and got…drum roll please…two kids. I never aspired to a pot of diamonds at the end of each labor; just healthy kids. If you’re lucky, you might also get a partner who helps out. But if said partner doesn’t, diamond earrings won’t compensate for that. What’s your pick: relationship-building or asset-building?

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Entry filed under: Rant.

Vernacular Misconception Two Robbers and Counting

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shelby Meyerhoff  |  December 7, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Hi Karbeth,

    I’m so glad to be reading your blog now (and receiving the RSS feed)! You are right on in this piece.

    I have gotten a lot of useful news from the New York Times over the years, but sadly they have also printed some very backward articles about gender, and it’s important for bloggers to speak up when this happens. You might also like the blog Feministing.com; they offer thoughtful media critique on gender issues.

    Reply
  • 2. karbeth  |  December 7, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Shelby. I’m also glad to be reading your blog, http://www.lookingforfaith.org/blog/, for information and personal edification. As a new blogger, I am giving a lot of thought as to how a blog can responsibly transmit information that is pertinent and thought-provoking to those who visit. That strikes me as the medium at its best. As for blogging for other purposes, there’s more than enough of that going around.

    Reply
  • 3. Anne  |  December 10, 2007 at 11:07 am

    First, this practice is a bit older than the Times article implied. When my niece and nephew were born, about 30 years ago my sister’s husband gave her presents of jewelry in chivalrous celebration of the event. The difference is back then it was a nice gesture, not expected to the point of demand by the recipient or society. The other difference, perhaps more important is the private intimate nature of the gesture. The folks who were featured in the article (as well as those whose publicists couldn’t get them included) have no shame in publicly discussing this rather crassly. That, more than any bauble speaks about the nature of their relationship, their lifestyle competition with their peers and their acquisitive nature. The diamonds, etc. are just another rung on the nouveau-riche social ladder.

    Reply
  • 4. karbeth  |  December 10, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Anne, I couldn’t agree more.

    Another good perspective shows up in the NY Times Letters, obviously included to further boil the stew:

    To the Editor:

    Re “A Bundle of Joy Isn’t Enough?” by Thomas Vinciguerra (Dec. 6):

    As a midwife, I am glad to hear that women are being honored by their partners for bearing children. I only wish they were being honored by our society with more significant “gifts,” like paid maternity leave, breast-feeding-friendly policies and affordable, quality child-care programs.

    Karen Trister Grace

    Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Reply

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