Thursday, February 11, 2010

"We Are They": The Blame Game in Unrealistic Images of Women in Fashion

Fascinating rundown at Jezebel of a panel for the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Health Initiative, started in response to the eating-disorder-related deaths of three young models. (And having little result, per Anna Wintour.) Jenna and the commenters bring up pretty much everything I have to say on the issue, so I won't comment too much except to say that I'm relieved to read that so many people called bullshit on the neverending blame game.

Magazines say they "can't" feature models whose bodies are above the sample size (which is very small), because designers don't provide them with sample sizes in, say, size 8. Designers say they "can't" make their samples larger because they are responding to the norms of the industry. Which is dictated by...magazines and other designers. Model agencies say they provide prepubescent girls as models because that's what the industry demands, and hell, there's just so many of them from countries with shaky economies (unsurprisingly, often the same countries where sex trafficking is an enormous problem for this same demographic). The models themselves say they are powerless to stand up for their bodies' needs, because they often have families back in their native country to feed, and there's always another girl who will live on cigarettes to fit the norm to take her place.

I wish I knew the identity of the female fashion designer who said during the Q&A portion of the panel: "Trends start by agreement. We keep saying 'They started it,' but we are 'they.' We are they." I'd buy her clothes in a size 8 minute.

Binge Eating Disorder: It Officially Exists!

The American Psychiatric Association recently announced their officially proposed updates to the DSM-5. The mental health professional community had already let it be known that the addition of binge eating disorder would likely be among the changes--it's the APA's rationale that's news to me. (In the DSM-4, BED was listed as a variant of eating disorder-not otherwise specified; this change would make it a discrete diagnosis.)

*BED tends to run in families yet is not a simple familial variation of obesity.

*BED has a greater likelihood of male cases and a later age of onset than other eating disorders.

*Compared with obesity, BED sufferers have greater concerns about shape and weight and a higher likelihood of mood and anxiety disorders.

*BED is associated with a lower quality of life than obesity.

*BED has a greater likelihood of medical comorbidities than either other eating disorders or obesity.

*BED has a lower level of diagnostic stability and a greater likelihood of remission.

*Individuals with BED have a more positive response to specialty treatments than to generic behavioral weight loss treatments.

I’m hoping that BED’s inclusion helps with the last two items in this list. If mental health providers are more aware of BED and know that it is a treatable condition, it makes sense that patients will get care more swiftly--and that the care will be more effective--than they would were they to follow standard medical advice given to those whose primary issue is that they’re overweight, not that they suffer from BED. I wonder if the “later age of onset” for BED is actually “later age of diagnosis.” Of BED sufferers whose personal histories I know, their behaviors began in childhood, even if they didn’t reach clinical frequency until adulthood.

The proposed change is important for another reason: It would lessen the frequency of ED-NOS diagnoses. Right now, ED-NOS is the most fatal eating disorder, yet is the least-known—and, because of its breadth, perhaps the least understood. Given that BED has a greater likelihood of medical comorbidities than other eating disorders, this could shed some light on the actual risks of ED-NOS. Right now, ED-NOS is a sort of catch-all diagnosis; it’s actually the most common diagnosis at the Renfrew Center, a leading treatment facility. An ED-NOS diagnosis can mean anything from a binge-starve cycle, to chewing and spitting, to food rituals that disrupt one’s life, to purging disorders (purging without bingeing). It can also mean anorexic, bulimic, or binge eating behaviors that do not meet the criteria for frequency or severity: for example, someone who binges and purges twice a month as opposed to twice a week (required by DSM for a diagnosis of bulimia), or someone who restricts her food, has an intense fear of gaining weight, and has body dysmorphia but has not dipped below the 85% of appropriate body weight, as specified by DSM for a diagnosis of anorexia. (It’s noteworthy that another proposed DSM change removes the requirement for amenorrhea for being diagnosed with anorexia; this criterion “disqualified” a lot of anorexics from being diagnosed as such, and I’m glad to see it removed.)

I would love to see more research into ED-NOS, for a variety of reasons. Because of its breadth, it can be more difficult for sufferers to recognize themselves and seek help. (What I listed above—someone who restricts her food, has an intense fear of gaining weight, and has body dysmorphia without going below 85% of her appropriate body weight—applies to a lot of women who wouldn’t think of themselves as having eating disorders.) I’m still wrestling with the question of biology, and whether eating disorders are on a sliding scale or on an on/off mode—like, is a woman who perpetually diets actually a woman with a mild (or not mild) case of ED-NOS, or is there another factor--possibly a biological one--missing from the plain old dieter that she’d need to be considered an ED patient? (Carrie Arnold wrote about this much more clearly here.) And is ED-NOS actually, depending on the symptoms, a “touch” of anorexia or bulimia? (I don’t think that’s the case, but if the sliding-scale theory is correct, that’s a logical conclusion.)

What the DSM-5 proposed changes do for BED is begin to legitimize it. I’m sure that eventually the fat-haters will laugh at the diagnosis (“Put down the potato chips, honey, that’s your prescription!”) but I’m confident that it will encourage more sufferers to recognize that they can seek appropriate treatment, and that with time even some of the haters would see that treating BED as a psychiatric diagnosis instead of as mere obesity (all the better if more non-overweight BED sufferers speak up) is a better cure for both the symptom and the cause. I hope that eventually these changes will lead to the same for ED-NOS as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spinning Is For Crazy People

I hereby withdraw everything I wrote about Zumba. (Inauthentic re-creation of the joy of dance; robs us of both discipline and the state of non-disciplined flow; etc. etc.) Because I just did spinning for the first time. Spinning makes Zumba look like a Grateful Dead show, as far as authentic expression of joyful movement.

Does anybody actually enjoy being told to visualize that they're making a right turn on an imaginary bicycle (well, a stationary bicycle, but its motion is imaginary)? I felt like I was in crazy-person-land. Merely by going to the gym, I'm conceding a nice chunk of my humanity: I'm acknowledging that I'm so far away from the life the human body was meant to live that I am going to put on special clothes, pay money to repeatedly lift heavy objects, get on a machine that makes me run but doesn't let me go anywhere, and maybe even imagine making a right turn on my imaginary bicycle.

I do go to the gym, though, and I even sort of enjoy it. It's my place to simultaneously zone out and tune in; I don't follow a punishing routine; I feel fantastic afterward. When I first started going, I was on guard for being hit on by men--I'd imagined that it would be one massive meat market, full of grunting men ogling women in purposefully revealing Spandex unitards. And while I've occasionally been approached at the gym by men, that's far from my usual experience there. (Why do men think that a nifty way to hit on a woman at a gym is to correct her form? Is this related to the insult-her-then-build-her-up routine in the Player's Handbook?) I can do my workout in peace, slipping in and out of the shared, sweaty space with nary a peep to the people lifting around me. I don't talk to anyone, male or female. And they don't talk to me.

Today, for the first time, that began to seem, well, weird. I don't know if it was going on a fake bike ride with a bunch of strangers or what, but suddenly I started to feel sort of antisocial for sharing space with these people, doing these intimate things eighteen inches away from them, and having absolutely no clue with whom I was sharing that space. The original gymnasiums in ancient Greece were places of not only physical exertion, but intellectual exercise--formal education actually took place in the gymnasium, in addition to sports training. I know a lot of people would be disgusted at the thought, but I sort of wish that we could make a return to that. There's a lack of options for adults to just hang out in public without paying a lot of money or screaming at the top of their lungs (a bar that learns that not all customers like the music at top decibel, that's my bar). When you're exercising, there's a focus point; when the conversation wanes, you can quietly retreat into your chest flys, or talk about them if you're grasping for small talk. (Maybe that's what the dudes who correct my form are after.) A vague sort of intimacy can develop when you're working toward a common but highly individualized goal--my boyfriend and I began as running partners, not partner-partners.

Group sports seem to be the immediate antidote to all this. But, see, I hate group sports--maybe it's leftover gym-class phobias of fifth-grade jock boys yelling YOU CAN'T BE AFRAID OF THE BALL when I'd run away from the kickball, not toward it, but the thought of other people depending on my physical prowess in order to have a good time terrifies me. Group sports introduce a whole other dynamic of community--one that I theoretically welcome, but in practice dread. I'm happy doing my individual activities, and I will always love the times when I'm wholly focused on nothing but my body mechanics. If we had more shared spaces maybe the idea of social gyms wouldn't seem as appealing to me. Maybe I just need to go to parks more.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Women and Men Eating

Criminy, I hate lazy scientific conclusions. Researchers at McMaster University found that when college students eat together, women eating with men consume fewer calories than they do in the presence of only other women, whereas men's caloric intake remained unaffected.

The Guardian's take on this somewhat unsurprising finding is that women are choosing to eat less in the company of men in order to appear more sexually desirable. The study hints at that too, citing research about how minimal food intake is viewed as feminine, and the correlation between thinness and desirability. I'm not disputing those supportive theories wholesale, but I'm surprised at the lack of discussion and citations for other reasons that women might eat less in front of men.

Even though much of our focus on food is at face value--nutrients, taste--it will hardly surprise you to read that food has potent social value and can easily function as a stand-in for emotions or actions. Food means that you’re taking up space: your body, your plate, your palate, your scent. Food means that you are fulfilling your own needs, which pushes others out of the way for the time being. Food means sex, food means submission and rebellion and lust and awareness. And not all of those things are necessarily encouraged in women.

Women talk less in mixed groups--not because we don’t have anything to say to men, but because we're more self-conscious. While for some women this might lead to eating more (their mouths aren't otherwise occupied), for many, like me, a decreased caloric intake correlates to the same self-consciousness that silences us. Women's caloric intake went down with the number of men they was eating with, just as my voice tends to get smaller and smaller depending on the number of people around me who have rarely gotten the message that what they have to say might not be taken seriously.

When I was being treated for an eating disorder and was forced to examine what food really meant to me beyond calories and carbohydrates and fat grams and fat on my body, what I kept hearing from myself was: I don't have the right to eat. I repeatedly heard this in treatment from other patients too. Somewhere along the line, we had learned that food was something we had to earn--not something our bodies needed in order to function, or a pleasure that was ours to savor whenever we wished. But the thought of having the right to eat what I wanted because I am human had literally never occurred to me until I got help. I remember the first time I bought breakfast cereal (something I'd never managed to "earn") after entering treatment: I felt giddy, dizzy, teary, standing there in the grocery store aisle and realizing I could eat what I wanted. Something shifted--I could literally feel it in my gut, the sense of relief that came with letting go of the idea that every bite I ate was going not into only a caloric exchange, but a moral exchange. When I began to see that food was not punishment or reward for my earthly deeds or thoughts, I took a major step toward recovery.

Now, I had an eating disorder, so my feelings about the right to eat may have been more extreme than the average woman's. But I don't think it's a big leap to think that the women who were being observed were feeling something akin to what I was: That food was something you might not have full rights to, and in the company of people whom, rightly or not, we're told are somehow worth more than we are, you don't exercise your rights to the fullest extent. (The study cited research indicating that women may lift these self-imposed restrictions when they're with intimates, including husbands and partners--presumably, hopefully, the people that women do feel they're on equal footing with.) Also, it's hardly news that eating disorders are rampant; more than that, the overwhelming majority of women I know have some sort of disordered eating pattern going on. That includes imbuing food with values other than physiological need and pleasure…and it includes not eating normally in front of men.

I'm sure there are women who, consciously or not, restrict their intake in front of men in order to either appear or feel more desirable. But I'm guessing that it actually has more to do with feeling desirable (thin, virtuous) than actually appearing desirable: Call it the dietary arm of female chauvinist pigs syndrome. I know I'm not the only one who has eaten conspicuously non-diet food in order to impress a man (and the Times backs me up). Only the most Cathy-comic-strip-minded of women would ever consciously believe than a man would be turned off by her eating a hearty meal; every male-quote roundup about "what men REALLY love about women" inevitably mentions how hot it is when chicks eat steak.

It’s notable that men’s caloric intake was unaffected by either the number or sex of people they were eating with. It’s almost as though they feel they have the right to eat whatever they want. Imagine that.

Miniature Tales of Resistance

I picked up The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell, a graphic memoir (as in, memoir with pictures, not as in memoir with heaving bosoms, though there was some of that too) about how she dealt when she realized that her larger-than-life father was a fraud, in so many senses of the word. It was a good read overall, but its relevance to this blog lies in the depiction of a conversation the author had with, of all people, Ashley Judd.

Laurie (a writer for a women's magazine) goes to Ashley's mansion in rural Tennessee in order to interview her about her beauty routine, i.e. what makeup companies she's willing to shill for.

Laurie: So, what's your biggest beauty secret?
Ashley: Serenity.
Laurie: OK, um, what's one beauty product you never leave the house without?
Ashley: My higher power.
Laurie: ...OK, so what would be your go-to beauty tip?
Ashley: Go to rehab for depression.

Leaving aside any question of the liberties Sandell took with the conversation to make it work in her 2"x4" colored panels, it bespeaks one of the paradoxes of women's magazines, which is that they are forced to have content that nobody cares about besides beauty companies. Ashley Judd has largely made a living off of being beautiful (she now has her own makeup line), so I'm doubting that her answers had anything to do with giving the beauty industry the middle finger. Rather, I'm guessing that, just like many a hapless women's magazine editor, she had more interesting things on her mind--maybe including resistance to the magazine industry, which isn't always kind to celebrities.

It got me thinking of those small beats of resistance I've seen in my time at women's magazines, the urges that never manage to make it into the pages.

*A battle between the photo department and an editor when the former wanted to airbrush the skin of a woman who had been severely disfigured in a car crash and had had skin grafts over nearly 80% of her body. The story was about being comfortable in your skin.

*A health editor trying to write about a little-covered eating disorder that is more fatal but less "glamorous" than anorexia and bulimia (ED-NOS, eating disorder-not otherwise specified) and being told by one of her higher-ups that because nobody knew about it, they shouldn't write about it.

*A beauty writer saying "Can't we just tell them to use soap and water?" in a fit of exasperation when the product she was supposed to be pushing cost over $40 and didn't do squat. (The question, we both knew, was rhetorical in that world.)

*Staff members protesting when they were told--not asked--to be photographed to be candidates for "staff makeovers," which showed up in the magazine pages. "I'm fine with the way I dress," said a staffer who lived in sweaters, jeans, and sneakers. "And I don't want millions of women judging me for it."

*A writer who was crushed, and furious, when her editor said that the subjects she had picked for a story about inspirational life turnarounds weren't "relatable" to the reader; she knew it was a superficially kind way of saying "not pretty enough." (I was once featured in a glossy mag, but was only photographed for it after the designer of the page had come by to snap a Polaroid of me to prove to the editor that I was "pretty enough" to be pictured. The article in question? I'd won the staff brownie contest.)

I'm not trying to make excuses for women's magazines; I'm trying to list ways in which I've seen that the very people responsible for stuff I consider damaging are on the right side. (You know, my side.) I stopped blaming the individuals years ago--not just to protect my sanity (by working at these magazines, I'm a part of it too, after all), but because I saw daily, firsthand proof of what Gloria Steinem was writing about in the essay from which this blog takes its name. The machine of women's magazines will never change. The best we can do is move on.

Superbad Superbowl

I'm just as disgusted as the next feminist by this year's Superbowl ads. What's striking me more than the rotten way women were portrayed in the alternate universe of SuperbowlLand is the way the target audience--men, presumably--was depicted.

The Dodge Charger ad begins with men talking about not women, but The Man. The actors were shown giving a litany of promises: I will be at work by 8 a.m.; I will sit through two-hour meetings. It quickly becomes clear that being good middle managers is only part of the deal, though, as the list grows to include "watching your vampire movies," recycling, and other things we're supposed to see as tedium.

I often wonder who these sorts of overtly pandering ads are pandering to, exactly, since nobody I normally hang out with thinks that way, at least not openly. I watched the Bowl with three men, all of whom are thirtysomething beer-drinking football lovers--the Bowl's target audience--and the irony of hearing them groan just as loudly as I did at these ads was not lost on me. But reading reactions from car geeks and Twitter reactionaries (annoyed Tweeters appeared to be men and women in equal measures) revealed that it wasn't just my little self-selected group of men who were turned off by the blatant appeals to an outdated mode of thinking.

I'm guessing that the thinking of the ads creators went something like this: The economy ain't so hot >> men's status as breadwinners is suddenly in jeopardy >> ergo, men must be in an ENORMOUS PANIC about this >> let's assure them they're still men by getting them to spend money on these terrifically masculine products >> Dove body wash. (I bring this up not because body wash is gendered, but because the ad, even in pushing a product that has feminine connotations, relied on such lazy stereotyping of what it means to be a man--this from a company that has done some decent work in trying to show a more authentic version of its customers than most companies would dare. The Dove ad was by far the least gross of the don't-worry-you're-still-totally-dudely genre, but still.)

But what is so shortsighted about this is how A) outdated, and B) erroneous it is. Let's look at the erroneous part first: Yes, men have lost out financially more than women in this recession. But the logical way to assure dudes that they're still manly is not to tell them to either spend more money or treat women as the enemy: It's to widen and reconstruct what manhood is. Any man who has been in an equitable relationship that is supported by his peers knows it's a helluva lot more fun to have partner-as-partner, not partner-as-enemy. And you know what? Women who don't act as harpies and rip men's balls out via forced Twilight viewings? We, too, like to have sex, and it will be more fun than it would be with the constructed harpy, because neither party will secretly be dreading the act. (I'd bring up other benefits of equitable relationships--relationship health, stability--but as we learned from the Megan Fox Motorola ad, really all men can think about is sex anyway.) As for the other things that are supposedly culturally castrating men--the job, the recycling, the responsibility--those are no longer merely the province of men.

Which leads me to how outdated this line of thinking is. I'm reading The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight From Commitment by Barbara Ehrenreich, which was written in 1987. It's, in part, about how constructed masculinity led to the epidemic of middle-aged crises among men, during which our fathers and grandfathers supposedly ran out, bought sports cars, and had affairs. I haven't finished the book yet so can't say what Ehrenreich's thesis is and how it stands up to today, but what's striking me is how much of what she's writing about applies to everyone now. Most women are in the work force now and are often the sole breadwinner. Escapist fantasies written by and for women in the '50s and '60s--when the men of 1987 were growing up--by and large reflected a desire to escape the monotony and drudgery of housewifery, because that was the feminine sphere then. There's no absence of that kind of tale today, but there's acknowledgement that women's lives outside of the home can feel like a trap too. I'm imagining an ad geared toward a unisex audience using the Dodge Charger premise: A series of close-ups of men and women listing the series of compromises they are willing to make in the world at large so that they can have this one amazing thing that will make them feel glad to be alive. That ad would be able to keep the marginally creative conceit without assuming that the audience secretly hates their lives. Hell, if you must, you could even still make it gendered by adding in the sort of daily work that is still often left to women (diapers come to mind). It's still gross on a consumerist level (whose life is made better for longer than a week by having a really cool car?), but it's not offensive.

I also don't think that the men-trapped-by-their-lives idea the commercials were promoting is as effective in 2010. Generation X supposedly created the nation of prolonged adolescence, without shame. Much of what Ehrenreich addresses as the cause for the flight from commitment is our idea of what constitutes "maturity," which doesn't have much latitude according to the rules that she cites. But with men and women getting married and having children considerably later in life, and with "bachelor" no longer being a euphemism for "homosexual"--indeed, "bachelor" now has a ring of glamour to it--men who once would have been considered hopelessly flighty or immature because they're choosing not to "settle down" now seem normal. As I wrote above, women are just as tired of men as the corporate grind--but more importantly, tales of alternate, noncorporate lifestyles aren't exactly hard to find these days. We're supposed to take glee in the fact that even though we may be married and bear children and maybe even actually like our boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife, we're still cool--isn't that why Judd Apatow movies exist? Isn't that why people liked Juno? Because they prove that we're different somehow from our yuppie parents? Maybe the answer is that as Generation X ages, we realize that we're not any different--maybe the Dodge ad is more relevant than I want to acknowledge.

There's another big loser in the Superbowl, besides men, women, and the Colts: creativity. I really couldn't care less about football; I watched it for what was supposed to be the showcase of America's collective advertising talent. (And for The Who. Which, really? No. Just, no.) I don't think the process of advertising can ever truly be creative, but from journalism school I do know that there are some brilliant creative minds working in advertising, and this was supposed to be their time to shine. I remember watching the hysterical Emerald Nuts commercial during the Superbowl a few years ago and thinking for the first time that maybe I was actually missing out on occasion by not watching more television ads. Last night, I kept waiting for the "real" ads to start--many of the ones that weren't ugly with sexism were just confusing instead of clever (why was there a whale? why was he pretending to be dead while eating Doritos?) or plain old boring (Shape-Up shoes couldn't have come up with something remotely clever?); and according to my fellow viewers, several of the ads weren't new at all. I get that this was a tough year for advertising, but c'mon! When Charles Barkley offers the evening's best non-football performance, something is amiss. At least he was just lovin' on tacos, not hating on women. Or himself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

random thoughts on paid childcare

I'm surprised that this NYTimes article about nanny-mother communication didn't mention, at all, what to me seems to be the heart of the issue: women paying other women to do what is traditionally women's labor. I'm neither a mother nor a nanny, but it seems obvious that the troubles relayed in the article belie a deep uncomfortability with paying someone to take on what may have been conceived of, initially, as love-labor.

I suspect that there's a strong cognitive dissonance between what any mother experiences as a mother and what she experiences as an employer: She presumably has children out of, in part at least (I hope) love, and introducing paid work into the equation makes it clear that it's not just love-work, it's work-work. The mother is simultaneously handing over one of the most important things in her life and reducing it to figures. The article doesn't mention fathers, and that seems deliberate: While I'd like to think that many fathers deal with nannies too, that simply might not be the case--and even in households where it is, the fact of woman-woman communication in a traditionally female realm is what complicates the issue.

In this context, Clay Shirky's recent call to arms to women--we need to act like dicks, he says--is exposed for the (somewhat) empty entreaty it is. Yes, mothers (indeed, all parents) and nannies should have clearer communication; I'm sure many a nanny could benefit from being more aggressive with her employer, especially given the race, class, or age dynamics often present in these relationships. But aggressive approaches aren't as effective outside of non-corporate work environments. Paid labor that complements love labor is no less a job than any other, of course, but the tactics Shirky recommends women adopt to get ahead in the workplace apply to men's work spheres (in the traditional sense--the outer sphere--not, say, Chippendale's), not women's. I want every qualified nanny to know her worth; I want every woman hiring that nanny to articulate her needs--and nowhere in there would I ever want a nanny saying she knew how to prepare nutritious meals if she didn't, or have a mother acting like a blowhard when negotiating the care of her child.

To ignore the love part of the love-labor that is being paid for in a nanny-parent relationship is to reduce an enormously important job to its parts instead of looking at it as a whole. Excuse me for being a hippie, but this is what utopian visions of collectivized child care take into account that the nanny arrangements described in the article seem to be trying to avoid: That when both parents wish or need to work outside the home, the day-to-day care of a child, by necessity, requires labor that is fairly compensated and that allows the caretaker to use skill, intuition, experience, and whatever version of love there may be involved to do the job.

I'm babysitting this weekend for very close friends of mine. In the various times I've come over to learn the bedtime routine, my friend has asked me if I'd like to change the child's diaper so that I can get hands-on experience. Besides the fact that changing diapers is generally unpleasant, I've hedged on this. Now, I probably changed my first diaper when I was 11 years old and got my first babysitting gig. (The thought of anybody hiring a sixth-grader to care for their children seems wholly absurd to me now, but it subsidized my Mike & Ikes throughout junior high, so.) Part of my hesitancy stems from simply not wanting my friend to see me be "all thumbs," as one of the mothers in the Times article describes; I would also feel foolish having her watch me install an air-conditioner for the same reason. But the thought of being watched--even by a dear, loving friend--at this task in particular makes me uneasy, because there's this idea that somehow I should naturally be good at this. I feel pride when I am able to soothe my friend's son when he gets fussy; it somehow makes me feel like a better person, as though I have some magical, mystical ability. I don't want to be caught in the act of totally not knowing what I'm doing--even though I do--and I wonder if it's because I've carried with me the idea that it should come naturally despite not being a mother myself, or wanting to be one.

A night of caring for my friends' child is, for me, a labor of love, and were I a professional (beyond junior high, that is), I would likely have the skills and confidence that would allow me to not give a shit (heh) about having anyone watch me change a diaper. The mild feelings of mild unworthiness as a woman--and those feelings are indeed mild, and something that I recognize as a holdover from my mother's era, not from expectations put upon my demographic of 30something New York professional unmarried women--can, for me, be fleeting, because my labor is valued elsewhere. It's a lark, a date with my favorite nine-month-old. But were it anything else, I would hope that the peculiarities of paid childcare within a labor context were evaluated holistically instead of being parsed in the way the subjects of this article seem to do.