Saturday, June 20, 2020

No More Juggling

Here’s a piece about Amy Brooks of OMO (originally Oakland Mills Online).

Passionate About Community: Local Teacher Talks About The Transition To Distance Leaning For Her Students And Her Family , Anika Baty-Mills* for Columbia Lifestyle


Columbia Lifestyle Magazine has made its own transition from print editions to online publication during the recent Covid-19 crisis. I don’t know much about them other than that they describe themselves as a locally owned publication which is a part of the larger Lifestyle Publications Brand. I’ve seen them featuring a variety of interesting local people, Ms.Brooks, for instance. You can read their issues here.

You know I love local connections. And I’m always interested in learning more about the people who are active in our community. But I’m going to point out a pet peeve of mine, which turned up in a promotional tweet.

Why do we keep doing that? Why must the accomplishments of women continue to be framed in the context of “juggling” or “balancing” or “finding time for”, “squeezing in.” You don’t see these words applied to men. 

“Hear how Calvin Ball, public servant, husband and father, juggles it all, while he finds time to connect with our community online!”

It sounds awkward doesn’t it? 

The assumption is that men are fully committed to “do the big thing” while women must “do the big thing” only it they can successfully balance it with being a wife and mother. The whole kit and kaboodle of family responsibility is on them. That’s a whole heck of a lot of labor, emotional and otherwise. I poked fun at this concept back in 2018 when Elevate Maryland was about to do an episode with newly-elected Calvin Ball, Rich Gibson, and Marcus Harris.

3. On this International Men’s Day I hope Candace and Tom will make time to ask their guests how they balance their careers with fatherhood and/or home responsibilities. A few questions about clothing choices and or recipe recommendations for those busy committee-meeting nights would not be amiss, either.

As I recall my question drew a smile but wasn’t posed seriously to the podcast guests. We just don’t ask men those questions. 

Why are we still using that language with women? Probably because we are used to it. And because it takes time to change attitudes and how we see gender roles.

This is not a criticism of Columbia Lifestyle. I’m glad they are a part of the Columbia/HoCo scene. They’ve been doing some features on truly fascinating local women. 

Here’s my plea to you, dear readers. If you find yourself using language that saddles women with all the balancing, juggling, and squeezing in - - stop and check yourself. Think about what that means. It is so much more difficult for women to be accepted and respected for pursuing “the one big thing” if they are continually forced to justify themselves about the “women’s work” we expect them to be taking on, often unasked, often without credit.

So take a look at Columbia Lifestyle. And, how about this:

Hear how Amy Books, Howard County teacher, turned her transition to online learning into creating a hub for community connection! 

*Anika Baty-Mills is the publisher of Columbia Lifestyle Magazine

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