You are cordially invited to join me for a conversation with Erika Bachiochi, Leah Libresco, and Alexandra DeSanctis tomorrow at noon! We’ll be discussing Erika’s outstanding new book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision.
I’ll be Zooming in from my new house in PA! Things are pretty chaotic here (why oh WHY did I think it was a good idea to repaint our kitchen cabinets?? and how did we accumulate literally hundreds of boxes worth of stuff?), but it’s an exciting time.
Poverty, Patriarchy, and Placentas
Because I’ve been too busy moving to publish anything new since I emailed you last, here are a few quick links to great things I’ve been reading/listening to.
I mentioned last time that I’ve been watching Mare of Easttown, which takes place in the same county where we’re living now. Ross Douthat wrote up an excellent reflection on the show as a reflection of working-class poverty. (Major spoiler alert!!! Seriously - if you have any interest in watching the show, don’t read this until you finish!) The essay actually picks up on some themes that I’m planning to ask Erika about tomorrow, particularly the link between our culture’s embrace of a masculine vision of sexual autonomy/casual sex as the ideal, aided and abetted by cheap and legal abortion, and the feminization of poverty. Ross writes:
Writing last December about over-the-top critical hate for the mediocre-but-fine Hillbilly Elegy adaptation, I noted the dearth of movies about blue-collar life in the age of opioids. Well, “Mare of Easttown” fills that void and then some: Its seven hours are one of the more comprehensive dramatic portraits of social breakdown in lower middle class, mostly-white America, complete with addiction, overdoses, middle-aged and youth suicide, every kind of broken home, and families that are intergenerational by necessity, with grandparents raising grandkids because the parents are in treatment or the grave.
In all this wreckage there’s blame enough to go around, but look at the show holistically and it’s clear the big problem isn’t just everyone; it’s men.
For those of you who don’t want to click through for fear of spoilers, may I suggest another post by Ross? In this one, he highlights and excerpts his wife Abigail Tucker’s excellent new book, Mom Genes, which I’ve mentioned before. This book contains a ton of mindblowing science, told in an intensely interesting way. In Tucker’s hands, the genetic expression of placentas (yes, placentas) becomes a gripping drama, a battle between the father’s genes and the mother’s body. As Tucker puts it,
because a man can’t be confident that he’ll ever have a shot at another kid with you, it’s also in his biological best interests to ransack your carcass for all it’s worth this time around and extract the biggest, healthiest brat possible. Despite his kind, twinkly eyes and habit of bringing home your favorite grain bowl unbidden, his genes want to take you to the cleaners.
For more placenta talk, check out this episode of The Fountains of Carrots podcast, in which Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger chat with Abigail Tucker about Mom Genes.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more contemplative, I highly recommend Sarah Clarkson’s new book, This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks Into Our Darkness, along with her sister Joy Clarkson’s podcast series on Susanna Clarke’s lovely novel Piranesi.
Until next time!