Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Talking to Heather Doney and Rachel Coleman About Child Abuse, the Quiverfull Movement and Homeschooling Policy Reform
Heather Doney and Rachel Coleman are co-founders of Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, a site that documents abuse under the cover of homeschooling. Recently, they launched a new organization, the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which raises awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, provides public policy guidance through research, and advocates for responsible home education practices.
How did you two meet?
Rachel Coleman: Heather and I both do academic research on homeschooling, and we were both in a Facebook group that dealt with spiritual abuse and some other negative aspects of conservative Christian homeschooling culture.
Heather Doney: Both of us were eldest daughters of families raised in the Quiverfull movement, where adherents reject birth control and have "as many children as God gives you,” so we had a lot in common: research interests, big family/big sister stuff, an interest in class differences in homeschooling.
How big are your families?
HD: I'm the eldest of 10, six girls and four boys.
RC: I’m the oldest of 12 children, seven girls and five boys.
How did you come up with the idea for Homeschooling's Invisible Children (HIC)?
RC: Heather and I were finding more and more cases of child abuse concealed by homeschooling, and at first I tried keeping a list of links, but I needed a better way to organize them. We decided putting them together in a blog might be a way to do that, while raising awareness at the same time.
You were both homeschooled yourselves, right?
RC: Yes. My parents started homeschooling me because my mom wasn’t sure I could handle all-day kindergarten (I took very long naps), and all-day kindergarten was the only option where we lived. It worked pretty well for our family, so I was homeschooled through high school alongside my siblings.
HD: I was homeschooled, but my education was pretty nonexistent. My family was very poor. We lived in inner-city New Orleans, which had a terrible school district, but my parents' homeschooling was even worse. There was no oversight. I was the only one of us kids to even learn how to read. It was only through an intervention by my grandparents that I gained access to intensive tutoring and started public school in 9th grade.
What do you mean by no oversight?
HD: My parents registered as a private school in Louisiana when I was six, which homeschoolers can do, and no one checked on us again. We never had to take standardized tests or report to anyone.
Is it like that in every state?
RC: 25 states have no assessment mechanism whatsoever. Most of the states that do have some assessment requirements also have loopholes—this is how Heather’s family fell through the cracks. Louisiana’s homeschool law requires parents to either create an annual portfolio of their students’ work or have their children tested each year. However, when parents in Louisiana choose to homeschool under the private school law instead of under the homeschool law, which is perfectly legal, there are no assessments or even subject requirements. Heather’s parents were literally not actually required by law to educate her, and there was no system in place for checking up on her and her siblings’ wellbeing.
Sadly, this lack of accountability is the norm for homeschooling law, not the exception. READ MORE
I drink a lot, some weeks nearly everyday, some weeks once or twice, and once I've started (usually when I get home from work) I always keep going until I go to bed. I'm OK if I do it alone, but if I communicate with people in any way while I'm not sober and then the next day I don't remember each and every word of the conversations I start panicking and feeling I did something horrible.
I've had a rough life, but I've worked hard and, after a couple of psychiatrists that didn't help much and 1.5 years of therapy that did, I'm finally, at 29, in a very good place. I have very interesting and kind sisters and friends, a job I really like, lots of projects and great dates with myself and crime novels in new restaurants every Friday night.
A year ago I cut my narcissistic abusive parents out of my life for good, and now I'm working (pretty successfully) on being less productive, going on more adventures and not chasing after unavailable pigs who didn't even read my comics. I'm starting to think men liked me more when I was deranged and full of anger and that's a bit upsetting, but I'm very happy with my life in general.
A few months ago my therapist and I decided I was ready for a break so I'm not seeing her at the moment, and I was drinking much less during my time with her and never addressed this, so I ask you. READ MORE
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE
Hair Removal Techniques from 1532: "Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic & an eighth of a pint of quicklime..."
Want to be hairless? Want to feel alive?
Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic and eighth of a pint of quicklime. Go to a baths or a hot room and smear medicine over the area to be depilated. When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off.
Yes, keep that flesh on. Smithsonian Mag points us to a blog post by art history professor Jill Burke about female body hair throughout history. The above tip is from a 16th-century "book of secrets," which also includes other hair removal recipes: mixtures of "cat dung and vinegar," "pig lard, mustard and juniper, and another involving a distillation of swallows." She talks about hairless Renaissance nudes, John Ruskin's inability to consummate his marriage because he was terrified of pubic hair, and the persistent erasure of appearance labor:
Thus, as many feminists have pointed out, being a “normal” woman involves a great deal of work that men normally do not have to do. Sandra Bartky, in a much cited essay of 1988, considers Michel Foucault’s argument in Discipine and Punish that there was an “emergence of unprecedented discipline directed against the body” in the later eighteenth century. Bartky takes Foucault to task for ignoring gender – ““To have a body felt to be “feminine” – a body socially constructed through the appropriate practices – is in most cases crucial to a woman’s sense of herself as female”. This explains normative self-governimg practices such as the use of cosmetics, dieting and depilation. For both Bartky and Foucault this self-discipline is a by-product of modernity. Bartky argues that “In contemporary patriarchal culture, a panoptical male connoisseur resides within the consciousness of most women: They stand perpetually before his gaze and under his judgment.”
Lorde has covered this Son Lux track before, and now she's hopped on the remix and it creeps and knocks and sounds like the theme song to a horror movie I'd watch in a hot second. Son Lux's remix EP Alternate Worlds is up for $3 purchase now, and he's also part of Sisyphus, the collaborative project with Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti.
Well, she doesn't know really, and couldn't have articulated it if anyone were to ask her. But no one does. No one asks her much of anything since Anita left. All she knows is the pavement feels sturdy beneath her feet, the road leads somewhere, and crossing it means she will no longer have to be here, in a house too filled with someone who isn't coming back.
A Priest, Rabbi and a Duck
The bartender doesn't initially notice the Priest, Rabbi and duck push through the wooden brown doors and enter her bar. She is gently and mindfully drying pint glasses with a large white cloth, lifting each one to the dim halo of the ceiling light, ensuring the glass is streak free. Sometimes, she lets her thoughts flow to the master's degree she'd like to complete, the better job she'd like to have, and a life where she wouldn't spray her clothes with beer every time she changed a keg. But it is wearisome to think of these things and presently she tries to focus solely on the glass she is polishing. When she finally notices the odd trio standing before her, all robes and crucifixes and feathers—her eyebrows begin to raise and she nearly blurts rudely, What is this– some kind of a joke? READ MORE
From the Guardian:
In 1898, the year Okawa was born, the Spanish-American war was in its infancy and Queen Victoria was still on the British throne. Okawa married in 1919 but her husband died in 1931, more than eight decades ago. Their marriage produced three children, two of whom are still alive and in their 90s. Okawa has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Okawa has dealt with the media attention with incredulity. When notified that she was in line to become the world's oldest woman last year, she reportedly said: "Have I really lived that long?"
The centenarian, one of about 24 Japanese alive who have passed the 110-year milestone, claims she has never been ill, and quickly recovered after breaking her leg in a fall at the age of 102. "She is in good shape, and is even still gaining weight," the nursing home employee said.
Okawa says that the secret to long life is to "eat a good meal and relax." Word.
From my favorite website, space dot com:
An elevator to the moon might not be as crazy as it sounds.
A moon-based elevator to space could radically reduce the costs and improve the reliability of placing equipment on the lunar surface. Such a lunar elevator would make the transport of supplies and materials from the surface of the moon into the Earth's orbit and vice versa possible. Indeed, valuable resources could be extracted from the moon, then sent into Earth orbit more easily than if they were rocketed from the Earth's surface.
Hmm, I can't picture it?
LiftPort's concept for building the lunar space elevator infrastructure calls for using a climbing vehicle that scoots up and down a ribbon-shaped, tethered cable that's part of an anchor station secured to the airless moon.
There is of course the problem of space debris and the conundrum of building a cable that is 100,000 km long and lots of other stuff involved in the associated "moon elevator" idea cloud. But Liftport, the company behind this, states that it could be possible by the middle of the next decade, and that a moon elevator would have paid for itself after 19 trips. And then we won't have to get all our rare earth from China. They've got a Kickstarter or something, I'm in.
Do you prefer to write about women?
I sometimes get asked: "How come the men in your stories don't have such strong characters?" And I'm like: "I don't care." I just want to find out about all the different lives a woman can live. But my feminism has never been against men. It's not erasure; it's just they're not the focus. In real life, they're quite nice.
I haven't yet read any fiction by 29-year-old novelist Helen Oyeyemi, who wrote her first book, The Icarus Girl, at age 17, but her interview with The Guardian from this past weekend is as good an argument for starting now as you'll find. Oyeyemi's fifth novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, came out last week. [Guardian, via Lauren]
My brother’s request was simple, his tone firm: We were going out for dinner. I couldn’t recall the last time I ate a full meal, let alone left the house. I hadn’t been to my own home—a six-hour drive north—in weeks. Deadlines passed unnoticed, my precarious writing career in peril.
Everything rested on a fulcrum, the pulse of a 77-year-old woman in a dark room. And that was all that mattered; I was either inside that room, or just outside it.
“I don’t know if I’m doing a good job,” I confessed as my grandmother and I watched the hospice nurse pack up her bags.
“She says she’s not in pain,” they repeated. “She’s just dying.”
“She’s a liar,” I insisted, because that’s the kind of thing I now said about my grandma. She’d made the same observation about me 25 years ago, when I swore I had practiced my flashcards. We felt justified in our lies, rooted in fear. I was afraid I would never learn my times tables, and it would ruin my life. My grandma was scared of morphine, and what it had done to her six months earlier.
“I’ll get another nurse,” I promised as I stroked her legs, working for a smile. “It is both unjust and unnatural,” I mockingly complained, “that a grandmother’s legs should be so much longer and lovelier than her only female heir.” She turned her glassy eyes away from the ceiling that now transfixed her, day and night, and shifted them onto me.
"You’re a good girl," she said, and asked me to turn the lights off on my way out.
Six months earlier, we’d been in a similar scene, though she had played my part against a different backdrop. Instead of being home, we were at the hospital. She was in charge of my grandfather’s health, but she’d spent her days avoiding the room until the doctors, exasperated by my failed attempts, summoned her with authority. By the time she arrived, I was desperate for a moment outside, to feel the sun on my skin, to be reminded that life was warm, but I never left. When grandma finally shuffled in, walking far slower than she was capable of, I dutifully stood behind her as she sat, stiff backed in a chair, her eyes darting from the bed she dared not approach to the door she so desperately wanted to pass through.
All the while, my grandfather thrashed about in his bed, half-crazed from a cocktail of morphine and nutrients dripping into his veins. I left her to hold his right hand, my brother’s fingers firmly entwined with his left. Lung cancer had taken nearly everything, but determination was a surprisingly formidable stand-in for strength; he wanted that IV out of his arm. I didn’t even know he’d called his father “Pa” until I heard him screaming it for hours on end, loud and clear. He didn’t want to get left behind. READ MORE
Both of these folksy, beautiful, wildly mournful artists are dropping albums this year (Sharon Van Etten's Are We There is out May 26th via Jagjaguwar, Lykke Li's I Never Learn is out May 6th on Atlantic) and I couldn't be happier about it. Above is Sharon Van Etten's "Taking Chances," and after the jump is Lykke Li's video for torch song "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone." READ MORE