All posts tagged: role models

​​​​​​​Whatever Happened to Teen Babysitters?

​​​​​​​Whatever Happened to Teen Babysitters?

[ad_1] Babysitting used to be both a job and a rite of passage. For countless American teens, and especially teen girls, it was a tentative step toward adulthood—responsibility, but with guardrails. Perhaps you didn’t cook dinner, but you did heat some leftovers for the kids. Maybe you arrived to find them already tucked in, and you read them a story, turned out the lights, and watched TV until the car turned into the drive. You knew who to call if anything serious came up. Paula Fass, a historian of childhood at UC Berkeley, told me that she started sitting around 1960, when she was 12 or 13. By the time she’d arrive, she remembers, the parents had put their kids to bed and stocked the fridge for her to raid. They recognized that she was grown-up enough to be an extra eye in the home—but childlike enough to go looking for snacks. Sitting was a “quintessentially American experience,” Yasemin Besen-Cassino, a Montclair State University sociologist and the author of The Cost of Being a Girl: …

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

[ad_1] One of American fiction’s core preoccupations, these days, seems to be the question of what causes unhappiness. Many of our major writers are earnest anatomists of discontent and its social, psychological, and existential causes. This kind of fiction can be very powerful. Reading about loneliness when you’re lonely can provide both diagnosis and solace; encountering a character trapped by student debt or patriarchal expectation can inspire a sense of camaraderie in a reader facing similar frustrations. But more often than not, contemporary novelists handle their subject matter with immersive seriousness and sincerity—and sincerity, after a while, gets tiring. Misery may love company, but sometimes a miserable person wants cheering up too. If you’re looking to make a little light of sadness, as I have been, the work of Diana Athill might be the perfect place to turn. The legendary writer and editor is one of a loose cadre of 20th-century English and Irish women authors gaining resurgent attention for their brilliantly drawn characters and sharply witty prose; others in this camp include Penelope Fitzgerald, …

The Bittersweet Lessons of the Most Beautiful Women in the World

The Bittersweet Lessons of the Most Beautiful Women in the World

[ad_1] Models, Naomi Wolf (not Klein) theorized 33 years ago in The Beauty Myth, are “the heroines of adult women’s mass culture,” the embodiment of everything girls are taught to aspire to: physical perfection, discipline, the appearance of strength, silence. The same year that The Beauty Myth was published, five of the most beautiful women in the world appeared on the cover of British Vogue, in an era-defining image shot by the photographer Peter Lindbergh. Tasked with finding a model to represent the New ’90s Woman, Lindbergh declined to choose just one; beauty was changing, he reportedly told Vogue’s editor, and couldn’t be categorized so easily. Of the models he chose, one was blond, one was Black, one had Italian heritage, one was half-Salvadoran, and one was a brunette from the Midwest. He dressed them in Levis and close-fitting bodysuits, as if to cast off the power suits and angular ambition of the ’80s. “Managing five women jostling for position cannot have been easy,” Cindy Crawford recalled a few years ago, “but Peter is a …

Dear Therapist: My Mother Is Leaving Her Home to My Incarcerated Brother

Dear Therapist: My Mother Is Leaving Her Home to My Incarcerated Brother

[ad_1] Dear Therapist, I am the older sibling; I have a younger brother. My brother is incarcerated. When he is released, he will be in his late 50s and will have no assets. As a felon and a sex offender, he will probably have difficulty finding a good job. He will move in with my mother, assuming she is still living. My mother has chosen to leave her mortgage-free home and its contents to him, and to divide the rest of her assets equally between us. There are no conditions in place, such as leaving the property in a trust, to deal with his possible recidivism, marriage, or financial irresponsibility (he has a history of foreclosures). The rest of her assets are not much, because she has spent so much on his legal fees and continues to support him financially while he is in prison. She is making significant improvements to her house, which will be his house. The value of his inheritance will continue to increase, while her liquid assets will continue to decrease. …

Reader Views on the Role of Taboos

Reader Views on the Role of Taboos

[ad_1] Welcome to Up for Debate. Each week, Conor Friedersdorf rounds up timely conversations and solicits reader responses to one thought-provoking question. Later, he publishes some thoughtful replies. Sign up for the newsletter here. Last week I asked readers, “How should liberal democracies utilize or eschew taboos?” Replies have been edited for length and clarity. We in liberal democracies have a fondness for countercultural expression and norm challenging that can seem paradoxical—if so many of us come to love a rebel, when do they stop being a rebel and start being the status quo? Weighing this question, taboo is the fulcrum, not an object we can put on or remove from one of the scales. When someone breaks a taboo in a way that resonates with a lot of people, as in the case of Bronze Age Pervert [an internet personality and bodybuilder who advocates for fascist politics and was profiled in The Atlantic’s September issue by Graeme Wood], that is our cue to relitigate the taboo. To be clear, this should rarely lead to …