#5SmartReads - February 7, 2023
Hitha on what Iran's freedom fighters are facing, quantifying care in the economy, and a registry for those starting over
content warning: sexual assault and violence
While most of the Western media has moved onto other stories like Balloon-gate, the forthcoming State of the Union, and the 2024 presidential race, thousands of freedom-seeking protestors are being tortured, assaulted, and silenced by the Islamic regime in Iran.
Over 500 people have been killed, and nearly 20,000 have been arrested and detained for being connected to protests. Even more have been violently assaulted and interrogated before they were able to return home.
And despite this violence, Iranians continue to fight for freedom:
“Somehow they think the humiliation is pinned on us. It’s on them. One of them told me, ‘It’s been 60 days and we have not been able to sleep because of you protesters.’ He slapped me after every insult,” he says. “But I don’t pity myself, I pity these men who are disgusting and live small lives. They should be the ones who feel humiliated, instead of us victims.”
Just because our media has moved on from this story doesn’t mean we should. Please heed Jessica Chastain’s words and continue to read and talk about what’s happening in Iran. This is not just the Iranians’ fight or a women’s fight - it’s a fight for dignity and freedom (values we often take for granted in the west).
Starting Over With a Divorce Registry (The Cut)
“A lot of our feelings show through how we consume. Can a convenient way to shop for one another bring us closer to a world in which divorce is widely socially accepted as a transition instead of a failure? Probably not. But if we start by buying people things after divorce — performing an act of encouragement, not an act of pity — maybe it’ll change the culture’s view of life after marriage. Loneliness persists, and cheap stuff proliferates. We work with what we have.”
I also love that it’s a family business (her sister Genevieve Dreizen is her co-founder).
Retailers have yet to evolve beyond the past hallmarks when it comes to gifting and registry (engagement, wedding, babies), despite it being a significant and growing opportunity. With a high divorce rate and a loneliness epidemic, we have more people starting over and in need of support. And while a new sheet set or a set of forks won’t solve everything, it can certainly help reduce the mental, financial, and emotional toll of starting over.
I’m bullish on Fresh Starts, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Fighting for unpaid labor to be factored into the GDP has been Eve Rodsky’s mission for years. And while it’s not happening (yet), I’m glad that the business press is finally talking about it.
And we really should be, given that our GDP is significantly higher when we adjust it to include unpaid caregiving:
I had hopes that the pandemic would usher in a shift in how we work, how we calculate work, and to give way to new policies that reflect life as it is today, and not how it was in the past. While many of those hopes are dashed by the leaders in the private and public sector, I’m choosing to focus on the glimmers of hope - in articles like these and in platforms like Mother Untitled who are rewriting narratives, in companies focused on building the workforce and work solutions of the future (like MH WorkLife and The Riveter), and in groups like Chamber of Mothers and the Fair Play Policy Institute advocating for policy change at all levels of government.
While federal and corporate changes may be slow in the care economy, there are companies (like HP and Microsoft) and states who are building the policies and infrastructure that the modern workforce needs.
I give you New Mexico as an example.
Voters in the state overwhelmingly voted in a constitutional amendment for the state fund to invest in the early childhood care system, helping fund childcare centers that were on the verge of closing.
“The top line: The state will pay child care providers more money per child, more families will be eligible to receive free child care, and workers will get permanent raises of $3 over what they were making before the pandemic, creating a floor of $15 per hour. Advocates hope more raises will follow.”
If you need motivation to stay in this fight for better policies and infrastructure for all, the activists in New Mexico have been fighting for this for over a decade.
I encourage you to carve out some time to read this entire piece and learn about the long journey for this victory. There are some excellent practices each state can adopt to build out their own care economy policies, and for individuals to take action.
When the only representation you had growing up was Apu from The Simpsons, you’d feel the same.
Simone understands the responsibility that comes with being a first and not the last, but I especially value her advice on staying humble and true to yourself:
“We live in an age where there is so much noise. The minute you look at your phone, especially on social media, there are a million opinions from different people being thrown at you – and it's only human to let that in. But it's a very powerful thing to be able to shut that out and listen to that feeling of what it is you actually want, and trust that and follow it. Because that's what makes you special, and that's what makes your journey your own.”
The only thing missing from this interview is more of it. I’ll just have to wait for the press tour of the forthcoming Little Mermaid film - and yet another rewatch of season 2.