Author Archives: Caolan Madden

Why Take the Risk? More Drugs to Take “Just in Case”

New CDC guidelines intended to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children have been causing quite the firestorm in feminist circles lately! The confusion probably began when women didn’t understand the CDC’s helpful infographic, which recommends that all women who are thinking about becoming pregnant abstain completely from alcohol, and that all trollops women who do drink alcohol make sure they’re on birth control:


The CDC actually removed the top part of this infographic last week, probably in response to all the confusion and anger. But since much of the information on the image, such as the implication that women who drink alcohol are responsible if someone else assaults or injures them, is still part of the CDC fact sheet on excessive alcohol use by women, many women are still really confused. For one thing, the infographic could do a lot more to help us completely eliminate the risk of accidentally getting drunk and pregnant. In fact, it could do more to help us figure out how prescription medications might completely eliminate the risk of a lot of other problems we might encounter in our lives. Don’t worry, though! WEIRD SISTER is here to help. Just follow these simple steps to figure out which prophylactic prescription drugs you should start taking, just to be safe! And if you finish this article and you’re still confused, make sure you’re taking hormonal birth control. That way, any damage you do to your own health won’t be inflicted on your millions of potential innocent babies! Continue reading

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Why Hillary Clinton = Courtney Love: 2 Important Charts

You guys, did you realize that Hillary Clinton is the Courtney Love of the 2016 Democratic primaries? And that that makes Bernie Sanders Kurt Cobain?! Read on & I’ll show you two infographics that totally prove it. Plus, they’ll help you registered Dems out there decide how to cast your vote!


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My London Diary 3: Fatherless London

This is part 3 of a serial comic about travel-as-time-travel between 15 and 35, family vacations and research trips, and learning about being a daughter & a mom & a woman or whatever in London, the place where I had my first training in independence & dependence & terror & writing & adventure & desire.

Previously on My London Diary: I went on a research trip to London with my mom and my two-year-old daughter, and remembered traveling to London for my mom’s sabbatical in 1996; through time travel, I turned myself into a 34-year-old Teen Mom, and realized with reluctance that this is also a story about dads. Or their absence. (Click on image below to view a full-size image of the whole page, or scroll down to see individual panels for easier mobile viewing.)


That’s it for this installment! Below are individual panels if you’re having trouble viewing the whole thing: Continue reading

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Feminist Halloween Costumes for 2015


Last year there was the Sexy Bunch of Grapes. This year it’s the Sexy Pizza Rat. The more things change, the more you need a list of feminist Halloween costume ideas. In honor of WEIRD SISTER’s upcoming first birthday (!!!!) I’m updating last year’s hoary old list of literary feminist costume ideas with some Totally Topical Feminist Costumes for 2015, including plenty of references drawn from WEIRD SISTER’s first twelve months! (Don’t forget to review last year’s list of Feminist Halloween Do’s and Don’ts to make sure your Edgy Feminist Halloween Costume is feminist fun for everyone.) Continue reading


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WE WERE THERE: The Supermoon Eclipse (Part 2)

This is the second (and final) part of a document of what my friends, family, and Weird Sisters experienced during the supermoon eclipse this past Sunday. Read the previous accounts here.



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WE WERE THERE: The Supermoon Eclipse (Part 1)

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I got married on September 27, 2008, at 5:30 p.m.; seven years and four hours later my husband and I were standing in a deserted picnic area by the highway outside of Great Barrington, MA, watching a red mist take over the moon.  If any mystic horror was going to happen to us in our lives, it would have happened then, right? So we stood there, enduring the eldritch hooting of remote owls or wolves and less-remote humans,  plus the roar and blaze of cars on the highway, plus a strange throbbing that we thought was coming from an invisible body of water a few feet away, and we didn’t quite know where the drop was, and we also couldn’t quite see our car where we’d parked it in the darkness; forgetting, a little bit, that we were parents and that our two-year-old daughter was sleeping at my brother’s house in Springfield fifty miles away, but not forgetting that we were partners, and that we had been together forever, and now we were two bodies on this strange margin of nature and culture that was entirely not wild but also not entirely safe; and we waited, and ducked our heads when car headlights passed so they wouldn’t blind us to the stars that we never got to see in Brooklyn, and we watched.

I knew people were excited about this eclipse, but when we got back to our hotel feeling like we’d actually seen something, or risked something as a couple, on this weird magic day inside our marriage (I know, we’re citified wusses, we were in no danger, but you guys! Didn’t you know that you’re always in danger? Doesn’t a blood moon sort of tell you that, too?), and I had cell service again, it seemed like all my friends were also really seeing and risking and feeling something in the light of the blood moon, too. So I thought we should probably register that this had happened, document our collective experience of eclipse or of moon worship, collate the evidence that We Were All There. Moon stuff is feminist stuff by definition, right? I asked the Weird Sister staff, plus some of my friends and family, to tell us how it went for them. I ended up with two posts’ worth of moony stories; here’s the first installment! Continue reading


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Breastfeeding and Capitalism: A Provocation


National Breastfeeding Month ended yesterday. So did Black Breastfeeding Week. World Breastfeeding Week was apparently at the beginning of August. Over the course of the month, I read and heard a lot of stuff that made me angry and sad and confused: medical professionals promoting breastfeeding with a disturbing prescriptive zeal, mothers pointing to their bleeding nipples as evidence of a glorious martyrdom, other mothers and doctors claiming that breastfeeding is already mainstream, that it needs no further promotion or celebration, that to do so is to shame parents who feed their infants formula, white mothers claiming that Black Breastfeeding Week was unnecessary. In the middle of all of this I sort of started to wean my daughter, who turned two smack in the middle of World Breastfeeding Month, and I cried a lot, and I sort of stopped weaning, and felt weird about that, too. I wanted to write something about these thoughts and feelings. A manifesto, or a well-researched, well-reasoned essay about how we’re living at a historical moment when parents are shamed for formula feeding and for breastfeeding; the precise level of shame may vary by region or race or ethnicity or socioeconomic background, but in my experience you can feel deeply ashamed of both of these choices in the same city, the same neighborhood, the same pediatrics practice. (Oh wait, did I say that this is a historical moment when an issue primarily affecting women results in the shaming of women’s bodies and the removal of their agency? Ha ha ha ha. Sorry, I meant to say, Infant feeding is primarily a women’s issue, so of course it’s a fucking nightmare.) I always stopped, too daunted to grapple with the tangle of social, cultural, emotional, biological, economic, and public-health issues surrounding infant feeding. Now Breastfeeding Month is over and I’m swamped with work and I definitely don’t have time to work out a nuanced response to “The Skeptical OB”’s kind of horrifying dismissal of breastfeeding advocacy, or the weird structure of the Wikipedia page about breastfeeding (they start telling you The Way You Should Do It in the second sentence). I just have time for a provocation, followed by a rant. Here it is:

DID YOU NOTICE that breastfeeding was only allowed to return to the mainstream when it could be fully integrated into capitalism? Continue reading

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My London Diary 2: Teen Mom

This is part 2 of a serial comic about travel-as-time-travel between 15 and 35, family vacations and research trips, and learning about being a daughter & a mom & a woman or whatever in London, the place where I had my first training in independence & dependence & terror & writing & adventure & desire.


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My London Diary: Page 1

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by | August 4, 2015 · 9:00 am

The Top Ten Reasons I Haven’t Lost the Baby Weight

lose baby weight

Did you know that postpartum mothers who lose all their baby weight are actually able to fucking FLY?

10) Genetics. Or whatever, not genetics, but like, some complex cocktail of genetics and Lamarckian evolution, like how my mom was a giraffe with a short neck but she realized that if she just stretched her short neck she could reach a tall tree.

lamarck_giraffesAnd then I was born being able to reach a tall tree, if by “reach a tall tree” you mean “maintain my lustrous dappled Irish skin and delicious baby-feeding boobs on 300 potato-famine calories a day.”


These are my great-great-grandparents, and they didn’t find a potato, but they found a boat I think. And there were Fritos on the boat, apparently.

Or, like, womb environment: This Important Scientist Hypothesizes that too many generations of American women devoured too much subsidized corn or whatever and got dishwashers and at first it made us The Fittest Americans In History (whoa can we talk about what “fit” means, hi Nazis) but now we are just a bunch of fat slobs who deserve to be killed when our huge fat babies tear us apart during labor, but you know, there are c-sections, so even though We Should Have All Died we all got to live to make America fat. No hope for me. No hope for Baby Jane. Maybe some hope for, like, my next baby’s grandchild, if I do enough fucking preggo Pilates.

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