In this week’s Wednesday 5: a look at why “drinking moms” are becoming increasingly prevalent; the women behind America’s Mercury Seven astronauts, who launched the country’s space program; a celebration of 50 years of women in space; the untold story of the “coolie” women who sailed from India to the Caribbean; and Stephen Colbert’s touching tribute to his late mother.

1.

Why She Drinks: Women and Alcohol Abuse

Gabrielle Glaser’s article in the Wall Street Journal on why women drink has been getting lots of buzz over the Internet. She writes that “the growing female predilection for wine seems at first glance like a harmless indulgence for harried mothers who deserve a break . . . [but] the drinking mom has become a cultural trope . . .” And it’s by no accident. Glaser outlines  how “the growing sales of wine to women can be traced to some clever marketing decisions” from vintners, wineries, and women’s magazines. And for women in their 40s and 50s, the growing rates of “harmful drinking” stem from a need to “mask the discomfort of fluctuating hormones, the adjustment to an empty nest, the death of parents and other role losses.” The problem might be even worse than what Glaser outlines when we consider  the 30s crowd who came into motherhood with the social approval of drinking.

Read more: Why She Drinks: Women and Alcohol Abuse, Wall Street Journal

 

2.

The Astronaut Wives Club

The Astronaut's Wife Club In an interview with NPR, Lily Koppel, author of the new book The Astronaut Wives Club, reveals the stories behind the women married to the Mercury Seven—the first seven astronauts that launched the U.S.’s space age in 1959. Koppel talks about their experiences of being thrust into public life:

“These women who were unknown military wives in the background, married to test pilots, obviously had to be pretty brave to even be married to a man with that kind of high-risk job. But all of a sudden, America’s looking to them as model housewives, and they’re going to have a role throughout the space race of presenting the perfect American family to the rest of the world.”

The NPR interview delves into how these women navigated trying situations: presenting a perfect marriage to the public; astronaut groupies who followed the Mercury Seven around during training; dealing with the possibility of losing their husbands to the space race; and maintaining their friendships despite the competition among their husbands.

Read the full interview on NPR.

 

3.

Women in Space—A 50-Year Celebration

50 years of women in space

Speaking of women and space, it was a  group of women known as the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs) or Mercury 13 who helped develop the tests for NASA’s male astronauts. Although these women never made it to space, their contributions of laying the foundation for future women to enter into the space program are invaluable. Click here to view a slide show of 50 years of women in space, featured on Makers.com.

 

4.

Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

Coolie WomanWe’re excited at the release of this upcoming book, which tells the untold story of the many women who sailed from India to the Caribbean as “coolies”— the British name for the indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, by Gaiutra Bahadur, shares her own grandmother’s story: Pregnant and traveling alone, her grandmother, like so many of the indentured, disappeared into history. The book traverses three continents to recount the story of some quarter of a million other “coolie” women, shining a light on their complex lives.
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5.

Stephen Colbert’s Tribute to His 92-Year-Old Mother

For this week’s dose of inspiration, we share with you a son’s tribute to his mother: Stephen Colbert to Lorna Tuck Colbert, mother of 11 children. Colbert first tells a moving biography of his late mother and shares one of the most important values she instilled:

“She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together.”