Friday, March 19, 2010

ZOMG The Pro-Choicer is Pregnant!!!

Guess what, Internetz? I haz a fetus in my belly!

Six weeks ago, when I took the pee test and Freddy and I saw the little "+" on the EPT, I was SO EXCITED!!! (We'd been trying for a few months. I was starting to get REALLY MAD at my body for not cooperating.)

But we couldn't tell anyone, until we got medical confirmation form a real doctor and a real sonogram. Why? Two reasons:

  • stupid Glee, and it's "hysterical pregnancy." I don't even know if that's a real thing, but I really, really wanted to be pregnant. So what if, instead of actually being pregnant, my stupid body was playing a REALLY MEAN TRICK on me? What if the missing period and hugely swollen and painful breasts were JUST A JOKE?
  • okay, let's say I was really, truly, honest-to-goodness pregnant. WHAT IF THE STUPID EMBRYO HAD GOTTEN ITSELF STUCK IN THE FALLOPIAN TUBE and never made it to the uterus??
Paranoid much? Yes, very. Thank you.

Turns out not only am I REALLY actually pregnant, but the fetus is hanging out in the uterus, right where it's supposed to be.


Do you have any clue the number of things that can go wrong with a pregnancy? DID YOU KNOW VITAMIN A IS BAD FOR YOU?? (Well, not you -- it's bad for fetuses. If you're reading this blog post you've already made it out of your mother's uterus, so vitamin A is fine for you.)

It's a VITAMIN, for crying out loud! How can a VITAMIN be bad?

You know what else is bad for fetuses? Herbal tea.

Let me say that again:


Bad for you.

(Again, not you. Bad for fetuses.)

Did you have any idea? Because I didn't.

Until I read the section of this pregnancy book about foods that are or are not bad for you, which are myths and which you really do need to avoid. And herbal tea was one of them. AND IT WAS NOT A MYTH.

Sure, it said it small doses it was fine -- BUT HOW CAN HERBAL TEA BE BAD? EVER?? It's freaking tea, for crying out loud! And it's the wimpiest of teas, at that!

And you know what I found out yesterday?

My pre-natal vitamin only has 400 mcg of folic acid.

Do you know how many mcg of folic acid I should be getting, according to Fit Pregnancy magazine? 600 mcg. 

And do you know when is the MOST CRUCIAL period when the embryo needs to get the right amount of folic acid? Weeks 6-10. Which means I have two days to make up a 200 mcg deficiency for the last month. Or my fetus will develop some horrible neuro tube defect, and it will all be MY FAULT.

At least, Utah would definitely say so. Utah would probably call my behavior "reckless." For not double-checking the dosage on the pre-natal vitamins my OB/GYN prescribed. Or something -- hey, where there's a will, there's a way, right, anti-choice?

(Oh, also? Two Sundays ago, at church, I took communion wine. It was just an automatic motion, they gave me the tiny vial of wine and I took it, instead of pointing to the tray of grape juice vials. What would Utah think of that?)

You know those really annoying information-overload bing commercials? I'm kind of like that right now, with pregnancy complications. I've read so many stories of things that can go wrong in a pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, that I'm one big panic ball. I am fully aware of all the things that can go wrong -- actually, I'm fully aware of a fraction of the things that can go wrong. I know there are a bazillion other things that can go wrong that I don't even know about yet. Stuff doctors don't even know about, and can't predict or explain.

This is why we call it a fetus. It's not a baby until it comes out, and it coming out, becoming a baby, is not a given. At all.

I really, really want this fetus to become a baby. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this baby. Freddy and I picked out names before we were even married. This "baby" has been alive for years, even though it was only (physically) conceived in February. And I have to wait until October to find out if it's going to materialize into a real, live, human baby.

It's going to be a long seven more months.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hello. My name is Criss, and I am privileged.

But then again, you knew that.

I write a blog. So, like, d'oh! To write a blog, I need:
  • to be literate (in English)
  • Internet access
  • free time
Then again, you needed these same things to read this blog. So I guess we're even on that one.

I received an email that called me out on a few things. Some were valid, some were not. (Please, people, remember what happens when you make ASSumptions.) I want to address the valid ones.

The lovely profile you see to the right, over there --> (um, under the BlogHer ads. So sue me, I'm trying to make a dime off y'all) was written a long, long time ago. Before I knew what privilege was, and how much of it I had. And I hadn't thought about the way I'd described myself, until this person pointed out some things in this email.

My first reaction was the rage, partly because of the incorrect assumptions and partly because of the cranky, due to [thing I'm going to tell you about tomorrow]. So I asked for help on this, and asked if the things person said were true according to other people. Like my good friends on Twitter.

Turns out some of the things were true. So I changed my profile.

I had a line in there that I thought was a clever reference to Charleton Heston's "Get your paws off me, you damned, dirty ape!" line. I kind of forgot that, um, Planet of the Apes (the original) was a long time ago. And maybe I'm not as clever as I think.

And my "joke" used the word "ape," which is a highly charged word even when you're making a clever reference to an old movie. Kind of like how even if you put a lower-case "i" in front of the word "pad" it still means something you use five days out of every 28 when your VAGINA is bleeding. (Who knew Apple and I had so much in common!)

Then there's the having a laptop and good grammar thing... my class and education privilege. The fact that I blog regularly (and practically live on Twitter) pretty much tells you about my class privilege, and makes it highly likely that I have a home computer/laptop anyway... right? The "better grammar" thing was supposed to be another clever joke, but meh. It's not really funny, is it?

So, yeah, I have lots of privilege. I am aware of some of it, and I try to stay aware of it.

Having privilege doesn't make me evil, though, nor does it mean my opinions are not valid. It means I have a limited view of things, and I need to watch it to make sure I don't stick my privileged foot in my privileged mouth.

It doesn't mean I don't have a right to speak about certain things, even if, egads, you disagree with me. The fact that I have not lived that particular situation my own very self does not mean I am wholly ignorant of it; I may not be an expert, I may not be able to speak from personal experience, but I may have taken the time to listen to someone who has lived through that experience. And if that person isn't there at that particular point in time, and that point of view needs to be shared, then I have a right -- and many would say a responsibility -- to speak up.

Having all this privilege means I get to speak in places where others do not. And in those situations, I try to speak up for those not welcome or included in those spaces. No, I'm not going to do it perfectly; I can almost guarantee you I'll screw up at some point. I'm going to say the wrong things sometimes, and I'm going to say incomplete things pretty much all the time (since these are not my first-hand experiences), but I'm going to do my best to call out oppression and discrimination when I see it, and to bring up the points of view and experiences that are usually silenced in those privileged spaces.

And so ends yet another rant.

I edited my profile. If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to leave them. I'll listen. (Even if I don't agree with your "tone.")

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This article, Rebelling Against the Commonly Evasive Feminine Care Ad, is worth the read, for the main focus of the article (Kotex's new approach to marketing tampons). But this tiny tidbit has got to be my favorite part:

Merrie Harris, global business director at JWT, said that after being informed that it could not use the word vagina in advertising by three broadcast networks, it shot the ad cited above with the actress instead saying “down there,” which was rejected by two of the three networks.
The ads are selling tampons -- which are things you stick inside your VAGINA -- but they are not allowed to say the word "vagina."


You can say "bitch" on TV, but you can't say "vagina." You can say "ASS" on TV, but you can't say "vagina." BECAUSE THAT ONE IS DIRTY AND OFFENSIVE.

I have been accused, in the past, of overreacting to things. Of reading too much into it. Of looking for something to be offended about.

Years ago, this must have been in the late 90s because I was still in college (sitting around at home in the morning hours because my classes were in the afternoon) I remember seeing an episode of the Christina Applegate TV show where she worked as a nurse. She had to learn how to draw blood from people, so she was practicing on an orange. Something happened, where a guy got a promotion or raise or cool assignment and she didn't, and she got all up in arms and went to the supervisor or person in charge and said that it was not fair that the guy was given X (instead of it being given to her) just because he had a penis.

They said the word "PENIS." On TV. In a sitcom. In the middle of the day, when children could be at home, watching sitcom reruns.

I remember this distinctly because a few nights before, we had been watching The Big Lebowski on that same channel. At midnight. Late at night. When children and their precious, delicate virgin ears were in bed.


Remember the scene where Julianne Moore is painting in her art studio, and she tells Jeff Bridges her paintings resemble VAGINAS? (Or something like that. The point is that the dialogue included the word VAGINA.)

When her character said the word "VAGINA," the word was muted. IT WAS CENSORED.

AS IF SHE HAD SAID A CUSS WORD (of which there are plenty in The Big Lebowski, if I recall correctly. EXCEPT THAT VAGINA IS NOT ONE OF THEM.)

This upset me. 

Why is it okay to say PENIS in the middle of the day in TV but we cannot say VAGINA in the middle of the night on TV?

What is wrong with the word VAGINA??? Can you even begin to explain it to me??

You can say "arm" on TV. You can say "foot" on TV. You can say "nose" on TV. You can even say "breast" on TV.

Why are VAGINAS so scary and offensive and naughty???

It would be one thing if we banned the medical term for all reproductive and/or sexual organs. Now, this would put several marketing campaigns in quite a pickle in October -- how are they going to sell us PINK JUNK if they can't tell us it's for BREAST cancer awareness? Are we going to have to refer to October as HOOTER cancer awareness month?

But when you allow breast and penis, BUT BAN VAGINA, you are sending a clear message that those are okay, but THAT ONE is not. THAT ONE is dirty. And bad. And icky. Ew!!!

No, I'm not okay with that.

And neither is my VAGINA.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Feministas" and the T-Word: The Aftermath

This post is written in response to Erica Kennedy's comment to yesterday's post, on her use of the word "tranny" in her novel FEMINISTA. I could have just left another comment on yesterday's post, but that would be an extremely long comment, and also I feel this is a topic that needs to be discussed. So I'm putting it up here, to be seen. Maybe some edumacation can happen.

The first thing I need to address is:
[...] do you realize that most people probably have no idea what you're talking about? I have no idea what CIS means even after reading this blog post. I have never seen that term. Your movement is not mainstream yet so you can't expect people to know what you're talking about or what offends you unless you educate them.

If you don't know what "cis" means, it is YOUR job to educate yourself. Ignorance is not an excuse. Did you even try to Google the term? "Cis" by itself brings up some random computer stuff, that obviously didn't fit the context in which I used the word; "cis feminism" (which is how I used the term in my post) brings up this:

Without even clicking on the Wikipedia link, you can get the meaning. In the simplest, most basic, most binary terms, cis is the "opposite" of trans: people whose gender matches their genitalia at birth.

The definition I have linked before on this blog is the second link, to RaisingMyBoychick's glossary. There are a lot of good terms on that glossary; bookmarking it would be a good idea.

So, as a normal person who comes across a term online, finding the definition of the term is not that hard -- that's how I figured it out, after I saw it on Twitter and in blogs.

As a writer who has written a trans character in her novel, my blog is not the first time you should have seen the term "cis." If you were going to write a transgender character, shouldn't you have done research into what that would entail? Shouldn't one of your beta readers or crit partners have been a trans woman?

She could have clued you in to the fact that a cis person using the word "tranny" is the same as a white person using the word "nigger."

You're right that people don't talk about this -- at least not properly or accurately -- in "the mainstream media." When you published that book, you became part of "the mainstream media," and it became your responsibility to learn how to talk about it the right way (not the "politically correct" way. "Politically correct" is what you do to appease irrational people that you totally disagree with but you don't want to hear their crybabying anymore).

The book is told from Sydney's point of view. She is the narrator, except for the few times when Max (or Mitzi or Liz; I think they each got one or two scenes) tells the story, but none of these other POVs addresses Sydney's transmisogyny. The other problematic aspects of her personality are called out, but this one isn't.

You even chose to silence The Raven the one time she could have spoken up for herself; instead, the scene turned into making fun of the weird "tranny" who just started crying when Sydney wanted to ask her about her penis.

And you don't think her getting fired from her cushy, well-paying job is a consequence?

Sydney didn't get fired because she misgendered The Raven. She got fired because the editors wanted her out, as Sydney and Myrna discussed.

My first thought when I read the scene where Sydney tells Myrna she was fired was, "And no one read the article before it went to print??" Doesn't Sydney have an editor, to whom she turns in her work? Doesn't the editor read it, and suggest necessary changes?

Even if Sydney were such a high-level writer she didn't need an editor anymore, isn't there a copy-editor who proofreads all the magazine's copy for grammar, spelling, and typos?

Isn't there a headline writer who reads the article and gives it a headline?

All these people read the piece, and nobody pointed out Sydney's blatant and spiteful misgendering?

And that's just for a regular, run-of-the-mill party-covering blurb. This was Cachet's STORY OF THE YEAR! Gareth AND Conrad show up to oversee Sydney's bleepin' hair extensions, but niether one of them bother to read the actual article?? Especially knowing how eccentric and sensitive The Raven was??

As the story is written, Sydney was fired because the bosses wanted her gone, and this faux pas was a good excuse. Sydney learned nothing from the experience (she still called them "the trannies" who got her fired and referred to them as "cross-dressers"), and the reader can't see the firing as a consequence of the transmisogyny since obviously the rest of the magazine was in on it, since not one of the gatekeepers said a peep about it.

If Sydney had posted a status update on her Facebook page about "just got back home after interviewing the crazy tranny," or if she had a blog on Cachet's site and she had blogged about the interview and misgendered The Raven there -- without the gatekeepers to stop her -- then the firing could be seen as a consequence to her actions. As written, it was just another political move -- easy come, easy go. She was hired for "PC" reasons, she was fired using the excuse of "PC" reasons.

If you had written something interesting, something that could enlighten the rest of us, I would have happily posted it on my blog. But there's nothing here worth blogging about. You're not trying to start a dialogue. You're not looking to educate. You're just looking to rage.

Yes, I was raging. I spewed bile onto my notebook. When I realized yesterday was International Women's Day, I thought the post was fitting, and typed it up without letting the thoughts simmer so I could elaborate on the issues.

You're right, yesterday's post was hastily (and angrily) written, and I could have done better. This is another reason I made this response it's own blog post, instead of just leaving a comment.

I'm not looking to educate. I'm looking to expose. It's not my job to educate you (and it sure as sh!te isn't Voz's job to educate you) -- it's YOUR job to educate yourself.

Since you're dark-skinned and I'm white-skinned, is it your job to educate me about the discrimination women of color face? Is it your job to kindly and politely (yes, you must say, "Yes'um," just like Mammie did!) explain to me about racism, and why I shouldn't call you "colored"?

So why are you telling Voz (and me) that's what she needs to do?

Just the fact that you have been called out on your use of the t-word (and your ignorance of trans* issues) should be enough to make you want to "share" this on your blog. I'm not saying you have to link to me, or anything -- I am by no means an expert on this topic (if you want to link to anyone, or ask anyone to guest post, I'd have to refer you to Voz). Finding out the hurt your words caused, the hate your words conveyed, the ignorance your words validated should have moved you to explore the topic and write about it on your blog. "Share" the information you just received.

But, if your comment was any indication, you are not interested in learning. You are interested in justifying yourself, and continuing to revel in your cis privilege.

Monday, March 08, 2010

International ALL Women's Day: "Feminista"

As a writer, I shouldn't say bad things about another writer. It's bad PR and it's bad karma.

But as a woman, I have to call out sexism, and cissexism, when I see it.

I was excited to read Erica Kennedy's FEMINISTA mainly because of the title. I happily bought the book, not just because I could put it on my shiny new eReader but because buying it I was supporting a fellow Latina writer.

The story and characters have turned out to be not be my particular cup of tea, but I wanted to read it anyway. Until the word "tranny" appeared -- and didn't go away.

***Warning: HERE BE SPOILERS***

The main character, Sydney, works for a magazine and she's assigned to interview The Raven, a male-to-female transgender artist who, Price-like, went from being known by his male name, then decided to go by a symbol becoming "the artist formerly known as." Then the artist disappeared for a while, and reemerged as a woman, calling herself The Raven.

When we first hear of Sydney's assignment, we have to play the "he -- no, I mean she; he hates to be called he -- I mean, she hates to be called she -- oh, whatever, you know what I mean" for laughs. Because denying a person's gender and identity is SO FUNNY.

Sydney's boss/editor calls The Raven a "tranny," and Sydney, an supposed feminist who "gets offended for everybody," does not bat an eye. Instead, she uses the term herself (in her inner monologue/thoughts, so it's not like she's doing it to "fit in" with the boss or to suck up to him/keep her job).

She gets her panties in a wad when the British boss uses the term "colored woman" instead of "woman of color" (which may be a cultural/dialectical thing, I'm not up on my UK PC jargon), but not a peep about "tranny" and "she-male" and misgendering The Raven.

When Sydney actually interviews The Raven, the pronoun "(s)he" is used once, and then, for one, "she." (Those are the only two times she's referred to with a pronoun). I guess we should be grateful they got the right pronoun ONCE, huh?

Yes, Sydney is supposed to be a snobby, petty, judgemental, shallow bitch. But she's the main character, and nobody calls her out on misgendering The Raven. All her other shallow BS is called out (if feebly) by another character, sometime in the book. This? Nope.

In the chapter following the interview we find out Sydney has been fired from her job because she misgendered The Raven in the article and made fun of her chosen identity. However this is presented as the "excuse" the higher-ups needed to get rid of her -- so, you see, she didn't really do something wrong, she did something stupid. And it's so unfair! "The trannies" complained about her, boo-hoo Sydney, and now "the cross-dressers" are picketing her apartment!

Later on in the book the author does paint this incident as Sydney subconsciously-yet-intentionally self-sabotaging herself, because, deep down, she really wanted to get fired. So she did the stupid thing on purpose. This does not solve the problem of the cissexist, transphobic, transmisogynistic slur being so casually thrown about: the fact that Sydney may have known it was wrong to misgender The Raven in print, out loud to the world, does not say anything about how she thinks about trans women. Not once was the term "trans woman" used in the novel, by the author/narrator or by any of the characters.

I wanted to read FEMINISTA because of the title. Because I still have not realized that "feminist" does not mean what I want it to mean. "FEMINISTA" means, clearly, "CIS FEMINISTA," with a capital C that stands for "cunt." Because if you weren't born with one of those, then eff you.

The definition of "cis," for those of you who have not seen it before.