Friday, November 11, 2011

Some thoughts on the Penn State thing: educators and administrators reporting abuse (or not)

I used to get my news via Twitter, but even that got too depressing. I've been taking a hiatus, enjoying that whole Mom thing, focusing my energies on that.

I still hear about crap that happens in the news. Like this whole Penn State thing.

When I taught (K-12, in Texas), every year we had to sit through at least one in-service meeting about reporting child abuse. If you see something, if you hear something, if you think there's abuse going on, you  have to report it. It's the law to report it. if you don't, you can be sued, go to jail, etc.

This, really, should all be a given.

But, as I hear more about the Penn State thing (a graduate assistant saw it, he reported it to his supervisor, nobody did anything), I remembered the addendum to the in-service that we were told at the elementary school where I worked.

The training said we HAD to report the abuse. They gave us the number to call. The administration, and the counselor, were there to help us, if we wanted someone to be there when we made the call to Child Protective Services (in case we were nervous about the questions they would ask, or intimidated, or whatever).

But, somehow, "the administration is there to help you make the report" somehow turned into "if you think there is something to report, you  have to go to the administration first, and they'll make the call for you." We were not allowed to call CPS directly -- we HAD to go to the administration, and/or the counselor, and they would make the call for us, I guess with us in the room. But the call had to be made by the person in authority, the school principal. Not the lowly teacher.

I was concerned about a student once, and I went to the principal. I can't remember the details, because this was years ago, but the gist is I was told not to call. The administration was familiar with the situation, they knew the family, and they were sure nothing "bad" was going on. They would "keep an eye on it," though, and if there was anything to be concerned about, they would call CPS.

Now, I went to them because I was concerned about some things the parent had said (one comment that still stands clear in my mind: "If child abuse were legal, I'm telling you, I would abuse her!", said because the girl was so "difficult" and headstrong... well, if you're saying crap like that, you're probably abusing her already, love...) and some things the girl said in class. I had no "evidence," and what I had could easily be dismissed as "parenting choice." I went to the counselor about it because she knew the family (the girl and her brothers, and the older half-sister who was now in junior high), and had known them for years. This was my first year at the school, and my first year working in elementary (which is quite different from high school).

And, yeah, calling CPS was a little intimidating. Especially when all you have to say is, "The mom is a b!tch and I don't like her. And the daughter dresses too sexy for her age, which I don't like either."

So I went to my supervisors. And they told me to not worry my pretty little head about it, just look the other way and go on about my business.

What happened at Penn State is not new. Nor is it unusual (erm, hello, Catholic Church, anyone?) It happened to be really big, and involving prominent players (fancy, well-known coach; popular football team). But, now that I think about it, the very same thing could have happened at the cozy little elementary school where I worked. Maybe it has happened, but since none of the people who work there are famous (and the parents and the district have enough money to cover it up, probably, or keep it relatively quiet), no one has found out about it.

What if a substitute teacher, or a teaching aide, or a first-year teacher actually witnessed abuse? The elementary school has students from kinder to sixth grade. What if a sixth-grader were molesting a kindergartner? The sub, or aide, or teacher would go to the administration, as she had been told. Plus, that's a pretty traumatic thing to witness, I would want to have someone "in control," someone to help me cope. Someone to hold my hand.

And then the principal does what he did to me. "Thanks for telling us. We'll take care of it."

Because they don't want to upset the parents (that was a pretty strong theme at that school). They don't want to risk a lawsuit, accusing someone of something that probably didn't happen. They don't want the negative publicity the school would get, if this got on the news. The sub/aide/teacher probably misinterpreted the situation, anyway...

So they don't call. Maybe they tell the sub/aide/teacher that they did call, maybe they tell her it's been "handled;" maybe they tell her to forget about it, or, if she asks again, even threaten her, telling her she needs to move on, forget about what she thinks she saw.

What's the policy where you work?

What's the policy where your children go to school?

What's the written, official policy, and what's the "informal" policy the administration tells the teachers?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Motherhood Changes You

Motherhood (and parenting) changes you.

One big difference I've noticed is, since the pregnancy, I crave chocolate. I know that this is nothing new, stereotypically; I've always had a sweet tooth (several, actually, and they match my collection of root canals), but I've always been much more into sweet, fruity candy (cherry Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers and gummy bears and Skittles and such) than into chocolate... but since the pregnancy, I've been in dire need of dark chocolate. And not so much the fruity candy.

The pregnancy somehow changed my genetic makeup.

But on a more serious note...

I've flow on planes loads of times. I like flying. I like turbulence -- it's like a little roller coaster during the flight. I love the way your stomach dips when the wheels of the plane lose contact with the ground, and the bump when they touch down again. I am not squeamish about flying AT ALL.

MonkeyBoy took his first ever plane ride last week.

On our last flight, the flight attendant came over and let us know the plane was equipped with an infant life vest, which was underneath the seat across the aisle on the row in front of us. The card with all the safety info had illustrations of an infant in said life vest, floating on the water -- ALONE -- in his glow-in-the-dark life vest.

I made Freddy put the card away, because looking at it made me feel nauseous. I hugged my chubby baby and tried really hard to ignore the flight attendant cheerily pantomiming the safety information.

A while back I went to see a play where the main character is a gay teen. On one scene, he calls him mom and tries to come out to her, but she won't let him say the words. Then she has a song about her baby boy growing up... can't remember what the song said exactly, but she was, obviously, sad (I haven't decided yet if she was upset that her son was gay because she thought it was a sin -- the poor guy was at a Catholic boarding school -- or because she knew how hard his life would be, the hate and discrimination he would face, because he was gay). I fine with all this until the stage behind the mom started showing a slideshow of the guy's baby and childhood photos. When I saw that first baby photo, I lost it. Gut? Wrenched. I wanted to be home, with my baby, hugging him, protecting him from all the hate and ignorance and bigotry out there.

I have a superhuman ability to survive and function on a ridiculously minuscule amount of sleep. And, most of the time, I manage to even be cheerful.

Motherhood changes you.

But you know what hasn't changed?

I still don't regret my abortion.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Kid's Reaction to a Gay Couple

As you can see, this poor child is permanently damaged. For life. He walks out of the room and falls straight into Hell.

"I'm going to play ping-pong now. You play if you want to."

See how horrified he is of seeing two men who love each other???

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Schlotzsky's Bathroom Signage #FAIL

Funny name, serious sexism.

(OK, it's a REALLY bad photo. Sorry. In case you can't read it: the men's restroom is labeled "MANLY BUNZ." The women's? "SHAPELY BUNZ."

Really, Schlotzsky's? Really??)

Friday, July 01, 2011

On babies "choosing"

I had to share Tanya N.s comment from the Facebook discussion I was sort-of following:

If unborn babies could see into their future and decide if they wanted to be born or not, I would be all for letting them decide. Since they CAN'T, it's up to their mother to make the best decision they can for them.
No baby chooses to be conceived or born. And again, I don't believe that aborted babies CARE that they didn't "have a chance" or not. To me, that is a projection of feelings that just don't exist...


Abortion: Totally Just Like A Spare Tire

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthing Rights ARE Reproductive Rights

So now that I'm a momma, I'm all into the online birthing communities, too. Birthing rights and all that jazz... which is really just a subset of reproductive rights. My body, my choice: I get to choose how to birth my baby. I have a right to birth in a hospital, or a birthing center, or at home. I have a right to have a midwife, and a doula, if I want them. Makes sense, no?

Women need to be informed about their choices, what options they have when they birth. They need to know the risks of epidurals, episiotomies, and whether or not these are actually necessary (or desirable). They have a right to have an IBCLC available to help with any breastfeeding issues.

As I saw tweeted the other day, "Pro-choice" and "Trust Women" doesn't just apply to abortion -- it damn well applies to birth, too. The problem is that the conversation is so often derailed into "UR A MURDERERRR!!!" by the pro-"life" side so we don't get to talk about any real issues, we just spend our time pointing out their lies and fallacies.

Most women who have had an abortion either already have children or will have them in the future (when they're ready). "Women who have an abortion" and "women who have a baby" are not two separate groups. They're a Venn diagram, with a huge overlap in the middle.

We want the same thing: respect for women when it comes to their bodies. When and how to be pregnant. When and how to birth. When and how to feed their children.

Yesterday I saw the Ronald Reagan quote about how "everyone who is for abortion has already been born." I've seen it before, and ignored it, because it's a stupid quote pretending to be "clever." Unborn entities don't have opinions, so they can't be "for" (or against) anything. Plenty of people who have "already been born" wish they had not. Oftentimes they commit suicide. Or they turn to drugs or alcohol to dull the pain of living.

And plenty more of us would not have cared if we'd been aborted. You know why? BECAUSE FETUSES DON'T HAVE COGNITIVE PROCESSES OR THE ABILITY TO CARE.

The quote was not blog-post-worthy. What was, was where I saw it: I saw this quote on a birthing rights community page.

Those same women who are appalled that a doctor would force a C-section on a woman... are saying it's okay to force an entire pregnancy on her??

Here's my (first) response:

I'm surprised to see an anti-abortion statement posted today, when yesterday there was a question from a mom about doing a D&C for a molar pregnancy. I still don't know what a molar pregnancy is (haven't had time to Google it), but I know what a D&C is. It's one method of terminating a pregnancy (usually done in the second trimester, if I recall correctly). I had one, when I was faced with an unwanted pregnancy, just over a decade ago. 

I have seen other posts (don't think it was on this page, but on another parenting/birthing-rights page) about moms seeking advice about a D&C after a miscarriage or stillbirth (to make sure all the tissue is actually out of the body, to prevent infection and/or other complications).

There are a bazillion different reasons why a woman may need to terminate a pregnancy. Sometimes it's because she's not ready to be a mother. Sometimes it's because she's not capable of being a mother -- financially, or mentally/emotionally, or physically. Sometimes it's because something is wrong with the pregnancy or the fetus -- like an ectopic or molar pregnancy. Sometimes it's because the fetus is already dead, but her body hasn't miscarried properly and removed all the tissue. I'm not and obstetrician, so I can't even begin to list all the medical reasons for an abortion.

Whatever that woman's reason is, SHE knows what's best for her. It's her body. She also knows what is best for that potential child -- deciding whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is the first parenting decision a woman makes. Please respect her choice.

Just like a doctor doesn't have the right to force a woman to have a c-section if she doesn't want one, no one has a right to force a woman to have a pregnancy if she doesn't -- or can't -- want it.

One of the reasons the women who posted here and on other pages asking for advice on whether they should have a D&C for a doomed (or already terminated) pregnancy is because abortion has been so demonized in our society. It's a medical procedure. A necessary one. No woman makes the decision to abort a pregnancy lightly -- and any woman who would, is not apt for or perhaps capable of motherhood. Motherhood begins with pregnancy.

If you want to reduce the number of abortions that happen because of unwanted pregnancies, call your legislators and tell them to fund Planned Parenthood. Tell them to make birth control fully covered by insurance. Tell them to make hospitals stock emergency contraception in the ER for rape victims. Call your school board and your legislators and make comprehensive sex ed mandatory curriculum starting in middle school.

But don't criminalize or demonize abortion. You don't know that woman's story. You can't imagine what SHE is going through, because you are not her and you have not lived her life or survived the trauma that may be leading her to make that decision -- even for a very wanted pregnancy.


I went back and wrote some more comments (in response to one particularly rabid anti-choicer), which I may post here as their own mini-blogs, or I may dump in the comments here. Haven't decided yet.

But right now, my baby's calling me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Selling" breast milk

From the weekly Our365 email I get about my baby's development (courtesy of the people who took newborn photos in the hospital):

Yes, of course. You'd find it right next to the gallons of blood and sperm.

First of all, we don't package and sell breast milk as if it were, say cow's milk. It's distributed by donor milk banks, you know, same as we do with blood. And sperm. 

Because there are so few donor banks (and the requirements are so strict -- I can't donate milk because I'm on antidepressants that are safe to take while nursing, but those meds prohibit me from donating), and because the fees to use donated milk are so steep and insurance companies put so many restrictions on who is "worthy" of receiving the little human milk there is available, some moms contribute to programs like Eats on Feets, or share their milk informally with a mom friend in need.

Yes, there have been instances of moms asking for a fee for this service (I don't have any links, but I saw people asking about it on one of the birth/parenting Facebook pages I follow, so it must have happened, at least once...), but it's not a money-making business, as Kristina C. makes it sound. It's "donating breast milk," not "selling" it.

And, Kristina C., if you're going to use an analogy... well... use the analogy. We donate and distribute human breast milk same as we do human blood or sperm: through banks, with medical screenings, and you must apply to receive the product. We don't sell blood or sperm at Stop & Shop either, so if your child is bleeding out after a car wreck, are you going to refuse the blood transfusion that could save hir life?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Birth Control Injection For Men

OK, I admit I did not read the WHOLE article (it's long, and I have a baby stirring in his basket, he's about to wake up and my Internetz time will be up); I saw something on Twitter or Facebook about this the other day, but that article seemed wonky, and I couldn't tell if it was a joke or not. This article has, like, sciency-talk in it and stuff.

If this is for real, then... DUDE.

If it IS 100% effective, and reversible, then... DAMN. MonkeyBoy will be strongly encouraged to get this injection when he's 13. He can reverse it when he's ready to have kids, if he and his partner choose to make babies.

And speaking of, he's awake. So I'll leave you with the article: The Revolutionary New Birth Control Method For Men. Go read, be amazed, get excited, and find that doctor in San Francisco who wants to bring this to the FDA. Let's make this happen! Soon!!

"About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Come up with a better contraceptive and the likely results are all good: fewer unwanted kids, fewer single parents, and fewer abortions."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abstinence-Only Driver's Ed

After the rousing success of abstinence-only sex ed programs, the only logical next step is implementing this highly successful method in other areas, such as driver's education programs. No?

It would probably look something like this:

Or, also, like this.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Hate Pumping

I hate pumping. I love breastfeeding, but I hate pumping.

Even when I get irritated because I'm trying to DO something (wash diapers, edit photos, defeat the evil demons of the overgrown inbox) and baby wants to eat AGAIN, I still love breastfeeding. I get to hold my baby, and give him something special. And he usually falls asleep at the boob, and I have a sleeping baby which is the sweetest sight in the world. Even if it means I can't get up to pee when I really, really have to go. (Who am I kidding? Not being able to pee is nothing. I have eight years of classroom-teaching training, my bladder doesn't even notice until it's gone a full 12 hours before being emptied.)

But pumping?


To breastfeed, all I have to do is lift up my shirt, unhook my bra, and attach baby.

To pump, I have to get my pumping bag, take out the cooler of baby milk bottles, attach the bottles to the pump shields, attach the shields to the pump tubing, plug in the pump, loop the rubber-band-dealies around my bra so they hold the pump shields, correctly position the shields on my nipples so my nipples aren't rubbing on the shields on the top, bottom, or sides, then start the machine. WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh... for twenty minutes.

Oh, before I do all that, I have to lock my office door, put a sign outside the door, cover the window with paper -- and that's because my boss is nice enough to let me pump in my office, instead of trekking all the way to the Student Health Center in the other building (which cuts into my pumping time, especially since I have to pack everything up each time; in my office I can leave the machine plugged in, at least, and I leave the tubing sort of draped over the bag, instead of stuffing it all back into its compartment each time).

If I don't pump every 3-4 hours, I tend to get clogged ducts. WHICH ARE NOT FUN. Especially when they don't want to unclog.

Even when I have to stop what I'm doing to breastfeed, I can still DO stuff while breastfeeding. I can still participate in a conversation. Or watch TV. Or even edit photos, or follow Twitter, or chip away at the frighteningly overgrown weedfest I like to call my email inbox. I have to do these things mostly one-handed, but I can still do them.

Pumping at work, on the other hand?

Everything has to come to a screeching halt. While I'm connected to my dairy-farm equipment I can't move freely, because the tubes are only so long and they're always in the way anyway and the bottles may spill and, well, I'm basically topless.

And there's no "reward." When you breastfeed, you are feeding a baby. A sweet, beautiful baby who looks at you and smiles and is happy to be there. When you pump? WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh-WEE-ooh... (After a while, it starts talking to you. Seriously. But it's just the same word, over and over... and it's usually a word that doesn't make any sense, but it keeps repeating it... and you can't NOT hear it...)

I know my coworkers talk about me. About all the time I'm not working because I'm in my office pumping. (I know because I hear them. And because they tell me to my face. How I'm "weird" because I do "all that stuff" that "regular" moms don't do. I'm not entirely sure what "all that stuff" exactly means, but there you go. Regular, normal moms, even ones who breastfeed, don't do "all that stuff" that I do when I pump. I'm just special, I guess. Or asking for special treatment. Or something.)

So not only do I not want to stop what I'm doing to pump, because it's a pain, but I also don't want to close my door to pump because I know that's right when someone is going to want to ask me something, and I'm going to be half-naked with my dairy-farm equipment strapped on, and I'm going to inconvenience that person by not being available. And, you know, because I'm lazy.

The worst part is that we take the kids on trips and things. And we have one of those trips coming up this week. We're going to be out with the kids all day -- from very early in the morning until very late at night.

And I have to go, as a chaperone, because it's part of my job and because they need lots of chaperones.

And I want to go, because it'll be a fun trip. I haven't seen the kids much lately, and I miss them. I like hanging out with them.

But guess what! I'm going to have to pump, every 3-4 hours, while on the road. Do you have any clue just how royally THAT is going to suck? (Er... no bad pun intended...)

I don't even know exactly how it's going to work: where I'm going to pump. I guess that'll depend on where we are, where we can stop, where there's a sink... There isn't a way to plan, really, so we'll just see when we get there.

But if it sucks this much to step away and "hide" in my little office to pump when we're just sitting around doing paperwork, how much is it going to suck when I have to leave the group of students I'm supposed to be chaperoning to find a hidey-hole where I can pump when we're traipsing across a college campus with our herd of high schoolers?

I guess this is one of the reasons so many moms quit breastfeeding early, huh?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Please DON'T thank me for menstruating, thankyouverymuch.

Have you seen this? Josh wants to "thank me" for menstruating.

I was, shall we say, a little miffed that a cis man, who does not and will not ever menstruate, felt it was "cute" to tell me what to do with my body and my periods. But then I read the comments, and was appalled at the number of (cis) women who were THANKING him for it, praising his "bravery," and who thought it was so "great" that a cis man was telling them this...

The post has a line or two about how great human bodies are because of all the wonderful things they do, but it does not praise cis women's bodies -- nor does it ever thank cis women for doing the job of menstruating (and everything that comes along with/results from it: pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding). Instead, it just tells us that we should menstruate regularly, because in this dude's opinion that's the way things out to be.

There's no medical reason for me to shave my armpits, either -- should I stop doing that?

Actually, since the author of the post chose to equate menstruation with defecation (it would be more convenient for if you only "took a crap" once a month), let's follow that line of thought... you do realize that once-a-month crap is a 24-hour drip for five to seven days, right? How convenient would that be for you, Josh?

I have very easy periods, for the most part. I hardly get cramps, unless it's really cold. I'm paranoid about using tampons, because every box of tampons comes with the little paper with the warnings on toxic shock syndrome, and especially when I was teaching I had a hard time finding the time to change my tampon during the school day, so I often kept the tampon in longer than "recommended," making me sure I was going to drop dead from TSS any day now. (Once, when I got back to my classroom a few seconds after the bell, one of the assistant principals was outside my door, announcing to his walkie-talkie that I was MIA. I really, really wanted to explain to him exactly why I was late.) I'm not a big fan of pads, because after the second or third straight day the dry-weave starts to irritate your skin, y'know?

Now that I'm older and wiser I'm probably going to invest in a Diva Cup once "Aunt Flo" returns, so my minor inconveniences will be even less of an issue. But, you see, I know how lucky I am.

Some women have irregular periods, and take hormonal birth control to help them regulate their bodies, to help them take control of their bodies. The best thing about being on birth control was knowing when I was going to start bleeding -- because, you know, it's nice to know when bodily fluids are going to start oozing out of you. It gets messy if you don't take proper precautions, you see...

Now, notice how, sometime between two and four years of age, we learn how to control the sphincter that releases crap? And you learn how to keep it closed, holding the crap in, until you can get to a toilet, to take your crap? I don't know how up you are on biology and how uteri and cervixes and stuff work, but we don't have a handy-dandy contraption like that one in our vagina. The blood just comes out; we can't control it. So it's nice to know when it's going to start coming out, so we can wear a diaper, or plug up the hole.

And then there's those cis women's (and trans men's) bodies that work differently than, say, your wife's. Some cis women's and trans men's bodies don't do well with the whole menstruating thing... I know, I know, hard to believe, since we cis women are put on this Earth for the sole purpose of being impregnated by lovely cis men such as yourself. The idea of a cis woman's body not being 100% ready and willing to get pregnant and bear children for you is, well, preposterous!

Absurd as it may be, it happens to be true.

For those people, who have to call in sick to work because of what menstruating does to their body, the idea of fewer periods probably makes a heck of a whole lotta sense.

But you know what makes even more sense? Letting, like, doctors and other medical professionals decide what is and is not "safe." Oh, yeah -- and letting the person in question decide what ze wants to do with hir body, and which hormones ze does and does not want to put in it.

Yes, some people have bad reactions to the pill or other forms of hormonal birth control. I dare you to find a medication that doesn't have a bad reaction for somebody. And for every story you can give me of a person who had a terrible experience with hormonal birth control, I can find a person who had a terrible experience with menstruation, and who needs those hormones to "fix" the problem. I can probably also find you ten people who took those same hormones and had wonderful experiences.

We put tons of chemicals and hormones into our bodies every day, the vast majority of them not medically or biologically necessary. Maybe the author of the post above does not eat any meat or fish, or if he does he raises it himself, and grows all of his food in his own backyard, watering it with collected rainwater or water pumped from his own private, not-flouride-inated well... if so, bully for him. He still has no business telling me what I should or should not do with or to my reproductive organs, or how happy I should be about the things they do on a monthly basis.

Now, if he wanted to write a post actually thanking me for menstruating, instead of telling me how grateful I should be for it, then that's something I'd gladly read. (No, I won't hold my breath.)

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Rape, Roethlisberger, and #HR3

(Edited to modify some of the wording, since I do not have proof that Roethlisberger committed the actions I mention below.)

The Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex has all but shut down by ice and snow, the week before Ben Roethlisberger (and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers) will play in the Super Bowl here in JerryLand Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

If I were a Christian Right self-righteous preacher, I'd tell you this snow/icestorm happened because God hates rapists.

The topic of rape has been all over Twitter, and the news, this week, because of HR3, a bill that wanted to "redefine rape." Because we have such a loose, willy-nilly interpretation of the act already, we clearly need to put some restrictions on it. We don't want all these silly women jumping up and saying they were raped, now do we? Next thing you know, people might start believing them!

The other day I mentioned something about Rapistberger, and about him being an alleged rapist, to a group of (female) friends. The first response was something along the lines of, "Whenever I hear about someone accusing [someone rich and famous] of rape, I have to wonder if they're saying it just to get the guy's money."

Another person asked why the woman hadn't charged him with rape, why the guy hadn't been taken to court.

"Because of what she said!" I responded, pointing to First Responder.

This was a roomful of women, y'all. You'd think sisters would have each other's back.

"Why didn't she report it?"

"Why did she wait [so long] to report it?"

"She's probably lying, trying to get his money/ get media attention."

These are not uncommon reactions.

You wanna know why the victim didn't report it? Because she didn't want to be called a liar and a whore.

You wanna know why it took her "so long" to report it, why she didn't go to the authorities immediately? Because she didn't want to be called a liar and a whore, but she was lucky enough to have friends who supported her and helped her eventually build up the courage to confront her attacker.

Or because she was drunk or drugged, and wasn't sure what had been done to her.

Or because she knows she can't afford lawyers that can compete with the ones her attacker's money can buy.

Or, in Roethlisberger's alleged victim's case, because she knows she doesn't have a case that can be proven in court because one of the bodyguards that allegedly helped Roethlisberger commit the alleged crime was, according to some sources, an ex-cop (or off-duty cop) who made sure Roethlisberger covered his tracks well enough, so her lawyers could not build a case against him. (This is info I got from Freddy, who got it from the sports radio show he listens to. And you know how pro-woman those guys tend to be... so, if anything, this is the "light" version of the events. I shudder to think of what the non-macho-friendly version is... Or see here, where they state Rapistberger's bodyguards are there to make sure there aren't any witnesses, or here, which quotes the victim's friends saying the bodyguards kept them from going to check on -- or rescue -- their friend. But I don't really need to give you details of this particular story; pick any report of a famous/rich guy raping a girl, the media's reaction is always the same.)

Rape culture is so ingrained in our lives and our mindsets that we don't even think twice when we victim-blame; we're not even aware we're doing it. It's second nature to react by questioning the victim instead of the attacker.

Funny how we don't do that in any other cases, huh? "I was shot!" "Well, were you standing in front of the bullet? You were asking for it." "Are you sure you were shot? Maybe that's just ketchup." "What were you wearing? You know red makes people angry, you shouldn't have worn that color." Or, as Laura Anne Stuart points out,

I feel pretty confident that following Vick's case, no one accused those skanky, gold-digging dogs of "asking for it" or opined that drunk slutty canines really want to be beaten. However, those are just the sorts of things that are routinely said about women who accuse professional athletes of rape. We are far more sympathetic to animals than we are to women. 

(Before I go off on another rant, please read her article, The Roethlisberger Payback, and consider participating in the pledge.)

A few months ago, it was Assange, who obviously couldn't be a rapist because he came up with a cool idea for a website. Roethlisberger, well, that happened a while ago (over the summer?) and he must not have done anything wrong because the girl never formally brought charges in court, and, anyway, he had to sit out six -- no, wait, four -- games. Four games! Can you imagine the agony?? What the poor guy must have gone through!

When cis women report being raped, they face hostility; they're called liars and sluts; and if the guy is rich/famous, they are attacked and mocked by the rapists' fans.

We discuss whether it was "rape-rape." Was she drunk? What was she wearing? Was she asking for it? Was she flirting? Did she change her mind? Is she just looking for a big settlement? To get her name in the news?

It wasn't really rape if...

HR3, a big waste of time that accomplished nothing other than making it look like John Boehner is "doing" something to "save teh babiez," attempted to limit funding to abortion. Yes, exactly what the Hyde Amendment already does. But, you see, the Hyde Amendment includes a provision for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. So Boehner and his buddies wanted to make sure we're not getting out of hand with this "rape" thing, calling every little assault "rape." In order to be raped, you needed to have bruises and broken bones, according to these people. Public uproar made them remove the language that attempted to redefine rape, or further limit its definition.

Feminists got all up in arms about a cis man telling them what was and what was not rape. Because, seriously, honestly -- how dare anyone tell anyone "your rape wasn't rape-y enough?"

The irony in all this, is that... cis women do it all the time. Not to each other (well, sometimes. See the above conversation), at least not as much as they do it to trans women.

In order to be raped, our cissexist society says you must have been born with a vagina. Trans men can be raped (because, donchaknow, they're not really men -- they're really women, being eccentric, right?), because they have a vagina. Or at least were born with one. Trans women? No. That's not real rape. Not "rape-rape."

Oh, wait...

Remember what it felt like to have a cis man deny your assault experience? Now that we know what it feels like to have it done to us, let's not do that to each other anymore.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

God's Gift of Free Will

Anonymous asked for this post, so here it is.

(Ze asked me to cite chapter and verse, but, dude, go read the opening chapters of Genesis. It’s not hard to find. Here, I'll let you skip chapter 1; start with chapter 2 and read through to the end of chapter 3. If you don't like that version, find another, that's just the first one that Google spat out when I typed in "Genesis." I'm not going to argue details or individual words, I'm talking about the main events in the story. You can even read the LOLcats Bible, if you want.)

God gave us free will.

Adam and Eve chose to listen to the serpent and eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden, the only tree from which God told them they could NOT eat. Yet they did it anyway -- because God had given them free will. They made their own choice, followed their own will, not God's.

Now, if you remember, God is the Alpha and the Omega -- He knows all. He knew, before He went through the trouble of creating Adam and Eve, or the serpent, that Adam and Eve would eat from that tree. BUT HE LET THEM DO IT ANYWAY.

Adam and Eve controlled their own fate, but God knew what choices they would make and what that fate looked like. And God chose to NOT interfere with that.

If God did not want things to go that way, if He did not want Adam and Eve to disobey Him, why did He make it so easy for them to do so? He’s all-powerful. Could He really not manage to put a little fence or something around the tree? Or, heck, put the tree somewhere else, where Adam and Eve couldn’t get to it?

The only logical conclusion is that God wanted Adam and Eve to “screw up.” He wanted them to KNOW. He wanted them to make their own choices, and live the lives that we lead now, with the good and the bad and the ugly -- and everything else.

Because without evil, how do we know what "good" is? Without pain, loss, hardship, how do we know what "happy" is?

If we were still living in the Garden of Eden, would we understand how happy we would be? How could we, without having something to compare those “good” feelings to?

Yeah, maybe the very first (recorded) thing Adam and Eve do with their free will is something most of us would consider “unwise.” So what? Who cares what you think? God gave them the ability to make that choice, and I happen to think God does things for a reason. Maybe you think God’s kind of stupid and didn’t know what He was doing... I happen to think He knew exactly what he was doing.

He chose to create Man and Woman, and He chose to let them “muck things up” like this.

What you personally think of Adam and Eve’s choices is completely irrelevant in this conversation. What you personally think God’s choice to grant us free will is also irrelevant. And, if I may, perhaps a little blasphemous? But, hey, if you want to question God, that’s up to you. Have fun.

The fact remains: God gave us free will. Because He wants us to make our own choices. That includes women, and what they chose to do to and with their bodies.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Breastfeeding is "icky." Didn't you know?

The Leaky Boob posted this link on Facebook, and I had to share, because it highlights some important truths.

The article talks about Irish women (and doctors, and onlookers), but it applies pretty darn accurately to USians, no?

Some points of note:
Bottles and the infant formula inside them had to be better than anything a woman's body could make because you had to buy them. And Irish people like buying things.
Of course, we all know that if we buy it, it must be superior. The more expensive the better. That free crap that comes out of my boobs? Must be cat piss.

Oh, wait... except for this:
Breastfed infants suffer fewer tummy and chest infections, fewer urinary tract infections, fewer ear infections, less eczema and less asthma than bottle-fed ones. They have less risk of having diabetes, Hodgkin's Disease and possibly leukaemia. In adulthood, they have less chance of getting late-onset diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Mothers who breastfeed have less chance of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
Huh. THAT IS SO WEIRD. Because, as we all know,
...anything a woman can do for herself isn't worth doing.
I mean, seriously, folks! Women are inherently inferior, remember?

Ladies, remember, the only thing your body is capable of is pleasing men sexually, 'mkay? And, really, nothing kills a cis hetero guy's mojo like seeing your boobs used for their God-intended purpose. Priorities, people!

I mean, how can you reasonably expect someone to NOT stare at something they find odd, unusual, or even gross? How can you possibly expect others to have enough self-control to look away of their own volition? As if they were grown-ups who knew how to solve their own problems?

Really, ladies! These people can't help it! They can't control who or what they stare at! Be reasonable, please, and stop being so selfish. Cover up. Your baby needs to learn to sacrifice hir needs for the comfort of others. (Especially if your baby is a girl. Let's get these lessons in early!)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make a nursing cover. I want to make sure it looks nice, so I think I'll decorate it with images my husband's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. It has such pretty pictures, don't you agree?
Kitteh approves of breastfeeding.

This? A beautiful sight. PERIOD.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christina and Chrissie

I didn't watch the memorial service or the President's speech, either live or on YouTube. But I got the Twitter version. Lots of good quotes.

The death of Christina Taylor Green is a tragedy. For many reasons, and I'm sure several others have written about it much better than I can, so I'll let them do it (I'm sure you've read about it plenty already, anyway).

It would still be a tragedy even if she were not a cute white girl. A cute white cis girl.

Last night, as most of Twitter mourned the death of Christina, a few voices spoke up to mourn another tragedy: the murder of Chrissie Bates.

She was stabbed to death in her apartment. According to a neighbor, "Chrissie had mentioned that she had recently been sexually assaulted, and that her apartment window was broken. When she complained, management told her she would have to pay for the window herself."

Chrissie was a trans woman. Which the article feels need to be mentioned right up front, along with the name under which she was born. Because we have to point all that out. As @metalmujer said, "They killed her twice in the press."

Why can't she just be a woman? Why can't she just be "Chrissie"? Who cares what her name used to be? That's not what it is now. And there's a reason for that. Respect that.

But I guess it is fitting, in a morbid way, that the media harps on the fact that she was transgender, specifically a transgender woman, since that's the reason why she was murdered. 

I guess, also, that we should be grateful that the media (unlike the medical examiner or the police) is respecting Chrissie enough to call her Chrissie and call her a trans woman, and not a "gay man" as is usually reported. At least this time, they are calling the transmisogyny what it is: transphobia, not homophobia.

Chrissie is not going to get a televised memorial service, or a speech by the President. (She's one of the lucky ones, though... at least her death was reported, and her gender respected. Few trans women victims get that.) But that doesn't make her death any less important, or her murder any less tragic. Please take a moment to pray for Chrissie, for the loved ones she left behind, and for other women like her, so they do not meet the same fate.

Dear Anonymous

I wrote a post Saturday morning, and shortly afterward I received an email notification that you had left a comment.

I was busy over the weekend, with family who'd come in from out of town to see MonkeyBoy. I've also been having computer issues, so my online time has been limited to phone time (Saturday's post and this one are via phone; right now I'm phone posting from bed, while nursing a half-sleeping MonkeyBoy, because this is how most of my time at home is spent). I love my Blackberry, but it's a pain to post blog comments on it; I prefer to do that at the full-out computer.

That's part of the reason why it's Thursday morning, and I have still not responded to your comments. The main reason is that I hadn't eve read them until a few minutes ago.

I was purposefully avoiding reading your comments because I knew you would only say something vapid and inane. Smething petty and pointless. Something I had already heard plenty of times before. But, most importantly, something I had already responded to plenty of times before.

This gets old, Anonymous. Really.

The purpose of blog comments is to have discussion, debate. When you come in, all you do is call names and parrot talking points. BOOORING!

And useless.

So I'm disabling anonymous comments from now on. I'm done repeating myself. You don't add anything to this blog, at least not when you're hiding behind "Anonymous." Maybe, if you're made to sign a name (any name! No one says it has to be you full name! Or even YOUR name! Call yourself The Baby Crusader, or something, um, "clever" like that) to your pettiness, you may put some thought into it. Imagine that! Wouldn't that be nice...

I used to have the time to bang my head against walls like you. Not anymore, sadly.

Can't say you'll be missed. Sorry.

Feel free to come back, with a name (dude, it can even be a fake name, what do I care? How would I know? Just pretend!), some maturity, and something thoughtful to say.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Parenting Choices, via MTV's No Easy Decision

(Phone posting, so please pardon the typos.)
(Edited to add Katie's info and make linky-links)
I TiVoed MTV's No Easy Decision, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Via Facebook, I found this blog post, by Katie, one of the girls in the show.

I almost can't believe a teen [edit: she's in her early 20s. STILL.] wrote that. She expresses herself better than I could (which was a blow to my ego... But I digress). I don't know how anyone can read that and think she did not "know" what she was doing, or that she did not "think her decision through." Does she sound like someone who needed a mandatory waiting period before being allowed to get an abortion?
Those of us who have made that decision have not come to it lightly. We knew what we were doing, and why.
I love what she says about the "mothering instinct" -- it starts at pregnancy, knowing whether you are ready, or even capable, of being a mother. "Mothering" starts with pregnancy, at that moment you decide you want to become a mother; with planned pregnancies, it starts even earlier. I made several choices about my diet, lifestyle, medications, etc. when Freddy and I started trying to get pregnant. I stopped drinking sodas (for the MOST part) and eating candy (and if you know me, YOU KNOW HOW MUCH OF A SACRIFICE THAT WAS), got off my "crazy pills" (though I quickly got back on them when I realized how much I needed them -- see, already making parenting decisions, for the wellbeing of the potential child growing inside of me), etc.
Parenting starts before birth, and it starts before conception. This is why we use birth control. Guess what? Birth control, like pretty much everything in life, is not infallible. Sometimes it fails, it doesn't do what it's supposed to or go the way we want it to. So we adjust: for some women, who are not ready to be parents, who are not ready to be pregnant, or who know they never want either of those, that means terminating the pregnancy.
When MonkeyBoy was born, my doctor ordered an echocardiogram to check out his heart, because of the "prominent aorta" they'd seen in one of my last sonograms. Thankfully, the echo showed everything was as it should be. But if it hadn't, if the doctors had found something wrong with MonkeyBoy's heart, guess what?
Freddy and I would have made a parenting decision and talked to the doctors to figure out the best way to "fix" it. We wouldn't have said, "Oh, well, must be God's Will! After all, He giveth and He taketh away, right?" and let the baby die.
God's Will, if you take the time to read Genesis, is for us to use the first gift He gave us: our free will*. That means making choices. Sometimes, that choice is abortion.

And that's okay. In fact, it's a responsible parenting choice.

*Edit: I was going to elaborate on the "free will" thing, but as I started writing I realized it needs to be a post on its own. So watch for that, coming soon.