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.