Monday, February 28, 2011

We're Not Post Racial By a Long Shot

I keep hearing about how "post racial" the US is, and I always shake my head. First of all, if people feel such a need to point it out, it probably isn't true. It's like going on and on about how much you don't care about your ex. Secondly, Obama is our first black President. He's also white, but he's our first black President, and you hear about it all the time. Not exactly post racial.

Anyway, my husband just related a story to me that made me sad, and showed how much of a lie "post racial America" really is. My husband has been making some money recording a local rapper*. (All the rappers in this story are black, just so I don't have to keep saying it.) It's a friend-of-a-friend situation, and my husband discovered that recording rappers is significantly easier than recording bands, and he gets to use the beats he likes to write so much but can't use in his own music.

Word of mouth has gotten my husband a few more rappers to record and they stopped by the house to meet him this morning. One of them stuck out his hand, and my husband automatically shook it. One of them said, "I was a little 'I dunno' about a white guy recording rap, but you're good people."

My husband couldn't figure out what he meant, so he asked.

"Oh, white people usually don't want to shake my hand. Like it's catching or something."

That's really sad. I can't imagine going through life with people refusing to touch you because of the colour of your skin. I was always taught that handshakes are irrefusable, though women don't get asked to shake hands as much as men do. I was taught, as was my husband, that even if you just watched the other person sneeze on that hand, you shake it. To do otherwise is to offer a level of contempt only applicable to Hitler or Stalin. Seriously, we tried to figure out whose hands we wouldn't shake and that's what we came up with.

A lot of people apparently add "black men" to that list.

*I'm not exactly certain if that's called "hip hop" or "rap" these days (get off my lawn!), but they refer to themselves as "rappers", so I'm going with it. They're also all my age, if that helps any.

And That's Why They're So Fat!

[trigger warning: fat shaming, food. please enjoy this delightful otter instead.]

The bus I take to work goes by the high school right when all the kids are due, so on a rainy day like today, it can take 10 minutes or more to get 50 feet down the road to drop off the kids. The bus driver was understandably annoyed after the 5th time we sat through the light at the same intersection and started pontificating on how ridiculous it was for parents to give their children a ride to school- in the pouring rain, mind you. With ice and huge piles of snow everywhere.

First of all, before I get to the title of this post, I would like to point out that if you've never tried to walk everywhere in the winter, you should. It will be educational. Half the sidewalks are never shoveled and that snow turns into ice as people walk on it. Businesses like to pile the snow from their parking lots onto the sidewalks. The city becomes an obstacle course of ice and snow and what is a 5 minute walk in the summer can easily take me 15 minutes by the end of winter. I don't blame anyone for not wanting their child to walk to school in that.

So, the bus driver is privileging all over people without cars and decides to add another group to his privilege parade: overweight kids. "These kids never walk anywhere, and that's why they're so fat!"

I watched the two biggest kids on the bus flinch at that. I'm not sure anyone else even noticed the casual fat shaming. Why would you? It's everywhere. And two teenaged kids got to start their day with an emotional beat down.

I noticed something at Walmart that might help the bus driver understand reality a little better. I paid $1.99 for head of iceberg lettuce half the size they normally are, but I could have gotten Hostess snack cakes- a whole box of them- for $1.50.

I paid $1.58 each for fresh broccoli crowns, but I could have gotten an entire box of Honey Buns for $1.00. Hell, for what I paid in fresh broccoli, it would have been cheaper to buy three boxes of Honey Buns.

80% ground beef was a little less than $4 for 1.5 lbs, but a bag of frozen, unbreaded fish fillets was almost $6.50.

Bottled water was, per ounce, 4 times the price of generic soda. (Yes, yes tap water, but you've never had to drink water where I live. It smells like it's filtered over rotting corpses. We have to make our ice with filtered water.)

I'm having a very hard time keeping up with my new diet. Having cut out the fat, keeping up my caloric intake is difficult at those kind of prices. Throughout the entire store, fatty, processed empty calorie crap was cheap and in bulk. Healthy food that actually is food is expensive and comes in small portions. A big bag of Twizzlers is $1.25. That's what one mango cost.

If you're poor, and in the county I live in, a full 25% of families fall below the federal poverty line, and you're raising children, what are you going to do? Buy a tiny amount of healthy food and watch while your children spend their entire childhoods hungry, or buy a full pantry of crap that will keep them full? There's really no good answer, is there?

And that's why they're so fat!

Now, I don't want to hear what your stores where you live charge. Am I talking about where you live? I don't want to hear about "Walmart's not the only store there is", either. I don't have a car, so I beg rides from family to get to the store. Which puts me in about the same spot as the average working parent in terms of time and ability to get places. Despite this, I have checked out every store in the area, and Walmart really is the best deal overall. I can't stop by 5 different stores to take advantage of all the sales every week, and neither can the average working poor parent. If I go to Redner's, their produce is limited and I'm paying an arm and a leg for spices and laundry detergent. Price Chopper has great produce, but their cleaning supplies and fish* are outrageously expensive.

So let's not start a kid's Monday with fat shaming until we've fixed the walking situation, the poverty situation and the food pricing situation. You know, never.

*I am a vegetarian, but I always did eat fish occasionally. Since I've had to cut out eggs and milk, I had to find something to replace the protein. I tell myself that wild fish had nice lives before I ate them, unlike the poor pigs and chickens raised for slaughter. Do not ruin this for me. I need protein.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Is Totally Reasonable Because- Look Over There!

[trigger warning: miscarriage, abortion. please enjoy this delightful otter instead.]

I will start this by saying that miscarriage can be traumatizing, and we should never overlook the pain another person feels. It is not hypocritical or inconsistent to sympathize with the suffering of a woman after a miscarriage, even if it was in the first trimester, and even if you support unlimited first trimester abortions. I can sympathize with your pain without involving politics or personal beliefs, without having experienced it myself, because I have felt pain and I have felt the relief of sympathy. That's just being a decent human being.

Anyway, I've seen a lot of GAH! over the Miscarriage as Murder Bill. Vox Nova (the Catholic slacktivist) walked away from the GOP. Feministe is starting a campaign to mail pictures of your possible miscarriage (i.e., your period) to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Franklin, which I will be participating in.

Here's a different reaction to the bill, from a commentor to Vox Nova named doug:

The bill puts an unborn person on the same legal footing as a person who has been born. In most, if not all states, deaths are to be reported, and investigated if not occurring with a physician in attendance. If a woman calls her physician, that physician to seek medical advice in the matter, that would amount to having a physician in attendance. It only requires an “investigation” if no physician is in attendance. Typically for any death that occurs outside of a medical facility, investigation is minimal unless there is some affirmative reason to suspect foul play. When I was working in assisted living and a death occurred, we simply reported it to the police and that was the end of the matter.

Perhaps you should write to the legislature in that state and suggest amendments. I think a reasonable amendment would be to simply allow reporting, and an investigation only if there is reasonable suspicion of foul play. We had three miscarriages last year, and my wife sought medical advice for each one. The process can take quite some time to complete. As I read the bill, my wife would have had no reporting requirements, and it would be taken care of by the doctor’s office. If we didn’t have medical insurance, however, I certainly would not want someone probing into it, although I wouldn’t object to simply reporting it. Government does have a legitimate need to monitor both deaths and births. Government does not have any need to intrude into private matters unless there is affirmative evidence of a crime. Having a miscarriage does not constitute evidence of a crime. I would resent a government investigation if we couldn’t afford a doctor during a miscarriage. A report of a beating and subsequent miscarriage is evidence of a crime that should be investigated.

Well, I couldn't possibly deal with that all at once- we're a little verbose, now aren't we there, douggie?- so we'll parse it piece by piece.

The bill puts an unborn person on the same legal footing as a person who has been born.

That's ludicrous for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, current law concerning abortion, the fact that zygotes and fetuses are not the same, the fact that reality is as it is and not was one wishes it to be, I could go on. I would say that, correctly stated, what douggie meant to say is, "This bill seeks to put an unborn person on the same legal footing as a person who has been born", which would actually be true.

In most, if not all states, deaths are to be reported, and investigated if not occurring with a physician in attendance. If a woman calls her physician, that physician to seek medical advice in the matter, that would amount to having a physician in attendance. It only requires an “investigation” if no physician is in attendance. Typically for any death that occurs outside of a medical facility, investigation is minimal unless there is some affirmative reason to suspect foul play. When I was working in assisted living and a death occurred, we simply reported it to the police and that was the end of the matter.

Let me count the ways he is wrong. First of all, the bill calls for reporting of suspected "suspicious" miscarriage by any person, and that person will be kept anonymous. (Click here, go to lines 234-242) Now douggie is kind of right. People die in medical facilities all the time, the police don't investigate each and every death. However, if I call the police and say that Mr. Johnson's death at the hospital last night was murder and spin them a tale, they'll investigate it. It's happened at the nursing home my mother-in-law worked at. (Grieving relatives do this more often than you might think.)

So, your nosy neighbor who totally hates your poorly maintained law calls the police and tells them he thinks you were lifting 50lb bags of fertilizer for a purpose other than lawn maintenance, and you're faced with discussing the inner workings of your uterus with Officer Edward. Good luck proving yourself innocent.

Anyways, somewhere between 30-50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages before the woman even realizes she is pregnant. I could be having a miscarriage every month for all I know, I don't care until I miss my period. Most obstetricians won't even make the first appointment until after 10 weeks because they don't want to be bothered seeing all the women who would miscarry between the first and second appointments. That's how common it is.

Which brings me to calling the doctor. Even if I realize I am miscarrying, I may not call the doctor. Lots of women don't. They realize what's happening and if the bleeding doesn't reach "Wow! That is a LOT of blood!" levels, they deal with it at home*. Now I have to skip work and pay for a doctor I may not need and don't want to see? Because the State of Georgia considers me a de facto murderer until proven otherwise?

Perhaps you should write to the legislature in that state and suggest amendments. I think a reasonable amendment would be to simply allow reporting, and an investigation only if there is reasonable suspicion of foul play. We had three miscarriages last year, and my wife sought medical advice for each one. The process can take quite some time to complete. As I read the bill, my wife would have had no reporting requirements, and it would be taken care of by the doctor’s office. If we didn’t have medical insurance, however, I certainly would not want someone probing into it, although I wouldn’t object to simply reporting it. Government does have a legitimate need to monitor both deaths and births. Government does not have any need to intrude into private matters unless there is affirmative evidence of a crime. Having a miscarriage does not constitute evidence of a crime. I would resent a government investigation if we couldn’t afford a doctor during a miscarriage. A report of a beating and subsequent miscarriage is evidence of a crime that should be investigated.

Shorter doug: I like this bill, unless I don't like it- look over there! Beating a woman is already a crime, douggie. It's called assault and battery. Why should it be investigated all special-like because a zygote was also on the scene? Honestly, I cannot say this enough, prolifers never seem to remember that any discussion of pregnancy involves a woman and that women are actual human beings to whom laws apply. We don't need to make assault and battery extra special illegal.

Douggie, what you seem to be missing is something important: only women miscarry. Ultimately, only women would bear the onus of investigation and punishment under this law. Reasonably, any man involved could say, "Hey, I had no idea she was pregnant and should not have gone horseback riding." Why would he know unless she told him? Very few women "show" in the first trimester.

Imagine the world douggie supports oh-so-reasonably. I will have to come up with proof, every month, that I was not pregnant, or, if I was, that I did nothing to cause my own miscarriage. To do that, I would have to abstain from anything that could possibly, in anyone's imagination, cause a miscarriage:

coffee, alcohol, cigarettes (all still legal for men)

exercising too vigorously (walking okay, running not? I have no idea)

not exercising enough

eating poorly (have you seen all the diets out there? who even knows what's right)

not taking prenatal vitamins at all times

lifting anything over 10 lbs (does that include my vacuum? I have no idea)

working too hard (there's no real definition of "hard" in this context, so I guess women shouldn't work at all)

experiencing too much stress (again, "too much" has no meaning here. guess you shouldn't have taken that job cuddling puppies.)

coming into contact with chemicals (which ones? i don't know. how would I know they are there? no idea)

taking any and (almost) all medications (it's too bad you need lithium for bipolar disorder. if you were a man, i'd be able to treat you.)

according to bill itself: marriage difficulties. avoid those or get investigated.

being poor. poor people are far more likely to seek abortions. poor people will be investigated.

I can't help it. Douggie tries to make it sound reasonable, but all I can see is Moira from the Handmaid's Tale film pointing out that women don't need hands and feet for what they do. Look at that list above and ask yourself, would I need anything more than what a cow is given to fulfill the role Franklin has put forth for me? Would I really need my hands or feet? My eyes? My tongue?

*That can be dangerous. Sometimes, not everything gets expelled and you can end up with a uterine infection, so I'd say go to a doctor, but last time I checked, adult Americans have the right to refuse medical care for themselves, even if it is inadvisable.

He's In Ur Government Imposin His Religious Beliefs

I would call this book a warning, others call it a good place to start.

I'm sure by now you've heard about the Miscarriage as Murder bill in Georgia (have you guys considered keeping the peaches and exporting the crazies?), but what I haven't seen anywhere other than a message board devoted to discussions of religious zealotry is the background behind it.

Theocracy. Scary, scary theocracy.

The bill's sponsor is Republican Billy Franklin, who, as it turns out, attends

Chalcedon Presbyterian in Cumming, GA, where Joe Morecraft III is pastor. That would be Pastor Joe Morecraft III, Vision Forum speaker and writer

If you're not familiar with Vision Forum, they're Quiverfullers. Quiverfull theology is based upon one little line in the Bible, and includes adherents like the Duggars (19 children), the Bates (pregnant with #19) and the Jeubs (pregnant with # 16). Their religion is pretty simple: women are to produce as many babies as they possibly can, ignoring health, sanity and finances, while submitting to the husbands and staying home to cook and clean and homeschool. In Quiverfull theology, women are useful for producing babies and have literally no other purpose. Girls are raised to never have dreams or hopes. Boys are raised to be dictators "leaders in the home".

And Billy Franklin wants to make it the law of the land. It's a testament to how far the Dominionist movement has come that while most everyone looked at this bill and said GAH!, the theocratic elements of it are so mainstream at this point, that most people argued the logistics of checking out every miscarriage, not the religion behind the imperative to do so.

I really hope I'm dead before The Handmaid's Tale becomes law. I really do.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And Then It Hit Me

Needless to say (really, I'm only saying this for the furreners who follow my blog), the lawyers at this firm are hardcore Republicans*. Because of its positioning, my cubical is the automatic meeting place of the office. (Why yes, I do find this endlessly annoying.) So all day long I get to here Republican rants about welfare queens and Obama care and socialism and Obamunists and the END OF THE WORLD!!1!!eleventy!!

Don't kid yourself, even mainstream Republican ideology is disturbingly tea-flavored these days.

Anyway, today I got to hear uberChristian, car dealership owning, estate management of counsel** say that he had advised his teenage daughters to move to Australia, because "that's the only chance they'll have with what Obama is doing to this country."

I actually opened my mouth to ask him why, if he was so damn serious about this, he didn't pick up and move to Australia*** himself, and then it hit me.

He isn't worried about what Obama is doing to this country. Obama isn't really doing much at all. What of counsel is worried about is what he and his Republican brethren have done, and continue to do, to this country. They deregulated everything they could and gave us the Almost Depression and food recalls and jobs overseas. They lowered taxes on themselves and their buddies and now we have a deficit you have to use scientific notation to calculate. They started two wars "for freedom" or some fucking thing and propped up dictators around the world- dictators that are now losing power and that doesn't look good for us, now does it?

Now they're defunding Planned Parenthood, because who needs pap smears or breasts exams, and trying to turn miscarriages into crime scenes.

If I were him, I wouldn't want my daughters living in the world I helped create either. Of course, of counsel doesn't want to leave, he's not a woman and he's already got all his wealth, but his daughters, yeah, halfway around the world probably isn't far enough away.

*With the notable exception being the associate who didn't even start law school until 40, because that's how long it took him to save up the money waiting tables. He's as socialist as you can be and still be a lawyer who helps banks foreclose on people's homes. People are weird.

**I don't really know what "of counsel" means. He's on the letterhead, but he doesn't report to the partners, he has his own staff and he pays rent for the offices he uses, but he uses the same phone system . . . I dunno.

***I desperately want to visit Australia. I have internet friends there, my grandfather wanted to move there he loved it so much, but . . . spiders. Spiders big enough to pack Uzis, not that they need to. They're probably looking in my direction right now. While eating a horse.

Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, Shoulders, Skip to the Knees . . .

The first time I was supposed to be taught about sex, we were 10 and the teacher was a nun. I think she was actually going to give an in depth technical explanation of reproduction (there was a chalk drawing of a flaccid penis on the board, not that I realized it at the time), but the girl sitting next to me had a tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure before the nun could begin, and that was the end of sex ed. (Apparently, you either got sex ed on that day or you didn't get it at all.)

Until I was 14, and the football coach walked into homeroom and said something that has stuck with me ever since. "When you're little your parents tell you these are your ears" points to ears "and these are your eyes" points to eyes "and this is your nose and this is your mouth" points "these are your shoulders" touches shoulders "and then they skip down to your knees as if there were nothing in between."

And he was right, in my case anyway. Which made it way more difficult than it should have been to tell my mom when I had a UTI- the main symptoms of which are frequent urination and a burning sensation in the urethra when urinating. If you can't discuss your urethra, it's kind of hard to discuss a UTI.

I'm not bashing my mom here. She graduated high school in 1961 was a faithful Catholic- up until my father leaving with a woman younger than me and the priest child abuse scandals hit simultaneously and she was left bereft and righteously pissed about it.

The thing is, until the football coach told me so, I had no idea my vagina and my urethra were not in the same place*. Think about that for a second. At 14, I could have a reasonably intelligent discussion about my amygdala and duodenum (I was a strange child), but I thought I peed out of my vagina.

I was absolutely determined that no child I had responsibility for would grow up so ignorant of their own body. Which is how I became the preferred sex ed teacher for a good portion of Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's not just my family and my husband's family that send their kids to me. I've had friends and coworkers** ask me to give their kids "the talk".

Anything to avoid saying "penis" or "vagina" to your own child, I suppose.

Why? I know and I don't know. "Penis" and "vagina" are medical terms, just like "duodenum" and "amgydala". I don't think anyone would have a problem discussing lungs with their child, but get to what's covered by their underwear, and all of a sudden they're whipping out phrases like "down there" (Australia, perhaps?) and "privates" (in the Army?).

There has been quite a trend lately to start telling even tiny tots all about the human body and its capacity for reproduction, in scientific and clinical terms. Some parents do this because they shun "lying" and insist on telling the two-year-old just exactly how his baby sister got into mommy's tummy--oh, wait, into her uterus--while others believe that child development requires frank talk about sex as soon as a young child asks any questions. I was not a part of that generation and don't really think it's a good idea; while you can, certainly, give a child all the anatomical names for body parts and explain to him or her using simple charts or diagrams just what reproductive activity involves, you can'tgive him or her an adult understanding of these matters. Which means, at the very least, you can't stop him or her from shouting out in church, at a crowded restaurant, or on a plane "My [anatomically correct body part] is really itchy!" or from telling a pregnant neighbor, helpfully and in detail, just how that baby got into her uterus.

I fail to see the problem here. I don't think this person would be upset if their child said "my elbow is really itchy!" And wouldn't you want to know if your child's labia are "really itchy"? That could well be an infection or allergic reaction. It's the sort of thing you'd think a parent would want to know.

I also want to know why small children can't handle knowing how fetuses end up in uteruses. Would this person quail at telling their small child how their lungs work? I think not. Ignorance is only a virtue with itchy labia and fetuses, I guess.

As for the child telling a pregnant woman how she got pregnant (a) so what? I'm sure the pregnant woman knows how that happened, and (b) you can stop that conversation by saying, "Honey, she's pregnant. She knows how that happened, and we don't discuss other people's sex lives. It's rude." End of conversation.

I fail to see how ignorance, which leads to pregnant teens with syphilis is better than a lapse in etiquette.

*For any guys out there wondering how crazy I am, female genitalia is a black box unless you get out a mirror and are particularly flexible. It's not right out in front like a penis is. Women have to work to see their own genitals.

**I've done it for friends, but not for coworkers. I don't want a coworker freaking out on me at work after discovering I've told their teenage daughter there's nothing wrong with kink if that's what you're into.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I See Damentalists

In the category of "people who owe me a new keyboard" a certain comtesse sent me the following email: when you take the "fun" out of "fundamentalist", you get "damentalist", which for some reason had me spewing blue gatorade.

I couldn't decide exactly what a damentalist would be until I read these comments regarding the Boot Camp for Girls over at What Women Never Hear. (Discussed previously here and here.) Remember how fucking crazy that was? Remember "Reserve a lot of pity for youngest girls that give fellatio"? How could anyone forget that? Remember questions like "Commitment makes a man use his head about you. Devotion makes a man use his heart about you. Which do you prefer?"

Well, apparently AGuyMaligned was feeling a little hurt that not one person commented on the 26 (!) posts in the series. Why he continued for 26 posts in what was clearly a rather unpopular topic, I have no idea. Then he whined about it through the guise of his possibly imaginary wife. (Poor blog etiquette if I've ever seen it.) And contrary to my hopes that no comments meant nobody was paying any attention to his codified sociopathy, the damentalists showed up.

They scare me.

The Boot Camp for Girls series has been a blessing for me as I am teaching my 14 year old about how to navigate through the world of relationship. So his efforts were not in vain. Do let him know that and trust his words are not falling on deaf ears.

At some point he might consider bundling these articles for girls in an ebook and offering on the website after the series is over. It would be a shame to lose all that good information in a sea of subsequent posts.

That's how she's teaching a 14 year old about relationships?! Some people should not have access to children.

I read your husband’s post every day – they are a never-miss part of my morning. I’m the mother of 3 young women and my 18-year-old intends to read the entire boot camp when she’s not so loaded down with school. I’m not sure she’d comment, but she will definitely benefit. One of my other daughter’s college roommate is pregnant sans husband or any hope of one for behaving in the ways Mr. Guy warns against, so this advice hits close to home for us. He is giving them the why, which most mothers just don’t have, even those of us who have done our best to raise our daughters to view themselves too highly to give everybody everything. You’d be shocked at the numbers of grandmothers and mothers who failed to pass this wisdom on because they didn’t have it. So this mother (and wife for those posts aimed at us) is most grateful for all his efforts – I’m just not much of a “talker” when it comes to posting comments (although you might be fooled about that by this loooong post) ;-D

Hopefully, the 18 year old girl in question is putting her mother off because she knows her mother is insane.

What? No comments. Well, I must say we discussed several posts with our 13 year old daughter and I am always referring people to your site.

I would stop talking to anyone who referred me to that site as anything other than a joke.

. . . it was a thrill to me to see these things written down, because teenagers and young ladies so desperately need to read these things and take them to heart!

If that's what you consider thrilling, you need to seriously reconsider the turn your life has taken.

I’ve been so blown away by the “Boot Camp For Girls” series that I’ve been speechless. Actually, the series has been an answer to prayer as I attempt to navigate my three daughters to womanhood. Recently, my oldest daughter had a very discouraging experience: that of an older woman at church, no less, telling my daughter of her unhappiness in marriage among other inappropriate things. No one grows unhappy overnight and we are using the “Boot Camp” series to train our thinking to avoid repeating such a scenerio. This blog is one of the highlights of my day, it has generated many, many interesting discussions in our home, is now one of our primary tools for training our daughters and sons, and we have been able to help minister is some troubles marriages by the insights learned here. The thinking we’ve learned from here that will save our civilization. Every post I read gets my heart singing, “Bravo, Amen, Praise the Lord” Thank you to you two for making my day and our lives better.


Well, Sir Guy said it was my question about the boys that kiss and dump that inspired the series and I really appreciated it and soaked up absolutely everything he said. I’ve printed each post out to read and re-read and got my friends, Christlina and Tanja into it as well, even though they didn’t comment much.

According to "Sir Guy", she was kissing with desire rather than sensuousness and that's what caused the dumping. That's well worth a reread or three.

I read every post. I did facebook one of them and received thankful comments from some young women.

"Thank you for letting me know I should never listen to anything you say ever again."

But please know that we read every post and I am using them to help my late-teen daughters to know what to expect/do in their relationships.

Damentalists, there you have them.

Let's Shelve the Abortion Debate Until We Can Fix the Child Welfare System

Juxtapositions are killing me lately. Abortion is bad! Birth control is bad! Children are a blessing, don't even think about not having them! and at the same time, yet another child failed by the child welfare system. Again and again and afuckinggain until I feel like grabbing prolifers by the ears and shaking them while screaming, "Not everyone should have children! Abortion is not worse than a child beaten and starved and raped and killed with pesticides! That is not better!"

I am not going to beat up on the people that comprise the child welfare system in this country. My friend Marzie is a part of it and through her I have gotten the tiniest sense of how difficult that job is. Enough sense to know that I would last a week before throwing myself off a bridge. Superman is nothing compared to Marzie in my eyes, I really don't know how she does it.

The system is broken. It breaks the people within it, from the judges to the GALs to the case workers to the children it is meant to protect. And I don't know any better than anyone else how to fix it.

Well, I do, in a way. The child welfare system is filled with unwanted children. That's how they end up in the system. Their parents didn't want them in the first place, so they abandon them, or neglect them, or abuse them. The fact of the matter is, you can force people to have children, by denying people access to birth control and abortion, but you can't force those people to want those children, nor can you force them to treat those children well. So you take the children away and put them in the care of someone else, and hope those people don't abuse them. You hope that the abuse and neglect didn't damage them permanently and you hope that love and therapy will be enough to prevent an endless cycle of unwanted pregnancies and abused children. It often is not.

The abortion debate, well, the prolife side anyway, ignores something important about pregnancy: it results in a child that has to be cared for. And the people demanding forced pregnancies aren't the ones caring for the children, now are they? And they aren't the ones being neglected and abused.

But wait! Adoption! It solves all problems! First of all, adoption is fraught with difficulties, both social* and emotional, and anyway, the Barahona children were adopted. Adoptive parents neglect and abuse their children, too. It's no guarantee.

So you know what? Let's not even consider reversing Roe v. Wade right now and come back to it after we've worked something out for all the unwanted children we already have. I don't think dumping millions more unwanted children into the system is really the way to address that, do you?

*I couldn't possibly afford a child right now, but I can also guarantee you that no one I work with and no one in my family would accept me putting a child up for adoption. Social pariah would be the best I could hope for.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm In Ur Feminism Settin' Straw Men on Fire

By popular request (if we are defining Jason as popular, and why not?) I am snarking on . . . ha! A writer for Mad Men. We're taking on the big dogs today in hell, yes we are.

You want to get married. It's taken a while to admit it. Saying it out loud -- even in your mind -- feels kind of desperate, kind of unfeminist, kind of definitely not you, or at least not any you that you recognize. Because you're hardly like those girls on TLC saying yes to the dress and you would never compete for a man like those poor actress-wannabes on The Bachelor.

Kind of unfeminist? I'm beginning to understand why I despise Mad Men, though I do love the costuming. Look, feminists get married all the time. In fact, most people get married. It's what we do here in America. Some of us like it so much, we do it more than once. I was unaware the "girls" say yes to dresses, in that girls are not allowed to marry in the US.

Words: they have meanings. Learn them.

You've never dreamt of an aqua-blue ring box.

Who dreams of an aqua-blue ring box? That's a fetish I've never heard of, and I worked at a porn site for a year.

Then, something happened. Another birthday, maybe. A breakup. Your brother's wedding. His wife-elect asked you to be a bridesmaid, and suddenly there you were, wondering how in hell you came to be 36-years-old, walking down the aisle wearing something halfway decent from J. Crew that you could totally repurpose with a cute pair of boots and a jean jacket. You started to hate the bride -- she was so effing happy -- and for the first time ever you began to have feelings about the fact that you're not married. You never really cared that much before. But suddenly (it was so sudden) you found yourself wondering... Deep, deep breath... Why you're not married.

Well, I know why.

Projection, you have a call on line 1. Projection, line 1.

How? It basically comes down to this: I've been married three times. Yes, three. To a very nice MBA at 19; a very nice minister's son at 32 (and pregnant); and at 40, to a very nice liar and cheater who was just like my dad, if my dad had gone to Harvard instead of doing multiple stints in federal prison.

Issues: Tracy McMillan has them. Alternatively, you're not married because Tracy married all the men.

I was, for some reason, born knowing how to get married. Growing up in foster care is a big part of it. The need for security made me look for very specific traits in the men I dated -- traits it turns out lead to marriage a surprisingly high percentage of the time. Without really trying to, I've become a sort of jailhouse lawyer of relationships -- someone who's had to do so much work on her own case that I can now help you with yours.

Okay, I do understand that people get very caught up in the dress and the ceremony and the fab party afterwards, but most people don't just want to get married, they want to stay married. While Tracy can surely tell us how to get married, she clearly has no idea how to stay that way.

But I won't lie. The problem is not men, it's you. Sure, there are lame men out there, but they're not really standing in your way. Because the fact is -- if whatever you're doing right now was going to get you married, you'd already have a ring on it. So without further ado, let's look at the top six reasons why you're not married.

It's never the men! Men are perfect darlings just looking to slip a ring on anyone's finger. If you're not married, it's not because you don't want to be, or haven't found the person you want to wake up to when you're 90, it's because you have problems. Problems that Tracy can solve- three times!

1. You're a Bitch.
Here's what I mean by bitch. I mean you're angry. You probably don't think you're angry. You think you're super smart, or if you've been to a lot of therapy, that you're setting boundaries. But the truth is you're pissed. At your mom. At the military-industrial complex. At Sarah Palin. And it's scaring men off.

The deal is: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy, which is like living with the single-cell protozoa version of a husband. Here's what my son wants out of life: macaroni and cheese, a video game, and Kim Kardashian. Have you ever seen Kim Kardashian angry? I didn't think so. You've seen Kim Kardashian smile, wiggle, and make a sex tape. Female anger terrifies men. I know it seems unfair that you have to work around a man's fear and insecurity in order to get married -- but actually, it's perfect, since working around a man's fear and insecurity is big part of what you'll be doing as a wife.

Pretend to be someone you're not- every day for the next 50 fucking years. Smile, wiggle and sex it up, and never, ever, ever admit that rape culture and patriarchy make you the slightest bit testy. Because the menz, they are askurred!

2. You're Shallow.
When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man's character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you're not married, I already know it isn't. Because if you were looking for a man of character,you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.

Instead, you are looking for someone tall. Or rich. Or someone who knows what an Eames chair is. Unfortunately, this is not the thinking of a wife. This is the thinking of a teenaged girl. And men of character do not want to marry teenaged girls. Because teenage girls are never happy. And they never feel like cooking, either.

Character is what's important in men, but women should smile, wiggle and sex it up. Mmm-hmmm.

3. You're a Slut.
Hooking up with some guy in a hot tub on a rooftop is fine for the ladies of Jersey Shore -- but they're not trying to get married. You are. Which means, unfortunately, that if you're having sex outside committed relationships, you will have to stop. Why? Because past a certain age, casual sex is like recreational heroin -- it doesn't stay recreational for long.

That's due in part to this thing called oxytocin -- a bonding hormone that is released when a woman a) nurses her baby and b) has an orgasm -- that will totally mess up your casual-sex game. It's why you can be f**k-buddying with some dude who isn't even all that great and the next thing you know, you're totally strung out on him. And you have no idea how it happened. Oxytocin, that's how it happened. And since nature can't discriminate between marriage material and Charlie Sheen, you're going to have to start being way more selective than you are right now.

Women are sluts and men are studs. And made of character. And you need to smile and wiggle and sex it up- but not too much or the science will come and get you.

4. You're a Liar.

I don't need to copy anything but the heading here. I'm supposed to smile, wiggle, sex it up, but not too much, and pretend that I totally don't care what he looks like- and never, ever lie. Yeah, patriarchy is totally fun. Don't get angry, bitch.

5. You're Selfish.
If you're not married, chances are you think a lot about you. You think about your thighs, your outfits, your naso-labial folds. You think about your career, or if you don't have one, you think about doing yoga teacher training. Sometimes you think about how marrying a wealthy guy -- or at least a guy with a really, really good job -- would solve all your problems.

Howevs, a good wife, even a halfway decent one, does not spend most of her day thinking about herself. She has too much s**t to do, especially after having kids. This is why you see a lot of celebrity women getting husbands after they adopt. The kids put the woman on notice: Bitch, hello! It's not all about you anymore! After a year or two of thinking about someone other than herself, suddenly, Brad Pitt or Harrison Ford comes along and decides to significantly other her. Which is also to say -- if what you really want is a baby, go get you one. Your husband will be along shortly. Motherhood has a way of weeding out the lotharios.

My thighs obsess me! Because I am girl, but once I have a baybeez, I will learn to be a better human being- but don't forget to smile, wiggle and sex it up, but not too much. And don't lie!

6. You're Not Good Enough.
Oh, I don't think that. You do. I can tell because you're not looking for a partner who is your equal. No, you want someone better than you are: better looking, better family, better job.

Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don't know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won't love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.

Fuck you, Tracy! Which is it? Am I supposed to fake being happy, wiggle and smile, sex it up, but not too much, or am I supposed to be myself? FUCKING PICK ONE! I HATE YOU WITH THE FIERY PASSION OF A THOUSAND SUNS!

Ouch. My chest hurts after that one. I should get hazard pay for that kind of shit.

Slavery or Slavery, Which Would You Prefer?

I have The Christian Post in my reader, so every day I have 15-30 articles waiting for me. I doubt The Christian Post really intended for anyone to read the following articles back to back, but I did and it made me lol*.

The truth is, to be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ, according to an evangelical author.

That may not sit well with a lot of people, especially in America where the image of slavery is undoubtedly ugly and regrettable. But John MacArthur suggests in his new book Slave that it's the most accurate way of truly understanding what it means to be a Christ follower.

First of all, is there a country where slavery is or was not ugly and regrettable? I'm a little disturbed by that statement. Anyway, what immediately followed that was this:

When we ignore God's rules and live any way we want to, however, we end up only hurting ourselves. Some of the Bible's most sobering words are found in the Old Testament book of Proverbs: "There is a way that seems right to a man (or woman), but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25).

You may think you're free right now, but in reality you have become a slave -- a slave to your own desires and appetites.

So, I can be a slave to your god or a slave to my desires, but there's not freedom here. Slavery is good! Slavery is bad! Free yourself! Enslave yourself! Happiness is slavery! All the black is really white, if only you believe!

I can't imagine how these people keep up with their own beliefs . . . oh, wait, that actually explains a lot.

*Right now, there's a wavy red line under "lol" so it looks like a little guy drowning. And that's what's going on inside my head 95% of the time.

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Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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