kauricat (kauricat) wrote,

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I never wanted to grow up to be a radical feminist

You know what I'm getting tired of? Being reminded in myriad ways that I am a woman. It's not something that I used to think about all the time. I mean, aside from the monthly gift, my life was not a lot different from a man's. I went to school, I got a job, I bought a car, I went where I wanted, I wore what I wanted, I lived by myself, I voted, I made my own decisions. Being female did not really matter all that much in the greater scheme of things. At least, I did not feel like it mattered.

But now I'm constantly reminded of my XX chromosomes, and how I am therefore something less. I am (apparently) someone who does not know what is best for myself. I am a potential killer of children, I am a threat to masculinity, and I am unfit for pretty much anything that does not involve being pregnant and caring for children.

Like I said, I grew up not feeling this way. The first time I encountered a true misogynist was when I was college-aged, when the fast food place I worked at was sold to another owner. The new owner invariably shortened every female employee's name to something ending in "-ie." He only gave credence to male employees' opinions and ideas. He was just...dismissive of females, with the exception of his daughter, who walked on water. Which is a little like saying you're not a racist if you have a black friend.

I was shocked to find out that someone like that still existed, and you should keep in mind that I came from a very small town in the western part of Kansas, somewhere you would expect a LOT of this type of man would live. And yes, we had a lot of men who liked to open doors for the womenfolk, lots of men who thought that women should not do hard physical labor, and lots of men who made poor jokes involving female anatomy. But I never felt like they thought less of me personally for being female.

The second memorable misogynist was a man who worked at Radioshack. I went there with my then-boyfriend looking for a small piece that would let us hook our television up to several different components.

My boyfriend did not go into the store with me right away; he was eating a candy bar and he finished it in the car. I thought I would be able to run in and find what we needed and get back out before he even left the car.

I went inside and was prepared to wander the aisles until I found what we needed; I knew what it looked like but did not know what it was called. A salesman offered to assist me and I accepted, explaining what I was looking for. He responded by telling me that the piece I wanted was not really what I needed, and proceeded to try to sell me a cable service (something that I could not afford at that time, so this was a complete waste and I found it very frustrating). I told him I was not interested in the cable service, that I just wanted the part. He responded with "Well, antennas don't work in Manhattan." "Yes, they do. I use mine all the time. It's fine. I just need this adapter so I can hook up something else."

He ignored what I was saying and continued to try to sell me on the cable idea.

At that point, my boyfriend had finished his candy bar and walked in to find me. As soon as he walked up, the man stopped his sales pitch and took us straight to the piece we were looking for. I was astounded. And angry.

And I am angry again today. Because we have politicians who seem to be making it their mission to control women. Mainly through controlling our uteruses, but also in other arenas.

Santorum is saying "I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country." and "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it."

Not that he bothered to provide a source for that statistic.

But the important thing is that what he said sounds a lot like "I don't think we should encourage everyone to get higher education." And that makes no sense, because what America needs are more ideas, more innovators, AND we need the people who can take those ideas and make them a reality. We need engineers. Which means we need the higher maths and sciences.

So the notion that higher education is bad is one that does not ultimately make sense. Unless you look at it through another lens, which is that education is only bad for some people. In particular, women. If women go to college and get educated, they might lose their faith. Without their faith, and WITH a newly-empowering education, those women might decide not to marry and have children and stay home with those children. They might decide to NEVER have children. They may even decide it's not their job to make a home for a man. Which is, of course, unacceptable.

I don't like feeling the way I feel (nearly all the time) now. I don't like feeling that I constantly have to be alert for the erosion of women's rights. I cannot believe that the issues that are being given serious consideration today are the control of my uterus and the associated rights I'd come to take for granted that may not actually be so "unalienable." WHAT ABOUT THE ECONOMY, STUPID?

It's in this spirit that I provide the following link. It's a story called ILU-486. I'm not going to say it changed my life, because it did not. It's too exaggerated for me to take seriously, and I believe that was deliberate; I think that the author was going for that effect. The story did resonate with me, though, because I have begun to think that there really are people who would prefer a world closer to the one depicted in the story than the one I enjoy right now.

And they are gaining support. This map shows that the Personhood Amendment has already been voted on in Colorado and Mississippi, and that Montana, Ohio, Oregon, California, and Nevada have votes in 2012. The map is incomplete, because I know that Oklahoma is considering a Personhood act (probably not included in the map because it's not an amendment?). And I am pretty sure Virginia just had a vote on Personhood as well.

So far, I think that ever state that has voted on Personhood has rejected it, but just the fact that they're getting as far as a vote is troubling to me.

And apparently these Personhood people are powerful enough to merit attention from GOP Presidential Candidates.

"...Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul attended (Paul by satellite) a Personhood USA candidates forum in South Carolina. All signed a pledge to pursue “personhood” at the federal level. Mitt Romney did not attend the event, but when asked on Fox News before the Mississippi vote last year whether he would have supported such a measure as Massachusetts governor, he replied, “Absolutely.”"

You may think that Personhood has very little to do with contraception, but I'll have to disagree with you. If we consider a zygote a person (an egg, in the very millisecond of fertilization), then you won't be able to use ANY form of birth control that has even the slightest chance of keeping that zygote from developing into a walking talking human being. This means IUDs are out. The Pill is out. The Morning After Pill is out. Just...gone. I think this just leaves abstinence, the diaphram, and condoms.

But even those last two are not okay with some politicians. Last year Santorum told the Christian blog Caffeinated Thoughts that as president he would warn the nation about "the dangers of contraception" and the permissive culture it encourages. "Many of Christian faith have said, 'Well, that's OK. Contraception is OK,'" he said. "It's not OK. It's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. ... If it's not for purposes of procreation, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women."

I think it's important to understand this, so I'm going to put this in all caps: THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WHO THINK THAT ANY KIND OF CONTRACEPTION SHOULD BE ERADICATED.

Even with the mounting evidence, it's hard for me to accept that it's some people's number one priority to save the unborn children control women's reproductive choices. But it's apparently true. So regardless of how upsetting or inconvenient it is for me personally, I'm going to keep up my vigilance. I'm going to speak up for the rights of women. I'm going to make this my most important issue when deciding whom to vote for. It's not okay for people (men or women) who believe, deep down, that women should be second-class citizens to be in office. It's not okay for legislators to attempt to eradicate organizations that make women's health care available and affordable. It's not okay for legislators to require that a woman (who may have been assaulted previously) be invaded vaginally with an ultrasound baton prior to terminating a pregnancy. It's not okay to insist that a non-sentient, non-sapient parasite be given priority over the physical and mental health of a thinking being.

Again, for anyone who wants to make decisions about who I am and what I believe, I WANT to be a mother. I want to conceive a child with my husband, and I want to give birth to that child. I hope to have more than one, in fact. It's going to be difficult and perhaps dangerous for me, and I am choosing it anyway. What kind of difficulty and danger? I've got PCOS, which means it's going to be harder for me to conceive in the first place. My sister had preeclampsia which may have left her with permanent organ damage; she had to be hospitalized for over a month when she chose to prolong pregnancy for as long as possible in order to give my nephew the best chance at life. I personally have suffered a miscarriage, which, while physically not as horrible as it might have been, was emotionally devastating. When a nurse at my OB's office said "We cannot be sure that you're miscarrying, but we could schedule you for a D&C," I was livid. She was offering me an abortion for a baby that we did not even know for sure at that time was being miscarried. I changed doctors because of her.

So when I sound off about the necessity of contraception, I'm not coming from a place that it is probably tempting for Santorum supporters to pigeon-hole me into. You cannot brand me with labels like "child-free." I'm not the dreaded "single woman" who just wants to have sex without consequences; I'm married to a wonderful and brilliant man and we are completely faithful to each other. Heck, I'm not even completely edumacated, which should please Santorum; I've only got a two-year degree. I rejected an abortion when it was offered to me in place of having the miscarriage take its natural course. Oh, and I'm not an atheist.*

And yet despite being raised as a Christian, being married for over seven years, and desiring and working toward conceiving and raising children of my own (all things I think Santorum and his followers would like), I insist that the government must not make contraception more difficult (or impossible) to obtain. I insist that abortion not be outlawed. And I insist that a woman's body is hers to protect and defend.

*I should not have to say this, but I am anyway; there is NOTHING WRONG with deciding not to have children. There is NOTHING WRONG with being a single woman who enjoys sex. There is NOTHING WRONG with being educated. There is NOTHING WRONG with accepting a D&C when you're miscarrying. There is NOTHING WRONG with being an atheist. I was writing that paragraph for the benefit of any Santorums that run across this blather.
Tags: dw

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  • Something Fun

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    Whoa. Can this be true, and if so, did Thomas Seymour and/or Robert Dudley have any clue??…