I Call Bullsh*t.

March 18, 2013 § 29 Comments

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Apologies in advance.  This post will contain foul language, grammatical errors and abuse of parenthetical statements, and a really poor drawing of a gavel.  I am sorrier for the grammatical errors and abuse of parentheses.

(If you have trouble with my using the word bullshit and other profanity, I have the okay from Norman Lear.  Good enough for me.)

I wanted to do a post entitled “I Call Bullshit” last week, and here’s what I wanted to include:

1.  Upworthy and Nicole Sherzinger.  Here’s the link to a video and commentary on Upworthy.  Normally I really enjoy Upworthy posts, but this one made me roll my eyes.  In it, NS is being interviewed on Conan O’Brien wearing a dress out of which 3/4 of her 8th Wonder Of The World breasts spill.  Upworthy gives her “props” for “matching wits” with Conan, by reminding him to focus on her face.  Gimme a break.  She not only didn’t match wits with him, he gave her EXACTLY what she deserved.  I’m not saying she was asking to be abused, but she sure as hell was asking for attention to be paid to her breasts-o-magnificence by EXPOSING most of them.  Even *I* couldn’t take my eyes of those orbs. Please.

2.  ESPN.  Here’s the link to a Deadspin article detailing the firing of an ESPN executive for sexting a stripper.  A STRIPPER.  A single man.  Sexting a STRIPPER.  The stripper and her boyfriend tried to extort Scott Sassa, and he refused to pay up.  So the stripper and her boyfriend forwarded the texts to an ESPN colleague, and ESPN FIRES Sassa. ESPN is owned by Hearst publishing company, and justified the firing thusly:

“Hearst ‘prides itself on being a very ethical, clean-cut company.'”

HAHAHAHAHAH.  Journalism as a rule is so ethical and clean-cut.  Especially at Hearst, the inventor of yellow journalism way back in the 20th century.  Especially SPORTS journalism, wherein the very nature of the culture of professional sports involves sexualizing and objectifying women.  If sports journalism was so concerned with ethics and cleanliness, how about banning Go Daddy and Cialis ads instead of giving a shit if one of their single (or married, for that matter) partners was sexting privately with some woman (and apparently her boyfriend) who takes off her clothes (and apparently is into extortion) for a living?  How is this ANY of ESPN’s business?  How about capping salaries at slightly less than obscene rates and charging a little less for beer?

Since I’m a big believer in lists having at least three items on them, I didn’t publish the above.  Until now.  Why?  Because the universe dropped the biggest opportunity to call bullshit in my lap over the weekend.  Steubenville.  Now I have three.  Cue the thunder and lightning and bats and maniacal laughter from the Count on Sesame Street.

3.  Awwwwwww.  Those poor boys.  Can Mommy come wipe your face with a tissue as you cry remorsefully about having TAKEN PICTURES of the girl you raped and dragged around to various parties for people to witness said rape????  You pieces of SHIT?  How dare anyone, ANYONE , let alone CNN express the tiniest iota of sympathy for these “boys?”  How dare they???  Have they even SEEN this video where drunk onlookers are laughing at how dead and raped she was?  What do DESPICABLE, lower than slime, pieces of fucking shit like these kids deserve but derision, dismissal and jail?  Now, I’m sorry, but being drunk doesn’t turn you into a different person – I firmly believe that in most cases, it turns you into more of the person you already are.  And these boys are sociopaths.

When this video was leaked, a friend on Facebook urged us to show it to our daughters.  I didn’t – she’s already got a healthy terror in her about losing control of her senses and actions via alcohol, but I sure as hell showed it to my son.  My son who is in his first year of high school, and entering the world of high school sports.  I watched him come to the computer happy, and walk away sickened.  I didn’t make him watch all 12 minutes.  It went without saying (but I said it anyway) engaging in any type of sexual activity with a girl this drunk was rape, and while I’m not worried he’d perpetrate such an act, I want him to be aware he might witness and/or hear of something like this going on.  And if he does, for god’s sake, get the hell out of there and get help for the GIRL.  Make use of the technology in your hands to HELP HER.  Text the address to 911.  Take a snapshot and forward it to the police.  Get the hell OUT OF THERE and get her help. Or, even STAY THERE and help her.  Believe me, kids are as susceptible to peer pressure to do good as to do evil.  And if anyone, ANYONE gives him a hard time about doing the fucking right thing, they will suffer my wrath – so help me fucking god, I will have his back.

What do all three of these instances of bullshit have in common?  Well, dear readers, they all have the effect of making women harder to take seriously.  They reinforce the sterotype of women as sexual objects above all else.  Nicole with her peek-a-boobs, the stripper with her extortion, ESPN and Hearst with their hypocrisy.   But the CNN coverage of Steubenville is the worst, because it perpetuates the culture of victim blaming in cases of rape and sexual abuse.  It distorts beyond recognition the notion that bullies are victims, too.  Oh, how SAD to see these promising young men have their lives ruined.  What about the ACTUAL fucking victim???  How about being ENCOURAGED that the two most blatantly responsible for the VICTIM’S potentially lifelong nightmare are being held responsible???  Where is our sense of justice?

I once read (and I cannot remember who wrote it – apologies for that, too) that the advancement of a civilization is directly proportional to its treatment of women.  Well, it would appear we have a lot of goddamned work to do.

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Fun With Words Friday!

October 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

My 6-year-old nephew knows who all of them are! 🙂

My friend, Estelle, of Musings on Motherhood and Midlife, is starting a weekly feature on her blog called “Fun With Words Friday.”  She gives us a topic (this week, it’s women and politics, in honor of the debates) and challenges us to write a short poem or limerick on that topic.  You know me.  I can’t say no to a challenge!  So, here are my entries – enjoy!

A Limerick:

There once was a rich man from Bain
Who felt he had no need to ‘splain
Why his payroll wasn’t swimmin’
With binders of women –
He should end up just like McCain.

A Poem:

Politics has proven ways of turning men to boys:
Shows of might and playground fights and who’s got better toys.
I sometimes wish that all their moms could put them in time-out,
That logic ruled and they were schooled in how to speak, not shout.

A moderator in debates can serve this purpose solely.
This week we saw one in the form of smarty Candy Crowely.
She fact-checked Mitt, told both to sit, and showed her muscle flexes.
She made me proud to say out loud, “My chromosomes are X-es!

Have a lovely weekend, y’all!!!  😀

Vaginas to the Left, Vaginas to the Right.

June 15, 2012 § 13 Comments

My friend, Mitch, knows how to make a boy cry. So, apparently, does Lisa Brown.

Here’s one of the things I’m good at.  Seeing the other side.  I do it in many of my pieces about women’s rights…especially when it comes to advocating legal and safe abortions.  I’m going to try it again, here.  This is me, playing devil’s advocate, tongue-in-cheek style.

Let’s just asssseeewwwwwwwme that the censure of Michigan State Lawmaker, Lisa Brown, was NOT a result of her having used the dreaded (correct) term, “Vagina”  “Hoo-hah.”  Let’s asssseeewwwwwwwme that the male Republican leadership was not simply offended by the use of the word, “Vagina,”  Hoo-hah when they said she was barred from speaking because she violated “decorum” rules of the Michigan State House.  Let’s asssseeewwwwwwwme that the reason Rep. Brown’s challenge, “…Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina hoo-hah, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'” “…was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company…” wasn’t the fact that she used the (correct) term, “Vagina” Hoo-hah.

No, nooooooo.  Let’s give the Republican leadership of the Michigan State House a little more credit, shall we???  I mean, what if what Rep. Mike Callton (R – Nashville) found so offensive was the implication that the men in the House were interested in Rep. Brown’s “Vagina”  Hoo-hah?  That’s a real possibility, here, right?  I mean, how on God’s Green Earth could any self-respecting, male, conservative, Republican be actually interested in her “Vagina” Hoo-hah?  She’s JEWISH, after all!  Scandalous!!!

Oh, pardon?  You don’t think they banned her from speaking because she publicly rebuffed (HA!  Get it?  Re-BUFFED?) her male collegues’ lascivious advances?Hmmmm.  Why else would they be offended?

Oooo!  Oooo!  I know!!!  They were offended because when she said, “…’no’ means ‘no,'” she was implying that they kept asking her for sex, and she kept saying “No,” and that they couldn’t take “No” for an answer.  That almost implies they might force themselves upon poor helpless Rep. Brown.  And they would NEVER do that!!!  THAT’s what Rep. Callton doesn’t “…even want to say…in front of women!”  They are so ashamed of their gender’s history in this area, they could never mention it in mixed company without being reduced to a withering puddle of remorse!  Right?  No?  No…that’s probably not it…

Wait!  I’ve got it!  The offensive thing is that she doesn’t realize that those trying to legislate abortion based on religion are really just trying to save precious LIVES! What about the babies/fetuses???  How can Rep. Brown lose sight of that?  How offensive to decorum that she’s taken the eye off the prize of birthing babies in favor of her own health considerations and religious beliefs!  How dare she imply that by outlawing ANY abortions after 20 weeks, the State House would be violating her religous beliefs, and her right to consider and made decisions with her own doctor?  And putting the health of  women at risk?  And used the word VAGINA Hoo-hah in the process???

Well.  Maybe I should re-think this whole “devil’s advocate” role I thought I had mastered.  Doesn’t seem to be working for those of you with synapses that actually fire and connect.

Full disclosure, folks.  I, too, cringe a little when I hear the word, “Vagina.” Especially if it is spoken by one of my parents.  I don’t know why, except perhaps that it is something I consider so PRIVATE that it almost feels like a violation when anyone other than my doctors (in medical context) say it.  “Vagina” (and also, “Panties” – WTF?) are words that make me want to put my fingers in my ears and say “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-” until I predict it’s over.   Yes, I own my own silliness and immaturity in this area – I’m human, and everyone has their own personal triggers that make them cringe.  My sister has the same trigger, which maybe implies my parents used the word a little too liberally when potty training us.  Who knows? Who cares?

In my constant quest for self-improvement, though, I will launch an effort to combat this little demon of mine, and to inure those poor men, who’s sensibilities were so callously stomped upon by Rep. Brown by mentioning a part of her anatomy correctly.  Join me!  One and all!  For my part, I will now go around singing proudly, and at the top of my lungs, “VA-GIIIIIIIIIIIII-NAAAAAAAAA” to the tune of “Volare” whenever the mood strikes me (as brilliantly suggested by a fb friend.)   Who’s in?

In conclusion, I would like to THANK the Michigan GOP.  Yes, you heard me right. THANK them.  Whereas I had accepted my little quirky trigger with relative equanimity, I now realize that discomfort with the word, “Vagina” can lead to something much more dangerous – namely, the silencing of women in our government.

An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers

March 1, 2012 § 27 Comments

I could tell you I was raped.  (I wasn’t.) I could tell you I am a victim of incest.  (I’m not.)  I could tell you my life would be in danger if I got pregnant.  (Partly true, but for this discussion, let’s say not.)  I could tell you I’m mentally challenged or ill.  (I don’t think so, but let’s please not open THAT up to debate…) These are some of the scenarios even the most ardent advocates in the Pro-Life movement might allow themselves and those they love flexibility where safe and legal abortion is concerned.  Might.

Let’s talk about a different scenario – one that is completely true.  I am a 42-year-old woman.  I have been married to my college sweetheart since I was 21 years old, and I have had sex with ONLY him for well over 21 years.  I use birth control.  We have three children: a 15-year-old daughter, a 13-year-old son, and an 8-year-old son.  They are (thank god and knock wood) magnificent, kind, intelligent, healthy kids.  I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, comfortable financially, we have health insurance, many friends, a good support system, etc., etc., etc.

What if MY birth control fails?  I don’t have any of the extreme situations mentioned in the first paragraph.  By all accounts, a woman my age and with my resources should be able to manage just fine with a fourth child.  The child would likely be healthy, well-cared for, raised with boundless love, etc., etc., etc.

But what if I didn’t WANT to have another child?

I repeat, what if I did not WANT to?

Even though I could?  Even though the pregnancy occurred through an act of love between two married, consenting adults?  Even though chances are the child would be fine – we would ALL be fine?

What if I didn’t WANT to?  Should I be forbidden access to a safe and legal abortion?

Should the potential of the embryo inside me to grow into a human being and be born and bring light to the world and cure cancer and colonize the moon outweigh my wishes?

My wishes to cherish and spend as much time as possible with the three children I already have before I blink and they are out of the house with families of their own?

My wishes to keep the undefinable, debilitating exhaustion of new parenthood relegated to a distant memory?

My wishes to not have a car seat and stroller at this stage of my life?

My wishes to nourish myself, now that I finally have some time and something creative and productive to do with it?

My wishes to have two free hands and a clear mind as I prepare my daughter for college, my first son for high school and my youngest son for his first season of swim team?

My wishes that my days of volunteering in pre-school be over?

My wishes that one day soon I will be watching what I want on T.V.?

Can you look me in the eyes and tell me my wishes for all these things, and how hard I’ve worked for them, are less important than the potential clump of cells in my uterus?

I understand why you consider a growing blastula, embryo, fetus an absolute miracle, a cherished life form, something to be protected.  I feel the same way.  I understand your religious and moral reasons for feeling passionately about this life form, such as it is.  I respect your zeal, your advocacy, your feelings.

I simply feel that I should have the right to put myself, the life (and lives) I’ve already created for myself and my ALREADY ALIVE family ahead of the potential life of a non-viable fetus. I am entitled to be respected in my ability to weigh and decide matters of such an intense personal nature for myself and my own family, understanding that anything I choose will come with unintended, possibly devastating consequences.

I understand why you might see an abortion clinic and those who utilize it as tragic and unjust.  I know the image you have of women who get abortions range from sympathetic (sad and in need of help) to judgemental (irresponsible sluts who use it as a form of birth control.)

I would argue, though, that people who fall into the image in that last category are few and far between.  Furthermore, people who use abortion as a cheap and easy fix for their irresponsible behavior (if such people exist) are presenting symptoms of much deeper societal ills than the fact that safe and legal abortions are available to them.  Just like people who use guns in an irresponsible, devastating way are reflective of a much deeper ill than the fact that guns are legal.

Finally, I would ask you this.  Can YOU understand MY needs?  Can YOU respect MY wishes?  Can you honestly say you are in a better position than I am to determine what is best for me and my entire family and our futures?  Can you assert in good conscience that this most sacred and personal individual choice of mine (and YOURS) should be limited to the following options:

1.  having another baby,
2.  carrying the pregnancy to term and giving the baby up for adoption, or
3.  a back-alley abortion?

Can you understand why, upon hearing about proposed (thankfully defeated) bill for mandatory, unwanted transvaginal ultrasounds, upon hearing about Congress proposing to allow ANY employer to opt out of providing healthcare plans that include access to birth control and abortion, that so many women AND men are looking around us with wild, crazed eyes and asking, “WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS COUNTRY?”

Women in da HOUSE! Not…

October 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

Part Two of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.”  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.  

From “Miss Representation” – Women are 51% of the U.S. population, and 17% of Congress.

From my 15-year-old daughter and her 17-year-old friend – “That’s because they don’t WANT to be in Congress.”

Is this okay?  Yes, and no.

Yes, because we understand that it’s a reflection of the fact that women have many more career choices than they used to, lo, those many decades ago.  Women aren’t so few in Congress because they’re not ALLOWED or being told they CAN’T, right?  There are so many more career paths open to women now than 50 or even 30 years ago, and that is indeed a marvelous thing.

No, because well, they don’t want to be in Congress.  Why not?  Maybe it’s because they continue to be dismissed and belittled when it comes to politics.   (You may recognize the author of the second letter…)

Calling out The Washington Post

“Oh, come on, Aliza,” you say – “That was close to twenty years ago!  Surely, things have improved since even then!”  I’m not so sure.  In the 2010 mid-term elections, women made no gains in Congress.  It was the first election since 1979 in which they didn’t increase their presence in Washington.

According to the 15YO who lives in my house and her friend, “It’s a sucky job.”  So is being President.  I mean, THEY wouldn’t wanna do it…crappy pay, no privacy, intense scrutiny and pressure.  So, why, I asked, do so many men want these jobs?

“It’s genetic, Mom.”  E and her friend believe very strongly that men are, by nature, drawn to positions of power in business and politics, and women achieve and exert their power in other arenas and ways.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  They have a choice, and they’re choosing not to go into politics.

Fair enough, in many cases.  “Fine,” I tell them.  “Let’s assume men are naturally drawn to having power over large numbers of people and large geographic areas.  If they comprise 83% of Congress – if this is just the way it is and is going to be – how do we ensure women are treated fairly in the lawmaking process?”

Silence.  Hmm.  They hadn’t thought that far, I’m guessing.

Then I told them about this.  A new Federal Reserve rule stipulates that I can no longer open a credit card account by myself.  Nope.  I’m just a lil’ ole homemaker, and since I don’t bring any actual money into the household, I’m not deemed credit-worthy.  Forget the fact that the hubs and I have filed jointly for 20 years.  Forget the fact that we’ve NEVER had separate bank accounts since we’ve been married.  Forget the fact that I am the one who pays bills, plans long-term and makes day-to-day financial decisions.  No, kiddies, not good enough.  Combined household income holds no weight anymore.  If I don’t earn my own paycheck, no credit card.

Well, THAT put some fire in their eyes.  Yes, indeed – E and her friend were livid about that.  “What?  That’s so ridiculous!”  I agreed, but said, “If I had a job, though, we’d have a lot more money…”  “Yeah, but then you would have had to PAY someone to take care of us and do all the stuff you do during the day!”  Yes, children, that is so.  (And, thank you for noticing that I do “stuff” during the day.)  A great friend of mine, when talking about this new rule,  put it beautifully and sardonically:  “I always suspected everything I did all day had no value.  Now I have proof.”

The angry girls at my kitchen table rightly pointed out that this new rule puts being a stay-at-home-parent even further out of reach from those (predominantly women) who might want to do it.  Sure, you can stay home if you can manage it – but you have no economic standing as far as the banks are concerned.

The Federal Reserve Board is appointed by the President and approved by Congress.

See Jane run…for Congress.

Beauty and the Beast

October 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

Part One of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.”  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.  

Once upon a time, women were valued for their intellectual and creative contributions to society.  They were sought after candidates for positions of power, and whether they were pretty or shapely had absolutely no bearing on their success, or the warmth and respect with which they were received by others.  The End.

HAHAhahahahaha!!!!!!  Just kidding!  Snort.

The “Miss Representation” trailer promises the movie will explore the many ways women are marginalized in America.  I will try to break them down in my own way.  This post, I’m sure you’ve guessed, will focus on physical beauty.  For the purposes of this essay, let’s please assume we all understand that while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, comes from the inside, comes in many forms and sizes, there is a certain standard to which women are held in terms of what is considered attractive, and that we all know what that looks like.  That was a horrible abuse of commas, but can y’all just come with me on this?  Thank’ee kindly.

So, down to business.  The trailer correctly posits that girls from the time they are very young get the message that their worth is dependent upon how they look.  I am living proof of this.  While I had parents who made sure I heard and saw that I was beautiful, they also focused on how many other ways in which they thought I was amazing.  I believed them about the other stuff, but I hate to say they weren’t that successful in calming my physical insecurity.  No need to go into the particulars of what I found objectionable about my shape.  No real good reason for these objections, other than everyone has their crosses to bear, the grass is always greener, whatever.  Regardless, despite my parents’ best efforts, I never liked my body.

Where does this Beast come from?  The gnawing, debilitating message sent to girls AND boys that a girl’s worth is so heavily dependent upon how she looks?  I would like to blame my insecurities on the mean kids who were happy to point out my physical shortcomings.  On my college boyfriend’s roommate who said I looked like Elle McPherson, but hastened to strongly emphasize “only from the neck up.”  On the skinny-yet-curvy aesthetic ideal foisted upon me by the media from even my youngest memory.

It was rare, however, that the mean kids from my youth had awesome bodies themselves, my boyfriend’s roommate was not exactly George Clooney, and I never played with Barbies.  So what power did these things have over me?  Why did they make me feel diminished?  Was it because I agreed with them?  Who knows.

I do know though, that women have been judged on their looks for millenia.  This is not new, people.  The way in which this manifests itself changes over time, evolves differently from one geography/era/population to another.  It improves in some ways and becomes more insidious in others.

Is there anything we can do besides accept this with exhausted resignation?  Yea, verily.  We can choose our company wisely – especially our spouses.  Company that is courageous enough to defiantly challenge stereotypes, and company that nurtures our souls – much like the magnificent teenagers in this movie trailer.  We can see magazines as fairy tales, and know that even the size 2 on the red carpet is wearing Spanx.  We can call “Toddlers and Tiaras” what it is – child abuse.  If you are lucky enough to embody the feminine alleged “ideal,”  you can use that power for good and refuse to let yourself be exploited.

Here’s an example of something else you can do.  Someone I know, who’s name is (Rhymes with) “Asniza” is fortunate enough to belong to a pool in the summertime.  She plays a little mindgame with herself when she’s there.  She can’t help it, so please forgive her, and you know you do the same thing or something similar anyhow.

So, in this game, “Asniza” looks around at the other ladies at the pool.  Many of them are extremely attractive, by the standards I set forth in Paragraph 3 above.  “Asniza” wonders if she would trade bodies with any of these ladies.  Here’s the thing, though.  “Asniza”’s mind doesn’t pick and choose only parts of other ladies’ bodies she likes.   “Asniza”’s mind, for some inexplicable reason, does not – can not go there.  It is not allowed.  No.  It’s the whole package or nothing.  She asks herself, “Would I trade, from head to toe, my body for hers?”

Weirdly, her answer is almost always “no.”  Why, you ask?  Because deep down below the insecurity she knows no one is perfect.  She knows in the grand scheme of things she has a lot to be grateful for and happy about – and this includes (aspects of) her looks.  And she knows having the shape she covets will not make her a better mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend.  She knows it won’t make her more talented or  more worth being around.  Hmmmm.  Maybe her parents did a better job than she thought…

Finally, I’d like to leave you with the story of another parent who is also doing a great job of helping her daughter deal with these issues and determine what really matters.  You GO, Ciaran – you GO.

Multiple Choice

October 12, 2011 § 8 Comments

I am a fan of brevity, an economy of words, viewpoints concisely made.  In keeping with this philosophy, I may have to write a series of blog posts to give each facet of this complex issue its due.  But first – got 8 minutes?  Watch this.

Whether you’re male or female, how are you feeling right now?  Circle all that apply.

  1. Angry
  2. Dismissive
  3. Apologetic
  4. Defensive
  5. Hopeful
  6. Empowered
  7. All of the above
  8. None of the above

Me, too.  More to follow.  Much more.

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