Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm Back! Sort of.

But I've got a new blog - Feminist Mama Galore. Sounds a bit like it could be my exotic dancer name, doesn't it? I'm still over at RH Reality Check in my official capacity as Managing Editor and blogger but if you're honestly interested in my "extra musings" ("Extra musings?" you ask. "What could she possibly mean?" I say to you now, "I don't quite know yet."), check me out here. Thanks to all of the commenters - for the opportunity to spar, commiserate and hang out together here for awhile!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dolly Lama?

The Dalai Lama of Tibet, visiting Milan this week, told reporters that the next Dalai Lama could very well be a woman.

"If a woman reveals herself as more useful the lama could very well be reincarnated in this form," the 14th Dalai Lama told reporters in Milan, where he arrived for a private visit on Wednesday.

The 14th Dalai Lama has been living in exile since 1959 because of China's terrorist rule over Tibet. Looks like their power bleeds over into matters of the spirit as well:

China, which has ruled Tibet since 1951 and has violently crushed protests there, recently announced that so-called living Buddhas in Tibet needed permission from the government, officially atheist, to be reincarnated.


According to China's communist party, all matters related to religion must be ok'd by them - I have visions of a young child whose body holds the reincarnated soul of the 15th Dalai Lama waiting on an endless line in a windowless, white room much like the Department of Motor Vehicles holding his or her "papers" that need to get signed by some Chinese bureaucrat who doesn't even want to be there:

Bureacrat: Name?
Young child with non-validated soul of Buddha: Uh, I think I'm the 15th Dalai Lama
Bureaucrat: What?
Young child with non-validated soul of Buddha: Some monks visited my family and told us that I was the reincarnation of Buddha and that I must now take up life as the next Dalai Lama.
Bureacrat: Listen, kid. You're nothing until we say you're something AND especially not until you've filled out the proper paperwork, had it stamped and notarized down on the 2nd floor and then brought it back up her for processing.
Young child with non-validated soul of Buddha: But I don't need those papers. I am Tibetan and I have been deemed the next Dalai Lama.
Bureaucrat: You're bupkus until you've got the signed, stamped and processed paperwork from the Chinese communist party that tells you different. No move aside I've got other folks standing on line.
Young child with non-validated soul of Buddha: Thank you, sir.

... So, although successive reincarnations of the Dalai Lama are generally "revealed" to a committee of monks after the current Dalai Lama has died, the Chinese government will continue its oppressive rule over Tibetans infusing even their religious practice.

Friday, March 09, 2007


This is a blog post from my friend Alex about vaginas, The Big Lebowski and my son. It's more than worth a read.

Shin, Armpit, Little Toe, Vagina, Forehead...

Let's get one thing fucking straight: My girly body parts are not dirty, shameful or inappropriate for children. I'm not talking about pictures of vaginas (which aren't necessarily any of the above), any sort of sexual context or making anyone discuss vaginas against their will. I am talking about the WORD vagina, which names a part of the human body.

I am not surprised by this story at all. Sadly, I'm not even disappointed because I would absolutely expect nothing less. Three high school students in NY are possibly facing suspension for saying the word "vagina" in the context of a reading of "The Vagina Monologues." Their principal is a man. Big surprise. His name is Dick. I am not kidding.

The three students are on the Today Show this morning with Eve Ensler. Meredith handled herself with the usual airheaded idiocy. "But children were going to be present." I love that the president of the school board (also on the show) said that he has no problem with the word vagina and has heard it more in the last few days than ever before.

The point here is not if they get suspended or not, although, it would be an injustice. The point here is that there was even a question that the word in the context of a empowering phrase in a monologue that includes the word vagina may be offensive to hear. Ridiculous.

I think this point is well explained in the words, of Maude Lebowski. Let's consult the text:

My art has been commended as being
strongly vaginal. Which bothers
some men. The word itself makes
some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

Oh yeah?

Yes, they don't like hearing it and
find it difficult to say. Whereas
without batting an eye a man will
refer to his "dick" or his "rod" or
his "Johnson".

As an aside, my godson Elijah, who was about five at the time and who says his r's with a little difficulty, overheard me quoting the above passage. He responded matter-of-factly: "I don't have any twouble saying vagina, but I do have a little twouble with my r's."

Amen, Elijah. You're the product of feminist parents. Should all children be so lucky. Obviously Principal Dick's parents weren't.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We Hate Bratz

"We hate Bratz dolls. Right, Mommy?"

My four-year old daughter makes me proud in the toy aisle at Target. We're looking for a gift for one of her girlfriends who is turning five soon. My daughter's mimicry of my intense hatred towards a slew of popular young girls' dolls like Barbie and Bratz may be rote but it's firmly implanted. For a toy company like Bratz or Mattel, makers of all things Barbie, there is no getting around my maternal barricade; at least for as long as my daughter believes that mama knows best. This, however, is not the case for millions of young girls in this country. Girls as young as three-years old are now the direct targets of marketing campaigns hawking things like toys and clothing with obvious overtones of sex and sexuality. Add advertising and media content that over-emphasize the importance of physical appearance and sexual appeal for women and according to the American Psychological Association's (APA) latest report, The Sexualization of Girls, you've got a "broad and increasing problem" that is "harmful to girls."

Continue reading on Reproductive Health Reality Check!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Talk for Planned Parenthood

This is great and straight from LifeNews (antis) but I had no idea! Sometimes ya get yer news from the strangest places...

Planned Parenthood Launches Nationwide Pro-Abortion Cell Phone

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 21, 2007

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The nation's largest abortion
has started a new wireless communications system partnering with
long-time pro-abortion long-distance carrier. Planned
Parenthood's new
cell phone service will allow pro-abortion activists to not only
calls but get action alerts from the organization.
Planned Parenthood Wireless is a new affinity program that
allows its
supporters to sign up for a mobile phone service and see 10% of
monthly bill go back to the abortion business.
The pro-abortion group will also use customers' monthly bills to
include action alerts and information and will provide 30 free
of calls every month to encourage its members to talk to friends
abortion issues.
"Planned Parenthood members care passionately about women's
reproductive health and rights," Cecile Richards, PPFA president
said in
a statement LifeNews.com received. "Now they have a smart,
simple way
to support our work and express that passion with every phone
call they
make, through a wireless service provider that cares."
The service is handled exclusively by Working Assets, a company
exists to sell phone service to left-wing political activists
who want
to see their favorite groups supported. It has provided
phone services for Planned Parenthood for years.
Like many other affinity phone service companies, Working Assets
contracts with a larger phone company (in this case Sprint) to
telephone access to its customers.
In fact, the two companies partnered to generate phone calls to
Dakota residents urging them to defeat a statewide abortion ban
on the
ballot last November.
Customers who sign up will also get pro-abortion text messages
Planned Parenthood. New customers keep their current cell phone
and can get a free phone for signing up.
Not to be outdone, the pro-life side of the abortion debate also
companies that provide telephone service.
The Missouri-based Pro Life Communications offers long-distance,
telephone, nationwide cellular, Internet, and will soon be adding
satellite television to its lineup. The company says it donates
all of
its profits to pro-life organizations, which is currently about
15% of
the monthly bill customers pay.
Joseph Dalton, the head of the company, says it only contracts
networks and providers that do not support Planned Parenthood or
pro-abortion groups.
Another company, Amerivision Communications, has been working
pro-life groups for many years to provide them with affinity
long-distance services for their members. Also known as LifeLine
Communications or Affinity 4, the company offers Internet
services as
well as wireless communications, credit cards, and DirecTV
The company gives 10% of the monthly usage bill back to the
organization of the customer's choice and has contributed more
than $75
million to Christian and pro-life groups.
Related web sites:
Pro-Life Communications - http://www.prolifecomm.com Affinity 4

Printed from: _http://www.lifenews.com/nat2943.html_

Lake of Fire

I am warily looking forward to seeing Tony Kaye's new film Lake of Fire. It's a documentary about the abortion debate. It's 2 1/2 hours long...my god.

But I'm looking forward to it because, from what I've read, it takes a look at the endless controversy surrounding abortion without bias and with an eye towards unearthing the extremism on both sides. That is, the film tries to show how deeply entrenched both sides are with feet firmly planted in the absolute rightness of their belief systems.

That sounds juicy to me. I think a lot about the gray. The gray that lives between the vociferous and passionate pro-choice advocates and the driving, vocal anti-choice activists. We're all hell bent on making sure everyone knows how completely RIGHT we all are. We're stuck in the black or white. But the rest of the country lives in the gray.

I've lived in the gray. I lived in the gray when I became pregnant with my second child - my daughter, while working at Aradia Women's Health Center. How could I feel such absolute joy and love for a collection of cells just 5 weeks old while advocating so strongly for the woman in the exam room next door to my office undergoing an abortion at 12 weeks pregnant?

The gray followed me for awhile. We did exercises at Aradia - the staff would engage in collective exercises, writing about our feelings about abortion. One day, a couple of days before our monthly staff meeting, we were asked to write about "something about abortion that surprised us". I wrote about the gray. I wrote about how surprised I was at my ambivalence about working at AWHC, about abortion, when pregnant with my daughter. I wrote about the sadness I felt that I could feel such love & happiness for a 5 week old embryo while women around me were saying good-bye to the embryos growing inside them.

I wrote about the fear. I had fear that maybe I wasn't "pro-choice." That maybe deep down I just couldn't advocate for something that wasn't black & white anymore. How could I be a passionate advocate for gray?

But somewhere between the writing of the piece and my growing belly, I relaxed. I realized that the gray had always been there. That it's there for many, many women. I realized that the sadness I felt wasn't to be crammed down, pushed away forever. The sadness was to be experienced and felt. The sadness was okay. The love I felt for my daughter growing inside gave me tremendous joy because I had made a choice - the right choice for me.

The sadness was one of those beautiful contradictions that life is made up of. Life is all about the anger, the joy, the beautiful, the ugly, the grief, the happiness, the fear, the calm. I don't live in the gray. But I can understand the gray and where it comes from now. I do feel absolute in the rightness of my belief that all women MUST have the freedom to control their reproductive destiny. My experiences, however, have taught me compassion for and understanding of those who live in the gray. My fears conquered make me stronger. My sadness overcome gives me courage. That's black and white for me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Merck Puts A Stop To HPV Vaccine Mandate

Merck has decided to stop their push in various state legislatures to mandate Gardasil, their HPV vaccine, for all school-aged girls. Gardasil is the vaccine that has the potential to protect against cervical cancer by innoculating against certain strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.

Even before Gardasil became available, Merck - the New Jersey based makers of the vaccine, started campaigning to raise awareness. Texas recently became the first state to require the vaccine for school aged girls. There are currently twenty other state legislatures debating the same requirements.

But, according to a statement made by Rick Haupt, director of medical for Merck's vaccine division, there isn't enough state funding to pay for the expensive three-dose vaccine (each vaccine costs approximately $120, making it a $360 vaccine altogether!). And the American Academy of Pediatrics says there isn't enough "public acceptance" either. Also, there is talk that more research needs to be done before a large scale push to mandate a vaccine should happen.

I think Gardasil has tremendous implications if given to as many young girls as possible - in this country but even more significantly in developing countries where examinations like PAP smears and access to gynecological health care is rare. As a parent of a young girl, I want to know what the side effects are, I want to make sure that the benefits of giving the vaccine outweigh potential deleterious effects. But I think this vaccine has obviously been saddled with the weight of controversy by the nature of what it protects against.

But this has always boggled my mind. Hepatitis B is an STD and children routinely get innoculated against Hep B. Why no outrage?! Oh, because, this is for girls only. And we want our girls pure. We don't want to taint our girls sexual purity by protecting them against something that they should have no problem avoiding as long as they avoid sex for any and all reasons.

Off on a tangent I go. The thing is, I think we should be able to find funding for this. At Aradia Women's Health Center, I became almost obsessed with the HPV vaccine as soon as I heard it would soon be available. I did a lot of the prep work at the clinic to prepare for AWHC being able to provide the vaccine to our clients. I worked on it to the exclusion of almost everything else & AWHC was one of the first - if not the first - health provider in Seattle to be able to offer the vaccine to our clients.

But, of course, as with all health care in this country, the vaccine was available only to the more privileged. Some insurance companies decided to cover it. But for the great majority of our clients who used subsidy in some form or another to cover their health care, the vaccine was too expensive and therefore completely unavailable to them.

I hope the proper data is collected so that the major medical organizations in this country and the organizations working on sexual and reproductive health internationally are able to distribute the vaccine widely, ensuring that all girls have at least one more tool to protect themselves against an STD as well as cervical cancer.

For more on this, see Tyler's post on RH Reality Check!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How "Ashley's Treatment" Is Like Abortion Rights

Her parents lovingly named her their "pillow angel" because she is "so sweet and stays right where we place her—usually on a pillow." But the simple and ethereal term belies the controversy that has surrounded Ashley, the "pillow angel", and her parents for the last six weeks.

In January of this year, a story broke that unleashed a media torrent and a worldwide outwardly centered on medical ethics. Unpeel the layers, however, and you find a story that shares a great deal in common with the quest for reproductive justice and what it means to be able to sincerely and lovingly make a choice that may seem, to outsiders, the wrong choice—and therefore the unacceptable choice—but an individual's loving choice all the same. At the center of the story, Ashley, a now nine-year-old girl who was diagnosed at 3 months old with "static encephalopathy of unknown etiology"—an unchanging brain abnormality that sentences Ashley to live the mental and developmental life of a three month-old infant while her body continues to age normally. Ashley cannot move or talk but she is expected to live a long life. To read the story of Ashley's early life on her parent's blog is both heartbreaking and beautiful.

Continue reading on Reproductive Health Reality Check!

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