Abortion (yep, I am going there)

So I got into a “discussion” with someone online about abortion. This is an issue that seems to be on the top of everyone’s mind lately.

First, about a month ago, the Trump administration introduced their plans for a ‘gag rule.’ This plan would prevent doctors and health care providers from even discussing abortion with a patient. This is concerning for a lot of reasons, but mostly it is unethical to ask doctors to withhold information from patients. If doctors offer abortion services or even MENTION abortion options to a patient they could lose important funding that helps them provide other much needed services to the under-insured and uninsured. Services like birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI screenings among other health services. “The rule would take away the guarantee that patients receive complete information about their reproductive health care options” (article).

THEN, last week Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. He is a conservative justice but has been the swing vote on many socially liberal issues. Such as abortion rights and gay marriage. He was a conservative that understands the original values of the Republican party. Values of a small government and less government interference in people’s personal lives. He understands that you cannot say you want less government oversight, except in these few areas that the religious right has decided the government most definitely should dictate other people’s lives and freedoms. But now he has decided to retire and give Trump yet another Supreme Court pick.

There’s been a lot of talk about who the new justice will be and what they will do about Roe v Wade. Trump has already promised to appoint a justice who would overturn Roe v Wade, though more recently he has stated that he will not ask about that issue specifically during the interview process. We all know better. He won’t need to ask, because the candidates who have been vetted for him have already made their anti-women’s right’s views heard.

So with these things in mind, a friend of mine posted this meme:

Memeabort

Pretty straightforward. It’s about women’s rights and keeping women safe and informed about their options.

But of course this sparked a debate with some anti-women’s right’s people she knows. I am refusing to call them pro-life, because they like to call pro-choice advocates pro-abortion, so they no longer deserve any respect from me. Also, I think the term pro-life is hypocritical unless the individual can prove to me that they are also anti-capital punishment, anti-war, and have never defended a murderer (including police officers who claim self defense). Death is death, so unless you can demonstrate you are pro-life in every instance, get off my lawn.

I am happy to report that the first person I started discussing with eventually did see that, although he does not agree with abortions, the government shouldn’t be involved in regulating women’s health care options.

But then this ignorant fuck just had to open his big, uneducated mouth:

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So first, I can barely follow what he is saying because his grammar and spelling is so bad. I pointed out to him that this issue will always affect women 100% more than it will ever affect men.  I also said that if he believes sex is only for procreation and that’s what he wants to practice, then good for him, but that is not a belief I hold nor do I think it should be forced on others.

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Boys like him don’t like to hear that. There is a serious, underlying danger here that just comes across as ignorance. Really, it’s much, much bigger than that. This is the kind of mentality that leads to hate crimes against women and minorities. I don’t know this person. I don’t know how he really feels about women’s rights and inequality, but this post has a lot of red flags in it. He could easily use this discussion as “proof” that men are really the ones being discriminated against in our society. This is the “red pill” scenario that convinces young men to believe that they are really the victims in society and need to act out in order to get their own equality. Websites are dedicated to convincing young men of these things. They idolize those who have carried out violent acts against women. It is absolutely disgusting.

My last message to on the thread perhaps didn’t help matters. I was angry and frustrated. Also, I don’t know what to say to someone who has swallowed the red pill and thinks women really are to blame for the woes of the world. I really hope this is not the case for this boy.

 

 

 

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What Is Happening to Our Young Men?

What is happening to young men? Why do so many of them feel their only option is to mass murder innocent people?

This most current incident in Toronto has me disturbed. If you haven’t read the most recent news of the situation, here’s an article.

This attacker was apparently part of an anti-women hate group that blames women for the fact that they can’t get anyone to fuck them.

This is not new. As the article points out, this attacker praised a previous mass killer with the same motives. They were a part of a group who called themselves “incels” or “involuntary celibates”

Other than his membership to this group – which I assume was something unknown to others who were not a part of the same group – he apparently showed no signs of violence.

This incident came on the heels of another incident at a Waffle House in Tennessee. This shooter seemed to be a more disturbed individual who had run-ins with the police prior for erratic behavior. He most certainly showed signs of violence and had his guns taken from him in the past.

But though these two individuals are seemingly very different in demeanor and motive, the result is the same. Multiple innocent lives lost.

So my question is why? What is it that compels young men to act out in violence against groups of innocent people?

Have we really left them with no other options? Is this a “copycat” issue? Are we perpetuating violence by reporting on violence? Are we giving disturbed and/or angry individuals these ideas?

How do we inform the public of tragedies without glorifying or dramatizing these actions? How do we report on motives without furthering the messages of these murderers?

I guess as a woman I am taking this Toronto incident poorly. As a woman I am not obligated to fuck you. I don’t care if you have been “nice” to me. Women are not stupid and can see through your charades. If you are trying to be nice just to get in my pants you can fuck right off.

Something tells me that this Toronto attacker won’t have too much trouble getting fucked now that he is most certainly off to prison.

I am angry.

I wish I had answers. I wish I had solutions. I wish I had the power to prevent even just one of these tragedies.

Scream or Stay Silent

I am having a debate with myself. Over and over in my head. There are all these thoughts I want to scream from every corner. Injustices in the world. Hypocrisies I see everywhere. But do I really want the headache of debate this will bring…

Then I am tempted in the exact opposite direction. To go silent. To delete my Facebook, and Instagram and maybe even this blog and just ignore the ignorance that is infuriating me.

Right now I am leaning more in the #deletefacebook camp. The couple of people who I still have in my (acquaintance) friend list who I disagree vehemently with on political issues are not going to be swayed by my logic. They are beyond logic

Exhibit A

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I mean… how do you argue with that level of delusion?

Exhibit B

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Is it even worth pointing out the stupidity of memes?

I could delete these two (yes, these are two different people) from my friends list and then shout my opinions into my echo chamber of like-minded friends. What good will that do?

The recent revelations of Facebook selling user info to companies without our consent has me one step closer to the delete button.

The reason I haven’t pulled the trigger yet? I have family who I live far away from and I love seeing pictures of my niece and nephews. Also, most of my friends use Facebook to stay connected and it’s the most convenient place to make plans with others and see invites.

Have any of you struggled with the same questions? What have you decided to do?

School Walkout

I hate this. I hate this so much. I hate that our children have to stage a walkout to get the nation’s attention that they do not feel safe at school.

In America. Children do not feel safe going to school. Let that sink in.

We are full of talk. Pointing fingers of blame. And then we do absolutely nothing.

I don’t know what the solution is. Speculation is thrown around everywhere about what will reduce the number of violent gun deaths. But when it comes down to putting those theories into action and policy? We suck. We fail. We plug our ears and shake our heads until something else gradually gets our attention and we forget that we have this HUGE, debilitating issue until it happens yet again.

I could go through the list of common targets that people love to blame when these things happen (admittedly, I was about to do just that) but that would make this post unnecessarily long, because the truth is none of that matters if we don’t do anything and innocent people continue to die. 

I will address one thing that I keep seeing pop up here and there. Being “nicer” to your fellow classmates. This is victim blaming. This is telling students that they weren’t nice enough to their classmate and so it’s their fault he shot up the school. I don’t think our society has a problem with niceness. Yes, bullying is a problem. But kids have been bullied by their classmates since the beginning of time. Bullying is not uniquely an American problem, and yet mass school shootings is uniquely and American problem. Also this “solution” doesn’t address all of the mass shootings that happen outside of schools. Because there are plenty of those as well.

In fact – thinking through all of the other common targets of blame, none of them are uniquely American. Violent video games, movies, music, high divorce rates, reduction in religious belief, mental health issues, and even a rampant gun culture. None of these things by themselves are uniquely American. 

One thing that isn’t talked about as much, but does seem to be different among high income countries is access to social programs that support people below the poverty line. Here’s a graphic from this BBC article.

social programs

I don’t want to put too much emphasis on this though, because what we really need is well funded, thorough research into the issue.

Why do our citizens pick up high powered weapons and turn them on their peers?

This makes me nervous to send my little girl to school when she’s older. I hope we can come together and actually work to do something about this issue. It makes my heart hurt.

 

 

The Return To Work

I was on the bus last week with a neighbor of mine, heading to work. He said he recently met someone who works for Microsoft and found out they offer their employees 6 months of PAID maternity leave! That sounds AMAZING. maternity leave

I took the typical maternity leave route of applying for FMLA, and draining my accumulated paid leave time in order to still get a paycheck while out for the (maximum) 12 weeks of leave. Twelve weeks is just shy of three months and not nearly enough time, if you ask me.

Technically my body had (mostly) healed from giving birth and I was capable of working again. I even felt somewhat ready to face the world and be more social and get out of the house. But jumping back into an 8 hour work day? More importantly, leaving my teeny tiny 12 week old baby for 8 hours in daycare? It was ROUGH. 

Like I mentioned in a previous post, she was colicky in the beginning and had a hard time laying down to sleep. 12 week old babies are just so helpless, and with 7 other babies in the room and only two adults between them, I knew my precious little baby wouldn’t get a whole lot of attention.

Why is it that other developed nations have figured out how to let new mothers (and fathers) stay home with their new babies for a full year before returning to work? 

Furthermore, many of these nations have affordable, or even free, daycare options!

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For a nation that claims to value babies and families, we really don’t act like it.

As in all things, actions speak louder than words.

When we say we care about children, but struggle to continue to fund CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) we are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about children, but block LGBT parents from adopting children who are otherwise stuck in foster homes we are showing where our priorities are.

When we say we care about children and pregnant women, but we pull out of the Paris Agreement and de-fund the EPA we are allowing excess toxins into our air and water, babies and pregnant women being the most vulnerable to toxins, we are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about children, but no meaningful gun laws have been passed, and at least 1000 more children have died by gun violence, since the Sandy Hook shooting. We are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about women, but 1 in 3 women are physically abused by an intimate partner.  We are showing where our priorities really are.

When we say we care about women, but actively work against their best interests and block their ability to get the healthcare they need. We are showing where our priorities really are.

These are just a few examples of how we fall short of caring for our women and children in this country. So it is really no surprise that we don’t care about a child and mother in the first year of the child’s life.

Our actions speak louder than words. 

I have also been disappointed to hear older women complain that we have it so much better than they did. We do. I am so grateful for the fact that my employer couldn’t fire me for getting pregnant and taking leave. But aside from being guaranteed a job to come back to, we really don’t get much more help. Some of these women seem to feel some resentment toward the women of today for getting it (slightly) easier than they did. But I think we can do better. We can hope that it gets even better for the next generation after us, and not feel resentful when our nation shows progress. women

Seriously though, if  you Google image “women today meme” you will see a slew of sexist, violent, hateful memes that make me want to vomit. Clearly we’ve come a long way.

But I digress…

I will say that there are many, many ways that I was lucky during this time. I acknowledge that even having access to daycare and the ability to go back to work is not something every woman has the luxury of, even today. My work was also flexible with me, so I was able to do a bit of work from home during the first couple of months, so I didn’t have to leave Dolly at daycare for 8 hours straight. Also, daycare was in close proximity to my work and I was also able to visit her on my lunch break to breastfeed her.

Even with all of these luxuries, it was still HARD. I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to return to work and I am very glad now that I did. I think it’s better for both of us. I also know it would have been hard no matter how old she was. But there is a huge difference between 12 weeks and 6 months. If European countries can give a full year, why can’t we be HALF as accommodating?

We can do better. We must do better. 

Mothers out there, what was your experience like? How soon did you go back (if at all) and how did you cope?

A Day Without A Woman. 34 Weeks

Last week I participated in Day Without A Woman on International Women’s Day by attending a rally at my state capitol, wearing red, and not making any purchases that day.

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I did not strike. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, hoping that my physical absence may be felt, but my work would still get done. There are two reason I chose not to strike. One, being that I am pregnant, I will need the time off for maternity leave. My company offers FMLA leave, which allows me to be out for up to 480 work hours without risk of losing my job (roughly three months). But any pay I am to receive during that time comes from my accumulated sick and vacation time, so using it now means I don’t get to use it later. Some may say this is exactly why I should strike – to show that this policy is inadequate to meet the needs of new moms and dads. That we should have better paid leave policies for maternity/paternity. These are things that I agree with and would fight for. But my second reason for not striking is a bit more compelling…

I work with all women. My team is all women, and though we work for a larger organization that has these maternity leave policies, the work I am doing right now affects the long term careers of these other women. They were relying on me to meet a deadline with my piece of the project so they could continue with theirs. Our failure on this project would not affect the overall organization we work for very much, but it would affect the careers of these other women. It simply did not make sense to me to hold these other women back in any way. 

Striking was a good choice for many. In a different circumstance I would have participated in the strike. Not because I think that I suffer injustices at work for being a woman (like I said, working with all women eliminates a lot of the discrimination other women suffer). I feel I am adequately and fairly compensated and am encouraged in my career growth. However, it is not for me that I participated in the rally.

It is for all the other women who could not rally

  • women who do suffer injustices at work
  • women who are paid less than a man for the same work
  • women who cannot take personal leave without the risk of being fired or reprimanded
  • women who are sick of a mostly male government deciding what she can and cannot do with her body
  • women who are accused of “bringing it on themselves” when they have been assaulted or abused
  • women who are told they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough, short enough, funny enough, smart enough, nice enough or good enough to meet our impossible standards of women
  • women who are sick of being ignored

I rallied because I wish for a better future for my daughter. As women we have all felt at least some of the things I listed above. There are certainly more things that could be added to this list, these are just the ones that come immediately to mind. I know I cannot shelter my daughter from all of these cultural injustices and she will some day experience some of these. My hope is that it gets better as times wears on. I did feel an energy at the rally that was really encouraging. We need to keep the energy alive and not let it wane.

The saddest part of the Day Without A Woman protests were the attacks from other women. The last thing we need is to tear each other down for standing up for what we believe. Even if it isn’t something that you care about or believe in, we should be proud that we are even allowed to have our own opinions that can be expressed publicly! It’s the women who came before us that have allowed us this expression. How you use it is your choice, but isn’t that a beautiful thing too!

In pregnancy news I am 34 weeks today! Only 6 short weeks to go. I cannot believe we are getting this close!

Did any of you participate in any of the Day Without A Woman activities? How did it go?

Anyone with daughters have advice on raising them to be confident and secure? 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

 

 

Finding Balance

So I will be 28 weeks along tomorrow! I am officially in my third trimester – home stretch!

third-trimester

It’s becoming clearer to me by the day (by the minute!) that I need to take care of myself first and foremost. Because right now, caring for myself and my baby are one in the same.

But there are so many things happening so quickly in the world around us. It is hard not to want to simultaneously get outraged at ALL of it, and bury my head in the sand and ignore it all. I see friends on both extremes. The ones posting constant Facebook updates of what has is happening and how terrible it all is. It’s all happening so fast that there’s a new article, meme, or breaking news livestream at least every thirty minutes. It’s exhausting.

And then there’s the friends who are are asking when we can all go back to just posting cat videos and pictures of our food. Not wanting to address any of it.

I believe in  balance. I know I cannot get outraged about every issue – there are just too many of them. I am happy to show my support in many ways to many issues, but I cannot show up to every march and every rally.

So here are the things I am doing:

  • Calling or Emailing my Senators
    • it only takes five minutes to let your opinion be known
    • The staffers taking calls are usually polite and they have to pass your views onto the senators (even if it’s just tallying yays and nays on an issue)
    • I feel like I can speak up about a lot more issues if I restrict myself to doing just this one thing for most of the issues I am hearing about.
  • Re-posting information I find helpful and thorough on social media
    • I know this isn’t always helpful, I have said before that I am mostly preaching to the choir. Though I do have some friends with different views so perhaps I am reaching them in a small way
    • I discriminate which things I will share. Only things from trusted sources, nothing click-bait-y or extreme.
  • Commenting with Caution
    • If I feel someone genuinely wants to engage in a discussion, I am willing to oblige.
    • But only on topics I feel knowledgeable about! (this is key, don’t get into something unless you really know what you are talking about!)
    • If it turns petty I tune out. No reason to keep arguing with someone for the sake of arguing. That only drives a further wedge.
  • Get Educated
    • You cannot be an expert on all things, and that’s okay! If you feel strongly about an issue that is happening, learn more about that issue!
      • This goes in hand with the above, if you care about something and want to engage in conversation about it – learn all you can!
    • Focus on one or two issues that really hit home for you and try to learn as much as you can about them and how people are affected.
    • Do not feel guilty that you do not care about the same issues as other people. Do not let other people make you feel guilty for not latching onto their issues, and don’t get mad at others for having their own concerns. 
      • Change can take a really long time. You will burn out, we will all burn out, if we all try to take on every issue that comes across our Facebook feed. Let some of them go. Have faith that good, hard working people will stand up.
  • Marches and Rallies
    • Certain subjects do strike a chord with me more than others. For those issues I truly connect with, I think showing up in numbers does make a great impact. If I tried to go to them all, I would probably be burying my head in the sand already with exhaustion. Pick your battles. There’s going to be a lot, and you’re going to need to rested and prepared!

REMEMBER WE ARE ALL HUMANS. I am seeing friends post things on Facebook like: “Okay friends who supported Trump, is this really what you wanted? How can you keep supporting him after ‘X’ (chose anything he’s done in the last two weeks).” It is tempting to call people out and hold them accountable. The problem is, people who voted for Trump did so for a wide range of reasons. They may not agree with what he has been doing, but cognitive dissonance is a real thing. They may be struggling with their feelings about some of the things that are happening and if we call them out and ask them to defend Trump’s executive orders and tweets and press conferences before they’ve had a chance to REALLY think about it, you can bet that they will justify his actions. They will find some reason why what he is doing is okay, because we are all human, and we all defend the choices we make when we are pushed up against a wall.

I think the best strategy is to approach them with compassion. This is hard. But give them the space and the safety to come to their own conclusions about what is happening. Some will continue to defend everything he is doing, they will refuse to admit that anything he is doing is wrong and they will insist that liberals are overreacting. However, there will be others who say ‘this isn’t what I wanted’ and will slowly come around to understanding the potential damage of the way he is conducting business. But we cannot be tempted to force this view. We must stop ourselves from “I told you so’s!” Shaming and blaming are not how we move forward with progress.

If we get enraged by every issue. If we pick a fight with everyone with a differing view from our own. If we try to re-post every article and meme and purport to be experts on all topics. If we attend every rally and march. We will burn out. We will not be effective catalysts of change.

Everyone has different thresholds. Find your own balance.

What are some of the ways you find balance in your lives?