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In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade I am reposting a few previous posts.

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I grew up in the 1980s and came of age in the 1990’s, in the midst of third-wave of feminism. The generations of women who had come before me had fought, with such bravery and determination, enduring prison and abuse, to win me the right to vote and to have access to family planning service, including access to safe and legal abortions should I need it. I took these things for granted. I mistakenly believed that society, at least the majority thereof, had progressed to such a point on human, civil, and women’s rights (all one in the same in my opinion) that no one would ever dare to drag us back through the gates of hell  and lock us behind them once more.

To my fore-mothers and fathers, who struggled and fought and suffered so that I could have a full say in my own life, I am…

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Year of the Woman?

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Many talking-heads in the media have been, in the aftermath of last night’s election results, referring to this election year as “The Year of the Woman.” It certainly seems as such given the number of records broken by women in this election: Elizabeth Warren is the first female senator from Massachusetts; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is the first openly gay person to be elected to the US Senate; for the first time in history all of the New Hampshire’s Congressional seats are being occupied by women, not one man will represent that state in DC; and there are now more women in Congress than ever before. It is certainly a year of broken records and a series of firsts, but “The Year of the Woman?” I’m not so sure I’d go that far. Not that I am not pleased to see so many women, whom I have come to respect and admire as I have watched them rise, like Warren and Baldwin, to both win their respective races but to make history while doing it, it’s just that there is still so much to do. So, so much to do.

While there are more women in Congress than ever before, the number of women Congressional members comprises only about thirty percent of all seats in Congress; of the 535 total seats (100 in the Senate and 435 in the House), thus far -some districts are still counting- women hold 20 seats in the Senate and 141 in the House. Although this is certainly a gain, it’s far from a true representation of the nation, of which women make up nearly 51%, and it has been a long time coming. The Untied States is 225 years old; it took 133 years from the year the Constitution was ratified, in 1787, to the year women were finally recognized as citizens and given the right to vote, in 1920, and another 92 years for us to reach this record breaking year….I know that progress can at times be slow, but c’mon now! It’s been 225 years, and it’s the 21st century, yet still women are not fully represented in this nation.

In the 225 years that we have been the United States of America and in the 92 years since women finally were given the vote, only thirty-five women have served as governors and there are still twenty-four state that have never had a female governor. In that same time there have only been thirty-nine women (42 if you count the new senator-elects) to serve in the senate, with 1992 marking the year that women began to be elected in number rather than one or two here and there, and only twenty-three states have been represented in the senate by women. Also, in that time, the House has had only 229 women fill it’s seats, and at present women make up about only 17% of the House.

My point here is not to downplay the successes and milestones female politicians achieved last night; to the contrary, I am both excited for them and hopeful that this is a sign of better things to come for women in this nation. Instead, my point is to merely demonstrate that this is but one more step in a very long journey toward true sexual equality in the US. While 2012 can certainly be seen as a year of firsts in which women broke records and tore down walls, it cannot rightly be called “The Year of the Woman.” Perhaps we will have that year soon and it will mark the closing of the gender gap that divides this country nearly in half, but there is much to be done before we can have that year. When women make up at least half of Congress, when women have served as governor to every state, when our bodies are no longer fought over by male politicians as if they’re public property, when we no longer make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a white male, when a woman has held the highest office in our land, when we’ve achieved at least half of this then and only then will women have finally had our year.

Nevertheless, 2012 is our year in this sense: we came out in record numbers, both as candidates and as voters, and we won a record number of seats for women. We had our hard won rights threatened by misogynists in the GOP, like Todd Akin and Tom Smith, and we stood up together and said, “Oh hell, no!” So, while I think that calling 2012, “The Year of the Woman,” is less than accurate, I think 2012 will be remembered as the year in which women truly found our voices and our strength and started fighting back; in which we finally decided that it was time to stop taking baby steps and to start making leaps and bounds; and in which we made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that we are done playing by the rules of those who would hold us back. 2012 is just the beginning, we will have our year and it will be a wondrous sight to behold!

Romney, He’ll Not Be My President

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Well, it’s election day tomorrow and I am filled with angst and trepidation. This is a difficult thing for me to say, as it goes against everything I was raised to believe, which was to respect the President even if I did not believe in his abilities or his principles, but I loathe the man so much that the very thought of putting the two words “President” and “Romney” together makes me feel incurably ill. The idea of this “man” – this lying, conniving, flip-lopping, land polluting, job killing, 47% of America hating, ass-nugget- sitting in the oval office is a loathsome and unnerving thought. So much so that I will not utter the words “President” and “Romney” together, should it come to that, ever. I abhor the “man,” in every possible way and for a plethora of reasons, among which are, in no particular order:

1) This is a “man” who believes that single-parent homes, the majority of which are headed by women, are the biggest cause of violence in America. Never mind that the facts and figures from numerous studies show that the US is the deadliest of all post-industrial nations; there aren’t enough single-parent households in the US to account for all of that violence. And never mind the empirical evidence such as the fact that mass shooters Jared Lee Loughner and James Eagan Holmes are both from two-parent households, as were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, because clearly such facts are irrelevant when they contradict baseless assumptions.

What Romney’s comment implies, and implications are important, is that single people, especially women, are not capable of raising children to be well-rounded human beings. This is bullshit and it is insulting to single-parents everywhere who work very hard to care for their children. It is insulting to my Dad, who, for the better part of my life, raised my sister and I almost entirely on his own. It is insulting to my best-friend, who, in addition to being raised by a single-parent, is raising three wonderful children as one herself. It is insulting to my step-mother, who raised my step-sisters, both of whom turned out to be strong, intelligent, and successful women, nearly all on her own. Not one of us has ever, nor would we ever, engage in pointless violence.

Anyone who would dare to turn single-parents into scapegoats for America’s ills is a loathsome, disgusting little turd-eater and is not fit to bear the title of President of the United States of America. A true president, a real leader, would not make a political stab at hardworking Americans, who happen to have been put in a position that contradicts his personal religious paradigm. No. A real leader, a true president, would rightly insist that we, as a nation, have a serious problem that can only be solved with careful reflection, education, and a concerted effort on a national level to address gun violence and all of its probable causes.

2) This is “man” who believes that the solution to our energy problems is to destroy our natural environment by drilling for oil and natural gas on federally protected lands and mining for coal. I don’t give a flying-monkeys ass if you “believe” in climate change or not because regardless of one’s personal beliefs on the matter, it’s happening and adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is not going to solve anything. That factoid aside, even if you’re camping in the land of denial where climate change is a myth and burning fossil fuels is all lollipops and fun, you’d have to be pretty fucking obtuse to deny that the processes of extracting oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium from the earth and turning them into usable forms of energy are not only damaging to the environment, they’re dangerous for people. That someone would insist that digging corrosive and unsafe materials out of the earth is good for America, and that people would agree with him, is dipshittery at it’s finest. Are we all really this stupid? Have we all forgotten what happened on April 20, 2010?

Sure, on the surface it seems easier to keep on this path of mindless self-destruction, doing business as usual, but just beneath that shiny surface of apparent ease and comfort is a dark and dirty truth that threatens the survival of our species and nearly everything else we know. Why risk the future of our species for the sake of simple, cheap, and comfortable solutions? How selfish, greedy, and uninformed must one be to not understand that we cannot breathe dirty air, drink chemically laden water, or grow food in parched soil? Are so many of my fellow American’s really so blinded by fear that they’ll have to sacrifice their toys and gadgets to preserve the very organism, our planet and home, that gives us life and sustains us, that they’ll vote for a “man” who wants to help big business make billions more, on top of the billions they have now, to further destroy the very thing we need to live? Please, for the love of humanity and the planet we call home, please tell me that most of us are not this hopelessly and mindbogglingly obtuse?!

A person who refuses to move forward, who refuses to make the tough choices, who refuses to help this nation change for the better, is not a person who possess the qualities needed for leadership. A real leader, a true president has the capacity to think critically and to extrapolate upon current trends and data in order to make decisions for the good of not only current generations but those to come as well. A true president, a real leader is a person who understands that what we do now will profoundly and inextricably affect the present and the future, both distant and near. The choices we make now become the legacy we leave to our children, our children’s children, and so on and so forth. I, for one, do not want to have to look my own grandchildren in they eye and explain to them that money and things were more important to us than their chance to not only survive but to thrive on the very planet that we took for granted. A real leader, a true president would understand this and would help us better ourselves.

3) This is a “man” who doesn’t care about the LGBT community. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney demonstrated disdain and an utter lack of compassion for same-sex couples. Yes, Mr. Romney, gay people have families. I know. I know. It’s a difficult thought for you to wrap your simple, bigoted little mind around…you have no love for gay people, thus it seems unfathomable to you that anyone else could love them. Well, as shocking as it is, they have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and significant others who love them and want the same thing for them that the families of hetero persons want…for them to be happy. Why can’t two people, whether it be two men or two women, who love each other have that love legally protected in the same way as a hetero couple? Does one stop being American because one happens to be gay? No! So why the fuck are we even entertaining the idea that, as Gov. Christie said, voters in each state should have a right to decide if same-sex couples have basic civil rights?

Anyone who would deny civil and human rights to a segment of the population on the mere grounds that said segment is different from the larger population is not fit to lead the country. This truly has become the new civil rights movement  and how we as a nation choose to address it will speak volumes about how we value the lives of living, breathing people. A true president, a real leader is not afraid to take a stand against oppression, to look  bigotry in the eye and say, “America don’t play that way.” It’s what Lincoln did, it’s what  LBJ did. A true president, a real leader concerns his/herself with the needs and rights of all the people, not just the majority but the minority as well. A real leader, a true president is a person who understands this and will not, regardless of personal belief, allow the rights of one group to override or supersede the rights of another. That’s the grand design of the American Republic, that “though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

4) This is “man” who sees women as having little more purpose than bearing children and keeping house. Everyone had great fun with Romney’s “binder of women,” gaffe from the second presidential debate, but in my assessment it was more than a mere gaffe, it was a very telling Freudian slip. In the mind of conservative, religious “men” like Romney, a woman’s place is first and foremost in the home; bearing and rearing the children, cooking the meals, and cleaning the house. Mitt Romney doesn’t have a binder of women, he and the GOP have a binder for us. Romney, is against the Blunt Amendment, which guarantees the right to affordable birth control to all women. He and the GOP oppose access to safe and legal abortions (see previous posts before you dare say anything to me about this), and Romney has said that the repeal of Roe vs. Wade would be a good day for America.

Really? The day on which women are denied the right to their own bodies, on which we will be forced to allow something to use our bodies against our will, on which we will be dragged back to the days of back alley clinics and wire hangers, will be a good day for America? Fuck you! Fuck you hard in an unpleasant place, you misogynistic ass! You claim to be pro-life, yet you want to put the lives of living, breathing people in jeopardy by making abortion illegal, denying women access to affordable birth control, and preventing sex-education in public schools, thus creating a situation ripe for unplanned and unwanted pregnancy and thereby putting girls and women into desperate situations in which they turn to dangerous means. If you and your party were truly pro-life, you’d support access to birth-control and comprehensive sex-education because the best means for limiting abortion is to lessen the need for them by decreasing the number of unwanted/unplanned pregnancies. What you are, instead, is anti-choice, seeing as how what you really want to do is deny women all personal autonomy and strip us of all legal protections for our rights to own our bodies.

And if his stance on reproductive health isn’t enough to bind we women to our “rightful” places behind our husbands and in our homes, then his position (which seems forever in flux, like his stance on so many things) on  the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act should provide the extra rope necessary to keep us where we belong, forever beneath men. If we’re trapped at home raising babies, we are less likely to go to college and pursue careers, and without the promise of fair pay and equal opportunities in the work place, we will be forced to either deny our own dreams and ambitions, be dragged back to a time in which we were forced to marry out of necessity, or remain trapped in the never ending cycle of poverty in which millions of hard-working women are presently trapped. Without the right to control our own reproductive system, without the ability to acquire an education, and without the right to be paid fairly for the work we do we women will be bound to the domestic sphere, returned to the status of male property, from which our mothers and grand-mothers and generations upon generations of women fought so hard to break free.

Anyone who would have the audacity to treat the bodies and livelihoods of women with such blatant disregard and disrespect is not fit to lead a nation whose demographics is nearly 51% female. A true president, a real leader would protect the bodies and lives of women, who are already living and breathing and experiencing life, and he/she would do so, not simply by making abortion safe and legal as it should be, but by also ensuring that women have access to affordable birth control and health care and by making certain that children, particularly teens, are receiving a well-round, comprehensive education about sex. A real leader, a true president would not allow the bodies of women to become public property and would instead ensure that it is legally protected as the private property that it is. A true president, a real leader would not deny the autonomy of women, he/she would respect it and protect it.

I could go on and on and on about all of the reasons why I loathe Romney and why the combination of his name and the title of President leaves a taste in my mouth that is so repugnant I want to vomit, but I think you all get the gist. This “man” is not fit to be president; hell, he’s barely fit to be called a man. I will always hold the utmost respect for the office of the presidency, but if it so happens to be occupied by Romney, he’ll not be my President. I will not call him by that title, he is unbecoming of it.

“We Are Not Frightened Anymore”

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Ok, so I just discovered this song, by A Fine Frenzy…Wow. Just. Wow… I love it. I’ve listened to it four times already and am listening to it for my fifth time as I write this. I love music but I rarely hear a song like this, that so perfectly expresses everything I feel in and all around me. The energy, anger, compassion, determination, and hope of the present struggle for human rights (civil, gay, children’s, workers’, and women’s all together) all radiating around me and through me. Not since K’Naan’s “Waving Flag” has song captured my feelings so well.

Seriously, “Stood Up” should be the anthem for our battle. Because to hell with the bigotry, the sexism, the greed! We are not frightened anymore. We will not sit back down and be silent. We will stand and we will fight until every person on this earth can live in dignity and peace, free from exploitation and abuse at the hands of the greedy and the cruel. We will fight ’til we die if need be because we now see them for what they are; a bunch of scared little people clinging to the last vestiges of heterosexual, male, Christian hegemony. Well, we are no longer going to live under that yoke. Our kindness is stronger than their hatred. So they can call us abominations, faggots, and dikes; they can call us murderous whores, sluts, and cunts;  they can call us lazy, welfare sponges, and leeches; they can call us niggers, wetbacks, and towelheads; they can beat us and jail us and threaten us with damnation if we refuse to live by their standards; it matters not because their words are as hollow as their hearts and as shallow as their souls, and they cannot break us.

We are resolute and we are growing in both determination and numbers. We will spread our compassion for humanity like violence until we’ve laid waste to bigotry, sexism, and greed. The battle cry has sounded and “We will fight it ’til we die….’Cause we are not frightened anymore.”

I Need Feminism Because….

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Perhaps you have all seen the pictures floating around, “I need feminism because (fill in blank),” in which men and women alike hold up hand-written signs explaining why feminism is important to them. Or maybe you’ve seen the Facebook page, “Who Needs Feminism?” If not, check it out. This is great campaign designed to inspire open dialog about the need for and importance of feminism. I just discovered it myself a few days ago and I love it. Mostly because it pleases me to see how many people, both male and female,  understand that there is a real and urgent need for feminism; but also because it got me thinking about why I need it.

Honestly, I never really considered myself a feminist until I moved out on my own and had to start making my own way in the world. I was raised, for the most part, by my Dad. In my home, household duties were not relegated to only the women, my Dad did much of it (mostly because my mother was inebriated most of the time, but I digress). He did laundry, and dishes, and ran the vacuum cleaner. He helped with homework, tucked in we girls at night, and played nursemaid when we were ill. He played dolls with us and taught us to throw a football and a baseball. Most importantly, he never raised us to believe that there was anything we could not do. No matter what aspiration for a future career floated into my childish mind, and I had some really off-the-wall ones believe me, my Dad never once said to me, “Girls can’t do that.”

I didn’t grow up believing that being a girl had limits. I could throw a ball as well as most of the boys I knew, and I could out run most of them well into high school (it was my freakishly long legs). I was always at the top of my class; reading, writing, history, science, I excelled or did very well in nearly everything. On the rare occasions someone told me I couldn’t do something, my Dad was there to remind me that the only people who cannot do things are those who never try.

It wasn’t until I began to grow up that I noticed that the world was backward and twisted, and that there were certain things I couldn’t do; not because I lacked the capabilities or the intelligence to do them, but because society had drawn little lines in the sand around things that it did not want women to do. My first lesson in this came in high-school when my then boyfriend thought it would be fun to tell everyone he’d had sex with me. I was barely fourteen, I hadn’t even had my first real kiss yet and now, suddenly, I had supposedly had sex. Luckily I had a strong circle of friends and a Dad who was not above threatening the little prick, so the rumor never had a chance to spread, thus sparing me from the extreme slut-shaming with which so many other girls are forced to contend. That is not to say that I didn’t have to deny his story or defend myself against comments his own friends made, but my reputation was not irrevocably ruined by his lies. I was lucky, but this was my first lesson in the reality of the double-standard with which girls are forced to live; in which a guy is lauded as a stud and a girl is condemned as a slut where sex, real or imagined, is involved.

As I grew into adulthood and became aware of the world around me, as I went to college and learned more about women’s history, I learned newer lessons; lessons that were in many ways harder to bear than my earlier lesson. I became aware of the millions of  women all over the world who are still traded into marriage, most often as young girls, against their will. I learned that adultery is still punishable by maiming or death in many areas of the world and that women are far more likely to be the victims of such cruelty than men. I learned that girls and women all over the world are less likely to be educated, more likely to live in poverty, and more likely to suffer from disease for lack of health care. I learned that women and girls are more likely to be physically, sexually, and emotionally abused, raped, or murdered. I learned that for millions of women all over the world chattelry is the reality in which they live; being a woman in this world is as good being born a goat or cow.

I need feminism because women are not equal, not by a long shot and not even here in my own country. I need feminism because the world I thought I knew as a girl, the world that my Dad tried to build for me where everything and anything was possible, is not real. At the same time, though, I need feminism because I know that that world, the world of my girlhood, the world my Dad so deeply wanted for me, is possible.

When I was in sixth grade I participated in and won 7th place in a state-wide essay contest entitled, “An Influential Woman in My Life.” In the response letter, Governor Anne Richards told me that young ladies like me have the power to change the world. I still believe that. I will never stop believing that. And so, I need feminism…

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It is now the 11th Anniversary…and this is all still relevant. The only thing that has changed is my sons answer, he now of course realizes that a chocolate river for everyone isn’t feasible…Ok, so I guess some things do change.

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It is now the 11th Anniversary…but this is all still relevant, so I am re-blogging it. The only thing that has changed is my sons answer, he now  realizes that a chocolate river for everyone isn’t feasible, but he still wants a world that is by far and large better than this one.

Tomorrow marks the 10th Anniversary of one of the saddest days in our nation’s history, the day on which nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered in what is still, in the opinions of many of people, a senseless act of violence (although, it did have a root cause, but that is a discussion for another time). As I reflect upon that  day and recall what I was doing on the morning we were attacked, I cannot help but think about what we have become since: a nation plagued by fear, driven by revenge…

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What I Am…

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I am not a whore or a slut or a tramp if I choose to have sex, be it with one man or many over the course of my life. What I am is a woman who enjoys having sex because sex is natural and good when entered into willingly between mutually consenting people of a reasonable age.

I am not a tease or bitch if I turn down a man’s advances toward me. What I am is woman who is free to choose with whom I will spend my time and to whom I will give my attention.

I am not a skank if I wear a short skirt or if I show some skin; for that matter, nor am I a prude if do not. What I am is a woman who has a right to wear what I want, to enjoy the fun of clothing, without stuffy kill-joys baselessly judging my character or sex life based solely upon the style of clothing I choose to wear.

I am not femi-nazi if I espouse women’s rights, demand respect, or expect equal treatment under the law. What I am is woman endowed by nature with the same rights as any man, by virtue of the fact that I, too, am human.

I am not the destruction of Western values if I choose a career over marriage and motherhood, or if I choose to balance both; for that matter, nor do I know my rightful place if I choose marriage and motherhood over a career. What I am is woman who wants nothing more than the right to make my own way in the world.

I am not an interest group, I am not public property, I do not belong to the men in my life. What I am is a woman with hopes, fears, goals, and desires and I have a right to dream as big as my imagination is able and chase those dreams to the ends of the earth if I am so inclined, and to live and to love as freely as my heart and my soul can bear.

If you do not like my opinions, fine; I am not interested in forcing you to change your own to agree with mine. If you do not like my lifestyle, fine; I am not concerned with trying to force you to live as I do. If you do not like me, fine; I am not inclined to twist myself and deny myself to make you value me. What I am is a person who respects your right to be you, all I demand is that you extend to me the same courtesy by respecting my right to be me.

I am not, nor will I ever be, whatever is expected of me by an arbitrary and antiquated system designed to limit me. I am an autonomous individual who has the right to make my own choices. I  have the right to make my own mistakes and learn from them, and to make my own achievements and be proud of them. I have the right to be me and to not be made to feel shame for being what I am as opposed to what strangers want me to be. What I am is a human being; a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, and at times flawed human being and I deserve nothing less than to be treated fully and equally as such.