27 February 2009

I'm only a woman, I couldn't possibly...

This story is about how women still feel mistreated by their mechanics.

The comments make me sick. Like I said in my last post, the comments at cbc are genuinely ill-making at the best of times. This was not the best of times.

There are people saying men get ripped off too (and? that means that women can't feel mistreated?), people saying women have it no worse than men (and? that means women can't feel mistreated?), people saying women have it better than men because men can't join Curves (!), etc.

Listen, it's simple. Women aren't stupid. We know when we're getting ripped off, and we're getting ripped off regularly. We also get talked down to, talked over, and talked around. The foreman at Canadian Tire quoted me a higher price than he quoted my husband. He called me "dear" and "honey". And he interrupted me several times. It happens. We're not imagining it. We're not saying, "Oh, look what victims we are". Someone else commissioned the study, and we told 'em how we feel, and suddenly, we're being victims, at least according to another one of those commenters.

And you know, it's not just the automotive industry. I get shitty service at Future Shop - the sales people talk to him, unless it's for appliances. Notable exception, Gizmo's Computers on Goldstream, in Langford. Awesome service there. Never once have they talked down to me.

Let me relate the time I had to get the water heater fixed. What a putz, the guy who came to fix it. Apparently, as a woman, I am completely incompetent. "Next time, tell your husband to flip the breaker, take the panel off and press the reset button, it might buy you a day or two". I said, "I can do that myself". He just looked at me pityingly and said something like, "Okay, well let your husband know". *sigh* And this after I showed him the breaker box and told him that the first thing I did was check to see that it hadn't blown. And he had a hairy asscrack too. I always expect more of younger guys, and this one was only about 30 or so.

It's all over the place. I swear, one day, I'm opening a computer tech place (like Gizmo's), and calling it ChickTech. :)

26 February 2009

Drive-by posting

What is with the cbc.ca comments and the total lack of compassion for humanity on them? I know that for my own health, I should avoid the comments, but sometimes, I'm just a masochist. It's an all over the internet phenomenon, and it's a little disturbing. People forget that there are real people with real feelings on the other end, I guess. I dunno.

Today, there was a story about a couple from Quebec who got lost in an out of bounds area while skiing, and the woman died of exposure. In the comments, "I'm sorry this guy's wife died, but these people brought it on themselves". Bwuh? Yeah, so they weren't particularly prepared for disaster, having only a couple of granola bars with them, but damn, I mean, they put out SOS signs. Had those been, oh, paid attention to, they'd be okay. Shaken, cold, and hungry, but alive. And as stupid as it is, IMO, to go out of bounds, it still doesn't mean they brought it on themselves. And FURTHER, even if it did, that is a shitty thing to say on a public forum where the family could be reading.

A rule for the wise, and not so wise: You do not have to say everything you think. Especially if what you think is a really shitty thing to say.

corollory: You do not have to believe everything you think. Much of what you think is wrong.

24 February 2009

Oh, fuck you, media. Fuck you hard.

I was first put on to bias in the media by a sociology professor in my first year of university. He showed how word choice really made a difference in how people viewed the story. We were given an assignment to take a mainstream media article and tear it apart, word by word, for bias. I chose Mcleans. It was an easy target. So's this piece of anti-feminist tripe.

Let's start with the headline: Schoolgirl air cadet killed herself after being 'raped' by instructor.

Scare quotes? Really? Since the guy denies any sexual contact with her at all, it's not in question whether or not sex was consensual. So the quote is supposed to mean allegedly, so that they don't get sued, right? Then why not make the headline, "Schoolgirl air cadet killed herself after alleged rape by instructor"? It takes less room in the headline.

Then the lede: A schoolgirl who killed herself after having sex with her 39-year-old flying instructor saw the encounter as rape, a court heard.
She "saw the encounter as rape"? Excuse the fuck out of me, but she was 13. Any sexual encounter she had with a 39 year old man was rape. Consent isn't an issue at 13.

Next, the caption to the picture: Suicide: Cherrell Evans, 13, committed suicide after an alleged sexual affair with 39-year-old Nicholls.

An alleged sexual affair? WTF? *headdesk* How many times do I have to say this? A 13 year old girl. Cannot. Have a sexual affair. With a 39 YEAR OLD MAN!.

Scroll on down past some of the other victim's remarks to "And yesterday his alleged victim said that when things did not go his way, Nicholls would become a ' horrible' person."

Alleged victim. *sigh* Unnecessary. Not the alleged bit. I know they can't call her his victim without a conviction, but how about his accuser? Nothing in there calling what she says into question, but nothing saying what she says is true either. You know, neutral. Like a news story is supposed to be!

Okay, let's move on to this: "Asked about her relationship with Nicholls, the teenager said: 'I didn't have sex with Paul, he had sex with me. " *applause for her!* Nicely put. And in quotes, so she likely said it. But two paragraphs down... "The girl said she had slept with Nicholls ten times between June and August 2007 before he moved on to Cherrell." Uh... she didn't sleep with him, and given what she said above, I doubt that's how she said it. I'm far more willing to bet she said, "He had sex with me 10 times" or something to that extent. The article quotes her on everything else, but paraphrases her on this? And uses a harmless term like sleeps with to refer to her rapes?

No where is the word pedophile used.

Fucking sickening. Post-feminist world, indeed. *snort*

h/t Jill at Feministe

22 February 2009

More tax and student loan stupidity

Ya know, I don't mind paying taxes. They go to all sorts of good things, like medical care and roads and buses. But when the rules are fucking stupid? I bitch.

Student loans are the bane of my existence. Damn near everything about them is unfair.

- To qualify, your partner's or parents' income is taken into account. This is ridiculous if neither of them will pay for you.
- When paying them back, if you can't afford to pay them back, your partner is on the hook for them. However, your partner cannot claim the tax credit for the interest paid. Even if s/he is the one paying all of your loan payments. This is doubly stupid because in order to qualify for interest relief or debt reduction, your partner's income is considered to be yours.
- Loan payments are charged higher amounts of interest than the average mortgage. Why are banks allowed to charge interest on these at all? They're guaranteed by the government, so there's no risk at all to the bank! It's infuriating that multi-billion $ corporations are allowed to make millions off the backs of struggling students.
- For some reason, declaring bankruptcy doesn't clear student loans. Why are these loans different from every other debt?
- If a married couple with kids both have student loans, the mother gets the money to pay for the kids. This means a higher debtload for women, who are statistically more likely to be poor and underpaid.

This is so infuriating. My husband has paid off thousands of dollars of interest on my loans, but cannot claim the tax credit. Although we went to school for the same amount of time and were married for all but one year of it, I have a much much larger debt load than he does, because *I* was the one who had to claim the dependent (I'm the Mom!).

This is sexism at its finest. I have a larger debtload than he does, because I'm the mother. But I have a lower paying job than he does, because I'm the woman. He is expected to pay my loans off, because "we're equal partners" (*snort* We weren't when they determined the loan payments). But only I can claim my interest payments. And I can't claim them because I don't even make more money than my basic personal amount. This is what I get for being a SAHM. I thought that's what the conservatards wanted!

ER stupidity

Oh man... Our ER is so underfunded it is stupid. Ridiculously stupid.

On Thursday night, my almost 3 year old son fell off his chair (while reaching for something on the floor) and hit his head on the caster of the computer chair. Big open gouge. Clearly needing stitches. So Mr.FCS and I took him to the ER (it was after the clinics closed). Bleh.

When we got there, there was no one in the waiting room up front. Good sign, I thought. Not so much. Apparently they changed things since the last time I was there, and there's another waiting room near the curtains area. So after we checked in, we were given the chart and told to follow the dots back to the other waiting room. What a hole. Holy shit. It was a 12'x12' room with 14 chairs crammed into it. I would have taken pictures if it wouldn't have been a breech of everyone else's privacy. It was an area clearly converted from more curtained areas. i.e. there were medical things on the wall (outlets, jacks, etc) and the ceiling still had the curtain rods. The chairs were seriously uncomfortable, and there was no TV. There weren't even enough magazines to go around. There were signs on the wall saying patients had first dibs on the chairs! The floors were absolutely filthy.

Oh, and speaking of filthy... The germs. OMG the germs. They had the trauma patients sitting with the people with the flu, norwalk virus, etc. So there's my son with a huge open wound, sitting next to a kid who's coughing up a lung every two minutes. That's safe. And then, there's the puking kid. This poor kid barfed up bile all over the place. His Mom went to get someone to clean it up. Said someone handed her a towel and wash cloth and then left. No one came to clean it. No soap was offered. No antiseptic. No lysol. Nothing. GROSS. And they wonder why hospitals are the worst place for getting sick! And it's not like we weren't there long enough to know.

And time. Yes, this was fun. We arrived at 11:20pm. We left at 2:20am. For 5 minutes of stitching. Which we had to hold him down for. No nurse to help.

Now, all of this would have been sorta tolerable had the doctor done a decent job. But no. He didn't tighten one of the stitches, and I had to take my son to the walk in clinic to get it fixed because 36 hours later it was still bleeding. The doctor there glued it shut, and changed the dressing.

My suggestions for a better ER experience:
1) Two waiting rooms. One for sickness, one for trauma.
2) Better chairs. OMG. If you're going to make someone sit for hours on end, give them decent chairs. This would not be a huge investement.
3) Entertainment for the kids. A TV with cartoons would be a good start. There were 5 kids in that waiting room, and absolutely no toys. There were 3 kids' books.
4) A room for drunks. With security.
5) Someone to get the quick fixes done quickly. Say a nurse practitioner, or a doctor on call for quick fixes. Like the stitches for my kid, the kid next to us who just needed an x-ray, the kid on the other side of us who had an ear infection. I mean, just look at it, and send 'em for what they need. How hard is that?

19 February 2009


I'm having a hard time writing these days. As I've mentioned, I'm pregnant. Hugely so. The baby will be born next Tuesday (March 3), so I'll definitely be on hiatus after that. Though I fully intend to blog about the hospital experience, as I fully expect it to be utterly shittastic - I'm such an optimist.

So just a few notes on being pregnant in Canada.

1. Privacy. Is there some reason why once a woman is pregnant she seems to lose her right to privacy? Or at least her expectation of it? I mean, I know that's what the abortion debate is about to a large extent, but what about the nosy questions, the lack of personal space, etc. I swear to all the various pagan gods that this drives me INSANE. "How much weight have you gained so far?" is about the rudest thing I've heard this time. Other than of course, "You're sure it's not octuplets? Heh heh heh." Yeah. Very clever. I'm huge. Thank you for pointing that out.

2. I am pregnant, not disabled. I can walk up and down stairs. I can lift my toddler. I can cook for my family, and I sure as hell can play my flute at church. One woman moved a couch herself instead of asking me to help. She's 83. I'm 34. And I was only about 5 months along at the time. I mean, I know times have changed, but I'm actually quite sure I do less hard work than the old women who are giving me shit for walking up the stairs, did when they were pregnant. After all, Mr.FCS is a liberated husband who does housework. And he's a civil servant. He doesn't work long hours. Goodness, you'd think I was a fragile little flower. I'm a fair sized woman (not huge, not tiny). I'm not going to break.

3. This isn't just pregnancy related, but also mothering related. So help me God, you do not have the right to question my parenting choices. If I want to nurse my toddler and my newborn at the same time, I am damned well going to do it. Yes, I know you weaned yours at exactly 1 year. I don't care. The WHO says "at least two years". Mine isn't quite three, and he only nurses about 3 or 4 times per week. So lay off.

That's it for now. I'm sure there'll be more.

18 February 2009

You call this progress?

I know I'm late to this one, but it's had me fuming so much, I couldn't be coherent. I fear that is still the case.

"With bill C-10, the government is finally acting on improving pay equity, but rather than recognize it as a human right for federal employees, it is turning the issue over to the bargaining table so that any concerns about equal pay for work of equal value will have to be negotiated upfront. The proposed legislation will also revoke employees' rights to complain to the Canadian Human Rights Commission when pay equity is not honoured, and would penalize unions that try to advocate on their behalf."

Well colour me livid. I'm all sorts of glad I don't work for the feds right now. I'd be fired faster than you can say "harper is an asshole".

Tell me, how can legislation revoke a right? It's a right! They put it into law that people can be fucked over on pay equity, and can't even complain to the CHRC about it?

Iggy, you're a bastard for letting this through. A diseased donkey sucking ratbastard. You sold us out for power. What else could it be?

Seriously, tell me one upside to this that doesn't involve putting women in their place. Because I don't see it.

Mr.FCS says, "Look long term." Of course, this is a man who doesn't see any pay equity issues in the government and doubts any and all stats saying we get paid less. He also thinks that once the kids are 6 years old I can just go back to a high paying job like 10 years out of the workforce means nothing. It's not sexism on his part. It's absolute naiveté.

16 February 2009


It's been in the news lately. Selma Hayek was cross-nursing in Africa. That is, she nursed someone else's baby. And the reactions have ranged from "EW!" to "Good for her!" I'm on the latter side, no surprise.

Breastmilk is best for babies. Period. That baby was sick, and not getting the nutrients she needed. Hayek did the natural thing and gave her some good nutrition. Hell, I'd have done the same in a heartbeat. Mr.FCS says I'd make one hell of a wet nurse if we had them here in Canada. (I am a health food junkie, and I make enough milk to feed entire continents of children. It's insane. It should be considered a superpower!)

Saskboy, in a post about the 13 year old father and 15 year old mother of a new baby, notes that the baby is being fed a bottle of formula, and couldn't they save a bit of cash by breastfeeding?

Hell yes, they could! And that's exactly why people *don't* breastfeed. Money. As in corporations making making money off them, convincing them they can't or shouldn't breastfeed. Setting them up to fail. It utterly infuriates me. I've been boycotting Nestlé for as long as I've known about their bullshit (which is nicely laid out by commenter gumbogirl in that Saskboy post). Also, check out INFACT's information on Nestle (those bastards!)

It absolutely enrages me that companies are allowed to give out free samples of formula at hospitals. They know that people are going to be a lot more tempted to try that formula at 3 in the morning when they're exhausted and the baby won't latch, and Daddy's more awake because he didn't just go through 30 hours of labour hell. And that's where it starts. Oh, one bottle won't hurt... Yeah. It will.

First of all, it's shit food. It's crap put together to resemble food. It is McFood. Yeah, you can eat it, and it'll fill you up, but it sure as hell isn't the best choice. Not even close. The WHO and Unicef state that 1.5 million babies die every year because they are fed formula. 1.5 MILLION babies! And where are their advocates? Where's the pro-life faction now? Clearly not giving a shit, because once that baby's born, they no longer give the first damn about him or her. Assholes. Now, I'll grant you, this is more of a developing world problem than say England, where the baby of the original story was. In many parts of the world, where poverty is all too common (i.e. more than here, where it's rampant enough), formula companies distribute free samples to new Moms. You know, just enough that their milk dries up, and they have to keep using it. And of course, they don't have the money, so they water it down. Or they don't have access to clean enough water, and lo and behold, the kid gets sick and dies.

But it's still stupid as all hell to use formula if you do have clean water and enough money to formula feed. I mean, it's like having a garden full of fresh foods in your backyard, and going out and buying the kids Subway every night instead! Why why why would you go feed the kids McFood? It increases the risks of all sorts of problems.

From: http://www.breastfeedingtaskforla.org/ABMRisks.htm

Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of many diseases in infants and mothers from developed countries.


Ear infections
50% reduced risk

GI infections
64% reduced risk
72% reduced risk of hospitalization
Reduces the risk of obesity by 4% for each month of breastfeeding

Dermatitis – 42% reduced risk
Asthma – 40% reduced risk
Diabetes – 39% reduced risk
Childhood Leukemia – 19% reduced risk
SIDS – 36% reduced risk

Preterm Infants
Necrotizing Entero Colitis – absolute 5% reduced risk
Reduced risk range – 4% to 82%
Because of the high case fatality rate, this 5% difference is a meaningful clinical outcome

Breast – 28% reduced risk
Ovarian – 21% reduced risk
Diabetes – 12 % reduced risk

Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries

And even this pisses me off. Why isn't breastfeeding considered the base case, with the formula feeding labeled as "increased risk"? Breastfeeding is the natural method of feeding, but it's the one that is "othered". Why don't they say, "Feeding your infant formula *increases* the risk of SIDS by 36%"? Seriously. I completely fail to grok how someone can see that and say, "Oh well, a 36% extra chance of sudden death? No problem" But phrase it as "SIDS is rather uncommon anyway, but this lowers the rate" and one mightn't be so willing to jump on it. And that's at a breastfeeding advocacy site! WTF?

And then of course, there's the sexualization problem. Women are treated poorly for nursing in public (EW! Do that in the bathroom! I don't wanna see that! - Reply: You go to the bathroom then.) We're often asked to cover up, which is ridiculous. I mean, do you know how hard it is to nurse a kid under a blanket? It gets HOT and stuffy under there. Plus, once they hit about 3 months, most of 'em will just pull it off. It's simple. You have a problem with it? Don't look. No one is forcing you. Last time I was on an airplane, the lady next to me was nursing. Some asshole complained, and they asked her to cover up, for the comfort of the other passengers. Being a bit of a cow, I said, LOUDLY, "And how many of the passengers are more comfortable with a quietly nursing baby than an upset, crying baby?" Ha! A bunch of people said, "Yeah! Let 'em nurse!" and that sort of thing. Hahaha. Lady was just about in tears with embarassment, but she thanked me.

Oh, and finally, though I don't get it at all, I support women's right to feed their kids formula. Just like I don't want McDonald's outlawed, I don't want formula outlawed either. What I want is for every hospital to have a lactation consultant see every new mom. For the health-nurse visitor to have good information on breastfeeding, and the ability to help. For support, and lots of it. For milk banks, so one can buy breastmilk. For support for wet-nursing (I need the money! ;)). For formula to be a last resort. Not the norm. Not given in hospitals (except again, as a last resort).

As women, we're told time and again that we're not good enough. But for making milk for our babies, we are. We don't need to be sold crap in a can. We don't need to be told we can't do it. We need to support one another. We need to say FUCK YOU to Nestle and the rest of the formula companies.

14 February 2009

Valentine's Day. Doesn't do much for me, really. Mr.FCS is not a romantic. Nor am I. Thing is, he does so much for me, and I for him, on a daily basis, that both of us think it's kind of stupid to go out of our way to spend money on each other on Valentine's Day. And besides, neither of us can eat the chocolates anyway.

My daughter is on an anti-valentine rampage. She threw an anti-valentine party last night, and because it was also Friday the 13th, she rented Scary Movie (which her friends totally didn't grok, and we had to shut it off almost immediately). She's a teenager, and rather judgmental about what is stupid, what is lame, and so on. She asked me if there was any point at all.

Here's the thing, there is a point for some people. Some people aren't particularly good at expressing their feelings for each other. And some women (and men, for that matter) are rather underappreciated. Valentine's Day is a day when those people can be treated like Princes or Princesses, and shown that yeah, they really are loved and appreciated, even if their partner doesn't always show it. So, no, I don't begrudge them their special day.

There's something about love styles too. Some people show their love by buying lavish gifts, some by spending lots of time with the other person, some by doing a lot of work for them, and some by writing love notes and making them cool things. Of course, there can be compatibility issues there. I mean, what if you like to be shown the love with gifts, but your partner is more of a time-spender than a money spender? Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to fix that for a day. But people, talk to your partners. Tell them what you want, what you need. And ask them what they want! Don't expect them to know, and don't expect them to tell you.

So, Happy Valentine's Day if you celebrate it. And Happy February 14 if you don't.

Oh, and damnit. Let's make this a stat holiday. We need on in February. It's cold, depressing, and this would be a seriously convenient way to do it. Also, it'd give me and the Mr a day to snuggle on the couch. While folding laundry. :)

12 February 2009

Wolves in sheep's clothing

Kathy Shaidle, whose blog I will not link to, is scheduled to be a guest on TVO's The Agenda, to discuss the atheist bus campaign I talked about here.

The link above will demonstrate why I think this is a terrible thing. Kathy Shaidle is nothing more than a hate-mongerer. The words, the message she spews is pure evil. I will not say that she is, but her message definitely is. Click on the rationalreasons link above to see what I mean.

Kathy denigrates women, children (of the "wrong" colour), Muslims, blacks, the poor, homosexuals, Native Canadians, Sikhs, the disabled. She never ever espouses love for fellow humans, unless they agree with her on everything, are employed, white, and healthy. How can she say these things and claim to be a follower of Christ? I am utterly baffled.

I do not judge her to be evil, to say she'll go to Hell (which, frankly, I don't exactly believe in). I take Matthew 7:1-2 quite seriously. But I am quite allowed to decide what messages I believe to be evil, what actions I believe to be evil. After all, we are warned just a few verses later in Matthew 7:15 to beware the false prophet, the wolf in sheep's clothing. How can we possibly be expected to judge whether a person is harmless or a ravenous wolf if not to watch their actions and avoid the people who act in that fashion?

And that is exactly how I view Kathy. She's so enveloped in her sheep's clothing that she believes herself to be a sheep of Jesus's flock. But her message is so vastly, horrifyingly different, that I cannot for a second believe her audacity. Her wolf-like behaviour speaks volumes about her nature.

Ever watch Star Trek, Deep Space 9? Remember the religious leader, Kai Winn? People like Kathy remind me of her (not that Kathy has the power she had! Thank God!). There are a number of them out there. The people who seem to like the limelight and power more than the actual work. You know the ones I mean. That scary, hateful man, Bill Donohue, for example. He totally twists the message. I wonder if we read the same Bible when I listen to him, which I avoid doing, because OMG does he frustrate me.

I know that Shaidle and her ilk get on TV and radio because their message is so hateful that it drives viewers/listeners to be furious and call in, and because it appeals to the base of people who already believe in that message. In other words, ratings. I find that so very sad. Christians get such a bad name from these people. The vast majority of us, at least in Canada, aren't like them. We don't hate that which is different from us. We don't believe that “from the beginning, AIDS activism has been more about mainstreaming the gay "lifestyle" than saving lives,” or that the poor are poor because they are “too lazy and stupid to a) finish high school and/or b) keep their pants on.…I don’t care about the poor. They’re no more real than Bigfoot.” This is not Christianity. This is not the voice of a reasonable Christian. This is the voice of a ravenous wolf, and it really bothers me that it's what gets a voice in the media.

I know, I know, let it go. It doesn't matter, right? Well, it does. Because when polled about Christianity, it is this kind of person that the majority of Canadians think about (according to the United Church's polls done by Environics for the Emerging Spirit campaign - I have no link. It was what we were told at the Living the Welcome events). And that is killing the church. We can't even get them in the doors to show them that we're decent people, if they think we're going to condemn them to Hell for being evil sinners. We can't continue to do the outreach in society if we don't have people to do the work. We can't be relevant if we can't get our message heard. I am sick of being outshouted by these screech-harpies and their message of intolerance. And I don't know what to do about it. I want air-time. I want our message heard. I want the world to see Rev. Al Tysick, a man who devotes his life to the homeless in Victoria. Or the people at my church who donate countless hours to the Food Bank. Or the lady who rounds up craft supplies to send overseas to women making their money selling crafts. Or the lady who organizes knitting and crocheting of cloths to send to Central American midwives who clean babies off with them instead of using newspaper. Seriously. Newspapers. Or the minister who spends hours with a woman who is brain damaged and unable to comprehend any social graces. Or the lady who spends 20 or so hours per week visiting sick and housebound people. These are ALL people I know personally. But people like them, they're not getting the media attention. No. Kathy Fucking Shaidle is. It is utterly maddening.

10 February 2009

A short quick thought

I was having trouble explaining how God was more than intuition for me. But thinking on it, I think I have a better analogy. Prove love exists. It's something we feel, something we do, something we trust in, something we will give up anything for. For me, God is the same. I can feel it. I simply know its there. I see evidence of it everywhere. In things that can be explained by other things, but don't preclude God either.

Oh, and I had another thought. (I know, like two in a row!) If atheists weren't so mocking and condescending, people of faith might be a lot more willing to work with them on issues of separation of church and state. It seems to me that if someone is an atheist and wants to get a total separation of the two, that should matter a hell of a lot more than trying to convince me that God doesn't exist. The first is negotiable, the second isn't. Also, if you wonder why some Christians have a hard time with the idea of removing God from the classroom, government, etc., realize that militant atheism in the form of mocking condescension is part of the reason. We really don't want that to become normal. But if we were shown some respect for our beliefs and shown that no, we won't be subject to scorn and ridicule from an atheistic government, then we probably would be a lot more willing to give up the power. At least some of us. Other people just hang on to power for the sake of having it. And frankly, that's not limited to Christians.

09 February 2009

Shorter Vatican: Women are incubators, nothing more

Whoa whoa whoa. So there's a woman in Italy on life support, and there's been a fight to remove her, since she's been in a vegetative state for 17 years. Years, people. Not days. Reminiscent of Terry Schiavo. The family want her removed, but the state got involved and here's their reason for not wanting to remove her: physically she is "in the condition to have babies".

Excuse the fuck out of me? WHAT? Silvio Berlusconi and the Vatican are colluding to what? Rape her? It's not like she can consent to sex. Remove her eggs monthly until she no longer makes them and then "kill" her (as they believe it to be murder). Seems to be a pretty clear case of "She's an incubator, and worth nothing more." Unfuckingreal!

Berlusconi declared: "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate."

Whoa whoa whoa. There are so many things wrong with this. First of all, she's already dead but for the machines. She has no brain function. You cannot "rescue" her. Second, Pontius Pilate?! Seriously? The family isn't trying to have her put to death via crucifixation for heresy! They just want to allow her body to die, naturally, as it would have many years ago if not for the intervention of humans.

06 February 2009

Censorship and God

So Halifax is banning the atheist ads that are getting so much attention in England. ACK! Censorship screams the right wing... What? No screaming? Oh, right...

Humanist Canada wanted to place ads on Metro Transit buses with the slogan, "You can be good without God." But officials with the transit authority deemed that too controversial.

Yeah, um, that's not controversial really. And that's not even censorship for censorship's sake. That's censorship for cowardice's sake. These schmucks just don't want to deal with the political shitstorm. Hah. Like that's going to work.

So now they're going after Calgary with their "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" campaign. Now of course, I disagree. But I'm not about to tell them not to advertise it. I don't care. What I love though, is the UCC's response: "There probably is a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life". AWESOME. Seriously, the whole Emerging Spirit campaign is awesome.

Here's the thing about belief or faith in the existence of God (believing in God is different). It's like an intuition, a sense. I really don't think you can mock someone for believing there's a God if you've ever trusted your intuition on something. Like, you know how you just know that the guy down the street is a creepy ass that you never want to be caught alone with? Intuition, right? It's sorta the same with faith. I simply know that we're not alone, that this isn't all there is, that we're not some weird fluke of nature. I know it. I know it as much as I know that my next door neighbour is a decent human being. I have no proof, but I'll happily bet the farm on it until proven otherwise.

And really, what does it matter? I use God and the teachings of Jesus to help me be the person I want to be. A good atheist uses the moral code of society. Though I have to say, I fail to grok their motivation. I'm motivated by the need to do right by my creator (and NOT a fear of God/Hell). What are they motivated by? I dunno. Because it feels good to do good? To me, that's just God, telling me I'm on the right path.

I'm rambling. I'll shut up now. :)

05 February 2009

Birthing choices

As much as I don't like doctors, I have to hand it to my maternity doctor, she's not being pushy about my birthing choices. I have found that entirely too many people, doctors, nurses, other moms, are really bad about not respecting the decisions women make.

For example, some time back, there was an article on cbc.ca about the rate of c-sections in Canada. (This wasn't actually the exact story I was looking for, but it'll do. And the comments are similar). Immediately, the comments are negative toward women who choose to have c-sections, and there are women (women!) saying that elective c-sections shouldn't be allowed. In the most recent article's comments, there were comments denigrating women as "too posh to push", and a ton of unsubstantiated comments about how this is a trend, on the rise. Prove it, I say.

I completely agree that the rate of c-section is particularly high here, and probably needn't be. But blaming the women getting them is utterly ridiculous. I can tell you right now that if I had walked into my doctor's office at 38 weeks and said "I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I don't want to be pregnant anymore" as commenter Carleigh seems to think we're doing more and more, I'd have been laughed out of the office. It wouldn't have happened. In fact, I'm a good candidate for a repeat c-section, and my doctor said flat out that if I went into labour, I would not be given a c-section even if I asked for it, that I would have to go through the labour until *they* decided the c-section was necessary. Hmmph.

So then, what is the reason for all these c-sections? Are they unnecessary? Some are, certainly. Doctors get antsy about getting sued, and want to be extra careful, so they section before necessary. Too many interventions along the way (epidurals, for example, raise the c-section rate quite a bit). Inductions before they're really necessary. Or hell, inductions even when they are necessary REALLY raise the rate. And then there's the "elective" section. All this means is a planned c-section. Sometimes these are planned because of absolute necessity - placenta previa, and feet first breech for example. (Okay, so there are things one can do to turn a breech baby, but let's assume those have been tried). And some of them are planned because of almost necessity. Like a previous c-section with a vertical cut - almost no doctor will risk VBAC after a vertical cut. Or if the placenta has grown over the scar from a previous section, raising the risk of a uterine rupture. There are some planned c-sections for good reasons that aren't necessarily necessary. For example, a woman has had a previous section after a long labour because of a large headed baby, and ultrasound shows this one to have an even larger head. Risking uterine rupture to do a VBAC mightn't appeal. On the other hand, there's nothing saying this labour wouldn't be completely different, and that the baby might birth a lot more easily. Finally, there's the c-section for convenience. It's not going to happen without a previous c-section. Unless the doctor is a complete quack, and God knows there are a number of them out there!

So, there are a lot of things that drive up the rates. And that sucks. Because frankly, vaginal birth is the way to go if you can do it, and most women are smart enough to know that. It's way less risky to both the mother and the baby, and a hell of a lot easier to recover from (again, in most cases). C-sections are at a very increased risk for breathing problems for the baby and infection and/or hemoraghing for the mother. Even VBAC is safer in most cases than c-section. Although uterine rupture happens in about 1% of cases, that's still less of a complication rate than serious problems related to c-section.

So yeah, I understand why people get grumpy about women deciding to do this without good reason, but I gotta ask, who decides what good reason is? In my opinion, it ought to be the woman and her doctor together, i.e. the doctor makes a recommendation, and the woman educates herself on the issue and makes up her own mind. That's what I'm doing. My doctor has made her recommendation - without being pushy, God Bless her! - and I am doing what I think is best, regardless of whether that is what she says.

But you should just hear (see?) the things that women say to each other on pregnancy forums. Should a woman so much as mention she's having a c-section, she's guaranteed to have at least 3 people demand to know why, and then innundate her with links about why she's chosen the wrong thing. And God forbid she listen to her doctor without finding out absolutely everything she can from every biased source they throw at her! She's clearly stupid and without hope of being a decent parent! Seriously, the vitriol, the condescension, the know-it-all attitude that the anti-intervention group takes is just appalling. I know that they think they have the best interests of the mom and baby at heart, but it often seems a lot more like they have an agenda, and don't give the first shit what the mother wants or thinks.

I'm sure it seems like I'm talking about myself here, but actually, I've been avoiding telling anyone anything about my decisions, so I haven't had the holier-than-thou Mommy brigade (a group I'm sure I'll talk about more!) come down on me, though I know at least one of my friends is "disappointed" in me for my decision. That's okay. I'm disappointed that I had to make it. I have another friend who is a doula. She told me something that really helped. She said, "This is your body, and your birth. You do what you need to do to make it a positive experience for you, and to hell with the rest of them."

Turning stereotypes on their heads. For profit!

Lest you think all I do is bitch bitch bitch, here is something that cracked me up and pleased my feminist sensibilities.

Completely awesome, VW! I love it when ads counter the stereotypes. Taking the running woman in the bikini and making her the "power" and the skinny hippie guy "environment"? Simply brilliant.

04 February 2009

Gender disparity in healthcare

First there was this story about older women getting fewer kidney transplants than men: http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-1/Older-Women-Get--Fewer-Kidney-Transplants-Than-Men-34248-1/

They found that women 45 and younger were as likely as men to be placed on a transplant waiting list. But as women aged, their chances of getting on the list dropped, getting worse with each decade, said the lead author, Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins.

Further, "Dr. Segev suggested that caregivers, family members and maybe the patients perceived older women to be more frail than they really are. “A lot of older women die without having an opportunity to get on the transplant list"

I think it was this paragraph that pissed me off the very most. Not only do women get the shaft with regard to getting on the transplant list, he blames it on their families and even the women themselves. Puhleeze. It is generally the doctor who decides if you're going on the list. If they think you can survive it, they badger you into it. If they don't, they discourage you and will even outright refuse to put you on the list. You know the old joke. Q: What's the difference between God and doctors? A: God doesn't think he's a doctor. I admit it, I have *very* little respect for doctors. I walk in expecting them to be incompetent assholes, and am rarely pleasantly surprised. My Mom is currently dealing with kidney failure, chronic hypertension, congestive heart failure and a miserable thing called cryoglobulinemia. She suffered for years, with her doctor constantly trying to give her anti-depressants, and saying stupid things to her like, "Are you sure you're taking your meds?" and "You aren't just looking for attention are you?" Honestly, there's no way he'd have treated a man like this. And I know it. Because he didn't treat my Dad that way when he had heart trouble. It is absolutely appalling how women are treated in medicine.

Then there was this, regarding the wait time for an emergency cardiac treatment - women wait longer than men: http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/medizin_gesundheit/bericht-35959.html

And then this, which is similar, difference being the time it takes to get women having heart attacks to hospitals: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27disp.html?_r=2

It's not that people say, "Oh, it's just a woman, who cares?" It's that in medicine, men's bodies are considered normal. Women's are "othered". Take a look at the way the Mayo Clinic describes symptoms of heart attacks. First, they have a list of "typical heart attack symptoms", and then they have a list of "Common heart attack symptoms in women" that starts out "Women may have all, none, many or a few of the typical heart attack symptoms." It's clear, women are not considered typical.

Again, appalling. When is the world of medicine going to wise up and start realizing that women are 50% of the population? We're not just "the weird cases".

h/t: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/02/02/female-heart-patients-experience-more-emergency-room-delays/#comments

03 February 2009

Inclusive language

When I first heard about feminists complaining about the use of "mankind" for "humankind" and "chairman" for "chair", I thought the issue was ridiculous. I've long since changed my mind, and am a strong advocate for inclusive language.

I remember in university reading a study (which I cannot find!) that showed that an ad for a job placed in a newspaper got more female applicants if the language was gender inclusive. For example, if the ad said, "The ideal applicant will have ... He will be... His experience includes..." less women applied. Whereas, if the ad was inclusive and said, "The ideal applicant will have... He or she will be... etc." more women applied. For me, this was concrete evidence that gender neutral language really did make a difference.

Recently, I noticed that the minister at my church doesn't use any gender-based God-language. That is, she doesn't call God "him" (or "her" for that matter). She's very careful about that. I really appreciate that. I think part of her reason for this is that she, like me, is panentheistic, and doesn't really think of God as a personified deity, except as a comfortable metaphor. I think, anyway. I don't presume to speak for her.

When I grew up, it was in the Catholic Church. I went to Catholic schools in Regina. My Mom is a devout Catholic. Dad wasn't. He went to church with her, but it was only as a show of support. God language was always gender based. We always talked about God the Father. He was "Him". Girls, I felt, could never really aspire to be god-like. I was extremely put off by the sexism in the church, as early as about Grade 3, when we were learning about Mary. I was upset that boys could try to be like Jesus, but girls could really only aspire to be his mother. I was also really angry when I heard about the immaculate conception (that is, the conception of Mary - not Jesus). She was born without Original Sin, a concept I found disturbing from the getgo. So, not only could I only aspire to be Mary, mother of God, I had absolutely no chance of ever getting there because she was born without sin! And don't get me started on the whole bit about her getting pregnant without sex! How livid I was that day! :) And can anyone tell me definitively what the RCC's stance is on her having sex after getting married to Joseph? I know she's called "The Ever-Virgin Mary" in at least one Catholic prayer, but I've heard priests talk about his siblings.

Anyway, back to the point. I found religion (i.e. the only religion I knew) to be very excluding of me and the rest of my gender, not only by its theology, but by its language. I no longer struggle with that. Partially because I found an inclusive church, partially because I recognise that the Bible is a book that reflects the time in which it was written, partially because I simply know that God wouldn't have made half the race inferior to the other half and made it completely obvious by sex organs. It's just ridiculous to even consider.

But I do very much wish for more gender inclusive language. Not only in church (the hymns... Don't get me started!), but in the rest of the world too. I don't think it's asking too much to change our words slightly to make half the population feel more included. And yes, I recognise that some women don't feel excluded by words like "mankind" or generic masculine third persons "he/him/his", but if studies show time and again that women do feel excluded, even subconciously, then what does it hurt to change it? Are we that set in our ways that we can't be reasonably accomodating of people's feelings? How can we expect to grow as a society, to become more enlightened people, if we say, "No, your feelings don't matter" on something as trivial as terminology? I honestly don't think we can.