24 October 2012

"Rape babies" and other terms I hate

When I was in Grade 7, I had a friend named Melissa who was a lovely Métis girl. She "passed" for white, which is why she had no problems in my school, which was very very very white (I'm kind of surprised the PTA fundraiser didn't sell white hoodies with pointed hoods). Anyway, after we'd been friends for a while, she took me home after school one day where I was greeted by her 100% Cree mother. They didn't warn me. They thought it would be funny. I'm sure it was, because they both howled with laughter at my obvious shock. Once I got over it, and I'm not sure if it was even the same day, I said something stupid about obviously having a white father, and her mother, who pulled no punches said, "Yeah, they were white." I must have looked confused and she told me that two young white guys had raped her, and the result was Melissa. I was horrified. I mean, I almost started to cry. That's when she got really gentle and said, "It's okay honey. I made peace with it. And I chose to have her. I figured some good should come of it all. I didn't have to do that. It'd be different if they made me." Then she looked a bit haunted and said, "Like my sister."

I swear that's true.

And we're back to choice. Women get pregnant in all sorts of ways, expected, unexpected, planned for, spontaneous and rape. Rape is a horrible way to get pregnant. It's a horrific crime. It often damages women forever. And sometimes not. But it can and does result in pregnancy. And at that point, like every other pregnancy, the woman has a choice to make - do I want to carry this to term? Do I want a baby now? Do I want to abort? Do I want to give it up for adoption?

I'd hazard a guess that most women who get pregnant by a rapist don't want to carry that to term. They don't want a physical reminder of it. They don't want to worry that they'll look into their baby's eyes and see their rapist. They don't want to worry that nature will outsmart nurture and their baby will grow up to be a rapist too. And so they choose to stop it.

And some women choose to go on with it. Either because they're like my friend's mom and view it as a new life, something wonderful from tragedy (I might have named that girl Phoenix!) or they don't have access to safe abortion and won't risk a back alley job, or whatever. Or maybe they decide to give it up for adoption (I can't fathom this one - carrying a pregnancy from rape to term and then giving up the baby? It's boggles my mind.)

But they're all choices. And dammit, we feminists need to support them all. Can we please stop mocking the idea that some women might actually want that pregnancy once it starts? I understand the impulse. There was a woman on a pregnancy group I was in when I was pregnant with Crackle who's baby was conceived in a rape. She actually had to fight with her family (read: parents) who tried to get her to abort, because they were afraid of all of the things I said two paragraphs up. And they were afraid she wouldn't be able to love her baby. They wanted to protect her. But she said the same thing my old girlfriend's mom said, "I wanted something good to come of it. And what could be better than a new baby?" (My thoughts were, wine, chocolate, a hot bath, and some bubblewrap therapy, but to each her own) And so she decided to carry on.

This twatwaffle who is going on about God's will, could really stand to shut up. I understand his point. He believes that God creates all life, and that would include all conceptions. So he says it's God's will. Not the rape, but the pregnancy from it. I'm not sure how one can separate them, but maybe he thinks God is micromanaging the sperm. Or that God is some sort of weird doorman at the egg barrier. Hell if I know. This former professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary disagrees with him on all of it. She says that making God the author of conception after rape makes God the author of the crime of it. Where I disagree with her is here, and only in small part: Conception following rape is a tragedy, not part of “God’s will.” Tragedy is defined by the victim. It is a tragedy if the woman perceives it as one. Like rain is a tragedy in a flood, but a blessing in a drought, a conception from a rape is a what the woman perceives it to be. 

Actually, that's where the religious anti-choice people make the least sense. They claim that all conceptions are gifts and blessings, and we just need to shut up and see it that way. It's like saying that rain is always a blessing, a gift from God. Just get in a boat and enjoy it. Crops failing? God's will. Can't eat this winter? Must have been a sinner. Conception is just something that happens. The value of it is determined by us.

I've been mulling over the idea that God creates all life in view of this. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I kind of think (and my thinking is not cemented, so please, comment away) is that God created life, and we propagate it. Similar to how I planted the mint, and it's spreading. Not my will, but not against it either. Not that I'm God - it's not a perfect analogy, but along those lines. We have free will, so we can choose to reproduce or not. I don't believe in pre-destiny. Or God as the ultimate puppeteer. I believe God is with us, and nudges us to do the right things via conscience and other things, and we do what we'll do. Sometimes that's what God wants, sometimes it's not. So when some boil on the ass of society rapes a woman, and God is there begging him not to and he does it anyway, it's not God's will that she is impregnated. It just happens. And whether that pregnancy is a tragedy or not, is up to her. No judgments either way from me. Because I don't have her experience. I don't have her life. I don't have her beliefs. I don't have her conscience. I don't have her knowledge. We need to trust women to do what is right for them (us) and shut the fuck up about it.

One thing in that article that really struck me, was the very last bit, and so I'll end with it too:

There is, however, no failure of compassion so glaring as the way rape survivors are being made into political and religious scapegoats today.
Stop that. In God’s name, stop it.

22 October 2012

NERDS! Oh no...

Telling a nerd joke at an autism fundraiser is like telling a fag joke at a PFLAG meeting. Seriously? What the hell? I'm no fan of Bill Burr at the best of times (he gets laughs by being an asshole - I don't find it funny), but goddamn. Use your fucking head.

He joked about there being too many nerds, whined that nerds used to have shame, laments the good old days when they got locked into lockers over night and then beat up for wearing the same clothes the next day. Asked when the nerd bubble would break, and said that's what happens when you get rid of bullying. That's what happens when you get rid of their natural predator, that they proliferate.

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?!

What's a nerd, anyway? A person who is good at something, but not much else, and is socially clueless. Sound a lot like a lot of autistic people? Damn right it does. And somehow this is a bad thing, to be mocked by people who are threatened by their intelligence, or who enjoy preying on perceived weakness. Autistic kids are often nerds. Autistic kids are bullied a lot. A LOT. Nearly half of autistic teens have been targeted by bullies. Sometimes by teachers. Our kids are treated like shit everywhere. Stories from friends of mine:

 - Child kicked out of music school because he spit at a child who was bullying him. The child who was doing the bullying? Nothing. She was treated as the victim. Director told my friend, "Your son is the worst kind of kid. He's not welcome in my school. He's not welcome in my city."
- Child smacked by the aide for turning on the water fountain after being told not to. It was witnessed by someone who talked to the principal, who told her, "Well, John *is* a difficult child. How hard did she hit him?" If she hadn't threatened to go to the police, nothing would have come of it.
- Child was tormented into losing her temper, which was explosive, because the bullies thought it was funny. Finally led to the mother pulling the autistic girl out of school because the school put the onus on the autistic child to leave the situation and tell a teacher.
- Child was convinced that all the kids were his friend. They'd pretend to be his friend to get him to do their homework or give them money.
- "Nerd" "Geek" "Loser" "Dork" "Retard"

And just last week, I was reading about the guy who was the reddit troll, the vicious asshole piece of shit, who was outed. And in the comments, "He's a software engineer with no social skills. He's just autistic". Fuck no. He's an asshole. A heartless, mean, oozing sore of a sniveling little boil on the ass of a weasel. Maybe he's autistic too. I doubt it. This troll, like other trolls, gets glee from angering people, and is particularly good at doing it. People with autism are not generally socially adept enough to be the kind of troll  this shitweasel is.

So they're getting it from both sides - They're called nerds, retards, bullies, assholes. Everywhere in society. Apparently even at an autism fundraiser.

11 October 2012

Feminist Christian Politics!

If anything intersects feminism, Christianity  and socialism better than a VP debate in which the only question about women's issues is couched in religion, I don't know what it is.

Seriously? The ONLY question about women's issues is asked in the form of "how does your religion inform your opinion about..." Not only that, that was the ONLY question about religion. How does that work? I mean, the bible never once mentions abortion, and in at least one place explicitly defines the fetus as less than human (to be fair, that's in the same book that outlines rules for slavery), but Jesus specifically tells his followers to feed the hungry and heal the sick. And yet, questions about health care and poverty reduction are never asked in religious terms.

Not cool, Ms. Moderator. Not cool.

Women's issues are important. Men's issues are important. Social issues are important. Economic issues are important. Foreign policy is important. And ALL of this is influenced by the religious views of the candidate. So it seems to me that the abortion issue should be treated the same as all the others. When our issues are made out to be the only ones informed by the religious views of the candidate, it seems that abortion is an "emotional issue" of women, not an issue of the same kind of importance. Abortion = emotional, poverty = logical. Women vs. men. Sexist to the core.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, there is no way to separate religious beliefs and political views. It is a good thing to know what a candidate believes and why. But there is NO excuse for only making it about abortion, when poverty, healthcare, war, prison reform, and humanitarian aid are just as religiously relevant.

01 October 2012

Body Image Issues

Erf. I thought I'd gotten over my body image issues. Apparently not so much. When probing my "why am I dreading going to see Mom? I love Mom. I haven't seen her in 3 years!" feelings this morning, it hit me. It's the weight I've gained, and the judgments she makes about weight. Mom's never had a weight problem, in either direction. She has to monitor her weight for dialysis, but before that, she never did. At all. She's just one of those lucky people who was about the right size for society's comfort all her life. And it's one thing she's never understood about others. Very little compassion or understanding for fat or skinny women. And so I picked that up and was rather hard on myself. Sometimes I still am.

Some Mom fails:
Mom: Stacy really let herself go lately.
Me: Oh yes, I'm sure she just decided to get fat, you know, while she's trying to convince Tom to marry her. Definitely.
Mom: Oh come on. You haven't seen her. She's huge.
Me: Huge huh? What, she's bigger than I am?
Mom: Well, maybe not quite THAT big.
Me: *sputter*
Mom: [quickly changes subject]

Keep in mind, I was 15 lbs lighter then than I am now. So, I'm feeling a little self-conscious. Dad was the same. I remember him saying, "That Tara is such a nice girl. Too bad she's so big". WTF, Dad? Tara was happily married and related to him. I asked him what that had to do with anything, and he just looked slightly embarrassed, slightly sad for me for being so stupid as to not know, and shook his head.

I know I shouldn't beat myself up about it. I know that I eat good, healthy food, in reasonable amounts. I know that I don't exercise as much as I'd like, but that I do as much as I can given time and health constraints. I somehow need to get a bit more, because it'll help me feel better, but I haven't figured out how to do that while raising three kids, one of whom must stay home or he becomes overstimulated to the point of a screaming meltdown.

I fully believe in Health at Every Size. And I know, intellectually, that it is not my job to be physically appealing to whomever might glance at me. But it bugs the piss out of me that I'm invisible because I'm not. Even though, again I know intellectually, that it takes the target off me that is imprinted on the body of women who are that societal standard of beauty.

And yet, here I was this morning, sitting with the boys while they played, making myself sick about how I look and what that means about me, and what Mom will think when she sees me.

So to work it out, my questions to myself:
Why do you feel sad about being fat?
Because it means I'm not attractive.
Doesn't your husband find you attractive?
He says so.
You don't believe him?
Because he's a product of society too, so how could he possibly?
You don't trust him?
Of course I do.
He's lying to protect my feelings. And the women he finds attractive other than me NEVER look like me.
So? Do all the men you find hot look like him? Do any of them?
Well, Ben Browder does, but other than that, I get your point.
So, do you still feel gross?
Because fat is gross.
Um... Because it is.
Says who?
And you're so sure everyone is right on all the other issues, aren't you.
Shut up.
Why? Because you enjoy beating yourself up about shit you can't change?
Apparently, yes.
So why do you have to be unhappy about being fat.
Because if I were happy, it would mean I don't care.
Would it? I mean, could you be happy and still want to change? Like you are with your kids. You love them as they are, and you want to help them be better. Could you do that?
No. It's not the same.
Because they're kids and they... DAMN YOU AND YOUR LOGIC!
And besides, what would be so wrong about not caring?
Um... It would mean my Mom is right about "letting myself go".
And? Is it something you need to prove to her?Fuck... Apparently it was. To hell with that. She can be right. Again.

Much better. I'm going to go eat some potatoes with the kids.