Friday, August 31, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday Theme Day!

 
This Friday, there is a bit of a theme for my Quick Takes. I call it:
The List of Completely False and Crazy Accusations That Follow When I Tell People I Did Not and Will Not Vote for Barack Obama.
 
--- 1 ---
"You are a racist." Who'd of thunk that doing something as simple as being an informed citizen that chooses to exercise her hard-earned right to vote would make someone a racist?

--- 2 ---
"You hate women." Last time I checked, I am a woman. So if this is true, there is some serious self loathing going on here. Folks have really let themselves believe what the media and Planned Parenthood are telling them about women that want real solutions. So, is this what I must look like if I do not hate women?

--- 3 ---
"You hate poor people and want them to die." No joke, this one is verbatum. Which branch is that of Catholic Social Teaching again?

--- 4 ---
"You don't want rich people to pay any taxes." You caught me. I really am trying to land an invite to a fancy party on an island only rich people know about.
(http://www.nbc.com/30-rock/video/seinfeldvision/163832)
--- 5 ---
"You don't want free health care?!" This is less of an accusation and more of a Crazy Disbelief Response. I use the word crazy because these people still think the AHA is free.
--- 6 ---
"You want to control women and outlaw abortion and birth control." While I would have no qualms outlawing abortion and contraception that acts as an abortafacient, I would rather we offered women comprehensive health care solutions instead of bad medicine, so I suppose this is partially true. Here is an example of something I could get behind:

--- 7 ---
"You are a bigot and a racist." A variation on "You are a racist." but I hear it so often and immediately, that I can only assume it is truly easier to dismiss my argument against President Obama (or, as in the photo from RevealingPolitics, Ron Paul) if the other person convinces themself I am just full of hatred.
 
 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Balance


“I was not very charitable in my response to you…”

“That bit stings a little…”

“You are using arguments I am not making against me.”

“I am not meaning to make you upset…. I don’t want to fight… I am not trying to twist or skew or attack… but I do feel you are slightly…”

“Yes I am attacking, because I feel attacked. Retract claws, I know.”

“I need a break from this…”


It takes a lot to make me cry. Crying embarrasses me: I cry when I am frustrated and angry and I cannot intelligently form the thoughts that are circling in my mind. I feel weak when I cry. The conversation above made me cry. I have stripped it down to the emotional responses my friend and I were giving each other before each reply as we discussed my post A Prayer Request. In our defense, we began the email thread late at night. My mom brain kicks into overdrive these days, and in addition to the normal dozen or so things on my mind at any given moment, I obsessed about this conversation all night. I turn into an insomniac when I begin to obsess on subjects like abortion. I dream about it, wake up repeatedly to obsess, bite my fingernails off for breakfast and get on the elliptical and push myself to the max in an effort to minimize the space I have available to dwell on the subject. The only solution to the obsessing (and the insomnia) is the other person frantically waving a white flag. This scenario only worsens when I feel as though I am on the defense.


Maybe the email thread bugged me because I was tired. Maybe I was just too stressed to effectively discuss abortion. Perhaps I was upset because it was the first time my friend and I began to stray from our normally heavy handed yet completely civil discussions and into argument territory. Whatever the reason, the exchange brought my friend and I to a crossroads on this particular subject: thicken our skin in order to delve deeper into the subject, or stop talking about it altogether.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for civil and even tempered discussions on hot-button issues to take place, even amongst the closest of friends. Does this mean we stop having the discussions? Does it mean we begin to separate from our relationships with family and friends and only keep in touch with those who agree with us politically or religiously? Is there a balance to strive for, or should religion and politics always be off limits?

The answer I am striving for is balance, however difficult it is to achieve. I believe you can only superficially discuss something so many times before the conversation naturally begins to deepen. The deeper you dig, the more you are invested personally in the discussion. Emotions are attached when you are passionate about your beliefs. I do not think it wise to simply avoid politics and religion with those you love as a blanket solution. There are situations that warrant this approach, but civil discourse is vital in tumultuous times!

I have flaws in how I present my arguments and responses in these types of discussions. In order to effectively get my point across I need to overcome these flaws. I need to remember the pure genius of Saint Bernadette Soubirous:
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Reminder


"Do not lose heart, even if you should discover that you lack qualities necessary for the work to which you are called. He who called you will not desert you, but the moment you are in need he will stretch out his saving hand."
-Saint Angela Merici

There are days, not unlike today, that I need to hear this. I am knee-deep in the kind of moment that makes you want to throw in the towel, and I have been stuck in this moment for weeks. What makes my voice so important amongst the many new feminist groups that are blooming and thriving? I am but one drop in the bucket: one woman that had her fill one day of being told she was not good enough. As this project moves on, sometimes I feel like merely an echo in this movement that is calling for feminism to return to its roots. I tell myself I am lacking the qualities necessary for what I feel compelled to do. “Someone else can do or say it better. Someone else has the time and a stronger voice. Someone else has the talent.” I say these things as a way of releasing myself from my obligation. To paraphrase Stewart Smalley, if someone else is good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like them, then I am not obligated to speak out, or answer the call.

This, my readers, is a flaming bag of cop-out. There will always be a reason to quit. There will always be a hardship or a cross to carry. There will always be someone that says it better or louder. There will always be a comfort zone from which to escape.

So here I sit, on my amazingly comfortable sofa with my incredible family on a Sunday night as we gear up for a storm, and I choose to speak up and be counted amongst the other new feminists: the New WaveFeminists, the New Feminism, the Feminists For Life, The Edith Stein Foundation and The Guiding Star Project. I strongly believe that Women Speak forThemselves.

I am a woman. I speak for myself. My voice is important. I have something to say and deserve to be heard. I am good enough, strong enough, and doggone it, people like me. (Well, so what if they don’t?!)
 

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Daughter, Me and the Pink Zone








This month has been a little traumatic for me. My fantastic daughter is about a month away from being a year old. I could bore you with a litany of adjectives that describe how fantastic she is, but look at her:








She is an impressive specimen. This month has not been traumatic because I am getting baby fever from all the photos of little tiny ones that have taken over my Facebook feed, or because she has been walking for several weeks. It is because she has unveiled a part of her personality that is foreign to me: she has an all out obsession with shoes and purses.





When we go to the play area in the mall she saunters up to every woman with a bag and tries to rifle through it, then instinctively heads toward the wall of shoes to investigate the second I scan the area for her big brother. She carries shoes around the house like trophies, and empty Coke can boxes filled with her most precious possessions. I don’t know how we got here. This was reason number 347 that I was initially terrified to have a daughter: I am not a girly girl. I refused to carry a purse until my first grown-up job. I rocked the dangerous wallet keychain in college. My daily uniform consists of a worn out t-shirt, some variety of yoga/sweat pant that would devastate the folks at What Not to Wear and a pair of running shoes. I carry a sad purse because I have to, and it is usually stuffed with diapers, wipes and (if I am lucky and there is room because I am forgetting my phone) a sippy cup. So this feminist decided to breach protocol and enter the Pink Zone today. (Note: I chose Target to scout for her, because I do not feel I should have to hunt around for a specialty store for a simple present for my soon-to-be one year old, and your average household frequents places like Target for toys.)










In case you are not familiar, the unchartered territory I speak of is the designated “For Girls” aisles at Target. (Target Masters: do not take this to mean I do not still thoroughly enjoy wasting spending my money at your conveniently located establishments, because I heart you.) I decided to first do a quick walk through and assess the situation. How many aisles are here? Are the purses neatly grouped together or will I have to search? What else is in lost in the pink?





After the walk through, I circled around and began to take my time. The first purse I saw was located next to a similar product for boys, only it was a tool belt.










I tested the button to see what it said and the first thing I heard was “I love shopping!” I turned it off and called a friend, hoping she would have nothing better to do while she was at work other than sit at her desk and wait for me to call her for the first time in 18 months (Yeah. I am THAT bad about phone calls.) so I could freak out on her about purse options for my toddler. No such luck. I walk right past the various Disney Princess purses that come with a child’s first set of fake pearls and satin gloves to see this gem.










Of course, this is a better option than the one that talked, but I felt the nausea return and so I quickly called my mommy. (Yeah I did. And yes, I called two different people to discuss purses for a one year old. I am insane.) She suggested trying the purse section, (You know, the entire area devoted to women’s purses? I obviously was not thinking straight.) and filling it with her own car keys and a phone. Brilliance. So brilliant, I will overlook the fact that my daughter gets the shoe thing from her Grammi.





We walked away with a Paul Frank canvas bag for less than $3 from the tween section.







My blood pressure dropped, and my heart beat steadied enough that we then went to find her some shoes.





Her eyes lit up when she saw them. She frantically began to take off a shoe with one hand because the other had a death grip on the pair she fancied.










I am rather proud of myself today. Not only did I finish my daughter’s birthday shopping with a Lalaloopsy doll (big brother’s pick) and a purse with which she was smitten, but we shoe shopped as well. I conquered my Pink-phobia for the time being, because being a feminist doesn’t just mean fatter dolls and an end to traditional gender roles. It means letting your children decide what things fascinate them because, as Melissa Wardy would say, “There are SO many ways to be a girl!” (or boy, or child!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A prayer request


After seeing the photos circulating on the internet and reading this story, I feel compelled to write about abortion. It is no secret I am prolife. There is not an arbitrary moment you can call a human a human. As soon as a human is created, it lives. It is a living human being. We owe it to ourselves as members of a “civilized” society to answer the following questions:

1.       When does life begin?

2.       Is it morally sound to kill an innocent human being?

3.       Is it legal to kill an innocent human being?

From where I stand we have yet to answer the first two questions, and for now the third question is yes. It is not logical to answer the third question when you do not answer the first two questions, but here we are. I would find this an easier (albeit evil) pill to swallow if we called a spade a spade and just said that it is okay to take an innocent life! Instead of admit we are allowing innocent human beings to die under the guise of women’s rights or population control, we have decided it is more comfortable to remain on the fence as to when life begins. We call the child by terminology to strip the child of its humanity. We selfishly speak of needing a way out so that we are not punished by our own choices. We use those that have been horribly victimized by rape and incest as our excuses to allow the murder of innocents, as though two morally reprehensible decisions somehow make things okay. We leave out the messy and inconvenient truth about hormonal birth control and how it works.

I see the photos of that young mother, 20 weeks along with twin girls. She is walking confidently into a women’s clinic to end the lives of her children because she already has two girls. She has seen the ultrasound pictures. She knows the sex of both children. She has felt them move and kick and is over halfway through her pregnancy. In a matter of months (possibly weeks) the babies could be given up for adoption. Instead their lives were ended, and for what?

I believe that there are prochoice people that want to see an end to abortion. I believe these individuals along with the prolife movement are capable of systematically eliminating the reasons a woman feels she must choose her life over her child’s life. I ask, what happens when she is out of reasons? The young mother in this story simply did not want more girls. Is this a valid reason?

I do not believe that we can draw an arbitrary line as to what reasons for abortion are legitimate and which are not. This is a situation where we must start asking ourselves the right questions:

1.       When does life begin?

2.       Is it morally sound to kill an innocent human being?

3.       Is it legal to kill an innocent human being?

There are many ways in which we fail our children these days, but robbing them of the chance to live is a callous injustice.

This woman will remain in my thoughts and prayers. So will her children… all of them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Note for Friends and Family of Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors





Sometimes it feels as though to truly comprehend the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence in our nation you have to spend some time as an advocate. Once you are in the trenches so to speak, not only do you have people you know disclose to you about themselves and their loved ones, but every news story, magazine article, biography of a celebrity/politician/athlete containing a hint of abuse catches your eye or is sent to you by someone with the tag line: “I saw this and thought of you.” It surrounds us, yet we seem to be unaware of it until it touches our lives or the lives of someone we love.

Here are some numbers for you. 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. 30-60% of perpetrators of IPV also abuse the children in the home. 1 in 6 women will experience an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 15% of sexual assault or rape victims are under the age of 12. (NCADV.org and RAINN.org)

The most common question I am asked to this day (over two years since I stepped away from my role as a paid DV/SA advocate) is surprisingly not “Why does she stay?”. Believe me, this is a question that my four years of experience and training prepared me to answer. I could write you a novel on why she stays! The most common question goes something like this: “My friend/sister/mother is in a bad relationship/was assaulted and I am unsure of what I can do to help. Any suggestions?”

When you think about it, it is a little refreshing that I am asked to help someone help someone on such a regular basis. Even if it is one of the few minor silver linings in a terrible situation, this question restores my faith in humanity because it means people care about others. So, without further adieu, here is my response.

For Friends and Family of Domestic Violence Survivors

The most important things that you can do for a loved one that experiences violence in their intimate relationship are to listen and provide nonjudgmental support. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior. It is thorough. It often involves more than merely physical violence, including (but not limited to) psychological abuse, sexual abuse, isolation,continuous threats and financial control. This is not a complete list by any means, but you can see how far and wide that control can reach. To make matters worse, your loved one has at least at some point loved the individual doing them harm. This can be an incredibly difficult bond to break, and if there are children included… to say the least, domestic violence consumes. If someone you love is reaching out to you, listen. Be a support system for them. They have become an expert in navigating the chaos, so supporting them sometimes means they stay. Don’t despair or feel as though you failed to help. Choosing to leave the relationship is a dangerous time for a survivor because the batterer is facing losing control. A loss of control can cause an escalation of behavior that can mean an increase in lethality for the survivor. When the time comes and they are ready to leave the relationship behind for good (we know survivors sometimes leave multiple times before cutting ties permanently), your loved one needs to know that they have your support. Ultimately, the survivor of DV must make the decision to leave for themselves and their children if children are involved. Perpetrators of domestic violence seek control over the other person,and this is achieved by chipping away at the self worth of the victim as well as any outside support system that exists.

While every survivor and DV relationship is different, gentle and constant reminders of your love and support for him/her can go such a long way. Plant the seed that when the time comes that she/he is ready to leave the relationship that they are loved and do have support outside the relationship. Truly listen to what they need from you. Show them love is unconditional and love does not seek to control or harm. Validate their feelings, thoughts and emotions. I encourage you to contact the local domestic violence shelter if you need further information on helping to keep your loved one safe. http://www.ncadv.org/ has a national hotline that can connect you to your local shelter, listings for international and state coalitions (that then link you to locations in your state) as well as many other tips for survivors, DV statistics and information about the cycle of violence.

For Friends and Family of Sexual Assault Survivors

Many of the concepts above can be applied for both friends and family of domestic and sexual violence survivors, but it is important to note that sexual violence is perpetrated within relationships as well as outside of relationships.

Sexual assault has many faces, and survivors handle the experience in a variety of ways, but your support is still vital. SA survivors again need you to listen and validate. They need nonjudgmental support and encouragement. http://www.rainn.org/ can help provide additional information specific to the situation your loved one has experienced. There is a hotline number to call, additional information for friends and family of survivors, and links to your local sexual assault center.

Some Personal Reflections

My experience as a paid advocate as well as friend and family to survivors, has been that there are times they need you to listen, and there are times they will push you away. Sometimes they hate you and press your buttons, sometimes they need your comfort and support and other times they go silent and it appears they have cut you out (and every scenario in between!). Remind yourself not to take it personally. They are used to navigating the chaos that has consumed their lives, but you are not. This doesn’t mean that they are purposely trying to hurt you. Support systems need to take care of themselves. To be a stable force in your survivor’s life, you must take care of yourself so that when they are ready to lean on you, you are there. It is not so much what you say to them or feel for them, more than what you give them space to say or feel that matters.







I have dozens of links and resources in my own arsenal, so if you are interested in more information, please, send me a message!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Queasy Feeling


There’s something happening, and I feel uneasy about it.

Ominous, right?

Let me explain.  

I am addicted to debating politics, religion… all the heavy handed issues. I love reading the news, opinion pieces, my Facebook feed- you name it. I am fascinated by what people believe and why. I am open to discussion when it is civil, respectful, logical and relevant. I like to talk about pop culture just about as much, but you won’t find as many fascinating debates about why on earth they canceled Veronica Mars yet Smallville remained on the air for YEARS after they should have just called it quits. So, that means I am left with the juicy stuff. In my efforts to stay up to date on important issues, I have been seeing some things happening that make me wonder…

1.       A left or right of center focus.

2.       The “I have a right to believe what I want to and tear you down for disagreeing with me because you are not allowed to disagree” mentality.

A left or right of center focus.

People seem to enjoy getting off topic just so they can keep arguing. This is the only explanation I have for folks that spends gobs of time attacking positions that are not being defended. A good example of this can be found in Internet discussions about the subject of my last post. In short, I see a lot of this:


Robert: I support Cathy’s right to free speech.

Darrel: Why don’t you want gay people to find love?

Hmm. Both people are attempting to talk about the same issue, but Darrel’s focus is not on the statement Robert made: his focus is on what he wants to believe Gary wants. It works the other way as well, unfortunately:



                Danielle: I choose not to support CFA because of Cathy’s views.

                Rachel: Why do you hate Christianity?

It bothers me that people are too busy talking around each other to actually understand the issues.



The “I have a right to believe what I want to and tear you down for disagreeing with me because you are not allowed to disagree” mentality.

This is particularly disturbing to me. The deeper we get into this election season, the worse this mentality rears its ugly head. It is incredibly difficult to listen and try to understand someone while you are being called an intolerant bigot, for example. I have seen this trend again with the CFA debacle. There are several photos circulating with jabs like “I wish I saw Christians lining up to help at food pantries like they lined up at Chick-Fil-A to support a bigot.” The following quote comes to mind:

My dear,

I can’t hear you.


What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.

So speak to me with your actions, not your words. Speak to me with your doings, not your mouth. Speak to me with your hands, not your voice.

For your actions drown out what you say to the point that that’s all I hear.
Falsely Yours,

Ralph Waldo Emerson



It is easy to circulate jabs at those you think don’t agree with you. It is difficult yet WORTHWHILE to lose the insults and listen. This also works both ways. For example, I have seen some pro-life folks take jabs and condemn abortion workers that try to leave the industry, as well as women that have had an abortion and are seeking comfort/healing. This form of self righteousness is completely inappropriate and does not help. Would it not be beneficial to all involved if we listened instead of insult?