Category Archives: outrage

Angry

Last night the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care reform, and this morning the liberal interwebz are all a-twitter with happy, giddy, messages. We finally passed something! Yay for Obama! Yay for progressives! I get that response, and I really, really, REALLY wish it were my own. Because I am so glad that this legislation gives coverage to so many more people, and puts in place truly important reforms on the insurance industry, and safeguards the health of millions of children. I really am glad about that.

But I just can’t quite get to my happy place, because this important, historic legislation was made possible only by throwing reproductive choice under the proverbial bus. While the Stupak amendment didn’t make it into the bill, the Nelson compromise did, and that is bad, bad news for anyone who cares about reproductive rights. So while I would love to be doing happy dances of joy about passing health care reform, I find that what I really am is angry. I’m angry that Democratic legislators and presidents are so willing to cave on this issue, that it so easily becomes a bargaining chip. I’m angry at being made to feel a spoilsport for not being able to “look past” the choice issue to see the bigger picture. I’m angry that the choice issue isn’t a part of the bigger picture. I’m pissed that reproductive rights were compromised for something that falls far short of universal coverage. I’m really goddamn angry that Senators Nelson and Stupak think it’s any of their fucking business what I decide to do with my body. I’m unbelievably angry that this new legislation enshrines wealthy privilege by making it nearly impossible for any but the moneyed classes to get abortion coverage. But most of all, I’m angry that I don’t get to be joyful about this moment in history. I have great capacity for joy, y’all. I do. And I’m not trying to be sanctimonious about this – I know that many of you reading this share my discomfort with the restrictions on reproductive health, and are managing to be happy about this legislation anyway. And maybe as the days go by, I’ll get there, too. But this morning I’m just angry … and wishing I could look forward to a time when women’s bodies weren’t casualties in the battle for “greater” progressive gains.

Tell it!

So, it’s Friday afternoon, and I’m sitting at the dining room table pumping out some extra milk while checking blogs, and I come across this post on babble which almost makes me stand up at the table and shout YESSS! only I don’t because that might wake up the baby and WE DO NOT WAKE UP THE BABY. Anyhoo, it’s this essay about breastfeeding and cultural attitudes thereon, and you really SHOULD read the whole thing, but the part that made me want to jump up and yell was this:

We tell women that breast is best, we tell them to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, we even tell them it will raise their kid’s IQ (and we should give that a rest), and then we send them home with formula samples, or with a baby whose throat is too sore to suckle, or a mom whose milk is delayed because of surgery, and we don’t teach technique, and we are offended when a woman breastfeeds in public, so we make her feel housebound, and we don’t give a mother and her partner paid leave, and we send her to go back to a workplace without on-site childcare, and so her only alternative to formula is to plug her nipples into a machine, and if she’s lucky she gets periodic breaks and a “non-bathroom lactation room” in which to pump, and if she’s not she gets a toilet, and so on and so forth.

It’s no wonder women are ready to burn their nursing bras.

But it’s not that these public health recommendations are grounded in some return-to-the-1950s conspiracy, as Rosin suggests; they’re grounded in physiology. And science is validating the physiology of the mother-baby dyad — that is, both are healthier when they remain close to each other during the first several months postpartum. It’s not simply the milk that’s inimitable; it’s the mothering. (Indeed, “We actually don’t know if feeding infants human milk has the same benefits as breastfeeding,” says Labbok.) And mothering is something that our culture does not value enough to support. It is this dissonance between physiology and culture that has women so frustrated, and feminists like Rosin grasping at the bottle as a proxy for equality.

But is that really what we want? Powder rather than real power? In a brilliant New Yorker piece about the rise of the breast pump, Jill Lepore questions the direction of breastfeeding advocacy, which seems to be settling on the pump as a compromise to this conflict, with tax incentives for businesses with “Mother’s Rooms” in which babies are explicitly not welcome (“pump stations,” Lepore calls them) and Baby-Friendly hospitals sending women home with manual plastic pumps, and the president of the National Organization for Women calling for more “corporate lactation” programs. “It appears no longer within the realm of the imaginable that . . . ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ could mean making it possible for women and their babies to be together,” writes Lepore. “When did ‘women’s rights’ turn into ‘the right to work’?”

What a great question. Why did American feminism evolve in such a way that we think of biology as destiny, and that destiny as a prison? Why are we so willing to surrender the parts and processes that makes us female rather than demanding that society support them? We’ve broken down doors and cracked glass ceilings, when what we need to do is redesign the building.

YEEEEESSSSSSSSSS. How can we get policy makers to hear this and understand it? How can we get the medical establishment to give breastfeeding and mothering in general more than just verbal support? (Did anyone ever mention to me that my c-sections were likely the reason my milk took so long to come in? No. And have I told you about the crazy night nurse who told me I shouldn’t breastfeed my baby or hold it for too long?!!?) Breast is best: OK. We get it. But it’s also goddamnmotherfucking HARD for a whole lot of us, for a whole host of reasons. Maybe it’s time for the people pushing the breast-is-best message to stop using it to make mothers feel guilty and start using it to push for social changes that will actually enable families to breastfeed if they can or find optimal alternatives if they can’t. For chrissakes.

Oh, and on the same topic – this post has some interesting information, too.

New Year’s Rejections

So, while I get the principle of New Year’s resolutions, they mostly make me feel like a failure at some point during the year, and lord knows I don’t need any help with THAT. I’m having a bit of a downer of a week anyway, partly trying not to get freaked out about the second kid, partly money worries (join the club!) partly that I’ve been on a Nick Hornby streak lately, and while the dude can definitely write and is often funnier than hell, he’s not always exactly uplifting. Also: this FUCKING MINNESOTA WEATHER. Christ, I hate the cold and the snow. And I hate it even worse when I’m responsible not only for moving my own fat pregnant ass around but also a squirming, slightly rambunctious toddler, size XL.

But I digress. The point is, I decided it would make me feel better to list the things I plan on rejecting in 2009. So here’s a list of things that will be getting a big ole middle finger accompanied by several rude noises in the coming 12 months:

1. Dieting. Rejected totally, comprehensively, and absolutely. ‘Cos it doesn’t work, one, and it’s bollocks science, two, and it sucks, three.

2. People dying. Yeah, I know it will still happen, but I REJECT IT.

3. Feeling like a failure either professionally, maternally, socially, or otherwise. I will do the best I can on all fronts, and people will just have to DEAL.

4. Bigotry. One of these days I’m going to be behind a car with a “Yes on Prop 8” or those stupid mudflap girls or, hell, even “Bush/Cheney ’04” and I am just going to REAR END IT. Consider yourselves warned, people who almost certainly do not read this blog.

5. Shitty TV/Movies/Music. Unless it’s the good kind of shitty. Because life is just too short.

Whew, that feels better. Join me in some negativity, won’t you? What do you reject this year?

Irritating

So we’re all set to go to the library this morning, to FINALLY return our insanely overdue books and CDs, and the Hatchling is totally jazzed about it (“I so ‘cited to go whyherry!”) and we get there, and the damn branch doesn’t open on Tuesdays until noon. Not for lack of demand, I might add, but because our stupid, stupid governor keeps cutting the freaking budget for public services like libraries and the parks and education and don’t even get me STARTED. Grrrrrrr.

Grump

I’ve been in a royally bad mood for the last 5 days, and bad moods are not conducive to blogging, I find. Partly I’m in a bad mood because I feel like crap ALL THE TIME, whether from the nausea – which is not going away because apparently nobody told Bubba that he or she is supposed to knock that shit OFF in the second trimester – or constipation, or allergies and sinus headaches, or fatigue, or whatever. It’s a fucking feel-like-crap cocktail over here, and I’m good and sick of it.

And then last Thursday night, I got into Cherry Ames to go to rehearsal, and saw that some person or thing had hit my windshield, hard, with a pointy object, resulting in a big crescent of cracks on the lower driver’s side. Y’all, I can’t even describe how PISSED OFF this made, and is still making, me. I am so fucking OVER living in a neighborhood where I cannot park my car on the street outside my house without some asshole crashing into it, vandalizing it or breaking the windshield. (All things that have happened to family cars in the three years we’ve lived here.) I am sick of the gunfights, and the stuff being stolen from my yard, and the break-ins, and the graffiti, and All. The. Shit. I mean, Christ! I know I live in an urban area – and I’m committed to that, I have absolutely no interest in living in the suburbs. I value city living, and being in a neighborhood where white is not the dominant skin color, and where kids from families from different income and education levels all play together at the local playground. These things are important to me. But I am getting real close to my limit on destruction of my personal property and use of violent weapons in my immediate vicinity. Not that my limits matter a good goddamn, because what are we supposed to do? The housing market is plumb saturated in this town, and I highly doubt that we’d get even what we paid for the place, much less making a profit on it. Not to mention that there are still some improvements to be made before it would even be worth putting it on the market in the first place. And even LESS to mention that I have negative interest in moving while pregnant – I did that last time and it’s, you know, no good. So we’re stuck, and I just have to suck it up and deal with it, just like I have to suck it up and deal with the nausea, etc. If anyone knows of an available donor for an attitude transplant, y’all let me know. I sure do hate being grumpy all the time.

Pass it on

This has been making the rounds, so you may have already seen it, but if not I encourage you to email it to everyone you know, preferably with threats about what will happen to their family if they don’t forward it to everyone they know.

Let me get this straight …

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re “exotic, different.”

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers — a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track — you’re a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend five different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.

If you spend three years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a constitutional law professor, spend eight years as a state senator representing a district with more than 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees … you don’t have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, four years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people … you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising two beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you’re very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner-city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s.

If your husband is nicknamed “First Dude,” with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

It’s all clear now, right?

Spreading the (partisan) love

Love.

Love (starts about three minutes in):
So Much Love: