Category Archives: no babies

Making Babies and Making Money: Pregnancy and Worker’s Rights

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that I find completely fascinating, and super important for all families. The case is brought by Peggy Young, a UPS employee that was denied her request to change work duties after being advised that she should not lift over 20 lbs. She was pregnant.

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The details of her case can be found here, but in a nutshell there is a Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978) that requires that employers give the same accommodations to women affected by pregnancy or child birth that it would give to employees that are temporarily disabled/injured. To be clear, the UPS will allow a change of duty not only for workers injured on the job, but also for workers who lose their license because they are convicted of a DUI. So drunk drivers can switch roles and continue to earn a living, but pregnant women made a choice and so they are shit out of luck. (Actual comment from NY Times op-ed: “Pregnancy isn’t a disease. In fact as I understand it, it is a choice. These women became pregnant due to their own actions. They can no longer do the work they were hired to do. Why is that such a big deal. It isn’t an injury.”)

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I had a fascinating chat with my coworker about this case. She claimed that if what feminism fights for is gender equality, then you must err on the side of UPS. Because men cannot get pregnant, accommodating pregnant women is giving them preferential treatment. And she was hung up on that word, equal. As if equal here meant equivalent. But I don’t think equality means we all must be the same. And in my dream world where the patriarchy is dismantled, I do not imagine a world where men and women are alike. I imagine a world where your personality and your physical characteristics aren’t policed by societal gender norms. I imagine a world where everyone is free to express themselves compassionately, and explore interests that are close to their heart without any thought to what girls and boys are supposed to like or do. I don’t claim that men and women are the same, but it’s important to remember that making statements like “women can get pregnant and men can’t” as proof that we will always remain different/unequal erases women who are unable to conceive, or women who do not want to bear children, as well as a range of trans experiences. Not all women are able to bear children, not all women menstruate, and plenty of folks live outside of the bodily gendered binaries we assume. We mustn’t be biologically reductive.

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i imagine the dude she kills is the embodiment of misogyny. so satisfying.

 

And equality has never been about equivalency. Separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional for education, because being equivalent doesn’t always mean that the spirit of equality is being honored. I do not think that being injured or disabled is the same as getting pregnant, however in both cases the ableness of one’s body is compromised. We have determined that folks that are injured or disabled have a right to work, and that right should be extended to those who are pregnant.

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And what is so interesting to me, is that this is actually a conservative issue. The state has a vested interest in regulating families, and in encouraging its citizens to procreate so that there are evermore citizens. It’s similar to gay marriage, an issue I am always confounded by. Marriage is a conservative value, and if you truly value the nuclear family and two parent home, then you should be an advocate for gay marriage. The more people creating those kinds of unions, the more those values continue to guide our society and the more regulated sex and the family continues to be by the state. The same with this issue. Encouraging women to become mothers by assuring that their jobs will be safe and they will be able to work and earn is not exactly a liberal fantasy. In this case, the state should recognize it’s interest both in regulating the family and encouraging the work force. It should be a no brainer.

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And yet. I wonder how the justices will see this. They have seriously let me down recently, and I fear that people will conflate the issue of pregnancy advocacy, which is a feminist issue, with leftist liberalism and dismiss it. But it’s important to remember that feminism isn’t liberal or conservative, and that the interests of women across race and class lines span a broad array of values and belief systems. Reproductive rights don’t begin and end with abortion. Folks should be able to get or not get pregnant, to access the full range of care they need, to determine the state of their bodies, and to do so while pursuing their economic and personal goals. Peggy should not have been forced into unpaid leave because she was temporarily limited, while ‘light duty’ remains available for other workers. If the choice to drink and drive is accommodated, then the choice to create new life should also be accommodated. And yet, misogyny runs so deep that for some, any chance to demean or limit women must be taken. We do indeed treat pregnant women poorly, often limiting their autonomy and assuming they must be protected (or assuming they must be protected against.) It astounds me that some parties will vote against their own interests because something is seen as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’. Those two sides, they are made up, they are socially upheld and constructed. Kind of like gender (ZING!)

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Separate but equal is bullshit, and thinking about equality and social justice in terms of equivalency and sameness  misses the point entirely. Social justice is freedom from sameness, it is permission to be different and live on your own terms. It is a world where your choices aren’t determined by your gender, or your race, or your ability to participate as a cog in the capitalist machine. It’s a world where pregnant women can continue to work, where both families and single folks are supported. How hard is that to understand?

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My Totally Not Serious Pregnancy Scare (and the overblown feelings that followed)

There was never an actual moment where I might have been pregnant.

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I was basically 24 hours late. My body was doing kind of pre-period stuff, but it wasn’t happening in full force. I know that your body changes over time and reacts to what’s happening in your life now and that one day late isn’t cause for alarm. The thing is, I haven’t been late since I started the pill, years ago. So I just had the briefest of thoughts yesterday morning: man, it’d be real crazy if I were pregnant. I didn’t panic, or obsess. It wasn’t a real possibility.

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But once I thought it, I couldn’t un-think it.

I didn’t tell my partner because it wasn’t a situation, it was just a thought. And probably also because we are both excited to make a new human one day in the future and I didn’t wanna burden him with this brief and crazy and unfeasible notion. So I didn’t say anything.

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I called one of my very best-est friends on my way home from work and said ‘This isn’t a real situation but like can you just remind me that it’s not possible’ and she did because she is wonderful and that’s what friends do. And we talked about all the reasons I couldn’t be (I’m on the pill, I almost always use condoms, periods can change as we get older so this isn’t a reliable sign) and also the reasons that now would be not the best time (I’m applying to go to grad school and PhDs take like 5 years, I have very little money and lots of student debt, I’m going to move in a few months to go to aforementioned school, I’m really just a pseud-adult and not a real grown up so caring for another human would be a stretch.) She is a good friend for dealing with the craziness of a ‘situation’ that is really just a crazy thought/wish, and for telling me what I already know.

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Now you may be thinking: Alex, you needn’t have a baby right now if you don’t wanna have one, even if you did find yourself pregnant. And you’d be right. I am lucky enough to live in a state where I could become not-pregnant fairly easily. And I believe with every fiber of my being that a woman should be able to make that choice if it’s right for her, and I detest the men (and yes, it’s men) who are attempting to strip women of that right using furtive, deceptive measures. But if we’re being honest here (and I’d like to think that we are), I would have a baby this minute if I became pregnant. Because I very much want to be a mom. And because I am lucky enough to have a partner that I think would make an incredible dad, and we are both excited for that journey. And I very much want my own mother to be a part of my pregnancy, and then my child’s life. And so if it happened, I wouldn’t have the heart to un-do it.

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So, not to bury the lead (already did that in the title I guess) but I’m not pregnant. Proof appeared last night, at which time I informed my partner that even though I hadn’t ever really thought I was or been worried, I wasn’t. And then I felt something weird: disappointment, and relief.

Neither of those feelings really seemed appropriate given the parameters of the situation. I was never really scared about it, because I haven’t ovulated in almost a decade so it was never a thing that was really happening. So why would I feel relieved? Except that we put much of the burden of sexually responsibility on girls, and I’ve always felt that it was my job to be responsible with my body. And along with this responsibility we instill a great amount of fear. And so even though I knew the facts, I was scared that somehow I had messed up, that I had slipped, that somehow my body had betrayed me because it knows how badly I want to have a baby someday and maybe it decided to take matters into it’s own hands. Maybe my uterus staged a coup.

vive la revolution!
vive la revolution!

So yea, I was relieved that I was still responsible, that my life was still going the way I’ve been planning. But then, I was also palpably disappointed. And I told my friend later ‘I’d never get pregnant right now on purpose because that would be an insane choice, but if it happened on accident I could justify the choice. I could get away with it.’ So I felt simultaneously like I’d dodged a bullet, and missed the chance to use an accident to get away with starting a journey I really do want to take.

Which is why I take what amounts to all the possible precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen. Because, while there may never be a perfect time to have a kid, there are better and less good times. And this time would be less good. And I want to feel like I am capable, like I have the resources, like I am ready to focus on a small human and not myself for the foreseeable future. And I am not ready to do that now. I need to focus on school, on my own path, on my own relationships. And as much as I am amped to get pregnant and create new life one day and would like to start immediately, I can’t make time go faster and I can’t deny that the best decision is to wait.

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I’m pretty surprised by the intensity of my feelings about this not actual scare. I’m totally aware of my own desire to be a mom, but I didn’t know I’d react so strongly to such a none-situation. I know everyone has complicated thoughts and feelings about being a parent. It’s not for everyone (although we assume that all women are nurturing and want to be moms and are probably bad/wrong if they don’t) and it doesn’t always work out and sometimes the timing is off and also sometimes it’s great and kids are a joy and fun and add a wild new dimension to your life. I have a bestie who never wants kids and that’s fine and I don’t tell her ‘you’ll change your mind’ because maybe she won’t and she is still wonderful, obviously. Another bestie just had a precious nugget 7 weeks ago and she adores her but also it’s hard and there are lots of conflicting emotions and very little sleep, for her and her hubby, and that family is officially a work in progress for basically ever. Getting pregnant is a big deal, for your body and your relationships and your future. It’s not a solution to a problem or a babysitting job or a vacation. Becoming a parent is a choice, and if you choose yes that choice lasts forever (God knows Ken & Patricia are still parenting me, also they’re awesome/supportive/loving/hip/the best.)

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the best parents a girl could ask for ❤

 

For now, I’ll just be over here feeling the feels and continuing to make moves towards the blurry future. One day I’ll have the thought ‘What if I’m pregnant?’ and I will feel joy and I will tell my partner right away and I hope that day is right after school is finished and we aren’t moving and we have jobs and my parents will be excited and they’ll help and….

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Who knows really. But I’m not pregnant. Not today.

Sebelius v Hobby Lobby UPDATE: It’s worse than you think

“It’s not that bad!” you might wanna believe. “It’s only a few kinds of birth control, and if they don’t want to pay for it they shouldn’t have to, and women can probably still get it covered from the government, and not paying for it isn’t really restricting access!!”

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Lets address these one by one:

First of all, I maintain that corporations shouldn’t be able to have sincerely held religious beliefs in the eyes of the law. They should not be able to get around the law of the land in this manner. And this whole ‘not wanting to pay for things’ argument is really just tough shit. Because there are lots of things we all pay for that we could reasonably object to, particularly with regards to health insurance. For example, I sincerely believe that the American diet causes heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer. So I don’t want to cover treatment for any of those issues. People should eat more kale and less hamburgers, or pay for their drugs themselves (Sound familiar? Be less slutty, or pony up for your slut medication yourself? Yea, that’s a real thing people argue.) Or the classic Viagra argument. That shit isn’t strictly necessary, and men should deal with their own penis/heart disease issues, why should I subsidize their erections? But also, what is the real difference between paying for it via insurance coverage and paying wages with which employees purchase contraception? Both are technically benefits earned by working. So to me, not including contraception in a benefits package is akin to an employer deciding what you can buy with your hard earned wages. Which is scary, and wrong.

But Alex, you say, it’s only some BC they don’t wanna cover. There are still lots of options!

1) If the options are legal and FDA approved, there shouldn’t be limits imposed by your employer because they aren’t a doctor and their ‘sincerely held beliefs’ aren’t backed by science and they don’t know what’s best for your body and health. Full Stop.

2) This ruling is limited to only contraception, however it is not limited to only the 4 kinds that Hobby Lobby opposes. I repeat: Companies that wish to are able to stop covering any type of contraception they have a ‘sincerely held religious’ objection to. Here are the 82 companies that currently have cases pending. Not all object only to EC and IUDs.

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Additionally, I’d like to point out that not covering something is indeed restricting access for many many families. Contraception isn’t cheap. The reason that coverage was mandated when the ACA was passed is because the medical community widely recognized that contraception comprises basic care for women and families, and that it should be universally covered like other forms of necessary and preventative care. When it isn’t covered, women and families are forced to make tough decisions. It’s like if health insurance didn’t cover mammograms or prostate exams. These kinds of procedures are covered because they save lives, and often prevent more expensive and harmful issues from occurring. Contraception has the same effect on the lives of women and families.

Finally, the work around. Remember, this work around currently only applies to non-profits that are exempt, so they will need to extend it to for-profit closely held companies. They most likely will, but as of now it’s hypothetical. Regardless of the fact that women shouldn’t have to endure extra steps to get the basic care they need, the federal work around isn’t working smoothly for the non-profit employees. Because companies are assholes. In order for employees to seek coverage from the government, the employer must put in writing that they object to providing coverage. But employers don’t want to put it in writing, because that would allow access which obviously they are against. Erin over at Jezebel explains, complete with sass:

If your company objects, the workaround as it exists as of yesterday requires them to register their objection in writing. This will allow employees of said companies to obtain BC through the government rather than through their employers. Problem is, nonprofits that have been offered that workaround have said that signing a slip of paper objecting to birth control, thus enabling their employees to obtain birth control via other means, violates their religious freedom because it’s a tacit endorsement of birth control/murder/sluts/slutmurder.

It’s a real clusterfuck.

So then, what does this really mean. Is it about upholding your own values? Or forcing your values onto those around you? Is it about personal integrity, or controlling women’s bodies?

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Nope. I call bullshit. We cannot live in a religiously diverse nation if part of what it means to act religiously is to impose your beliefs on others. That’s a catch 22. And it’s really insidious and toxic that this ruling encourages the parts of religious exercise that seek to control women. Only contraception is covered under the exemption. Only the kinds of medicine that help empower women to have control over their bodies and their sex lives. Some women need this medicine for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, and some women cannot safely become pregnant, and those are really compelling points. But the real issue is that women should be able to not get pregnant if that’s what they choose, and they should have access to the medicine needed to safely have sex with their chosen partner(s). That is not radical, and it’s not anyone else’s business. We have all kinds of medicine that, it could be argued, allow people to act recklessly without consequences. People are allowed to smoke cigarettes despite the myriad health risks, and their eventual treatment is covered. We have drugs for constipation, gas, weight loss, diabetes, and heart disease, despite the fact that those issues are largely caused by poor diet and could be remedied with the proper nutrition shift. But controlling what people eat is crazy! They can eat what they want, and how much. Fine. So why is sex different?

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Employers who find contraception morally reprehensible should figure out how to make money without female employees, or perhaps it would be easier if they accepted the full humanity of all women and all people and worried about the state of their own soul instead of forcing their will on other folks who are just trying to live life. I can’t help but think a lot of this would be a non issue if folks learned how to mind their own fucking business.

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Yea but, they don’t. And the justices are whack. And lots of companies could potentially stop coverage and refuse the work around, legally. I hope Obams is working furiously to figure this out, hopefully maybe by mandating that if you don’t provide coverage you MUST put your objection in writing, thus allowing employees to seek full coverage else where. But it shouldn’t require this much thought or effort. Women shouldn’t be forced to work this hard to get basic care coverage.

 

The Supreme Court and their Supremely Disappointing Recent Decisions: Why Don’t They Think Women Matter?

The three branches of our government are supposed to keep each other in check. But our supposedly balanced arms are broken. Probably equally so, but this past week, the Supreme Court has been the most disappointing (and being more disappointing than Congress, even temporarily, is a pretty big accomplishment.)

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The first disappointing decision was especially disappointing because it was unanimous.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg, where the fuck were you on this day? And Justice Sotomayor? Et tu? McCullen v Coakley dealt with buffer zones around abortion clinics, in this case in the city of Boston. The Justices decided that these zones were a strain on the free speech of protesters. Justice Roberts even went so far as to imply that abortion clinic protestors aren’t protestors. From his ruling:

While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.

 

But to characterize these interactions as personal, caring or consensual is a joke. These people do not care if women wish to engage with them, and they are often violent and disruptive to the health care that women are seeking. They harass and threaten patients and employees. They are not small quiet grad ma’s with Bibles. The laws are in place because employees and patients have been assaulted and killed. And furthermore, free speech isn’t unlimited. You can’t throw a ticker tape parade down 5th Ave without clearance, you can’t block sidewalks, and the very Justices who handed down this decision rule from behind their very own buffer zone.

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They just decided that women’s right to get health care, which is basic, isn’t as serious as the rights of anti-choice protestors to ‘speak out.’ They ignored the evidence that the violence is a real threat. And FYI, these clinics are often providing a wide array of health care such as cancer screenings, STD tests, and even pre and post natal care. NOT THAT IS MATTERS BECAUSE ABORTION IS LEGAL AND ITS A PRIVATE MEDICAL MATTER. I urge you, if you are able and live in an area where clinics are unsafe, consider being a clinic escort. And my deepest thanks to the brave folks already providing this care in the face of danger, and the volunteers who try to make the experience less terrible. These folks deserve better from the justice system.

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Secondly, in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby, the court decided yesterday that corporations that are closely held can deny women coverage for certain types of birth control, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Now, to me, the first issue here is that CORPORATIONS AREN’T HUMANS. Is that not obvious? Companies cannot have sincerely held religious beliefs, because that’s fucking silly. But the courts say they do, and that contraception is the only kind of coverage that religious beliefs can be used to deny. So right off the bat, the decision limits the scope by privileging some types of religious beliefs over others (the beliefs against blood transfusions or anti depressants, for example. [All 5 dudes who ruled this way are Catholic, just an FYI fun fact.]) The exemption only applies to companies that want to limit health care options for it’s female employees. Stellar. But even more disturbingly, the decision elevates these sincerely held beliefs over science. The corporations in question believe that IUD’s and emergency contraception cause abortions. According to the medical and legal definitions, that is categorically untrue. These methods do not end pregnancies, they prevent them. So the law says that even when religious beliefs fly in the face of accepted science, we should honor those beliefs over the actual facts, and at the expense of millions of women. Religious beliefs shouldn’t be used as a weapon to police the behavior of others, and freedom of religion shouldn’t trump the right of millions to life, liberty, and the pursuit of fucking happiness (fucking here being both literal and emphatic!)

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Here’s the lynch pin guys: birth control is basic health care for women. It isn’t frivolous. It’s not just for sluts, as the right would have us believe. 99% of sexually active women will use BC in their lifetime, and the education and access to this basic health care should indeed be as universal as other care. It should be covered. Remember, men’s sexual needs are universally covered and deferred to, and I doubt those 5 men would have ruled in favor of companies whose sincerely held religious beliefs oppose Viagra. If erections and other penis issues count as basic care, then so should family planning and vagina needs. I’ve read comments that claim this isn’t a big deal, that companies will still provide coverage for some birth control and if they believe this other stuff is morally wrong it’s not a problem. This is categorically false. Employers shouldn’t get to decide what method of basic care you seek. And they shouldn’t get to limit the health care decisions of workers. They don’t wanna pay for it? Well you know what, I don’t want my taxes going to the industrial military complex, and I’d like it to go only to fixing potholes in the bike lanes and public education. But that’s not how the system works. You don’t get to pick and choose.

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This decision elevates the accepted patriarchal reality of “closely held corporations” (UGH) and the needs of it’s religious owners over the real lives of women.  5 men decided that corporate personhood was more viable than the rights of actual human women. So they don’t have to pay for women’s choices. But we all pay for each other’s choices everyday, that’s how taxes and also insurance works. It’s fine if you disagree with that system and work to change or dismantle it, but these kinds of exceptions undermine the norm and elevate patriarchy. They do not serve justice or the needs of most citizens. And it’s wildly important that this is only about contraception, because that means it’s really about women’s bodies and women’s sex lives. It’s about control.

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Yesterday, I was disheartened. It felt, in a really tangible way, like a personal attack. And it is personal. Because this ruling upholds the idea that women mustn’t make their own choices, that their bodies aren’t their own, and that they don’t have a right to the sex life of their choosing. This exemption validates the needs of men while undermining the existence of women as full humans. It’s personal because who and how we choose to love and fuck is personal, and our sexual health isn’t incidental or a second class issue. It’s central to our health and our lives.

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I’m not sure what to do about these rulings. A murderous rampage crossed my mind. I’d like to say we should all vote, and that is important, but we don’t vote directly on these judges so that feels like a round about solution (but obviously vote, duh.) So I say we just get loud, keep shouting until they take us seriously. Add your name to the Planned Parenthood dissent, join the Lady Parts Justice protest, and have conversations about why this matters. We must stay loud, that’s how these issues gain critical mass. Like the investigations on how colleges handle sexual assault. Slowly but surely, those violations on Title IV are being handled. Because we screamed about it. And we need to scream about this. We need to keep saying, over and over, that our right to bodily autonomy and safety is real, and basic, and paramount. We can’t stop until they stop calling us sluts, until offenders are punished, until our health care is provided no matter what we do or who we work for. We can’t stop until our personhood is upheld and valued. We can’t stop until justice is actually serve.

Gwyneth Paltrow On Working Moms (was she always this insufferable?)

In general, I think it’s pretty weird when fans of celebrities, musicians or actors, think that they somehow know that person. Our fame-whore culture depends on this idea, that celebrities are their ‘real selves’ in interviews and that we, the fans, have access to them completely. But this isn’t true, it never really has been, and for the most part, you do not know anything that really matters about the folks that get worshipped on stage and screen.

That being said, this academy award winning actress has said enough kind of obnoxious things that I am getting a distinct feeling that, well, I do NOT like her.

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But I’m not here to throw shade just for the sake of throwing shade. I’m here to tell you about some comments she made in a recent interview with E! News that are super out of touch, and also violate what I think is a key understanding amongst feminists, women, and all who stand as allies. Which is we stick together and acknowledge our differences without throwing shade or making implications about the circumstances or choices of others. We need to stick together.

This hilarious retort in the New York Post sums up my feelings of snark about her thoughts. Here are some of her thoughts:

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening… When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

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Yea, and their should be haters after that comment, which is sprinkled in with other laments about how she doesn’t like to play the lead because then she has to be on set every day. And about how she limits herself to one movie a year. And I mean, yea, in her world I guess those things can be a bummer.

But to say that being a movie star who gets paid millions of dollars per film is harder than being a working mom with a 9-5p? I just-

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The thing is, we shouldn’t be counting other people’s money or making assumptions about their lives. I am not saying that she has an easy time, parenting. And now that she is separated she will be a single mom and that is rough and a hard thing for families to go through. But it’s super bad form for her to say that other moms have it easier. Because other mom’s have to worry about things like child care and how to afford it, and how to take time off if they need to care for a sick kid. They need to worry about health insurance, making dinner after a full day, and the overarching pressure that comes with being a family breadwinner and knowing that if you lose your job your family will suffer.

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Money does not solve all your problems, and indeed it can create new ones. But money can buy you lots of help, and savings can mean security. Working mother’s should be sticking together, working to implement family leave, sponsored child care, and the full range of reproductive choices every woman and mother needs to make the best decisions for herself and her family. Whining about how hard your life is and speculating that ‘regular working moms’ have it easier is just… counterproductive. And it’s obnoxious. And it’s not helping to promote any of the issues that could help not just you, oscar-winning Gwyneth, but all mom’s everywhere.

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Bottom line: speculation about how hard or easy anyone else has it in this life is a complete waste of time. Everyone has their own shit, even people with trust funds and lots of cash to burn. It doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes greedy or obnoxious or out of touch, but we can all be those things. These quotes are so cringe-worthy because she sounds so out of touch with the reality of other people’s live, and there is a complete lack of empathy. We all need more empathy for each other, so that we can work together. And especially moms because moms are amazing and so are dads and parenting is a feat of total courage and faith. I’d like for our culture to start putting their money where their mouth is, and instead of just talking about how amazing moms are actually start to help them with concrete policies and programs. Lets forget about Gwyneth all together, I don’t wanna hate on her and her silly comments. I just want to focus on the moms that matter. Which is all moms.

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The Economics of Sex (OR misinformation and subjective data interpretation with dumb animation)

Here is an infuriating video from The Austin Institute for the Study of Family & Culture about how sex is a commodity and marriage is always good and men and women are operating under a strange and simple system that disregards their personalities and desires. I honestly had a hard time getting through it, so I’m gonna present my thoughts in a sort of live blog format. What follows is a (largely unedited) list of the thoughts I had while watching, so you can listen and follow along. Anything in italics are thoughts I’ve added after the fact to expound on the  more important(ly disturbing) points. And there are gifs because I love gifs and they make this whole thing easier to think about.

~first assumption: marriage is good and divorce is bad This is obviously untrue depending on where and when you are in history and who you are personally. Just a gross simplification of people’s lives. Completely stupid. 

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~is sex a commodity? Definition: a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee. So, no. 
~is it an exchange? Yes, but what is being exchanged is not axiomatic or universal.

~men have a higher sex drive- NO Just, no. 

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no.

~how can you possibly know that they link sex to romance less often? The general use of data to support their point without actual stats/sources and without mentioning that interpretation of data is not entirely objective is super manipulative. 

~female motivations: expressing love, commitment, affirming desirability, security. uuuummmmmmm what? how is that shown in the data? Also, those motivations are not gender specific, lots of people have sex for those (and other varied) reasons.

sex will happen when women want it to? what? relationships all work the exact same way all the time???!?

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~men want sex but women don’t? men sacrifice for sex but women don’t?

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~market value. no. there are cultural expectations, and no it isn’t entirely private, but sex is not a supply and relationships are not a price. To paraphrase a perfect Jezebel comment I read on this topic: I am not a cow. My vagina is not milk. My partner is not a customer. 

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~comparing pesticides to birth control is not so subtle and gross

~’lowering the cost of sex’ would apply for everyone… And this is where the metaphor stops working the way they want. People generally like it when things are cheaper, especially things they like a lot of. So really, from where I’m standing, everyone benefits if the ‘cost of sex’ drops. But ‘the cost of sex’ isn’t an actual real thing in terms of how humans live their lives so this is a dumb point all around.

~’sex was oriented towards marriage.’ THIS IS HETERONORMATIVE AND TOTALLY LIMITED.  Also, again, assumed to be positive. But I happen to think that more people having agency over their bodies and experiencing a greater variety of relationships/orgasms is super positive. 

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~yea the unanticipated side affect is more autonomy for everyone, mostly women, and we are still adapting to the gender role shift. It’s not a catastrophe comparable to THE ONGOING DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT. Not even close.

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~”in the past it really wasn’t the patriarchy that policed women’s relational interests, it was women. but this agreement, this unspoken pact to set a high market value of sex has all but vanished. but in a brave new world where having sex no longer means babies and marriage has become optional, the solidarity women once felt towards each another in the mating market has dissolved. Women no longer have each other’s backs. on the contrary, they’re now each other’s competition.” SO BAD. This is, for me, the most destructive idea, because it actually blames the entire problem on women. Women policing other women’s behaviors was not a result of a worldwide agreement to ‘set a high market value of sex.’ It was a result of patriarchal ideas about women’s sexuality, and the ensuing rules and options regarding sexual behavior and marriage. Getting an oppressed people to participate in their own oppression is a wildly smart and effective tactic that has been used by the elite and powerful for centuries. Women were always each other’s competition. Marrying has historically been one of women’s best options for climbing the social ladder and creating a better life for themselves. It was not about sisterly bonds anymore or less than it is now. And to blame women for their own devaluation is just such bullshit, it’s taking it back to Eve and original sin and I will not stand for it. I will not take it seriously as an idea and I will not internalize guilt or self-disgust and I will not accept that women are to blame for their own  institutionalized and culturally accepted oppression. 

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~so women control sex and men control marriage, but women want marriage and men want sex. THAT IS COMPLETELY SIMPLE AND OUTRAGEOUS. The only limits on humans behavior are societal norms and cultural expectations. If people tend to act in certain predictable ways, it is due largely to videos like this, that expound a divisive and dangerous perspective on relationships and gender roles.

~this video puts women as the gatekeepers of morality, specifically men’s morality. this is terrible for everyone but especially for men. This idea is not new, but it is just as damaging for men as it is for women. If men are just a-moral dummies wandering this world and women must control them (in part by controlling their own behavior) then humans have an extremely limited capacity for depth and for growth. It means that men are silly boys and women must act as every man’s mommy. It’s gross, and reductive, and it sells every single person on the planet short.

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~so in this world sex is a commodity linked to marriage, and no one can possibly want other kinds of relationships, to explore one of those things without the other, and only heterosexual sex/marriage exist and matter.  It’s really not rocket science kids. There are an immeasurable amount of reasons that a person would want to have sex, with whomever that person wants to have sex with. And it is true that sexual and romantic relationships are kinda tough these days because we are all dealing with the break down of traditional roles in a rapidly changing/ technology flooded world. But harder doesn’t mean worse. I fail to see how people being liberated to explore more options is bad. I fail to see how a world with less marriages is bad. I fail to see how the break down of gender roles is bad. I do see a world where (hopefully) folks will be less constrained by cultural ideas of who they should be or how they should act or who/what they should desire. Sex is not something to be traded for commitment, that idea is so passive aggressive and fucked up. If you want commitment you should ask for it and if you want sex you should ask for it and if you are still trying to figure it all out then just be as honest as possible but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Men are not all soulless animals looking for a trophy wife while trying to satisfy base instincts and women are not all worrying manipulators who are wielding their sex as a weapon while counting down  their remaining days of fertility. People are people, with complicated motivations and a variety of desires that may even be existing in the same moment and sometimes communicating is hard and this kind of distorted, reductive information is bullshit and I won’t accept it. Don’t allow anyone to dictate your desires or tell you the right way to get what you want. Women and men do not exist as separate groups that act as one singular entity, and no one is actually beholden to this garbage about what it means to be a man or a woman. You exist as you, and you act as yourself.  And you are probably great. 

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we woke up like this. flawless.

And you know what else, there actually was a time where sex was part of an economy. But it was women and girls, their bodies and minds and whole selves,  who were actually being bought and sold as familial property. This is not something to be nostalgic about nor is it a time to long for or extoll the forgotten virtues of. It was gross and patriarchal, a time where women’s bodies were not their own and where women did not possess full humanity. And it is a time that, frankly, we are not yet past despite some incredible progress. Until all women are free from the threats of sexual and reproductive violence and until women are economically independent worldwide and until this kind of video propaganda with this misogynist/homophobic/sexist worldview ceases to be disseminated (or have widespread support) we cannot truly say that we are beyond the historical moment of gender tyranny.

smashpatriarchy

Let’s get beyond it.

Rage Post: When Republicans Say Fucked Up Things II (UPDATED!)

Well, that didn’t take long did it.

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In today’s addition, we meet Senator Rand Paul. This is not my first moment I’ve had shameful violent urges towards this elected official after reading one of his quotes, but the line of thinking he puts forth is super common among folks on the right and it’s a major ‘fuck you’ to women everywhere, and so lets take a listen so we can learn just how much they give zero fucks.

“Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount… I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.”

Now, I think that his kind of policy is disgusting. The government shouldn’t be deciding how big of a family a person can have. It is, however, already policy in some states. I find that shameful. Because, you know what a better plan is? ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE AND SAFE SEX EDUCATION/CONTRACEPTION/ABORTION DUH OBVIOUSLY OMG.

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I’m already yelling. There’s more. He goes on:

…married with kids versus unmarried with kids is the difference between living in poverty and not.

The stats don’t entirely back that up. More importantly, it smacks of a deep bias towards a state sanctioned union, with zero regard for the real world. Not all relationships can or should result in marriage, and the link between unmarried mothers and poverty is much more complicated than a lack-of-marriage-certificate. Marriage is not directly correlated with poverty rate, nor with happiness or success. It is not the answer to this problem.

The answer is giving folks the tools they need to have safe, consensual sex.

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The kind of policy Senator Paul is describing polices only women, because it is our body that gets pregnant as a result of sex. So the logical conclusion based on his comments reads: you can’t have sex ed or birth control, but you also can’t get pregnant: ergo you shouldn’t be having sex. As if sex is some kind of privilege for folks who can either afford to get educated and procure contraception on their own, or for those who can afford to support children. That’s ridiculous. Women having sex is natural, the same way men having sex is natural. But he is not talking about men, or giving men instructions on how to stop having sex so they don’t participate in a pregnancy. No, the onus is entirely on the woman. But we can’t allow her access to contraception. Wait. We’re going in circles.

Here's a helpful Venn Diagram!
Here’s a helpful Venn Diagram!

My question: WHAT IS YOUR PLAN? What’s the plan guys? No sex ed, no contraception, no abortion, no pre-natal care and no support or job training for single moms… So. People should just keep their legs closed? And by people I mean poor women?

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Ew. That idea is misogynistic and prejudiced in all manner of ways. It’s sex-negative, anti safety and the opposite of empowering. It lacks empathy and logic. Do they hear themselves when they talk?  They have no plan, they do not care about women’s health or sexual well being, and they are in complete denial about the real life needs of girls and women all over the country.

over it.
over it.

Rage Post: When Republicans Say Fucked Up Things

I fear this post is episode 1 of what will surely be an ongoing and arduous journey. I will try not to angry post about every dumb thing that comes out of some white man politician’s mouth, cause really, I don’t have that much free time on my hands and neither do you. But this is, well, rul bad, and it’s Friday and YOLO so let’s go ahead and rage.  Here. Watch.

Seethe.

If you can’t bear to watch that, here it is in good old text form.

Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication…  And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say enough of that nonsense.

First of all, Mike Huckabee doesn’t know any women. At least not any women who like him.

But seriously, this is some really gross and disgusting bullshit. It is a complete distortion of reality. He is trying to make is seem as though the government is rescuing us female damsels with birth control because we don’t have the power to control our bodies without them. That is so twisted it’s almost funny.

First of all, having access to safe and affordable contraception isn’t anyone’s only goal in life, asshole. But it is super cool and it does provide women with added autonomy and mobility in their lives and decision making. Next, birth control is not the government rescuing women. Tax payers are not paying the cost of covered contraception. The ACA mandates that insurance must cover birth control because it is a necessary part of a woman’s overall health (SIDENOTE: the first time I picked up my BC at CVS and the pharmistist was like “Oh, it’s covered now” my jaw dropped, I put my debit card back and said “I fucking love Barack Obama” and she said “Yea girl.” End Scene.) And it is integral. 99% of women who are sexually active have used contraception. Providing us with what we need is not rescuing us, it’s a reaction to women’s continual demands that our sexual health is paramount, and that our health depends on these resources. Taking birth control does not mean our bodies are out of control, and birth control isn’t about a lack of self control, you ignorant prick. If almost all women have used birth control, including the virgins and sluts and wives and girlfriends the single ladies and the mothers, then what you are saying is that all women are wanton harlets. That isn’t true. And if it was true, it would be 100% A-OK BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Also, new rule: I hereby ban the use of the terms libido and Uncle Sugar, forthwith, from now until eternity please and thank you EW goodbye.

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how they really think it’s possible that this shit will fly. Do they really think that making access to contraception harder is doing women a favor? And do they really think we will believe that? I also don’t get how they don’t see the irony of trying to block access to birth control while keeping their Viagra prescriptions filled to the max and covered by insurance. Holy sexist double standard batman!

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I am really sick of hearing old [mostly] white guys talk about women’s bodies and women’s wants and needs. Just stop. If you have never stopped to think about what it would be like to be pregnant and scared, stop proposing legislation that would affect young girls and women in ways that you will never have to understand and don’t even deign to try and empathize with. I feel like I’m totally rambling… it’s hard to even write coherent sentences after reading that quote. Maybe it’d be a good idea to just let them keep running their mouths, so they can continue to alienate folks who give a shit about women (which, fortunately, it quite a few people) and then those folks will use their voting power and then they will all go away. I am hopeful that the back lash against feminism and the gains made thanks to the tireless work of activists will be over soon and we can stop having these ridiculous conversations. If that sounds naivee, well it’s Friday and I can’t be pessimistic all the time and damnit I still believe that Obama is dope and a step in the right direction and maybe we’ll see women get to even numbers in the political arena in my lifetime. Maybe one will even make it all the way…

rachelandhill

A girl can dream.

Further Reading: Five Important Sex Ed Lessons for Republican Lawmakers

This is Too Good

So first, let’s laugh. Seriously, I’ve watched like like half a dozen times. For the record, this post is gonna be more frivolous than serious. (Ok I am really annoyed that I can’t embed this, but its VERY worth opening the extra window I promise.)

VIDEO STEVE COLBERT HILARIOUS

Colbert just hits the nail on the head. Women’s health issues are categorically denied importance. It’s really only been a little over 50 years that they tested drugs on both sexes, figuring that testing on men was good enough. And Viagra was the fasted approved drug by the FDA ever. And of course no one has a problem covering that under health insurance. As if boners are the most important problem doctors have to consider. Barf. For some women, their yearly gyno visit isn’t covered because it’s considered a specialist. And of course Freud blamed the uterus for everything from hysteria to insomnia. But I digress.

Colbert’s performance here is flawless and brilliant. Obviously providing birth control will not mean that everyone starts orgies in the street. And if you don’t wanna pay for abortions or support welfare for large families, THEN WHAT IS YOUR PLAN??? Sex is not simple and it’s not wrong, and people must have options. My absolute favorite moment is the T-Rex arms. Go watch it again. The truth is, women have been using birth control for centuries, it has just always been primitive and unreliable. And the issue is severely gendered given the nature of motherhood which is incontestable vs. fatherhood which is always in question. I already resent having to carry the burden of birth control with my internal hormone system while boys get to take it on and off. And then I mean breast pumps, how can you not support breast pumps? If your stance is that you want people (or at least some people) to be fruitful and multiply, how can you object to helping those babies get fed? I’m baffled.

Now, that woman at the end I could just slap. The lack of empathy and sisterhood is truly nauseating. To compare abuse counseling to a mani/pedi is unforgivable. To deny the next generations access to safe sex is selfish, and to me it illustrates how fucked up our leadership system is. Because this is really not a question of morals. Birth control is something that even adults in monogamous hetero relationships need, not just people having “bad sex.” The people who oppose this are obviously not thinking logically and they aren’t thinking about the needs of the people. They are thinking along strict ideological lines with no flexibility and no logical rules, and this is no way to govern. It’s silly and irresponsible, not to mention mean, pushy and severely irritating.

Ok well, I’m gonna watch that video again because he just nails it. If you’d like to read up on my previous thoughts on birth control, here are some posts you may enjoy:

Will.I.Ain’t (Jerk!)

Wrap it up and Keep it Clean

Follow up! The Emphasis on Safe Sex Continues…

Will.I.Ain’t (Jerk!)

Well guys, this really broke my heart, because not only do I like that Boom Boom Pow, but I’ma be up in the club doin’ whatever I like. *SIGH* Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas made some seriously obnoxious comments in an interview will Elle Magazine recently. There is this great response from the body.com that addresses all of the issues I have with said comment, which you can read here.

Ok so in case you don’t feel like reading that, basically Will thinks that girls with condoms are ‘tacky’ and he wouldn’t be into that female. To paraphrase what author Kellee Terrell says, this is an antiquated, anachronistic, provincial view. It shows a lack of true understanding not only of how relationships evolve, but also of how people begin sexual relations. It also shows how little Will knows about women’s emotional landscape, and how issues of power/abuse/insecurity may be working in any given room with any given woman. But I don’t really wanna talk about him, because she’s already done that, completely and intelligently. I wanna talk to you.

These comments sadden me because they point to the kind of man that has ego issues. Men who don’t like women who are sexually independent/prepared/responsible are not men of quality. If he wants exclusive control over whether or not protection is used, it’s paramount to wanting control of you and your body. He probably will also want control over other aspects of the relationship. It’s so gross to think about how guys are still threatened by women who can think for themselves. Like we should all just smile shyly and hope for the best. That doesn’t work if you want to have an orgasm, and it’s not going to work if you want to have safe sex every time. I’m the first to admit that condoms aren’t exactly sexy or romantic. But a partner who respects your body and your health sure as shit is. You shouldn’t have to ask, but if you do and no one in the room has one, how likely are you to stop? The only thing worse than bad sex is almost-sex. Being prepared means that you will get off easier knowing that no one in the room is at risk (or at least the risk is way reduced: 98% effective against pregnancy, and also significantly reduces the risk of STD’s, including HPV and especially HIV.)

if you need it, have a whole effing bowl! whatever it takes!

Will seems to think that every relationship happens in a calm manner, with people who communicate perfectly, where everyone is safe. But of course this isn’t true. Obviously you can’t always predict how your partner will behave, but you do have control over yourself and your actions. Being prepared means being empowered. That way, there isn’t any wiggle room and you damn well know that no one can use a lame excuse, like ‘I forgot’ or ‘I ran out’. We all know that power dynamics, especially in a sexual situation, are not stacked in our favor. Speaking up is not easy. (I almost always hesitate, but then I remember that I’m already prepared so there is no space for alternative outcomes.) If a guy is turned off by your knowledge, by your desire to have not only sex, but safe sex, then that guy doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near your naked body. So please please please, if you are sexually active, keep condoms in your house. And if you encounter an unenlightened misogynist jerk like this pop star, put your clothes back on while you kick him out and then go pick up someone who will appreciate the fact that this isn’t 1954.

For more information on condoms, check out my previous posts about safe sex: not just this one, but this one too!