Activist Mommy

Amnesty International made the decision to campaign for women to have access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or where the woman’s life is in danger. Many see this is a huge step forward in valuing women’s lives but it still falls short of valuing their bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that this is a huge step forward. But I feel that by not going all the way they are still pandering to those against abortion and still not supporting women completely.

Amnesty has been quick to point out that this decision does not signal a move towards recognising abortion as a woman’s right, that it is only advocating abortion in certain circumstances.

Women have the right not to be pregnant. You have the right not to have something attached to you, feeding off of you, and inhibiting you. It’s a body-right for everyone. We should do everything we can to help prevent the unwanted pregnancies before they happen, but we also have to accept that they do happen. Even in happy, healthy, loving families birth control can still fail. Even the most educated person can give in to the heat of the moment. And when dealing with some women they simply do not have access to the information needed to prevent the pregnancy. To only allow those women who are in dangerous situation to ahve abortions we are ignoring those women.

Every year 80,000 women across the world die as a result of unsafe abortion. History has shown us time and time again that denying access to abortion does not stop women from terminating unwanted pregnancies, all it does is drive them underground, more often than not into the hands of backstreet abortionists. Alternatively, denying abortion forces women into taking their own desperate measures, and contributes to 13% of global maternal deaths annually.

But the Roman Catholic Church is still outraged. While they pay lip service to protecting women, they still demand that women carry to term and often raise alone the children from these pregnancies. With circumstances such as Dufar happening and the Roman Cathlic Church wanting no way out for these women I wonder how it is that those who are pro-choice are considered the satanists.

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{August 20, 2007}   Is Feminism Dead?

That what one article points to. Feminism is dead for most women today tries to tell me that the leaders (namely Fay Weldon) are giving up. I don’t buy it. I can tell you it is on just by the writer calling it a “battle of the sexes” alone. The abortion debate alone tells me that there is still feminism, and still a need for feminism in today’s world. There are still gender pay gaps, still sexism, still entire groups who would toss out working mothers and return us all to the 1950s if they could. Feminism is alive and well, even if it’s not shouted from the rooftops as much as it once was.

Weldon, whose novels typically portray women trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of society, said “vast changes” in the balance of the sexes had turned many of her early best-sellers into “historical documents”.

“The change has been so vast it’s hard for the younger generation to realise there is a continuing need,” she said.

We have made a lot of progress, and that seems to be both and good and bad thing. While it is great how far we have come, it seems we are at a point when a lot of younger women who did not have to fight for what they see today as rights feel like the fight is over. And that’s tough, watching women toss out the idea of feminism without really looking at it and how much we need it. But it certainly isn’t dead. Not by a long shot.

However, comedian Lucy Porter said she thought feminism was still very much part of the female agenda.

“I think there are still plenty of women who realise that feminism isn’t a dirty word. It went through a very unpopular period in the late 80s and early 1990s where feminist were equated with lesbian. There’s been a resurgence.

“I certainly feel like I don’t get as many women openly saying, ‘I don’t believe in this feminist nonsense any more.’ Maybe there is a period in your 20s, you don’t realise so much that the world is still unfair.

“It’s not the gender war, it’s not about the battle of the sexes. I think that male chauvinist pigs are few and far between. There is still a pay gap, globally there are still issues, and childcare – which is an issue for both sexes but largely a female concern.”

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{August 13, 2007}   Being a Woman Is a Messy Lot

I read a great article over the weekend over at The F-Word. The article, Skirting The Issue, is a great piece on marketing products towards women and trying to sell more stuff we don’t really need. All in the name of feminie hygene. Products like panty liners, to keep your underwear clean from “daily natural discharge”. Or, as Harriet Reuter Hapgood put it in the article

At some point it was decided that underwear was no longer a functional item to prevent your clothes from being soiled; underwear itself was promoted to the level of clothing, or fashion, and must therefore be protected. Enter the pantyliner. The logic behind the product is simple: if you can only sell sanitary towels and tampons to women one week in every four, you need a new product to fill those remaining three weeks.

As she points out there are a few thousand different products on the market for “feminie hygene”. Or “what can we make to both convince women they are dirty and make a few billion in the process?” We can’t exactly be exiled to the red tent for a week anymore, so they have to find a new tactic to make sure we know that our bodies, and their normal processes, are dirty. So dirty that not only do you need to buy their products to keep it all cleaned up, but they won’t even mention what “it” is. What exactly is “daily natural discharge”? They won’t say, but you need to buy their pantyliners to stop it from soiling your panties. Like your mother telling you to make sure you are wearing clean underwear in case you get into an accident, you want to be wearing clean panties in case (fill in the blank here).

In fact, most sanitary products adverts carefully avoid any mention of periods, vaginas, menstruation or vaginal fluids. The fluids usually used in the adverts (if any at all) is often the same as nappy adverts, a clear blue liquid that bears no resemblance to anything that ever emerged from a vagina.

The article ends with some notes on the alternatives women can use. Cloth pads (which several of my friends use and adore), sea sponges, and menstrual cups are a few of the alternative choices. I know that many women aren’t at all comfortable with using any of these. Goddess knows I used to be one. But now I love how freeing it is not to sneak around in the “feminine area” looking for something that will cover any smell or spots or trace that I might *gasp* have a period.
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{August 12, 2007}   Women In The News

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Two interesting and unintentionally connected pieces of info came across my inbox today thanks to Google. The first was a plea from Jill of Feministe to stop obsessing about what women wear.

Women’s bodies are politicized enough as it is. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s awfully sick of women’s clothing choices being used as a bat to beat other women over the head with.

Interesting she should say that. Because the next thing across my inbox was a news story out of Africa. Women protest against pants ban. In the ultimate show of policing what women wear the male residents of Umlazi T-section have created a rule that no woman can wear pants in that area. Women have been stripped naked, their clothing burned, and their homes destroyed for it. For daring to wear pants. I hunted around and found and older article about the same topic, Women: Don’t dare wear trousers in Umlazi.

“There seems to be a conflict of values here, where it’s the old versus the new. If one looks at South African societies, they are all patriarchal and it is difficult for people who assume authoritative roles in homes to adjust to women assuming their own roles and status within society.”

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{August 1, 2007}   World Breastfeeding Week

Welcome to World Breastfeeding Week. From August 1-7 people all over the world will be celebrating breastfeeding and educating others on the benefits of breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding for children is stated by many. But did you know there are just as many health benefits for mothers as well? Benefits such as a delayed mentrual cycle, an extra 200 to 500 calories per day burned, frequent boosts of natural oxytocin, decreased risk of iron-deficiency anemia, reduced risks of various cancers, and much more.

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{July 30, 2007}   Abortion is the New Satanism.

Pop quiz: When watching the move Dirty Dancing* the scene where Penny is in agonizig pain over her botched illegal abortion what thought first came to your mind?

  • A. How horrible! Thank God abortion is safe and legal now so this kind of thing doesn’t happen as often anymore.
  • B. Good! Maybe if more dirty whores died from abortions women would stop murdering their kids.
  • C. Just get back to Patrick Swazy with his shirt off.

If you answered A congratulations, you’re a satanist! No really, you are. Trailer park feminist has helped to shed the light on this feminist=satanist idea. It seems that Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer has taken the whole “us=good, you=evil” idealology to a whole new level by proclaiming that feminists are just satanists with better PR.

The thing that irks me the most is that so many of the in-your-face pro-lifers assume that pro-choice means pro-abortion. Obviously the word “choice” escapes their vocabulary, or maybe just in terms of women having a choice. Why doesn’t pro-choice mean, oh I don’t know, CHOICE? What makes the Rev. so important that he gets to put his way of thinking as “true” and other’s as false? I keep hearing the voice of my grandmother ringing through my head, something about throwing stones. I’m sure the Rev. wouldn’t have a clue what I mean. Is he so unsure of his own beliefs  that he has to put down other’s in such a way to make himself feel better? Because that’s what it feels like to me.

Now I’m going to admit somethign that might cause a few sparks. I’m anti-abortion. It’s true.  But no matter what my personal feelings on abortion are I would never assume that I have any place to tellother women what they can or cannot do. I may agree that abortion is murder, but I’ll fight tooth and nail for your right to have one. Because it’s about choice, it’s about having control over your own body, and it’s about having access to safe and legal medical procedures rather than bleeding to death in a back ally in the middle of the night. Before fighting to make abortions illegal why not put that time and money into educating people on the realities of sex? Maybe if more young people were able to make an informed choice before sex they wouldn’t have to make a choice like this after sex. But there I go again, using that “choice” word in reguards to a woman’s body. Damn satanist I am.

I’ve been comforter for two women in my life that had abortions. The first was carrying a wanted and loved child that was discovered to have a fatal birth defect. Rather than continue a pregnancy that she knew was doomed to fail and put herself and her family through the emotional rollercoaster she had a late-term abortion. It was the most tragic, beautiful, painful, hopeful thing I could ever imagine. The physical pain she felt for weeks left her barely able to get out of bed and care for her other child. When people hold up signs with imagines of dead fetuses and call her a murderer I want to beat them with their own picket signs, I want to scream at them and shake their shoulders until they understand that no woman who walks out of a clinic without a child, wanted or not, is making the decision lightly.

The second was a young girl. She and her boyfriend had gotten pregnant after sneaking around having sex with no understanding of how their bodies worked. I remember sitting in her living room, they were holding hands and talking in a whisper even though no one was home about getting enough money soon. But what stands out is their comments of disbelief. He said “I don’t know how this happened. We never had sex on her period, since that’s the only time a woman can get pregnant.” She followed with “And we were always standing up when we had sex.” This, my friends, is why abstinence programs fail. They don’t stop the sex from happening, they stop the people having sex from a chance to learn and understand and prevent the unwanted pregnancy before it happens. She wasn’t a “bad girl” or a “whore” or a “baby killer”. She was just a kid who only knew as much as she was told and felt the same physical desires that the rest of us feel.

But many pro-lifers don’t think about how to prevent the pregnancies before they happen, other than to say “No sex, ever”. Instead they think that if the blow up enough abortion clinics, hold up enough picket signs, and shame enough women into feeling that they aren’t good enough to ahve a choice over their own bodies that it will somehow end all abortions. I’m afriad that it may jsut be a giant step back.

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*My Netflix came in Saturday and included Dirty Dancing. Hey, nobody puts Baby in the corner.

{July 24, 2007}   Hey you! You’re a feminist!

I get google alerts to my email for certain keywords I’ve selected. Feminism is one of these words, something that always brings me great information. This morning it brought me this post. It is a great posst by a woman trying to work out being a feminist without the negative assumptions that comes with it. And you know there are so many negative assumptions, and some flat out absurdities, floating around about feminists. Like Hilary Duff thinking that feminists automatically are lesbians. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa. But not all feminists are man-hating, lesbians who don’t shave their legs and wear flannel shirts.

A rant on this has actually been building for a bit. Ever since I ran across some blogs, written by women, themed as women who are against feminism. The very idea makes me laugh and cry. You are a woman, voicing your opinion, as if you are equal and your opinion on anything is worth hearing, and yet you are against feminism. Am I the only one seeing the irony and hypocrisy?

Man HatersMaybe it’s just that some people have a different view of feminism than I do? To some they hear “feminism” and imagine angry women   who want to destroy families, enslave men, and burn down the very fabric of civilization. I, on the other hand, imagine a woman who is free to choose as she please, who is equal to any other person despite what is between her legs, who can enjoy the same rights and privledges as everyone else. I imagine a woman capable of making her own choices, whatever those choices may be, and able to voice her opinion on her choices.

Think that is in part why I feel that those women spending time online preaching the horrors of feminism is such a hypocricy. Here are women, voicing their opinion, putting themselves in a place where they feel that their ideas and opinions are important. And they are doing so to preach that they dislike being equal enough to voice their opinions. Isn’t stepping up into a place of authority and voicing your opinion an act of feminism in and of itself? Even if you claim you’re not a feminist you are still using the benefits fought for by feminists. It’s like disagreeing  with the politics of American and saying “I’m not an American.” even though you still live here and enjoy the rights that you get from such. Voting, using birth control, getting equal pay, or just enjoy the right to tell your husband no when you’re not in the mood you are benefiting from feminism.

Ashley Judd This is What a Feminist Looks LikeLike birches5354 says in her post:

At it’s root, I believe feminism is about women acknowledging their own power and not being afraid to make decisions for themselves.

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{July 21, 2007}   A few links

The last week I’ve been helping a friend set up her shop, so I really haven’t had much time for blogging. I’ve tried to get a post in each day, but it’s obvious that I just wasn’t fully available to do any of the topics justice. There are quite a few things I want to talk about, but time has been scarse. Though the shop is all set up now so I can get back to blogging away those few free moments I find. But to make up for my lack of writing here are a few of the things I wanted to talk about, and wasn’t able to.

1. What’s up with the anti-feminist stuff filling up my mailbox? I’ve gotten several emails linking me to some pretty nasty anti-feminist writings going on. Stuff like “the world was better when women knew their place and stayed in the kitchen” and that feminism is responsible for the stress of modern life and those poor men are left to clean up after us. Seriously, WTF?

2. There’s a great post here on why Bush needs to be impeached. Really, the man has nothing left to lose. It’s not like he can run again this coming election, so why should he care how the people feel about him.

3. This article, After College Ends, So Does Activism really hit home with me. Here I am, out of college, in the real world, and struggling to combine my passion with paying the bills. It’s enough to make anyone feel like a sell out.

4. Against the war? Georgie boy can take all your stuff, block anyone from giving you anything (including legal aide to fight it), then laugh into the night. OK, so may I exagerated on the laughing.

OK, now I’m out the door to run to the farmer’s market then to the park with my kids. I’ve got a great post on composting that I want to get up. And on Monday I have a guest post about a great organization that I hope everyone comes back to read.

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  • Farm Dreams has a great list of some Good Books. Three of them are must reads fo the organic,healthy, natural food lovers. There is also a great autobiography on a small farm sitting in the middle of an urban sprawl.
  • The Portland Tribune’s Sustainable Life section features a great book that extols modest living, self-sufficiency as path to happiness. The book is described as an “exuberant celebration of one man’s attempt to live modestly”.
  • The BeHeard blog has six powerful books listed written by Enlightening female authors. These are six deeply important books for all women to read.
  • The GNMParents present some Green Summer Reading that should be on everyone’s list for this summer. From Garage Sale America to The Omnivore’s Dilemma these are definitely books to add to your “must read” lsit.
  • Comfortably Green shares Why having more no longer makes us happy,  an excerpt from Bill McKibben’s new book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

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    et cetera