Tag Archives: women’s health

Dear Francis

5 Dec

The other day I made the grave error of engaging with a troll on The Internet. I know, I know, rookie mistake. But in my defense the only reason I got involved in the second place was because this guy (who we will call Francis) posted something I didn’t like in response to a (rather funny, if you ask me) joke that my uncle posted in the first place. I get irritated when people say things I don’t like to my family and close friends. And so, after some thought about the nature of my response I held my nose between my fingers and dove into the depths, responding to Francis with a clearly thought out and argued historical analysis about the Electoral College’s roots in the era of slavery and how, even today, it gives largely white states undue power in terms of the election of our President and that (among other reasons) is how we ended up with a racist, misogynist, ableist, white nationalist sympathizer in the White House. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my response was met with all kinds of assumptions about who I am and what I believe. And then he said that the election of Trump had nothing to do with racism and that Hillary lost because she was a smug, elitist bitch, but misogyny didn’t play a role, and that I “don’t understand (my) condition as a woman.”

My condition as a woman.

I pretty much tapped out of the conversation at that point but I would just like to say, right here right now, that I am perfectly aware of my “condition” as a woman. It is impossible for me not to be. Here, Francis, let me tell you a little something about it.

Every single month I bleed like crazy. It is like a goddamn flood. I bleed so much that the first two nights I have to sleep with an ultra tampon AND a pad and I have to get up at least once, but usually twice, to change my tampon because I will have bled through it. And, while we’re talking about that, a few years ago they stopped making the tampon that I needed because the OB company decided that, rather than throwing ladies with a heavier-than-average flow some sort of a bone, they would instead discontinue the tampon we relied on and tell us we should go to the doctor because our flow was unhealthy. We were unhealthy. Yeah okay great. Funny enough they only stopped offering the ones I needed in the United States so I had to have someone in Europe buy them and ship them to me so that I wouldn’t have to get up 4 times during the night the first two days of my period. So, Francis, you try forgetting about your “condition” when you’re dealing with that nonsense every 27 days.

And then there is just the day to day business of going out in the world. A few months ago I was heading home from my friend’s place after having dinner. It was warm out and I was wearing a floor length dress that I felt really pretty in. The guy I was walking with was on my left side. Two men approached us. As they passed on the other side of me one of them leaned in and, loudly enough for me to hear but in a low enough volume that my companion wouldn’t, he said “you look good without a bra.” In about a fraction of a second I went from feeling human to feeling like an object. Just like that. Just because some dude felt like pointing out the fact that he was staring at my tits and he liked what he saw. Stuff like that happens to us on the daily. Makes it hard to forget our “condition.”

Oh and then there were the two times that the same dude spit on me while I was running. And that time the delivery guy grabbed my ass as he rode past me on the sidewalk on his way to drop some food at someone’s house. And the time some asshole threw a glass at my face and gave me a black eye all because I dared to tell him I wouldn’t serve him a drink. Oh, man, and that one time I went out to drinks with someone I thought was my friend and he spent the entire time trying to fuck me. And how could I forget that Christmas night that I was reading in a bar and some dude informed me that women only really write about shopping? That was a great night. Oh and the one time I went bra shopping and ended up realizing how ashamed I feel of my own body because I have been disallowed from defining my own sexuality. And, of course, a few weeks ago when we elected a man who, in a recorded conversation, had admitted to repeated sexual assaults. Shall I continue? Because I can. I can go on for days, Francis.

But I won’t.

Honestly, if you don’t get the picture by now you never will. Honestly, Francis, I wish I could be a little bit less aware of my “condition.” Because maybe if I was less aware I could just, you know, live. I could just live like how you just live. Only if I could do that, I wouldn’t spend my spare time telling people about themselves.  I wouldn’t use my energy to talk about things I don’t know and could never hope to understand. I wouldn’t say that misogyny wasn’t a thing all while dismissing someone based on her gender. My stars, if we could be less aware of our “condition,” if we had that luxury, imagine what we could do. Imagine what we could do if we weren’t working as hard or harder for less; imagine what we could say if we weren’t constantly being talked over and talked down to; imagine what fun we could have if we weren’t constantly policing our drinks or concerned about some drunk asshole raping one of our friends; imagine what we could accomplish if people would just see us as equal.

So, you see, I am more aware of my own “condition” than I could possibly put into words. It is made apparent to me day after day after day through my own experiences and through the experiences of my friends. And so Francis when you and people like you dare to tell me what my own experience is, dare to try to explain to me that misogyny isn’t a thing, that this country wasn’t built through an incredibly sexist system, that I have all the opportunities as you, that Clinton wasn’t the victim of the patriarchy, that I should feel lucky for what I have, well you’ll have to excuse me for laughing in your face. Because you are so deeply intrenched in your own damn world view that you have no space for anyone else. And there are a fuck ton of us. So shut up, and get the hell out of our way. We know our lives. Your penis does not make you an expert.

Joe Biden 4Ever

5 Oct

As I said last night during the Vice Presidential debates, my overall feelings remain as follows: I would very much like Joe Biden to be VP forever. Where is science when what this country really needs is the ability to make Joe Biden live on for the rest of time? Behind. That’s where. But seeing as an immortal Biden is probably not in the offing at the moment, perhaps we should discuss what we do have: a Democratic VP candidate who came off overbearing, condescending and elitist against a cool as a cucumber Republican who is horrifyingly socially conservative, but who managed to essentially dodge every single barb lodged his way to come across the clear winner. Not good folks, not good.

So I know we all have lots of very valid feelings about how incredibly unqualified Donald Trump is to be President. Watching him and reading about him and coming to terms, over and over again, that yes, this is in fact happening right now to us here in the United States in the year 2016, is a harrowing experience. Even more harrowing? Thinking about what our future might be if the unthinkable happens. I have been largely incapable of actually engaging with what the reality of a Donald Trump presidency would be. All my brain calls up is nuclear winter. Seriously. I think about where we will be like 2 years in and all I can really envision is myself emerging from some shack that has replaced my previously comfortable and lovely apartment and looking around, seeing only the remains of what once was, with people walking around in drab, worn out clothing searching for food for their children, emerging occasionally with a somehow preserved piece of organic rainbow chard from the co-op. I know that is probably a little bit extreme. Of course we will still have chard. There will always be chard. But things will not be good. That man is going to be in charge of appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice along with all the different Secretaries of different things. He knows no one in the political world. Where would he even find these people? Under his bed? In his pantry? I don’t know. And then there’s the speeches to the country and, worse, the world; the trips overseas to speak with foreign leaders; his presence in towns as a voice of empathy and resolve when, inevitably, another shooting occurs; him sitting in the Situation Room, beating his chest and declaring that he alone knows about war, even though the only thing he really knows about war is how to avoid being drafted to fight in one. And also…and also…he is going to be a man at the helm during the formative years for so many young people. How do you tell boys to respect girls, tell girls they are worthwhile and smart and equal, with that man as President? I just don’t know.

It’s all very scary. Scarier? Mike Pence. Over the past few weeks people have said to me in voices both hushed and not-too-hushed that they either think someone should or someone will kill Donald Trump if he wins the Presidency. Now I don’t think that will happen and, honestly, I hope it doesn’t. I dislike Trump as much, maybe more than, the next gal and wish he would just sort of decide that he is just too great to share his tremendous greatness with an undeserving populace made up of losers and dogs and just sort of fade away. Saying I want him dead though, that makes me feel like garbage. Also a dead Trump means that we have a Pence presidency and that proposition is scary as fuck.

Pence is currently the Governor of Indiana. As the Governor, he signed the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country. House Bill 1337 requires women to view an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat hours before an abortion; it criminalizes fetal tissue collection or transferring, a practice that has been useful in trying to understand Zika, among other things; it bans women who wish to abort a child based off the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus*; it defunded Planned Parenthood which led to an outbreak of HIV in one county because it cut off access to the only HIV testing center available to many residents**; by criminalizing many abortions it opens up the possibility that abortion providers can be sued for wrongful death; the list goes on and on and on. That shit is no joke. Pence even said on the campaign trail that under a Trump/Pence ticket “(w)e’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” My non-child-wanting womb is screaming for mercy just thinking about it. And this man, in the event of Trump’s demise, could become president and therefore appoint a Supreme Court Justice who could be the swing vote on so many things. So, so many. What other things? Ill tell you.

In 2015, Pence helped to pass one of the harshest “religious freedom” laws in the country. It would have protected businesses who wished to refuse service to LGBT people if they cited religious objections. Does Mike Pence remember segregation? Does he remember how incredibly unethical, inhumane, immoral and illegal that was? How would Mike Pence feel if people decided to not serve him because he is a bigoted asshole? Probably not too good, if I had to guess. Furthermore, when he was a congressman he supported legislation that refused to fund treatment for people suffering from HIV or AIDS, and instead wanted to invest that money in programs that would discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships.

Following the attacks in Paris he tried, unsuccessfully thanks to the sometimes-functioning court system, to block Syrian immigrants from entering Indiana. Back in 2004 Pence supported a bill that would have potentially deported undocumented people from local hospitals. If passed, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments Bill, HR 3722, would have required hospitals to report information on undocumented patients before they could be reimbursed for any care given, basically giving ICE unfettered access to people in their most vulnerable moments. In 2006, he introduced a plan that he called a “no amnesty immigration reform.” In Pence’s summary of the plan he wrote,

“The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act is a bill that is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens, but recognizes the need for a guest worker program that operates without amnesty and without growing into a huge new government bureaucracy”

Dude has an A rating from the NRA. An A fucking rating. I mean I know there are a lot of responsible gun users out there but it sort of feels like there is a shooting in a school or a nightclub or a movie theater every other day. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.” And that is only in the realm of DV. That doesn’t include unintended homicide or injury, suicide, etc. Shit is bad. But more guns are the answer, right? Mike? You think so? Obviously you do.

He also is skeptical of climate change. Which I mean, I know that earlier in this post I was disappointed in science’s inability to make Biden immortal, but I trust it on climate change. Maybe we should send him to chat with a polar bear. Maybe he’ll get eaten. Moving on, he believes in the privatization of education. Back in 1990 he used campaign donations to pay for his mortgage and his credit card bills.

And if you saw the debates last night you saw how Mike Pence managed to win without ever really saying he agreed with Donald Trump. Because clearly he doesn’t. Mike Pence is not stupid. Mike Pence is gearing up for his own run at the Oval Office, assuming his career can withstand such a close relationship with the biggest dunce of a candidate we have ever seen. Christie’s certainly couldn’t. But Christie did give us the circus that is BridgeGate so there’s that.

So now, because I am hungry and need to lleave this be in order to eat some food, here is my new theory: you know how back when no one thought Trump would actually be the Republican candidate people kept saying that he was really a plant by the Democratic party to insure a Republican win? What if in reality Pence is the plant. Get Trump elected. Trump gets to brag about what a winner he is. And then he says

Nah, I’m good. It was all about the tremendous chase.

And then he introduces President Pence. And the entire world shudders.

* I know the idea of sexual, racial, etc selection sounds awful, but what this effectively does is turn abortion into a he(she)-said she(he)-said. How do you prove that this was the reason behind someone attaining an abortion? Do you record every session? Or does this open the door for anti-choice activists to target women who have obtained an abortion regardless of the reason?

** This is what pro-choice activists have been saying about the increasingly restrictive regulations surrounding abortions for decades. There are many unintended consequences to the defunding of Planned Parenthood seeing as how a significant percentage of those who rely on PP for annual check-ups and the like are low income and therefore cannot simply hop in a car and drive, where? Two counties over?

 

 

 

Sometimes I Feel Like the Joke is on Me

29 Jan

To my squeamish readers:  I am about to write about my period.  So if you are too immature to handle it, stop reading now.  But probably don’t tell me that because next time I see or speak to you I will mock you.  That is a promise.

Sometimes I think my period is a cosmic joke.  Or, I guess, sometimes I hope it’s a cosmic joke because then I can assume that someone, somewhere is finding it funny because I most certainly am not.  Ever.  (When I figure out who is laughing at my pain there will be hell to pay!)

Mostly the whole thing just sucks.

My period has always been heavy and long.  Right when I think it couldn’t possibly get heavier or longer, it does.  It plays tricks on me.  For days before it actually starts, it pretends like it is starting.  A little blood here, a little blood there and then suddenly BAM!  There it is.  There it is and there it stays for the next 6-7 days of torture.  And then maybe it doesn’t completely go away for another day or so, just to twist the knife a little.  My period, in short, is a jerk.

So today, day 4, my period was like

“yea, I think basically I have finished depleting you of 50% of your blood so I’m gonna slow my roll a little.”

In response I decided to follow the directions in my box of tampons which instructs me, in roughly these words, to just use the smallest absorbancy tampon that is appropriate for my flow.  Okay.  I assessed and I downgraded.  And what happens?  My period gets heavier.  It’s as if it knows.  It’s all,

“Psych! You think I would let you get away without ruining any of your underwear?  Without staining any of your jeans?  Well, wait till you get a load of this!”

ZOOM!

Inevitably, this happened when I was out running errands.  There I was, in the pet store, looking for cat food when all of a sudden I thought to myself,

“Wait, is that…?  Is it…? Oh you have got to be kidding me!”

Quick!  Pay for the food!  Stop making that weird face!  Don’t walk like you have a pole shoved up your ass!  Just walk quickly and calmly back to the house.  It can smell your fear and it will fuck with you.

Luckily I made it with limited muss and fuss but with an extreme amount of resentment directed at my period.  It’s as if it’s a highly competitive athlete that wants to outdo its last performance.  Like my period and I are on different teams and it takes my handling of it as motivation to do better next time.  Go big or go home, it thinks.

Recently, it’s decided that the heavy bleeding is not quite enough so it’s added cramps.  Bad ones.  I mean, not so bad that I can’t get out of bed in the morning, but bad enough that when I am standing up, I can feel my lower abdomen throbbing and the only way to deal with it is to bend at the hip at about a 60 degree angle.  I know that’s the best way to deal with it because my cramp day always, 100% of the time, comes when I am working, and I work on my feet so I get a good amount of practice.  I only work 3 days a week and I generally only have one day of cramps but that day always, always, always falls on one of my three days behind the bar.  So there I am, conspicuously leaning on the bar and grimacing.  I’m sure I make a very welcoming impression on customers.  Sometimes I want to look at people and be like

“I don’t usually stand like this!  Or make this face!  It’s not my fault!  I am dying of blood loss!”

But that would be weird and would probably scare a lot of people away.  So I just take more Advil.

One thing I can say about my period, although don’t tell it I said this because then it will somehow change its stripes, is that it doesn’t really effect my mood all that much.  I don’t become any more bitchy or snarky or quick-tempered than I usually am.  I also don’t become terribly emotional.  I suffer alone and in silence.

At least one time during the week of uterin-purging I think to myself,

“If there was a god, he* wouldn’t let this suffering continue.”

But then I realize that no, he probably would, because he wouldn’t get it.  He’d be thinking that he had to deal with having a random erection during heath class or the time his voice changed in the middle of his 7th grade presentation of Lord of the Flies.  He’d be thinking that anyone can deal with a little bit of blood every once in a while.  He’d be thinking that we ladies get to experience the miracle of childbirth.  Well, god, if you’re really there, I would like to refer you to the UberFact I read the other day that said

“Giving birth is the second most painful thing a human can experience — the first is being burned alive.”

Miracle of childbirth my ass.  So god, if you’re there and you’re laughing, if you find this funny, I will hunt you down and kick you in the nuts.  We’ll see who’s laughing then.

*I use the pronoun “he” because if god were a woman, this shit never would have happened in the first place.  She would have been like

“Bleeding for days on end?  Cramps?  Mood swings?  Water retention?  Oh, hell no.”

Here’s to Strong Women. Here’s to Sandra.

6 Sep

Sometimes, while I make my rounds of news sites, both mainstream and not, I feel hopeless.  I read about statements made by members of our government, legislation passed, Planned Parenthood centers closed, mainstream “cancer research foundations” whose actions tell me that maybe they don’t care as much about women and women’s health as they claim.  I learn about the victimization and revictimization of young girls, the blame placed unduly on the mother rather than on the perpetrators of the crime and the society that spews its truth of “boys will be boys.”  I get sick thinking about how money and power go hand-in-hand and how so often they land in the hands of white men, born to privilege into a world where they live by rules different than the rest of us.  I shake with anger when I think of the women who are dehumanized and tossed aside at the hands of these men and then how they, and not the victimizers, are forced to defend themselves, are accused of lying.  Because how dare we place those who have achieved the ultimate dream — success, wealth, power — anywhere other than on a pedestal.  But then sometimes, I remember that it’s not just me that feels this way.  There are a lot of us.  And at the Democratic National Convention we were handed the microphone and able to speak.   Our voices were heard through Sandra Fluke.

So, here is her speech from the DNC.  I was going to write a little about the speech given by Cecile Richards, who’s President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, but I was just so taken by Fluke’s entire speech that I couldn’t choose pieces.  Everytime I listen to it I have the same reaction:  a little bit emotional, a little bit goose-bumpy, incredibly proud.  She said what I have read in different articles by different strong women online, what I have heard representatives say on the floor when forced to face-off against the horribly bigoted statements made by male co-workers, and what friends have said to me in endless conversations about the realities of being female.  She put it all together and she spoke to that room and she got them on their feet.  So here’s her speech.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it beats the hell out of an empty chair.

“Some of you…some of you may remember that earlier this year Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception.  In fact, on that panel, they didn’t hear from a single woman even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman.  Because it happened in congress, people noticed.  But it happens all the time.  Too many women are shut out and silenced.  So while I am honored to be standing at this podium it easily could have been any one of you.  I’m here because I spoke out.  And this November, each of us must speak out.

“During this campaign, we’ve heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country.  And how one of those futures looks like an offensive obsolete relic of our past.  Warnings of that future are not distractions, they are not imagined. That future could become real. In that America, your new President could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs.  A man who won’t stand up to those slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party.  It would be an America in which you have a new Vice President who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds that we don’t want and our doctors say that we don’t need.  An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.  An America in which politicians redefine rape and victims are victimized all over again.  In which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve access to services and which don’t…. We know what this America would look like.  And in a few short months that’s the America we could be but that’s not the America that we should be and it’s not who we are.

“We’ve also seen another America that we could choose.  In that America we’d have the right to choose.  It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance.  In which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives.  In which we decide when to start our families.  An America in which our President, when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors.  And in which our President stands with all women, and strangers come together and reach out and lift her up.  And then instead of trying to silence her you invite me here.  And you give me this microphone to amplify our voice.  That’s the difference.

“Over the last 6 months I’ve seen what these two futures look like.  And 6 months from now we’re all going to be living in one future or the other.  But only one.  A country where our President either has our back or turns his back.  A country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward or one that forces our generation to refight battles that they already won.  A country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies or our voices.  We talk often about choice.  Well ladies, and gentlemen, it’s now time to choose.”

And…standing ovation.  How Sandra Fluke managed to get through that without breaking down I will never know.  I can’t even read it aloud for type-o’s without getting a little misty-eyed.  To hear her voice say all the things I have thought, that my friends and I have talked about, and in such a well thought out way was really amazing, a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes it is easy to feel frustrated and alone sitting here behind my computer, preaching to the choir.  But then there are people out there who are doing the leg work, who are making a difference, and then I get shivers and realize that some day, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, it will be okay.  We just have to keep speaking out in whatever ways we can.