Sunday, December 29

The Writer?

Poor blog. I have been so neglectful. I have not written, I have not even been reading. See I have this new job - that sounds like a good excuse. Or maybe I could say it is the children. I could tell you about the terrifying month my husband spent in the hospital - but I don't think I am ready to talk about that one. I am still trying to gather up the weeks I lost. Ugh.

The truth is I don't really have an excuse. The truth is I did not want to write. I have things to say, yes, and I have the urge to write, yes. But I am struggling with this notion of being a writer. Let me put that differently - the Idea of Being A Writer. See that difference?

Giancarlo Neri "The Writer"

This is just how my version of self doubt works. If I want to be a writer, then I should be writing. If I don't write, then I won't really be a writer. If I am not a writer, then I will be nothing. If I am nothing, then I will have things to write about. If I have things to write about, then I will be a writer...If programmers wrote code like this the world would just implode on itself from sheer exhaustion.

Am I going to make some declarations here about making a resolution and setting goals and reaching for dreams? No...I don't put much stock in those things. But I will say that I love to write and I am tired of worrying over the details of Meaning. Who knows what the new year will bring? More words, more time, less doubt, less fear...stay tuned. I might be writing about it.

Wednesday, July 10

I want a choice

Note: This was originally written on June 12, 2013 and posted to the blog Bias Cut - I have merged Modest Girls Charmed City Life with Bias Cut, and here are the spoils! 

There was some good news this week in the world of reproductive rights. The Plan B pill emergency contraceptive (the Morning After pill) will now be available over the counter without the need for a prescription for any woman (or man) over the age of 15. There was no medical reason to restrict the sale, but like so many of the political decisions surrounding reproductive health, medical necessity is rarely a consideration.

In the mean time, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote next week on a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Currently, abortions can be preformed up to 24 weeks, what is considered the point of viability for a fetus. The 20 week number is based on some questionable science that purports this is the point when a fetus can feel pain. (I will let you find a link for that one - pro tip - don't search images.) Science has come to the conclusion that this is not true, but again, why have science when we can just have blatant sexism.

I suppose that the people who are trying to make abortions illegal think this is the best way to prevent abortions. People won't get abortions if its illegal, right? I mean, that seems to work for things like marijuana, or hiring people without green cards. And hey, de-funding Planned Parenthood won't hurt anyone besides those whores who use abortions as birth control. And why not get rid of any sort of sex ed for our kids. What they don't know won't hurt them.

The thing is, none of that is true.

When abortions are illegal or unobtainable, women don't just stop getting them. They end up getting illegal and potentially deadly abortions.

When women's health clinics like Planned Parenthood are closed, it's not just getting abortion out of a given area. Access to free or low-cost birth control is taken away. Free STD testing is gone. Free or low-cost pap smears are gone. Free or low-cost cancer screenings are gone.

When sex education stops dealing in fact, no matter how uncomfortable that fact is, the rates of teen age pregnancy go up. When kids are only told not to have sex, at all, ever, until they are married, surprise! They have sex anyway and usually without any sort of protection.

So we have the following:

  • Abortions becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Between bogus waiting periods, unnecessary ultrasounds, and outright bans, safe and timely abortions are becoming less available for an alarming number of women. 
  • Sex education is not consistently based on science, and does not always include information about how to prevent pregnancy or STDs. 
  • Programs that help low-income mothers and children are being slashed. Things like WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and the SNAP programs are being cut more and more with every budget. 
  • Access to birth control - that thing that actual prevents abortions in the first place - is still under attack. The provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurance that covers contraceptives - included a provision that religious organizations did not have to comply. Churches directly, but not places like Catholic hospitals or schools. They are fighting this requirement.
  • Legislative members across the country have suddenly become OB/GYNs overnight. Rapes no longer cause pregnancy, women can just prevent that with the power of our minds. Unless of course we enjoyed being raped. That's how pregnancy happens. 
Abortions are not the only thing at stake. Birth control is under attack. Help for low income families is under attack. Across the world, when women have access to family planning, they are able to make their lives better. It happened in the US in the early 1900's, and it is happening in currently developing parts of the world today. The bottom line here is that women are being undermined. We are being told that we cannot be trusted to make choices about our bodies. What is next? If I can't make a decision about my vagina, why should I be trusted to make a decision as a board member? Or a CEO?

Keep choice free. Call your representative, call your senator, support Planned Parenthood.

Race and Breakfast Cereal

Note: This was originally written on June 9, 2013 and posted to my blog Bias Cut. I have merged Modest Girls Charmed City Life and Bias Cut, here are the spoils! 

By now I think we have all heard about the flap caused by the new Cheerios advertisement on YouTube. (If you have not seen the ad, follow the link to check it out.)

In the advertisement we see a little girl, about 5 years old, curly hair and cafe con leche complexion. She brings a box of Cheerios to the table where her mom, a white woman, is seated. The little girl wants to know if Cheerios are good for your heart, and the mother tells her yes. She runs off and then we see her dad, a black man, waking up from a nap to find himself covered in Cheerios.

The intended take away? Cheerios are good for the whole family - every family - health food that you won't even know is healthy. 

The actual take away? The reactions posted in the comments section on YouTube were so vile that General Mills disabled comments the same day the ad was released.

I have several thoughts about both the advertisement and the media coverage that followed. General Mills has said that they were "a little surprised to see this ad become a story on its own." Controversy was not the intention at all, nor was a political statement. I will take them at their word. I don't think Cheerios ad folks are so naive that they would not anticipate at least some controversy, though I can believe that they would not anticipate the amount of attention they actually got. Why?

Because I would be willing to bet that no one on the creative team, no one who green lights advertisements, and no one who does PR at General Mills is part of an interracial couple, or a multi-racial person. The same I think could be said for the majority of folks who covered the story in the media. There seems to be an assumption by many in America that since we have elected a Black man to the White house, not just once but twice, we have reached a sort of post-racial time period in our history. As a white woman married to a Black man, and a mother to two multi-racial children, I can tell you in no uncertain terms, America is still plenty full of bigots.

The reaction from the media was overall one of shock that "it's 2013 and people are still getting worked up about interracial couples in ads." Is it sad that people in this day and age (or any day and age really) still believe different skin tones have some sort of correlation to ethics or worth. It is equally sad that folks also believe that children from parents of different skin tones are inherently worse off or less than in some way. (The flip side of this, which is equally dangerous, is the notion that multi-racial children are inherently more attractive than other children.) But to be surprised that these folks not only exist, but would take to the internet, the most torrid of public outlets, to spout off their beliefs - now that is naive.

We are all inherently self-centered. If I am a liberal, open minded person, I naturally assume that most people feel the same way I do. I ignore evidence to the contrary, especially if that evidence does not directly effect my day to day life. Thus, finding out that there are enough racists out there with an internet connection to shut down comments for a breakfast cereal advertisement might shock me.  

We do not live in a post racial age. 

There are enough bigots and racists with an internet connection to shut down the comment section for a breakfast cereal advertisement. 

The bigoted reaction to the ad is not really that surprising, especially if you have been paying any attention to the way race has been made into a political dog whistle. Remember the recent CPAC conference with one unfortunate seminar titled "Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist When You Know You're Not One?" Yeah. That happened. In 2013, no less. 

The media reaction to the bigoted reaction is more surprising and is evidence of a rather troubling trend. The surprise came from a place of privilege, a place where vitriolic racism does not exist. And when you don't see the vitriol, it becomes even easier to miss the everyday. The evidence of institutional racism can see it in health disparities, education disparities, even assumptions about the size of a particular male body part. The media who reported on this story with such outrage does not, on the whole, have to deal with any of these issues if they choose not to. When you aren't looking at the trees, you might be surprised by the forest. 

We need more ads like the one Cheerios made. We need to see happy mixed race couples buying cars, planting flowers, taking about life insurance, and sitting around a dinner table. We need to see little children with curly hair and cafe con leche skin, walking hand in hand with their parents - one light and one dark. More of this won't shut up the bigots - they will always be there. But more will remind us all that families, just like breakfast cereals, all come in different flavors.