Sunday, February 20, 2011

Odds 'n' Ends

I have a loaner laptop.  Huzzah! I may get around to actually posting things I've written over the past two weeks as I have been away.

This weekend was "Psychotics in Media" weekend:  on Friday night the Rocket Scientist and I saw Black Swan and on Saturday the Resident Shrink and I saw Next to to Normal.  Nothing like watching crazy people on stage and screen to reaffirm one's basic belief that the world is in fact insane.  Watching the latter with a psychologist was amusing, however.  She says they got the psychiatry basically right.

I have a backlog of posts about several different things which I really should put up here before they become too out of date.  On the other hand, right this evening I am feeling brain dead.

The past three weeks has seen quite a number of really misogynistic proposed bills at the state and federal level.  It's quite disturbing.  It makes me feel relieved, sadly enough, that I do not have daughters.  I would not want to be a young woman now, and it would be very upsetting to think of what a child of mine would be faced with.  This does not mean that I do not fight as hard as I can against the terrible misogyny that seems to be rearing its terrible head right now, simply that it is not quite as immediate.  I recognize that this is a privilege that other mothers do not have.  My job is to raise up young men who are as appalled as I am about what is going on, and who are as determined to fight as I am.  I think I can do this.

I turn fifty in two months.  I am trying not to feel old, and also trying not to lie to people about my age. Both of them are proving difficult.  I have decided against having a tattoo, for medical-related reasons, so am at a loss to know what to do to mark this momentous occasion.  Going to a dive bar and getting really, really drunk, as attractive as it sounds, is not particularly noteworthy.  On the other hand, maybe the solution is simply to ignore it.  Age is just a number, right?

I am rereading one of my favorite "popcorn"* books:  Letters of the Twentieth Century: America 1900-2000.  It is by turns infuriating (the letters sent to Jackie Robinson after he crossed the color line), intriguing (Ayn Rand's letter to Frank Lloyd Wright -- sorry, libertarians, but she was a loon), amusing (Groucho Marx's letter to Warner Brothers when they attempted to stop him from naming one of this movies A Night in Casablanca, or my favorite, a series of exchanges between an ad executive at Ford and the poet Marianne Moore regarding the naming of a new car, or Clyde Barrow's letter to Henry Ford telling him what a great car he made) and moving (an Oklahoma woman's account of life in the Dust Bowl, a Vietnam soldier's letter to a friend regarding the killing of a nine-year-old child).  The human spirit is an amazing thing.

Goodnight all.  It's good to be back, more or less.

*Popcorn books are books that are collections of items that you can read bits and pieces of.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I'm a teenager.  Half of my motivation for anything is impressing girls."  The Red Headed Menace (discussing why he's doing track).

Monday, February 07, 2011

Enforced Radio Silence... sort of

There is a reason I have not been posting the past few days.  I've had limited net access -- the AirPort went kaput, so the only computer with access requires standing for a while, or sitting in painful (to me) chairs.  While this has proven acceptable for checking email and Facebook, it doesn't allow for the lack of distraction needed for blog posting.

I have been writing, however: on paper.  So once I get a new laptop (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later), you may end up flooded with several posts all at once.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I was going to write something for the anniversary of the Columbia disaster, or at least link to what I wrote at the time, but my friend Bill Gawne pointed me towards the best tribute to Columbia I've ever read.  It's a little long, but well worth reading.

Anything I might say feels redundant, somehow.

When is it rape?

When is it rape?

That's the question raised by a bill currently in committee in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3.  And the answer the bill gives is pernicious.

The bill itself purports to be about eliminating "federal funding for abortion."  Bullshit.  There has been no federal funding for abortion -- through any federally paid for health plans, including those offered to any federal employee -- for years.  The bill really is about eliminating any health plan coverage for abortion:  it would make any premium paid for an insurance plan that covered abortion non-tax deductible.  Guess how many insurers would choose to retain abortion coverage under those circumstances?

However, there have always been those exceptions: rape, incest, and life of the mother. (Not the health of the mother:  even in this bill, if a pregnancy would result in a woman ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, but it wouldn't actually kill her, then there is no abortion coverage allowed.)  But apparently, "rape" was just not specific enough for the sons-of-bitches who wrote this bill.

The only recognized rape, the only rape that you will be allowed to have insurance coverage for, is "forcible rape."

Forcible rape.

So, what does that mean? Do there need to be bruises or broken bones?  Does there need to be a knife or gun?  What if the woman is told about the knife or gun but doesn't actually see them?  What if she is married to the bastard and the threat is not to her but to her children?  What if she is drunk? Drugged? Unconscious? In a coma?

Developmentally disabled?

What if she is held down?  How hard does she need to fight to get free?  If she doesn't struggle enough, does that mean it doesn't count?  What if she is just terrified?

This bill does not recognize statutory rape, either, except for incest.  If a 13 year old is coerced into sex (and let's face it, there are a lot of ways to coerce a young girl into sex that do not involve "force") by her father or brother, and gets pregnant, she can get an abortion and have her health plan cover the cost.  But not if she is coerced into sex by her 20 year-old camp counselor, or her 32 year-old next-door neighbor, or her 53 year-old gym teacher.

Presumably, too, in order to have coverage be allowed there would have to be a police report.  How else would you prove force?  There are women who do not report being raped, for some very good reasons, too: ranging from fear of public shaming, to desire to move past the trauma, to fear of what their attackers (or sometimes their own family members) will do.

The perniciousness goes even further:  do you really want your insurance company deciding if a rape is forcible enough to be eligible for coverage?  Do you really think they will ever find that force existed, unless the woman was left very badly beaten, with very visible marks of trauma?

I have had several people tell me this morning that "this doesn't change the legal definition of who can be charged with rape."  That is entirely beside the point.  The issue is of humane treatment for women* who have undergone the horror of rape, only to be faced with being forced to undergo a potentially hazardous experience (and make no mistake, pregnancy is a far more dangerous proposition than legal abortion) before she can heal from her ordeal.

Funny, anti-abortion activists spin this as a freedom from having to financially support a procedure they find objectionable on what are, at their heart, religious reasons.  Sort of a warped freedom of religion argument.   What about those of us whose religions require us to care for and take care of those among of who have been victims of violence? Who believe that God calls us to support the victimized in doing what they need to do for their own well-being?  I guess our religious beliefs don't matter.

Please, please, write your Representative now.  I would say that this atrocity is dead in the water, given the makeup of Congress and a Democratic president who would surely veto it, but you never know.

*Poor women, that is.  Financially well off women will be able, as always, to pay for -- and to travel to other places for -- legal abortions.