April 30, 2010

Keep your apps off my body!

Posted in Feminism, Reproduction at 10:45 am by The Lizard Queen

(Alternate title: Code Red has me seeing red — [rimshot] I’m here all week, folks!)

Okay.  So, apparently there exist iPhone apps specifically geared at men to track the menstrual cycles of the women in their lives.  I’ve little doubt that they’re meant to be at least partly tongue-in-cheek (though part of me wonders if I’m not underestimating the ingrained misogyny/gynophobia in our culture with that thought).

An app like this—or at least in this general vein, without, for example, the oh-so-charming devil horns—could certainly be used for good, like participating in tracking fertility in a couple trying to get pregnant, or, as someone in the comments at RH Reality Check mentioned, scheduling hiking and camping trips.  Even in those cases, though, I can’t really imagine why an iPhone app would work any better than, I dunno, TALKING to one’s partner.

But the app could also be used for asshaberdashery, too: I can well imagine a scenario, just as one example, in which a fellow does something jerky, and his lady-friend gets upset with him over it.  He checks his iPhone, confirms that it’s devil-horns time, and pats her on the head.  “There, there,” he says; “I know it’s just your hormones talking.”  Perhaps in and of itself that might not seem so bad, especially when compared to the atrocities women endure in other parts of the world*, but as part of an over-arching system in which women’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences are dismissed and diminished, it’s a problem.

Overall, the RH Reality Check post covered the issue really well, so I recommend reading that.  I even recommend reading most of the comments, which address some of the “why is this a big deal?” knee-jerk reactions.  I just figured I’d pipe up to say that this squicks me out, too.

*Can you see, here, how I’ve internalized certain silencing criticisms?  “This isn’t that big a deal—there are starving children in Ethiopia, you know!”  Or, later, “Someone else already covered this—what could you possibly add to the discussion?”  Indeed, I imagine one could do a rhetorical analysis of my blog and find it chock full of passages where I’ve moderated my tone to make it appear I was far less angry about something than I was, places where I demur or equivocate when I actually feel quite strongly about a subject, etc.  Hmm.


March 30, 2010

Stories relevant to the fight for reproductive justice

Posted in Feminism, Human rights, Reproduction at 4:57 pm by The Lizard Queen

It’s often the case that when people talk about reproductive freedom or reproductive justice, the conversation centers around abortion access.  And don’t get me wrong, that’s an important conversation to have, particularly in this age of anti-choice concessions.  To that end, then, I wanted to highlight this story I came across today (via Two Women Blogging), written by Bridget Potter, titled Lucky Girl.  She details her experience with an unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion in 1962.  A brief excerpt:

Michael was Roman Catholic and at twenty-two was willing to get married but unenthusiastic. We could, he supposed, live with his parents in the Bronx. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My upper-class English parents would have been appalled and, I was sure, unsupportive. Confused, ashamed, scared, and sad, I decided to try to get an abortion.

Try was the operative word. I asked the gynecologist for advice. He told me that the law prohibited him from helping me in any way but he offered to check me later for infection. The idea of infection alarmed me but I thought his gesture was nice.

Potter’s story, alongside the statistics she cites, is an excellent illustration of the importance of keeping abortion legal.  It is not just for women who do not wish to bear children to be forced to do so.  Also important in the struggle for reproductive justice, though, is the idea that women who do wish to bear children, or who might wish to bear children someday, should not be forced not to.  The tragedy and injustice of involuntary sterilization is something we need to be talking about, too, and so I wanted to highlight an excellent article (heartbreaking, but excellent) published on Indyweek.com last week that tells the stories of several survivors of North Carolina’s mid-20th-century eugenics program.  (Hat tip to Feministing.)  Here is a brief part of Elaine Riddick’s story:

Elaine was 14 when she gave birth to what was to be her only child, a son, in 1968 at Chowan Hospital in Edenton. She doesn’t remember much about her hospital visit, but she was told that she almost died and had to stay in the hospital a week longer than her son.

For the next few years, Elaine says she remembers having frequent stomach pain and hemorrhaging so severe that at 16 she was admitted to a hospital. The doctor gave her little information, but she remembers he remarked that she’d been “butchered.”

These stories are important.  Some folks are horrifyingly quick to decide that certain people, people society deems less valuable for any number of reasons, shouldn’t have children.  (Here’s an example from less than two years ago.)  But those people deserve the freedom to procreate (or not, should they so choose) as much as anyone else does.  They deserve justice.

March 11, 2010

The right to privacy does not preclude the right to speak out

Posted in Feminism, Reproduction at 12:22 pm by The Lizard Queen

I’ve been way behind on reading blogs and, especially, blogging (as my regular readers have surely noticed!), but Evil Bender sent me a link to this Salon article by Mary Ann Sorrentino in which she bemoans Angie Jackson’s decision to live-tweet her medical abortion, and I felt moved to respond to it.  (Read: it pissed me right the fuck off.)

It started with the title, “The right to hate Angie Jackson’s choice.”  I appreciate that the title was most likely chosen by an editor rather than the author, but the idea of hating another woman’s choice strikes me as extraordinarily problematic, sort of in the same vein as the “love the sinner, hate the sin” bullshit.  The things we do, the decisions we make, the actions we take, they’re all part of who we are.  That’s not to say it’s impossible to love a person and hate what they do, nor is it to say that Sorrentino isn’t free to hate whoever or whatever she pleases, but it begins the discussion on an antagonistic note.

And then Sorrentino comes to this charming thought:

If . . . [Jackson’s] decision about ending her child-bearing is solid and responsible, one has to wonder why she didn’t just have a tubal ligation.

I can think of a few possibilities: Because said procedure is expensive, and I’m not sure whether Jackson has health insurance?  (I read enough of the tweets to know that Jackson and her partner paid for the abortion out-of-pocket.)  Because it’s difficult to find a doctor who will perform said procedure on a woman in her twenties?  Because Jackson believed (understandably) that an IUD (which she had) would suffice?

Furthermore, does the fact that Jackson went public with this particular choice mean that all her other choices are fair game for scrutiny?  How far, truly, is “if you didn’t want a baby you should’ve had your tubes tied” from “if you didn’t want a baby you shouldn’t’ve had sex”?  On the one hand, sure, it’s pretty far, but on the other, it’s merely a difference in degree, not in kind.

Sorrentino goes on to reassure readers of her pro-choice cred, and asserts that  

Those of us who drove in the dark of night to deliver or pick up a friend in a back-alley clinic, terrified that that friend hemorrhaging in the back seat of our car might die on our watch, know things that Ms. Jackson clearly cannot fathom.

I’ve poked around enough on Jackson’s blog to suspect that Sorrentino is actually pretty far off the mark here.  That aside, though—just going off of the knowledge Sorrentino and I have in common—I’m not sure what makes her think that Jackson “clearly cannot fathom” how terrible things were in the days before abortion was legal.  Jackson experienced a difficult pregnancy and childbirth, and she’s now experienced a legal abortion as well, which suggests to me that she could pretty easily imagine what it was like before.

Furthermore, I’m really just not sure what kind of sense that makes.  After all, it used to be that pregnancy and childbirth were taboo subjects for discussion, and they were certainly a great deal more dangerous than they are now.  Does that mean we shouldn’t talk about such things openly?  (If so, I have seen way too many sonogram printouts for someone without children of her own.)

What kills me about this, though, is the knowledge that Sorrentino does have that pro-choice cred.  Presumably we’re on the same side—which means I expect more from her.  I appreciate that there’s a generational divide coming into play here, and that these days people in their teens and twenties post about things on their Twitters and MySpaces and Facebooks and blogs that older people would never dream of discussing in such a public forum.  I get why such a frank discussion of a medical procedure might make people uncomfortable.  But there’s “uncomfortable,” and then there’s basically saying, “We won you the right to have that procedure, so shut up about it already.”  However, having the right to privacy does not equal having the obligation to keep particular things private.  (Similarly, the Lawrence v. Texas ruling does not mean gay people have to stay closeted out of a sense of privacy.  Can they if they want to?  Of course!  But they don’t have to.)

As Evil Bender put it in his e-mail to me, “I’d be inclined to say that fighting against moral scolds who tell strangers what they should do is an EXCELLENT reason to discuss one’s abortion.”


November 10, 2009

On the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health care bill

Posted in Activism, Current events, Feminism, Government, Health care, Politics, Reproduction at 3:14 pm by The Lizard Queen

To begin with, for the record, here is the pertinent section of the Stupak-Pitts amendment:


(a) IN GENERAL—No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

People who believe that women might have valid reasons to seek an abortion outside of danger of death, rape, or incest, and who understand that many women, should they find themselves in a position where they need or want to terminate a pregnancy, would need that procedure covered by insurance that is funded, entirely or in part, by the government, find this amendment unsettling, to say the least. (See Ann, Jill, and Shark-Fu’s takes.) The idea that the amendment will probably get removed in committee? Not particularly reassuring. The idea that the amendment is only talking about induced abortion, and couldn’t possibly be used to refuse coverage of an elective D&C to remove an incomplete abortion (as in, after a miscarriage, also known medically as a spontaneous abortion)? Yeah, that one’s also not particularly reassuring. The idea that this is not a big deal, it’s just politics, we have to look at the bigger picture? That’s not reassuring, and it’s patronizing! Whee! Read the rest of this entry »

October 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

Posted in Reproduction, Television, Wingnuts at 3:29 pm by The Lizard Queen

Freeper, on the subject of Mary Cheney and Heather Poe expecting their second child:

The example of Murphy Brown should not be practiced by those who propose to defend Family values.

Hey there, Mr. or Ms. Freeper!  I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but the season in which Murphy Brown — a fictional character, I feel I should point out — became a single mother happened almost twenty years ago.  You might want to try out this newfangled thing called getting the fuck over it.

I s’pose I might as well be talking to my shoes on that point, though, no?

June 4, 2009

In and on the news…

Posted in Blogging, Civil rights, Current events, GLBT issues, Government, Law, News, Politics, Reproduction, Wingnuts at 10:57 am by The Lizard Queen

So much has happened lately: the issues of torture and the abuse of detainees continue to rear their ugly heads.  President Obama nominated Justice Sotomayor for the Supreme Court (and the wingnuts, predictably, went completely batshit) on the same day the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8Dr. George Tiller was murdered.  On all of these subjects I tend to find myself vacillating between being at a complete loss for words and babbling incoherently, and ultimately I feel like there’s really nothing I can say that others haven’t already said better.  I’m not a journalist; I need time to let things stew before I can adequately articulate my thoughts and feelings.  To wit, when Evil Bender told me on Sunday that Dr. Tiller had been murdered, first I said, “No,” partly disbelieving him entirely and partly hoping Tiller had been shot and rushed to the hospital and had been thought to be dead but would actually turn out to be alive.  My next response was to tear up and say, “Motherfucker.”  Neither word makes for a particularly substantive blog post.

Okay, so why am I going into this now?  Well, something goofy came across my desk this morning that I thought would make for a nice lighter-side post, but I was concerned that without having at least acknowledged the other things going on in the country these days, it would come off as insensitive (at the least) and/or as if I’d been living under a rock.  So.  There we are.

Fucking-A, dude.

April 24, 2009

Adventures in local news reporting

Posted in Government, Media, News, Politics, Reproduction at 1:41 pm by The Lizard Queen

I’ve not made much of a secret in my offline life of my feelings for our local newspaper, the Topeka Capital-Journal: I’m not a big fan. I think it’s biased and poorly written/edited. (Check out an example that made it to the blogosphere a couple of months ago here.)  As much as I’d like to support local print news, then, I tend just to ignore the CJ.  Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to avoid; today while I nuked my lunch I glanced at the front page of a copy that had been left on the break room table.  The top two stories focus on Governor Sebelius and the national spotlight that’s currently shining on her.  It only took a few sentences for the top of my head to come flying off (emphasis added):

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to veto Thursday a bill amending Kansas law on late-term abortions occurred at a critical juncture in her bid to become a Cabinet secretary in the administration of President Barack Obama.

Sebelius, who supports abortion rights but says she personally opposes the method of birth control, said the vetoed legislation likely would have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.

Now, maybe they’re paraphrasing words Sebelius herself used, but a cursory search makes me dubious that that’s the case.  I think that sentence conflates — whether deliberately or unintentionally — abortion (the termination of a pregnancy) with contraception (the prevention of pregnancy).  At best, it’s clumsy.  At worst, it reflects an anti-choice bias.  Either way, it frustrates me.  And the thing is, I do think it’s possible to report on this issue without writing things that make my head explode (see this article from the Wichita Eagle).  So — what gives, CJ?

July 7, 2008

The politics of “late term” abortions

Posted in Musings, Politics, Reproduction at 12:01 pm by The Lizard Queen

Via Shakesville comes this post at Bitch PhD with some facts about third-trimester abortions. Here are some thoughts I had on the matter:

Women are not just blithely heading for the abortion clinic in droves in their third trimester because they just don’t feel like having a baby anymore. And even if the very few women who want/need third-trimester abortions wand/need them for reasons someone else might call frivolous, how is that anyone else’s business? What’s the difference between sitting in our comfortable offices and living rooms and deciding whether a woman’s reasons are valid at 26+ weeks and sitting in our comfortable offices and living rooms and deciding whether a woman’s reasons are valid at 8 weeks? I don’t want to venture too far into slippery slope territory, but ultimately it just seems to me that it boils down to either you trust women, or you don’t.

A woman in the comments thread mentions that she’s in her second trimester and at this point, barring major health complications, feels a moral obligation to carry the fetus to term. I can certainly understand that. I can even understand people feeling uncomfortable about terminating a pregnancy during the third trimester. And as far as I’m concerned, people can comment and chat online and in person as much as they want about how a particular medical procedure makes them uncomfortable, or is something they couldn’t go through with because of their personal morals. The problem, of course, is people who decide to translate those morals or that discomfort into legislation.

As to Barack Obama’s recent statement (Liss’s emphasis): Read the rest of this entry »

June 12, 2008

Read-ems for June thus far

Posted in Animals, Consumer info, Feminism, Medicine, News, Racial issues, Reproduction, Sex at 3:13 pm by The Lizard Queen

Hello my lovelies!  Here are some links for you, since I haven’t been writing.  I started a new job on the 2nd, and it’s currently sapping nearly all of my energy.  Here’s hoping that changes once I adjust to the new schedule.

Happy reading!

January 22, 2008

Blog for Choice Day 2008

Posted in Government, Politics, Reproduction at 9:43 pm by The Lizard Queen

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and to mark the occasion the people at NARAL Pro-Choice America are asking bloggers to discuss why it’s important to vote pro-choice. Here’s why: because we need to counteract anti-choice witch hunts like these.  Because — and of course this is stating the obvious — voting pro-choice sends an unmistakable message to politicians who are liable to think we (“we” meaning young women, or “we” meaning progressives, or “we” meaning those in favor of reproductive freedom for all women) don’t feel as strongly about reproductive freedom as we actually do.  Finally, in a nutshell, BECAUSE IT MATTERS.

On a related note, Salon has an in-depth feature up marking the anniversary.  Go read.

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