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passing

21 Sep

I have a habit — a very uncharacteristic habit, if you know me — of hearing people out when they’re saying something prejudiced. It’s not because I care to humor them, or I’m gunning for a fight, or conversely because I’m charitable enough to let it slide, but because in this one instance I am a hopeless optimist. I’m always waiting for the big turn-around, constantly shocked that all the -isms and -phobias still exist and weasel their way into my life via “intelligent” “liberals.” It stands to reason, I guess, that if I encounter racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia (see also: heteronormativity, transphobia, etc) from college-educated, democrat-voting, non-religious people, that once I widen my group of friends to include the devoutly religious and not-so-liberal, well…things take a turn for the even worse.

Somehow, it still took me by surprise when, at a get together with other mothers, the question was posed: how would you feel if your child turned out to be gay?

Let’s see, I thought. How interesting do I want this discussion to get? Not very, I decided, and listened as women that I genuinely like expressed their potential misgivings. I realized at that moment that, for the first time in my awareness, I was passing.

Clearly, as I am a woman partnered with a man, having become pregnant with and birthing a child the old fashioned way, it’s safe to say that I’ve been passing for awhile, but it had never occurred to me before. As someone who, in her youth, wore rainbow pins and short hair and suffered the consequences — slurs, threats, dyke bitch hissed as I passed boys I had the nerve to find unattractive — then stopped caring and stumbled on acceptance the thought that I would eventually blend seamlessly into the straight world wasn’t something I saw in my future and certainly not in my present. But, here we were, sitting in a circle over our babies and hors d’oeuvres, discussing a them, not an us, as feels — as IS — appropriate in my case. I’m not sure what made me shy away from being entirely forthright aside from the simple fact that my own sexuality wasn’t necessarily pertinent, but I, of course, said whatever George turned out to be is perfectly fine with me. The conversation didn’t take any real grisly turns; nobody said anything terribly cringe-worthy and the general consensus was that it would be okay. But the fact that it was even a question made me uneasy: would these women be as friendly with me if they knew the truth? I wanted to believe they would; that once they realized a queer woman was already a part of their lives and she wasn’t a caricature or an ethical vaccuum, a pervert or a societal outcast, their perceptions would change for the better. Their hopes for their daughters wouldn’t hinge on heterosexuality. Admittedly, that I am living a relatively heterosexual life renders me less effective at normalizing queer culture but I can hold out hope that it would be a decent jumping off point.

Unlike past experiences which range from equally tame to really, really, REALLY stupid ala the moron Nathan went to school with, stupid enough to tell me, then repeatedly defend a Jew joke, I am not looking to discard my relationships with these mamas at the first sign of discord. Generally speaking, I’ve been a gung ho bridge burner, happy with a handful of people in my life and equally happy to expunge said life of anything unseemly. Now, while I’m not looking to change the world, motherhood has softened me, given me a little faith in humanity and the willingness to work with what I’ve got. So, ladies, cards are on the table: I like girls and frankly, if my son is gay, together we can celebrate Gael Garcia Bernal’s entire catalogue. If my son is trans, I’ll take him bra shopping. I am cisgendered but queer, and I hope we can still be friends.

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controlling birth

18 Jul

There are so many easy ways to fuck over women. I rewrote that line about fifteen times before deciding that is precisely what I mean to say, so I should just say it. It starts during adolescence with — well, a million things, but not all pertinent to this discussion — hormonal birth control. At a time when our bodies are coursing with hormones already, new ones that make us do crazy, crazy shit, make us un-live-with-able and prone to falling in and out of love with just about anything at the drop of a hat. When I was fifteen, a different song changed my life every 45 minutes. You want to argue about how this right here is the best film ever made? TRY ME. The hem of my pants seems to be 1/4 inch shorter than it was last week which means I am the fattest, ugliest, most worthless person in all of humanity’s long history — and WHAT’S THAT? You aren’t contradicting me heartily enough SO YOU MUST AGREE. So, when someone suggested that I try hormonal birth control to ease my hellacious cramps, considering that someone was a physician, I assumed he wouldn’t lead me astray. I didn’t smoke and I wasn’t over 35, so the only two risks explained to me didn’t seem to apply. Oh, but funny thing: there were these other risks he forgot to mention. The risk of totally going off the deep end when the naturally-occuring hormones already in your body take offense to the introduction of these johnny come-latelies and the ensuing hormone war leaves you suicidal and obsessive-compulsive. I was told repeatedly to “ride it out” while my body tried to normalize, but eventually I weighed the positives and negatives and darned if debilitating uterine pain wasn’t the better option. Enter “natural family planning.” A terrible, stupid, why-did-they-do-it name that makes you sound like an Evangelical Christian. Are you an Evangelical Christian? Sorry; I am not. Neither am I anti-hormonal birth control. I just think it’s something that adversely affects lots of women who can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. I also advocate for women knowing as much as they can about their own bodies because this makes us healthier (most importantly) and smarter consumers (secondarily), meaning we can’t be railroaded into sub-optimal care by our doctors/midwives (god forbid!)/ARNPs.
Natural family planning began my interest in women’s health and my own reproductive system. I come from a staunchly feminist, pro-choice family so this was no real revelation. Women’s issues were always discussed and reproductive rights are something for which my mom and I have both fought, basically, forever. Being able to identify where I am in my cycle is something that has saved me money, headache and heartache. It also quite literally saved my sanity and I know I’m not alone in that. For a pretty comprehensive guide to NFP, maybe try this book out (the publisher of which is not paying me but is welcome to, wink wink, nudge nudge).

Now we’ve come to way #2 to give women the screw job.

First, though, let’s have an interlude to discuss our president. I voted for him. Grudgingly. I told myself that no viable candidate would ever align with my beliefs. And this guy would at least maintain the status quo. HA! Good one, Obama! You got me.


People are such wackadoos when it comes to reproduction, especially reproduction that does not include them. You’ve got the president willy-nilly mandating that impoverished, sick women have to carry a pregnancy to term despite a still very legal medical procedure meant to protect them from exactly this situation. You’ve got crazy nutsos who are free to adopt 500 children if they’re so worried about babies, but prefer to birth twenty of their own and take them all to picket outside of Planned Parenthood. And then, there’s #3:

Forcing women into birthing situations without their consent, by preying on their love for their unborn child. Just as it’s not okay to get someone drunk and sleep with them, it is not okay to ply someone with threats and horror stories and expect them to make an informed, well-thought-out decision. The spectrum of loving motherhood is broad, and includes not only the excited, doting, round and glowing mama-to-be but also the mother who is staring down the barrel of birthing a brainless mass of cells that will somehow make it to full term. Both of these women deserve to have their wishes respected, their health considered, and their lives valued above convenience, prior engagements, fear of lawsuit or personal politics. Wait. I need to say that again. The spectrum of loving motherhood is broad, and includes not only the excited, doting, round and glowing mama-to-be but also the mother who is staring down the barrel of birthing a brainless mass of cells that will somehow make it to full term. Both of these women deserve to have their wishes respected, their health considered, and their lives valued above convenience, prior engagements, fear of lawsuit or personal politics. Women’s choices need to be heard and respected. Women’s birth plans need to be adhered to. People need to stop doing unnecessary surgeries and giving drugs unnecessarily just to make it home in time for 30 Rock.

In case you couldn’t tell, the recent threats to women’s health and rights are really bothering me. If they are bothering you, too, please take action here. If they are not bothering you, please try putting yourself in the very realistic situation of having little money, a debilitating disease and an unexpected pregnancy that could result in a special needs child and a serious and potentially irreversible deterioration of your own health. If I’ve alienated you with this post…well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.