Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"We don't need another anti-racism 101"

As promised, Ma'ia's post about teaching anti-oppression, and how it's bullshit.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why going as a woman for Halloween is not cool.

Today I got into a altercation in the comments on FB (gotta love those) in response to a status update by a presumed enlightened male I know by proxy.  He said he needed some help with his Halloween costume this year.  And that he needs a dress, because he's going as a woman.

I guess I'm the only one who's eyebrows are raised by this.  My immediate reaction (which I commented) was, "Thanks for reducing my gender to a Halloween costume."  Some interesting conversations occurred.  First, the one between this person and I went something like this:  He responded confused as to how this was offensive.  Going as a firefighter doesn't offend firefighters.  Really?  Well, going as a man doesn't offend men either.  Why would it?  They don't have to worry about being trivialized.  Let me explain something.  If I went as a man for Halloween, it wouldn't be interesting.  We have "tom-boys" in real life.  Big deal.  But a MAN in a DRESS?!  Now THAT'S hilarious.  When you see Bing Cosby with his face painted black, people back then thought it was funny.  Nobody cared who they were offending because they didn't have to worry about it.  

Then something interesting happened in the comments, which I had a terrible feeling from the start, but keeping my mouth shut would have defeated the purpose.  One of his lady friends came after me with silly (snide?) remarks, one about how I should just go as a man- "That'll show him!"  Show him what?  Show him that we're on an equal playing field and dressing as the opposite gender is ironic nomatter what?  (And I haven't neglected to mention how this is totally offensive to transgender folks)  I'm the one that just doesn't get it, I guess.  

In my experience, if you are the one being called out on potentially oppressive behavior that is either subtly or blatantly exercising your male/white/first-world privilege, it usually does more harm than good to try to explain your actions away or otherwise defend them.  These situations are usually a call for sensitivity, listening, and empathy, even if you think the person bringing the issue up is crazy, over-politically-correct, or too sensitive.  It's not your place/privilege to decide.  It's your responsibility to listen up.  And it's not my responsibility to explain this shit to you.  If I'm offended, as a woman, AS YOUR SISTER, chances are I'm about to say something important.

Great article from Ma'ia on privilege to follow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I was a wanted mama

I've been thinking a little bit lately about abortion.

Laurel posted a great thread on Full Spectrum Doula Network about the emotional and mental realities of abortion entitled "Abortion as Perinatal Loss".  One of the other commenters said something poignant about how abortion can have the emotional repercussions of miscarriage.  And I've always thought that it's a damn shame that so many of the strong, in-tune women I know who have gotten abortions have swept the experience under the rug, seemingly afraid to admit the full spectrum of their emotions due to the fear of their emotional pain and physical healing being used against them by people who want to take away their rights and make them feel guilty about their decision.  Do I blame them?  Not necessarily.  I just think it's really fucking sad.

Also, I've been chatting with a good friend of mine about working with The Doula Project in NYC to get an abortion doula training here in the Midwest, something that this area desperately needs.  I see this work as incredibly valuable in light of the very thing I was just discussing- the emotional and mental realities of people who choose abortions. 

Maybe this would be the best time to disclose some very personal information.  I have, and always will be, pro-choice.  I am also anti-abortion.  This means I'm pro-everything-that-could-prevent-abortions, such as comprehensive sexuality, access to contraception and improved maternity care, as well as programs to end poverty and the subjugation of women.  I think abortion is a sad thing, that we should be working to minimize abortions, because they have no positive effect on a women's sexual health (dare I say a negative one) not to mention take place in a society ill-equipped to support the healing that must take place afterward.  Until all of those things are in place, it will sadden me that it must be integrated into modern womancare.  But I graciously offer all my support and love for any woman who chooses this, because she deserves it.

On the other hand, my partner was raised extremely pro-life.  We've talked and talked about this, and he agrees now that he is pro-choice, but also has such a deep-seated aversion to welcoming abortion into the norm of my work due to it's nature- or what he perceives as its nature.  And ultimately, I agree with him that the nature of abortion is that it's a hard decision nobody wants to have to make, yet he feels that it runs deeper than just that- that it's a loss- and it's hard because I don't exactly disagree with him.  It's just that his feelings on the subject are in the way of me moving forward with working as an abortion doula, and I want to respect his feelings but also want him to respect what I'm called to do.

What to do, what to do.  I am fierce when it comes to ladies' access to abortions, supporting them and their ability to make educated reproductive decisions for a lifetime.  I would NEVER question somebody's intent on having an abortion.  Yet today I saw a bumper sticker of a Mother Teresa quote that said "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so you can live as you wish."  And it struck me with involuntary truth.  And maybe it's because of the crisis I had when I was pregnant, as a pro-choice woman, thinking, "This is a baby."  And knowing how relatively easy it's been to be a good mama to my baby despite my struggle to elicit support and resources.  But this is my privilege.  He was a wanted baby.  I was a wanted mama.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Check out the Full Spectrum Doula Network!

It's been a month since I've updated, and I've needed it.  Greg and I have been working on night-weaning and I've been getting more sleep now than I have in a year.  It's been fabulous.

There's an overwhelming amount of articles and news out there right now that I'm not sure what to share first.  To me, it seems like there is an increasing awareness about pregnancy and birth in the reproductive justice movement, and it's awesome!  I'm getting really encouraged about things actually making a drastic change in my lifetime :)

What I DO want to share is that my great doula friend, Laurel, just launched a fabulous online community call the Full Spectrum Doula Network (FSDN)  It's purpose is to unite pro-choice, feminist, queer, and people of color working as doulas or midwives.  I'm so excited to be a featured blogger on the site!  Check it out at
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