Surgery and Updates

cropped-nick-and-nora.jpgMy husband went in for bladder cancer surgery on Thursday and is now home recovering nicely. It all went as well as it could have and they said they got all of it without it having spread elsewhere. During it all, I think he gets reminded of his mortality and perhaps, just a tiny bit, he’s reminded about who’s important? I, too, have had a complete rethink.

We have actually achieved a truce, of sorts. I’ve had to scale back emotionally and he’s living with the idea that he does not have my full attention any longer. Perhaps that’s for the best.  This article is one I came across accidentally, but it does help me understand the ideas behind things and why we are all bent on romanticism and the idea of one person for each of us until death. I have always fallen for the full romantic picture that we are taught as young women; there is one special person, your soul mate, whom you will meet, fall in love, and marry and live happily ever after in perfect bliss. Yeah, not so much.

I think now that people live to a very advanced age and it’s virtually impossible to ask someone to love one single human being throughout your life. It is entirely possible to love more than one person romantically. I’m doing it now. I love my ex-husband and I love my current husband. I see no contradiction. The contradiction only occurs in people’s minds when it comes to sex. Jealousy only really occurs when we think of people having sex with other than us.

I certainly don’t believe anymore that people are monogamous. The majority of evidence that I see around me in the people I know and in the news confirms to me that men especially are incapable of fidelity.  Yes, women too, but it is not as accepted in women as it is in men. I am certain that if two people work at it, non-monogamy can work, however BOTH people have to start at the same place and not try to fit it in afterwards. My problem is that I didn’t sign up for it from the beginning. If I had, I could have dealt with it all better.  If I’d been honest with myself as well, I could have been self-aware enough to know that I am NOT one for fidelity myself. My current relationship proves it! And, just because I have no interest in outside relationships right now, it does not mean I won’t in the future.  I’ve made it clear that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and the hubby accepts that.

The lesson learned here is to BE HONEST FROM THE BEGINNING. We all spend so much time hiding and lying to ourselves and to others about what we really want and then we try to force ourselves to live by a moral code that we did not create. Someone else said that this was our moral code and we accepted it. I told my husband, it’s not that he’s ACTUALLY seeing anybody else that’s the problem for me, it’s the lying about it that angers me more. The betrayal is making it seem that I’m not worth telling the truth to. True, I’ve made it difficult for him to be truthful by my outbursts, but I’ve learned, through scaling back emotionally, that my outbursts do not encourage honest dialogue. So there are learning curves all around.

Perhaps something can be salvaged after all. I feel better about it now that I give myself time to really think about it and the ramifications of certain choices. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for us.


Quote of the Day

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A major obstacle to creativity is wanting to be in the peak season of growth and generation at all times . . . but if we see the soul’s journey as cyclical, like the seasons. . . then we can accept the reality that periods of despair or fallowness are like winter – a resting time that offers us a period of creative hibernation, purification, and regeneration that prepare us for the births of spring.

-Linda Leonard, from Call to Create : Celebrating Acts of Imagination

Feminist Gatekeepers


Writing in the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecra...

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Rebecca Traister, Hanna Rosin, and others on why you can’t own feminism. (1) – By DoubleX Staff – Slate Magazine.

Now I understand. After reading these feminists (and I’m surprised that they “allowed” Christina Hoff Summers to comment) I understand better about the feminist gatekeepers. They are elite women-firsters. They are academic women lording sover the lives of any other creatures; fetuses, men, animals, etc. They have earned this right because they believe others have ruled them long enough. Fair enough. I’m on board with that. Men have always taken what they wanted without weighing consequences. It’s their right. However, feminist gatekeepers look askance at anyone who would claim the right to be first themselves, such as Sarah Palin, who they label “unserious.” Why? Because she’s not educated like you or believe in the same policies as you do? As I recall, men in their patriarchal heyday often called Victoria Woodhull and suffragettes “unserious.” Gatekeepers label Palin and other women who disagree with them as dabblers at politics who do not understand what they are talking about.  Why? Because they don’t understand it the way you do? Which education is enough to make them “serious” about their political beliefs. Ivy league colleges? I smell elitism in the air.

Again, ladies, we UNDERSTAND what you are saying. You are saying women have rights no matter who’s involved. You are saying that your body is yours no matter what. Abortion is your banner no matter who you’ve allowed inside your body first. We get it. Fathers have no rights. Grandparents have no rights. The fetus has the least rights of all. The only right that matters is the female because she carries the baby. No parthenogenesis is involved yet somehow this “tissue” is strictly hers to dispose of at will as if no one was involved in its creation but her. We understand that no one has the right to an opinion about the government, about welfare, about employment, but you. Early feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, ladies who were never governors of their states, are considered “minor” feminists, probably because Stanton opposed abortion as another means of enslaving women by getting rid of men’s mistakes for them. Stanton wrote:

“When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our  children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”  Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe’s diary at Harvard University Library

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote:

“Women becoming, consequently, weaker…than they ought to be…have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection…either destroy the embryo in the  womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.” A Vindication of the Rights of Women,”

In other words, there is a price to be paid for such cavalier trashing of nature’s effects isn’t there? I think so. Yet, I am pro-choice myself and think the laws should stay as they are to protect a woman’s health and against crimes committed against her. However, there should be caveats as with any act that has responsibilities attached to it; the rights of fathers who care, and other family members who have a vested interest. No decision should be responsibility free. I don’t believe the religionists that say your body is God’s, but I also don’t go to the other extreme that say your body is yours no matter what.

There was a division in Stanton’s day and it appears there will be in our day. Ideology always creates division. Perhaps it should but people who don’t agree with you have a right to express their beliefs just as much as you do. Agreeing to further the causes of women should not however lie on the stance of a single issue.  Life is never about single issues. Again, modern feminists are making themselves the gatekeepers of an ideology that only a few women will ascribe to and declaring it true and right. They are “mortified” that other women claim their accomplishments as feminist; women who are married, mothers, or in any other category not fitting for complete and total freedom as they see it, a right they only accord to themselves. Is abortion really going to be the test for all political ideologies, left, right, and middle? Really? Feminism will never go anywhere with this mentality.

As for who gets to be feminist? I’ll tell you; only those who agree with the gatekeepers of their generation, that’s who.

No Consistent Ethic

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I’m finding that there is no consistent ethic that defines the American people and still satisfies all of the various self interest groups shouting for recognition out there. I’m finding that I can’t be part of any special interest group for one reason or another. If I disagree about abortion stances of either side, I am not allowed to call myself a feminist or an evangelical. If I believe in evolution and also in a Deity that engineered it, I cannot be classed an atheist or a believer. If I am for Obama’s health care plan but I say he hasn’t pushed it far enough, I am not allowed to call myself conservative or the purveyor of a republic. If I don’t believe in wealth distribution I can’t be called a socialist. If I am in favor of women’s ordination, I cannot be Catholic or evangelical Protestant. If I believe in a Divine entity I cannot be an atheist, but if I believe in a Deity that is genderless, I cannot call myself a Christian, Muslim, or Jew. If I believe in a personal Deity that answers prayer I cannot be a pantheist or panentheist.  If I believe that motherhood is a valid choice for women or that men are a necessary part of society I cannot claim the radical feminist label.  If I feel that all women (ALL WOMEN) deserve respect, I cannot call myself a feminist.  If I think that America is the greatest country in the world, I cannot call myself a liberal or progressive. I could go on and on.

The only consistent idea would be a moderate idea between the radical politics of left and right. But where are the masses of those in the middle? Where are their political leaders? Why do they not say anything? Where are the moderate Christians, Muslims, and Jews? Where are the evolutionary agnostics or religious humanists? Are these ideas not sexy enough to be reported? No,  the ethic now is extreme identity politics. That’s what sells. That’s what makes news. That’s what makes for a faux event. One has to draw battle lines to be heard, but you can’t draw them with what’s already out there especially if you do not adhere to every political point the ideologues offer. So no wonder there is the ethic of rugged American individualism. It’s what made this country great, but I fear it will also be its downfall.

When Voicing An Opinion Makes You Anti-Feminist

The abortion issue is rife with ill will, angry feelings, and ideological bullshit from left and right sources. For all the harping on how it’s a personal decision between a woman and her doctor, there are still those who believe that to be against abortion as a solution to the “problem” of pregnancy makes one anti-feminist and someone who “endangers” women’s lives. To be for choice also signals to the radical right that one is “anti-life” and not a proper Christian. Nowhere is there the freedom to make this decision on an individual case by case basis and not write a blanket free check as if we can vote for or against by rote.

I promised myself I would never write on this issue, but Marcy Bloom’s belittling of Melinda Gates’ decision to steer clear of the ideological issues surrounding abortion in On the Issues magazine made me so angry. Bloom writes:

So why is the Gates Foundation ignoring the abortion care needs of women? When asked on NPR by reporter Michele Norris, Melinda Gates said, “We don’t want to be part of the controversy.” In response to a request for comment to the Gates Foundation, a response was emailed from “Deborah Lacy (Independent Contractor)” who said: “While the foundation is making new investments in maternal and child health, our position on funding abortion services has not changed. Specifically, the foundation does not fund abortion and does not take a stance on the issue. We focus on improving access to the tools women need to prevent unintended pregnancy, by supporting organizations that provide voluntary family planning information and services for women in developing countries. Family planning services are critical to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce abortions.”

Does she fear that the image of the foundation will be affected? Fear anti-choice boycotts of Microsoft products? Does she have security concerns? Fret about the moral complexity of women’s decision-making? Or does she view women’s lives as controversial?

Gates seems unable to understand that the true moral issue is allowing women and girls to die because of lack of access to a safe medical procedure. By trying to avoid the “controversy” surrounding abortion, Gates has created another: it is impossible to work on maternal mortality issues and ignore abortion.

In other words Melinda, by refusing to get involved you are dooming “women and girls to die.” Now don’t you feel ashamed, Melinda Gates? Never mind that some people wrestle long and hard with issues surrounding abortion and come to different conclusions that Marcy Bloom. Never mind that the Gates Foundation is doing a world of good in other areas surrounding women’s health. The fact that abortion on demand isn’t one of them dooms the Gates to censure from those who disagree with their politics and moral decisions.

Abortion is by no means the only solution to saving women’s lives. It’s the equivalent of allowing the death penalty to clean out prisons and stop crime. It is NOT the solution just as abortion is NOT the solution to unwanted pregnancies. Let’s address birth control. Let’s address educating boys and men that they hold equal responsibility for unprotected sex. Let’s teach women that abortion is not a birth control method. Sure there are rapes. Sure there are horrific gender crimes in other countries. Rape is a political tool for oppressing women especially in militaristic and dictatorial societies. But abortion does not solve this problem. Refusing to fund abortions does not mean that the Gates Foundation condones rape or ill-health or anything of the sort. Taking the opposite ideology to Bloom’s does not mean the Gates Foundation is advocating anything other than exercising their own decision to fund what they want.

Personally a woman is in as much danger having a legal abortion as she is when having an illegal one. For me, abortion cheapens life just as much as the death penalty does. It means that there are lives that are expendable for the sake of others’ lives. I did not come to this decision lightly. My great-grandmother died from a botched abortion in her 20s because my great-grandfather told her they could not afford another child. At his urging she got the abortion and my grandmother and her sisters lost their mother. At 18 I found myself faced with a similar decision. I chose abortion and have regretted it and simultaneously not regretted it. It was in a legal clinic and was a horrific experience all around.  Sure, I gained my “freedom” from a situation I didn’t want to be in, but I have always regretted not giving the father of that child a voice in the situation. I’ve regretted not knowing I had other choices  and not knowing the gestational completeness of an infant in the womb (the word fetus cheapens it to some blob of tissue, which it assuredly is not at a certain stage). Late term abortions I find completely repugnant and would oppose no matter what the circumstances.

There are some, like Bloom, who feel they are doing women a service by providing these procedures. Some provide them without ever knowing anything about the circumstances in which the women come to them. It makes a complete difference why women come to abortion clinics. Are they being coerced into it by their boyfriends? Would they then get counseled NOT to do it? Are they told they have the right not to do it? Are they informed about what the procedure is like? I wasn’t. I got the impression no one much cared why you were there as long as you had the money for the procedure. Sobbing from pain and nauseous, all I got was a nurse telling me not to be such a baby about it. And still, no one pays attention to the women who regret this decision and are NOT brainwashed by a religion to think so. As a Christian, I was completely pro-choice without reservation. But as with everything, age and experience has taught me different things and I’ve since changed my mind and have some very serious reservations.  It is a completely personal decision not to whole-heartedly endorse all abortions at all times. I don’t. There are objections of all sorts. And I admire the Gates Foundation for not succumbing to another person’s politics and making their own decision about where their money is going. I admire them for not using women as pawns to further fund their personal ideology. There will always be those who furiously defend their opinions and ideologies as the only “right” ones to be had. However, if that one opinion puts me on the “wrong” side of the whole political spectrum feminists are supposed to espouse, then count me in the anti-feminist category.

Retreat! Retreat!

I’m not one to find a feminist argument in every little thing, but this just gripes me.  Back in the day, men needed a place to get away from their responsibilities, their jobs, their women, and their children; hence the “bachelor pad.” Or single men needed a place where they could enjoy themselves without all the messiness of female things being around. Women of course had no such places to go because, being women, they always had to be available to their men and their children and their husband’s houses. Hey, where do you think the term “housewife” comes from? This little “cabin” would be the perfect thing for that modern women (who makes an income in the 6 figures) to get away from everything.

Of Fighting Back and Trigger Warnings

I never understood why feminists put “trigger warnings” on their posts. I mean, I understand the concept and it’s great that they are thinking about how what they post will be percieved by those reading them, but I find the use of images far more triggering than actual words. Take for instance this excellent post about blaming women for fighting back when raped over at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose blog. It’s a great post about the mixed messages sent to women about keeping one’s mouth shut and not being angry or responsive, either in person or while blogging.

The same men who wonder why women don’t fight back more when raped to prove they actually have been raped are the same men who believe that women should keep their mouths shut on blogs or if not keep their mouths shut, at least “temper” their language to pass as respectable in polite society! In past relationships, I also could never understand why the same men, who didn’t like my ranting in blogs in public or personally in arguments about the merits of feminism, could admire the most vociferous and bitchy of women elsewhere in the blogosphere or in public. I mean what’s that about? It’s as if they were saying to me, “Personally, I’d like you to keep your mouth shut about feminism and how patriarchy kills the soul, but hey did you read that woman over there? She is so cool for voicing her opinion and in such a bitchy way!” What is one supposed to think of that? My brand of “bitching” wasn’t cool enough to merit admiration? It was unbecoming for me, but pretty cool when someone else does it? Makes no sense.

These mixed messages that we get on a daily basis is not merely annoying at best, but at worst is dangerous when it comes to real life situations in which life, limb, and happiness of soul are on the line.  As a woman who was forced most of her life to keep her mouth shut, I am finally taking the opportunity to make my thoughts known, loudly and sometimes obnoxiously, but as I get older the voices telling me to be quiet and more lady-like are getting more subtle but more insistent. I even find myself critical of other women when I wonder to myself why the women on feminist blogs have to use the word “fuck” all the time in their posts and podcasts and YouTubes. In my mind, men using it in everyday discourse is natural, but women…. that’s another story! I realized my hypocrisy of course, but sometimes I don’t catch myself in time. After all, it’s the same mindset that keeps us from speaking our minds at all, let alone using the words of the male world in a revolutionary way.

But back to triggering. I realized that images were more powerful triggering mechanisms than words for me when I was watching the new A & E program Obsessed last night, which chronicles the OCD symptoms of people seeking therapy to help them control their anxieties and hopefully rid them of their OCD. Most OCDs stem from some traumatic event that the person has not dealt with in a reasonable way.  I realized my propensity toward the same type of obsessive behavior when I watched last night’s episode. A woman who watched her father abuse their pet dog while she was a kid and her inability to protect the poor animal led her to visualize over and over scenes of animal abuse and such visualizing caused her to have horrible wrenching crying episodes. She couldn’t watch television or go anywhere that animals were living or being euthanized, like the animal shelter.

I can understand this completely. My step-father would put our poor kittens in abusive situations and in harm’s way in front of my sister and I just for the sheer fun of watching us be horrified at it! We too could do nothing for the poor things and all my life I can’t stand to see a cat or kitten in need or starving or abused. I too would have obsessive thoughts about kittens being put in a bag and drowned as some in our rural area would do when they didn’t want to take care of them (this rather than getting the cat spayed/neutered!) I would imagine cats being run over or hit by cars. I can’t even watch that commerical about preventing animal cruelty that Sarah McClachlen has done without crying like a baby! I also couldn’t get the thought of a kitten with pneumonia that I found outside my apartment years ago out of my head. The kitten was dying and wanted to sleep on me constantly but I wouldn’t let it for some strange reason and to this day I am haunted by that kitten, whom I didn’t help like I should have. It too had to be euthanized because it was obviously dying and all it wanted was a warm body.  Guilt, guilt, guilt.  It makes me tear up just thinking about it. So last night while this woman sobbed during her Cognitive Behavioral Therapy forcing her to face the animals at the pound, I too sobbed over that poor pneumonia-ridden kitten that I couldn’t help and all other helpless animals out there.  Trigger warning necessary for that???? You betcha!’ But there was none. Of course this still doesn’t explain to me why I can watch horror movies and cinematic violence perpetrated against humans, but can’t watch an animal cruelty advertisement! Warped? Yes.

However, I find the crying over it useful and therapeutic and perhaps the one reason why my obsessive thoughts don’t turn into OCD-like thoughts. I understand the trigger warnings and am grateful others think of them before posting. For me, however, the words aren’t triggering; images are. And in this visual culture, shouldn’t we at least be more careful what we put out there for everyone to see, especially if it’s billed as “reality?” Don’t we have enough of reality already?