Thursday, November 20, 2014

Repeal TN's Amendment 1

The post below was my comment to the petition to repeal Amendment 1 (with some adjustments for this blog post). Amendment 1 is the recent addition to the Tennessee Constitution that allows legislators to insert whatever laws they can get passed into women in Tennessee's lives and uteri.

If you'd like to sign the petition, please go here: Bill Haslam: Repeal Amendment One.

Women are intelligent beings. We are capable of making medical decisions that affect our lives. The decision to terminate a pregnancy should only be affected by the woman seeking the termination and the doctor performing it, and if the woman is married or with the father, perhaps her mate. No one should be forced to carry a fetus to term if that isn't what is best for their life. 

Women are human beings. In this day and age, balls of cells are given more rights than a living, breathing, functioning, working person. Nowadays, deceased bodies have more rights than a pregnant woman. If a person has not signed the organ donor card, his/her organs may not be removed from his/her body, but legislators and politicians (people without medical degrees or with medical degrees but no longer practicing medicine because they are politicians) have no right to tell a woman what she can/cannot do with her body when no one--doctor, legislator or otherwise--can dictate what can/cannot happen with a dead body.

Women sometimes seek terminations. Terminations have existed as long as pregnancies have existed. There will never be a world in which terminations don't exist unless in that world, pregnancies also cease to exist. Banning terminations only increases the likelihood that women will die seeking terminations. Roe v. Wade did not create the world of abortions; it created the world in which women no longer had to rely on self-abortions via wire hangers, had to drive to Mexico or fly to another country if you could afford it, had to rely on illegal doctors in questionable and/or unsavory locations. When safe, legal terminations are inaccessible, women turn to knitting needles, questionable drug mixtures, throwing themselves down stairs, paying people to beat them in the stomach, clinics like those run by Kermit Gosnell, etc. THAT is NOT a world I want to return to.

Women seek medical treatment wherever they deem necessary. And if the concern is that women come from other states to seek terminations here in TN, I suppose we should just close Tennessee's borders to all people seeking medical treatment so that only Tennesseans benefit from hospitals such as St. Jude, Erlanger, Vanderbilt, LeBonheur and the other hospitals in this state that do amazing work. And by that same token, I suppose Tennesseans should no longer have access to world class hospitals, such as Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, etc. because they aren't in TN. This line of thinking that Tennessee medical care is only for Tennesseans is cruel and illogical.

Women are intelligent human beings who live in Tennessee in 2014. The passage of Amendment 1 makes me feel as if we've gone back to an era when women had to seek permission from her husband or father just to see a doctor and then seek permission from the husband/father and doctor before receiving treatment. And then the husband/father and doctor would meet in secret to determine what was the best course for the woman. Women are NOT children. Functioning, productive, intelligent women do not need to be protected from ourselves. We do not need to be shielded, and we don't need to be gaslighted into making decisions that are counterproductive to OUR lives.

Terminations are not ended by banning them. Terminations will never end as long as pregnancies exist because there will ALWAYS be some situation (rape, incest, poor health, domestic abuse, being poor, etc.) wherein it is a much better option for everyone involved that the fetus never grows beyond a ball of cells. Our society is not perfect to the point that every fetus that is conceived was done so in love and will grow up in a loving home and family.

The "great" Republican himself Ronald Reagan signed abortion legislation into CA law (The Therapeutic Abortion Act in 1967) because there were far too many women dying seeking abortions.  The Volstead Act was repealed because prohibiting alcohol increased crime, murder, and the growth of crime families. I suppose it will take an increase in women dying from seeking abortions for people to care enough to realize that prohibiting it will not make it go away.

Terminations won't go away. They can only be reduced and mitigated with comprehensive sexual education, access to contraception, and  access to safe and legal terminations.

Please repeal Amendment One.

The App Generation

I just had an interesting conversation with a colleague from another department.

Through this conversation, I uttered the phrase: "they're the app generation." His reply: "I think you just coined a phrase."

Well, while I realize I didn't actually coin this phrase (there's already a book out with that phrase as the title), this conversation did make me think about what this means.

So, what is the App Generation? We are so busy calling the current age of people the Millennial Generation, but how long will that phrase last? Is it more apropos to call them the App Generation? Is it fair to label only the Millennials the App Generation or does this label fit to many more people than that?

We're so tied to our mobile devices and the latest app and what it can do for us, to us, with us. We're so tethered to the electronic leashes and those little icons that connect us to various things.

Apps rule our lives. They help us connect to content, friends, media, images, food, and even places to go. They provide our news, our images, our livelihood, our money, our families, our life. Apps are our life.

Apps are so personal. They speak volumes about who you are, where you've been, where you plan to go, how you plan to get there, and how long it'll take.

Apps keep us occupied while we're getting there. Help us stay on course during the route. Help us find the food and toilets during the trip. Help us light the way in the dark--literally and figuratively.

Apps provide the info to keep us informed, entertained, communicative.

Apps tell us what's hot and new.  Apps suggest to us what may be hot and new in the future. Apps remind us of what used to be hot and new.

Apps are our culture. They are our innovation, our brainchildren, our way forward. Apps are our futures.

Apps are us.

Every company that wants to be relevant today must develop an app.  Years ago, what used to be a suite of programs (iWork and Office come to mind) is now a series of unconnected apps that you can (or must) buy individually.  What used to take up one icon, now takes up three.

But what does this all mean?

Does this mean we are too connected, too electronic device-ified?

Apps help bridge the miles between friends, family, and lovers. Apps keep military men and women connected to the family who so desperately just want to see them again. Apps offer a sense of stability but also a sense of spontaneity. They offer freedom but they also bring so many restrictions. Apps are your cache private photos but they are also your willful destruction of personal privacy.

All of that data fed into those apps says a lot of who you are. And all of it is given away freely.

Apps are helping us.

Apps are ruining us.

Years ago, I used to use two videos in my classes: "Did you know? Shift Happens" and "The Machine is Us/ing Us."  These videos have become even more relevant now than then.
                                           "Did you know?Shift Happens, 2014 Remix"

"Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us."

We have become our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We have become the apps. We are extensions of our mobiles devices and connectivity rather than the devices being extensions of us. We can no longer say it's this generation or that generation--sectioning off the generations according to when we were all born. Sure, we all belong to a pre-determined generation based on the year we were born, but we are all also a part of the App Generation. We exist in this App Generation because of the advancements in tech during our life times.

We also can't say it's one country or another. The world uses mobile devices. There are more mobile devices in this world than there are toilets:

And what does THAT say about who and what we are as humans? In our priorities as humans? We are the App Generation.

Do we have to remain a part of the App Generation? Is it a lasting label that can't be shed?

No. We can choose to ignore the apps and mobile devices for a time. Put them away for awhile. Silence them. Turn them off. Silence the notifications. Come back to them later.

The truth is, without your attention, the apps will continue to function; they'll exist in their space whether you acknowledge them or not. But will the real, tangible, breathing beings who are in your life continue to exist in your life if you ignore them for awhile?

Can we continue to ignore one another for the sake of the apps and devices? What will that society look like? Do I even want to know?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shield Maidens Unite

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the show Vikings.
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an info junkie, TV addict, and a feminist. A few months back, I was fortunate to watch the History Channel show called Vikings. I'd seen advertisements for it, but largely ignored them. Friends encouraged me to watch the show, and I'm so glad I did.

Lagertha c1Watching Vikings, I was instantly impressed by the main female character Lagertha. But more importantly, I was intrigued by this slightly more accurate portrayal of the Viking culture; it is after all, a TV show.  As an info junkie, I frequently paused the episodes to fact check things the show portrayed. I'm happy to learn more about any culture, but I'm especially appreciative to see that not only were the Vikings NOT a horned helmet wearing, beer guzzling, raping, pillaging, killing, maiming, destroying people who treated women like shite, women actually had prominent places in their society and what's more, they actually fought in battles and went on raids right alongside the men, as shield maidens. Yes, the Vikings raided other cultures, but their culture can also be credited with contributing a LOT to the world. Doubt me? Look them up for yourself.

Now, I fully understand and accept that Vikings is a (really good) fictional show whose main objective is to get ratings, but recent reports have claimed that mass graves of Viking warriors were not all or mostly men as scientists once thought (although being able to say with certainty that the female corpses were all warriors isn't as clear). With the popularity of Vikings and people's attempts to set the record straight on Viking culture and history, it has been discovered that shield maidens (such as Lagertha) were in fact, real.

Watching Vikings, Lagertha speaks to me. She's powerful, intelligent, respected.  People admire her, want to be her. And of course, she's beautiful, so men want to be with her. She was married to the man who became Earl (and ultimately, King). She became an Earl herself because she refused to bow down and be beaten (literally and figuratively) by a man. When she was Ragnar's wife, she ensured women were treated fairly by the community, and their own spouses. In essence, Lagertha didn't take shite from anyone, could kick anyone's ass who tried to give her shite, and strove to ensure that women had equality as much as possible within the society. We need a Lagertha today!

Watching the show, I was annoyed that a society many people view today as primitive, pagan, and heathenistic afforded more rights to women (see #28) than our modern, allegedly progressive, forward-thinking society. In fact, I find it interesting that the Christian societies depicted in the show demonstrate very oppressive lives for women (oppressive rules that we KNOW existed then and now) but what's even more interesting (and disheartening) is that those oppressive societies aren't that far off from societies today--Christian or otherwise.

So, as women today face increasing erosion of rights, inequality, unfair pay, discrimination, a persistent rape culture, continued victim blaming, and patriarchy that simply won't quit, I feel the inner Lagertha rising up in me.  Restrictions on terminations, disenfranchisement, lesser pay for equal work, unfair medical rules, forced births, child brides, female genital mutilation, the loss of the right to simply exist in a public space without being subjected to harassment (or even being murdered for rejecting the unwanted attention), needing male relative approval to merely move about, etc. While I can't solve the problems for all women worldwide, I can affect my sphere of influence. And my inner shield maiden is getting angrier and ready for battle.

I realize that American women have it SO much easier than other women worldwide. I realize the privilege of being born in America and existing in this particular time period. I know I have it easier than women elsewhere or even my great, great great grandmother who would've been a slave in the South. I realize I have it easier than women of the 1950s or 1960s or 1970s. And I realize that not all women in Viking culture had rights; there were slaves, concubines, whores, etc. But I also realize in learning more about the Viking culture, some women of hundreds of years ago, in different cultures had far more rights than women today. I also see that things that our grandmothers and mothers fought for have come back around again (some with a vengeance), and my generation and the one behind us will have to re-fight battles already won.  That I can't let stand.

So, my inner Lagertha is rising up. I'm preparing my battle armor.  I'm readying my shield. I cannot sit idly by and lose rights I know that as a human being I deserve. I demand that we will "be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth" and I damn sure will "bring it into existence by any means necessary"--even if it means as a shield maiden in the battle for my mere existence.

I'm angry at the loss of freedoms. But I will channel my anger and fight. Won't you join me?! Won't you be a shield maiden too?!

Shield Maidens Unite!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Flee, Scream, Fight... 2014 TN Amendment 1 and Other Election Reactions

This morning I awoke to news that not only does the GOP now control the Senate (that had been predicted for months) and many GOP governors maintained their seats (include Florida's Scott, Wisconsin's Walker, and Kansas' Brownback) but also, now in Tennessee, women may completely lose access to abortions--regardless of the circumstances.

Last night (as on many previous Election Nights), I purposely distracted myself until well after polls had closed. Being a mom with a kid in school means around the time polls close, I have little people to bathe, clothes to prep, backpacks to check, etc.  I'm thankful for that distraction because it means I no longer have the leisure time to sit in front of a TV and watch as the results roll in.  And even after everyone was put to bed, I purposely resisted the urge to check election results every 30 minutes before going to bed.  I checked once or twice, so I knew GOP had gained the Senate. That was enough upset for last night, so, I watch my new fave show (Peaky Blinders) drifted off to sleep and hoped, wished, and prayed that Amendment 1 would not pass in TN.

I woke in the morning when it was still dark outside to find that a nightmare had become reality. I wanted to pull the covers back over my head, fade into the dark of the early morning hours, and simply sleep until Super Tuesday in 2016.

Their are so many issues I have with this result that I'm not even sure where to begin.

Let's start with the actual Amendment itself.  Here's the language:
Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriate designated section:
Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statues regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. [Emphasis mine.]
(I got nauseous just now typing that.)
So, essentially, Tennessee didn't actual vote to ban anything, yet. They've voted to give the legislature the right to ban abortion in Tennessee, but what makes this amendment so horrifying is that it leaves no room for exceptions for rape, incest or life of mother. Even many pro-life people believe those things may be exceptions.

As a friend mentioned, I feel as if my body is under assault. My soul aches. My uterus weeps.

No one but me, my doctor and my mate should be able to make decisions about what happens with my body. And for some people, the mate doesn't even get a  say-so.
I recently watched a video connected with #IfTheySpeakForMe in which a white male steps from the shadows in a black hair salon to tell the stylist how to do the women's hair. The stylist (being in on the situation) go along with it, but the customers instantly go into WTF mode: "Oh, hell nah. Don't touch me. You don't determine how I wear my hair. And why are you [the stylist] going along with this." One lady was almost out the door before the person was able to explain the true situation.

Here's the video:

Even when I was watching the video days ago, I felt like this. "Oh, hell no. Some WHASP-y male politician has no right to tell me or anyone else what to do with their bodies." It was as if I could sense a male politician jumping out from the shadows when I'm at a Gyno visit to tell my doctor what she can/cannot do.

Now that Amendment 1 has passed, that's exactly what as happened.

Learning of this amendment passing angered me in ways I can't even truly describe. On the way to drop the kiddos this morning, I wished I weren't nice. Wished I didn't care.

I have so many emotions.
I want to flee.
I want to fight.
I want to scream.
I want to ... arrrgggghhhhh!

I'm too young to feel so battered politically. I need to leave this state. I need to leave this region.
And what's truly sad is you look at the results of the bigger cities of this state and in each of those counties, the majority voted No. It's the smaller towns that voted Yes, and OY, do we have a lot of those. Ugh!

And the people who voted for this amendment are delusional if they believe that whatever convoluted law they develop will actually stand and/or stop abortions. Termination is a medical procedure. Sometimes, it's medically necessary. Sometimes, it's elective. But like any other medical procedure, it's up to the patient and doctor to determine if and when they get it. Laws won't reduce abortions. Comprehensive sexual education reduces pregnancies and therefore, the need of terminations. Laws won't reduce abortions; they'll reduce safe abortions.

And in national news...
I suppose at some point during the first week of January 2015, we should expect Articles of Impeachment to be handed down since the 114th Congress starts on Jan. 3, and it'll only be a mere few days before they start that little plan. (Let's not forget the very same day Pres. Obama was first inaugurated in 2009, they met that day to plan his takedown.)

Again... flee, scream, and fight.
Parts of me want to just give up, but that isn't in me. In fact, I've already contacted Planned Parenthood to ask them to fight the amendment.

This isn't over.  The pendulum always swings back.

And if it doesn't, well, there's always the flee option.