Why I’m not a “feminist”

September 18, 2012

As a woman and former Missouri resident, the remarks of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., last month about pregnancies resulting from rape made me cringe and outraged at the same time.

HOWEVER, if you’ll refer to my previous blog post about freedom of speech, you’ll note that, while I disagreed with (read: loathed) the factually incorrect and ignorant sentiment, I didn’t post an opinion about it because 1) he’s entitled to his (wrong) opinion and 2) it’s a fad issue.

But here’s the deal: I’m also Catholic. And I’m also pro-life.

While it’s baffling to think that a white, male legislator claims to understand how women’s bodies work better than, well, a woman, he and other pro-life legislators still have far more legitimate arguments about the actual issue he was discussing. And as a woman, I tend to agree with him.

I can’t believe I’m about to defend Todd Akin.

Anyway, I found this blog post on the Interwebs yesterday. In it, a staunchly liberal, pro-choice woman in Missouri attended a speech given by Akin. In the speech, he elaborated on how he believed that government shouldn’t have the right or the ability to deprive people of their freedom. The woman who wrote the post agreed, and said this includes depriving women their freedom to choose what’s right for themselves.

Then this happened.

A woman in the audience asked:

“You mentioned that you don’t like when we’re divided, because we’re all Americans. And I actually agree with how you said that but I really feel like you’re sending a mixed message because I feel like, when it applies to women, we do divide. It’s not about freedom because you have voted to deprive women of the right to choose about their bodies and about their health concerns and the things that they can do. So I feel like when you say it’s about freedom and unity, it seems like you’re kind of forgetting about your policies and how that alienates women and deprives them of their freedom. So how do you reconcile that?”

Akin answered:

“And that is a question, isn’t it, about abortion. And it’s a question, is it a person or not? If it’s not a person, then you’re not allowing a medical procedure would be taking your freedom with it. But if it is a person, then you are certainly taking someone’s freedom, the freedom of life from the child.”

The woman continued:

“You still have to acknowledge the fact that you are, in turn, depriving women of their freedom at the same time. I feel like if you say that it’s life at conception, that it trumps the freedom that you are depriving women, and I feel like you need to answer to that.”

Um…

This woman has answered her own question and subverted her own argument in the same damn sentence. If we’re arguing based on the claim that life starts at conception, then it’s really no longer an issue of personal freedom. The test of true freedom is whether it interferes with someone else’s. So if we’re going to argue based on the claim that the baby growing inside a woman’s womb is a person (and I strongly believe it is), then your “freedom” to choose whether it gets to live or die is no longer a freedom. In much the same way, I sometimes wish I had the “freedom” to run over stupid pedestrians with my car. But that’s not really a freedom. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S MANSLAUGHTER.

And that’s what the pro-life/pro-choice debate boils down to: whether you believe that the baby inside the womb is a person. Because if you did believe that it is a person, there’s no way you could possibly justify the “freedom” to decide whether it lives or dies.

This is the huge, raging problem I have with feminism and calling myself a feminist. The minute I mention that I believe a baby is a baby, inside the womb or out of it, I’m considered anti-choice and anti-rights and anti-equality. AU CONTRAIRE, FEMINAZIS. I happen to be very pro-rights because believe it or not, the PERSON growing inside of you deserves to have them, too.

So if you tell me that the little baby growing inside your womb is not a person, then fine. The argument you are using to justify your claim of personal freedom has a more sound grounding in logic. But don’t be surprised if I vehemently disagree with you.

UPDATE

Found this article by pro-life feminist Liz Hoskings a couple of hours after I posted this blog entry. In it, Hoskings talks about how pro-life feminists have been alienated by a movement that generally prides itself on acceptance because they disagree on the issue of abortion.

She also says that the abortion issue is not only divisive among feminists, abortion can also be seen as another tool of male oppression.

“From the ‘pro-life’ feminist viewpoint, mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”

I haven’t thought much about this argument, but it’s an interesting one. I’ll have to examine it further.

Hoskings also invokes the names of mother suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, my ultimate heroes.

Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer of American feminism, viewed abortion as infanticide, a view shared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a number of her prominent contemporaries, who looked on abortion not as being liberating, but as a tool of male oppression. As Stanton put it, when women had been treated for so long as property, it was degrading that they should treat their children as chattel. These pioneers viewed abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women, and yet were compassionate towards those who resorted to it, and reserved their scorn for those men who had used and abandoned them.

So much love for this woman. So. Much. Love.

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Why so serious?

September 16, 2012

I’ve noticed an odd and dangerous trend sweeping social media lately, and I want to talk about it here.

When I come home for the day, my cat often gives me this very serious expression, like she’s judging me for something. I think most cats have this ability, but Bast’s eyes have a natural slope downward toward her nose, so she usually looks angry or consternated.

In an attempt at humorous commentary about my cat, I posted this as my Facebook status:

“I’m really getting tired of coming home to my cat judging me for my poor life choices.”

Obviously this is a joke. I don’t really have any regrets in my life. When I examine the path that had led me to where I am and the choices I’ve made thus far, I’m proud. I’m college-educated, and I have a job doing something I love. This job allows me to live in a nice apartment and not starve. It also allows me to have fun on the weekends. I live within my means. I go to Mass every week as dictated by my Catholic faith. I give back to charity. I volunteer when I have the time. I call my mother every evening. I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink to excess (very often, anyway). The only thing in my life I could really consider a vice is my smoking habit, but even that pales in comparison to everything else in my life I do right.

In short, I’m a good person, and I have a good life I’m thankful for because of God’s grace and also because I’ve made good life decisions. So it stands to reason that my friends who know me well enough to know how I live my life would recognize my status as a joke. PLUS, I cats don’t judge people. Or at least I don’t think so.

But one of my Facebook friends commented,

“so stop making poor life choices….”

Thinking that he knew it was a joke, I replied,

“MY CAT ALREADY JUDGES ME, [Facebook friend], I DON’T NEED YOU CHIMING IN.”

But apparently he didn’t realize the status was a joke because he answered,

“Im not judging you, if you’re going to put it out there for anyone to read then expect comments. If you aren’t happy with choices/decisions you make, fix it. It’s your llife and you control it.”

All I could do was shake my head and sigh.

As I’ve already pointed out, I have a good life as a result of my good decisions. So yes, condescending Facebook friend, I know I control my life. And I know how to control it. In all seriousness, I don’t need you trying to tell me with your well-meaning but patronizing platitudes about self-empowerment.

Not to mention, I very rarely ever post anything serious on Facebook. Most of my statuses (Stati? I really need to figure that out) are about funny events or witty commentary about my life. Case in point: my last Facebook status was,

“Too much pressure and I’m nervous!”

This, obviously, is a lyric from “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. I was hanging out at a karaoke bar with some friends and we made two of our macho, cowboy-hat-wearing soldier friends sing it for us. I thought it was hilarious, so I posted it.

So I explained to my friend that the status was just a joke. And he said,

“lol ive gotten used to people taking fb verrry seriously.”

I’m sure this is true, but this is what annoys and saddens me. Whyyy do people take social media so seriously? I know potential employers check social media before hiring people nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you have to automatically stay away from content that shows wit or character. In fact, I doubt that my Facebook status about my cat would have raised any eyebrows in any potential employer.

Not to mention, if I really WAS making poor life choices, why the hell would I post about it on Facebook? Why in the world would I make that shit public for my entire friends list to see? For example, say I was a drug addict. Would I post statuses(i) or pictures about the huge amounts of coke I’m about to snort? No! You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S IDIOTIC.

I also don’t post inspirational quotes or song lyrics (because they mostly come off as cheesy). And I avoid posting anything political because it invites a bunch of uninformed and ridiculous commentary.

The problem as I see it is that people are getting way to fucking personal on Facebook nowadays. Leave your problems off of your status because you come across looking like a needy asshole or someone who doesn’t have your shit together. And let’s face it: if you’re putting your shit on Facebook for the whole world to see, you probably don’t have your shit together in the first place. I mean, if you were going through some crazy break up with your significant other or if your family was driving you crazy, would you tell random strangers about your problems? No.

Sigh. Maybe my inner-hipster is just really annoyed by the fact that my Facebook friend didn’t understand my hilarious irony.


2012 Election: Rant No. 1

September 4, 2012

So remember how I warned all y’all that there were going to be more rants about voting as elections come ever closer?

Brace yourselves.

<rant>

I hate, hate, HATE how my generation seems so ignorant and unmotivated about elections! And as most of my blog readers know, I also hate the use of exclamation points, but I had to use one to close the last sentence because there’s really no other punctuation mark that accurately expresses my total, utter loathing and disdain for people — especially young people — who refuse to vote.

And maybe it’s just because I represent the tiniest fraction of people who happen to be hyper-informed about most everything. News quite literally is my life, and political news is my specialty. I am plugged into the 2012 election practically 24/7. I’m two weeks away from turning Politico into my homepage.

I understand to some degree that people can’t afford to be as informed as I am. I acknowledge that there are people out there who have lives that do not revolve around campaigns, press releases and proposed legislation. I get that.

But I also have to argue that it is SO DANG EASY to stay even marginally informed nowadays. It wasn’t like in the past when the public’s only access to election information was one hour every night on the television, or when it came in the form of a newspaper delivered every morning. With the Internet, people can stay on top of the election just as well as I can. And just learning the basic facts about any given candidate is too easy. With information as accessible and affordable as it is now, there really is no excuse for anyone not to stay informed about the elections in their area.

The advent of this rant comes from a conversation I had with a friend from back home. I told her that I had been focusing on a lot of election coverage at work lately, since the election day is 10 weeks away. Her reply was:

“I’m not registered to vote.”

I almost popped a vein, I was so angry. And I was angry for several reasons:

  1. She’s my age
  2. She’s my friend
  3. She’s a woman
  4. She lives in Texas

Admittedly, on the surface these reasons make no sense whatsoever. So let me explain them.

She’s my age, which is obviously old enough to vote. But not only that, she was old enough to vote in the last presidential election in 2008. WHICH MEANS SHE WASN’T EVEN REGISTERED TO VOTE FOR WHAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST EXCITING AND HYPED UP ELECTION OF OUR GENERATION. I mean, seriously! The 2008 election happened while we were both in college, so even though I voted for the guy who lost, I still got swept up in all of the excitement and hopeful rhetoric. AND SHE DIDN’T EVEN VOTE IN IT. I’m retroactively pissed.

Second of all, she’s MY friend. She knows I’m a political reporter. She knows I’ve been a political nerd since fucking high school. She knows how passionately I believe in democracy and elections. And most importantly, she’s heard me rant about all of the above more than once.

Third of all, she’s a woman. SHE’S A WOMAN. Do you know how hard our founding mothers fought for suffrage? Real role models like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton picketed, marched, lobbied, rallied and even got arrested just to give women the chance to vote. They fought long and hard so that their sisters and their daughters could have the chance to make their voices heard. And their sacrifice is just taken for granted nowadays. My friend doesn’t properly appreciate what it took to give her the opportunity to vote. She just throws away that opportunity like it’s a fucking nuisance.

Fourth of all, she lives in Texas. This is the last year before senior republican senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison retires. That means her seat is up for grabs next year. The race is between Democrat Paul Sadler and Republican Ted Cruz. But here’s the catch: Ted Cruz is a Tea Party Republican, meaning he’s on the far right extreme. My friend gets to vote in one of the most contentious Senate races of 2012 and she doesn’t even appreciate the importance of it. And how can she when she purposely chooses to remain uninformed?

And to further add to my anguish and ire, I saw another friend of mine post this as his Facebook status the other day:

“[friend’s name] has noticed a tangible sense of excitement in the air from many people regarding something called an “election season.” He appreciates and shares that enthusiasm, but how are so many people misspelling “football” so badly?”

I almost flipped my shit. And by “my shit,” I actually mean the desk that my computer was sitting on. I wanted to throw everything within arm’s reach.

And perhaps I’m blinded by my own ignorance of what really matters to people my age. Maybe I’m just too close-minded to try and understand their wants and needs, what drives their decision-making impulses.

BUT HERE’S THE THING.

The elections that my peers have such cavalier disdain and apathy for decide our entire fucking livelihoods. Take the 2010 mid-term elections as an example. The American people practically overthrew their congress and elected handfuls of Tea Party candidates to the House of Representatives. Since then, our Congress has:

  1. Played an incredibly detrimental game of Chicken over the debt ceiling which resulted in America’s credit downgrade and the loss of millions of jobs
  2. Enacted the rule of sequestration, which would automatically cut $500 billion in defense spending by January 2013; If sequestration cannot be stopped, military installations all over the United States would GREATLY diminish in size, and there’s no telling what would happen to the communities surrounding them
  3. Earned a collective disapproval rating that has remained below national record since 1974

And this is just our federal legislators. What a lot of people also fail to recognize is that our local legislators have MUCH more power and influence over our daily lives than our federal legislators. Our local legislators decide the state of our roads, how much we’ll pay in taxes in any given fiscal year, and they get to decide how to spend the tax revenue. These are decisions that directly affect us, and yet no one seems to give a flying fuck.

So I posted this on my Twitter account the other day, in response to my ignorant friend and to express my general frustration with such a disinterested electorate:

“There’s no telling what this country could accomplish if people were half as excited about election season as they are about football season.”

I whole-heartedly believe this. America is special in the fact that, of all the many democracies in the world, we consistently have the lowest voter turnout. How can we possibly call ourselves the greatest nation in the world when our own electorate doesn’t even give a shit about how it’s run?

We have a unique opportunity to have a say in who leads us, and there have been men and women who have died in the fight for these opportunities.

Don’t allow your ignorance to waste their sacrifice.

</rant>