Retired

Y’all, it’s been awhile. And before that it was awhile more.

This space doesn’t fit me anymore. I’m leaving it in search of a place that I hope I will want to cultivate.

You can follow this new endeavor here.

:-)

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I had an abortion*

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you if it was my only, or my fourth.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in their heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with signs, I heard them shout, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had a wonderful hand-holder. I clutched her, and she asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I do not regret my abortion.

*this post originally was posted in May 2012. I’ve made minor edits to it, and reposted because I believe that it’s necessary to put it back out there. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about who should and should not have access to abortion and I don’t like any of it. I also don’t like the rhetoric of abortion shame, which says that someone who has chosen abortion made “one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.” I won’t be made to feel bad because it wasn’t a terribly hard decision for me. I will not participate in the stigmatizing and shaming of a neutral medical procedure.

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BIAS: It’s not just a catch word.

There’s this talk being held today, “Must women lead differently than men?” and I wanna talk a little about how this title frames the discussion and enforces status quo.

This title establishes “male” styles of leadership (I use the quotes because I don’t believe there is an innate “male” way of leading. I think anything we ascribe to “male leadership” is probably largely influenced by heavy gender construction throughout a person’s life. We teach boys and girls to behave differently through social conditioning and perpetuating gender essentialism.) as the standard against which leadership is measured. Is that correct? Is it appropriate? Is “male leadership” the bar we should all reach for? According to this title, yes.

What if we reframe the title and ask, “Must men lead differently than women?” Here the standard is set by women, and frames “women’s leadership” styles as the norm. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything other than things related to child rearing framed with women’s action as the standard.

This is bias. This is how we teach people that feminine is bad, or weak and masculine is good, or strong. This title doesn’t use the words, “Women are bad leaders,” but it certainly plants a seed of doubt. Because the title accepts that how men do something is what we consider normal. So if the norm is how men do it, however a woman does it must be wrong. People read this and, without even thinking about it, understand that men must be better leaders. And then figure this is why there aren’t many female presidents of financially powerful companies. And then offer up the “men are just more suited to positions of power than women” because —> leadership styles. 

Bias y’all, it’s a thing. 

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You can totally teach 3.5yos about consent.

I love that when my 3.5yo wants to be tickled he says, “Tickle me mama! When I say “purple” you stop.” And that’s how we play. He picks the word that we’ll use for “stop” and when he says it, I stop. “Now you tickle me,” I say, and when I say, “Purple,” he stops.

I respect the boundaries he sets, and he respects the boundaries I set.

This is how I’m working to stop rape/bully culture.

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Is 3 too young to teach boys not to rape? I don’t think so.

This is a quick hit, because lately all I can think is “ao@*&#dg;9760iuehTAE” when I sit down to write. I’m sure this deserves to be fleshed out.

Last week Zerlina Maxwell went on the Hannity show and tilted the world off it’s axis when she said stop telling me how to not be raped, and start telling men not to rape. (The whole linked clip is worth watching, but she speaks at 2:35.) She followed up today with a piece at Ebony, 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not To Rape.

I think about this a lot. I think about it more since about 2 years ago when I overheard a dad at the park encouraging his 3/4yo son to go give another little girl a hug, and upon hearing said little girl’s mom say, “She doesn’t like hugs, he better watch out,” continued to encourage his son because, “Oh, she’ll be fine. Someday she’ll like it.”

I am raising a son, and you can damn well believe that I am laying a foundation, at his current pre-school age, so that he doesn’t become a rapist.

He’s being taught to ask his friends if they want hugs from him, and he’s being taught to respect it when they tell him, “No.”

When he gets older he will hear his father and I critically examine sports announcers on our television. He will attend women’s sporting events.

He will be taught that “bitch” is not a word we use in our house.

He will see and hear his parents speak up when we witness rape culture.

He will be taught that all people are valuable, and that listening to the experiences that other people have had, and learning from them, will make him a better person.

We will teach him these things so that, if we do it right, he will be an ally against rape in his chosen community.

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Chris Dumler should resign

In October, Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler was arrested and charged with sexual assault and forcible sodomy. (He was accused of performing anal intercourse with a partner who was non-consensual to the act.) The above linked article describes Dumler as a “stranger to a life of crime,” noting that he’s a lawyer, an Eagle Scout and a volunteer firefighter. Another article adds Army Reservist to his list of credentials as a “good guy.” As if to suggest lawyers, Boy Scouts, firefighters, and Army Reservists – defacto members of the “good guys team” – aren’t capable of committing crimes, or particularly rapey, sexual assualt crimes.

Bail was set for Dumler at $50,000 and was posted by his friend local Democratic leader, and founding member of Virginia’s Women’s Strike Force, Cynthia Neff.

Shortly after his release from jail on bail Dumler issued a statement saying that he intended to fight the charges and mount a vigorous defense, and that he would not resign from his position as county supervisor. Virginia code stipulates that a felony conviction would force him out of his position. He can also be removed if voters in his district petition the court.

Since his arrest in October two other complainants have come forward, accusing Dumler of similar acts of non-consensual anal sex.

Yesterday (January 31, 2013), instead of mounting the vigorous defense he promised in October, he pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery, and was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 60 days suspended, and because the crime is a misdemeanor he only actually needs to serve half of those 60 days. He has requested that he be allowed to serve the 30 days in jail on the weekends. The county has agreed to not pursue charges in the other two complaints.

It seems to me that he accepted this plea, and he says basically the same thing, so that he might continue in his position as county supervisor. And I get kind of angry about the way “justice” works.

Three people have come forward to suggest that an elected official in the county, who seems to be a rising star in the local Democratic Party, has a problem understanding “No.” And I have a pile of problems with this.

1.) Dumler pled so that he wouldn’t risk losing his position on the Board of Supervisors – I think that’s shady. It forces me to imagine that there was probably enough evidence to convict him of felony sodomy charges, but someone sat down with him and said, “Hey, we all want you to be able to go back to your job, so if you plead, we can make that happen.”

2.) He’s an elected official in the Democratic Party – a party that wants me to think they have the interests of survivors of sexual assault, and violence in the forefront of the party. They are the proponents of VAWA which would offer services to more survivors of violence, and of health care reform that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to survivors of domestic violence.

3.) It’s more of the same bullshit we see all the time. People in positions of privilege getting away with sexual assault. How am I supposed to teach my kid that it is NOT OKAY EVER to push someone into a sexual act, or to force someone into a sexual act, when the whole damn world is willing to look the other way so damn often? How can I feel like my safety is anyone’s priority?

4.) Sexual assault is a crime of dominance. It’s a crime of punishment. It’s a crime of arrogance. It is the assumption that whomever you are hurting exists for the fulfillment of your need. That their body is yours to do with as you please.

I don’t want people like that in positions of power.

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And then there was that time my Tweet made it into Time Magazine

Woah. Thanks to my friend Erin Hunt for pointing it out to me.
Me_Newsweek

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