Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Pride weekend, Minnesota!

Most of my family knows that I've been boycotting Target since last fall when it made the papers that they support political canidates with anti-queer stances.  With the passage of putting an amendment on our 2012 ballot on gay-marriage, I'm even more resolute in not supporting any business that would support anyone that is anti-equality for all of its tax paying citizens. 

This is a personal issue for me.  I have a great many friends in the queer community.  Being queer doesn't just mean you are a flaming gay or dyke lesbian.  It encompasses a whole range of leanings.  Do you know where you fall on the Kinsey Scale

Personally, I'm 2, possibly a 3.  Yet, I think the only people that know this about me are my closet friends and my husband.  I have never come out to my family, coworkers, aquaintances... Most know that I'm an atheist, but few know that I'm also just a bit queer.  I don't know if I would ever just "come out" to my family.  I am not sure I see a reason in my particular situation. 

Being queer, just like being an atheist, doesn't mean that I'm suddenly a less moral person than I was before.  I prefer monogomy in my relationships.  My marriage is wonderful and just because I fancy women doesn't mean I'm going to run around town and hurt the person that I love more than anything.  Yet, being just an atheist is a lot more easy for me than being openly bisexual. Irrationally, I feel like it is potentially easier to overlook the no religion more than overlooking sexual identity.  Perhaps I'm wrong.  Yet, I doubt that I will ever find out.   

Monday, May 9, 2011

Maybe this is why Ariel was silent...

Today I had a 19 year old student ask if I could transcribe a song for her.  That isn't my forte, so I told her that if she gave me the names of the songs I would have my husband Andy do it.  She said only one song had a recording and she would have to sing the other, but she is not allowed to sing in front of men because she is an orthodox jew. 

Religion does a lot of screwed up crap to women, but this is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of.  Much like the burqa equating to modesty, supposedly a woman must practice modesty with her voice because it could cause a man to "have a relationship" with her.  I'm only guessing "have a relationship" is code for justifiable rape to certain sects of orthodox hebrew men. 

Remember, it isn't enough to keep your legs closed; you must also keep your lips zipped. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Women in the Atheist Movement

Siobhan Krautkramer and I had the opportunity to see Greta Christina give this talk at the U of MN C.A.S.H. meeting in April.  If there was one really big thing that I got from her speech it was that we cannot allow ourselves to fracture the way the G.L.B.T. movement did.  There are divides between gays and lesbians, white gays vs. gays of other ethnicities, and the transgender crowd is still out there on the fringe.  I see this starting to happen within the Atheist movement with the first fracture happening along the lines of gender. 
As a woman, when I hear about separation of church and state I also want to hear about how that affects women's issues.  We hear about crosses on highways for dead officers, spiritual tests for holding office or being fit for military service, and how blue liquor laws are all violations of church state separation.  Yet, not one nod to the repeated attacks on women's reproductive rights.  Crisis Pregnancy Centers are funded by religious organizations, billboards declaring "god made me", pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for the morning after pill or birth control on moral grounds because it clashes with their religious beliefs, hospitals losing religious affiliation because they made the difficult decision to save the life of a women dying before their eyes over the unborn child that was killing her... How is this not obviously a church state separation issue?  But I digress...
Women are underrepresented in the atheist movement.  This shows in the positions taken by the atheist community as a whole.  But with a nearly 50-50 ratio at the American Atheists National Convention in Des Moines, IA recently, that is going to change.  It is my hope that when it does it will be welcome and our current leaders will be open to a new style of co-management that celebrates our diversity and is inclusive to the positions that affect not just women, but also people of color, queer folk, and those that are challenged physically or mentally.
I hope that Greta Christina's message does not fall on deaf ears.  Despite justifiable anger felt by some, I plead the whole of the atheist movement to not create an atmosphere where there is distrust and resentment amongst us.  We have common goals.  We need one another if we intend on reaching those goals. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

“…use this three-day period to make good choices.”

That is what Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, said in a statement today about the latest restriction on abortion that he signed into law.  And by “good choices” he means change your mind and give birth like a good Christian.
If you haven’t made yourself familiar with the law yet, it requires women to wait three days after meeting with the doctor that will perform the abortion before receiving the procedure.  Additionally, they are required to meet with someone from a CPC (crisis pregnancy center) to explore all alternatives before they can proceed with the abortion.  This is nothing more than joint state-religion filibustering of a personal medical procedure.
This law (like many of the laws requiring a waiting period between the pre-exam and the procedure, limits on when during the pregnancy you can receive an abortion, mandatory counseling/information) is intended to intimidate, harass, frighten and shame women into not making the best choice for themselves.  Instead women are being forced to submit to the will of someone else. 
South Dakota already makes it very difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion.  There is only one abortion clinic in the entire state.  Anyone seeking an abortion already has to go through pretty great lengths to just get to the abortion clinic.  Instituting a three day waiting period to give a women time to “make good choices” is insinuating that no time has been given to the matter to begin with.  Now, a woman traveling to Sioux Falls, only town in South Dakota with an abortion clinic, will either have to make the trip twice in the same week, or stay in town for three days.  This is both expensive and completely unnecessary.
I take special notice of the mandatory counseling from a CPC portion of this bill.  A woman is now being forced to have to discuss her very private matters with someone chosen by the State.  These CPCs are “pro-life”, conservative Christian groups that are designed to talk women out of abortion by whatever means necessary.  Is this not a huge violation of the Separation of Church & State?  CPCs are not medical clinics.  Their sole purpose is to provide information that supports their anti-choice position.  Additionally, the factual nature of the information they provide is highly dubious.  This is the last place a woman should go to receive unbiased medical advice.  Yet under this new law women are required to do so.
We have a similar law here in MN.  If you are under the age of 18 you need to notify both parents or get a judge to sign papers verifying that you are mature enough to make this decision and allowing you to proceed without parental consent.  This is just another example of our government forcing a young woman to disclose details of their personal business to as many people as possible.  Any law forcing a woman to discuss their bodies with anyone not of their choosing is abhorrent and only meant to continue to control women and remind them that they are whores and nothing more.
I am not surprised to hear about yet another bill from another state continuing to chip away at Roe vs. Wade.  I am furious.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Training Day

If you want to help little old women cross the street, you don't exactly need training.  You just gotta have a good heart, a friendly attitude and willingness to engage people.  But the classic picture of the boyscout comes to mind.  Nifty little uniform and probably even a special badge showing that the mission was accomplished, therefore bona fide street crossing expert!  Show offs.

We all want to be helpful.  But perhaps you don't want to limit yourself to just little old ladies and streets.  Maybe there are other people out there that need help crossing random boundaries.  If this sounds like you, and if you are reading this, then we're probably thinking the same two words: Clinic Escort

I met Kristen from Midwest Health Center for Women when I attended the NARAL Pro-Choice MN Lobby Day on February 23, 2011.  She asked if I was interested in becoming a clinic escort, to which I quickly said, "YES."  One application and a couple of emails later I was set up to attend the Clinic Escort Training Day this morning.

Downtown Minneapolis at 7:30am on a Saturday is rather pretty.  Mostly sleeping and quiet.  I was very excited and happy to find myself at the little short building amongst the high rises.  Instantly I was greeted by our trainer, Barb and soon after joined by about seven other willing volunteers.  We sat in a small room and went over our roles. 

There aren't a lot of places around that perform abortions for starters.  That means that many of the people coming to the clinic are from out of town.  Between the one ways, the light rail and parking, finding the place can be a challenge.  But here we are, human pylons decked out in vests declaring that we are here to help and YES you are in the right place. 

So once they have gotten over the anxiety of finding the place, now there is something else to be nervous about... anti-choice protesters.  Now, legally the cannot bar access to the building (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 1994), but they can still make the last few steps miserable while they harass a patient about the unborn "baby".  As a clinic escort you are to inform the patient that you will walk with them to the door and that they don't have to talk to anyone or take the leaflets from anyone that don't want to.  You aren't allowed to engage with the protesters and you cannot block the protesters from talking to whoever they want to talk to. 

So perhaps you do need more than just a good heart, a friendly attitude and willingness to engage people.  Clinic escorting also asks that you be observant and notice those that are trying to find you and to also practice self control over your tongue and temper.  For me, the first one is easy.  That last bit is certain to be my challenge and my reward.

Vaginas Unite!

I'm a woman. A woman who will be walking in the NARAL Pro-Choice 5K Run For Your Rights on April 16th, 2011.

I'm married to a man who also supports this cause and will be joining me on that day. Along with our dog Bailey.
Bailey, the 110 lb. Great Pyrenees
[She has no real political leanings (that I'm aware of), but she likes walks and people.]
If you support NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the Midwest Women's Health Center, maybe a woman's right to decide what is best for her own body or perhaps even just myself, my husband Andy & our dog Bailey, you can donate to our team Iron Jawed Angels by clicking below.

Donate Now - Run For Your Rights! TEAM IRON JAWED ANGELS

Me, Bailey & Andy at Lake Harriet, Summer 2010

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Playing Nice

When I attended the Intergenerational Voices break out session at the NARAL-Pro Choice MN Lobby Day, one of the things that came up was the infighting between the old and younger women within the movement. The older ones tend to give more The younger ones tend to show up in larger numbers at rallies. Then one younger gal mentioned that she felt like they were more involved within the media because of blogging and what not.
I was sitting there, laughing in my head, thinking, "And so it begins..." because this is always how it goes when you get a group of women together working on something. The petty jealousy and bickering over stupid stupid shit.
YES, older women give more money. You are OLD. You've had the time and opportunity to make money.  The younger ones have no money because they are in school. Begging them to give up their $5 a month that is probably going to birth control or pizza isn't exactly fair and a stupid lame gripe to have.
YES, younger women turn out in larger numbers for the rallies. They are part of college organizations that PLAN TRIPS for these events. Plus, they have time to go out for events because they have less responsibilities to families or jobs.  
Any contribution should be a welcomed contribution and embraced.  And if you are young and pretty, don't declare how much more media savvy you are because you blog. Yes, you might blog, but have you ever written a press release? But I digress...