Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Target Sucks, But Doesn't Want Babies To.

Target employees called the police on a mother who had the audacity to nurse her child in one of their stores. If you'd like to contact Target, do it. Here's my letter:

I just read the report of Target's harassment of a woman nursing her child in one of its stores and I am disgusted.

Of course, we all know that, like WalMart, Target makes the big bucks on the backs of its employees by failing to pay them living wages and thwarting their attempts to organize a union, and by marketing and selling offensive products to girls and young women. And now, you're going after the mothers too, which is alarming since I'm going to guess that mothers are one of your largest customer groups.

Moreover, your corporate policy "respecting" mothers' rights to breastfeed in your stores is a joke*:

1. We'll take your teeny tiny dressing rooms for nursing if we feel like it, but we'll also nurse our babies any goddamned place we please because feeding one's child is a parent's right and responsibility

2. You need to remove the word "discreet" from this policy. I do not need to be told to cover my breasts when I'm nursing my child while you're selling Strip-Tease Barbie in the "Girl's Aisle." I will feed my child any damned way I want, and if you want to call the police, knock yourself out. But I think you'll be seeing a few more suckling babies in your stores and I doubt their mamas will be buying anything.

As someone who shops at Target fairly regularly, someone who is a mother and a (shock. gasp) breastfeeding mother at that, this incident will absolutely impact my shopping choices. Maybe it'll be a bit out of my way to get my Advil at the local pharmacy instead of Target, but I've also nursed my child there and no one called the police.

*"For guests in our stores, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms. In addition, guests who choose to breastfeed discreetly in more public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Number 19

God bless the Duggars.

Michelle and Jim-Bob did it again and by it, I mean, they hath laid in thy marital bed . . . Well, you get the idea. They're expecting Baby Number 19!

Number 19 will be preceded into Earthly Existence by her/his niece by several months as the oldest Duggar child, Josh, and his wife are expecting a baby girl next month.

While it's true I am going to watch this jesusy train wreck with the giddiness of a school-girl on speed, it also makes me wish I were about ten years younger and possessed an iron uterus. Then, perhaps, I could pump out 15 to 20 little Feminists to defeat the Duggar clan because, in my mind, this is sort of like Season 7 of Buffy and - if you know anything about me or the important facebook quizzes I take, you'll know I'm Buffy and the Duggars are totally The First! But in a fun-loving, sing-along kind of way.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Naturally, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it better than I in a recent New York Times interview:

Q: Since we are talking about abortion, I want to ask you about Gonzales v. Carhart, the case in which the court upheld a law banning so-called partial-birth abortion. Justice Kennedy in his opinion for the majority characterized women as regretting the choice to have an abortion, and then talked about how they need to be shielded from knowing the specifics of what they’d done. You wrote, “This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution.” I wondered if this was an example of the court not quite making the turn to seeing women as fully autonomous.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: The poor little woman, to regret the choice that she made. Unfortunately there is something of that in Roe. It’s not about the women alone. It’s the women in consultation with her doctor. So the view you get is the tall doctor and the little woman who needs him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"A Woman and Her Doctor"

A Woman and her doctor . . .

Sadly, this is not the beginning of a dirty joke. (Actually, it depends on how you look at it).

Instead, it's the refrain from kinda-pro-choice folks when they're kinda standing up for a woman's right to abortion. You've heard it before. Barack Obama has said it. Hillary Clinton has said it. God, every Democrat ever to run for office with a semi-pro-choice record has said it. Here's how it usually comes up:

Interviewer: Do you believe in abortion rights?

Pol: As you know, Lou (it's always Lou or Leslie or Bob or Steve or something appropriately Midwestern), this is a very divisive issue. There are passionate people on both sides of the abortion debate - people who care deeply about their country and their God and protecting freedom-

Interviewer: But do you believe in a woman's right to abortion?

Pol: [after much hemming and hawing]I believe that this decision - the most difficult decision a woman will ever make in her life - ought to be left to the woman and her doctor.

And there it is! The phrase that has twisted up my insides like six sheets in the spin cycle. And I think to understand why, we need to break it down a little.

Let's take "Doctor." What's the first image that springs to your mind? For many people, I'd guess it's a kindly, greying man wearing a white lab coat. Look at popular representations of physicians: they're nearly always male. Listen to the voiceover on any pharmaceutical commercial: "Ask your doctor if he thinks Deherpesol is right for you." Dude again. So I'd argue that when politicians and their ilk say "doctor," they think - they mean to say - man.

In a 2007 primary debate, Barack Obama said, "I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don’t make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy." Yep, he took it even a step further. He took the doctor and raised it a family and a clergy.

First of all, why is abortion a decision that requires a doctor's consultation (i.e., approval) in a way that other procedures don't? Of course it's a medical procedure, and you need a doctor to perform it. But we rarely hear about the need for women to consult with their doctors before getting pregnant, a condition which puts significantly more strain on a woman's body than an abortion. We never hear women being warned to run it by Mom and Dad and Aunt Mary and her Rabbi before she pops a Benadryl. And there is virtually no discussion about men having a heart-to-heart with Doc - or Father O'Pederast - before having a minor, elective surgery. It's clear that need for professional, male consent to a woman's medical decision is due entirely to the fact that women's capacity to make decisions about their own bodies is not recognized or valued.

While suggesting that a woman flip through her Rolodex to make sure that everyone in her life is on board with her personal medical decision, another thing that everyone, including Obama in the quote above, loves to say about deciding to have an abortion is that it's never casual, that it's always hard, gut-wrenching, a decision that changes a woman's life. Except, of course, that sometimes it isn't. No one likes to talk about the uncomfortable reality that many women have abortions and then do no spend their remaining years castigating themselves or lighting birthday candles on their due date. That's not to say that many women don't struggle with the decision or spend years questioning whether they did the right thing. But the doubt and uncertainty doesn't make that woman better than the woman who doesn't have either.

I'd say it's time for politicians to stop saying they're comfortable with the decisions "women and their doctors" make, or that women need to take a poll and a swig of Holy Water before making a medical choice, or demanding that women have a super, really, no-joke hard time choosing abortion. In fact, I think it's time they shut up altogether, except when they're voting "Aye" to protect women's reproductive freedom.

Next up: How I feel about "Pro-Child, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice"

Here's a hint: It pisses me off.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I guess this isn't my usual post because I'm not really angry.

Okay, that's not true. I'm always angry about something. Like Lynne Cheney on the "Today Show" pimping heart defibrillators (yes, I do see the irony). Or the fact that Obama won't quit acting like a weak and pathetic Democrat, and push through some real, down and dirty socialized healthcare plan already. Or the idea that millions of kids are going to spend the summer slurping corn syrup-laced "sports" drinks and eating soy and corn syrupy snacks, more commonly known as Doritos. And Oreos. And Fruit Roll-Ups. And Cheeze-Its. And if they do actually eat a piece of fruit, it probably comes from another country, used up a whole bunch o'carbon to get to their lunch bag, and is so juiced with pesticides that it turns their little innards neon green.

But now I'm going to focus on the positive, which is, as always, my baby!

My baby turned two yesterday. I can't actually believe it. It seems like yesterday when my midwife told me I'd need a cesarean . . . when Ruby's daddy and I hit up Tasty Top for a little soft serve the night before she was born . . . when I was so delirious with sleep deprivation that I thought I'd never function as a mama.

But now my tiny baby is a big, bad two-year-old! ("Bad" in the Michael Jackson sense . . . well, not the current Michael Jackson. The old one. Pre-whitening cream and indictments).

Yesterday, we took Ruby to a butterfly museum (or as I like to call it, "The Most Depressing Place on Earth") and she chased around these little quail, exclaiming so sincerely, "I want her! I want her!"

There was a fish pond full of koi, or as Ruby liked to call them, "The biggest fish I ever seen!"

A huge butterfly landed on her dad's hand and Ruby was more impressed with the butterfly admission stamp underneath the real live thing. What? She's unpredictable.

Over the weekend, we had a couple of people over for her birthday and when I was cleaning up, she ran up behind me, grasped both of my legs in a tight hug and said, "Thank you so much for the presents, Mama."

I am the luckiest mama. I have the sweetest girl!

I'm welling up. I'm always welling up.

I LOVE YOU BABY! Happy 2nd Birthday and many, many, many (at least 100) more!

love, Mama xoxoxo

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Is it just me or do bad things seem to come in eights these days? TheOcto-Mom controversy, the latest "Jon & Kate + 8" tabloid crazy, and of course, Prop-effing-8!

I think it goes without saying that the California Supreme Court decision to uphold Proposition 8 was a bad judicial decision and, more than that, codified discrimination in the state constitution.

But the Right is always so much better than the Left on spin. Less and less do we hear about "protecting traditional marriage" and more and more, anti-equal marriage activists proclaim that the will of the people - that is, the people who voted to invalidate gay marriage - must be affirmed. In other words, Californians voted last year to amend the constitution to redefine marriage as the union between one dude and one broad and deny gay couples the right to marry, and the act of voting is sacred (see the way conservatives have framed the EFCA debate), so it must be upheld.

Yet very few people on the Left have pointed out that the people who voted yes on Prop 8 are homophobic idiots. Instead there are claims that the Mormon Church and conservatives ran such a well-funded and rabid campaign that the poor, foolish voters of California fell into their trap. Puuuuhhlease. There are lots of victims out there, but the Left loves to fetishize victimhood and turn adults who make dumb, bad, racist, homophobic, sexist decisions into pawns in a game played by two opposing political positions. Of course, to some extent, it's true. Big money and advertising work on voters (because so many voters are dumb) and the Yes on 8 campaign worked on many California voters (because so many voters are dumb and homophobic). But perhaps the No on 8 campaign would have been more successful had it raised more money and done better organizing. Just a thought.

And when did the concept and act of voting become so process-focused and detached from the results? I've never understood this position. Voting in and of itself is not good. When voters do bad things, like invalidate a minority group's (icky phrase. sorry) rights, that's not democratic action. It's just the opposite. When I see some old guy at the polls wearing an "I Voted!" sticker and carrying a handmade sign of a fetus kissing Jesus and holding a rosary or something, I don't think, "What a wonderful world full of diverse opinion! America is a rainbow!" I think, if only someone had knocked this guy down and broken his hip on the way to the polls, we'd all be better off.

So listen up you brilliant Californians: the next time gay marriage is on the ballot, it's your duty to knock over a few homophobes on the way to the polls!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Parenting Advice, Complete with the Barnes & Noble Guarantee

My baby is turning two next month and it's getting time to wean. I'm not ready to put breastfeeding in the past because of some arbitrary deadline, but because there's nothing like a semi-sleeping baby kneading your belly fat to make you want to take up binge drinking! In short, it's getting annoying. Not always, but sometimes. And the nursing can go on for hours, especially at night or early in the morning. She's not sleeping very well, I'm not sleeping very well, and when I do, visions of bras without snap-openings are dancing in my head.

So it's time to start the ball rolling in the direction of weaning.

But the thing is, despite my utter failure to nurse my baby into early adolescence (see Norma Jane Bumgarner's Mothering Your Nursing Toddler if you want to know how having a career and weaning your baby are the surest ways to leave her feeling neglected), I want to be very careful not to make her feel rejected or abandoned. I'm not going to start shouting at her to be a "big girl" or that nursing is for babies. I'm not going to hang a "Closed for Business" sign over my chest and let her cry it out. So, as with other things, I thought it would be useful to get a book about weaning geared to children her age to help her understand the concept.

Like this one for bottle-fed babies:

Thing is, finding a weaning book for toddlers is next to impossible. So when we were near a Barnes & Noble on Friday, I thought, why not check. And while FD & Ruby were reading books, I asked a salesperson in the kids' book section about such a book. After a few minutes of perusing the shelves and checking the computer, she told me they didn't have anything in stock.

Then she told me this:

"I think that once a child can go outside and play and then come in and ask for it [nursing], they're ready to stop."


Unsolicited parenting advice from bottle-feeding, anti-sling, pro-cry-it-out, anti-feminist, pro-yelling parents generally pisses me off, but when a broad at a bookstore tells me to quit nursing my kid, I see red (and not just the lipstick on her teeth).

Unfortunately, there's not a great ending to this story. I didn't pull some sweet Billy Blank Tae Bo moves on her, or give her a verbal dressing down. I didn't talk to her supervisor (blasted union background!) or even reply with the classic, "Old bag!" Instead, I think I breathed out a long "Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . yeah . . . ?"

Then she told me how, when she had her son many moons ago, she couldn't nurse him because she had no milk and he was "just fine!" Part of me thought she was making stuff up (and that her kid probably had a limp and a tick at least!), but the other part of me felt badly for her, and decided that maybe the reason she thought it was appropriate to suggest my kid's too old to wean is because she never had the chance to nurse her own baby, which I imagine is rather difficult if it's something a woman wants to do.

In other words, maybe this woman's lack of choices made her feel powerless and the only way she can deal with that powerlessness is to criticize other women's choices.

Fine, I'm a little bit of a sucker. But now I feel prepared for the next time someone decides to give me BS tips on raising my baby. I just have to practice: Old bag!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back by Popular Demand (sort of)!

Here's a job posting FD suggested might be right up my alley:

We are looking for a female to cook hamburgs ($2) and hotdogs ($1)on our outdoor grill . This will be once a week on Wednesday's from 5-8pm. You will be working for $3 an hr plus tips. Starting June 17th, every Wednesday throughout the summer we will be hosting a Bike Night in our parking lot. Looks and personality will go a long way As the night becomes popular your tips will grow. Could be a good way to make a little extra cash. If interested call me at 413-586-3315 to schedule an interview Bill

I couldn't resist emailing this Bill fool:
This ad is offensive, sexist, and discriminatory. And wow, $3/hour...that's a living wage around here, right? Cook your own goddamned hamburgers.

If you have any thoughts, you can email Bill too: job-g7hpn-1168900605@craigslist.org or just give him a call at the number above.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh, Hey

This just made my day.

I'm not sure if that kid on the right is comfortable revisiting the birthing experience though. . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where's My Bat?

Alright, in the interest of full disclosure, I woke up on the cranky-ass side of the bed. And now I'm on a half-caf high (birthing a child has left me unable to consume fully caffeinated beverages. Blast!).

But now I'm just pissed. Because of this. And this. Oh, and this.

If you're too lazy, ahem, busy, to click on these links, I'll fill you in on what a six-month jail sentence, the Arizona fucking House of Representatives, and Dora the Explorer have in common: they are all pissing me off!

Some scumbag, let's call him Michael Philbin, son of a Green Bay Packers coach (I know, it's a real shocker), was kinda convicted on two counts of rape. At a single party (wow, a rapist with a real work ethic!). What does he get? Six months in prison and the chance to petition the court to remove the convictions from his record. Oh, and he doesn't have to register as a sex offender because the judge thinks that's overkill.

Then the Arizona House passed a bill requiring women who choose abortion to have a 24-hour waiting period and be subjected to "information" about the fetus' physical characteristics at that stage of pregnancy. Hmmm . . . You know what doesn't have a 24-hour waiting period so an individual can reflect and consider his actions? Rape.

And then there's this "Dora the Explorer" fiasco. As I mentioned earlier, Mattel is debuting an older, sexier Dora in the fall. Her image has finally been released and - surprise, surprise - she's got highlights! And nice slender legs. And a ladylike way about her. She loves to shop too! She's the perfect replacement for solid, adventurous, black-haired Dora because she was just too smart and too, you know, ethnic.

Women will never get ahead in this country by passing the occasional anti-discrimination bill or giving money to politicians who claim to care about their interests. We'll never see a nation that values women and girls and their contributions and talents and capacities with a Women's Equality Day or a two-week paid maternity leave. No, I've always believed that the only way women will access all of our rights is by taking them; by coming together and committing direct actions that challenge - and ultimately defeat - the powers of capitalism and patriarchy that are keeping us down (whew, who's this misty-eyed "idealist?"). And my own fantasy direct action involves breakin' stuff up and burnin' stuff down.*

And so, as I am reminded on this crisp Tuesday morning that the courts don't consider rape a serious crime, that politicians don't consider women capable of making the "big" decisions, and that corporations don't consider girlhood sacred, I'm thinking it's finally time to lace up the sneakers and grab my bat.

Anyone with me? Anyone?

*If "the Man" is reading this, I'm not actually advocating burning anything down. Yet. I'll let you know, though.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Dora the Explora-Whore-A"

For those of you without a daughter to raise, the happenings in the girl's toys and entertainment world might not be the first thing on your mind. But for me, the images marketed to girls are always on my mind. And, not surprisingly, the toys that are being marketed to young girls today are more sexualized, more anorexized (is that a word?), and more vapid than ever. In other words, toy companies and children's entertainment corporations have decided to send this message to our daughters: "Be skinny! Be cute! Be sexy! And don't be too smart!" Because, you know, it's better to teach these lessons to girls when they're young enough to fully absorb them.

Ruby watches very little tv, but if she had her way, she'd be hooked up to a "Dora the Explorer" IV. She loves Dora. She reads Dora books and kisses her Dora pillowcase; she sings the Dora song and dances the Dora dance, and she's even working on her Spanish (she's a pro at "pantalones"). And for the most part, I'm comfortable with this. Dora is short ans squat. She looks like a toddler. She's brown. She's bilingual. She's fearless and adventurous and compassionate. She's not the typical scrawny, blond image that Ruby will be inundated with as soon as she gets to watch television outside of our home or walk down a toy aisle.

But unfortunately, "Dora the Explorer" is the latest fictionalized heroine to get a corporate makeover. Coming this fall will be a new, tween Dora who's got new friends, a greater focus on fashion, and according to all insiders who have seen the doll mock-up, a tiny waste, and long flowing hair that is not quite appropriate for tree-swinging, and climbing a snowy mountain with her pal Boots.

Dora will go from this: To this:

Say What?
Of course, Dora isn't the first girls' idol to be transformed from an imagination toy into a hyper-sexed version of its former self.

The My Little Pony of my youth was a chubby, stumpy-legged horse:
Today? She's got a slender build, an upturned rump, long, flirty lashes, and she looks like she's ready for something entirely unwholesome:
The Barbies I played with (who were, admittedly, little vixens) came with their own set of expectations about what a woman's body should look like. But today, girls are playing with Bratz dolls, and let's just say the lips on those dolls were not meant for whistling.
You can sign a petition to encourage Mattel and Nickelodeon (the network airing Dora episodes) to release the Dora likeness, or create a pre-teen character who is "true to who she was as a child."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michelle, You Don't Have to be so Flat.

I've been thinking a lot about high heels lately, in part because I'm obsessed with learning how to walk in them so that I can appropriately accessorize a cute skirt/dress to a summer wedding. But lately, there's also been quite a bit of noise in the blogosphere about Michelle Obama wearing (or not wearing as it were) high heels.

It seems that Ms. Obama, nearly six-feet-tall, often chooses to wear flats rather than the more traditional pump. The Huffington Post even ran a photo retrospective on Obama's fashionable flats, which I scrolled through to discover that the First Lady really knows how to buy a shoe. But then I read the comments. Many readers lauded Obama's choice to wear flats for health reasons; others congratulated her on her willingness to shirk tradition and pursue her own style. But then there were then countless readers (many of them women) who claimed that, because Obama is so tall, she really should stay out of heels, lest her husband - you know, the president - look short. Huh?

Some less-than-informed attempted-feminists think that, because heels are bad for the foot, women should never wear them. Some even go so far as to suggest that, because heels are generally worn to look sexy, they always make a woman an object of desire (i.e., "objectify" her). And even many Huffington Post readers, and dare I say many women living in this country, think a tall women should not wear a shoe that would make her appear taller than her male counterpart because it would, you know, like, emasculate him. There are two kinds of arguments going on here, but I think they're both all kinds of crazy!
One of the most important lessons feminism has taught me is that a woman can - and should - make a variety of choices. She can rock the Tevas and cargo shorts (although lord knows why). She can do the fashionable flats for comfort and maybe a nod to Audrey. Or she can wear four-inch heels that hurt to walk in just because she chooses to. Women can decide to cover themselves from foot to throat to remove nearly every possibility that someone would find her sexually appealing, or she could go for the plunging-neckline and stripper stiletto look to ensure than no one could avoid seeing her as a sex object. The point is that women can make all sorts of personal and fashion choices and just because I probably wouldn't go the Teva or neckline-to-the-naval routes doesn't mean that I can decide that the woman who does needs some serious consciousness-raising (although some of them probably do).
But the Michelle Obama "Flatsoversy" has taken the arguments of some of my crunchier sister-feminists and twisted them with decidedly anti-feminist arguments about what women should look like, and how they should look in relation to the men in their lives. The suggestion that a man being, or even appearing to be, less tall than his wife is somehow detrimental to his "manhood" is a joke. If a man, let alone the president, can't handle a tall woman, then he's a pretty sad character.
And really, other than Right-wing extremists/bible-beaters, who even uses terms like "manhood" and "emasculate" anyway? The notion that manhood is something that needs to be protected at the expense of women's fashion choices is a joke. Men are not endangered species who need a nature conservancy full of short woman to make them feel better. And Barack Obama doesn't need his wife to pick shoes that won't hurt his feelings.
Of course, all this is speculation. My best guess is Michelle Obama just likes flats, not heels. And that's fine. They're her feet.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"The Testing Twos"

I was talking to my buddy this morning, complaining that I absolutely loathe the phrase "terrible twos." What does it even mean? Does it mean that when your kid hits a certain age, her behavior is terrible? Her personality is terrible? Her attitude is terrible?

Who decided it was acceptable to talk about our children this way?

My girl is twenty months old. Last night, she had a meltdown that made her turn purple. She screamed and sobbed and kicked, and I felt so sad for her the whole time. I tried to minimize it, I tried to soothe her, to calm her down. Eventually, nursing worked (of course, the look she gave me when I first offered the breast was pretty harsh!), but only after a solid twenty minutes of her deciding that I was single-handedly trying to ruin all the fun.

So her little meltdowns, which are more and more common these days, got me thinking about how everyone warns about "the terrible twos," while they shake their heads and give a "you'll learn" look. And while these storm-warners are right, that at a certain developmental point - nearing the second birthday for most children - a child's desire to test limits intensifies, I think of it more as the "Testing Twos" than the terrible sort.

My baby girl is still the sweet, hilarious person she's always been. But sometimes she gets pissed.

Like when we won't let her into the silverware drawer! We are so selfish.

Like when we won't let her climb up a steep set of stairs! How do we even live with ourselves.

Like when we think it's not a good idea to get into the dog food or open the back door! We ruin everything.

Ruby wants to do what she wants to do at the precise moment she decides she wants to do it. I know this because I feel the same way, and if it were socially appropriate for me to arch my back and throw myself, screaming, onto the ground when someone steals my parking spot or gives me attitude, you can bet I would do it. But I don't, largely because I'm an adult who has figured out not just social codes of behavior, but the more elemental stuff - like what is and isn't safe to do. Ruby is just getting to these issues. We can't expect her to know which behaviors endanger her, and we shouldn't say she's "terrible" because she doesn't know. She's just testing the boundaries, and it's our job to guide her gently, not castigate her for acting, gasp!, her age.

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 Things About Me You Don't Really Need to Know

So my baby and baby-daddy are sleeping and I'm seriously tempted to start playing Mah Jongg on the computer, which means I'll almost immediately get sucked into an alternate universe where it's acceptable to be, ah, 29 and playing computer game based on a board game commonly played by Jewish grandmothers. So, instead, I thought I'd do one of those "25 Things About Me" questionnaires that are all the rage on Facebook, but which I'm too afraid to do on Facebook because what if any of my crazy could really be linked to me.....

1. If I could create my dream job, I'd be a rapist-hunter, not to be confused with a rapist/hunter because that's just wrong. No a rapist-hunter is a woman (MUST be a woman, kind of like a Slayer), who travels from place to place under the cloak of darkness and wipes out rapists, wife-beaters, child abusers and the like. Said hunter must also have a cool weapon, like a honed wooden spear with a Chinese Star attached to the end. Cape optional. I think they get in the way.

2. I have never dated a man I couldn't take in a fight. The FD might disagree with me on this one, but he shouldn't try me.

3. I don't want to get married, except I think it would be fun to plan a big party and sample cakes and put together a play-list. And I wouldn't mind a very fancy diamond ring, mainly so I could hock it for cash!

4. I miss California more and more every winter I spend in Massachusetts, or what I like to call, "The California of the East." What? There are similarities.

5. I love my baby girl's name - Ruby - and I'll always hold it against those a-holes who don't, especially one of FD's family members who said it wasn't "sexy." Creepiness factor? 100. Please refer to #1

6. I am a hard-core feminist, but I love super fucked-up non-feminist things. Not like snuff porn (but I'm not judging); more like "Bridezillas" and "7th Heaven." But I get around it by having a feminist critique of "Bridezillas" if anyone ever catches me cracking up on the couch watching WE. As for "The Heaven," I'll just blame it on 12 years of Catholic school gone wrong.

7. I want a really delicious bourbon-based cocktail that doesn't exist. How come all the vodka drinkers get the fancy drinks, and I'm stuck drinking it neat? Don't get me wrong, neat is good, but sometimes I want something sparkly.

8. I want to go to Spain already! I've wanted to go for maybe 16 years, and I haven't, but I'm pretty worried it would turn out all Alanis Morrisette: "She waited 16 years to go to Spain, then her plane crashed down and she thought, Isn't this lame."

9. I am going to learn to walk in heels this year. For real. Like a pro. Then I'm going to put on shorts, get hosed down, and run through the streets of New York yelling, "Pete!"

10. During my junior year in high school (ick. gag.), my religion teacher, Father O'Connor, used to call me a "trucker babe" and "feminazi," which I think were code words for lesbian.

11. I think the FD is the very best cook in the world. He knows everything about food, and he does sick, twisted, messed-up good things to it!

12. If I could eat one thing every day, it would be a super-ripe, sun-warmed, fresh-from-an-organic-July-garden tomato. Oh lord baby Jesus. There is nothing like it.

13. FD and I met on Valentine's Day. In a bar. Hotness.

14. I had this really crunchy, natural birth planned when I was pregnant. It was going to involve a tub and a soothing midwife, and music. Instead, I had to have a cesarean (no, really. Not like, "oh, I'm a celebrity and I had to have a cesarean because it's the only way they could do the tummy tuck at the same time"). It took me a while to get over it. But my girl is the SMARTEST, funniest, most gorgeous thing in the world, so it kind of makes sense that they had to cut her out of me.

15. I still breastfeed my 20-month-old baby and now she can tell me which side she wants to nurse on and, when she's had enough, she says, "Put the boob away, Mama" while giving it a dismissive pat.

16. Is it just me or is American history so, so boring? Unless it's about early feminists, or how Ben Franklin was a total drunk, I can't keep my eyes open.

17. I have names picked out for our future kids, but FD isn't on board with any of them. Part of me thinks we should just come up with a new name when it's time in a respectful and cooperative manner. Part of me thinks I should start the baby-daddy interview process soon.

18. I love big feet and big eyebrows on women. I think they're tough.

19. I have big eyebrows. They're tough.

20. I don't wash my feet that much. I know, I know.

21. I want to wear flip flops every single day. But I'm too busy running through the streets of New York in heels.

22. My sister and I call each other "sis." I think that's cute.

23. If I were really rich, I'd pay someone to wash and dry my hair every day . . . um, I mean, I'd donate it all to charity. Children's charity. Yep.

24. I flat-out HATE anti-feminists. I'm not into that "I respect your opinion" or "we'll agree to disagree" bullshit. Fuck that. That's for pansy-ass motherfuckers. If you think you have a right to tell me, or any woman, what to do with her uterus (or other parts for that matter), you're asking for it. If you think there's "women's work," you deserve a nice, hard punch in the gut. If you're raising your daughters on Bratz dolls and sugar-free (and cancer-rich) treats, you should be checked in somewhere. Oh, and to that woman - I'll call her Jen - outside the Planned Parenthood in Brookline a few years back, praying the rosary and getting in my face. I really hate you.

25. I've got a lot of anger. And I like to swear.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eight Thoughts on the Octuplets

Given my obsession with The Duggars, I guess it's no surprise that I cannot get enough of this octuplets story (for those of you with other obsessions - lame! - the short story is a woman, Nadya Suleman, recently gave birth to octuplets thanks to fertility treatments and she already has six children under the age of seven at home), and I have many, sometimes conflicted, feelings about the whole thing. But I'll keep the list to 8:

1. It is irresponsible to have so many goddmaned kids! Children are amazing. I know, I have one. But it is unnecessary to have so many children. It's impossible or one adult to give fourteen children adequate attention and love, especially when they're all so close in age and some of them are medically fragile.

2. Uh, Adoption anyone?
There are millions of unwanted, neglected, and at-risk children throughout the world who would love to have a family. And, instead, you go get pumped full of embryos? For what, so you can have kids that look like you? Get over your damned self!

3. Why is this country so obsessed with women's reproductive choices?
(Oh, and before you say anything, I don't count because a) I am a woman and b) I'm a Feminist). Whether it's old dudes on the floor of Congress bemoaning the number of abortions in the United States, or old dudes gripping their rosaries in front of clinics, railing against "baby-killers," or the a-holes at Fox calling this woman a bad mother - mainly because, as it turns out, she's *gasp* unmarried - I have had enough of people's opinions about what women do with their own wombs! If you are so concerned about what happens in a woman's womb, get one of your own to worry about.

4. Why does this woman seem to see her value only in her capacity to reproduce?
Nadya Suleman is only thirty-three years old, yet she's gone to great lengths to mother 14 children in less than a decade. Why? Part of me thinks that it's mental illness or a fucked-up childhood, but another part of me thinks that Suleman has fallen prey to the backwards, anti-feminist rhetoric that values women and their contributions to society only vis-a-vis their reproduction. Suleman apparently has a degree in early childhood education, yet she's put further academic and professional goals on hold to add to her baby-harem. Perhaps it's because she only feels like she has purpose and value when she's baby-making.

5. $2 million.
Much has been made in the press of the fact that Suleman has hired an agent and is looking for book and television deals in order to make some cash. First of all, let me say, this broad could use some cash. But, let's look at who some of the millionaires in this country are . . . Basketball players are paid millions to throw a ball in a net, baseball players make millions to occasionally hit a ball with a stick, and Tiger Woods knocks a ball in a hole and gets not just a big, gold trophy, but multi-millions. What do they all have in common? Hmmm, let me think. Oh yeah, they're dudes.

Now this woman, who doesn't have the option of being a professional sports player, is being harangued for trying to get paid for doing the very thing conservatives in this country think she ought to doing - being a mother. Oh, that's right, there's something icky when women try to make money for doing what god put them on earth for, whereas running around in a circle real fast is an appropriately compensatable activity. Gag.

6. Have you not heard of the environmental crisis?*
More people means more environmental degradation. More people use more energy, contribute more to suburban sprawl, drink more water out of more plastic bottles, and eat more animals pumped full of more hormones than small families. Case closed.

7. She's a Single Mom!
Here we are again. Reporters have been talking a lot about the fact that Suleman is unmarried and that all of her children were conceived through in vitro fertilization.
"Why would a single woman want to have multiple children?"
"She doesn't have any support at home!"
"Who will pay for them?"

It's almost as if U.S. society has gotten all China-y on single moms. Turns out there's a limit. So listen ladies, if you're a single mom by choice, which is bad enough, Society called and he'd like you to keep it to one kid. Two at the absolute max! Don't be such greedy bitches.

8. It's Nunya - or my - Business
Look, if she wants to get freaky and sell it on the weekend, it's nunya business. If she wants to take a guy home with her tonight . . . Wait, what am I talking about? Oh, octuplets. Right. Ultimately, what this woman does with her uterus is up to her, not me. I may think she needs a shrink (she does) or a new hobby, but women's decisions about their reproduction belong to them. It's easy to be pro-choice when advocating for a woman's right to abortion, but sometimes it's a bit trickier when you see women like Nadya Suleman who have gone overboard on the other side. But it's her choice. And as long as she can love and care for her kids, we should learn to get over it (I'm trying).

*I stole this question from my buddy who responded to shock over her choice to use cotton diapers

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On My Bad Side

Barack Obama is already on my bad side.

On Tuesday, responding to "concerns" from Republicans and in the "spirit of bipartisanship" (gag), the president asked Democrats to remove $200 million from the stimulus bill that was to be allocated to organizations to provide family planning services to people on Medicaid. In other words, Obama cow-towed to Republicans who like the idea of keeping the poor, well, poor by blocking access to adequate healthcare and contraceptives that the non-poor have access to. I think this is how some Republicans rationalize this bizarre ideology:

"Man, I really love Jesus . . . And Jesus loved the poor. But, wait a minute, if poor women could determine their own reproductivity, and limit the number of children they have, as well as have access to good healthcare, well then they might have the time and energy to do things like escape poverty. We can't have that!"

Alright, maybe it's more like this:

"Wah, wah, I love babies. And birth control is kinda the same as abortion! These women are killers! We can't let them have access to federal funds!"

And in response to this craziness, Obama pressured Democrats to give up family planning and the Democrats did what Democrats always do and caved. And in the end, the stimulus package passed the House. Without a single Republican vote.

Well done, Mr. President.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy 36th, Roe!

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, and I'm breathing a sigh of relief that our girl Roe has lived to fight another day.

To be fair, Roe is not the same. She's been chipped away by anti-feminists on the Right, who've passed - or attempted to pass - legislation to compel parental notification, eliminate late-term pregnancies, force women who choose abortion to see ultrasound images of the fetus, and so on. But with the new administration, and a Democratic majority in Congress, things may change.

President Obama, who has long advocated reproductive freedom (albeit a more limited variety than I'd like), has made several pledges to repeal the policies of the Bush administration which have targeted women's reproductive choices, beginning with reinstating funding to international organizations providing healthcare to impoverished women.

The administration has also created a new website addressing Obama's women-related policy items, where he commits to several pro-women actions, including honoring a woman's right to choose and supporting legislation to provide comprehensive sex education and fund pregnancy prevention.

Obama also pledged in 2007, and again in a press release in 2008 to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill that would effectively codify the ruling in Roe and prevent the government from interfering in a woman's right to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy. While FOCA has yet to be introduced in the 111th Congress, there is little doubt that it will, and should it pass both the House and the Senate (this is the tricky part), I HOPE President Obama sticks to his promise and signs the bill into law.

On a more personal note, as the mother of a daughter, I am committed to seeing the tenets in Roe upheld not just for myself or the women of my generation who demand reproductive choice, but for our daughters (well, the ones we didn't abort), who depend on us - their mamas - to secure futures for them that include reproductive liberty.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Mormons are Back!

"Big Love" returned to HBO last night for its third season and, let me say, my life feels a little more complete.

Since I don't want to ruin it for those of you who don't have the commitment to the Hendricksons that I do which would compel you to upgrade your cable package, I won't give anything away, except to say I am loving me some Harry Dean Stanton and Mary Kay Place!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No Boobs in Church

In December, the Massachusetts legislature passed "An Act to Promote Breastfeeding," a law that essentially serves to protect a woman's right to nurse - and her child's right to feed - in public. This month, Governor Patrick signed the bill.

Many nursing rights activists, including me, have hailed the law as a step in the right direction. Legal protections of women's rights are critical to achieving equal rights. Without court decisions, Congressional bills, and legislative action, women in this country wouldn't have the right to vote, make reproductive choices, or breastfeed our children in public.

But, as with every "right" that is codified into law, some problems persist. Although the Act allows a woman to collect up to $500 in damages and the possibility of legal fees, I am not convinced that such a small penalty would keep a business owner from making a breastfeeding patron leave her/his establishment.

Even more problematic is the Act's exemption of religious institutions, which can refuse to comply with this law. So if a churchgoing Mama has the audacity to feed her hungry child in a church pew, Father O'Douchebag can toss her out without facing any legal ramifications. I wonder what Jesus would say about that . . .

Unfortunately in Massachusetts, churches and other religious organizations often get a free-pass to treat women like second-class citizens. In this state, employers which are religious institutions don't have to provide coverage for contraception. So if you happen to work as a bookkeeper in a synagogue, a janitor in a church, or even a healthcare professional in a church-owned hospital, your employer does not have to pay for prescriptions used for contraception and, since every contraceptive prescription on the market is consumed by women, employers essentially have the right to refuse to cover women's healthcare.

Beyond the religious exemption, passing a law to protect nursing makes me nervous for another reason. As with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, which effectively replaced workers' direct actions with the oh-so-powerful tool of collective bargaining (check out the whopping 12% of American workers who are currently organized thanks to the NLRA), is this law going to mean that women in Massachusetts who are treated unfairly for breastfeeding will rely less on their own capacity to stand up and give a business-owner or passerby "what-for" and more on legal adjudication? I hope not.

Oh and if any of you ladies happens into a "place of religious instruction or worhip," I say whip them out and DARE someone to tell you to feed your baby elsewhere!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Private Mal-Practice

Last night, I happened to have been walking by the television at 10pm on my way from my organic indoor garden to my yoga mat, munching on my soy-ice cream bar and relaxing to the smooth sounds of whale mating on my reclaimed Ipod, and there must have been some short in our cable because for some reason I cannot explain, ABC's Private Practice was on.

One of the episode's storylines was about a mother of three boys whose oldest son had autism that she attributed to a vaccine, and whose younger sons were not vaccinated. Of course, the whole point of this back-story is that Middle Son comes down with what ultimately turns out to be a fatal case of Measles, complete with the obligatory "Overinvolved Doctor Who Continues Chest Compressions Long After Patient is Dead" and unnecessary shots of the dead kid, which were disturbing. Despite this, the mom refuses to vaccinate Youngest Son and in a scene I can only imagine some Hollywood writer on a vaccine high thought would seem heroic, Dude Doctor practically jumps Youngest Son to vaccinate him despite the mother's shouts of protest . . . In other scenes, doctors claim that refusing to vaccinate one's child is "child abuse," parents should be turned into the state social services agency when they refuse to vaccinate, and "there's no link" between vaccines and autism.

I'm guessing that Merck - the only manufacturer of the MMR vaccine in the United States - held a private viewing of the episode, because there's nothing a huge drug company loves more than pretty actors saying that if parents really loved their kids, they'd pump their product into them as soon as possible, while the not-so-pretty actors portray the bad parents whose failure to do so killed their kid.

Beyond the obvious argument that vaccines are preventative medicine that pose no danger to children, I also had a major issue with the way the episode dealt with the mom. In response to Dude Doctor's "vaccines don't cause autism" argument, Mom said, "I know what I know" - she'd witnessed her son's change in behavior after he was vaccinated. Yet somehow, her experience and intuition were brushed off as Dude Doctor clung to stats and saved the day by plunging the needle into the youngest kid's arm.

Look, I know this is just a television program (a not-very-well-written program at that), but since I wasted an hour of my life watching it, I figure I can spend a few minutes talking about what utter garbage it is. I'm sure I'm sensitive to the subject since my child hasn't had the MMR vaccine. FD and I have decided to postpone some of Ruby's vaccines, and reject others altogether. This choice wasn't easy, and I think about it nearly every day, but we didn't come to it lightly, and it was an informed decision.

To sum this tirade up: Private Practice is lame, and so is the crazy pro-vaccine movement that wants parents to shelve the research in favor of fear-mongering. I'm not saying I oppose all vaccines - although many of them are unnecessary - but I am arguing that parents ought to go beyond the pamphlet they get in the pediatrician's office or the pushy positions of family and friends, and check out what's in these vaccines (it will shock you) and what the possible side effects are.

(Don't even get me started on how pushing Gardasil is the typical anti-feminist medical approach: Force virtually untested "vaccines" into girls' bodies, then sit back and wait for the fallout. What are the side effects of this vaccine? Who knows! How long will it last? Can't tell! Why are girls' bodies being used as laboratories when a vaccine like this could just as easily be given to boys? Duh, 'cause they're girls!)

If you want more info on childhood vaccines, check out Dr. Sears' website. For another parent's perspective, go here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby's First 2005 Sauvignon Blanc

Ruby and I were playing and she asked for water, so we headed out to the kitchen where FD was making dinner, and I grabbed her glass from the counter where it'd been sitting for a while and gave her a sip. But when I pulled the glass away, she looked at me, scrunched up her nose, and said, "Yucky!"

So I took a sip of the water to see what the problem was and, lo and behold, an oaky bouquet and a hint of lime! My baby was drinking her daddy's glass of wine.

I got my girl drunk. Accidentally. Okay, not drunk, but still accidentally.

The nurses at Ruby's doctor's office took their turns laughing at me and told me that there was nothing to worry about unless she started acting strange. I tried doing a series of sobriety tests, but she doesn't have the ABCs down in the correct order, so getting her to say them in reverse was a no-go. And try getting an 18-month-old to walk a straight line!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Babe in the Kitchen

So my kid got a pre-Christmas play kitchen from my mom, who dug it out of my brother's basement, where it'd been hanging out since his kids - now 6 and 8 - decided cooking wasn't cool. Ruby loves it. She "wanna cook!" all the time, and so far, she's a pro at making tea, and stew, and cake. She also washes her hands a lot. So I think one major parenting goal has been accomplished.

But I must admit, at first this big, plastic play kitchen scared the hell out of me, largely because it was big and plastic. But also, what would it mean for Ruby to play with a toy that so specifically targets girls and entices them into the cult of domesticity (yeah, there's that 90s college feminist again), that attaches their self-worth to their facility with pots and pans?

When I let a little of my discomfort show, I think my mother rolled her eyes and told me I was being ridiculous, but I can't keep myself from believing that everything Ruby comes into contact with - every toy, every book, every asshole the FD is related to - will shape her. And despite the fact that in our house it's Dad who's the cook and the stay-at-home parent, I can't help but wonder if giving my daughter a kitchen to play with at this young age is going to start the trickle of anti-feminist expectations that I thought I stunted when I recycled (i.e., shredded) a pink, glittery costume with a tiara on it given to me by a coworker before my girl even left the womb!

Ultimately, I think the fact that Mama is a feminist and that FD & I are raising Ruby to be a feminist by indoctrinating her. . . ahem, exposing her to people and places and books and ideas that will assist in that process will mean more than a plastic play kitchen. Plus, Ruby's daddy is a superstar in the kitchen and as someone who loves me a good meal, if Ruby grows up to be a great cook, I'm going to be thrilled for her. . . just as long as she cares more about good food than "dish pan hands."