Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Territorial Pissings

Just because you're paranoid
Don’t mean they're not after you...
I've had a shit day. Which I wasn't expecting to happen.

Despite having written some fairly serious posts this month which may have led some of you to think otherwise, I'd been feeling fairly optimistic for quite a number of weeks. Call it spring fever, call it naiveté flashback, I don't know. But it resulted in me being restless, hopeful, smiley, ready to forge ahead...once I figured out what the hell to forge ahead into. Things seemed on a constant upswing; getting a little higher each day.

Anyway, whatever it was, I could feel it going into a flaming nosedive today, leaving me in a whirring blender of doubt, frustrated helplessness, and repressed anger. Not that there was any one, big event that caused this to happen. More just a collection of little, petty things that I let get to me. With the little, petty thing that frustrates me the most being--I don't know what to do about any of it. It's all there, I can delineate the problems, but the actions to resolve them are so fucking unclear.

I'm not going to get into any of the more personal stuff that contributed to this feeling of frustration, but I will get into a whole bunch of media-influenced stuff that got me there. The below all fell into my lap in the last 24 hours, and so, I present it all to you now, and I will let you look at it all yourself, and then, at the end, I'm gong to ask you a question. And I want anyone who's reading to start talking together until we figure out some kind of answer.

So now, in the case of Syl vs. Universe, I give you:

Exhibit A (click all exhibits to read in full)

Extract:
The Bush Administration, its allies on Capitol Hill, and the religious base of the Republican Party are opposed to mandatory HPV vaccinations. They prefer to rely on education programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity, and see the HPV vaccine as a threat to that policy.

"I never thought that now, in the twenty-first century, we could have a debate about what to do with a vaccine that prevents cancer," David Baltimore [a scientist who has spent much of his life studying the relationship between viruses and cancer] said. "...this is religious zealotry masked as politics, and it runs against everything that I as a scientist believe in, that I have devoted my life to. We are talking about basic public health now. What moral precepts allow us to think that the risk of death is a price worth paying to encourage abstinence as the only approach to sex?"
Exhibit B
(with thanks to Bitch Ph.D. for the heads up; and note--pic with article shows naked woman's backside, if that will freak out anyone sitting around you)

Extract:
"...religiously based social conservatives have direct lines to the powers that be within the U.S. government, the administration, Congress, and are influencing public-health policy, practice and research in ways that are unprecedented and very dangerous," says Judith Auerbach, Ph.D., a former NIH official who is now a vice president at the nonprofit American Foundation for AIDS Research. In fact, Glamour has found that on issues ranging from STDs to birth control, some radical conservative activists have used fudged and sometimes flatly false data to persuade the government to promote their agenda of abstinence until marriage. The fallout: Young women now read false data on government websites, learn bogus information in federally funded sex-education programs and struggle to get safe, legal contraceptives—all of which, critics argue, may put them at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

Exhibit C
(Extracted from an email from Planned Parenthood that landed in my inbox today)
An Indiana mother recently accompanied her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to one of Indiana's Planned Parenthood clinics, but they unwittingly walked into a so-called "crisis pregnancy center" run by an anti-abortion group, one that shared a parking lot with the real Planned Parenthood clinic and was designed expressly to lure Planned Parenthood patients and deceive them.

The group took down the girl's confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their "other office" (the real Planned Parenthood
office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there. The "crisis pregnancy center" had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.

The "crisis pregnancy center" staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl's home and calling her father's workplace. Our clinic director reports that the girl was "scared to death to leave her house." They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.

The anti-choice movement is setting up these "crisis pregnancy centers" across the country. Some of them have neutral-sounding names and run ads that falsely promise the full range of reproductive health services, but they dispense anti-choice propaganda and intimidation instead. And according to a recent article in The New York Times, there are currently more of these centers in the U.S. than there are actual abortion providers. What's more, these centers have received $60 million in government grants. They're being funded by our tax dollars. (emphasis blogger's)

(This example seems particularly extreme, but even the more regular "crisis pregnancy centers'" practices would still be labeled extreme in their deceptiveness. Click here and here to read other details and what one Congresswoman is trying to do to stop such "clinics.")

Exhibit D

Extract:
The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses.

[...]

Other states that ban the sell of sex toys include Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas...

Exhibit E (otherwise known as "the imbecilic icing on the piece-of-shit cake")

Extract:
Pick one day, (Saturdays are best) and go to the abortion clinic of your choice. Just stand there 1 or 2 hours as a silent witness for yourself, your country and God[...]

The alternative if you don't is...watching more girls riding in limos, wearing high heels and short skirts marching into abortion clinics killing the next generation of our America. Tea anyone?
---------

And that's just a 24-hour smattering of stuff that's been coming my way for many months now. And so, my questions:

Is it not clear yet we're in crisis territory in this country? How many more examples do we need? Glamour magazine is writing about it, for christ's sake.

It's been incremental, sure. You might not even feel the water's temperature rising on a daily basis. But do the math. Add it all together: There are zealots in the government, controlling policy, sending out false and dangerous propaganda that will harm a portion (if not all) of our population, posing threats to public health, scientific advancement, sexual freedom, and privacy rights.

Is this description starting to sound familiar? Does it remind you of anything?

Call me paranoid. I don't care. You know, last week, a whole bunch of bloggers were doing one of those meme quizzes called "The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test." I have my doubts about the validity of measuring your tendency toward fascism on OKCupid.com, but the test supposedly showed whether you would fight, leave the country, stay and do nothing, or actively support the Nazi regime.

No, I don't think any of you reading would be a Nazi. On all the blogs I was reading where people did it, almost everyone came out "the expatriate." (Perhaps not surprising for bloggers, who tend to be outsider types.)

Well, I'll tell you what. Getting my papers in order and lining up a few potential single guys I know in other countries, just in case, sounds mighty appealing some days, and far easier than figuring out a plan to stop what's going down. But here's the thing:

I don't want to become the expatriate. It's my fucking country. I shouldn't have to leave in order to get to wear any fucking thing I want when I buy my birth control pills. I shouldn't have to leave to get factual health information from my government. I shouldn't have to leave to protect myself from dying of cancer.

And I don't want to leave this country just before the axe falls and leave all the people behind me to suffer who, unlike me, aren't privileged enough to have the funds or the resources to get out. I don't want to watch from a distance as people I know and love have their civil and human rights trampled on.

What I want is to do something to make this country change course from its current trajectory before it's too late.

So here's the big question. What do we do?

Yeah, yeah, I've been writing to my congresspeople. I've been volunteering for Planned Parenthood and anti-right-wing organizations. I've been marching. I've been calling people to get them out to vote. I've been posting stuff on my blog to raise awareness. I'm sending in my donation to the ACLU this week, damnit.

But I've got to tell you, none of that feels like very much. And you look back on history, and you think, when the water started rising, was there anything that those people could have done before it was over their heads? What could they have done?

The Nazi era and other repressive regimes have been studied ad nauseum. We all know what happened, how it escalated, how no one "did anything" until it was too late. But has anyone, anywhere, actually analyzed what "anything" could have been done to stop the wave of an extremely oppressive regime from crashing over the everypeople's heads?

Speaking out individually seems not enough. I feel something more concerted, something more powerful (and I'm not talking violence here) needs to happen.

But I don't know what. And I feel so fucking helpless. And pissed off.

Help me find ideas. What can be done?

(And don't think you can't answer this if you live in other countries. Ideas from anywhere are useful for troubleshooting solutions.)

17 Comments:

Blogger Cherrie said...

Damn, this stuff is depressing, Syl. We send our young people off to a far-away meatgrinder to fight a war in the name of "freedom," but that "freedom" is just a sham--it's the "freedom" to live by a rigid set of rules and values imposed by a vocal, but politically active, minority and the politicians that pander for their campaign contributions.

I'd like to think that bouncing these federal fascists out of office in a tidal wave of Democratic victories would resolve the issue, but the unfortunate truth is the Democrats are also moving rightward in an effort to co-opt the Republican base. Unfortunately, I think Americans are going to have to deal with narrow-minded efforts to regulate their sexual activities for some time to come.

I agree that people supporting free expression and love are getting close to a crisis in this country. It frustrates me to think that, if I wer to move to Georgia, I couldn't legally buy a dildo or (for all I know) make love to a woman.

"Education" is not the answer. If you think God forbids people from loving except in certain highly-structured ways, you're not likely to be swayed by logical arguments that Government regulation of lovemaking violates the wall between church and state. And, unfortunately, I don't think people with our viewpoint on love and freedom give much to politicians or have done anything to organize into an effective lobby to counter the religious zealots.

The only answer is to do what you have done, participate in the political process, get others to do the same, change the minds that can be changed and don't give up.

This is our country too, dammit.

4/26/2006 1:33 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

Sorry to hear your day was so bad and i am even more sorry america has so many stupid people in it. Really if you are so fucking stupid that you cant read the names on the building and you give all your info to the wrong person. You get what you deserve for being a dumbass. I really have a hard time feeling bad for idiots. If people werent so stupid, they wouldnt go into the wrong building and would render the people in the "other building" useless.

For as HPV goes. I am a guy and even I know about. It doesnt even kill that many people and if you are so stupid to not ask your gyno for that particular test. Then cancer is just natural selection killing the idiots who dont ask for the test. Why would the governemnt spend millions and billions in the long run on something that most people cure on their own? It is always dollar and cents.

The whole sex toy thing is just stupid. I am ashamed to say that tax dollars are paying these fucking idiots to make outlandish laws. Maybe next time people will vote the guy out of office. if not, it is on them. I know i hate 60% of the people on captial hill in california with their partisan bullshit.

Far as the FDA pulling EC and plan B from OTC. That is complete horse shit and unfortunately money makes the world go round. Who ever has the cash calls the shots.

Maybe next time all you hippies will vote. lol.

4/26/2006 2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tory: I'm sure glad that there are highly intelligent people such as yourself to make up for our deficiencies. Do you even know what HPV is? It is not something that people can "cure on their own," the government would not be spending millions and billions of dollars by mandating it (in fact, millions could be saved by eliminating health care costs for those who are infected), and we are talking about a vaccine, not a test. The cancers that it is linked to, cervical cancer and penile cancer, cause more than a quarter of a million deaths worldwide.

The FDA non-action on Plan B is more a result of pressure from religious right-wing groups; if it were a money issue, the big pharma company that sponsors Plan B (Barr) would have gotten it approved in no time.

Maybe next time you squares will stay home. lol.

4/26/2006 3:15 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

You are such a Coward you couldnt even leave your name. To afraid to stand for what you believe in? I love it.

Why do these asinine people think they know more than me? I am not saying it is a money issue. What i am saying is everything goes back to money. Simply put, the religious morons who were appointed by (get this) some oversight committee or maybe even the president. Now, the people in congress and the president have money. The people who helped those people get elected have what? MONEY. The people who pay millions of dollars to lobby for crazy shit have? you guessed it, MONEY.

If you havent figured it out yet, our whole political system is controlled by money. The top 10% are controlling what happens to the other 90%.

Now to what your feeble-minded comment about HPV.

"In the majority of cases, the immune system fights off HPV before people know they have it."

This is a quote from Exhibit B from Miss Syl's post. Now because you are either to belighted to actually read the article or one of those annoying know it all ass clowns. Either way, refrain from ever posting that balderdash again you coward.

Next time you want to have a battle of wits, remember to arm yourself.

4/26/2006 4:50 AM  
Blogger Shon Richards said...

The advice I am always given is to act on the local level. To support the crisis in your area and then cycle outwards. It's easy to get caught up in the wide problem that make you feel helpless but getting involved locally can really empower you.

I also want you to consider your blog as an instrument. Just making information available does wonders. A lot of people avoid bad news and anything that is stressful so there is a lot of blissful ignorance out there. By presenting the info on your blog, you make a rather significant contribution to raising awareness. Don't underestimate the power of a well written rational post.

4/26/2006 7:00 AM  
Anonymous sistasilk said...

sweetheart, I had been thinking about your call. Actually, in many Western European countries the same thing is going on right now. A right wing minority shouts out the loudest and uses (pseudo) christian arguements to fight their narrow minded causes. Here it is more about the "integration" of migrants from African, Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries, less about sexual freedom. But it is the same principle. The extremists are elected democratically, then they first fight the rights of minorities, later the more common civil rights. What can be done? Well, I am sorry to say: If you are not in a position Hillary is in, not much except having an opinion, expressing it and voting for the smaller evil. I chose to be a human rights lawyer and I thought for a long time that I would be able to change the world. Some years later and having worked on many cases, I know the best thing I can do, is living up to my personal rights in my surrounding, change myself, do the best for the view people I can reach and concentrate on the positive edges of my work. Well, good luck and just execute your personal rights (like the one to have an abortion or to have homosexual sex) whether they are legal or illegal by some funny current standard ;-)

4/27/2006 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

Tory:
I would like to respond to your comment which follows:
Really if you are so fucking stupid that you cant read the names on the building and you give all your info to the wrong person. You get what you deserve for being a dumbass.

Unfortunately, the tactic of disguising an anti-abortion task force as a "family planning clinic" is one that many right wing groups have used for the past thirty years. As a woman who had an abortion in her youth, I can tell you that the young woman and her mother are not dumbasses. They are frightened and worried, hoping they will have enough time and money to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. When they are standing at the building directory, their eyes are automatically directed to the listing for the phony clinic, because the anti-abortion group has paid extra dollars to have its name and suite number in a larger typeface, with a name so similar to the true clinic, only an informed party could tell the difference. Please, have a little compassion. Should you accompany a friend or lover to an abortion clinic, you may very well be so concerned about them that you could easily make the same error. And if you did, I would not call you a "dumbass" -- I would do my best to help you.

Miss Syl:
I would like to respond to your observation, which follows:
The Nazi era and other repressive regimes have been studied ad nauseum. We all know what happened, how it escalated, how no one "did anything" until it was too late. But has anyone, anywhere, actually analyzed what "anything" could have been done to stop the wave of an extremely oppressive regime from crashing over the everypeople's heads?

The same people whom you fear will exert Nazi-like control over your personal rights view you as a Nazi as well -- denying the right to life to the unborn (abortion) or incapacitated (Terry Schiavo type scenario). Polarizing the opposing view through name calling will only make it more difficult for either side to advance. For this reason, I support the approach Figleaf has chosen i.e., try to find a common ground, prevention of unwanted pregnancies through birth control.

In answer to your query, So here's the big question. What do we do? I agree with Shon Richards: (1) acting on the local level is very important because that is where you can make the most impact, and (2) use your blog! Or as Shon said so articulately Don't underestimate the power of a well written rational post.

Does it all revolve around money, as Tory posits? Not necessarily. Don't underestimate the power of determination and persistence as shown by this link to the biography of a local group, which achieved phenomenal results on the without big dollars.

Excellent post, Miss Syl.

4/28/2006 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

The link to Figleaf's post, "The Prevention First Act," did not work, so here's another try:

Figleaf

4/28/2006 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Tory said...

Should you accompany a friend or lover to an abortion clinic, you may very well be so concerned about them that you could easily make the same error.


Nope. Not that I am infallible but I just refuse to crumble under pressure and let my emotions cloud my judgement. I have been to ab-o clinic, twice actually. Once cuz a good friend didnt want to tell her boyfriend and once with a woman I was with. Both times I was worried, nervous and filled with anxiety. None the less I still walked in the right building.

I stand by my what i wrote. I am unapologetic for calling people who cant read stupid. If you are so weak to let your emotions take away your common sense then be prepared to deal with the consequence. With the consequence being so harsh, I bet they wont make the same mistake twice.

Far as I am concerned we are to lenient and compassionate for people today. I for one dont accept excuses for stupidity. I the bar is set and I wont lower it regardless of the situation.

Abortion isnt going anywhere anyways. Even the right-wing people know they cant get rid of abortion. It is a bilion dollar industry. Do you know what kind of impact that would have on the economy if a few billion dollars stopped flowing through? unemployment would shoot up. No president wants to be the cause of a deeper recession.

4/28/2006 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

Tory:
We will have to agree to disagree when it comes to the matter of compassion and whether one is weak when emotions affect one's judgment.

I commend you for accompanying those two women to the abortion clinics.

I am interested in the source of the information that indicates that abortion is a billion dollar industry. I ask that since I am aware that fewer doctors will perform abortions because their malpractice insurance premiums, which are already high for ob-gyn specialties, skyrocket with abortion services. Also, any federally funded health care program cannot use its funds for abortions. That means that insurance companies and consumers are paying for these procedures. Given the escalation of healthcare costs, one billion dollars may not be beyond the realm of possibility. This could also be due to the fact that the word "abortion" is frequently found in patient records even when a miscarraige occurs, since it is the correct medical term for the interruption of the pregnancy. So not all these "abortions" were procedures voluntarily initiated by the patients. So if you can provide that source of info, I would appreciate it.

4/28/2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger Romancing Simplicity said...

Since this post was made, I have really just watched the comments unfold. And I have to say that it's been interesting viewing.

For my part, there is this:
You may feel frustrated and helpless, but (whether you see it yet or not) you are making a difference.

If in all this time, you strengthen the conviction of one person or you touch another and they begin fighting for your cause as well, then isn't what you've been doing worth it? Look at something like the female vote and think about how long it took. We see the big names - those who took drastic measures. What we don't see are all the little names - the women who spread the news, who worried about it, who volunteered their time and energy and money to the cause.

But the little names are the ones that made the big difference. The big names just represent them. You ARE making a difference, and as we slowly but surely inch towards change, you along with the other little names before you will be appreciated.

Outside of that, I'm a firm believer that our country would be just as "poor off" had the Democrats been voted in.

4/29/2006 4:03 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

This is just a general ‘outsider’ view Part 1:

1. Who ‘sends’ their children to war? (“We send our young people off to a far-away meatgrinder to fight a war in the name of "freedom,")
Only people who are pro military, where military service is a duty or those (soldiers) who enlist of their own accord in the first place and ‘send’ themselves there. So really, I’m fed up with the ‘it’s the governments fault and they send soldiers to war’ mentality or attitude because it’s the ‘victim’ mentality when the reality is no one forces American troops to enlist. The last time I checked, there was no conscription. Types of attitudes that more or less gloss over the fact that adults make a decision to enlist in the armed forces. Every war is a meatgrinder, not just IRAQ.


2. HPV…okay, I guess this is ‘significant’ because it’s a ‘sexual’ issue (the post) however what is more significant than this? The Bush administration’s refusal to support stem cell research because in their mind it’s unethical (Bush has stated that he will not allocate funds to scientific research that results from aborting or killing a fetus, that is his narrow-minded take on it). Now this is a significant issue because stem cell research is the door to many possible medical solutions, maybe even the growth of neurons (for paralyzed people as a result of accidents or whatever else). Basically, one thing, here is blown up out of proportion when there are many other medical issues that are equally significant.

What else can be said? Next time, when an event occurs, people shouldn’t allow their emotion to vote for them like they did in 2001. Yes tragedies do occur (September 11) but that doesn’t mean that a moron ought to be elected. Many people ‘now’ bitch about Iraq, the fact that troops are there and so on, but when Bush was, ‘we’re gonna get those bastards that did this to us!’ a majority agreed with him and wanted vengeance as well. September 11 didn’t just change states of mind, it also acted to usher in the biggest moron this world has ever seen all on the basis of citizens and their emotional responses to one event, and everything that followed (within the ‘exhibits’) is a result of that, but it’s never a way street, because many people, Americans, voted for all these changes as a result of their emotions (which resulted from the tragedies they witnessed). And this is indicative of a societies need for a ‘quick fix’, it’s the instant gratification element that stands out here. I’m not saying emotion is ‘bad’, but man, there are days when I think that many are over emotional in the US. Not all, but those who are easily swayed by ‘whatever’ they feel is attacking them in some sort of way.

4/29/2006 9:55 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I guess I’m tired of reading abortion debates. A person has to experience abortion - and I don’t mean just to bloody stand outside one, or sit in the waiting room, for females who get all upset about the matter, step on in, get pregnant and HAVE a D & C and see it from the inside - to really see both sides of the equation. While it does serve a purpose (for the woman) and is beneficial (in situations where a woman’s mental well-being is at stake etc), why SHOULD a woman have to experience an abortion in her lifetime? Really, our society is ‘well you can do whatever you want!’ Because motherhood and fatherhood are minimized, ‘young, have fun? Fuck around’. Everything that is seen in the media is based on superficiality, on instant gratification. Yes sex is nice, great and can be a rewarding experiencing, when with a person who is on the same wavelength, but at the same time it’s become an INDUSTRY, where many acts are ‘justified’, in fact, encouraged, for the money that they bring in. We’re living in an era where ‘western’ prostitution is equated to being a ‘supermodel’ of sorts when there REALITY is that prostitutes never ‘choose’, they’re chosen, regardless of how they pretend.

My point is that a functioning society shouldn’t treat matters like this lightly. Why can’t governments provide child care, why can’t people, once they reach adulthood function as adults? Our society is so ‘into’ nurturing, we nurture our kids for an indefinite period of time, they never fully learn to be adults. On the other hand, kids are a ‘burden’, not to be thought of ‘until one marries’. If a woman does get pregnant, she has few ‘choices’, as if abortion is a choice? You enter a clinic, get treated like an outsider (because that serves to act as a deterrent), walk out and don’t know how you’re supposed to feel or, because you can’t afford it at the time, or buckle down to family rules/traditions etc and have the child that you can’t afford to have and plough through life struggling.

What choice is that? It’s a double edged sword, that’s what it is. But what I like is that no one will ever come forward (female, high profile) to say 'yes I've had an abortion', shit, females who debate it don't even allude to whether they've had one or not. But it riles me, because I've had one, and no, I didn't see it as a 'pleasant' experience. Sure I have the choice, but it doesn't mean 'it feels great'.

4/29/2006 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

A person has to experience abortion - and I don’t mean just to bloody stand outside one, or sit in the waiting room, for females who get all upset about the matter, step on in, get pregnant and HAVE a D & C and see it from the inside - to really see both sides of the equation.

Anastasia:
In response to your comment above, I do not think that having experienced an abortion is a prerequisite for an intelligent discussion of the issue. Yes, I have had an abortion (in the US and when it was still illegal), and have no qualms about stating this fact. However, the underlying issue is one of the separation of church and state, and all citizens, even if they have not had abortions, should participate in the debate. I do not have children, but I do recognize the need for government sponsored childcare, and as a citizen I have a responsibility to speak on this issue.

Nor do I accept the validity of your question, why SHOULD a woman have to experience an abortion in her lifetime? Unwanted pregnancies are not primarily the result of promiscuity among the young. That is too broad of a generalization. For example, I became pregnant by the man I eventually married and we were using birth control at the time. My case is not exceptional.

My point is that a functioning society shouldn’t treat matters like this lightly.
I do agree with this statement, Anastasia, and I think that my reply will also address Miss Syl's concern about what's to be done. Part of the responsibility of being a citizen is being vigilant, doing the research and voicing an opinion on the issues. It's not supposed to be easy. Are there some who are apathetic? Yes, some by circumstance, since they are overwhelmed with the responsibilities of work and family; others are apathetic by choice, too lazy or self-indulgent to make the effort. But that does not change the fact that I, Miss Syl et al are responsible for our actions in a democratic republic.

Even though I disagree, I do enjoy reading your thoughtful comments.

4/30/2006 12:59 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

You know what Kochanie, I don't agree with what you say about it not being a pre-requisite, I believe it is a prerequisite. Why should I give two shits about what some senator thinks, what some idiotic president thinks, what a batch of US academics think about abortion, they're all either male (and I'm not saying that to be 'anti male') or they're zealots of some sort.

The reason why women don't 'talk' about their abortions (stay tuned because I'm going to make a post about it soon) is because they know what they'll face, but it may just be that people will listen if women spoke up instead of every other 'I know all about it but have never experienced it but have read things about it' person out there.

Seriously, sometimes I feel like I need to request an hourly fee for all the violin playing that I read and yeah, I'm fed up with it basically because (not all) but many are all 'aww poor me'.

Well put one foot in front of the foot and get on with life.

4/30/2006 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Tory said...

And because women dont actually fight on the front lines of the war who cares what women think about war. It all makes sense now. thank you for giving me some clarity anatasia.

4/30/2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger figleaf said...

Hi Syl,

I'm sorry I've been too busy lately to drop by. I hope its not too late to add something here.

I think there are two big issues with “the sky is falling” posts (of which I’m often guilty) and it’s post-modern cousin the bitterly ironic post (which of which I’m even *more* guilty.) What might work better (and now that it occurs to me I’m going to try to work it in) would be to include hard-core, hard hitting action items one could take.

The first issue is that we tend to dwell on our (warranted, logical, entirely reasonable) outrage and that tends to generate heat but not enough light. The second issue is that the more meticulously we tend catalog ills the further we tend to get from countering them. A related issue is that we tend to let these outrages provoke defensive re-actions and so rob ourselves of the energy to take assertive action of our own.

So I’d like to look for ways to go beyond outrage and into action. I’m not promising these are the best possible ideas, but the goal isn’t to provide definitive answers it’s to stimulate a search for them.

For instance, how about recruiting up a bunch of elderly, “virtuous” cervical cancer survivors (who would have come of age, say, in the 40’s and 50’s) and get them to comment on, say, Oprah or 60 Minutes to discuss whether they appreciate Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Oklahoma) suggestion that they wouldn’t have gotten cancer if they hadn’t been sluts?

For instance, how about recruiting anti-abortion, pro-contraception women and men (the vast majority of those who are queasy about abortion are solidly behind contraception) to question whether the FDA should slant science to advance a single political agenda even if they sympathize with the motivation behind it?

For instance, how about a national campaign (or even a single-state one) inviting young women to consider applying to colleges in states that aren’t going to treat them like felons if they by (or use) a vibrator?

Some things we might not have as much leverage over – South Dakota isn’t exactly a hot tourist or conference destination so choosing to steer clear isn’t going to hurt them much. But! I have noticed that land prices there are pretty inexpensive, like a lot of central-west states they’re facing a drastically aging population and negative population growth since far more children move away when they mature than remain. But it’s a lovely place and for all it’s rumored conservatism there are still a lot of very progressive people there. And while there aren’t a lot of job opportunities there it might be attractive to people with telecommuter-like job and/or with medical skills related to geriatrics (a soon-to-be-booming industry there as the *average* age nears 60!) Anyway, the political balance there is such that really if only a few thousand blue-leaning families moved there their votes would carry far, far more weight than they would in heavily blue (and high-cost-of-living) states. (Please note that I am *not* parroting the right-wingers who are always trying to move to a small state like Vermont or Idaho and “take it over.” I think those guys just want their own private, well, Idaho where they can play dictator. I’d rather have a cohesive America where everyone can listen to and learn from each other so it would be enough for me to have balanced communities in places like South Dakota.) So, to make a long story short, a possible response to the recent legislation from the radical “women’s wrongs” activists in that state would be to bring the debate to them rather than attempt to boycott them.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that no matter how large or legitimate or outraged the complaint, just complaining –-- without beginning a dialog towards solutions isn’t activism, it’s... it’s... gossip. Or something like that (and yes I think I’m guilty of it all the time too.) The problem with gossip is there’s no power in it. On the other hand, talking in terms of solutions – realistic and achievable ones – takes you out of the dead stop of “my god” complaint and into action. And, as my dad used to tell me when I did nothing *at all* but complain: you can’t steer a parked car.

Oh I hope that makes sense!

5/07/2006 6:11 PM  

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