Women

Abortion Redux: The Slavery Comparision

First there was Chicago. Then Los Angeles. Now, thanks to the Radiance Foundation and a subsidiary, The Issues for Life Foundation, the following billboard is being strategically plastered around Oakland and Atlanta:

The folks over at Racialicious have been covering this indefensible attack on Black women since the following billboard appeared in New York City this past winter and, it should be said, in Atlanta well over a year ago. And call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure I saw it on First and Pike in Seattle over Christmas:

It is so deeply offensive, so horrifying, I hardly know what to say. And I’m white.

Writer Stacey Patton took the Radiance Foundation to task last February in a piece for Black Voices News. After pointing out so many things that are wrong with this ad campaign, she relied on tact and precision as she pointed out a few inconsistencies:

For all the brouhaha and alleged concern about Blacks being targeted by coercive abortion doctors, the pro-lifer’s deafening silence on the problems facing Black infants is quite conspicuous. I don’t see them putting up billboards and raising cane over high infant mortality rates due to poor nutrition or inadequate healthcare. They don’t address other real threats to Black children – asthma, lead poisoning, food access, gun violence, the cradle-to-prison and school-to-prison pipelines, poverty, education discrimination and other effects of racism on life prospects. If pro-lifers are really worried about Black genocide there are plenty of other places to look besides Black women’s bellies. They’re all talk when the fetus is in the womb, but once these Black children are born, they say nothing.

That summation is more on-target than a smudge of Ash on the Pope’s brow during Lent. It’s so solid, there is hardly need to add anything.

Except.

With this latest attack comparing slavery with a woman’s legally protected right to choose an abortion, I can’t help but wonder: Do the designers of this PR scam mean to refer to the slavery that existed after the 1864 signing of the 13th amendment? Or the one that saw black men, women, and children brutalized, tortured, and murdered  despite the 14th amendment? Or is this the same slavery that continued through Reconstruction, across the turn of the 19th century, through World War I, past World War II, and deep into the 1960′s? Do they mean to equate a woman’s choice to remove a clump of cells from her body, to a woman’s lack of choice when it came to being raped by her master? Is that the slavery to which they are comparing these women?

Just wondering. Because it’s good to know what you’re talking about when making comparisons.

Put Down The Glass: Kate Hudson inadvertantly sparks new legislation

Late last week, Radar Online posted photos of a pregnant Kate Hudson drinking a glass of what looked like red wine while vacationing with her boyfriend in Argentina. The comment section of the website had barely begun to overflow with its collective opinion broadly castigating “the little tramp” before outraged Republicans leaped into action.

Though it’s too late for Hudson’s baby—who will likely have small eyes and thin lips due to genetics, rather than some fermented South American grapes—the GOP plans to use one of the tentacle-like arms of its small government to help ensure all pregnancies, forced and otherwise, are safe for the baby.

“Drinking while pregnant is absolutely not acceptable,” House Majority Leader John Boehner told CityBeat in an exclusive Skype interview recently. Boehner wept as he spoke, his shoulders heaving, orange self-tanner dripping from his chin. “That’s why I have sponsored House Bill 1920. The bill’s number is a nod to women’s suffrage. I thought of it myself,” Boehner said, wiping his face with a white monogrammed kerchief.

“HB 1920 is referred to in committee meetings as the Pregnant Women Cannot Drink Anything But Dasani Bill. Now, we realize that’s sort of a tongue twister for those on Main Street, especially for the lady-folk who shouldn’t be trusted with anything more than casserole decisions. So, the actual working title is the Fund the Troops Bill, which even a retard can understand.”

If passed, HB 1920 will make “the ingestion of alcohol by pregnant persons” a federal crime, punishable by up to 25 years in prison or—depending on overcrowding—as a seventh-grade science teacher in Texas. The bill makes no exception for nail-polish remover being absorbed through the skin.

“Pregnant women shouldn’t be painting their nails in the first place!” Boehner exclaimed. “This bill is unambiguous.”

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee offered tepid support in a recent radio appearance, saying the bill “is certainly a baby step—get it? Baby step?—in the right direction,” but that it falls short by not addressing the unwed-mother issue.

“First Natalie Portman, now this?” he asked. “It’s an epidemic! Just look at how Kate Hudson flaunts single-motherhood, wearing that string bikini, her baby-bump shiny and taut like Jim Cramer’s forehead. The woman doesn’t even have stretch marks! It makes me horny—I mean—it’s just not reality for most women, and to put that message out there is irresponsible.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, now living with his Argentine lover, had a slightly different take. “She [Hudson] should get married if she’s met her soul mate. But the wine? Well, they do things a little different down there.”

Murphy Brown did not respond to requests for comment.

Boehner laughed off Huckabee’s concern.

“He’s just so passionate when it comes to food and marriage. What I tell him is, ‘Whoa, slow down, Huckster. You didn’t lose 110 pounds overnight.’”

Indeed, Boehner privately calls this bill his “test-tube baby” because future legislation will be modeled after it. “If HB 1920 passes—and I feel confident it will,” he said, “we will criminalize the ingestion of soft cheeses, straining to poop and sex after the first trimester.”

To be sure, this bill is but one part of a larger tapestry to protect the unborn: Combined with funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, the repeal of healthcare reform, the decimation of the public-school system and changes to labor laws, Republicans hope to guarantee millions of fetuses the right to life but little more.

“What happens to the kid after birth is not my business,” Boehner said, his hands in the air. “We just want to get ’em here with a normal head circumference. I ask you: What’s more joyous than the moments immediately after the doctor sucks the mucous out of a newborn’s face with that turkey baster thingy? Nothing, that’s what. Nothing is more glorious than the ‘Wah!-wah!-wah!’ of a child taking his first breaths of fresh air.”

Nancy Pelosi balked in reaction.

“Whether that air is fresh is a matter of debate,” she told NPR, citing GOP demands that the EPA be barred from monitoring greenhouse gasses.

“Nancy, like all women, is no longer relevant,” Boehner said. “I’m speaker now, babe, so you can shut it and fix me a bourbon.”

While activists have expressed concerns about what happens to these children once they’re born, Republican legislators have offered more innovative ideas.

Missouri state Sen. Jane Cunningham points to Maine, Utah and Virginia as examples of out-of-the-box thinking. “Like mine, these states are doing away with child-labor laws so kids can work at age 14,” she told CityBeat.

“Let’s face it: Our schools suck and kids deserve other options. So, right here in The Show-Me State, not only are we opening the job sector for those under 14, but we’re also eliminating restrictions on the numbers of hours and days a child can work. Easy peasy.”

Boehner is elated by the prospect of Missouri’s contribution. “The tax cuts we extorted from the Democrats last December [for the wealthiest 2 percent], have resulted in an astronomical number of jobs added to our economy, which means a need for labor. So, to skeptics, I say, pshaw!”

For now, the focus is on preventing women from following in Kate Hudson’s footsteps. But in the long term, Boehner and his colleagues hope these little fetuses grow up as patriots who enlist in the military and fight America’s wars.

“Only a retard doesn’t want to die a hero,” Boehner said.

Want to commiserate over a cocktail? I don’t care if you’re pregnant. Write to aaryn@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.

So far, it feels like rehab

I stood naked in front of my closet on the morning of February 1st carefully surveying, from left to right and back again, what I was going to wear. Overwhelmed and under-inspired, I let slip from my lips the same exact words of exasperation that my best friend’s five-year-old daughter had recently muttered: I have nothing to wear. I probably pouted like her child, too.

Those words held an extra sting that morning because my bestie and I made a pact over drinks a short time after her daughter’s declaration, a mere ten days before I found myself with not one outfit to suit my mood. Our joint decision was one that shouldn’t have been made in haste but absolutely was.  We decided—while we sipped cocktails and spoke of the inevitable monotony of (even a good) marriage—that we shop to fill some unnamed hole, some vacancy in our lives.

Neither of us is lacking for things. Each of us has a lot of stuff. And we came to the conclusion that neither of us really needs more things or stuff. And so we shook hands and set our eyes on a shopping moratorium of six months. I was going to aim a little lower with a four week hiatus; after all, I graduated from San Diego State University and it’s a top ten party school. Why make unreasonable demands on myself? But Rachel is a Blue Devil. She’s the valedictorian of valedictorians. She’s magna cum something. Her basketball team wins everything. She’s determined and single-minded and she’s made of steel. Her DNA is made of nothing but Carbon and Iron.

So. With the exception of certain sundries, hair product and concealer, I will be purchasing no new wardrobe items of any kind until after August 1st.  I have removed most fashion blogs from my Google reader (not all of them—I need to figure out how to refresh what I’ve got) and I unsubscribed from my fashion email lists. Ideeli: gone. Just Fabulous: deleted. ModCloth, All Saints and Nike Women: adieu, mon cheris.

For some, this may be a big fat pfffffffffffft. But for me? Not shopping for one half-year is akin to a boozer going cold turkey by pouring her Stoli down the drain. It’s like Rush Limbaugh dumping his Oxycontin in the toilet. It’s more difficult than breaking up with Facebook. It’s more painful than quitting Angry Birds so you can have sex with your hot but overlooked husband over there, silently blinking at you from his side of the bed. (Not that that’s ever happened in this house. No, Siree. No monotonous marriage here. Just lots of really hot and frequent twisty sex in dangerous places.)

Anyway. I’m one week in and I’m already lamenting my commitment. Especially now that I’ve started yoga because…seriously, people.

I have nothing to wear.

The art of motherhood

If you happen to be free tonight (Tuesday, May 4), come by The Loft for the opening reception for “Exploring the ‘M’ Word,” a student produced art exhibition highlighting the complexities of motherhood. The show, curated by Aimee Harlib and co-sponsored by the UCSD Women’s Center, runs through May 21st.  I will be reading a little something during the reception and am honored to be included among the many talented women who will be performing and exhibiting their work.

The party starts at 7:00 p.m. and is free to the public. Either come play or offer to babysit so someone else can.

About my normal behavior, Part 1

I’m back from a most spectacular gallavant across the pond and let me tell you that, amazing as this might sound, I didn’t die from fright. I was riding the Metro in Paris all by myself on day two, nearly imploding from fear, when I realized that, from the outside, I probably looked completely competent like everyone else on that train.

Sortie

Right then, I decided to embrace the fake-it-till-you-make-it method, unwound from my ever-tightening fetal position and recorded a woman playing an accordion between stops, which is a totally fantastic recording that I desperately want to share here, but which despite trying, I cannot embed, which has resulted in a certain amount of swearing and the throwing of one semi-soft object across the room, which in turn resulted in an argument with my husband about how much longer he is going to keep his goddamned handle bar mustache. I adore run on sentences but am not a big proponent of facial hair.

Anyway. About my fear.

Go here to keep reading.

Dear Dodge (in the words of Jerry Garcia): That’s right! The women are SMARTER!

My friend Melanie wrote a short post at The Women’s Colony this week about the stereotyping portrayed in some of the Superbowl commercials. Then, my current columnist du jour, the delectible, naughty, rib-crushingly smart Mark Morford—who, were I not betrothed, I would love to devour slowly and in small increments using an espresso spoon just to make it last longer—wrote more extensively on the topic. Mr. Morford: Je t’adore. Especially when you wear your faux cat fur jacket.

Anyway, here is one video that both Melanie and Morford found offensive:

And then, today, because certain women are extra incredibly bad ass, there is this response, which earned a raucous standing O in this house. Enjoy, and happy weekend.

Mrs. Robinson’s ego needs a little love from time to time

I had just come from Madalena’s and was driving to meet my husband for a late afternoon drink when I got picked up. Never mind that I had worked out that morning and was still in my gym clothes, marinating in my own grit and stink and general grossness derived from being packaged in Lycra for 8-plus hours. It wasn’t pretty. I was disgusting enough that I apologized repeatedly to Madelena as I lifted my arms so she could pin and stuff padding into my favorite strapless dress, but not so disgusting that I decided to postpone my alterations for another, more shower-filled day. Poor Madelena. Suffering the slings and arrows of dried gym sweat, all because I’m derelict when it comes to time management.

However evident my yuckness was to anyone within arms-length, the state of my filth was apparently well shielded by a) my car, b) my tinted windows,  c) my over-sized sunglasses and d) my lip gloss. (Lip gloss has magic powers. Praise the lip gloss!)  All I know is that I slowed, smiled and waved into my lane a car full of wild-haired, teen-ish boys at a two-way stop on Adams Avenue and suddenly, I was Eva Mendes.

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On my best day I should hope to look so gross.

And so I found myself crawling along in single-lane traffic, behind a white Honda Civic filled with lanky kids of the male persuasion who probably weren’t old enough to vote in 2008. The driver, wearing Ray-Bans circa Risky Business—a movie he’s probably never heard of—kept checking on me in his side mirror. The two boys in back turned to face me, as excited to watch me follow as my friends’ small daughters, who make funny faces out the rear window of their father’s car whenever our families take our Minis for an afternoon drive. And the guy in the passenger seat poked first his head, then his arm, out his window, waving a cell phone, signaling me to call him. Which required a number, so he set the phone down and began slowly and methodically flashing a series of numbers with his long fingers. It was like the mating dance of some rare, exotic bird that was vaguely familiar and yet incredibly foreign. It didn’t matter that he was of a different species; I understood the language. He was thoughtful and precise, leaving enough time between digits for me to write them all down. Too bad I was DRIVING! Further evidence of an evolutionary gap.

My hands were on the wheel and I was smiling wide at this point. Chuckling, even, as the passenger twisted to flash an eight, a six, a nine. Oh, if they knew, I thought. If they only saw me close up. I imagined the surprise that would register in their eyes if we were to stand face-to-face, realizing their mistake and figuring out how best to get out of this uncomfortable situation. I contemplated what their conversation under such circumstances might be—surely involving several “DUUUde!”s— when I noticed the driver eyeballing me again in his mirror. I held his eye contact and pointed to myself slowly and methodically, making sure the line of communication was open. He adjusted his glasses, rested his elbow casually across the door and nodded at me. He was ready to receive.

I lifted my right hand off the steering wheel and pointed at myself one more time. He nodded: Got it, got it. He was sort of adorable, this man-child. The whole group of them was. But I had to have my say.  I crossed my thumb over my open palm and held my arm straight out toward my windshield. I held it there until the boy in the mirror nodded again. Then, with my fingers touching my thumb, I made a perfect O.

The boy didn’t move.  I laughed and repeated my message knowing I’d undercut myself; flashing my real age would have required both hands on my part and maybe a little too much work on his. He was using a mirror, after all. Plus there was that other hurdle of DRIVING A CAR with which we were both grappling.  I conceded the six months because a one-handed “four” and “zero” were the safest route to the same destination. And anyway, at their age, what the hell’s the difference?

4-0 babe, I smiled. His eyebrows went up and that’s all I saw because I’d arrived at the bar where I’d be meeting my husband. I performed my award-worthy parallel park job, and looked up in time to see the boys disappear into the rain, their four mussed heads a silhouette against the gray day. It had been good while it lasted. It was silly but exciting, I admit this. And I was slightly more dirty when it was over.

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Speaking of bras…

…let’s talk about breasts.

Keep A Breast

This week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) released a new set of recommendations for breast cancer screening that turns on it’s head what women have come to expect as far as screening for breast cancer, the second leading cause of death in American women.

Recommending that women not receive mammograms until the age of 50 and then once every other year after that, the USPSTF has concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms of clinical breast examination beyond screening mammography in women 40 years of age or older.”

That part about “current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms” raised my eyebrows. Insufficient evidence to make a call either way? So that means this influential panel upends the current protocol—mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40— instead of sticking with it?

*Shakes head.*

Call me crazy but the new guideline instantly made me think this is has something to do with money. But what really got my hackles up was this next part about how the USPSTF “recommends against clinicians teaching women how to perform breast self-examination.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? As if the first part of this announcement wasn’t disturbing enough on its own, this second bit feels utterly irresponsible and lazy and callous and pitiable and oy vey, I need a drink. Or a bong hit. Or a shopping spree at Anthropologie with Michael Bloomberg’s credit card.

Now, perhaps there’s a reasonable reason for postponing mammograms. Probably not, given all that copious “insufficient evidence,” but I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a moment and offer a one-time-only benefit of a doubt on this one. I’m feeling generous today. But how, how, HOW can it be bad for a woman to learn what her normal breast tissue feels like? Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Because if you know normal breast tissue when you feel it, you will know abnormal breast tissue when you feel it. You feel me? Which makes me think immediately of my friend Amanda.

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Isn’t she gorgeous? Vivacious? Young? Indeed. Gorgeous, vivacious, young Amanda found a lump in her breast with her very own fingers  and was diagnosed with stage-3b breast cancer when she was just 27 years old.

I LOVELOVELOVE This One!

Amanda is a breast cancer survivor. You can read Amanda’s story here.

I’m curious to know: How do you women (and my male readers, too) feel about this dramatic shift in women’s health care? Do you feel like maybe we’re getting the shaft? Just a little?

Burn ‘em all: From training bra to sleeper bra, we’ve come a long way, baby

It was the image of the bra on my computer screen that caught my attention. I was sure, on first glance, that the lady mannequin was wearing it backwards, what with the way her aerodynamic ta-tas were left uncovered by the absence of fabric that normally holds them in place.

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But quite the opposite from being worn backwards, this cupless bra was intentional: La Decollette is the brainchild of a Brit who grew tired of waking to the horror of chest wrinkles. I just call them chinkles. It’s easier.

In case you’re my editor—or a gay man or a carefree, 20-something co-ed who rightly has no idea what I’m talking about—chinkles are caused after years of side sleeping (sun damage doesn’t help). It’s when uninhibited boobs collide in the night, the result being a series of jagged, vertical lines decorating the décolletage. Be warned, oh young ’uns, and start sleeping on your backs ASAP.

Chinkles are just another in the laundry list of aging women’s battles, and now, for £45 ($80), Rachel de Boer is offering all of us a way to fight back in the form of a revolutionary bra to be worn at night. Never mind that you could jump down from the treadmill, towel off, spin your sports bra around and have the exact same thing—minus two cute bows. The bigger issue here is: Dear Lord!—who wants to wear a bra when she’s sleeping? The first thing I do when I walk through the door at the end of a busy day is the magic bra-through-the-shirt-sleeve routine. The second thing I do is toss it with one quick motion as far away from my body as possible, flinging it to the floor where it will stay until I need to use it again in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore a lacy lovely every now and then, especially when wrapped with a bow and left tucked in my lingerie drawer for my private discovery.

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But overall, I have a general disdain for bras, and whenever I go shopping for one, I can’t help but think of what a rush I was in to need one way back in 1981 when I was but a wee dork. A flat-chested, braces-having, Mork from Ork suspender-wearing dork.

As it happens, my next-door neighbor Heidi was not any of those things. We were the same age, but, somehow, she was light-years ahead in pretty much every way. She was sophisticated, worldly, beautiful and developed. More than anything, I wanted to be like her. If Heidi was serious, I was serious. If Heidi swung her pigtail when she walked, I swung my pigtail when I walked. Heidi was on track to become a concert violinist, so I convinced my mother to buy me a violin. Today, Heidi plays Carnegie Hall and I? Well. I know who Itzhak Perlman is.

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At age 11, though, what I wanted more than anything was Heidi’s boobs. One could argue that, had I chosen to practice the violin even 30 minutes each day, I might have been able to give a recital of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at our local library within the month. But there was no amount of I must! I must! I must increase my bust! chanting that was going to give me the result I wanted, the result that wouldn’t happen for another grueling four years. Thanks, mom, for the biology.

Since my exercises were fruitless, I had my mother take me to buy what was then called a training bra and what I hope, for the sake of my daughter, is no longer called a training bra. The fitting was humiliating, first because there was nothing to fit and next because some orange-haired nana at Girls World with chinkles all up and down her giant exposed bosom, was charged with measuring and pulling and tugging and analyzing, all while my mother looked on. Good times.

I came away with three training bras, not one of which you could tell I was wearing when I was fully clothed. So I took to wearing very tight Izod shirts over my very sophisticated I’m-growing-up bras, which I wore all the time, even when I slept—ahead of my time, I was—and which very nearly brings me full circle. I always made sure a strap was somehow exposed, not a lot, just a smidge, because I’m classy like that. And then, because a bra should be filled, I took to stuffing it with neatly folded layers of toilet paper that left my “breasts” looking less like budding orbs and more like Tefillin you see strapped to the foreheads of Rabbis the world over. That I went out in public with my shoulders thrown back, unapologetic and prouder than hell was nothing short of foreshadowing. Of what, I will leave up to you, Reader.

And now I find myself today looking at what the Daily Express calls a “revolutionary bra designed for women who suffer from wrinkles between their breasts,” and I’m scratching my head. I’m no longer the girl with the boxy breasts that could put an eye out, and I’m not yet the poster woman for the anti-chinkle bra. I’ve been one and the other may be my fate—I am a side sleeper, after all. But do I really want to sleep in a bra at night simply so that my breasts don’t flop over on each other? What if this revolutionary bra causes them to slide into my armpits? What then, I ask? What. Then.

The women of Holland may have bought into the gimmick, but this girl’s jury is still out. If I do decide to give it a go, barring an offer of a free product for testing, I’ll give my $14.99 Target sports bra a spin around the mattress.

(As published today in San Diego CityBeat.)

It’s more than just a word

I’ve been involved in a rather heated internet debate with some women I collaborate with on another website. We’ve been going back and forth, as part of a larger discussion, on the meaning of a loaded word. And I’d really like to know how it makes you feel, what it makes you think. I’m curious to know whether it’s use is horrendous and offensive enough to make you run away and never look back,  or whether it’s just another word like any other that only has the power we give it. There is no judgement here. I am simply curious.

So. Readers. Tell me.

What does the word “cunt” mean to you?