June 19th, 2019

A Focus on Abortion Access

A couple weeks ago I heard Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, say on NPR’s All Things Considered that if Missouri’s single abortion clinic were unable to provide abortions, people seeking abortions in that state have the fortunate circumstance of Missouri’s being surrounded by eight different states, so that many facilities that provide abortions are “very close by” there.

How handy! Arkansas, for example, which is so well known for its rich abundance of reproductive health facilities, is a mere 150-mile hop, skip, and jump from central Missouri. What a relief! Such a relief, in fact, that while they’re at it, perhaps they should stop selling Viagra in Missouri and just send anyone wanting it to one of the very-close-by neighboring states to pick it up. It’s fair to assume, incidentally, that people seeking such health care measures are just sitting around with gas-filled vehicles looking for something to occupy their time, yes?

Something I’m aware of about myself is that when I get sarcastic, it means I’m so pissed off I can hardly see straight and haven’t quite processed that yet. So I’m taking a deep breath now. And what I mean to say is that if you don’t want people with uteruses to legally have the same bodily and sexual autonomy as people without uteruses, please acknowledge that and spare any listening audiences the malevolent condescension of pretending you give a shit about the health and well-being of such people.

Case in point: the interviewer asked two direct questions about patients seeking abortion care, and Dr. Williams’s answers to both did not reference or mention patients a single time. While telling, this is not surprising. Because he doesn’t care about them.

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June 12th, 2019

Autonomy, Ignorance, and Porn

Some readers may have heard about the recent kerfuffle over a high school newspaper that carried an article based on an interview with a senior (eighteen years old) at the school who was working in porn. When the school administration heard the article was in the works, they asked to be able to see it before the paper went to press. The paper’s faculty advisor, a journalism and composition teacher at the school, refused. She was subsequently threatened with disciplinary action up to potential firing, which made national news. (Note: For anyone who doesn’t understand why it would be such a big deal for her to have allowed the administration to read the article before it was published, it would be the equivalent of the United States government’s requiring that media outlets run things by them before printing them. I hope that illuminates the debilitating chilling effect such would have on the press. Indeed, it represents the antithesis of the purported purpose of the press in the US.)

I first appreciate the teacher’s steadfastness in refusing the administration’s demand even in the face of potentially losing her job. (The appalling behavior as such of the administration is an entire subject in and of itself that I am not covering here.) I also find the uproar about writing an article about a student legally and consensually working in porn both maddening and disheartening. It’s as though we sadistically cannot handle a sex work narrative that doesn’t fit with the collective view we seem to have of the suffering, exploited, defeated sex worker. I feel saddened by this because wouldn’t people rather discover that someone is not suffering the way they assumed than be right? Even if we have to let go of our preconceptions and misguided notions based on (sometimes innocent) ignorance, is it so much to ask to listen to sex workers and allow them to have credibility on the subject of their own lives and experience?

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May 10th, 2019

Guiding Into Creativity

I recall with certainty that when I was in grade school, A Wrinkle in Time was one of the books a teacher chose to read out loud to our class (a chapter a day). I don’t remember whether it was in fourth or fifth grade, but I remember that that book was read to me.

In what seems to me both a strange and simultaneously typical circumstance, I have remembered exactly one specific scene and line from the book. That line I could quote almost verbatim. The rest of the book was entirely gone from my conscious memory, including the general plot, characters, beginning, and ending. I can say with confidence this is not likely due to anything about the book itself, since I have experienced such circumstances with numerous books and movies I know I read/saw as a child: frequently, I remember almost nothing about them except one specific line or several-second scene, which I can often quote exactly and/or describe in minute visual detail.

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October 8th, 2018

The Vote of White Women in America and the Intersection of “-isms”

I wrote this post about a month ago. I didn’t post it then, as it seemed somewhat unrelated to immediate goings-on and to come a bit out of nowhere. That of course has now demonstrated itself to be a staggering irony.

There are many people (largely women of color) who have recognized the manifestation of what I write about here for some time. Though a lifelong liberal who has always voted Democratic, I am late in realizing it, largely due to oblivious privilege and not having to recognize it. I had planned to publish this post closer to the November midterm elections in the United States. Given that recent events in the US have brought this phenomenon into stark relief, now certainly seems close enough….

In contemporary human society, within every race, ethnicity, group, there have been female and male members. Obviously…that is how they reproduce. So within every group, however pitted these groups may be against each other, there has been (in modern society) the internal juxtaposition of a hierarchy between women and men. One of the most profound and pervasive distortions that has developed in the human species has purported to see the feminine, which we’ve generally (and superficially) perceived as represented by women, as inferior, subordinate, and weaker. The inaccuracy of this is stunning, but I’ll likely save the elucidation of that for another blog post.

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October 3rd, 2018

It’s Only Natural…Or Is It?

When I see claims about what is “natural” in contexts using natural as an argument for adhering to a particular behavior, I tend to wrinkle my brow. The argument—what is “natural”—seems a dubious one to me in that numerous things in which we have engaged historically and currently don’t necessarily seem natural.

I’m not sure what’s natural, for example, about inventing and building a cell phone and using it. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, just that I’m not sure what seems “natural” about it. To go even further, medical interventions, especially in contexts involving modern medical discoveries and technology, seem to me they could be deemed “unnatural.”

So if the postulation is that we shouldn’t be doing things that aren’t “natural” (I have seen non-heterosexual behavior or attractions, for example, labeled as such) or should stick to engaging in what is, I wonder exactly what those parameters would entail. And in wondering that, I question further that if one does not postulate that everything “unnatural” should be eradicated from our existence and pursuits, then why should some things considered not natural be? How are these chosen, and why is this criterion applied selectively?

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