Posted by: *carrie* | May 29, 2010

Men at Work

I walked into a conversation at work yesterday between a coworker and customer. The customer was asking some questions about a service he heard we were getting. It so happened that we had just been informed about the services, the timeline for it, and some other general information. The coworker hadn’t been there to get the news yet, so I jumped in. The coworker and myself: female. The customer: male.

I told the customer, yes, we were in fact finally getting the service, and the few details that had been communicated for public consumption. The customer did what happens at least 75% of the time I inform male customers of anything. You know what’s coming. He disagreed and then mansplained to me what was “actually happening”. He knew this because, well just because. I mean, I’m just an employee with the actual information and a woman. Obviously there’s no reason to just take what I said at face value.

To make it worse, he was otherwise a nice guy. He was even jovial while he mansplained.

I’ve worked in various jobs that involve my working with customers regularly for years and years. There are few things more grating than having to deal with this type of sexism.

It’s not like he told a sexist joke, or was blatantly anti-woman. He just had the air of “I know I am right because I am a white male who has been told that his whole life” about him.

There are also the people who ask for assistance doing something, and immediately argue with me when I try to assist them.

There are the overheard conversation between other customers where men are mansplaing or talking down to women. Not in an overtly abusive or rude way. In that annoying way that men do. All of the time.

There are the customers that don’t like dealing with women, and it’s obvious that is their problem, but they haven’t literally said anything to allow you to call them on it.

If you’re wondering if this happens with female customers, the answer is no. In fact, female customers rarely bring up topics outside of what they’re doing. My guess is it’s because they don’t feel the need to show off their knowledge in the same way some male customers do.

I think most of the time these men ask questions simply because they want to hear themselves speak and show off their “knowledge” of said subject.

The awkward part is that, because this is in the workplace and they are customers, there’s not a way to directly address it.

I can’t say, “Look, dude, I know you think that you have the last word on this, but really, I have the press release that came out yesterday with the actual facts and information. It has nothing to do with my lady-ness. It has everything to do with my position of (very limited) power at this job. Also, it is possible for ladies to actually know as much as or even more about something than you.”

I can’t say, “Ok, customer, we’ve been over this, I’ve explained it three ways, it’s obvious you think I’m an idiot because I’m female and you don’t want to deal with me, so GTFO and don’t come back.”

What actually happens is I try to remain polite and smiley and engage the customer. I treat them nicely, even though it’s the last thing I want to do. It’s problematic. It’s happening all of the time, in every service industry job every second of every day. Men like the first customer mansplain themselves away, and instead of a woman being able to call him on it, he get affirmation that he must be right. The man gets validated and continues to be the “expert”. The woman continues to be in a position of having to people-please. I don’t see it happen nearly as often with male coworkers and customers. Sure, some people are just assholes regardless. But if a dude that works with me presents facts, the men almost every time respond by believing him.

If this was an issue between coworkers, I would be comfortable addressing it directly with them. In extreme cases where I might not be, I’d be comfortable dealing with our HR department.

I hate the fact that I’m in a position where I am required to be nice and polite to customers in just about any situations, and therefore go right about reinforcing gender expectations.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 25, 2010

I Can’t Believe I’m Talking About American Idol

Somehow I’ve become a regular viewer of American Idol. (The somehow being because my partner is a sucker for any and all pop music. Even when it’s season 906 of American Idol or whatever we’re on now). The face that I don’t really care much about the show, and don’t get too invested in the performers (even my ‘favorites’) makes it great light viewing and also easy to dissect when I’m so inclined. Plus, this season has Ellen!

There are two completely separate issues I want to address in relation to this season of American Idol.

The first is about condoned sexual harassment. Last week contestant Casey James was voted off, leaving in third place.

American Idol contestant Casey James

Casey’s a pretty talented guy. He should have made it at least as far as the Hollywood rounds based on his talent. During his initial audition with the judges (Simon, Randy, Kara) there was some debate on whether they wanted to let him through. His good bye montage revisited this turn. So we had a chance to review what happened. Kara (a female judge) asked him to take off his shirt. Read that again: at a singing competition, a judge asked a contestant to take off his shirt. Casey chose to play along. Maybe he wasn’t even offended. I was outraged. Especially when Kara, upon seeing Casey half naked, proclaimed she was voting him through.

Idol Contestant Casey James Takes Off His Shirts for Judge Kara Dioguardi

As the season has progressed, there have been casual allusions to this event, apparently all in good fun. Every time it happens, I get pissed off. This was nothing other than sexual harassment. If one of the male judges had solicited a female contestant in this manner, maybe other people would be as outraged as I am. Or maybe they’d assume if she participated, she didn’t care. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. It’s still sexual harassment. It’s still not okay.

The second thing I want to address is healthcare. My favorite contestant (and one of the top two) happens to be a young woman named Crystal Bowersox.

American Idol contestant Crystal Bowersox

She’s talented and edgy and confident. She also happens to have diabetes. Last week she discussed briefly the fact that she has never been healthier than she is now. She credited American Idol for this. If you read in between the lines, she was saying that she could never afford the level of healthcare that she receives while a contestant on the show. I also don’t know what kind of access she has to healthy foods, or how realistic a healthy lifestyle was for her pre-Idol.

I think it’s great that Idol provides the necessary healthcare to its participants. It’s an interesting picture of America, seeing this woman talk about not being able to be as healthy without the money necessary to manage her diabetes, which is a disease that people have their entire lives. It really speaks to the need for better healthcare and access to care in our country.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 22, 2010

Female Force Comics

I just saw something that made me say “hell yeah!“. It’s Female Force:

Female Force: Biographies of Amazing Women

Sure Sarah Palin is included, but she is a woman in the political spotlight. (Just not a woman most of us want to represent us).

Hillary Clinton is featured in issue #1. No one can argue that Hillary is a great role model. She’s been in politics for years, she’s currently our (very effective) Secretary of State, and she makes it evident that her career was as important as her family.

Michelle Obama is also one of the featured women. Here’s her cover:

Michelle Obama

Do you know what’s missing from this cover? Michelle Obama’s totally kick ass biceps.

Michelle Obama: Literally Strong Woman

This is a comic book. If anything, shouldn’t we be over-exaggerating her awesome muscles? Remember when every time someone commented on Michelle Obama, it was about her biceps? Too frequently to say she should cover them up. There’s a level of uncomfort with a woman displaying anything that might be construed as “unfeminine” – apparently even in a comic book about how she is a “force”.

I can get over the bicep thing. Sort of. To celebrate strong women politicians. To share the comics (ok, not the Palin one) with my niece & nephew.

It does seem really awesome.

And that’s when I discover there is also a series titled Political Power. My immediate reaction was that it figures the women couldn’t just be included in the Political Power series – they had to be othered.

This is why a bit of research (by which I mean a 3 second search around their site) is important. I discovered that the Political Power series is actually a spin off from Female Force. Apparently, the female political series was popular enough that they wanted to include the men, too.

So I have mixed thoughts about this. It’s kind of like Dora and Diego. Dora was (maybe still is?) immensely popular among young kids – girls or boys. So they had to come up with Diego, the male counterpart, for the boys. Why couldn’t the boys just continue to enjoy Dora like they had been doing? (Judging from some kids I know, they still did prefer Dora). Because our society, while it grudgingly allows girls some allowance in liking “boy” things, cannot have boys liking “girl” things, because that might emasculate them. Take away from their manhood. Nevermind that they are about 4 years old.

So back to the women in politics comics. Is it teaching kids that women in politics are an important force? Or is teaching kids that the men are the real politicians, and there are a few women that show up sometimes, but they need their own line of comics because women in politics is still so rare?

Posted by: *carrie* | May 17, 2010

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Today is IDAHO: the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.

International Day Against Homophobia

Even though it’s late in the day I’d still recommend checking out their site and seeing what you can do. In the US, most states don’t even legally protect their LGBTQ workers against discrimination.

There’s a lot of work to be done in this arena.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 9, 2010

Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day. The one day a year reserved for us to specifically say “Thanks, Mom!”

For most of us, the “Thanks, Mom!” is well-deserved. We see our moms go to work, either at a job or as full-time caregivers – running us around to dozens of classes and parties and events for us. We see our moms spend their evenings cooking and cleaning for the family. If there’s a big family gathering, we see our moms work extra hard at cleaning and cooking for the guests. If we want to go on a special school trip, we see our moms save money by not buying things for themselves. In fact, we see them buy food and clothes and things for everyone else in the family.

All year long.

Then its Mothers Day.  Depending on your particular family situation (be it mom/dad, single mom, two moms, grandma, etc.) and your age, you have probably decided to do something extra-special for mom. This something might  be breakfast in bed, or taking her out to dinner, or cleaning so she doesn’t have to. On this one day. Out of 365 per year.

Moms have kids. Kids learn about society and family and expectations (subconsciously) nonstop. So when they see dad let mom cook dinner and wash the dishes every night except for Mothers Day (and maybe her birthday), they learn that moms – women – are the ones that are supposed to cook and clean. They learn that dads – men – only cook and clean as an exception.

If you have kids at home and you’re doing the fun Mother’s Day things that mom undoubtedly deserves, think about the message you’re sending. Talk to your kids about it. Maybe the best Mother’s Day gift you could give her is to start splitting the household duties 50/50 all 365 days a year. (Ok, maybe not on your birthday).

Let your kids know that mom is special and does work hard and she deserves to have a family support her all the time. Not just on this one day.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 7, 2010

90s Nostalgia…Is Gen X Just Growing Up?

Apparently there’s a lot of 90s nostalgia going around the interwebz. I do read a lot of references to riot grrrl. People still make actual, paper zines (some of which I’m beginning to adore). I will probably never stop wearing my doc martens. Or stop referring to them as “docs” (lowercase).

Hannah Mudge at bitch buzz wonders, though, if with 90s Nostalgia: Are We Ignoring the Present? There are 90s nostalgia blogs, 90s tv shows in reruns (Daria!), Sassy magazine references crop up frequently… I don’t know why we haven’t all just busted out our flannel shirts and grungy pants already.

Mudge’s ultimate point is that, sure, there were some great things in the 90s, particularly having to do with women & music, but let’s not discount great things now, particularly (some, select, few) women in music.

Cultural nostalgia is part of American culture. Conservative politicians like to strike up visions of  post-war, 1950 Americana (Which always happens to be a middle class white family, with dad firmly in charge, mom firmly in the kitchen, and 2 squeaky clean kids. Also they probably have a dog.) Baby Boomers had the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Lib and Woodstock and The Beatles – the shadows of which Gen X grew up with. We incorporate these cultural memories into what we expect life in America to look like. Almost always, these are revisionist history, passed down from our parents looking fondly back on their youth, and probably selectively forgetting the not-so-rosy parts.

Gen X, the generation the media loved for approximately 7.2 months back around 1992 and has since forgotten, didn’t actually go anywhere once Millennial Fever hit the media. Instead, Gen X went to work, maybe to grad school. We got jobs, even when they didn’t gel with our work ethos. Some of us bought houses and have kids.

So, it seems like the timing is right for Gen X parents to tell stories to their kids, and for the kids to pick up on what was “cool” and repurpose it for themselves. Kind of like how in the 90s I wore flared jeans, which were obviously inspired by bell bottoms (when I wasn’t wearing my JNCO jeans, anyways).

Older generations will also always have a bit of a fear of new technology, because they don’t understand it or don’t want to be bothered with it. Remember the good old days when you could leave your house for hours, and no one could reach you? While that was awesome to my teenage self, it would be ridiculous for me to say it’s not a good thing that parents and kids can now reach each other immediately if there’s an emergency. So the “good old days” pre-internet and pre-cell phone can be remembered more fondly than they really were.

In the article, Mudge states:

We can cringe at the way the internet has made counterculture accessible to all, but we shouldn’t forget that the opportunities for learning, communication and self-discovery it has brought have changed so many lives.

I’ve always been rather removed from mainstream culture. As a teen in the 90s, I lived in the country, where I was lucky to have a radio station that played Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Cake and sometimes L7. Had I had any means, whatsoever, to discover riot grrrl, I would have been in love. (Or, had I just read Sassy, but teen girl mags were, again, off my radar). As it was, when I was in college in the late 90s, after much of riot grrrl had died down, I hear a little about it, but still didn’t have access to it. I think it’s fabulous that kids can get that kind of access via the internet or other media sources.

Mudge references that famous teen (is she even a teen yet?) fashion blogger Tavi, who pointed out that Disney manufacturers “alternative” pop stars. Here’s the real problem: kids are smart enough to figure out that these stars are no different from the other pop stars. Some kids are going to reject being force fed more Disney culture. The fact that teen girls read about what Sassy was and long for a similar magazine for themselves is evidence enough of this. They want politics and culture and honest information about sex and different points of view and to read about new bands without the same old patriarchal window dressing.

I’ve never been a fan of pop music, so it takes a lot for pop starlets to even enter my universe. We’ve had a two day discussion at work centered around Lady Gaga. (I’ve resolved that I’m simply too old to ‘get it’). Lady Gaga is creative and does what she wants and has a presence and vision. These are all positive things, empowering things for young girls who are her fans. I still see a huge, gaping hole between (a)Lady Gaga writhing on the floor in essentially underwear, singing breathily and (b)Kathleen Hannah singing/shouting the lyrics “We’re Bikini Kill and we want revolution/ Girl-style now!!! / Hey girlfriend / I got a proposition goes something like this:/ Dare ya to do what you want / Dare ya to be who you will” while the entire band rocks out.

I can recognize that both of these women can be and are empowering to different people. I think the 90s nostalgia is coming from two places. The first is that Gen X really is growing up and looking back at our own youth with those rose-tinted glasses. The second is that the current youth culture is craving something a little more real. They are beginning to see through the glossy sheen of the manufactured pop stars who may sing pro-woman lyrics, but are still successful because they’re doing so while looking sexy and participating in standard quo. They should have access to musicians and media that work to stay outside that box.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 6, 2010

The Power of Words

I’ve been making a conscious effort in word choices. This isn’t an entirely new idea to me. I’ve always been a bit of a word geek, so I try to use words that have the precise meaning I wish to convey. (Think saying “gargantuan” instead of “really big”).

I started replacing the word girl with woman when referring to adult females. It actually took concentrated effort. It’s starting to happen more easily now, but something in my brain clicks when I say “woman”, a kind of little self-congratulatory internal bell saying “Hey! You did it!”

There was a moment of internal victory when, while having a casual conversation with a male friend, he automatically corrected himself from calling a coworker ‘girl’ and said, ‘I mean woman’. We haven’t even discussed gendered words, but he immediately recognized his error.

While my focus started around gendered words, it’s quickly embodying lots of other words. The same friend’s wife and I have discussed that we’re trying to eliminate the word ‘retarded’ from our vocabularies.  I’m not even sure where I picked it up. I didn’t say it in my youth  and it’s really appalling that I have been using it so cavalierly.

I thought I was doing pretty well in both the gendered and abled word areas. Until yesterday someone mentioned that the word lame is ableist. I don’t disagree. So I have another word to unlearn. And I haven’t even begun on the heteronormative language.

It’s not just the words alone I am focused on – it’s also the types of words, specifically in relation to sex and gender.

One of my recent reads was The Difference: Growing Up Female in America by Judy Mann. (Every, I mean every, woman, girl, and parent should read this book). Throughout the book, Mann discusses the language used towards boys versus the language used towards girls.

Instead of calling little girls cute or pretty, I am deliberately telling them they are strong or smart or funny.  My niece often hears how beautiful she is. I have started telling her how athletic and smart she is, even though she is all three of these things.

What has, surprisingly, been a bit harder, is to cease complimenting my female coworkers and boss on their appearance. My boss is a bit of a fashionista, so it’s not that the compliments are undeserved, or that she doesn’t find them flattering. It’s that I don’t value her for her fashion sense. I value her for her business savvy and her humor and her ability to pull together a strong team.

It might seem like a small thing. But I almost never compliment any of my male coworkers or boss on their appearance. I realized I rarely compliment any of my male friends or coworkers on any physical attributes. Maybe if they’re dressed up for a special occasion, or just have a really dope pair of shoes I like. I have frequently complimented my female friends and coworkers on these things. While the sentiments are genuine, I have to question why I am placing that value on the women and not the men.

It’s not a secret that society values beauty, especially among women. So I’ve really started to think about the things I value and admire in other people, and those are the attributes I want to compliment them on and bring attention to.

I want little girls to know that it doesn’t matter if they are wearing a gorgeous dress, they can still be the best tree-climber in the neighborhood.  Sure, it’s okay for them to enjoy the dress and looking beautiful, but it’s not the only thing for them.

One of my current favorite quotes is one I keep coming across in 80s and 90s feminist writings:

The thing women have yet to realize is no one gives you power. You have to take it.

-Roseanne Barr

It’s true. Power is something to be seized. But it can be given, if we choose to do so. And I am choosing with my words to give power to the girls and women around me.

Yesterday I read a brief post over @ Equality Myth about subtle sexism at work. Their post, Are You the  de Facto Office Secretary? How to Deal, was prompted by this piece in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Essentially, the article is about how the sole women working among men often gets stuck with responsibilities such as note taking, coffee making, cleaning up after the meeting, etc. That dreaded women’s work. The advice the article doles out is to avoid the sexism issue, and instead treat it as a fairness issue.

Don’t focus on the sexism but rather on the fairness — or lack thereof, says Christine Probett, a professor of human resources at San Diego State University and former executive at Goodrich.

In the case of taking meeting notes, Probett recommends you say something like: “Sure, I’ll do it this time, but we should rotate the task.”

And here’s one of the trickier parts of dealing with sexism in the real world. On the internet, or among friends, or maybe even at school, you can call out sexism. You can debate the validity of someone’s ideas. You can reject sexist acts or lash out at them.

At work, however, you’re going to have to deal with various types of repercussions. It might be pettiness from your male coworkers that were called out for their behavior. It might be not getting good assignments, either as ‘punishment’ or because people are afraid of what else you might say or do. It could prevent you from moving up, getting a promotion, getting the best clients, because you pissed someone off.  Every work environment has its own politics and balance, and sometimes you have to play it very carefully, and more so if you’re a woman.

A duty sharing wheel really is the fairest way to go about dealing with these tasks. Just don’t be surprised if some of the men (and maybe other women) roll their eyes or call you a bitch behind your back if you actually bring it up, though.

Of course, suggesting that us wimmin folk just hold our gosh-darn complaining for once is a classic example of putting women in their place. Girls and women spend a great deal of their lives trying to please other people, and being taught that it’s their responsibility to sacrifice for and do things for everyone else around them at all times.

If a man complained and said, “You know, I’m the only man in this office, and I always have to take out everyone’s trash. They think that because I’m a man, it should be my job. I just want a little fairness!” I know exactly the advice 100% of advice columnist-type people would give him. They would say, “It’s not fair that your coworkers expect you to take out the trash every week because you’re the man. You should tell them, gently and politely, that you don’t mind doing your fair share, but that if they want equal treatment, so do you.”

To reiterate:

Women: Do Not Shake the Boat and Under No Circumstances Actually Address the Problem. Men: Be Direct and Firm and Address the Problem.

I sympathize with the reasoning behind dodging the sexism issue. At the same time, I am royally pissed off by it. We’re always having to “choose our battles” which too often means we’re letting sexism slide by, which subtly reinforces the notion that it is okay. When it’s not. Can you imagine if women across the country went just one week where they called out every sexist act they saw, every sexist statement they heard? Talk about an outrageous act.

Posted by: *carrie* | May 1, 2010

May is National Bike Month

Today begins National Bike Month.

I was one of those kids who spent hours upon hours riding around the same tiny neighborhood on her bike, nearly every day the weather permitted. It was fun. It allowed some freedom. It was active.

Then, I turned 16 and started driving. I didn’t touch my once-beloved bikes again.

A few years ago I started noticing cyclists around town and began feeling nostalgic for cycling. Soon I had a cheap bike and was on my way to becoming a bike commuter and even sort-of active in the local cycling community.

So why am I talking about bikes on this feminist-y blog?

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think that it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel… the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

-Susan B. Anthony

When I really got involved in the local cycling advocacy was when I started participating in the local weekly “ladies ride”. Most of the ladies are about 10 years my junior, in better shape, and on much sweeter bikes than I. Sometimes the rides are very casual. Sometimes they completely kick my ass. I love every one of them.

These also served as my introduction into the real value of women-only spaces. I learned that lots of women are hesitant to bike because they are afraid: of traffic, of hecklers, of getting sweaty. Seriously. There are women who avoid cycling because it might get them a little sweaty.

I love biking because it’s fun. I love that I can commute around town: to work, to the grocer, to farmers’ markets, to bars. I get some exercise. I do less damage to the planet than when I lazily hop in my car to drive those 3.5 miles. Often  biking is as quick, if not quicker, than driving and I don’t have to deal with parking.

It’s pretty interesting that what I loved about biking as a kid is still part of what I love about biking now. There really is a sense of freedom on those two wheels that is different than the freedom of the car. There’s also a lot of opportunity to take care of yourself. If something happens to my bike, I can probably fix it pretty easily. What’s more, even if something happens I’ve never fixed – I’m pretty confident I can figure it out. (Also, bikes break down way less than cars!)

I know – us wimmin folk aren’t supposed to have any spatial skills or be any good at fixin’ machine-type parts.

Bikes were important in the first wave of feminism precisely because of this. It allowed women freedom to move about town. It gave them opportunity to be in control of their transportation and even fixing it if something went awry.

Momentum Planet has a great article about the role of the bike in the womens movement.

If you’re not a cyclist, I encourage you to check it out. You can get pretty nice used bikes from local bike shops for decent prices. Whether you’re in a city or a small town, biking is an efficient way to get about town, to get some exercise, and to be nicer to the earth.

Happy Bike Month everyone!

Posted by: *carrie* | April 29, 2010

It’s Not My Issue…. And Why It Should Be

Depending on where you get your news, you may or may not have heard about Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida working on anti-choice laws to make it more difficult for women to have access to safe abortions.

[If you haven’t read or heard about these laws, here are links for Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida]

I’m now going to backtrack several years. When I was growing up, in a moderately conservative, Protestant household, we were “pro-life”. I, as a result of being in this family, was sort-of “pro-life” by default, not because I ever actually thought about it at all. I also had the advantage of being in school at a time when sex education was taught in a non judgemental environment, and while it wasn’t the best sex ed ever, it was pretty thorough. So I felt pretty secure in my options to prevent pregnancy, which even as a 15 year old who didn’t pay much attention to the pro-choice debate, seemed like the best way to reduce abortions. But abortion wasn’t my issue. I didn’t see how it affected me.

I got to college (w00t finally!) and ended up with some friends who were active in our campus’ NOW chapter. I considered joining once or twice, because I’ve always identified as a feminist. But most of their events seemed to center around abortion. By this time, after a few conversations with some pro-choicers (who had some excellent things to say about why they were pro-choice), I had switched sides and was pro-choice myself. I felt there were other important things to do as a feminist group, and fighting for pro-choice constantly, in a post-Roe v Wade world, seemed unnecessary to me. Abortion wasn’t my issue.

So fast-forward to present day. I’ve always identified as Feminist (yes, with a capital F) and have recently become more and more involved with the movement and politics of being a Feminist. It didn’t really take very much for me to start to understand why this pro-choice movement still exists, why it uses so many resources.

Women’s choice is under attack constantly. It’s not about “saving the babies”. It’s about controlling women by controlling their bodies. It’s about not trusting them to make the right decisions. It’s about controlling teens and young adults, by not educating them properly on birth control (and STD/STI prevention). It’s about punishing people for perceived evils. It’s also about keeping women focused on this one issue (which should have been done and over with, but isn’t) and preventing women from focusing on additional issues.

The Ms. blog recently had a post titled The 10 Worst Abortion Myths – and How to Refute Them. They point out that some states already have abortion bans on their books – waiting on the moment that Roe v Wade is overturned.

The three states I listed: Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida, are working on their anti-choice legislation in light of the recent health care overhaul. But also because making abortions difficult to get is considered a “win” for the anti-choice movement.

The laws all require women to view an ultrasound before seeking an abortion. This is because anti-choicers and the patriarchy think women don’t understand what a fetus is, I guess. They want to try and sway you (since you’re a woman you must be easily swayed by emotions, right?). In Oklahoma, at least, the law also protects doctors who choose to lie about any potential health issues that may cause the mother to consider an abortion. The doctor can say anything, can blatantly lie to the woman (or girl), and they will be protected. Even if the baby could kill the mom. Even if the baby is going to have a disease that will kill it within a week of being born. So much for the Hippocratic Oath.

Anti-choice is about controlling women and treating them as if they are incapable of making informed decisions that are best for themselves (and, when applicable, their families).

A lot of anti-choice people will allow exceptions: “abortion is okay if the mother’s life is at risk” or “if she was raped”. What they’re saying is that even they understand that sometimes abortion is really the best option – they just want to be the ones to dictate what those circumstances are. Even if we use a very conservative estimate of 1 in 20 women being raped (most studies place it between 1 in 4 to 1 in 7 women) we have an unacceptable amount of women being raped, and potentially becoming pregnant as a result. I have never been sexually assaulted. Until I started reading about rape, I had no idea it was such a widespread occurrence. I didn’t know the statistics, which contributed to my thinking “It won’t happen to me”. Which contributed to abortion not being my issue.

For a long time, abortion simply wasn’t my issue. I was pro-choice. I thought about it when I voted (I’ve never voted for anti-choice politicians). I’ve championed other womens’ rights causes, I’ve worked for international justice, I’ve volunteered for environmental causes. I have access to healthcare, and various forms of safe birth control, and knowledge on how to use that birth control, and even have an abortion clinic within 50 miles. I never expect to need or want an abortion. So I never saw how abortion, how access to it, affected me.

I now understand anti-choice is about the patriarchy trying to continue its hold on women and their lives and bodies. I understand that, yes, we do need better and more education. I understand that, due in part to my own apathy in the past, anti-choice has been slowly chipping away at my rights. What if I had joined that NOW chapter and learned all of this years ago? What impact would I have made then?

Abortion is now one of my issues. It should have been one of my issues all along.

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