law, modern problems, politics, true crime

Do I even want to go “home” again?

The featured photo was taken on May 18, 2014, when Bill and I took a last Space A Hop to Germany, ahead of his military retirement. At the time, we didn’t know we’d be coming back to live in Germany just weeks later. We’re still here… and we no longer really want to go back “home” again. It definitely gives me some empathy and a unique perspective toward people who flee other countries for the United States…

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of an old Peace Corps friend of mine. I wrote about Matt last year, a few days after I found out about how he was senselessly killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn, New York. Matt Jensen was a very special person. He had dedicated his life to teaching English as a foreign language, and students of all ages benefited from his natural acumen in the classroom. Matt was born to teach, and he had loads of charisma and a wonderful sense of humor. Although we hadn’t spoken or seen each other in many years, I was genuinely heartbroken when I heard about his sudden death last year. It just seemed so incredibly unfair.

For months, I watched the news to see if anyone would ever be arrested in connection with Matt’s death. Finally, in February, just as I was about to give up on justice, I was inspired to do one last search of the news. Sure enough, that very day, I found out that the police had taken a suspect into custody. I wrote another post about how I felt about that. I didn’t expect a lot of people to get it, since it was one of my more “creative” efforts… but to me, the post I wrote about Matt’s killer’s arrest set to the Police’s 1983 album, Synchronicity, made a lot of sense. When I knew him, Matt bore a resemblance to Sting.

I’m still watching for updates on the case involving Tariq Witherspoon, the 30 year old New York Emergency Medical Technician who is being held responsible for mowing down Matt with a borrowed black Rolls Royce last year. Every time I think about how Matt died, it seems more absurd to me. This was a man who served in the Peace Corps twice. He had devoted his life to helping people, especially those who wanted to learn English and improve their lives. To think that he was taken out by an over-the-top status symbol driven by a man who supposedly devoted his life’s work to saving other people’s lives! It’s completely ridiculous.

Every day, there are more news articles about how absolutely insane the United States has become in recent years. From the relentless attack on women’s rights, to the senseless gun violence at schools, churches, and supermarkets, to the abhorrent racism on every common street corner, I’ve become a lot less impressed with my homeland. Last night, I was reading a sickening story about a nine year old White boy who brought a whip to his Black neighbor’s house. He was captured with a Ring camera, whip in hand, visibly seething with rage as he banged on the neighbors’ door, demanding that their daughter come out. Why? Because they’d had an altercation at school, and he wanted to “finish” it with a fucking whip! Below is a video of the incident, along with follow up footage of the Black girl’s parents confronting the whip wielder’s father. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that the boy’s father came to the door with a gun in his hand. I can see where this kid’s rage comes from; his father is clearly a toxic and dangerous person.

What the HELL is wrong with people?

What is especially sad to me is that this is a nine year old child. He probably has no idea about slavery in America, and how enslaved Black people were whipped, beaten, raped, and murdered so that rich White people could get richer. I hate to think that this child, at just nine years old, has this much hatred for others. I see how angry and violent he already is at age nine. What will he be like at 19? I hope he gets some competent help from a therapist before he winds up arrested on felony charges, as his dad was after he fired a weapon at the Black couple who confronted him about the whip and the damage the boy allegedly did to their car.

Amid stories like the one above, there are so many angry people in the United States. I read another story this morning about how Spain is considering allowing women paid time off when they suffer severe period symptoms. I think the idea is very progressive and humane. While my own periods have mainly just been annoying and inconvenient, I know women who literally get sick every month when they have their periods. I have known women whose cramps were so bad that it hurt to walk, and they spent days vomiting.

What a contrast this policy is, especially in a country as Catholic as Spain is, to the anti-women legislation being considered in the United States right now. I grew up believing that the United States was the epitome of a “free country”. But if the Republicans have their way, abortion will be outlawed, and women could find themselves at risk of being arrested when they have miscarriages. That seems extreme, but consider that Lizelle Herrera, a woman in Texas who miscarried, was actually arrested recently and accused of “murdering” her unborn child. Thankfully, good sense eventually prevailed, and she was released after what was surely a very stressful and horrifying ordeal at the Starr County Jail. I hope the American Civil Liberties Union helps her sue the fuck out of the people who reported her to the authorities and arrested her. What is especially scary about Herrera’s case is that she had gone to a hospital for help, and wound up being accused of “death of an individual by self-induced abortion”. If we don’t do something about the right wing anti-abortion zealots, this is a fate that could affect a lot of women. And it may lead to miscarrying people not getting medical help when they really need it, for fear of being arrested and charged with murder.

Mama Doctor Jones spells it out for all of us. Outlawing abortion in the United States will result in a lot of morbidity and mortality.

Naturally, the comment section for the article about Spain’s proposed legislation included many awful comments from American males, who have NO idea what it’s like to have periods, be pregnant, or deal with the aftermath of childbearing. Having lived in Europe for almost eight years, I’ve admired the family and community focused laws here. No, it’s not perfect, and people here pay a lot of taxes, which I know would not be popular in the United States. But Europeans recognize that children need their parents. Women who have babies in Germany get a very generous paid maternity leave before and after their pregnancies, as well as other benefits. Fathers are also granted time off to bond with their babies.

In the United States, we have people screaming about fetal rights, yet denying citizens the means to give babies and children a healthy start in life. When someone points out this discrepancy, they are sure to receive a snarky, unempathetic reply, usually from a Republican male, who obviously cares more about money than fellow human beings. This is what one typically tone deaf man– a man who claims he’s a doctor, no less— had to say about Spain’s proposed legislation:

Great. How do you prove that you have severe period symptoms compared to moderate ? How can you control for abuse of taking time off and differentiate between authentic cases and fictitious ones?

This was what a woman said in response to the “doctor”, who doesn’t have much regard for women:

Wait, you claim to be a physician? It seems horrible that this would be your level of compassion for a patient. There have been days out of every month for the past 40 YEARS when the pain was so severe I was vomiting and in tears. I spent the time with a heating pad or in a hot bath, trying my best to even prepare a meal for my family or perform the most basic tasks. This began when I was 12 years old. I was never diagnosed with any specific problem, and often told (mostly by male doctors) that it was just like that for some women and to “push through.” How does one prove such a thing?

Lots of people took on this supposed “doctor of misogyny”, as he continually mansplained why this law could be problematic. According to him, there are a lot of women in Spain who are just waiting to game the system and take off work when their period pain doesn’t warrant it (in his opinion, anyway).

I also saw a comment from a man who probably votes for pro-life candidates, but harangued a woman who pointed out how misogynistic the United States is. He told her to “get a new job” and exercise “personal responsibility”. When she came back and told him she was a member of a union and got decent benefits (for the United States, that is), the guy told her to “stop crying”. In his mind, she already had hers and needed to STFU. He couldn’t see why she’d want to advocate for others, who aren’t as fortunate. Does this man have women in his life? Does he care about them? Based on his comments, I’d guess not.

The pervasive self-centeredness and selfishness in the United States is just awful. It really doesn’t make me want to go home, even though I know I’m going to have to at some point. We have some unfinished business that needs to be handled. But do I want to move back there permanently? I have to be honest. I don’t think I want to. The United States has changed noticeably since the Trump years. I think Trump’s presidency has awakened and emboldened some of the worst people in our society. It will be years before the United States is back on track. It hurts to see how awful it is from afar.

Meanwhile, here in my little Hessian village, people are community minded and focused on doing things for the environment. Our local Facebook group shared a new “bee feeding vending machine” that is available now. Someone repurposed an old gumball machine so that it sells “bee bombs”– bee friendly flower seeds that can be planted in gardens to provide bees with fuel. Here in Germany, it’s illegal to kill bees. The government has wisely realized that without bees, we’d have no food. Similar legislation and efforts to save bees in the United States would probably garner nothing but derision from the clueless.

Well, I know it’s inevitable that we’ll go home at some point. Does it mean we’ll stay there for good? More and more, I’m thinking that maybe we won’t. My Italian friend, Vittorio, was right when he told me some years ago that America has a “weird-o-rama” culture. He was spot on. I didn’t see it when I was in the thick of it, but after years in Europe, it’s as plain as day. And it’s truly heartbreaking.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, sex, sexism, slut shamers

Pro-life men and fat shaming men have things in common…

This morning, I got a private message from someone who read my recent rant about pro-life men who make me want to hurl. I was surprised to get that message. As of this morning, that particular rant only has four views. However, it does have two likes, which is somewhat unusual for my blog. My posts, by and large, don’t get “likes” very often. 😉

The person who wrote to me indicated that she felt my post was “poignant”. I thought that was an interesting observation. Maybe it does seem poignant, though, that a middle-aged woman who has always had the right to choose would be so disgusted by men with “pro-life” attitudes. Very soon, the risk of pregnancy for me, personally, will no longer exist at all. So, if Roe v. Wade does get overturned, it won’t matter too much for me, at least not in terms of whether or not I would be forced to bear children. If the United States turned into an actual Gilead, as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, I would either be a wife or a “Martha”. Or maybe I’d just be a “working stiff” who wears grey. The bottom line is, my actual purpose– according to some men– will soon cease to exist. But, you know, even when I was still young, a lot of men didn’t think I was fulfilling my “purpose”. They probably felt like a vagina was wasted on me.

As I was reposting the two book reviews I added this morning, I watched the latest episode of Fundie Fridays on YouTube. The host, Jen, had a guest named Mickey Atkins on the show. Mickey is a social worker, like I would have been if I hadn’t become an “overeducated housewife”. The two of them were discussing Lori Alexander, aka “The Transformed Wife”. Lori Alexander, for those who don’t know, is a very controversial figure on social media. She believes that women’s sole purposes for being is to make babies and be housewives. I don’t generally pay a lot of attention to Lori’s posts, because I disagree with almost everything she says or writes, and I generally don’t think it’s productive to pay attention to her dumb comments. However, sometimes, when she says or writes something that is especially offensive, I will take note of it. I do casually follow Fundie Fridays, as well. I don’t watch it every week, but I do watch often enough. So, even though I think The Transformed Wife shouldn’t have a platform, I decided to listen to Jen and Mickey talk about her this morning as I multi-tasked.

This is yet another great video by Jen and James, and guest star, Mickey Atkins.

Listening to this video led me to look up things I have written about Lori Alexander. In the process of doing that, I ran across some old posts on my original blog about related subjects. It occurred to me, as I was reading, that men who “concern troll, and “fat shame” women, are a whole lot like the pro-life men who make me want to hurl. They REALLY have a lot in common. And, I also realized, that whether or not they know it, a lot of pro-life men and fat shaming men are probably motivated by the same thing… the desire to have sex with, and ultimately control, women. I think a lot of men are, deep down, offended by women who don’t do what society expects of them.

A lot of men think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty, friendly, agreeable, and sweet. They think it’s her role to be willing to have sex with them– and only them. She is to turn them on and, when she gets pregnant, be willing to have their babies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the man will feel like he needs to stick around and help raise the babies. It’s only that to be “good”, a woman is to be attractive and appealing. A smart woman with an opinion– especially if he doesn’t think she’s attractive– is offensive to a lot of men. And women who get pregnant, and then decide to reject the pregnancy, are repulsive to certain men.

Notice that I specified “certain men”. Not all men are like this. My husband, Bill, is not like this at all. He’s a kind, supportive, loving man who doesn’t mind that I’m overweight, opinionated, and often unlikable to other people. Bill loves me for who I am, not what I look like, and not just for my sex parts. I realize that I am extremely lucky, too. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I did. My husband is an absolute gem.

But I know from my past life, and even incidences from my current life, that not all women are nearly as lucky as I have been. Every once in awhile, I run into a guy who seems determined to remind me of what they think should be my place. I see them do it to other women, too. They firmly believe that women are here to entertain them, satisfy them, attract them, and serve them. They aren’t here to be someone in and of themselves.

So how did I come to this conclusion? It started with a post I wrote on my original blog about a group called “Overweight Haters, Ltd.” Back in 2015, a woman named Kara Florish was riding on The Tube in London when a middle-aged male stranger placed a business card on her lap.

The man quickly got off at the next stop and disappeared in the crowd, leaving Kara sitting there, stunned. Kara posted on Twitter, commenting:

“I am not upset myself. I am smaller than the national average and not exactly obese, but this is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence and eating disorders. Please tweet and share this if you are also outraged. Plus – to the person who wrote this card, go back to school, you can’t spell ‘beautiful’.”

I didn’t actually write about this incident until several years later. Florish wasn’t the only one who got a card from this vile group. In another article from The Guardian from 2015, it was reported that another commuter, a man named Sean Thomas Knox, witnessed a woman getting one of the cards. According to the article:

“Young man just got on train at Oxford Circus, gave printed card saying YOU’RE FAT to overweight girl. He jumped off. She read it, [and] cried.

“Am 99.9% sure this wasn’t staged. She didn’t even realise I was watching at first. Her stunned, desolate reaction was very real. Then tears.”

Knox described the man who handed over the card as a “hipster.. smartly, trendily dressed” with a beard. “Perhaps it was a piece of conceptual art,” he tweeted 

“It lasted a few seconds, but the card in that photo [Florish’s] is the same card I saw, in the girl’s hand. And her shock was real.”

I’ve seen a lot of comments fat shaming men leave for women online, too. They often couch their opinions as “concern” for women’s health. But, when it really comes down to it, I think men are less concerned about health as they are their own sex drives. A lot of them seem to think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty for them, so they will want to have sex with them. And then, once they have sex, if the woman gets pregnant, she should want to have the baby. To not have the baby is to reject the man. A lot of pro-life men simply can’t deal with that kind of rejection. It’s a terrible assault on their egos. Notice, too, that a lot of pro-life men– especially those who are religious– also pressure women to be pleasing to them and pretty, but not sexy or, heaven forbid, slutty. Slutty women end up as handmaids, you know… or they work at Jezebel’s. 😉

Think I’m way off base on this? Consider something that happened to me back in February 2018. I read an article about a woman who had given birth to a baby girl she named Parker. The woman then left the newborn infant outside in the cold. Parker later died. Her mother was arrested and charged with murder, which was eventually reduced to a conviction of manslaughter.  She was sentenced to nine years in prison.

For some reason, a man decided that the comment section was a good place to rail against abortion, even though this story had NOTHING to do with abortion. He pointed out that had the mom aborted Parker, people would be applauding her choice. A lot of women responded to him, including yours truly. I dared to tell him that I didn’t think men really needed to chime in on this issue, since it’s never their lives or health on the line when someone gets pregnant. A few days later, I got a private message from someone who was looking for advice on apartments in Alsace. After I responded to the PM, I noticed I had another one from a “stranger” named Jason. Jason wrote this to me:

For some reason, a lot of men think the worst thing a woman can be is “fat”. So they add that to the word, “cunt”, to be as insulting as they can possibly be…

Interesting that Jason, who is presumably “pro-life”, doesn’t realize that I used to be someone’s developing fetus. And yet, he felt the need to invite me to commit suicide. Sadly, when I complained about this to Facebook, they said there was “nothing they could do about it.” However, I’ve been “on restriction” all month for writing a comment that referred to “dumb Americans”. Go figure.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I enjoy being referred to as a “cunt”. It’s not a nice word. And no, I don’t like it when people call me “fat”, because I know that’s basically akin to “ugly” in some people’s opinions. Nobody likes to be insulted. On the other hand, I am already married to a wonderful guy who doesn’t think I’m a “fat cunt”, and would be devastated if I died. But this comment did make me realize that Jason must be very, very frustrated by women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and would happily deny them, both access to their cunts, and respect for their views. You see, my guess is that Jason isn’t gay. He probably really enjoys having sex with women. And a lot of women have probably denied him sex. At the same time, he’s presumably here because some woman had sex and got pregnant. He probably passed through his mother’s “cunt” when he was born. So he actually owes everything to a cunt, doesn’t he? But he thinks that as a man, he should have power over women. A woman who tells him to STFU is very threatening and offensive. So he calls me a vile word and advises me to kill myself. Makes a lot of sense, right?

As a woman, I have been sexually harassed by men, even though I don’t think I’m conventionally “beautiful”. It started on the playground when I was a little girl, when little boys would try to make me give them some “sugar” (I grew up in the South in the early 80s, and that was a euphemism for kissing). It continued as I got older, when bigger boys would grab me and try to touch me or kiss me, and when the neighborhood pervert, who referred to himself as “The Home of the Whopper”, showed me pornography. Then, it continued when boys would make comments about my body– negative or positive– or try to humiliate me with cruel jokes and pranks. In college, I remember meeting a guy at a party, and within a couple of hours, he was trying to stick his tongue down my throat. I was shocked and horrified, and I asked him to stop. He then proceeded to treat me like I had given him blue balls or something.

I got harassed when I lived in Armenia by men who exposed themselves to me. It happened three times that I can remember. I was lucky. I knew a woman who was harassed and violently assaulted. She had to go into the hospital. On a trip to Turkey, a man felt my legs as I tried on shoes that I desperately needed. Another man grabbed my breast when I was trying to find a bathroom. Not two hours later, when I was changing clothes, a different man came into the dressing room, called me “sexy”, and asked me to come with him. The female friend who was traveling with me was also harassed, although she wore men’s shoes and had shaved her head. The trip, which was mostly amazing, culminated when we got stuck on the border with Georgia and the customs manager propositioned me. And no, I wasn’t looking sexy. I had on shorts, a t-shirt, and wore no makeup. He still wanted to have sex with me… and, of course, that was ALL he wanted. He thought I would give it to him, because I’m an American woman, and women from the USA are supposedly “loose”. I was a virgin at the time.

A couple of years later, when I was back in the States, I worked at a country club. One of the members, a guy named J.J., was notorious for hitting on all of the women who worked at the club. It didn’t matter if the female he was targeting was a minor who was still in high school, or if it was the matronly dining room manager who was in her 60s. None of us were spared his attentions. One day, he followed me into the linen closet, which unfortunately was in the men’s locker room. Thinking the locker room was empty, I had gone in there to get tablecloths and napkins. He cornered me, and tried to paw at my breasts and kiss me. It was absolutely appalling, and yes, I said “No”.

And… I have also been fat shamed by men. It started with comments from my father, who would tell me that no man would find me attractive (he also didn’t like my outspoken personality and vulgar language). He would touch me and tell me I had “fat” I needed to lose. Sometimes, he called me names, like “hog”, or referred to me as “retarded”. As I got older, some men would body shame me. It happened a lot in Armenia. I would get stopped by strangers on the street trying to sell me Herbalife, or they would flat out tell me I was “fat”. But it also happened in the United States, or on vacations. Regular readers of my blog might remember when I wrote about the man on SeaDream I who was surprised by my pretty singing voice and said to Bill, “Now I can see why you’d love her.” He made similarly disgusting comments about women, revealing the attitude that he felt like it was a woman’s duty to be beautiful and available to him. And if she wasn’t those things, he could call her a “fat cow” (he literally referred to his late wife in this way– she had just died of breast cancer).

Some men, especially in the military community, are very offended by smart, opinionated women, especially if they’re considered “fat” or not pretty enough. I’ve gotten tons of shit over the name of this blog by men in the military community, as well as some rather clueless women. One time, a military man commented on a blog post I wrote that was shared on Facebook. He wrote, “Ugh. I hope she at least has children.” WTF, guy? I responded that I didn’t have children, and I would be very happy to tell him why I didn’t, if he really wanted to know the gory details.

Frankly, I think it’s probably a burden to be really attractive to men. I remember another incident, back when I was in my late 20s and thinner and prettier than I am now. I was at a bar, and one of my co-workers, who was slim and pretty, was dancing to music. We were friends, but hadn’t come to the bar together. A guy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him, and he asked me if my co-worker was with anyone. Obviously, he’d spotted her and wanted to meet her, presumably because she was very attractive. But instead of asking her, he approached me, the less threatening “fat friend”. I think I told him that we hadn’t come together and if he wanted to talk to her, he should man up and talk to her. I’m not her “fat friend”, there to help some guy score.

Lori Alexander, who thinks that women need to stay home and pump out babies for their husbands, also fat shames women. She says that it’s a woman’s duty to be pleasing to her man. And if her man thinks she’s too fat, she needs to do something about it. And she needs to let him have sex with her, no matter what… even if it happens while she’s trying to sleep or isn’t feeling well. In that sense, I guess she’s in agreement with famously pro-life mom, Michelle Duggar, who told her daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” to her new husband, Derick. The year after the public heard about this advice, the news came out that Jill was one of four of the Duggar daughters who were molested by their eldest brother, Josh. We all know where Josh is right now. Mr. “Pro-Life” father of seven is currently sitting in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for receiving and possessing images of child sexual abuse… and some of the female children being abused were in diapers!

Josh wanted to save developing fetuses, but he didn’t mind looking at those same, precious babies being abused for his own sexual gratification.

So yeah… I think guys who would like to deny women the right to bodily autonomy are, by and large, not interested in protecting babies. A lot of those guys wouldn’t bother to stick around if a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, and they certainly don’t want more of their paychecks going to providing social welfare safety nets. These guys– Josh Duggar especially– use women for their own gratification and then condemn them as “sluts”. They are repulsed by women they see as sloppy and out of control, whether the lack of control is regarding food or sex. And so, if you pay close attention, you see that a lot of fat shamers and pro-life males respond to women in very similar ways. They have a LOT in common!

I think, deep down, most of these pro-life, hyper-religious, fat shaming guys are obsessed with sex, and controlling women. They hate that a woman has the power to do something they can’t do, and a lot of them are offended when a woman has the nerve to have a vagina, but doesn’t do enough to be attractive. Or, worse, she’s attractive, but denies him access to her vagina. Or she gives him access, but then doesn’t want to accept the grand gift of his sperm, which created a developing fetus. Remember… the vast majority of us owe our lives to a woman and her vagina.

I’ll leave you with one last anecdote. A couple of days ago, I read a Facebook post about the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, which was released when I was 15 years old. A lot of people forget that the reason why “Baby” has to learn to “dirty dance” is because Johnny Castle’s partner got “knocked up” by Robby, the asshole waiter. She had an illegal abortion, which made her very sick. The poster pointed out that the film was a reminder of what could be at stake if women in the United States lose access to abortion. One commented wrote this:

What is the script was flipped? What if Robby was a loving caring father that wanted the baby, but Penny knew that if she had the baby, her life would change, and she didn’t want that? Robby would have no legal say in it, and would be forced to see his child killed. Not all guys are douchebags. And not all women are angels. If a person, male or female, doesn’t think they can handle being a parent, then don’t take the risk of it happening.

Naturally, I had to respond. I didn’t even address the fact that this dude used the term “douchebag”, which is, in and of itself, a very offensive and sexist pejorative. Who uses douchebags? It’s not men who use them; it’s women. And, in fact, we aren’t repelled by “douchebags” so much as what comes from using them– the residual nasty smelling stuff from a woman’s private area. It’s the “waste” that is repellant. Personally, I consider the term “douchebag” to be akin to calling a woman a “cunt”, but since that was the term the guy used, I went with it in my response to this hypothetical “loving, caring father” who would be “crushed” that his child would be killed by heartless Penny.

If you don’t understand that it wouldn’t be Robby’s health or life on the line, and you think another person should be compelled to stay pregnant for someone else’s sake, then yes, you ARE a “douchebag” (not that I would use that term). Guys who want to be fathers should find women who want to have babies with them.

It’s as simple as that, folks.

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controversies, ethics, healthcare, law, sex, sexism, slut shamers

The vast majority of “pro-life males” make me want to hurl!

Ah abortion… yet another topic I am tired of thinking and writing about these days. And yet, it’s a topic I can’t escape, because so many people are posting and talking about the abortion issue, since the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe v Wade. There have been so many articles written about this subject. If one pays attention to the Internet, as I do on a daily basis, it’s impossible to ignore the headlines. I suppose I could practice some self-control and not read some of this stuff, in the interest of controlling my blood pressure. But anyone who reads my blog, knows that self-control isn’t always one of my fortes.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, is that when I read the comment sections on anything having to do with abortion, I inevitably run into the stereotypical “pro-life male” commenter. That’s a man who feels compelled to self-righteously “mansplain” to women why they think women should be forced to maintain an unintended pregnancy. They usually use loaded words and phrases like “murder”, “sanctity of life”, and “kill”, and they whine about hypothetical taxpayer funded abortions, which is NOT a thing. The Hyde Amendment of 1976– that’s 46 years ago, folks– makes public funding of abortions against federal law. But I still see comments from dumbassed “pro-life males” about how they don’t want to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.

“Pro-life males” usually take on an air of disgust, as they sanctimoniously preach about “protecting the most vulnerable”, shaming anyone who dares to question whether or not a gestating human has the right to privacy, autonomy, or self-determination. They loftily opine about how “irresponsible” and “cruel” pro-choice people are. How can a “decent” person not want to “protect the most vulnerable”? “A developing fetus can’t defend itself”, they reason; therefore, it’s up to these high and mighty males to be the white knight for these unknown beings!

I would like to know, where are these guys when those babies are born? I never see these “white knights” talking about continuing their valiant fights, “protecting the most vulnerable and innocent” by offering to pay for their care or, supporting their mothers, or even babysitting them! I’d like to ask some of them how many special needs children they’ve adopted. Hell, I’d like to ask them how many dirty diapers they’ve changed… and how many times they’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to breastfeed a crying infant. I’d like to ask them if they’ve experienced any permanent changes to their bodies and bank accounts after a baby has been born. I think we all know the answer to those questions, don’t we?

I often get queasy when I stumble across “pro-life males'” holier-than-thou screeds, which NEVER address anything more than “protecting” a developing embryo’s or fetus’s “right to life”. They never want to talk about anything other than that barest of minimums of “protecting babies”… maintaining the precious embryonic heartbeat. They don’t address whether or not the pregnant person should be granted some assistance of any kind. To read their words or hear them speak, it’s always the woman’s fault for being “slutty” and “getting herself pregnant”. I can’t remember ever reading any comments from these guys concerning providing women and children access to affordable and high quality healthcare, housing, food and medicine, child care, or education. I never see them mentioning anything about the responsibility society has toward the so-called “vulnerable and innocent” babies whose mothers were forced to give birth to them. Usually, these guys just want to lament about the “irresponsible” women and how much people who need welfare disgust them for being “lazy”.

From what I’ve seen, most “pro-life” guys just smugly want to focus on maintaining, at all costs, the heartbeat of the developing embryo, the pregnant woman’s circumstances be damned! And then, when that embryo eventually turns into, hopefully, a healthy baby, they no longer give a shit about the baby’s welfare. They never cared about the woman’s welfare, so now there are two people who are left to figure out how to get through life with so much stacked against them.

Pro-life males never seem interested in contributing money to make sure the developing fetuses are getting the best chance at starting off life on the right path. They have nothing to say about how “cruel” it is for a developing embryo or fetus to be growing inside a pregnant woman who can’t or won’t take care of her health. I never see them concerned about pregnant women’s access to competent medical care, making sure that those developing fetuses don’t suffer because their mothers aren’t healthy. In fact, most of these guys seem to lack any charitable thoughts whatsoever toward anyone but the voiceless potential babies being carried by perfect strangers. They only have negative words for them. And they usually get decidedly pissy when women tell them they shouldn’t get a say about forcing someone else to be pregnant.

God forbid anyone encourage them to do their parts in preventing unplanned pregnancies, either. They bristle at being advised to use condoms, get vasectomies, or– perish the thought— simply keeping their dicks in their pants! To hear them speak, or read their comments, one comes away with the idea that preventing pregnancy is solely up to the females. They are almost always solely focused on the so-called “trampy females” who lack self-control and have extramarital sex for “fun”. Never mind that it’s usually the men who are demanding sex or, in some sad cases, forcing women to engage in it. Never mind that sometimes, women seek abortions for reasons that are very personal or even tragic. Their narrative is that women who consider abortions are always irresponsible, selfish, and out of control.

Below are a few examples of the so-called “pro-life male”. Notice the underlying hostility, misogyny, and disgust… Poor guys. You’d think that a woman’s right to choose is a personal affront to them! “Josh” had several comments on this subject. It really seems to cause him serious butthurt that women still have the option to choose… at least for now.

Having a penis doesn’t mean you don’t get to voice your opinion. Must have missed that in the constitution, the right to murder the most vulnerable.

Abortion is the killing of another person for convenience.

A woman pointed out to “Josh” that murder is not the right term for abortion. “Josh” then proceeds to whine some more.

Anyone who wants to kill babies and let “facilities” profit from selling their organs is sick. You’d think a bunch of veterans (who were lucky enough to not be aborted) would stick up for the ones who cannot defend themselves. Men need to have a say in it, to protect the babies, especially the ones responsible for the baby.

I don’t need a uterus to be a woman these days. That being said, abortion is murder.

I could probably spend all day finding more puke-inducing shaming comments like these, almost unilaterally from males who refuse to understand why a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is none of their goddamned business. So often, I’m tempted to respond to these guys, but I know it’s a lost cause. Because they just don’t want to get it. They can’t see how having children permanently changes a woman’s life.

Yes, there are MANY women who are delighted to become mothers. But becoming a mother comes with huge costs… and so few of these “pro-life males” seem to care about that. I never see them offering to support women who are pregnant and need help. They very rarely express compassion, empathy, or kindness. It’s all about how the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer”. And then, they seem to think she should be sent to rot in prison. Gee… that’s good for society, isn’t it? Taking a woman out of the workforce to waste her life sitting behind bars. Especially if the woman has other children who need her. Those other kids are better off in foster care, right? /sarcasm

I have never cheered for abortion. I certainly don’t think it’s the ideal solution. I would prefer that people who don’t want to be pregnant simply avoid getting pregnant. However, I also don’t think I have the right to dictate to someone else what they should or should not be doing with their bodies. Of course I would prefer that unintended pregnancies due to “irresponsible behavior” didn’t happen. I would also prefer that women were never raped, have severe health issues, abandoned by the men who impregnated them, or experienced any of the other negative situations that would lead them to consider abortion.

I determined long ago that the circumstances surrounding how and why someone gets pregnant, and why they might want to terminate a pregnancy, is none of my business. Abortion is healthcare, and it should be private. I don’t need to know why “Josh” in the above comment might need to have his prostate removed someday, even if it means he can no longer pleasure the hypothetical woman (or man) in his life. What’s important is that he might need to have his prostate removed for health reasons that are not my business. The same thing goes for an already born woman who decides that she needs to have an abortion. It’s her health on the line. Her health and well-being should always come before that of a potential human’s taking up residence in her womb. After all, if she’s not healthy, neither will be the developing fetus.

I know that I have no right to tell someone abortion is only okay under certain circumstances. It’s true that developing fetuses have nothing to do with the circumstances of how or why they exist. They are “innocent”. But if abortion is truly “murder”, then how can there ever be a situation in which murder is “okay”? I would say abortion is less murder than “self-defense”. The woman is defending herself against negative outcomes of being pregnant, which can include everything from financial difficulties, to poorer health, to being forced to maintain a relationship with an abuser, to death itself. I never see these insufferable “pro-life males”, who lecture everyone about the “sanctity of life”, offering any solutions for the women who find themselves in difficult or impossible situations caused by pregnancy. Instead, they want to dehumanize the women by labeling them, criticizing their choices, and refusing to offer any help to them whatsoever. They can’t even spare a kind word of encouragement or understanding. It’s just non-stop slut shaming and willful ignorance about the conditions would drive someone to terminate a pregnancy.

I don’t think most of the “pro-life males” give a rat’s patootie about “saving babies”. The vast majority of them, from what I can tell, vote Republican. Besides forcing women to birth, they are also for gun rights and cutting welfare benefits. They don’t agree with healthcare for everyone. They don’t want to pay higher taxes so that vulnerable people can get a better quality of life. I never hear these guys talk about helping babies and children with special needs, who may or may not grow up to be adults with special needs. There’s nary a peep about making sure that the babies, born to the women who aren’t prepared to be mothers, are loved and cared for, so that they can get the best start in their lives. Nope. It’s all about blaming the woman– the woman, who CAN’T get pregnant without the man’s input, and will have to deal with just about everything that comes with making babies.

“Pro-life males” don’t seem to consider that their part of literal babymaking only lasts for a couple of minutes. Instead, they whine about having to pay child support or not getting a say as to whether or not a pregnancy continues. Or they equate paying a couple hundred bucks a month in child support to a 50/50 contribution. I wonder if those guys would take a job gestating a baby, especially since at this writing, the other parent isn’t legally compelled to offer any support to the pregnant woman. I wonder if, after the baby is born, those “pro-life males” would take a couple hundred bucks a month to raise the baby… if raising a child was just about dollars and cents, that is. My guess is that most of them would not be happy with that pay scale, especially since it also potentially means fewer job opportunities and promotions.

How is it that in 2022, we still have so many clueless, sexist, mansplaining, slut shaming, men in the world who have no concept of why so many women see abortion as a human right? Why do so many men not realize that there’s a huge price to be paid for making women gestate babies they don’t want? How come so many of them forget that every woman was once a developing fetus– something that they claim they want to “protect” at all costs? Why don’t they care more about people who have already been born and are struggling? Why are they so focused on everyone but the person doing the actual work?

I have never met anyone who is “pro-abortion”. Almost every case I’ve heard of involving abortion has been about someone making a very difficult decision. It’s a decision that doesn’t require mean comments from guys like “Josh”, who will NEVER be in that situation himself. What Josh and his ilk should do, is take a moment to muster some empathy. Any man who labels women as “murderers” for looking out for themselves– just as most men do– should never request sexual gratification from a woman. I hope Josh is a virgin. I hope he STAYS a virgin. Clearly, he’s not mature enough to handle the realities of what can happen when people have sex.

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sex, sexism, slut shamers

For the love of God, stop with the slut shaming!

Ugh… but kudos to this lady for coming up with a fine response.

A couple of days ago, the above post showed up in the Duggar Family News group on Facebook. I always groan when I see these kinds of posts about purity, even though I never heard those kinds of messages myself when I was growing up. I was fortunate enough to have parents who didn’t raise me in a very strict religion. As it turned out, I abstained anyway. I didn’t have sex for the first time until two weeks after my wedding. My reasons for abstaining, though, had very little to do with religion or wanting to please my future husband by being fresh and pure. In my case, it mostly came down to practicality.

I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog that I’m not particularly likable. A lot of the men who do like me, seem to like me for reasons that don’t have to do with sex. I have had male friends tell me they like me for my frank sense of humor. A couple of guys have told me they think I’m witty or smart. Only a few have said they think I’m pretty. Consequently, I didn’t date much at all. The one guy I did date in high school was just as nervous about sex as I was, and in fact, later confessed to me that he was more into guys.

For most of my 20s, I focused on working and going to school. I didn’t have a love life. Maybe I could have had one, had I made an effort, but I just never seemed to be attracted to the guys who found me attractive, and vice versa. Then, when I was 27 years old, I met Bill in a chat room. By the time we met in person, he already liked my personality… What can I say? Every old sock has an old shoe out there somewhere, right?

At the time Bill and I were dating, he was still a Latter-day Saint. Premarital sex is a “no no” for Mormons. Although I had zero intention of ever being LDS, and Bill was falling away from the faith, Bill decided he preferred to wait until after our wedding to consummate the marriage. I was fine with it, since I had already waited so long, anyway. And then, on our wedding day, I started my period, so we decided to wait until that was over before having sex for the first time. I was 30 years old.

The last thing anyone could ever call me is a “slut”… although Ex supposedly told her kids that Bill and I had an affair (and we didn’t– she was projecting). The couple of times anyone has ever insinuated that I’m slutty, I’ve been very offended by it. First off, it’s factually inaccurate. And secondly, it’s just not cool to shame people for having sex. Sex is a part of life. Sex is the conduit to life.

That being said… my personal belief is that people should have less unprotected sex, especially with people with whom they don’t wish to make a baby. But that’s just my personal view. I don’t think it should be a law. I don’t think young girls should be taught object lessons involving flowers, chewing gum, or licked cupcakes. Sex isn’t dirty, and having sex shouldn’t cause someone to feel damaged or soiled. The reason I feel the way I do is not because I think that people who have sex are weak or “slutty”. It’s because I think that sex can really complicate life in a lot of ways. Also, I do worry that abortion may soon be outlawed in the United States. And because of that, sex could become even riskier than it is now.

I don’t think most people actually use abortion as birth control, especially given how difficult abortion is to access in many areas. Even if they did, that would be their business, as far as I’m concerned. However, as I tried to explain to a militantly pro-life man yesterday, sometimes pregnancy is dangerous. Some women get very sick when they’re pregnant, and they might not know they’re going to get sick until their first time. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of suicide and homicide. Moreover, quite frankly, sex is powerful. I think that women should wield that power wisely. If fewer women were willing to have sex with men, maybe men might not feel so free in trying to dictate to women that they must stay pregnant when they don’t want to be. Frankly, I think most of the extremely pro-life men I’ve seen posting online should be denied sex. Quite a few of them have very misogynistic views.

This about sums it up.

The most obnoxious pro-life guy I ran into this week is a Facebook friend of a man I knew in college. I don’t know anything about this dude, but my college friend posted the familiar meme summing up why he supports abortion rights. I’m sure you’ve seen it, too. And the pro-life guy, name of Russ, took issue with it and has been airing his pro-life views ever since.

This is pretty good.

Russ has been stubbornly posting very condescending and offensive comments to the women who have challenged his views. I’ve commented to him twice, after noticing that he has some very scary Handmaid’s Tale leanings and seems to think that women who engage in “slutty behavior” that results in pregnancy should be forced to “lie in the bed they made”. Sigh… pregnancy should never be punishment, especially since we can’t and don’t ensure that pregnant women get proper prenatal care. Babies should be wanted, cared for, and loved. Forcing women to give birth because you think they should “sleep in the bed they made” is just stupid, and it could lead to some tragic outcomes that will affect those precious babies the pro-lifers claim to care so much about.

For all of Russ’s “white knight” bullshit commentary about how men should be forced to do the honorable thing and “stick with” the women they impregnate (hello, Josh Duggar), and how rapists should have their balls cut off (hello, guys who get falsely accused of rape and are later vindicated– it HAS happened), he doesn’t consider the scenarios in which abortion really is the best course of action. After I post this fresh article, I will repost my blog entries about two stories involving false accusations of rape, since the news articles about them are behind paywalls. Under Russ’s plan, those men who were falsely accused of rape should have been castrated.

Russ did tell us the story about how he used to be indifferent about abortion, but changed his mind when his daughter was born premature. Seeing her struggle to live gave him an epiphany. Suddenly, because of his daughter’s story– a girl who was presumably born to parents who really wanted her and were prepared to raise her– he thinks all other women should be made to give birth. And if you offer logical comments to him, he comes back with rudeness, condescension, and a complete lack of empathy. He slut shames. So I left the below comment for him.

Of course it did little good to write this, but I couldn’t help myself.

Russ says he thinks sex strikes are good ideas. On that, I would agree. I think women should be much less willing to give men access to their bodies. But I don’t feel that way because I think having sex is dirty or slutty or immoral. I feel that way because I know men are driven to have sex, and it would be painful for them not to have access to women who are willing to satisfy their urges. A lot of men are entirely too free with their opinions regarding what women should be doing with their bodies. So personally, I think that more women should stop letting them have what they seek so easily.

I’m also glad I didn’t have sex before marriage. I have never been in a situation in which I had to consider having an abortion, and I am getting really close to menopause. Since I’ve never had sex with anyone but Bill, and Bill rendered himself sterile for his ex wife, that means I’ve never been pregnant, either. However, I wouldn’t change what I did, even though I always wanted to have children.

Not having sex before marriage was very practical for me, and it spared me a lot of pain and angst. But… that’s just me. I wouldn’t want to make a law about it, nor do I think people should be shamed for being sexual. It’s part of life. And everybody is on a different path.

I know not everyone feels the way I do. Not everyone feels the way Russ feels… thank GOD. Although I’m sure he loves his daughter very much, I think his attitude about women is very scary. He seems to think that those of us who experience pregnancy, childbirth, and everything that goes with that, need his “help” in determining what is right or wrong for us. Russ is wrong.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this issue is really so much about outlawing abortion as it is about controlling women and suppressing votes so the backassward Republican Party can stay in power. Because if women wind up in trouble with the law for having an abortion or miscarriage, that will mean a lot more felons in our midst… and as we all know, felons aren’t allowed to vote. Think about it. And please, for the love of God, stop slut shaming. It’s so damaging, and just plain wrong.

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Duggars, family, history, lessons learned

Embracing my “unpopularity”… and a Duggar named “True”…

Hello to everyone. I am now back in Germany, ready to plunge back into my pseudo occupation of writing. Bill and I got home from our vacation yesterday afternoon. We were confronted by piles of dirty laundry in our luggage and high grass in the backyard. It must have rained a lot while we were out of town. I had to turn on the lawn mowing robot three times and use the weed whacker to get the backyard back to a reasonable state. I still need to let the mower run again, but it’s raining today. It’s kind of satisfying to see the grass cut. I wish all chores were like that.

After I write this post, I will move to my travel blog and write about our latest travel adventures in Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. My travel blog used to be somewhat popular, but it’s not so much anymore. After this latest trip, I realize that maybe not being popular is a good thing. There was a time when I cared more about getting people to read my stuff. Now, I think it might be better that I stay anonymous. It’s easier to be honest when I’m less “popular”.

This morning, I was looking at my Facebook memories. I found a post from 2014 that I wrote one night when I was feeling despondent and alone. We were living in Texas at the time, and Bill was visiting his dad in Tennessee. I had stayed home from that trip for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I stayed in Texas because we lived in a rental with a pool, and a pipe had busted. I had to be there to turn the water off when the automatic pool system came on. At the time, Texas was in the middle of a terrible drought, so we couldn’t waste the water. As far as I know, Texas is still in a drought situation today. But there were other reasons why I stayed home.

Bill was also about to retire from the military, and we had to save money. Going to Tennessee with Bill meant more expenses for us at a time when we weren’t sure about his future employment prospects. As it turned out, he got a job offer a month later… on my birthday, no less. Within a couple of months, we’d moved to Germany, where I came face to face with the military community. Ironically, when we lived in Stuttgart, I had more exposure to the military than I ever did as an actual “Army wife”. That includes the time we lived in Army housing on Fort Belvoir. But at the time Bill visited his dad, we didn’t know what the future would hold. It was a pretty scary time, actually.

The final reason I didn’t go is because I know my husband’s stepmother doesn’t like me. I don’t think we trust each other, either. Not that I blame her for not liking me. A lot of people don’t. But I don’t like to be in places where I’m not welcome, and I don’t like to interact with people who are simply tolerating me and my admittedly unconventional personality. I’d rather be at home. So I stayed home, and Bill visited his dad in May 2014. It turned out that was their last visit, as Bill’s dad passed away in November 2020. Thanks to COVID-19, Bill wasn’t able to go to his funeral.

In any case, in May 2014, I was obviously feeling kind of sad. I became one of those attention seeking “insufferable posters” I wrote about the other day, and posted this… which was probably a plea for attention from my own family of origin. I suspect I was drinking wine that night.

I think a lot of my family members disapprove of me… because I am a little on the odd side. But just so everyone knows, I will be weird until I croak. So if you hope I will change because you shun me, rest assured I don’t give much more than half a fuck. I’m weird and profane and will be that way until I kick the bucket… which honestly, I hope happens sooner rather than later. With friends and family like that, who needs enemies?

I still kind of feel like this, although I’ve kind of come to terms with it. After eight years in Germany, I kind of miss Virginia and some of my family members. But, in reality, I’m surprised by how much I don’t miss them. I feel like I’m completely out of touch with most of them. Living abroad can really change one’s perspectives. I used to be proud to be southern. I used to identify as a Republican. I was never a pro-lifer, but I had more sympathy for that view. But now, most of my opinions have changed, and I don’t think it’s wrong that they’ve changed. I have a hard time being around some of the more militant Trump supporters in my family, especially the ones who also claim to be Christians… which includes most of them.

The older I get, the more I find that I am who I am, and I’m not going to change into what other people want me to be. If that means people think I’m “insufferable”, and that makes me “unpopular”, so be it. With all of this talk about pro-life vs. pro-choice, one would think we’d have more regard for people’s differences. So many people seem to think that every potential life should be given a chance. But it seems that a lot of people really don’t… they want conformity and “niceness”, even if the niceness isn’t genuine. When you don’t conform to norms, sometimes you will experience pain in the form of rejection. I’ve been rejected by a lot of people… and for a long time, it made me pretty sad. It was saddest to me when my own family rejected me. In fact, one of the main reasons why I am so pro-choice is because I was repeatedly told that I was a “mistake” when I was a child. It would have been less hurtful to me if my mom had just aborted me, though that wasn’t legal at the time.

Of course, my mom doesn’t say stuff like that to me anymore, and my father is dead. I know my mom is glad I’m here now, since I don’t demand anything of her anymore. I also turned out reasonably okay. I just have a personality that people tend to love or hate. But I really think growing up unwanted had a big effect on my personality. It’s made me stubborn and contrary, and maybe some people think I’m an asshole for any number of reasons. Whatever… I’m going to be 50 soon, so I don’t think I’m going to change. It’s probably best to just lay low and enjoy being unpopular… It’s been my experience that the least popular people tend to be the most interesting. They don’t go with the flow. They don’t follow the crowd. They don’t go along to get along. 😉 What could be more interesting than that?

Moving on…

I noticed yesterday that I had a bunch of hits on a post I wrote last fall, when Jed and Katey Duggar shared their pregnancy announcement… apparently five minutes after they conceived. It turns out they were looking at that post because Jed and Katey’s son, Truett Oliver Duggar, was born on Monday, May 2. I heard that Katey had to be induced, so she gave birth in a hospital. May 2 was also Katey’s due date.

The bouncing baby boy was named Truett (which according to them, means “warrior for Christ”) and Oliver (which they said means “peace”)– and his initials are TOD, which someone in the Duggar Family News Facebook group noticed that those are the same initials for “time of death”. Some people were commenting that the baby’s name was the same as Chick Fil-A’s founder’s name. My only comment is that the names seem to be in conflict… and I’m also wondering if perhaps Jed and Katey aren’t promoting “fractured facts” in their explanation of what the names Truett and Oliver mean.

But anyway… the boy is here and he has a name, and he looks healthy and strong. Good for them! Obviously, he is very much wanted and loved. I like the name Truett, or even True, more than “Spurgeon”, anyway.

Katie Joy’s commentary on the new arrival.

What’s really creepy is that Jedidiah Duggar’s voice sounds so much like big brother Josh’s… and Josh, as we all know, is currently sitting in jail, awaiting his prison sentence for possessing and receiving child pornography. But at least Jed didn’t nap while his wife was in labor, and she didn’t give birth to him on a toilet. These are things that happened on Josh’s watch as his wife, Anna, was giving birth. And, as far as I know, Jed hasn’t been engaging in any illegal activities, although I am not at all in agreement with his political or religious views. Still, the world would be a dull place if we all agreed on everything. So congratulations to this particular branch of the Duggar family. I hope they enjoy this special time.

Well… now it’s time to get going on my travel blog. I hope someone will enjoy my efforts, but even if they don’t, that blog series will serve as a reminder of some of the great stuff Bill and I have managed to do, in spite of my “unpopularity” among the masses…

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