It may come as a surprise to a lot of people who take the time to read my blog posts, but in the wake of the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade, I find myself strangely numb. I’ve been writing about my thoughts and opinions about the importance of abortion rights for ages, and some of my posts on the subject have been pretty impassioned. I don’t have much to add to my opinions on abortion at this point. All I can do now is offer some observations.
Even though I’ve been on vacation, and we’re headed home today, I have been paying attention to comments made on overturning Roe v. Wade. I think many of the pro-life crowd are shortsighted, at best. Many of them are appallingly ill informed about women’s reproductive systems. Too many people are fixated on the financial aspects of child raising. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of people commenting about how much fairer it will be when women aren’t allowed to choose abortion. One woman poster wrote about how “unfair” it is that a woman can either choose to continue a pregnancy and force men to pay child support, or have an abortion, and deny the man a chance to be a father. Once again, all I can do is shake my head at the idiocy… Does this woman really think that pregnancy is a 50/50 deal?
And I’ve seen a lot of comments from men about “beautiful babies” being slaughtered by irresponsible women who “let themselves get pregnant”. As if they had NOTHING to do with her condition, whatsoever! And so many of them seem to think that women, alone, should be dealing with contraception. I don’t know about other women, but it’s been my observation that more often than not, men are the ones who want to have sex. Many women enjoy sex, but some of them merely tolerate it. And some people, myself included, would be fine with never having sex again.
It would really serve some of these “rights denying” men right if women decided to have a sex strike. I mean, those of us who don’t care about having sex that much. Why not just stop obliging the men? They are so concerned about the sanctity of life, the fairness of child support, the plight of developing fetuses, no matter the condition of the already born mother whose body has been taken up residence in… Why not do the responsible thing and just stop having sex with them? It would serve some of these assholes right, in my opinion.
But it will probably never happen…
I am so grateful that the women before me fought for my right to choose. I have never been pregnant myself, and I doubt I would have chosen to have an abortion if I had gotten pregnant. However, I can’t say that for sure. I’m glad that women before me were brave enough to push for my right to have an abortion if it suited me. And now that it looks like Roe v. Wade could soon be history… I will do what I can for the women coming after my generation. At the same time, I am very relieved that I never had children of my own, even though I always wanted them. The world is becoming too fucked up to believe. And I am glad that I will be 50 in a few weeks, which means that I won’t be caught in the crossfire of this horrendous decision that will likely be made by our Supreme Court this summer.
I keep seeing comments, mostly from men, about the “brutality” of abortion. Funny how they have so little to say when I bring up how very unprepared for pregnancy and motherhood a 12 or 13 year old girl is, after she’s been raped or molested. Funny how they are silent when I tell them I’m a lot more concerned about the already born six year olds whose bodies are torn apart by bullets as they sit in classrooms and churches. Yes, abortion is brutal, but at least developing embryos never know what hit them. They aren’t spending their last seconds of life in terror as some gun toting nut blows them away when all they’re trying to do is learn the alphabet.
Now… with that being said, I guess it’s time to pack up and head back to Germany. We’ve had a great vacation, and I’m ready to write about it… and maybe that will give someone a distraction from the scary news that generates daily. I know a lot of ignorant people think that banning abortion is a great thing. But this decision will cause a lot of people to die. Women will get abortions if they want or need them. All banning abortion does is make the procedure less safe and, maybe, fill up our prison system even more.
But arguing about it, crying over it, or worrying seems to be pointless, now. There’s nothing much more I can do, other than continue to write my opinions… and my opinions seem to match those of most of the American population… the ones who aren’t hamstrung by backwards religious beliefs and power-hungry and racist political ideals that are more about control and money grabbing than anything else.
And here’s another repost, this time of a review I wrote for Epinions.com on August 10, 2004. I will be posting it as/is, so please keep that in mind when I refer to time. I originally titled this review, “Warning: advertising can be hazardous to your health, and your wallet.
When I was in the Peace Corps, serving in the Republic of Armenia, a fellow volunteer introduced me to Jean Kilbourne by showing her 1979 movie, Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women. Kilbourne had filmed one of her lectures about how ads seductively affect the public in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Later, when I went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina, I had the opportunity to hear Jean Kilbourne speak in person. I went to her lecture and watched and listened as she showed slides of advertisements, pointing out the fascinating and horrifying subliminal messages that are presented in cigarette and booze ads. I found her to be a dynamic and intelligent speaker. I was impressed. While I was at the lecture, I had the chance to buy her 1999 book, Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, but unfortunately I was economically challenged and the book was hardcover. Then the following year, a social work professor showed another one of her films. That settled it; I had to read her book. I purchased it and couldn’t put it down, even though some of the material presented within the book was stuff that I’d either seen in her movies or heard at her lecture. Kilbourne’s message is very important; luckily, it’s also fascinating.
According to her book, Jean Kilbourne holds a doctoral degree and has produced several award winning documentaries, and she’s been a visiting scholar at Wellesley College. She’s also served on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and she’s been an advisor to two surgeons general. Her academic pedigree is impeccable; but she’s not just brilliant and remarkably astute, she’s also very funny. The passion she brings to her work has served to alert scores of people to the dangers of advertising and the media.
Jean Kilbourne starts off her book with the following anecdote:
In 1968 I saw an ad that changed my life. One of the many mindless jobs I had that year was placing ads in The Lancet, a medical journal. This particular one was for a birth control pill called Ovulen 21. It featured a smiling woman’s head and the caption “Ovulen 21 works the way a woman thinks– by weekdays… not ‘cycle days’.” Inside the head were seven boxes, each one day of the week. And inside each box was a picture of that day’s activity: Sunday had a roast, Monday a laundry basket, Tuesday an iron, and so forth. I realized that the ad was basically saying that women were too stupid to remember their cycles but could remember days of the week. And the days of their weeks were an endless rotation of domestic chores. (pp. 17-18)
Kilbourne put the ad up on her refrigerator and soon found herself noticing other ads that insulted and demeaned women. She kept putting the ads on her refrigerator and realized that while some of the messages in the ads were degrading to women, others were violent. She started to recognize patterns in the messages and the images within the advertisements and saw that in many of the ads, only parts of women were shown– in other words, just breasts, noses, or legs, were pictured instead of the whole woman. She noticed that “women were often infantilized and that little girls were sexualized” (18). This was how Jean Kilbourne got started as she began her pursuit of her life’s vocation, by looking at magazine ads in the late 1960s.
Kilbourne realized that everything she had done, from work to finding mates, was influenced by her appearance, although her book makes it plain that she’s very intelligent, too. Although Kilbourne had won a hometown beauty contest as a teenager, and learned how to drink and smoke from a friend, she also went to Wellesley College on a full scholarship after earning a perfect score on the verbal SAT. At Wellesley, Kilbourne earned an award that allowed her to spend a year living in London, working for the British Broadcasting Corporation. While in England, she worked as a secretary, smoked, drank, and modeled; she even dated Ringo Starr and a knight, and partied at Roman Polanski’s apartment. When she came back from Europe, Kilbourne found herself unable to find meaningful employment. It was during this period that Kilbourne really seemed to find herself in trouble with alcohol, although a doctor had told her “Don’t worry, honey, you’re not the type to be an alcoholic.” (22). She was told that she should be a model and she did work as one, until a designer told her that in order to be really successful, she would have to have sex with him. Al Capp also hired her to be a ghostwriter, but he too wanted sex in exchange for a job. With everything that happened to Kilbourne when she was coming of age, I find it no wonder that she became so focused on the women’s movement.
Jean Kilbourne makes the statement “If you’re like most people, you think that advertising has no influence on you” (33). How many of us have watched a commercial on television or looked at a print ad and felt we that we had thought nothing of it? Kilbourne points out that advertisers want the public to believe that they aren’t being affected, but they must be. Otherwise, she asks, why would advertisers spend in excess of $200 billion annually on advertising? Why would they spend half a million dollars to produce and air a commercial, or spend a couple of million dollars to air their ads during the Super Bowl or other high profile television shows? Kilbourne notes that during the 1999 Super Bowl, Victoria’s Secret aired commercials featuring scantily clad models and one million people logged onto their website, which was promoted on the television ad (33).
Kilbourne outlines why good television shows, the kinds that attract viewers of all ages, get canceled. It’s because advertisers want to attract people in the 18-49 age range; those are the people who have the most money to spend on their products. And television producers need to be able to pay their bills by commanding high advertising rates for shows that will interest people in the 18-49 age range. In fact, Kilbourne points out that most television networks have stopped aiming for the middle class and are instead trying to hook people between the ages of 18-34. It’s at that age range the advertisers theorize that they are most likely to influence people to establish brand loyalty.
Throughout Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, Jean Kilbourne has included pictures of print ads. Some of them are from advertising journals and those are the ones that are truly sinister. One picture, an ad for an entertainment group, depicts a young bald man facing away from the camera wearing earphones. The caption, which is spread over the image of the man’s head, reads “When you’ve got them by the ears, their hearts and minds will follow.” (36) Another one shows George W. Bush (after his re-election as the governor of Texas) and the caption “If you have high ambitions, hire us. He did.” (37) The caption on the ad continues, “If we can create advertising that persuades Hispanic Democrats to vote Republican, we can get them to buy your product” (38). Pretty heavy words, especially given where Bush went after his time as governor.
So why should women and girls be worried? Kilbourne points out that “commercialism has no borders” (59). Advertising is EVERYWHERE: on billboards and trucks, on television and radio, on the internet, and in magazines and newspapers. A person would have to be blind and deaf not to be somehow affected by advertising. And the messages they promote are not always positive. In Chapter 5, Kilbourne shows ads that are associated with food. She points out that
“while men are encouraged to fall in love with their cars, women are more often invited to have a romance, indeed an erotic experience, with something even closer to home… the food we eat… and the consequences become even more severe as we enter into the territory of compulsivity and addiction” (108).
Chapter 5 includes pictures of women who look as if they are on the verge of ecstasy as they are teased with food. Kilbourne has included the insidious captions of ads that imply that food equals love and women need to be comforted by food. Kilbourne explores the psychology behind tag lines like “I thank me very much for Andy’s Candies” (110) and “From you to you” (110). The commercials show women either consoling or rewarding themselves with food. But everybody knows that women are supposed to be thin. What does advertising tell us about women who don’t meet society’s expectations by being thin enough? We aren’t told that we should be happy. We’re told that we should eat the latest fat free or low carb food. We get the message that being heavier than the woman in the magazine is unacceptable and wrong and we should do something about it by joining a gym or going on a diet. Advertising is a medium that thrives on people who are either dissatisfied or unsatisfied with some aspect of themselves or their lives. But more than that, it actually encourages people to be unhappy so that they’ll buy the latest product.
But why does this theme of dissatisfaction especially apply to women and girls? Kilbourne further addresses this concept in Chapter 6. She explores how adolescents are particularly vulnerable to advertising and how advertisers are on the prowl to get them buying their products. How many 22 year olds do you know suddenly decide one day to pick up smoking? I would venture to guess that you don’t know many… but plenty of teens pick up the habit so that they can appear older or cooler than their friends. The same goes for alcohol and sex. But aside from the messages delivered from advertising, teenagers, especially girls, also must cope with other issues that may weaken their resolve when it comes to advertising. What happens to a lot of girls when they become adolescents? Their self esteem plummets and they are liable to be less secure about who they are. They might engage in behaviors that will threaten their health, like binge drinking, eating disorders, smoking, or having unprotected intercourse that results in a sexually transmitted infection or an unintended pregnancy. This chapter includes some startling photos of ads that may not have caused the average person to to think twice… until they encounter the points that Kilbourne brings up. For example, there’s one picture of a young woman with a turtleneck pulled up over her mouth (139). On first glance, the average person might think that the girl was just keeping warm on a cold day (she’s also wearing a winter cap). On second glance, the person may understand the underlying message– that women should be seen and not heard. It’s not just pictures that convey this message. Kilbourne also writes about a perfume ad with the slogan “Make a statement without saying a word” (138). Hmmmm…
Chapters 7 and 8 are about alcohol and cigarettes. Kilbourne’s message is that no matter what the tobacco industry wants the public to believe, it’s in the business of getting young people to smoke. After all, people often die from health problems related to smoking, or if they’re lucky, they quit before they die. Somehow, those people who die or quit must be replaced. As I pointed out before, it’s a lot easier to get a teenager to start smoking than it is to get an adult into the habit. This chapter is full of good information about how teens get and stay addicted. Joe Camel is featured prominently in this section. I remember in Kilbourne’s lecture, she pointed out the many penis references on Joe Camel. I had never noticed them until she showed them to us, and now they’re plain as day.
The rest of Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising addresses how advertising itself can inspire violence, addiction, and disconnection. The chapter on violence is particularly interesting and scary. Some of the pictures included are those of familiar ads that actually call women b-itches, and promote violence and sexism. It’s a real eye-opener that might make you angry, especially if you’re a woman.
So do I have any complaints about this book? Yes, I have a couple of minor ones. One is that if you have ever seen Jean Kilbourne speak or watched one of her films, you will already be familiar with some of the ads that are included in Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising. On the other hand, this is not necessarily a weakness, since having the ads in a book and reading her words will reinforce Kilbourne’s message and you can also revisit that information over and over again and perhaps enjoy a better understanding of it. The other is that sometimes I get the feeling that she overstates her case a little bit and makes ALL advertisers out to be villains. Yes, some of their messages are dangerous and demeaning, but I don’t believe that all advertising and the people that create it are inherently evil. Kilbourne highlights how advertising can be dangerous, but at times I feel that she also goes a little bit too far and lumps all advertisers together as bad. Sometimes ads can be helpful and even positive. And I think it’s important for me to point out that I don’t believe that Americans should be subjected to thought policing. Awareness about the hidden dangers of advertising is a good thing, but I also believe that people should be allowed to make up their own minds about what advertisers are saying to them. I fear that too much control will lead us to a slippery slope that could erode our freedoms as Americans.
Nevertheless, if you’re interested in women’s rights, the media, and psychology, I think it’s a sure bet that you will enjoy reading Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising. And I believe that Jean Kilbourne has truly created a masterpiece with this book. She has no doubt helped millions by opening their eyes to the potentially destructive influences of advertising and the media.
I want to end this review by sharing an experience that I had the other night while watching television. An ad came on for M&M Cookie Bars and a little boy was shown pocketing FOUR of the bars, then tearing up the box they came in. He ordered his labrador retriever to lie down and stay, covered the dog with the torn up box, then called out, “Mom, the dog ate all the M&M Cookie Bars again!” while the dog looked up innocently.
This ad bothered me because first, it sends the message that it’s not only okay, but also cute and funny to lie and steal. Apparently, this wasn’t the kid’s first time lying and stealing, either, since he said that the dog had eaten the bars AGAIN. Second, our nation is coping with a growing population of children who are obese and developing Type 2 (formerly known as Adult Onset) Diabetes, a disease that used to typically affect adults over the age of 40 and was almost unheard of in children. And third, this ad depicts a child pretending that his dog has eaten chocolate and it’s a cute thing. Chocolate is very toxic to dogs; it contains a chemical that can kill them if they ingest too much of it. Unfortunately, different dogs handle chocolate in different ways and some chocolates are more dangerous than others. But kids who watch this ad are probably not going to know this. The ad does have a warning about giving chocolate to dogs, but it’s tiny and doesn’t stay on the screen long enough for people to read it– plus some kids who see the ad will be too young to read.
There’s no doubt that Jean Kilbourne’s book, Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, has inspired me to look at advertising more closely and be a smarter consumer. I believe it can have the same positive effect on other people and I encourage others to read it and learn as much as I did. And if you have the chance to see Jean Kilbourne speak, I also encourage you to take the opportunity. Your eyes will open.
The paperback edition of this book is entitled Can’t Buy Me Love.
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Obviously, this post is going to be TMI for some readers. Proceed with caution.
A couple of days ago, The Atlantic ran an article about how menstrual periods are now “optional”. The article was entitled “No One Has to Get Their Period Anymore”, with the tag line, “Why Menstruate if You Don’t Have To?” As I sit here wondering where my period is, and hoping it doesn’t strike this weekend as I celebrate my birthday, I think back on the many days I’ve spent “on the rag”. Starting New Year’s Eve 1985 and continuing to this day, I’ve mostly been very regular. It’s only been within the past few years– 2017 or so– that my body has occasionally taken a month off. I’m pretty lucky, though, because my periods have always been mostly bearable. Yes, they’re messy, stinky, and kind of gross, but I’ve never been bedridden because of that time of the month. The most I’ve had to deal with is cravings, crankiness, and the occasional ruined pair of underwear.
Some of my friends have not been so lucky. I know women who have had to deal with excessive pain and lengthy menstrual periods. I know other women who are busy and don’t have time to deal with the monthly bill. Some of those women have decided that they would rather not menstruate. They visited their doctors and got help. From the article:
Today, any doctor will tell you there is no medical necessity for periods unless you’re trying to conceive. The body preps for pregnancy by thickening the uterus’s lining, like a bird building a nest for her eggs; hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy, in part, by keeping the uterine lining from ever building up. Many of the roughly 19 million Americans who rely on the pill, the shot, IUDs, implants, patches, or rings see a change in their period—often it’s lighter, but it can also disappear altogether. In clinical trials, more than 40 percent of the Liletta IUD’s users no longer menstruated by the end of the product’s six-year life. More than half of people who get the Depo-Provera shot every three months will become amenorrhoeic within a year, and almost 70 percent in the second year. And anyone using the pill, patch, or ring can safely skip scheduled withdrawal bleeding.
Sounds awesome! I have never used birth control myself. In fact, Bill has never even used a condom. He has never needed to. Again, my period isn’t really that onerous. I’m not a career person. It’s not a big deal for me to menstruate, although it can be inconvenient and annoying. But like I said– I do know women who have suffered a lot due to menstruation. And so, if they don’t want to menstruate, why should they? More importantly, why is it that some men feel the need to opine about such a personal decision?
In the comment section on The Atlantic’s Facebook page, I was surprised to see a lot of comments from men about this topic. One guy, who wrote that he has daughters and worries about their health, queried “How is this healthy?”
And my response was, “Men seriously need to STFU about periods.” I could tell by the reactions to my comment that a lot of women agree with me.
Fellas, I appreciate that you worry about the women in your life. I like that you want to know how her body works. But, unless you are a physician and it’s your job to deal with women and their periods, I think this is a subject on which you shouldn’t offer too much input. I, for one, am very grateful that my husband’s wonderful mom, Parker, taught Bill so well. When Aunt Flow comes knocking at our house, Bill comes home with red wine, steaks, and chocolate. And that’s all that needs to be done… except for a little cramp relief.
It’s been my experience that most men don’t want to know the gory details of the monthly menstrual period. They aren’t there to comfort their wives or daughters when they accidentally leak through their pants. They may not be too appreciative in the middle of the night, when their wife or daughter wakes up with a gush of bleeding that has pooled and leaked on the sheets. They don’t know the sorrow of a destroyed pair of favorite underwear. They don’t understand the special fatigue and icky feeling that comes from having periods… not just the actual bleeding, but also the bloating, sensitive breasts, sleeplessness, irritability, and odors that come from that time of the month. Some men love to joke about such things, but they don’t experience it, and they can’t fully appreciate the unpleasantness of it.
Now, in fairness to the guy who asked, “How is that ‘healthy’?”, I did see a few women also posting about how they felt it was better not to mess with Mother Nature. And frankly, I kind of agree with those women. I don’t have a need to mess with the natural process of things, so I don’t. But– just as I probably would never choose to have an abortion but support legal abortions for other women, I fully support the rights of other women to make the choice not to menstruate. That monthly ordeal is truly a pain for a lot of people. Unless a woman wants to get pregnant, there’s no need to deal with the mess.
Another thing the article points out is that sanitary products are potentially very expensive, plus they don’t do great things for the environment. Of course, if money is an issue regarding sanitary napkins or tampons or the other products available, then it would probably also be an issue in paying for birth control, particularly for those who can’t pay for health insurance. And for some people, not having a period is a medical necessity– people who are missing an intact uterus or vagina, for instance. Not having a period can also be a psychological necessity. The article mentions a transgender man who suppressed his period because he didn’t want the monthly reminder that he was “born in the ‘wrong’ body”.
On the other hand, some people are comforted by the presence of their periods. For instance, some people use the presence of their periods to know that they aren’t pregnant. The period can also be a marker for recovery from an eating disorder or another health condition involving the pituitary or thyroid glands. When menstrual periods resume in someone who has had severe anorexia nervosa, that’s a sign that the body has healed from malnourishment and, perhaps, has regained fertility. Other people just like the rhythm of the period. It makes them feel “in touch” with their bodies.
Whatever… the point is, now that science has made a period free life possible for people who would ordinarily menstruate, it should be a choice that can be made without a bunch of chatter and mansplaining from those who don’t have to deal with having periods. I think the only time this should really come up with a man is if he’s raising a female child alone. I do have a male friend who is raising his daughter… and I don’t think he’s prepared for when she hits puberty. I hope he has some female friends who can help him out, because it’s just around the corner.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about periods… and how men really need to be quieter when it comes to discussing them. Back in 2017, George Takei shared an article about how menstruating women were being “price gouged” at an airport– $15 for a box of tampons. Lots of men were making stupid comments about that, too. Because that was an interesting post, here’s some of what I had to say about that situation reposted here:
An anonymous woman happened to be at Calgary International Airport when everybody’s least favorite aunt arrived. She found herself unprepared for her period and the vending machine in the ladies room was empty. When the woman went to a drug store to buy the necessary supplies, she was ripped off. It was $15 for the tampons. So the woman paid the money and left the box in the restroom for other women, along with a note of explanation.
Carlee Field came across the box of tampons, snapped a photo of them and the note, and posted to Reddit. Apparently, the outrage was enough to spark a response from airport officials, who promised to stock the vending machines. The drug store, likewise, lowered the price of the tampons.
The story was interesting enough, although the comments were especially stimulating. It always amazes me when men want to weigh in on subjects regarding menstrual periods. To their credit, many men were surprisingly understanding and even empathetic. On the other hand, there were quite a few comments from guys who felt the need to lecture us women about bringing the necessary supplies with us.
Here are just a few comments from males who think they know what it’s like to bleed from the genitals every month…
Maybe she should be a responsible adult and bring her own…? Or should we treat women like helpless victims?
Airport price gouging is not unique to tampons. It’s a huge price gauging enterprise. It’s why I make sure I have what I need, along with “just in case” items, before I leave my house.
Oh please. This is the problem nowadays. People stop looking at reality in favor of talking points and PC bullshit. The topic was price gauging. My comment was that the gauging isn’t unique to this particiular item, and that planning ahead could prevent the expense. Am I really wrong about that? Really? (someone should teach this man how to spell “gouging”– actually, this word is curiously misspelled several times by different people)
I’m confused. A lot of women are saying they have irregular periods, heavy periods, etc. as an excuse for being caught off guard. That just seems counter intuitive. I would think that if you had irregularities in your cycle and that you likely COULD have a surprise…. Isn’t that more of a reason to always be prepared and to carry fem Hy products? Because you know there’s a likelihood of having a surprise?
Of course the socialist thinks everything should just be given to her.
I can see how youd assume most men take such a drug, your sex life must be dull.
Wait… Youre female and you said something logical…. My mind is about to explode! Welcome to the wonderful world of getting yelled at by the mob of women with pitch forks and torches!
Quit getting so butthurt because guys are calling women unprepared for not packing a few extra while traveling 🙄you know you’re away from home for days at a time and that it could happen at any point. Unpreparedness is just the truth here. Sensitive much?
I could probably sit here all morning and read the comments, but I’ll stop with the ones above.
I have already written this story a few times, but I’ll repeat it for those who don’t want to read old posts. It was the end of November 2012. Bill and I were in Scotland on Hebridean Princess, a ship that generally caters to the elderly set. I had just gotten new luggage and, for whatever reason, forgot to stock my bags with feminine hygiene supplies. I usually have several tucked away just in case, but I guess I forgot to stock up in the excitement of packing.
On the last night of the cruise, we not only found out that our sweet bagel, MacGregor, was dying, but I had also started my period and was completely unprepared. Fortunately, the assistant purser, a very lovely lady named Valeria, was able to score me a few items from crew members to get me through the night. I doubt this is a problem they deal with too often, since most women on that ship are past menopause. Nevertheless, I will never forget that kindness.
Since that experience in 2012, I have been very careful to make sure I am ready in case Auntie Flow arrives when I’m on the go. But even though I am now especially sure to pack the essentials, that doesn’t mean I won’t need to buy more, perhaps even in the airport. The human body can be an unpredictable thing. I’m sure it won’t be long before my hormones go haywire and I won’t know WTF I’ll be dealing with as I enter a “new season” of life, as Michelle Duggar puts it.
Feminine hygiene products truly are a necessity. In fact, some might argue (and a few did) that they should be freely available in public restrooms, as toilet paper generally is. But, as a quick Google search shows, quite a lot of women lack the appropriate supplies for their time of the month. If you’re poor and you have a choice of spending money on stemming the crimson tide or eating, you’d likely pick eating. If you’re paying with a SNAP card, the choice to eat would be a no-brainer. You can’t use SNAP cards on non food items.
There are some communities taking notice of the need. How progressive! It seems like providing hygiene supplies to menstruating women would be a “win-win” proposition. Women can spare themselves the embarrassment and humiliation of being caught unprepared and “price-gouged” at the airport, and everyone can avoid the sight of blood on furniture and clothing. In all seriousness, though, this is a big deal. There is evidence that not properly taking care of one’s period can lead to significant health issues. Yeah… this is what is “unhealthy” about periods…
As you can see, this is a world that biological men don’t have to worry about or deal with. But we used to have a president who made tacky comments about Megyn Kelly, saying “she’s got blood coming out of her ‘wherever’.” I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised when I read stupid comments from men who think they know what it’s like to have periods and have the right to opine about what women should do to prevent being “surprised”. The fact is, sometimes you get caught with your pants down, for whatever reason. It happens to everybody. It shouldn’t be a big deal to be able to access affordable sanitary products when that happens. And men, who will never have to deal with the mess, expense, and inconvenience of monthly periods, should really be more sensitive. Better yet, most of them should simply STFU on this particular topic.
And if a woman decides she’d rather not have periods at all, that too is entirely and solely her own business. I don’t concern myself with male-centric topics like the state of the scrotum or prostate gland. I think that men should keep quiet about periods unless they are offering support. They don’t have to deal with a monthly deluge of blood coming whenever and however long the body decides. I honestly think some of these guys who are opining are doing so because they like the idea of being able to get women pregnant. It’s a source of control for them, or something.
Anyway… I feel glad that pretty soon, this will no longer be an issue I need to care about as someone who is personally affected by it. But in support of my younger sisters, I want to go on record to say that women should have dominion over their own bodies without input from men. Periods are not fun. They’re messy, stinky, expensive, and inconvenient. So, if science can make things easier in that regard, I think that should be a choice available to all women. And men need to STFU about it.
I remember in August 2014, Bill and I were living temporarily in an apartment in Kemnat, a suburb near Stuttgart. I spent my days hanging out with Zane and Arran, burning up because it was hot outside. The Duggars were in the news because Michelle Duggar had made a controversial political robocall to people in Arkansas. Why was she robocalling? It was because she was hoping to influence Arkansans to vote against an anti-discrimination ordinance designed to allow transgendered people to use restrooms and lockers that correspond to their gender identities.
This morning, today’s featured photo was in my Facebook memories. Given that Josh Duggar is currently in huge trouble with the feds for being caught receiving and possessing images of child sexual abuse, it’s pretty crazy that in 2014, Michelle Duggar was saying things like “We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child…” Wow… the hypocrisy is astounding!
As I waited for Bill to come home the other day, I ran across an episode of 17 Kids and Counting. In the beginning, you hear Michelle Duggar’s annoying baby voice as she lists all of her children’s names. At that point, Jennifer Duggar, born in 2007, was the youngest, and Michelle was pregnant with Jordan, who was #18 and would be born in December 2008. She would have one more live birth, when youngest child Josie was born very prematurely the following year. Then she got pregnant one last time and eventually lost that baby, Jubilee Shalom.
I remember Michelle Duggar once had a good reputation as a wonderful, caring, and compassionate mother. I have never seen a lot of proof that she was a wonderful mother. On the contrary, I’ve seen evidence that her daughters are good moms, mainly because they’ve always been doing the heavy lifting of raising their siblings while their mom worked on perfecting her “baby voice”. And she used that voice to promote anti-LGBTQ propaganda while her eldest son, supposedly sheltered from the Internet, was looking at porn. Such hypocrisy!
As Bill and I were sharing coffee this morning, I was reading the Duggar Family News Facebook group. Someone had shared a link to a post from the truly creepy blog, Biblical Gender Roles about the practice of “domestic discipline” and wife spanking. I’ve written about this blog a couple of times before, most recently in July 2020, when a friend of mine shared with me a different post about “grooming one’s wife” to accept domestic discipline that came from the Biblical Gender Roles blog. I also wrote about a post that appeared in 2019 regarding marital rape— a woman’s husband wanted to have sex with her when she wasn’t interested. The blogger from Biblical Gender Roles wrote that according to the Bible it’s impossible for a married woman to be raped by her husband. And of course, my take is that marital rape is certainly possible and it can be perpetrated by either spouse. It happened to my husband when he was married to his ex wife.
Legally, rape means that a person hasn’t consented to sexual contact. It does not matter if the participants are married to each other. But fundie Christian women are taught to always be “joyfully available” to their husbands. When their husbands fall from grace, as Josh Duggar repeatedly has, the woman is liable to be blamed. Why? Because she wasn’t available enough for her husband to satisfy his sexual needs. Michelle Duggar, the same woman who, in a robocall to Arkansans said “We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child…”, told her own daughter Jill, before Jill married her husband, Derick Dillard:
“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’ ”
In other words, this “wonderful mom”, Michelle Duggar, told her daughter that her body isn’t her own. It’s either going to be used by her husband for sex, or used to nourish and develop a fetus, who will either also be used as a vessel for developing new life and as a sexual plaything, or will be a user, as males apparently are in fundie Christianity. Josh Duggar grew up being taught that his wife was to be used, and she was expected to be “joyfully available” to him, on the pain of being disciplined by the head of the family. His sister Jill, on the other hand, got a very different message. She was to be “available” to her husband, whenever he wanted her. She was to submit to his will. In short, she was physically an adult, but in all other ways, she was basically expected to be like a child– seen and not heard– quiet, submissive, and available always.
I’m sure, behind closed doors, Anna Duggar has been blamed for not satisfying Josh Duggar’s “needs”, causing him to fall into the dark web and view “forbidden images” of a sexual nature. But here she is, still in her early 30s and pregnant with her seventh child, another girl. Obviously, she was available to Josh, and he was fulfilling his sexual needs with her. But that wasn’t enough, and he’s evidently been indulging in illegal and immoral activities involving children. How did this happen?
I have never been impressed by either of the Duggar parents. For years, I’ve heard them both talk about how children are blessings and gifts from God. Rather than being good stewards of their children and raising them properly, Michelle Duggar basically turned into a brood animal and popped out children that were then farmed out to their sisters to raise. That’s not fair to the children at all. There was a time in history when having a huge family might have made some sense, since a lot of children died before coming of age and people had farms they needed help to run. Nowadays, I think having that many children is selfish and irresponsible. I don’t like to tell people how many children they should have, but I do think that if you’ve gotten to the point of farming out your kids to their older siblings, you’ve had too many. It’s not the job of underage children to raise their siblings.
Childhood is a brief time in a person’s life, and that’s when people should be focused on their own development and maturity. The way it’s been done in the Duggar family is that some of the children– the eldest sisters– had to grow up too fast. And yet, even when they were raising their siblings, they were still treated like children, forced to share a room and not allowed to choose what they wanted to wear or who they wanted to date or marry, in the sense that they needed Jim Bob’s permission and their husbands to be were forced to answer excessive questionnaires before Boob would give his “blessing”.
When I look at Michelle Duggar’s comment that “We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child…”, and then I see that her very first child– one of the few that she must have had the biggest part of raising– has turned out to be a sexual deviant, I can’t help but think her thoughts on protecting children are warped. She didn’t even protect her own daughters from their brother– her precious firstborn son– who took liberties with them when he was an adolescent. They didn’t get appropriate and effective help for Josh when his deviant behaviors presented themselves when he was still a child. They also didn’t get help for their daughters, who were victimized by Josh. In a sense, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar failed Josh as much as they did their daughters… and all of those innocent children in the pictures and videos found on Josh’s computer who were exploited, abused, and even murdered for the perverse pleasure of Josh and his ilk.
Notice in the above video, there are two men speaking about birth control and how it “causes abortions” (it doesn’t). Neither of these men will ever have to do the hardest work associated with pregnancy and child bearing. And they are in religious organizations where women are taught to be “joyfully available” to them and satisfy their “needs”, even when they are “big pregnant” (as Michelle Duggar put it). They’re more concerned about unborn children than they are born children… especially the female ones who will be born to satisfy their sexual “needs”. Well… that is revolting. It really is.
I’m sitting here reading the Biblical Gender Roles blog again. The poster on the Duggar Family News page had linked to an article on that blog about a young wife who was being “introduced” to the concept of Christian domestic discipline. In other words, she was being spanked by her husband. But the blogger wrote an earlier post about the husband’s perspective. In that post, he referenced his earlier post about how to “groom” one’s wife to accept the man as the authority in the home. He mentions that the wife must be young and sheltered, otherwise, she will never accept being “spanked” or otherwise disciplined by her husband.
This blogger has “mentors” who help teach these “Biblical principles” to couples who are interested. He says he vets the participants carefully, because he knows that more worldly people are “spying” on him and want to undo his work in teaching Christian couples to live by what he deems are “Biblical gender roles”. And based on what the young husband writes in the post from the gender roles blog, his wife has come to “accept” his leadership. She speaks to him “respectfully”, sticks to a budget, and I guess most importantly (to him, anyway), makes herself “available” to him sexually whenever he’s in the mood. She’d better, of course, or he’ll turn her over his knee and spank her, as if she’s a child (and personally, I don’t think spanking children is appropriate, either). How fucked up is that? The woman is a child in all ways, except physical. I am not saying the Duggars engage in these practices. I do think, however, that their collective mindset seems to be very similar to the one espoused by the guy who writes the Biblical Gender Roles blog.
Michelle Duggar, obviously, is very much in agreement that there are only males and females; they were all created by God; and that any person with “male parts” is a threat to female children. But apparently, once the females have reached physical maturity, that protection for them is no longer necessary. She unleashed her son, Josh, on Anna Duggar when he was 20 years old, knowing that he was a pervert. And she paid a lot of lip service to “monitoring” her children’s television and Internet exposure, although Josh obviously still figured out a way to get to the forbidden fruit. Maybe if she had been less “Christian”, he would have turned out to be a better person… or maybe, he was born to be this way, despite our “awesome God” who gifted the Duggars with so many children that they were obviously not equipped to raise properly on their own.
How dare Michelle Duggar try to tell Arkansas voters that she is concerned about putting the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child? Where were her concerns about her own daughters’ safety and innocence when they were growing up in her home? Where were her concerns about Josh’s future, when his deviant sexual proclivities came out? Why didn’t she help him possibly avoid falling into sins that could send him to prison? He is about to be the father of seven innocent children, but he won’t be around to take care of them. That task will fall to his long suffering wife, Anna, who has been taught that because she’s a female, she belongs to her husband and has no say over whether or not she wants to have sex! Michelle Duggar is concerned about transgendered people “victimizing” girls… but she was not at all concerned about her vile predator son victimizing her own daughters, and possibly her granddaughters, along with the children who were victimized in the images and videos that were found on Josh’s computer! And she’s all for letting the women be “childlike” in all ways, except for when it comes to giving their husbands sex. She’s even childlike in the way she speaks!
I really think our society is very sick. The Duggars are still influential to many, even though they are massive hypocrites. As recently as last year, they were still trying to get involved in politics, when their son Jed, ran for office against a woman who was clearly much more qualified than he was. He lost, thank God, but I will bet people still voted for him because he’s a white man, Christian, and a Duggar! There are still so many people, especially in the United States, who speak about their rights as “free people”. But they only want freedom for white Christian males with money. They don’t want women to have dominion over their own bodies. They don’t want people of color to have the right to live peacefully, and enjoy freedom of movement without being harassed by law enforcement. They don’t want poor people to be able to receive temporary government assistance, or children to be able to attend school without the fear of being shot. Their right to own weapons is more important than the safety of innocent people to be out and about without fearing being killed by their guns. And they want to be able to dictate to people which restrooms they can use, claiming that transgendered people are “mentally ill”, while they cover up for people like Josh Duggar and give him a platform.
I wrote about Michelle Duggar’s robocall on my original blog. In that post, I explained that homosexuality and transgendered people are not necessarily pedophiles or child molesters. At that point, we didn’t know about Josh… it was just months later that that particular bombshell dropped. One would have thought the Duggars would have been canceled, once and for all, after Josh’s hypocrisy came out. But, as my Italian friend Vittorio has pointed out, the United States is a “weird-o-rama” culture. The Duggars are oddly fascinating to many. Some of us are fascinated as we are repulsed. Others find them to be people they want to emulate. And so, they continue to people we talk about, and write about… and in some cases, make money on. I’m sure the people making YouTube videos about the Duggars are making some cash, anyway. I’m sure not.
Well… I guess I’ve rambled on long enough. Arran has just come to me, expecting a walk. So I guess I’ll close now, and take him out for a much needed constitutional. Hope everyone has a nice Monday.
I just got a wild hair up my ass and decided to repost a couple of blog entries I wrote about Lori Alexander, otherwise known as The Transformed Wife. I am reposting them because sometimes it’s handy to be able to link to old posts from my original blog, particularly where Lori Alexander is concerned. This first one was originally posted May 14, 2018. It made quite a stirthree years ago.
First thing’s first. I need to state upfront that I don’t regularly follow The Transformed Wife, which is a blog written by a Christian woman named Lori Alexander. I had never heard of this blog until I started following the Duggar Family News group on Facebook. I did see a recent post by The Transformed Wife where I felt compelled to leave a comment, only because she’d misspelled “censorship” in her title and it was making me twitchy (sorry). But no, I don’t regularly read her blog because I’m pretty far from being a devout Christian. Sometimes people share her more ridiculous posts, though, and that’s usually when I take notice.
This morning, someone shared Lori’s thoughts on women doctors. She writes, “women are destroying the medical profession.” To back up her claim, she cites a five year old opinion piece done by the U.K.’s Telegraph. That piece is about female doctors who only work part-time because they are raising families. It’s apparently causing a problem in countries around the world because part-time doctors lead to a shortage. The opinion piece, written by Max Pemberton, is actually pretty sensible. He writes:
…attempts to raise these issues are routinely met with accusations of sexism. But it’s not sexist to acknowledge that women, more than men, often appear to place family life ahead of their career. Nor is it a bad thing that women want to focus on having and bringing up their children, and caring for a partner. Underlying this is a larger debate about the 24/7 working environment and lack of affordable child care that leaves so many women torn between a career and a family. This is where the real sexism lies. But until there is a shift in the way that domestic responsibilities are shared, we need to accept that most women want to work part time so they can combine a career with family life – and, in medicine at least, start preparing for it becoming the norm.
But then Lori Alexander writes:
Men were created to be the supporters of families and women were not. Women are taking men’s positions in medical schools that should belong to men.
Hmmm… very interesting indeed. I happen to know a couple of women doctors who are raising families. One is a very successful trauma surgeon. Her husband is an Episcopalian vicar and takes excellent care of their two kids while his wife works to save lives. The other just recently had her sixth baby. And yet, according to Lori Alexander, these women are absolutely wrong to pursue careers in medicine. Alexander reminds readers…
Men can be doctors but they can’t be mothers. Only mothers can be mothers and NO ONE can replace a mother in a child’s life.
What exactly makes someone a mother, anyway? Is it the simple act of giving birth? Because if that’s the case, adoptive mothers are apparently worthless, according to Alexander. Is it simply being female? Are women inherently more nurturing than men are, simply because they have female parts? What about fathers? Can they be replaced? Actually, Alexander would probably say fathers can’t be replaced, but apparently they aren’t as important as mothers are. Why is that? Is it because they aren’t nurturing? I would challenge anyone who has ever met my husband, Bill, to compare his nurturing instincts to mine. (ha ha ha) But then, I know that Bill is a pretty rare individual, especially for a military veteran. He’s unusually nurturing and kind. He’d probably be a better mother than I would, though. Or, at least he’d probably be more like the type of mother idealized by folks like Lori Alexander.
Lori continues with the following thoughts…
No long-term good comes out of women leaving their homes. Nothing. Satan convinced women to spend years and a lot of money getting a higher education and then a degree. When they finally have children, they still have their God-given instinct to care for their children, thus they are in conflict with what they were convinced about concerning their career and being with their children. Their children are the ones who suffer and society is suffering too.
Oh… so it’s the fault of women that society is suffering? That sounds pretty familiar. Women get blamed for all kinds of shit. That’s been going on since the dawn of time. But then Lori ends with a quote from Proverbs:
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27
I wonder what she’d think of an overeducated housewife with no children whose housework skills are lacking…
In fairness to Lori Alexander, I don’t know her at all. I have no idea what shaped her opinions about woman in the workplace, other than her obvious love for the Bible. My guess is that she’s actually against women who work, not just women who choose to be doctors. Somehow, her blog has attracted a lot of attention. This particular post has been shared well over 1500 times. Maybe I should start writing really badly written provocative stuff that causes outrage. And… to be honest, I don’t necessarily disagree that children in the United States need more exposure to their mothers. Actually, I’d argue that they need more exposure to BOTH parents.
What I like about Europe is that the powers-that-be have recognized that young children need their mothers and fathers, so employers here allow them to take time off from their work to take care of their kids. That time off is paid, and they do have jobs to go back to when their time off is finished. But this generous leave has nothing to do with religion. Instead, it’s a simple product of common sense.
Europe, in general, is also a bit less work happy than the United States is. In the United States, there’s this idea that one must constantly be working in order to keep their jobs. Plenty of folks who are lucky enough to have jobs with benefits, to include paid vacation time, are pressured not to take any leave. Those who dare to enjoy their lives off the clock are often considered unproductive and poor performers. They don’t tend to climb the ladder of success the way their more driven colleagues do.
In Germany, workers get more time off and shorter work weeks, yet the German economy remains very strong and the people, by and large, seem to be a lot happier. I think Germans tend to work smarter, too. They focus is less on how long a person works and more on the quality of their work. I would imagine that having time to rest allows them to work smarter. It’s probably better for their overall health, too, including their mental health.
Let’s face it. Living in the United States is very expensive. A lot of families need both parents to work just to be able to pay their basic bills. The need to work makes it harder to focus on the family. And yet, we keep voting in Republicans, who are in bed with Christians, yet seem hellbent on making money and ruining any family friendly programs that might make it more possible for one parent (not necessarily the mother) to stay home and take care of their kids. The United States is not a community friendly country. Many people are focused on their own needs and things that only benefit them personally, rather than society as a whole.
But… in fairness to my countrymen, I can understand where this attitude comes from. And now that I don’t live in the United States, I can also see where people like my Italian friend, Vittorio, see the United States as a “weirdorama” country. We have all these God fearing people who don’t seem to love their fellow man very much at all… unless, of course, their fellow man lives in a way that they claim is Biblical. It doesn’t seem logical to me.
Anyway, allow me to go on record as saying that I think it’s great that women are following their career dreams. I also think it’s a good thing that so many of those women are focusing on their own fulfillment. Perhaps that means they have fewer children or none at all. But, as Alexander points out in the comments section of her post, women doctors are here to stay. Women will keep going to medical school. So… I guess in her opinion, the medical profession is on its way to being well and truly fucked. She’s entitled to her opinion. I’m not sorry she wrote her post, even if I disagree with her. She gave me some food for thought.
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