communication, controversies, divorce, family

“Wicked” stepmothers are people, too!

It seems to be a very popular thing these days to ask people on Reddit if one is “an asshole” for acting in a certain way. The notoriety of the “Am I the Asshole” (AITA) posts has spun into people turning them into very active Facebook posts or people even writing articles about them. The comedian behind “God” is no exception. Yesterday, “God” posted an AITA article about a woman who refuses to share sanitary products with her stepdaughter. She wanted to know if that made her an “asshole”.

Below is the Reddit post in question:

To be honest, I would probably be annoyed about this, too. The stepdaughter should have asked for the pads instead of just taking them. The last bit about not wanting to share things might make the OP a little bit of an asshole… especially under the very personal circumstances involved with having periods.

God’s article seemed to try, at least on the surface, to be fair to the stepmom, allowing that it’s difficult to try to “parent” someone who is only 13 years younger. But the rest of the article is decidedly slanted against the stepmother, making her out to be immature, petty, and mean. So I went to the comments, which was obviously a mistake, unless you consider that the comments gave me fodder for today’s post. 😉

From the get go, lots of people were chiming in with stories about their own evil stepmothers. Since I am “technically” a stepmother myself, I see the role from a different perspective. I decided to ask, “So, any woman who marries a man with children is evil?”

I did not provide any information about myself. I didn’t explain that I have two stepdaughters whom I have only seen in person once. I just asked a question, and I didn’t target anyone in particular. People could have just ignored me, but of course, they didn’t.

The first response I got was this: “My stepmother tried to poison me, so I have a different perspective.”

I was a little troubled that the guy who wrote that didn’t clarify that he only meant HIS stepmother was evil, not that all stepmothers are, as his first comment seemed to indicate. I fought the urge to write something angry to him. Instead, I tried to be measured. I wrote something along the lines of, “I am truly sorry that you were so traumatized by that experience that, apparently, your overall view of stepmothers is negative. That’s too bad.”

That comment triggered at least three other people, who each decided to take me on. One immediately called me a “karen”. One gave me an angry reaction and said I was “proving” the guy’s point somehow. The other wrote, “No one said that, but you sure made a leap.” To each of these folks– all apparently women– I wrote “Have a nice day.” I was not going to get into arguments with people who immediately start off their communications with insults and assumptions, with no attempt to even try to be empathetic. I have learned that getting into arguments with strangers is pointless. They won’t understand, because they choose not to. You can tell by the way they lob insults like “karen” and go right for the proverbial jugular with verbal nastiness.

Listen– I get that stepparents– especially stepmothers– are a contentious topic. A lot of people are legitimately traumatized by their stepparents, especially the women who dare to marry their fathers. However, the fact remains that a whole lot of marriages end in divorce, and a lot of people will either marry subsequent spouses, or they will become stepparents themselves. No one I have ever met has ever said their life’s ambition was to be a stepparent. And dammit, stepparents– including and especially stepmothers– are people too!

While no one specially stated that women who marry previously married men with children are “evil”, that was definitely the attitude that was coming across loud and clear. Insulting and making assumptions about perfect strangers, simply because they don’t go with the comment flow, is pretty lame. Critical thinking and mindful responding are good things in a comment section, rather than just popping off with stale 2019 era insults like “karen” and assuming the worst about every person one meets online.

It just seemed to me that instead of responding to the specific case in question, people were using that space to comment about their own “wicked stepmothers”. I’ll bet the vast majority of them have never once tried to see things from their stepmothers’ perspective. But I know better than outwardly making that assumption about people I don’t know. It would only open up a huge, unpleasant can of worms. I think posting “Have a nice day.” to people who are determined to argue and are immediately rude is a good policy. I’m going to try to do it more often… or, even better, just ignore the haters completely.

It’s funny, though, that some of those folks apparently think I am a “wicked” stepmother myself. For many years, maybe I kind of was. You see, I was legitimately livid with my stepdaughters because of the truly awful way they treated their father. I was angry with them because I know and love their dad so much, and I saw the devastating effect the estrangement had on him. They would not so much as speak to him on the phone, send an email, or even tell him to kiss their asses. And, for years, younger daughter in particular seemed to have a haughty, mean-spirited attitude toward Bill that I found insufferable. She was the one who, as a nine year old, was emboldened to slap Bill across the face for having beer in his refrigerator. I couldn’t abide the disrespect, especially given that my bio father was in my life and often treated me with contempt. Here these girls were with a father who adores them, and they just threw him away.

In retrospect, I have since realized that my reaction to younger daughter was based on limited information, and I was wrong. I have since found out that she and her sister were pretty much forced to behave the way they did. When she later reconnected with Bill, I learned more about younger daughter when she’s not influenced by her mother’s toxic craziness. I then realized that she’s actually a very nice– and surprisingly mature– young woman. It makes me sad that she had to become that way so young, due to the way she was raised. Her mother’s immaturity made it imperative that she step up and be an adult many years before her time. But she’s clearly a great wife and mother, and she’s made it clear that she will not be raising her kids the way her mother raised her. She even lets her kids call Bill “Papa”, which is absolutely adorable!

But here’s the funny thing, though. After many years of being angry with my husband’s daughters, and finding out that younger daughter is really not as awful as she seemed, I’m now actually being appreciated by her– even though I haven’t seen her in person since 2003. This morning, Bill got an email from his daughter. In it, she included two photos taken nine years apart. The first photo was taken for her LDS missionary packet. She has a pretty smile, but it seems kind of forced and contrived. She looks a little bit uncomfortable. In the second photo, she’s smiling, obviously relaxed, and looks genuinely happy.

Younger daughter wrote that many people who knew her nine years ago and have seen her recently have commented on her improved “countenance”. She’s really happy now, and it shows. She says she likes to think it’s her husband’s genuinely loving influence on her that has made her appear to be genuinely happy. And then she wrote to Bill, “I’ll bet Jenny has had the same effect on you.”

In fact, I did once see a photo of Bill, taken when he was in his 30s, still married to Ex, and working at a factory where, all day, he supervised men making refrigerator doors. It was a job he hated, coupled with the misery of being in a toxic, loveless marriage to someone who didn’t appreciate him at all. I told Bill that he looked much older in that photo than he does now, as a man in his late 50s. Nowadays, he does genuinely look happy. And I know that apart from getting away from a disastrous marriage to a narcissist, he’s happy because we’re compatible, comfortable, and genuinely love each other. Our relationship is not parasitic in nature. We work together to build our lives. It’s too bad that he didn’t meet me first, because if he had, he would not have ever been through divorce. But then, the divorce helped make him who he is today.

This was taken a couple of months ago. We were enjoying local wines.

I really appreciate younger daughter’s kind words. I am grateful that she understands that, just like her, I love her dad, and I want him to be happy. I do my best to make him happy, so we can both live our best lives. I think he has a similar attitude. That’s why we’re still happily married after almost 20 years. Ex, on the other hand, lamented today on Twitter that she will never have “true love”, because no man looks at her with “awe”. I guess she and #3 aren’t a match made in Heaven, after all.

That experience of changing my mind about younger daughter also reminds me of a few I’ve had with dogs. Yesterday, I posted about meeting a dog who usually snarls at me because I have Arran and Noyzi with me. But, when I met her at the weekly market, without my big dogs, she was perfectly sweet and gentle. Kind of like years ago, when one of the neighborhood kids on Fort Belvoir commented that she hated my beagles, Flea and MacGregor, because she thought they were mean. She based her opinion on their loud barks and baying when they were on their walks, catching scents among the old trees on post. But then another neighbor kid– our next door neighbor who knew my dogs well– explained that actually, my dogs LOVED kids. And then Flea went up to the girl and stood stock still so she could pet him. She looked up at me and BEAMED. Her opinion was changed, because now she had personal experience to the contrary to what she had previously believed. Ha ha ha… given these examples of minds being changed due to dogs, maybe I am kind of like a “bitch”. 😉 But anyway, the point is, with more information, one’s perspectives can quickly change.

Now… getting back to the AITA case that prompted this post. I want to comment on something I noticed in God’s “responses”. The person who wrote that article wrote it as if the stepmother was the girl’s parent. I know that all situations are different, but the stepmom specifically wrote that she doesn’t see herself in a “mom” role for that young lady. And, assuming the teenager has a real mother out there somewhere, I think that’s entirely appropriate. She is, after all, only 13 years older than the girl is. Given that she doesn’t see herself as a “mom”, she probably lacks the empathy a mom would have for a girl who needs sanitary napkins. Personally, I don’t think I would have blown up at the teen, but she did explain that her “hormones” were everywhere. And while wacky hormones aren’t really an excuse to be nasty and abusive, I do know from personal experience that they can affect a person’s mood. If I were the stepmom in this case, I would not appreciate it if the girl was in my room, going through my stuff, and taking things without asking first. That shows a lack of common and basic courtesy that, by age 16, I would expect in someone. Moreover, it actually IS her father’s, and her mother’s, responsibility to provide for their daughter– or at least provide her the means to obtain those items for herself. I know a lot of stepparents do become de facto parents, but it doesn’t sound like that’s how it is in this particular case.

Was the stepmom an “asshole” for blowing up at her stepdaughter? Well, yeah, she probably was. But I can see why she blew up. I think perhaps they need to have a serious chat about respecting each other’s space and belongings, particularly since there isn’t a “mom/daughter” dynamic in that relationship. Maybe they need to try to define what the stepmom’s role is, and act accordingly. Is she expected to be a mom? Or is she just a friend who happens to be married to dear old dad? If she’s a de facto “mom”, then yeah, I can see her talking to her stepdaughter about things like periods and helping her out when she needs supplies. That would be a kind thing to do regardless. But if she’s really just more of a “friend”, and the teen doesn’t see or treat her as a “mom”, then I would expect the teen to stay out of her “friend’s” bathroom cabinets, right? She wouldn’t dare brazenly go through a peer’s cabinets without permission, would she? Besides, stepmothers can’t seem to win for losing. A lot of people would blame them for trying to act like a “mom” to someone who already has a mother. And others would blame them for NOT acting like a mom and loving their stepchildren instantly and unconditionally. While it’s wonderful when stepparents can bond like that with their partners’ offspring from other relationships, the reality is, that simply doesn’t always happen, for a huge variety of completely legitimate reasons.

I am, technically, a stepmother myself, but I don’t feel like a mom to younger daughter. I’ve only met her once in person. On the other hand, she has made it clear that I probably have been more of the kind of mom she would have chosen for herself, if only because I don’t say or do toxic things, and I don’t interfere with her budding reconnection with her dad. In fact, unlike the stepmom in God’s article and Bill’s ex wife, I am delighted to share!

Seriously, though… I do know that some stepparents are truly awful, and I sympathize with those who are traumatized. But you know what? Some bio parents are awful, too. Regardless, most of us would do well to try to see things from another angle from time to time. And everyone should stop using the derogatory term “karen” as an insult. It’s a very stupid and unoriginal thing to do.

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controversies, lessons learned, Police, true crime, YouTube

Maryland cops mimic kindergartner’s temper tantrum with one of their own…

A few days ago, The Washington Post shared an article about two cops in Montgomery County, Maryland, who have just been part of a lawsuit stemming from their actions on January 14, 2020. A five year old boy at East Silver Spring Elementary School had a meltdown shortly after lunch. He became upset and threw a clipboard at a teacher and a fellow student. Then he ran out of the classroom, outside of the school, and toward a congested section of Silver Spring, Maryland. Having been to Silver Spring myself, I know that this is basically a suburb of Washington, DC, and there’s a lot of traffic.

School officials called the police, and officers Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday arrived on the scene. They quickly located the boy, who was hiding nearby. At first, the cops were pleasant toward the boy, but when he refused to cooperate with him, the police officers became very controlling and, many would say, abusive. Christmon’s voice turns stern as he demands that the boy look at him, then asks why he’s out of school. When the boy doesn’t willingly emerge from his hiding spot, Christmon grabs him by the arm and yanks him toward the other officer. The boy starts screaming “No, no, no, no…” as the police order him into the back of their squad car. By that point, an assistant principal had arrived, and managed to get the boy to calm down enough to get into the car.

Bodycam footage was released on Friday, hence the news article I read. I watched the raw footage, and I was pretty shocked by the way those “peace officers” were berating that child. According to the Washington Post, the following exchange occurred:

“I don’t wanna to go,” [the boy] said, his voice shaking and coughing.

“I don’t care!” the officer replied. “You don’t make that decision for yourself!”

Holliday spoke to the child through an open door. “Does your momma spank you?” she asked, adding, “I’m going to ask her if I can do it.”

Naturally, the harsh words and threats served to upset the boy even more. He screamed and cried. The officers described his behavior as “headstrong” and “defiant”. Christmon said that he felt his actions were justified, because the boy was being “non-compliant.” Holliday said that she threatened him to “get him to shut up.” Both officers screamed at the boy, trying to overpower his screams with their voices. At one point, Holliday “primal screams” a couple of inches from the boy’s face, which only served to cause him to scream louder.

This is a news report from March 2021 from NBC news. It was aired before the outcome of the lawsuit was revealed.

At one point, Officer Christman holds the boy down in the chair for 80 seconds. Later, Christmon puts a handcuff on the boy’s wrist and tells him that handcuffs are what people who don’t want to listen end up wearing. The cops call the boy’s mother, who later comes to the school and complains that she has trouble disciplining the child. She says she fears using corporal punishment, because she doesn’t want child protection services to take him away. Officer Holliday then advises the boy’s mother on the level of corporal punishment that will not result in his being removed from her custody. She tells the mom, “We want you to beat him… All I can tell you is to beat that ass.” At one point, Holliday also made a comment about how “animals should be crated”, adding that that’s what should happen to boys who want to “act like a little beast.” And she referred to the child as “a shepherd for the devil.”

I wasn’t originally planning to write about this case, as I’ve found that a lot of times, people involved in these situations go looking for opinions and then get angry or upset when they disagree with mine. Regular readers might recall that I recently disabled my official Facebook page for this blog because someone contacted me through Facebook with abuse, threats, and insults because they didn’t like an old blog entry I reposted. I have a feeling that this case could inspire similar attempts to berate me, simply for having and sharing an opinion.

However… against my better judgment, I’m going to write about this. My heart broke for that poor kid, even as I have empathy for the adults who were trying to deal with him. I was never as out of control as that boy was, but I do remember being very small and emotionally immature, crying and screaming, and being threatened, bullied, and hit by some of the adults in my life– particularly, my father. I don’t remember anyone ever speaking to me calmly and trying to redirect the tantrum– which is a pretty normal thing for kids to have, by the way. I remember hyperventilating and being terrified. And when I saw and heard that boy’s screams, it took me back to that place, many years in the past.

Not surprisingly, the boy in this story had nightmares in the wee hours of the next morning. He woke up at 3:00am and cried to his mother, saying that he was afraid the police were going to shoot him. The mother filed a complaint with the police department and later sued. Her suit was settled out of court for $275,000, which according to Dr. Todd Grande, who also analyzed this case, the boy will get when he’s an adult.

I liked what Dr. Grande had to say about this case. He’s very astute.

Dr. Grande notes that the police, who are trained to “take control” of a crime situation, lost control in dealing with this child. Cops, as I have observed from watching many Bodycam videos on YouTube, are used to being able to get as physical as they need to with non-compliant adults. But this is a five year old child, so obviously, it would not have been appropriate for them to wrestle him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and Taser the shit out of him. Instead, they tried to act like “stern adults” and browbeat the child into submission with screaming, yelling, threats, and insults. But, as we can all see, that technique only made things a lot worse.

Christmon later said, having watched the video footage, “Honestly, after looking at this, we should have dropped him off and left,”

I agree. Because it’s clear that these two officers don’t have much expertise in talking to children, and their methods were abusive and inappropriate for a young child. I believe that, even though I have worked with children myself, and I know that dealing with them can be frustrating. Kids don’t have the same situational awareness that adults have, and they often lack self-control. This child, who apparently has a record of acting out in school and at home, needed someone with more experience dealing with troubled children. From what I saw in the video footage, it appeared that the cops weren’t behaving much better than the boy was. However, the boy has his age and maturity level as an excuse.

The two officers did face discipline for the way they handled this case. Officer Christmon was suspended for almost two weeks. Officer Holliday got four weeks’ suspension. Both suspensions occurred without pay. The officers were also administratively charged with a number of infractions, including neglect of duty and failure to be courteous.  The police officers agreed with the punishments, did their penance, and the matter was closed. Both remain employed as police officers today.

Many people seemed to think that these two cops should be fired for their bad conduct, especially since it’s cost the county $275,000. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It does sound to me like the officers recognize that they did wrong, and handled the situation poorly. They seem amenable to learning from the incident and doing a better job in the future. I’m not a big fan of canceling people’s livelihoods for one mistake, even when it’s a whopper like this one. In this case, the boy suffered significant mental distress that he’ll probably remember from now on. But no one was physically injured or killed, and it does sound like some learning happened.

I am not a fan of “beating children”, as most of my regular readers probably know. I had a teacher in the 80s who employed corporal punishment. He once carried it out on me, in front of my entire class of peers. Forty plus years later, I still haven’t forgotten it, and it still really pisses me off to think about it. That punishment was inappropriate. I also had a father whose methods of discipline involved force, yelling, insults, and physical abuse. He’s been dead for eight years, and I still have bad feelings toward him. That kind of “discipline” doesn’t teach anything but fear, and tends to make things much worse. Sadly, some school districts in the United States still use corporal punishment. At this writing, 19 states still allow corporal punishment in schools, although happily, my home state of Virginia no longer does. The state of Missouri has just now brought the method back to schools, reportedly at the request of some parents. 

I understand that inflicting physical pain on someone who is out of control with emotion can sometimes “shock” them into compliance, especially when they are young children. However, in my experience, relying on that method of discipline leads to laziness on the part of the adult, and is ultimately disrespectful to the child, who is a human being and worthy of basic respect. We would never advocate for a husband slapping or spanking his wife when he became angry with or frustrated by her behavior. Many people would consider that “domestic violence.” And yet, a lot of people think it’s perfectly fine for a much larger human being to terrorize a child with threats of being hit or beaten, personal insults and comparisons to animals, and screaming and yelling. I promise, yelling and screaming at children doesn’t tend to inspire them to calm down and be quiet.

Police officers have a very difficult job, dealing with dangerous people who carry weapons. This was a case of a small child, obviously unarmed, and clearly much smaller and weaker than the cops were. The level of control the officers tried to inflict on the child was inappropriate, and clearly, very abusive. The boy wasn’t a threat to them. He was simply having a tantrum, which young kids often do. It seems to me the appropriate thing for the cops to do in this case was simply to see that the boy got back to school safely. And then, they should have allowed a professional who has much more experience working with children handle the boy’s meltdown. I don’t know if either of these cops have children, but their conduct offers a glimpse at how their children could be disciplined. It’s disturbing that one of the officers advocated for “beating” the child, even if she meant it in the vernacular. It’s really not a good look.

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condescending twatbags, language, modern problems

“Using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

Last night, I read a post on God’s Facebook page that is very timely, as kids all across America head back to school. The article was derived from a lively Reddit thread, where poster BlueCarrot002 asked if she was the “asshole” for getting personalized stationery for her daughter.

I must admit, as a childless child of the 70s and 80s, this trend of parents being asked to buy extra supplies for classrooms is a strange idea to me. In my day, everybody brought their own supplies to school. And parents would put their child’s name on their stuff, so it wouldn’t get “borrowed” or redistributed. I’m sure it sucked back then for kids whose parents didn’t have a lot of money. But, if you think about it, we all knew whose parents had money, and whose didn’t. Hell, I used to be jealous of my classmates whose parents bought them Trapper Keepers for every subject, while I had cheap plastic binders with shitty plastic rings. Or they had those cool erasable pens, while I had some cheesy ballpoint pen my dad got from some business. My mom wasn’t one to pander to my desires for fancy school supplies, and we would usually shop for that stuff at AAFES. And AAFES, at least in the 80s, was not a high end store.

This was THE status symbol, when I was in the 4th grade.

Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. Some kids are more athletic than others are. Some are more attractive or musically talented or funny. Some kids are academic geniuses. And some have parents who have money, and can buy them pencils with dinosaurs on them, personalized stationery, or lefty scissors. Or they have parents who are willing to deal with the child’s sensory issues by getting them notebooks with plastic spirals instead of metal ones. Some people prefer to write with certain types of pens and pencils. If that helps them succeed in doing their work, what’s the big deal? Part of growing up is learning to accept that life isn’t fair, and doing the best you can with what you have.

I don’t remember this ad, but we liked our Paper Mates, too.

I can understand the reasons teachers might have for asking parents to contribute supplies. I also understand why they would want the parents to get things that are generic. However, based on God’s article, it doesn’t sound like the teacher specified that the supplies should be the cheapest available. She was likely fine with genuine Crayola crayons over the generic ones that are found at the Dollar Tree. It sounds like the mom in this instance simply wanted to provide the best available supplies for her child. I don’t blame her for that.

What really got my hackles up, though, was the fact that the teacher sent home what the Redditor describes as a “very passive aggressive note” inviting her to come in for a “talking to” with the teacher. Now, it could be that the teacher’s note wasn’t actually passive aggressive. Maybe it was a friendly note. But since the actual note isn’t provided to Redditors, I will just assume the mom’s assessment of the note’s tone is correct.

I don’t blame the mom for refusing the teacher’s request. I would do the same thing.

Generally speaking, I am very pro-teacher. I think they are underpaid and disrespected. I know they have a tough job, and they literally put their lives on the line working in education these days. I still think it would grind my gears to have a teacher dictate to me that I must buy extra supplies for the classroom, to cover the kids who don’t have what they need, and then tell me that I can’t provide the school supplies that work best for my own child. And I would not take kindly to a “request” to come in for a discussion about my kid’s perfectly good school supplies, especially after I contributed the “generic” extra supplies that were requested. In fact, I would probably end up complaining to a higher power. My response to the teacher’s “request” (which sounds more like a demand) would likely be a resounding “NO.” However… It does seem strange to me that the mom would buy “personalized stationery”. In my day, we all just used college ruled loose leaf paper.

No more chalkboards!

Most of the people on God’s page were all about the mom providing personalized supplies for her child. I see on Reddit, the commenters are offering good reasons why the policy of redistributing supplies is potentially traumatic, as well as unfair. One person wrote about how they were going through tough financial straits and sent their child with used supplies from their older siblings. The teacher sent the used supplies back, explaining that they weren’t appropriate. Why not? The used supplies work as well as brand new ones do. And then the poor kid was humiliated in front of their peers.

Others wrote about how they were asked to buy tons of supplies every year that never got used, or were items that should last for years, like scissors, protractors, rulers and compasses. Specifically, one poster wrote “those things will last for years, if you take care of them.” Exactly… and part of the experience of being in school should be teaching children to take care of their things, and maintain possession of their own stuff. So yeah, if I were the mom in this scenario, I would be raising some hell.

A pretty good representation of what it was like for us in the 80s.

I read some of the Facebook comments… and then I had to stop. I must be turning into an old lady now, because one comment literally made me cringe. A man from Minnesota (I checked to make sure he wasn’t a Brit or living in Britain), wrote something along the lines of, “That woman is just a cunt. She just wants to show off how much money she has. Fuck her!”

Wow. I’m not sure what prompted this guy– name of Ryan– to leave such a misogynistic and completely inappropriate response to that article. However, against my better judgment, I felt compelled to respond to him with what I think is a gentle rebuke.

I wrote, “Ryan, using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

I fully expected Ryan to come back and call ME a cunt. Usually, that type of person has no qualms about spewing their nastiness on anyone in the strike zone. I did pause before I commented, because I don’t want to be called a cunt. Especially after I’ve had a beer or two, as was the case last night. But then I realized that I can always block Ryan if he lobs verbal abuse at me. Lately, I’ve been blocking people I haven’t even engaged with, simply because I can easily tell that they aren’t people with whom I wish to interact.

After I commented to Ryan, I had to sit and contemplate for a few minutes. I must be getting old. I have often stated, and I do actually believe, that all words are useful sometimes. I do think there are even some times when the word “cunt” is appropriate. However, in the United States, that’s generally a term that is saved for the end of an argument. Sure, if you’re a Brit, you might use it to describe a silly fool, or something. But that article was written for and mostly read by Americans, and to Americans, the word “cunt” is among the worst of the worst insults, especially to women. We would all be up in arms if someone casually dropped the n bomb on social media. So why is it okay for Ryan to call some mother he doesn’t know a “cunt”, simply because he has unresolved issues regarding women? I mean, I know I’m assuming, but why else would he go there so early?

Anyway… I was surprised at myself, because after I read Ryan’s comment, it turned me off of the comment page. I had to click off of it. I shared God’s post on my own page, and a few friends who are teachers chimed in. Most seemed to think the teacher’s policy of redistributing school supplies is ridiculous. I mean, I guess some teachers pass out and collect the supplies at the beginning and end of each session. I still think there’s value in teaching children that they have to keep up with their own stuff, and that labeling things, especially when you’re working in a group, is a smart policy.

Count me among those who also think that if a stranger’s behavior seems wrong or unfair, it’s better not to call them a name that connotes so much hatred for a group of people. The fact that Ryan felt perfectly fine in referring to a concerned mother as a “cunt” who is “showing off” her money, tells me that he has some serious issues with women, and probably people with money, too. It’s not a good look, as the orange turd would say.

Reading this story makes me glad I don’t have children.

Bonus video… this one is pretty funny!

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healthcare, law, modern problems, politics, social media, Twitter

The baby depository “drop box”…

Last night, I read a news story about how some conservative groups, post Roe v Wade, have decided that it would be a good idea to have “drop boxes” for unwanted babies to be placed in. These boxes are supposed to give people a way to surrender their babies with “minimal interference”. It’s seen as an expansion of the “Safe Haven laws”, which have already been around in all 50 states for a couple of decades now.

The Safe Haven laws were enacted to discourage people from dumping their babies in unsafe places, such as trash receptacles or public restrooms. Instead, parents who want to give up their babies are encouraged to take them to any emergency room, fire department, or a law enforcement agency. According to the link I provided, in four states, Guam, and Puerto Rico, only the mother is allowed to relinquish her infant. In the District of Columbia, infants can only be relinquished by residents of the District. Twelve states already allow so-called “drop boxes”, which are devices that would trigger a 911 call to emergency services when the box is opened.

Personally, I am not a fan of these “boxes”, mainly because I don’t think that people who are relinquishing a baby should be able to do so anonymously. Some of them simply need help, which they won’t get if they are encouraged to anonymously drop off their babies. I know the boxes exist in other countries and are supposedly “life savers” for the babies. But it seems to me that it would be better to 1. prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place, and 2. provide appropriate healthcare to women who want or need it. Sometimes, abortion is healthcare. Sometimes, it’s the kindest, most responsible thing a person can do. And all the time, it’s an extremely personal decision that should not involve anyone but the already born person who is directly involved. I agree with this point, which was made in the article I linked (and unlocked):

“Is this infant being surrendered without coercion?” asked Micah Orliss, director of the Safe Surrender Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Is this a parent who is in a bad spot and could benefit from some time and discussion in a warm handoff experience to make their decision?”

As I was reading up on “baby drop boxes”, I found this letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. It was sent by an adoptee rights group called “Bastard Nation”, which opposes use of the baby drop boxes. I think they make good points in their letter, as these are people who are adoptees and have to live with issues surrounding being adopted. I’m going to have to read more about Bastard Nation later, when I have more time.

Later in the article, Dr. Orliss is mentioned again:

Because of the anonymity, there is limited information about the parents who use safe havens. But Dr. Orliss, of the Los Angeles safe haven clinic, performs psychological and developmental evaluations on some 15 such babies annually, often following them through their toddler years. His research found that more than half the children have health or developmental issues, often stemming from inadequate prenatal care. In California, unlike in Indiana, safe haven surrenders must be done face-to-face, and parents are given an optional questionnaire on medical history, which often reveals serious problems such as drug use.

The article also explains that mothers who abandon their babies and have a change of heart may have a hard time reclaiming their infants. They are also not immune to being subjected to legal sanctions, particularly if there is evidence that the baby they drop off is unhealthy due to drug or alcohol abuse. It’s potentially risky for them. See below:

In Indiana, which has the majority of baby boxes, state law does not specify a timeline for terminating birth parents’ rights after safe haven surrenders, or for adoption. But according to Don VanDerMoere, the prosecutor in Owen County, Ind., who has experience with infant abandonment laws in the state, biological families are free to come forward until a court terminates parental rights, which can occur 45 to 60 days after an anonymous surrender.

Because these relinquishments are anonymous, they typically lead to closed adoptions. Birth parents are unable to select the parents, and adoptees are left with little to no information about their family of origin or medical history.

Mr. Hanlon, of the National Council for Adoption, pointed to research showing that over the long term, birth parents feel more satisfied about giving up their children if biological and adoptive families maintain a relationship.

And in safe haven cases, if a mother changes her mind, she must prove to the state that she is fit.

According to Ms. Kelsey, since her operation began, two women who said they had placed their infants in boxes have tried to reclaim custody of their children. Such cases can take months or even years to resolve.

Birth mothers are also not immune from legal jeopardy, and may not be able to navigate the technicalities of each state’s safe haven law, said Lori Bruce, a medical ethicist at Yale.

While many states protect surrendering mothers from criminal prosecution if babies are healthy and unharmed, mothers in severe crisis — dealing with addiction or domestic abuse, for example — may not be protected if their newborns are in some way affected.

The idea of a traumatized, postpartum mother being able to “correctly Google the laws is slim,” Ms. Bruce said.

But then… the article also points out that some of the babies do well, and turn out to be healthy. I have been thinking, though, that all of this focus on babies being born could lead to less freedoms for potential birth mothers. Are laws going to be changed that force potentially pregnant people to get prenatal care, since their bodies are basically being thought of as akin to vessels now? If a woman doesn’t regularly see her OB-GYN, is she going to be punished? If she does something considered unsafe, will she be at risk of arrest or incarceration? That’s another thing– why are so many Americans so hot on jailing people? We have so many incarcerated people in the United States, and some of the anti-abortion folks just want to put more people behind bars. What kind of life is that?

There’s something really sickening about the fact that drop boxes weren’t acceptable to many conservatives for collecting votes, but they are for babies. It’s like dropping off a book at the library, or something. There should be more to relinquishing a baby than simply dumping off a kid in a box. Maybe something can be done to make the situation less dire for the natural parents so that they don’t feel compelled to abandon their offspring. In any case, I would hope that people are made aware of the fact that there’s a window of time in which the parent can reclaim the baby, if the situation is such that they’ve panicked or had a change of heart.

Anyway, once again, I expressed my opinion. I immediately got an inappropriate laugh reaction from someone I quickly blocked. I noticed two other “laugh” reacts, both from obvious MAGA trolls. Then I got a nonsensical comment from someone. I wrote “huh”, because I genuinely didn’t get what they were on about. That person came back and said they didn’t have the time or crayons to explain it to me, so I blocked them, too. If your response to me is immediate rudeness and insults, I don’t see why I should waste any time with you. If you choose to interact with me unsolicited, and all you have is mockery, then welcome to my block list. I don’t have the energy for it. I wonder, though, is that the overall goal for these people? To be so insufferably obnoxious that they immediately get blocked by strangers on social media? I think a lot of them make rude comments for attention. If they get blocked right off the bat, they don’t get any attention. So what have they accomplished, other than looking like assholes?

I’ve decided to be a lot more aggressive about blocking people who deliberately annoy me. I think the current political climate calls for it. There’s no reason to engage with people who are disrespectful and immediately make personal attacks against others. That doesn’t mean I block people who simply disagree. It means I block people who are sarcastic, rude, insulting, or just plain mean. I don’t deserve to be treated that way. No one does.

This one guy was going on about killing babies in the “whom”. Seriously, that was how he was spelling “womb”, as he sanctimoniously lectured us all about how babies shouldn’t be denied all of the “wonderful and beautiful” things in life. Yeah… like climate change, poverty, housing shortages, inflation, gun violence, domestic violence, political nightmares, rampant crime, extreme debt, and every child’s special hell– abuse. There are worse things than not being born, and I’m so sick and tired of reading comments from pro-life (birth) men, whose lives will never be personally affected by pregnancy or childbirth. A lot of them are only “pro-life” because they are upset about not having the choice to opt out of parenting and resent being forced to pay child support. See this video from a West Virginia legislator for more on that phenomenon:

“Chris Pritt owns his own law practice, Pritt Law, where he specializes in divorce, custody arguments and child support. But standing before the state legislature in West Virginia, his argument was a linguistic pretzel to justify eliminating all child support for the parent who gets custody of a child. According to Pritt, there are fathers who don’t want to be involved in the lives of their children.

It’s not just the men, though. On Twitter this morning, I read some MAGA woman’s comments about how miscarriages that require D&C aren’t abortions. Except a miscarriage is LITERALLY referred to as a “spontaneous abortion” in medical parlance. She also went on about how necessary medical treatment for situations like ectopic pregnancies aren’t abortions. Except they are. If there is a heartbeat in the embryo that is lodged outside of the uterus, and the pregnancy is terminated for medical reasons, it’s still technically an abortion. Abortion isn’t a “dirty word”. But these MAGA people want to term it as “murder”, which it’s not, and refer to it as a specific action involving ending a “healthy” pregnancy. People get abortions for all kinds of reasons that are important to them, none of which are anyone else’s business. Calling abortion “murder” is just a way to rile people up and get them to think irrationally. Murder is a legal term that involves people who have already been born.

I didn’t engage the MAGA woman, but one look at her Twitter page was all I needed to know that she isn’t someone I want to have anything to do with. So I blocked her, too. I considered blocking a guy who was demanding “proof” of a Twitter user’s story about a friend whose pregnancy ended in the 7th month of gestation and she couldn’t get appropriate medical care before she got sick. The guy actually demanded that she “prove” it to him. So, she blocked him. He was whining about being blocked, but other people were telling him that she doesn’t owe him personal information about her friend. Besides, there have been enough recent news stories about people being denied appropriate medical care in deep red states when they are miscarrying. That is a situation that will only get worse. And this is a world we want to bring innocent babies into? Where the females will be obliged to stay pregnant or denied medical assistance when they are in trouble because doctors are now terrified of being sued or arrested? Or the babies can be anonymously “dropped off” in a depository box, instead of handed to a human being? Maybe the boxes have saved lives, but I still don’t like them. I should be able to state that without some stranger laughing at me or calling me “stupid”.

I am all for allowing people to have abortions when they want or need them. It’s a personal healthcare decision, and restricting it causes a whole host of slippery slope situations that will cause big problems down the line, as well as a loss of privacy and freedom for already born people. People don’t seem to realize that forcing people to gestate will result in a lot of social problems that will affect everyone on every level. Because those new babies being born will have many needs… and we don’t meet all of the needs of people who have already been born as it is.

Moving on… a little levity for Monday…

I suspect Ex must be starting a new cycle of abuse, as she posted a picture of a man who appears to be #3 on social media with the following comment:

Oh how this touches my heart. I was adopted; my reunion was like this with my birth father, except he then refused to acknowledge me to his family. I am fortunate to have had a real Daddy to raise me and love me. He’s passed and I miss him so much! Hubby has to fill in on hugs! (interesting how she values her adoptive father, who by Bill’s account, was kind of non-commital to her and was always out at sea, but she denies her children access to their fathers, or replaces them when she gets divorced with inferior models, like #3)

My guess is that she and #3 may have hit a rough patch and she’s now making up with him… the cycle of abuse is starting again. But who knows?

I was also amused to see this comment from Ex, who apparently hasn’t heard of Duolingo… Duolingo does, in fact, offer what she seeks.

[her favorite author] does her homework and makes us do ours!!! I want to learn Gaelic but cannot find a program, not even BABEL has it. Anyone know of a good app or website or person I can learn SCOTTISH GAELIC, not Irish, from?!?! I’m of Scottish descent and want to know my own tongue!!!!

Anyway… Ex was born in Texas, not Scotland. I have lots of Scottish ancestry myself, but I am an American. So is Ex. And plenty of poison has come from Ex’s tongue, whether it’s through speaking, kissing, or giving someone head. So I think she knows enough of her own tongue, and should keep it to herself. 😉

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condescending twatbags, narcissists, politicians, politics, stupid people, Trump, Twitter

Matt Gaetz will never learn, will he?

It’s 9:00 am, and I’ve already had some excitement, thanks to the visitor in our garden. For those who don’t want to click the link, my dogs and I discovered a huge hedgehog in the backyard this morning. I have a feeling it’s probably a female who is about to have babies. After making sure it was living, I put it back where I found it and I just checked to see if it’s still there. It’s not, and I’m glad. I don’t want my dogs to end up with mouthfuls of quills!

I mentioned yesterday that Twitter is a toxic place, yet full of blog topics. Sure enough, I found one this morning, when I saw Florida Republican Representative, Matt Gaetz, tweeted the picture below, with typically misogynistic and insulting comments…

What a massive cretin Matt Gaetz is. He doesn’t learn, does he?

That’s the kind of remark I’ve come to expect from male Republican leaders who model themselves on Donald Trump. Donald Trump, as we know, is never averse to insulting people for the way they look and saying things like “They aren’t sending their best.” It’s funny, too, since Trump isn’t exactly attractive himself. Matt Gaetz might not be ugly in the conventionally physical sense of the word, but he sure seems to have an ugly soul. He’s campaigning on the pro-life platform, but why in the hell would anyone want to bring innocent children into the world where people like Gaetz are elected leaders?

Think about it. I know, as a woman who’s been around for half a century, that life can be cruel to those who aren’t considered attractive, particularly if they aren’t physically appealing. Gaetz claims to value life, but he tears down people he thinks are somehow unattractive. Does he realize how damaging those remarks are? Has he considered how many people– particularly young women– waste the best years of their lives obsessing over their bodies, starving themselves, spending scads of money on makeup and clothes, sitting hours in chairs at the beauty salon, just so they can impress “alpha male” types like Matt Gaetz? Or hell, they might not be wanting to attract Matt Gaetz and his ilk, but they just feel like they have to be “pretty” to get a good job, make friends, or otherwise succeed in life.

Or maybe Matt was trying to make a point about Peggy Schiller’s actual qualifications. If he was, though, I can’t find it in this tweet. To me, it looks like a dig about her appearance. And even if it isn’t about her appearance, he has recently commented about how “pro-choice” women look like thumbs and aren’t actually at risk of being impregnated. Does he think his tastes are the only ones that matter?

I don’t think Republicans are sending their best, either.

I think most people have at least a few attractive qualities. Some people’s attractiveness comes entirely from within. I’ve rarely met someone who was truly ugly inside and out. The women in the above photo probably have friends and family members who love them dearly. Peggy Schiller, the woman who is opposing Gaetz, probably doesn’t have criminal charges pending against her for trafficking minors. She probably doesn’t make disparaging personal comments about other people’s appearances. She probably sticks to the issues. Or maybe she doesn’t… but she’s for a woman’s right to choose, which I appreciate. That’s what I care about, and that’s who I would vote for, if I were a Florida resident.

I did like that someone on Twitter pointed out that every time Gaetz tries to insult women, someone donates money to the pro-choice cause. Olivia Julianna, the young woman Gaetz publicly insulted, reminded him that she’s sending $2 million to reproductive health funds across the country– and yes, sometimes that includes abortion. If anything, Gaetz is a poster child for the pro-choice movement, and every time he shows his ass in public, he strengthens their resolve to reclaim the rights to bodily autonomy.

But we are sending 2 million dollars to abortion funds across the country. Olivia Julianna, July 31, 2022

I also noticed that even the “pro-choice” men were trying to tone police the women. A guy named Greg posted:

I am 100% with you on this topic…. But our messaging is always bad, and calling these “abortion funds” is a poor label. It will come back to haunt us in the same way that the phrase “defund the police” became a huge negative phrase. Try “Pro-Choice Funds”….

I’m sure Greg thought he was just sharing his opinion on this and maybe felt he had every right to do so, but his comment pissed off a lot of the women, who angrily responded that he doesn’t get to tell women how to communicate. A few others posted that they want to destigmatize the word “abortion”. Frankly, I’m with that crowd. Abortions are medical procedures. Sometimes, they are natural events that happen in pregnancy. We shouldn’t be likening it to murder. Murder is a specific legal term that involves born people who are cognizant and aware, not developing embryos. I would focus more on getting people to stop conflating murder with abortion. They aren’t the same thing.

But yeah… enough with the mansplaining:

Oh please, no mansplaining necessary. It IS abortion fund. And we are NOT ashamed to say it. Abortion is women’s health care. THAT is the messaging . Got it?

Someone else posted this picture of Matt with some young ladies. I guess they are more to his liking, looks wise.

He has such a creepy smile.

Whenever I see comments from people like Matt Gaetz, I thank God for Bill. I’ve gotten rude comments from men regarding my physical appearance. People have said I look old, fat, ugly, or have called me the dreaded C word. Most of them, I’ve noticed, are Trump supporters. These are people who are supposedly “pro-life”. And yet, they have no regard at all for living people with feelings. They don’t value people they think are “ugly”, “unattractive”, “fat” (and they ALWAYS bring up weight), or otherwise not ringing their chimes somehow. I don’t really care if Matt Gaetz and his ilk think I’m ugly. The feeling is mutual, but it’s mostly because Gaetz is an unfeeling bastard who doesn’t actually care about anyone but himself. And I’ve found that most of the men who speak like he does are the same… the same boring, one track minded, power and money hungry, soulless, heartless cretins who are totally unappealing on a whole new level.

As my late father used to say, “Pretty is as pretty does…” He often directed that comment to me, the daughter he used to disparage the most… But I grew up to marry a wonderful, kind, loving man who adores me for who I am… ALL of me, fat rolls and everything. He values me for things beyond appearance. And those are the kinds of men who should be in power. Not garbage humans like Matt Gaetz who only value women for their reproductive abilities and appearances. I’d rather be fat and ugly, than have to be around someone like Matt Gaetz. I think of it as a personal insurance policy against creeps!

Representing the best of the Libs… 😉 I’d say I did okay.

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