controversies, healthcare, politics, Twitter, YouTube

Bravo to Mama Doctor Jones, for keeping up the good fight on Twitter!

Ah, June 17th… the day I’ve been waiting for since last month. 😉 Bill and I are leaving town for the weekend, since my 50th birthday is on Monday. Bill decided that we would be celebrating in Antwerp, Belgium, the one major Belgian city we haven’t yet seen. So, after he comes back from taking the dogs to their “hotel”, we’ll load up and head northwest for a few days. It’s just as well, too, since it’s going to be really hot this weekend, and I only have portable air conditioners in two rooms in this house. I’m pretty sure the swanky hotel Bill booked is air conditioned.

I woke up this morning to more commentary about the January 6th hearings. Once again, people are talking about about how Mike Pence “saved the day” by doing his job. I was reminded of how a former friend of mine, a lesbian, took me to task for being “grateful” to Pence for following the law. She seemed to think that I had forgotten about and forgiven him for his despicable views against the LGBTQ population. Make no mistake about this– I do NOT like Mike Pence, nor would I EVER vote for him. But I am very glad he did his job and did not succumb to the tremendous pressure he was under to do Trump’s bidding. I do appreciate that Mike Pence acted like an adult on January 6th, and I felt that it was appropriate to state that. That doesn’t mean I’m a Pence fan. Nevertheless, she canceled me anyway, which is her right, I guess… and it’s also her loss. I’m also sure she wouldn’t appreciate it if I treated her the same way.

A friend of mine commented about Pence, and I very briefly related the story of how my former friend had deleted me because I expressed appreciation for Pence’s responsible actions, even if he would have rather done as Trump ordered. One of my friend’s friends said she “wasn’t surprised” my lesbian former friend was offended, since Pence is so hateful to the LGBTQ community. Once again, I reiterated that appreciating that Pence did his job and acted like an adult doesn’t make me a fan. Aside from that, my former friend blocked me when I wrote that I bought a Donald Trump toilet brush. She said she’d never have anything “Trump” in her house, so I wrote, “luckily, it’s not your house.” For some reason, she took great offense to that comment. I don’t know why. I would never presume to tell her what she should or shouldn’t put in her house, especially on her space.

I could write more about the hearings, but to be honest, I have really only been following them casually. I don’t think I would be able to offer a lot of opinions based on facts, and I don’t have time to do fact checking today, since we’re leaving town. Besides, thinking about that dark day in our history makes me sad, and I don’t want to be sad so close to my birthday. I’m not sad to be turning 50, by the way, although I do regret that I’m feeling my age more and more. But, that’s part of life, and I suppose it beats the alternative.

Instead, I think I’ll write a little about Mama Doctor Jones. I’ve written about her before– she’s a board certified OB-GYN, originally from Texas, but now living in New Zealand. She’s a tireless advocate for women’s health and women’s rights, and she’s made dozens of fact based entertaining videos about subjects like pregnancy, abortion, menstruation, and other “female” health issues. I enjoy her YouTube channel, and lately, I’ve also been following her on Twitter.

Actually, I’ve been using Twitter more than usual, as a whole. It’s taken me forever to get into it, but I do notice myself paying more attention to Twitter than I have historically. I didn’t like Twitter when I first joined, but I kind of like that it seems to be less “friend” oriented than Facebook is. Plus, I’ve seen some pretty wild and entertaining Twitter threads.

Anyway, I noticed that I got an alert from Mama Doctor Jones yesterday. I had some free time (ha ha ha), so I went to her Twitter page to see what was cooking. There, I found her taking on some person who told her she should be “ashamed” of herself.

This person, BillyBahBa, is probably a professional troll. I see the account was started last month and has very little activity. However, there are PLENTY of people out there who think that anyone who thinks abortion is “healthcare” should be ashamed. Personally, I think those who think they need to insert themselves in other people’s very private healthcare decisions should be the ones who are ashamed. I, for one, am grateful for Mama Doctor Jones for doing her part in fighting against these people who want to force people to gestate and give birth against their wills. I don’t know why, but a lot of folks don’t seem to realize that there are worse things than loss of life. Is it really better to make someone stay pregnant when they don’t have the will or ability to see to it that the developing fetus emerges healthy? We don’t force pregnant women to see physicians, eat right, or keep themselves safe, although I worry that if abortion becomes illegal again, that could be on the agenda… as could the abolition of birth control or even things like IVF or other conception procedures. I doubt a lot of the pro-lifers have thought of this, or even give a damn.

But there’s Mama Doctor Jones, setting this idiot straight and letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that they are simply WRONG. And if abortion becomes illegal, it will be the poorest people who will suffer the most. Some of them could even die. Does the pro-life crowd care at all about that? Probably not. Again, I think BillyBahBa is probably just getting their jollies from upsetting others, but there are still others who presume to lecture an expert on women’s health on what the “correct” viewpoint is.

Bravo, Mama Doctor Jones, for setting these people straight. And also for blocking their asses when they don’t take a seat. Because really, who’s got the time for it? I know I don’t.

Naw, guy. What’s weak is your willful ignorance and lack of empathy for people who can get pregnant and might be harmed by pregnancy. We cannot let the QAnon religious right nutjobs take over the country with their anti-woman agenda. And the more people who take them on, the less likely it is that their agenda will stand. I also like that she calls out hypocrites…

I haven’t visited a doctor in years. I haven’t seen a gyno in over a decade. However, I might consider visiting a doctor like Mama Doctor Jones, because I don’t think she would abuse me in the way the one gyno I did see (a woman, BTW) did. I appreciate that Mama Doctor Jones is such a strong advocate who cares for people. Or, at least that’s how she appears to be. I’ve never met her. But I don’t think she’s fake, and that’s really refreshing. And also, I really admire her total ease at being on camera and her sense of humor. I think I’d enjoy knowing her.

Well, I guess it’s time for me to sign off and practice guitar before I put on some clothes and head off to Belgium. I will bring my laptop, but I don’t know how much writing will happen… it depends on if we go to The Netherlands and get me a space cake. 😉

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education, healthcare, law, rants, sexism, slut shamers, wingnuts, YouTube

Mama Doctor Jones gets called out by conservatives in Alaska…

Before I get cranked up with today’s post, I want to highly recommend my readers to watch the below video. Reading my rantings about this situation is simple extra credit. Mama Doctor Jones spells it all out pretty plainly, and what she says about this incident is probably enough. Also, if anyone progressive from Fairbanks, Alaska reads this and is offended by my comments, I apologize pre-emptively for lumping all Fairbanks residents in with Joel Davidson and his ilk. However, unlike Mr. Davidson and his grasp of subjects related to sex ed and women’s health, I realize that my opinions about Alaska are mostly formed in ignorance.

At the end of yesterday’s post, I referenced a YouTube video by Mama Doctor Jones, otherwise known as Danielle Jones, MD. Mama Doctor Jones, for those who don’t know, is a board certified OB-GYN who makes wonderful, informative, and entertaining videos about women’s health and pregnancy on YouTube. I discovered her a few months ago, when the new Texas abortion ban law came into effect. She made an excellent video about why the new law is potentially very dangerous, and why she, as a physician practicing in Texas, is against it.

Dr. Jones and her family have recently announced that they are moving to New Zealand. I don’t know how long she, her husband, and their four kids will be living in New Zealand, but their move does mean that she won’t be held to the new law in Texas. In any case, as a fellow American citizen who has also left the United States, I completely understand why Dr. Jones wants to leave, even if only temporarily. I think living abroad is an experience more Americans should experience, if only to shed the ignorant idea that the United States is the “best” country in the world. Or, even if someone still thinks the USA is the best after living abroad, they might realize that other countries are also pretty good places to be.

After I saw Mama Doctor Jones take on the Texas abortion law, I became a fan of her content. I don’t watch all of her videos, but I have seen a lot of them. I am always impressed by how engaging, charismatic, and at ease she is on camera, and how non-threatening she comes across as she explains women’s healthcare. Personally, I find OB-GYNs terrifying, mainly because I had a very traumatic experience with one when I was a young woman. Even though I, myself, have a background in healthcare, I have a really hard time seeing physicians. But, if I had an obviously kind physician like Dr. Jones, I would probably be a lot less reluctant to go to the doctor for screenings.

Suffice to say, I think Dr. Jones is the bomb. If I had children– boys or girls— I would want them to watch her channel. She’s really fascinating, and judging by the comments I have read in the Duggar Family News group, I am not the only one who thinks Mama Doctor Jones is awesome. So, imagine my shock when I happened to see her video about “being canceled”.

As this video started, I was thinking WTF… but then I was highly irritated by conservative idiots in Alaska!

Mama Doctor Jones then explains that she actually isn’t being “canceled” per se, but her name came up at a school board meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. Apparently, some people were upset that some of Mama Doctor Joneses’ content was being used to teach sex education to adolescents. The situation was covered by Joel Davidson, a journalist who writes for the Alaska Watchman. Dr. Jones explains in her video that she was blissfully unaware of this issue until one of her viewers tweeted her with a link to Davidson’s first article on the subject. The article is salaciously titled, “Fairbanks teachers want 12-year-olds exposed to explicit sex-ed videos”, and it includes a picture of Jones’ face, plastered across the top of the page.

Before two days ago, I had never heard of Alaska Watchman. I don’t even know very much about Alaska itself, since I’ve never been there. Former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, gave a lot of us continental Americans a taste of Alaska’s apparently far right-wing culture, and I knew that it was a conservative place with a lot of independent minded people within it. I figured it was a beautiful place, too, albeit too cold for my tastes. Since I don’t know much about Alaska, I went to Alaska Watchman’s About Us page, where I found a description of this periodical:

The Alaska Watchman aims to raise awareness of key issues affecting Alaskans. Coming from a broadly Judeo-Christian perspective, we are committed to the highest standards of journalism and ethical reporting.

Our reports look to inform and equip Alaskans to effectively engage the culture for the common good. Please keep your comments respectful.

Okay then… so right off the bat, it’s obvious that this source is biased, and conservative in nature. That means it should probably be taken about as seriously as people might take my blog. However, in reading Mr. Davidson’s second post about Mama Doctor Jones and her “racy” content, I see that he’s in need of an editor:

Several board members raised concern about a YouTube video, Mamma Dr. Jones, which the district wanted to use for sex-education.

Later in the same article he writes:

The main problem I have with all of the videos links that were sent is that they create a trust with the name and source with the students,” [April] Smith said. “We are now putting into our children that Momma Dr. Jones is an excellent source of education.”

Hey Joel– on two occasions you spelled “Mama’s” name wrong, and it looks like you’re missing a preposition. So much for those “high standards of journalism”, right? But enough about my grammar snob tendencies. What really annoys me about Joel Davidson’s articles is that they are very obviously slanted, and it doesn’t appear that he’s spent much time actually watching Mama Doctor Jones on YouTube or objectively considering the value of her content. Maybe it’s because he’s a father of eight. Obviously, he already knows something about sex, and it’s clear he doesn’t care too much about women or women’s health. I won’t even get into what he likely thinks about people who are transgender or otherwise not cisgender, as he obviously is.

Where did those 8 children come from, Joel?

According to Mr. Davidson’s article from October 21, 2021, a 2016 era state law in Alaska requires all school districts to “get approval from local school boards before they can teach new sex education material to children.” I just did a very quick web search to find the law in question, and the first hit I came upon was not the law, but an article on a site called SIECUS (Sex Ed for Social Change). That site’s profile on Alaska indicates that the local culture is overall very much opposed to teaching contemporary sex education in public schools. In fact, it’s not even a requirement to teach sex ed in Alaska public schools.

Mr. Davidson even mentions that “over the past four years, Fairbanks has lost over 1000 students to other educational options”. School board member, April Smith, claims that the district has lost the trust of many parents and they are taking their children out of the public schools and either homeschooling them, or putting them in private schools. I just want to know– is April Smith really that sure that teaching sex ed is the reason this is happening? Because it sounds like Fairbanks school board members aren’t the brightest stars in the proverbial Alaskan sky. Couldn’t students also be leaving public schools because of other issues, like COVID-19, and the risks associated with that? Isn’t it possible that some parents would like their children to be educated on important things, like how their bodies work?

Anyway, I don’t think Mama Doctor Jones is necessarily as fussed about the antiquated local mores in Fairbanks as she is that Mr. Davidson’s articles are clearly biased, as well as borderline defamatory. He has also written quite a few outright FALSE statements about Mama Doctor Jones’ content, as well as certain subjects she covers. For example, he writes:

video for middle schoolers and high schoolers features OBGYN Danielle Jones stating that “50% of people have a vagina.” Jones’ video spotlights a young teen showing off her stained underwear and talking about the fact that vaginal discharge is normal. At one point Jones talks about what can happen when inserting a “toy or penis” into the vagina.

Okay… first off, as Dr. Jones points out in her rebuttal, Davidson doesn’t properly address her credentials. He should have written either Danielle Jones, MD, or Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN. She worked very hard to earn a degree in medicine; she is board certified; and she CLEARLY knows a hell of a lot more about medicine than Davidson does. Please show some respect, Joel. Especially if you actually do care about “high standards of journalism”.

Secondly, how AWFUL it is that a woman who is an expert in women’s health actually covers women’s health concerns! Joel, as a father of eight, it appears that you have been sticking your penis somewhere. I don’t know a thing about you, but I gather those eight kids were not adopted. If they weren’t adopted, then you and a female must have engaged in some sort of normal biological activity to make those kids, right? What is wrong with teaching young people how all of that works? Perhaps if more adolescents knew the facts about sex, there might be less of a demand for abortions, or teenagers becoming parents before they’re really ready for the job.

Davidson also clearly likes the new law in Texas. He writes:

Other videos by Jones, which are not part of the Fairbanks curriculum, blast Texas’ new pro-life law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Other videos celebrate transgenderism and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Danielle Jones correctly “blasts” Texas’ new “pro-life law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected” because it’s a DANGEROUS, creepy, and unconstitutional law. And if you listen to Dr. Jones explain just WHY that law is so dangerous, and consider that it will negatively affect so many women who legitimately need to be able to safely terminate their pregnancies, you might have more of an understanding why that law is wrong and needs to be struck from the books. Moreover, a woman’s need to have an abortion should be no one else’s business, particularly since no one seems interested in helping to make having and raising children feasible and affordable. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much of an emphasis on preventing pregnancies by making contraception affordable and available, and teaching young people about how babies are made.

As for the rest of that comment… I can’t even. I get that some people can’t wrap their heads around transgenderism and want to mock things they either can’t or won’t try to understand. I just think it’s very sad that so many of them call themselves Christians, but lack the ability to be kind and empathetic, as Christ was. And it’s even sadder that someone who calls himself a journalist and is, in fact, “editor-in-chief” of the Alaska Watchman, is pushing this bullshit and calling it news, when it’s clearly very biased and sometimes outright false information.

I will admit, I’m biased too, but the difference is, I freely state that this is clearly a personal blog, not a newspaper, and I am not a journalist, nor do I play one on TV. People who regularly read my blog– and there aren’t really so many– shouldn’t come here expecting to read news. No one pays to read my content– although apparently, the Alaska Watchman is a “free” paper. I still bet some people expect to read news on the Alaska Watchman, even though it appears to me to be a glorified blog.

Davidson then goes on to write:

A separate video for high schoolers attempts to convince teens that the Plan B (or Morning After Pill) does not cause abortions. The speaker repeatedly emphasizes that this drug “does not cause an abortion.”

According to the product label attached to Plan B, it can, in fact serve as an abortifacient by preventing “attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus (womb).” Since a “fertilized egg” is in fact the earliest stage of human life, Plan B can kill this life by blocking access to the womb, which is necessary for nutrition and continued development.

As Dr. Jones points out in the above video, if there is no pregnancy, there is no abortion. What Plan B does is prevent pregnancy from happening by preventing a fertilized egg from implantation. It does not terminate an existing pregnancy. Since Plan B does not cause abortion, it cannot legitimately be called an “abortifacient”. And Joel Davidson should NOT be making false statements, especially when he clearly has zero experience or training in medicine or women’s healthcare, nor does he even have the physical body parts that women have. What does Joel Davidson know about the care of a vagina or handling a menstrual period? I don’t even think Mr. Davidson is a very skilled journalist. I certainly would not go to him for his opinions on women’s healthcare!

Having read both of these articles written by Joel Davidson, I’m left with the idea that people in Fairbanks, Alaska are not very bright, although I’m sure that’s not actually the case. He quotes a North Pole woman as saying Mama Doctor Joneses’s content is “basically porn”. I’ve seen some porn in my day, and I want to tell that person that if she thinks Dr. Jones’s content is pornographic, she obviously doesn’t get out much and hasn’t seen anything that is actually pornographic. According to Davidson, she continues with:

“It just does not belong in the school,” she said. “We’re not allowed to talk about religion or church or anything in schools and yet we’re going to bring this disgusting material to our children?”

“Disgusting material”? You mean material that teaches people about how babies are made, how they develop, and how sex– which is among the most basic and normal of acts– can be experienced without shame, humiliation, or embarrassment? If anything, I would say promoting specific religions and churches in public schools, which are supported by TAXPAYERS of all faiths or lack thereof, is a disgusting thing to do. Particularly since so many people have been abused and damaged by religion. Look at how many people have DIED or been abused due to religious beliefs. You don’t even have to think for very long. Just look at the Holocaust. But I’ll bet they don’t teach much about that in Alaska, either.

As for the allegations of “porn” on Mama Doctor Joneses’ channel, YouTube is pretty strict about what they allow to be posted, particularly on monetized content. For instance, I’ve noticed that a lot of content creators don’t use words or phrases like “porn”, “rape”, or “child sexual abuse”, probably because those words trigger YouTube’s algorithms and affect advertising revenue. So, instead of outright saying “child pornography” or “child sexual abuse” or similar things, content creators say “CP” or “CSAM”. Personally, I think that’s a very stupid practice, since we all know what those things are, and using the letters does not, and really should not, diminish the horror of them.

Dr. Danielle Jones makes content about women’s health and sexuality, so of course she’s going to be talking about sex. And the content she creates is factual and useful, but it’s also monetized, so there’s only so much she can say that isn’t “PG-rated”. Her content is certainly not porn. But I’m sure Mr. Davidson and his rightwing nutjob friends are big fans of Donald Trump, who is a big fan of sexually abusing women and has even outright stated it. The hypocrisy is astounding!

As a 49 year old cisgender woman who has not had children, but does have master’s degrees in social work and public health, and has worked in a rural healthcare setting with young people, I applaud Mama Doctor Jones for what she’s doing. I grew up in a rural county in Virginia, with parents who never talked to me about sex. I got my “education” from HBO, the neighborhood pervert who showed me men’s magazines (and voted Republican), and Coach Todd, the former pro football player who taught about health subjects between telling us lurid stories about his days in Vietnam.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED Coach Todd’s surprisingly hilarious war stories, but they didn’t exactly prepare me for womanhood. I was fortunate enough to have parents who, despite being conservative and not talking to me about sex, were not opposed to letting me read whatever I wanted. So I was allowed to explore topics like sex education and sexual assault on my own, and somehow, I managed to marry my husband without a long history of sexual partners or the consequences that can come from having sex before I was ready. Not that I think having sex outside of marriage is necessarily wrong. The choice to have sex is simply a decision that should be made by mature people who are prepared to make it, and fully understand what results could come as a result of making that decision.

So many young people do not have the luxury of being able to learn what they really need to know. I know, from having been a social worker, that a lot of young people wind up getting pregnant, suffering from sexually transmissible infections, or being victimized in sexual assaults, because they have not been taught what they NEED to know. And if parents can’t or won’t teach their kids, the SCHOOLS must! Ignorance about these issues can and do lead to tragedies. Look at all of the brilliant young people who do not identify as straight who have suffered or even died because they had no one safe to talk to about these issues. Some of those kids who died too young were pointed toward “religion and church” for “help”, only to be told that their sexual orientations were “sinful” and wrong. I, for one, am GLAD Dr. Jones is willing to talk about transgender issues and other topics on YouTube that make people like April Smith and her ilk clutch their pearls. Maybe if more people talked about these topics in a non-judgmental way, there would be less suicide.

As to whether or not the Mama Doctor Jones YouTube channel is appropriate supplemental content for a school sex ed program, that’s a matter of opinion. Davidson may even be correct that Fairbanks educators acted illegally when they pointed to Dr. Jones’ videos as supplemental sex ed materials. However, that’s an issue that should have been discussed without dragging Dr. Danielle Jones and her Mama Doctor Jones channel through the mud. She had nothing to do with her channel being suggested as supplemental sex ed materials for kids, nor was she even aware that it had been recommended until one of her followers pointed it out to her. The fact is, Dr. Jones’ channel is outstanding, and I think it is a marvelous resource for the general public, even if some parents disapprove of the content.

I can tell by Mr. Davidson’s commentary that he’s conservative and pro-life. Well, if you’re pro-life, Mr. Davidson, you should be in favor of teaching young people the facts about sex. You should be for informing young people, so that they don’t fall prey to mental health issues that drive them to suicide. They should be learning how pregnancy works, what causes it, how to avoid getting pregnant until the time is right, and what is or is not normal in their own bodies. Young people are often afraid to talk to their parents about sex, but they badly need that information. And it’s pretty clear to me that a lot of the people in Fairbanks are not doing the job. I’m glad there there are people around like Dr. Danielle Jones and Dr. Jen Gunter (another OB-GYN who also puts out excellent content) to teach young people what educators can’t or won’t, thanks to conservative school boards who are “out to lunch” and think sex ed is akin to porn.

You should also watch Dr. Jen Gunter’s videos. She is awesome!

Besides helping young people avoid pregnancy, sex education also helps to prevent sexual assaults. Sexual assaults can lead to unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, abortions, and suicide. Seems to me that pro-lifers should be doing what they can to prevent sexual assaults in the form of teaching young people about sex. According to SIECUS, sexual assault is also a big problem up there in Alaska:

Half of all Alaskan women have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime and Alaska Native women experience sexual and relationship violence at even higher rates. While the Cook Inlet Tribal Council has received funding to adapt the Native Stand curriculum for Alaskan youth, it is not available statewide. Advocates report that ensuring sex education is culturally responsive to the needs of native young people, and includes instruction on healthy relationships and consent, is critical.

If you really care about young people, Joel Davidson, you should be grateful to the qualified physicians who are able and willing to share their expertise with the public. And, in the interest of promoting “excellent journalism”, you should stop spreading your ill-informed opinions about women’s health, a subject about which you clearly know very little. I, for one, applaud the school officials in Alaska who recognize the value of Dr. Jones’ content. Bravo to them. And shame on MALES who want to keep women ignorant and subservient. They all obviously need to go back to school– preferably in a school district where high quality sex ed is taught.

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healthcare, politicians, politics, rants

The Party of Family Values, my ass!

Last night, I read a New York Times article about how the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to block the Abortion Law in Texas. The Biden administration is planning to challenge the law, giving the Supreme Court Justices the opportunity to take another look at it.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people commenting about the article. Quite a few comments came from conservative white men, many of whom wanted to know why women didn’t simply “abstain” from having sex. I had to have a laugh at that. In my experience, it’s usually not the women who are wanting sex the most. I mean, yes, there are lots of women who enjoy having sex, but I think men are the ones who are mostly driven to have it.

As we all know, when a woman gets pregnant, she’s usually pregnant for nine months. A man, on the other hand, can do his part in creating babies with a woman, then do the same thing with another woman the next day… and the day after that… and the day after that…

So why are we so focused on women when it comes to stopping abortion? Why aren’t we more focused on the men?

No… I don’t support forced vasectomies, just as I don’t think women should either be denied or forced to have abortions (and when I was a social worker, I did have a minor client who was forced to have an abortion she didn’t want). But I do think a lot of men need to be shaken up a little bit and reminded that if they’re so against abortion, there are things that they can do to stop them. For one thing, they can stop having sex for fun. Do you think that’s extreme? It’s what the men often tell women when this issue comes up. So many of them seem to think pregnancy should be punishment for what they deem as immoral, “slutty”, behavior. They don’t seem to think of the aftermath of what happens to the poor child who could be born into that situation.

A lot of men want to blame women for “getting themselves pregnant”. But no woman gets pregnant by herself. I’ve never seen a man’s name on a medical bill for a pregnant woman’s care, though. And I’ve never head of a biological man having to be on bed rest during a pregnancy. And when the baby is born, the man often has an easier time of going back to work. There’s no healing involved… no breastmilk coming in… no postpartum health issues.

Anyway, I managed to restrain myself from commenting too much on that particular piece, although I did comment that sometimes abortions are medically indicated. I added that at no time is it anyone’s business when someone else chooses to have one. A lot of women were adding their thoughts, and one guy was taking them on, one by one. He asked me what medical conditions might require a woman to have an abortion.

Seriously, guy? My response was that I wasn’t wasting my Friday night to teach this dude about obstetrics and gynecology. Instead, I directed him to the excellent video by Mama Doctor Jones that I’ve already shared in this blog more than once. She very clearly spells out why this new law, Senate Bill 8, is very bad news. Here’s the video again for those who missed it.

As Mama Doctor Jones pointed out, people who are pregnant are always at a higher risk than people who aren’t.

But, in short terms, someone who is pregnant and happens to have any kind of chronic disease, like diabetes, or lupus, or cancer, or someone who has mental health or addiction issues, or someone who can barely support themselves… those are all people who might benefit from having the choice to have an abortion. And there are other situations that may make someone consider terminating a pregnancy. At no time is it anyone else’s business.

I finally navigated away from the infuriating comments from the men on that thread and went to sleep. Then this morning, I woke up to this headline from the Washington Post— “Republicans fault Buttigieg for time off with newborns. Democrats say he’s showing the need for paid parental leave.“. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, became parents of two newborns in August. They spent over a year trying to adopt the babies, often coming close to success, only to have their hopes dashed. They finally got their wish, and now the couple is rightly taking parental leave.

Republicans, who often refer to themselves as The Party of Family Values, apparently don’t think it’s cool that Buttigieg is taking time to bond with his new babies. Tucker Carlson, of Fox News, actually mocked Buttigieg for taking paternity leave, saying

“Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went…”

So… basically, the Republican Party is all for family values, as long as they’re “traditional”. All of these Republican men are so against abortion, but then they mock two dedicated parents for taking time off to nurture their new families? Republicans want to force women to give birth, but they object to allowing new parents time to actually care for their babies? That doesn’t seem very “family friendly” to me.

Many Republicans probably just don’t like the idea of homosexuals raising families. That’s a real shame, since most of my homosexual friends and relatives are some of the finest people I know and are wonderful parents. They certainly understand the importance of a loving and supportive family. Too many of them have been cast out of their families simply due to who they choose to love.

Now… I’m not saying that all Republicans are homophobes. I’m sure there are plenty of people who identify as conservative, but aren’t actually homophobic. The trouble is, too few of them are in public office. The United States is unusual among developed nations for not recognizing the need for parents–both male and female– to be able to take family leave. Slowly, things are changing. Bill told me this morning that even the Army is allowing new dads to take leave. I’m sure the positive effects of that policy will become apparent in the future.

President Biden is trying to introduce new policies that will make the United States a more family friendly place. Maybe if we had more policies that made having babies and raising children easier, there would be fewer abortions. Just a thought.

Republicans want women to have babies no matter what, but they don’t support allowing parents to actually take care of those babies. So what does that mean? The baby goes to a child care facility while the parent goes right back to work? Aren’t these the same people bitching about socialism and government overreach? Okay, so maybe the child care facility is privately owned and run… and super expensive! Wouldn’t it be better if we allowed the parents of babies to actually take care of their babies when they’re super young?

Recently, Buttigieg has been more present on the job. He recently commented about his new role on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:

“It’s been wonderful,” Buttigieg said during that appearance. “It’s everything people tell you to expect and more. I think the biggest thing that has surprised me is just how much joy there is, even sometimes in the hard parts. Don’t get me wrong — it’s the most demanding thing I think I’ve ever done, that Chasten and I have ever taken on, but it’s just amazing.”

He sounds like a good dad to me. A good, and present, dad makes for a healthier family.

Even Fox News gives new parents six weeks of leave– which is not enough, in my opinion. But, in March of this year, “Fox & Friends” co-host Todd Piro took six weeks of paternity leave after his daughter’s birth. Piro was grateful for the time to spend with his new baby girl.

“I cannot thank Fox enough for providing all fathers who work here with such a generous paternity leave,” Piro wrote in an op-ed in April. “This experience has changed me in a profound way and in ways I won’t fully comprehend until my daughter is older. But for now — that smile coming from the crib each morning, immediately followed by morning snuggles — is what I will cherish the most.”

And other Fox hosts have also praised having the chance to take leave. When his third child was born in April 2021, Fox News host Jesse Watters admitted that he now supports paid paternity leave.

“Now I am pro-paternity. I used to mock people for taking paternity, I used to think it was a big ruse, but now, you know, I wish I could take six weeks,” Watters said.

But Republicans are still bitching about Pete Buttigieg’s “gall” at taking parental leave. They’re criticizing his leadership potential and making personal insults instead of working with him to make policies that actually benefit American families. They’re trying to force women who aren’t ready to have babies to stay pregnant, while denying them any assistance that would help them have healthy babies and actually raise those babies into well-adjusted and well-prepared adults.

Meanwhile, Democrats are lauding the idea of parental leave, as well as leave that would allow people to care for their sick and aging parents. Bill and I are in the “sandwich generation”– that stage of life in which we might have been really squeezed if we’d had children. So far, we aren’t affected the way many of our peers are– I have friends who are caring for their children, as well as their elderly parents. It really puts a strain on middle aged people and, frankly, makes them vulnerable to chronic diseases themselves.

I don’t think Republicans actually are the The Party of Family Values. I think they are The Party of Greed, Sexism, and Racism, and trying to control women’s bodies. There’s much more to living than working and making money. The conservative men, many of whom are drunk on their own toxic masculinity, ought to step aside and think about this for a minute. They say they’re against abortions because it’s an assault on the “sanctity of life”. They say adoption is a better choice. But Pete and Chasten Buttigieg have adopted two babies, and now they’re getting their chops busted by Republicans who mock them for wanting to have a family…

I guess “family values” for Republicans only apply to traditional couples. What a shame. I think Pete and Chasten Buttigieg are going to be fabulous parents. I wish them well, and I’m glad they took some time to adapt to their new life roles. All Americans should have that opportunity. Republicans should embrace the idea, especially if they’re serious about wanting to curtail abortions. Stop the slut shaming and moralizing and actually make some policies that would make the prospect of having children more workable and feasible.

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book reviews, homosexuality, religion

Repost: My review of The Cross in the Closet, by Timothy Kurek…

I posted this review on my original blog on March 25, 2014. It appears here as/is.

Today’s review is about Timothy Kurek’s 2012 book, The Cross in the Closet.  I don’t remember why I downloaded this book.  I think I heard about it somewhere and decided it sounded interesting.  Right now, it’s selling for about $5 on Amazon, so that might have also had something to do with my decision to buy.  I read Kurek’s book in a matter of hours…  and when I was finished with it, I was kind of reminded of this video.

This video is definitely NSFW, but it’s funny… 

The Cross in the Closet is the true story of how Timothy Kurek, like several authors before him, decided to fake something in order to develop empathy.  Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America, faked being poor and uneducated so she could write about what it’s like to be poor and having to work at minimum wage jobs to get by.  I read her book in the early 2000s and enjoyed it the first time I read it.  Then I read it again and it kind of pissed me off.  Ehrenreich wasn’t really poor and knew there was an end to when she’d have to fake being poor.  She had an escape from poverty– there was a light at the end of the tunnel that she could use to bolster herself when things got really hard.  That’s not to say that I don’t think she learned anything.  It’s just to say that her experience wasn’t all that authentic.

In a similar fashion, Timothy Kurek, who grew up near Nashville in a conservative Christian home and spent a year at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, faked being gay for a year.  At the start of his book, Kurek writes about how Jerry Falwell had preached against homosexuality and how people who are gay or lesbian are living sinful lives.  When Kurek is confronted by a gay activist who calls him “brother”, he calls the man to repentance.  He is very sure of his position; that homosexuals are hopeless sinners who lead disgusting lives.  He treats them terribly.

After a year at Liberty, Kurek goes back to Tennessee because his parents split up.  He starts hanging around a karaoke bar in Nashville, where he becomes acquainted with some homosexuals.  One of his dear friends, a young woman he knew from church, comes out to him.  She is devastated because her parents have disowned her.  As Kurek awkwardly comforts his friend, he can’t find the right words to say.  He realizes that he’s been bigoted.  He starts to realize that homosexuals are people too.  Then, he decides he’s going to experiment.  He hatches his plan to come out as gay to his family and friends, even though he is straight.  He will spend a year on this charade, learning something about the homosexual community.

Kurek’s family seems to take his announcement with shock and dismay, but they still talk to him.  His pastor at church sends him a rather hateful missive about not condoning the sinful gay lifestyle.  Some of his friends quit talking to him.  Kurek goes to a gay bar and is immediately hit on, which makes him uncomfortable.  Fortunately, he has a gay friend from the karaoke bar who serves as his boyfriend during the year to keep him from being hit on by interested men.  The friend, whose name is Shawn, is black, handsome, and a very gifted singer… and he doesn’t have a problem playing “boyfriend” at first.

I was intrigued by Kurek, who claims to be a conservative Christian, but does things that I wouldn’t expect from a lifelong conservative evangelical Christian.  Though Kurek writes that he spent a lot of hours in church, he smokes clove cigarettes.  At the start of the book, he claims to have only tasted beer twice, but by the end, he’s very much a drinker.  He dances.  He also swears a lot for someone who is so apparently Christian.  All of these things go against what I’ve been taught about the evangelical Christian community and what they think is okay.     

As the year passes, Kurek finds himself becoming more involved and therefore more knowledgable about the LGBTQ world.  He makes many friends, works in a gay cafe where he learns how to make excellent lattes, and goes to a lot of karaoke bars.  He learns that many homosexuals are wonderful people and some are not so wonderful.  He makes some very dear friends, even as he fights his natural attraction to women.  He even discovers that homosexuals can love God when he stumbles across a transvestite singing “Awesome God” at a karaoke show.  In short, Kurek seems to learn that in the most important ways, homosexuals are really not so different than straight people are.  One thing I noticed from Kurek’s book is that the gay community he was briefly a part of seemed very tight knit and caring… not unlike some church communities.  Although knowing what I know about some churches, I bet the gay community’s caring was more genuine.  From what Kurek writes, most of the homosexuals he befriended during his gay year were still friends when he came clean.

Actually, Kurek’s description of the karaoke bars was interesting to me, since Bill and I once went to one in Key West, Florida.  I happen to love karaoke and they had a great show going.  We went; I sang; and the people there were really great.  We had a blast… though I would be lying if I said Bill wasn’t very uncomfortable at first.  He didn’t know how to behave.  Bill has an adopted “half-sister” who is a lesbian, though she’s 19 years younger than he is.  He doesn’t know her as well as he’d like to, but through Facebook we’ve discovered that she’s a truly wonderful person who is very involved in her community.  But despite having a lesbian sister, Bill hasn’t been exposed to members of the gay community nearly as much as I have and really felt out of his element in a gay bar.  For that reason, I could empathize with Kurek’s first experiences visiting establishments that cater to the homosexual community.

Kurek’s year of being “gay” was difficult, though his experience being “gay” definitely wasn’t as difficult as it was for most of the new friends he made.  Again, Kurek knew his condition was temporary and could count down the months before he could be straight again.  His family and friends were by and large decent about it… until his brother and his wife found out halfway through the year that Kurek had lied about being gay.  It caused a huge rift that Kurek describes rather poignantly.  Kurek is close to his brother, so his brother’s anger was very painful for him.  Unrequited love on the part of Kurek’s “boyfriend” Shawn, seems to make Kurek’s experiment more difficult for Shawn.

I was surprised by how Kurek’s homosexual friends took the news when he told them he wasn’t actually gay.  They mostly seemed okay with his experiment.  I’m sure that to many of them, what Kurek did was pretty bold and maybe even kind of cool, especially since it led to Kurek being more empathetic.  However, I couldn’t help but realize that Kurek’s experience with being gay was not as authentic as it might have been.  In fact, it was a bit contrived and what he did is nothing new.  And I wondered if any of his new friends were offended by Kurek’s decision to be “fake and gay”.  He doesn’t mention any that I remember, though.

Kurek’s writing is basically okay, though there are some typos and misspelled words in his manuscript.  Kurek’s dialogue also sometimes feels a little scripted… like something I might hear on a soap opera.  He seems very young, too… which I believe he was when he wrote this book.  The youth seems to inject his writing with the kind of testosterone that makes young men single-minded and dogmatic about certain things.  The writing got a little preachy at times.  That being said, I thought The Cross in the Closet was basically an interesting book.  I would recommend it to anyone who thinks reading about Kurek’s experiment might interest them.  You could certainly read worse.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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bad TV, Netflix

Tiny Pretty Things is cringeworthy viewing…

Once again, I’m going to avoid some of the serious topics bouncing around in my head today. The news is chock full of potentially explosive things to write about– everything from the fact that Mitch McConnell and Vladimir Putin finally recognized Joe Biden as our next president to a haunting story I read about a middle aged adoptee from Romania, born during Ceausescu’s reign of terror. And, of course, COVID-19 is a topic for every day, too… but I’m sick of writing about that, and much of what I would write is stuff I’ve already written.

Instead, I’m going to write about Netflix’s latest “YA” series, Tiny Pretty Things, which was made available for streaming on Monday. Now, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years. I started when I was in graduate school, at Bill’s prompting, when the service involved renting DVDs that were sent in the mail. I quit for a few years when we had cable TV, then enrolled again when we moved back to Germany. I quit again for awhile, when I couldn’t get around the VPN filters and all of the content in Germany was in German. Then, when 13 Reasons Why came out, I resumed my membership. I hated 13 Reasons Why, by the way. I thought it was vastly overhyped and never bothered to watch the second or subsequent seasons.

If a ballerina falls in the forest when no one is near, does she make a sound? Oh brother… (that’s not what she actually says, but it’s kind of close and just as stupid…)

However, even though I have Netflix, I don’t watch it as much as I should. I often go months without logging in to watch anything. I have yet to see a single episode of Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things. I have seen The Crown, but I just now watched all four seasons of it in a massive binge. I frequently get reminders from Netflix to log in and use my membership. This week, I was lured by an ad for Tiny Pretty Things, a drama supposedly aimed at teenagers about very dysfunctional teens studying at The Archer School of Ballet, a “prestigious” ballet school in Chicago.

The first episode made me groan. The writing was very cheesy and melodramatic, with lots of hackneyed expressions that were intended to be clever, but came across as dumb. The storyline was ridiculous. Talented dancer, Neveah Stroyer (played by Kylie Jefferson), from Englewood, California is plucked from obscurity to learn how to dance for the big leagues. Her mom is in prison for killing a man who “hit her baby”, Neveah’s older brother, who is now in a wheelchair.

Lauren Holly, who is 57 and looks like she’s had work done, or at least a few collagen injections, is a ballet madame called Monique Dubois who is running the school. She comes off as snooty, fake, and kind of cruel. The kids are multicultural and there’s a veritable rainbow of boys and girls (who are actually all in their 20s) of all shades and sexual orientations. Many of the “actors” are actually dancers in real life, and they are much better at dancing than delivering their lines. I think Kylie Jefferson is a pretty decent actress, and she’s also a legit dancer, but most of the rest of them are not very convincing in their roles. They don’t look like they are the teens they’re supposed to be, and they aren’t good actors.

What really gets me, though, besides the ridiculous storyline involving a dancer who was pushed off a fourth story building and survives, languishing on life support to be the narrator (a la Mary Alice Young in Desperate Housewives), are the huge number of sex scenes, copious nude scenes, drug references, and, yes, I’m just gonna say it– the language. Everything I’ve read about Tiny Pretty Things indicates that it’s intended for a YA audience. That means it’s for teens, and teens encompass an age group ranging from 13 to 18. In most cases, there’s a huge difference in the maturity level of a 13 year old and an 18 year old. And yet we’re supposed to be okay with kids watching a very dark and macabre series about a ballet company planning a dance about Jack the Ripper? Meanwhile, there’s also a cop with a French braid sniffing around, trying to figure out who pushed Cassie Shore, the ballerina narrator who is actually in a coma, from the roof.

I don’t have children, but when I was growing up, my parents let me watch almost anything I wanted to watch. Every once in awhile, my dad would attempt to stop me from watching something he found inappropriate, but most of the time, I watched anything and everything that interested me. Consequently, I saw a whole lot of stuff that I wouldn’t want a child of mine seeing. I don’t know how different the world is for kids today… I can only imagine that it’s very different now. Still, it does seem a bit much for 8th graders to be watching a nude gay sex scene and listening to talk of blow jobs. When I was 13, I didn’t even know what “getting laid” meant, let alone what a blow job is.

There are some rather gory dream sequences and, at this point, I’ve also seen a closeup of a pretty necrotic looking injured foot that I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing. Aside from that, one of the choreographers is very pervy and sleazy. Watching him makes me think of Larry Nassar.

I suppose it’s a good thing that the cast is so inclusive of people who aren’t white or straight. I do enjoy watching the dancing, too, much of which is beautifully done. But all watching this show has shown me so far is that you don’t have to be a rich white kid to be shown as really fucked up and on TV. It also makes me think that if I’d ever had children, I would not want them to be involved in ballet, even though my sister was involved in ballet when she was growing up and this adaptation probably doesn’t even venture close to representing the norm.

I didn’t think I would get past the first episode, it made me sigh so hard. But I did end up watching several more episodes, mainly because I had nothing better to do yesterday. I’ll probably finish this season, but if it gets renewed, I probably won’t bother with any subsequent ones. Besides the gratuitous sex scenes, the acting is pretty cringeworthy, and the storyline is both very cliched and rather implausible. I’d rather watch 80s era episodes of Fame, which included plenty of cheesy acting and dance numbers, but at least it was somewhat clean.

Tiny Pretty Things is based on a YA novel, which has just got to be better than the show is. It’s just got to. It appears that the authors, Sona Charaiprota and Dhonielle Clayton, have made it into a book series that got popular, hence Netflix’s decision to turn it into a series one can stream. It appears that, as usual, the books are better than the on screen interpretation. I might one day be persuaded to read one of the books, just to see how far the streaming series has sunk.

I have a lot of tolerance for bad TV, but this series is really pretty awful, and it makes me roll my eyes a lot. As an adult, the sex scenes don’t trouble me too much, but I don’t think they’re particularly appropriate for young teens. I might have had less of an issue with that, though, if the quality of the show was better and the sex scenes didn’t feel like they were added to flesh out a thin and ridiculous premise. And the acting and writing both suck enough that I wouldn’t recommend Tiny Pretty Things to almost anyone else, either, at least not if they’re looking for something that is legitimately high quality. On the other hand, if you want to watch something cringeworthy, Tiny Pretty Things might be just the ticket. I think I’d like to watch it with my friend Joann, who has a real knack for critiquing bad TV in a hilarious way.

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