Bodily Autonomy

I am so angry, I doubt this is going to be a coherent post.

Suffice to say, that once more, SCOTUS has decided that a woman’s decisions about her body and her healthcare take a back seat to someone else’s right. Friday it was free speech (and a unanimous court), today it’s religious freedom — and a sharply divided court.

This is what I don’t get, and what I do not accept: these decisions place undue burdens on women. Now I have to worry about how to plan my family; now I have to figure out where to get my healthcare; now I have to worry about whether or not my boss is a Christian who is going to impede my right to take care of my business.

I have two daughters. They are 7 and 9. I make a lot of decisions for them right now: where they have to go to school; what constitutes meals and healthy snacks; what healthcare they receive; what extracurricular activities they participate in. I make them wear sunscreen and weather-appropriate clothing.

This is my job as a parent.

It is also my job as a parent to teach them to make good decisions. To make clear that someday in the not-to-distant future they will be autonomous creatures and will be making those decisions — what to eat, what to wear, how to treat their bodies — for themselves.

And yet.

The following comes from my friend Gina, who said it better than I can right now:

This pisses me off.

And I refuse to defend my position using the “other uses of birth control” argument, because those other uses are not the only reason that birth control should be equally accessible for everyone. We need to stop moralizing sex. If a woman needs birth control because of a medical condition, fine. But if a woman WANTS birth control because she wants/enjoys sex, and thus wants to prevent contraception — ALSO FINE.

The perpetuation of the attitude that sex is bad (which, as we all know, is aimed primarily at women), is the perpetuation of the patriarchal society that continues to contribute to the inequality of women in every aspect of life, as well as the rape culture which places the responsibility of the sexual behavior of the male race on the female.

We need to stop punishing women/girls for the things we celebrate in men/boys. Birth control needs to be treated as any other medication.

The double standard about sex, and healthcare, and privacy, and bodies is well in effect. It’s just got to stop. These rulings are about abortion and women’s healthcare. And I don’t think speech and religion get to trump my daughters’ rights about what they get to do with their bodies. I just don’t. I promise to raise them to make good decisions. Don’t take that ability away from them.

Your Freedom to Swing Your Arm Ends at My Nose

I’ve been stewing over yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley. Even though I am a 1st Amendment purist, and the decision was unanimous, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

First of all, there’s the fact that while this decision, ideally, will apply very narrowly to people outside of women’s clinics who just want to talk quietly, I cannot see how protesters will not take it as permission to get up in the faces of women to call them names and otherwise harass them. First Amendment rights, bitch!

Second of all — and this is really what I cannot wrap my head around — the Court is basically valuing another person’s First Amendment right over a woman’s right to privacy and healthcare. And I just can’t accept that.

Here is someone who said it much better than I:

“The issue is not mainly, … the maintenance of public safety. Most abortion protesters are not violent, and police will be present to protect the visitors to the clinic. The issue is the privacy, anxiety, and embarrassment of the abortion clinic’s patients—interests that outweigh, in my judgment anyway, the negligible contribution that abortion protesters make to the marketplace of ideas and opinions.”

Richard Posner, source here

Never mind embarrassment. Women should not be embarrassed to seek and receive healthcare and medical procedures.

Imagine being a college-aged woman who is discovering sexual intercourse for the first time. Imagine deciding, somewhat nervously, that you want to avail yourself of a gynecological screening and possibly discuss birth control options. You know there’s a Planned Parenthood a bus ride away, so you decide that’s where you’re going to go.

Imagine getting off the bus and having no choice but to walk through a gauntlet of pro-life men and women with signs. You just want to keep your head down, fine. You aren’t getting an abortion; these people have nothing to do with you.

Now imagine that one of these women, a grandmotherly type with a sweet smile, comes directly up to you. She says, kindly, “What are you here for today, dearie?”

I would want to push her away from me. It is NONE OF HER FUCKING BUSINESS why I am at Planned Parenthood. I could be getting an abortion, sure; I’m not ignorant, I know they do them there. I could be picking up condoms, getting a pap smear, or meeting my friend who had an abortion to get her home safely. I could be bringing coffee to my hypothetical boyfriend, who maybe works as an escort.

But I don’t have to tell this woman any of that. It’s none of her business.

So I say, “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t have to tell you why I’m here.”

How many self-possessed 20-year-olds do you know, who will stand their ground and tell an older woman to mind her own beeswax?

So, now, how does this SCOTUS decision play out? Do we think Granny smiles kindly again and steps away? Or do we think she insists on talking about abortion? Do we think another pro-life protester, noticing this college-age woman trying to shut Granny down, is going to stand passively by? Or do we think it’s more likely that he’s going to start yelling epithets because he has first Amendment rights, dammit, and no cheeky co-ed is going to stop him from sharing his opinion?

I mean, we see the problem here, don’t we? Pro-life or pro-choice, we see the conflict between privacy and free speech? Or are Richard Posner and I lone voices in the wilderness? (I did not follow the case closely enough to know if this was part of oral arguments.)

Women have a right to healthcare, even cheeky college co-eds.

One of the reasons I am for freedom of speech in almost every case is because, generally, there is a measure of control over what I choose to consume. I don’t have to watch a show hosted by someone who has expressed racist or sexist views I find abhorrent. I don’t have to buy Hustler magazine, or otherwise let it into my home.

I also favor free speech because of the slippery slope argument: If we let government decide who gets to talk when, it’s just a matter of time before it decides to censor speech we agree with. This is why, as distasteful as I find the views of Westboro Church, I understand the Supreme Court ruling in favor of them being allowed to have their say. Same thing with my city and country music: the fans may leave a mess (and we do have to solve this problem), but the city can’t say country music can’t play here anymore.

But if I want to avail myself of healthcare, and I don’t have a car, and I don’t have a lot of money, and don’t have employer-provided healthcare… what are my options? What do I get to choose? I want to be proactive, and prevent disease, prevent an unwanted pregnancy — prevent an abortion. Do I get harassed no matter my intentions? Sure, it’s easy enough to say, I’m not here for that.

But even if I were, it’s none of their business, First Amendment or not.

What do you think? First Amendment trumps all? That seems to be the Court’s feeling these days.

How Tolerant Do I Have to Be?

Because I’m reaching my threshold. July may be one big break from the Internet. I’m still deciding.

I have a difficult time with ignorance, I do. I am starting to feel that people who wholeheartedly embrace conspiracy theories or anti-science beliefs are maybe possibly mentally ill. Facts do not dissuade them. Mention an actual study, and I’m told that there is such a thing as confirmation bias. Ask who is covering up facts, and I am presented with a list of libraries that were burned or otherwise destroyed.

Yes, thank you, I know what confirmation bias is. I know that regime changes and religious wars led to the destruction of human knowledge. I got that.

How it pertains to a hokum story about dinosaurs and humans living at the same time, I’m not really sure. Still working on that.

The other thing I’m having a hard time with is bigots. They say (and I’m paraphrasing here) that being bigoted against bigots makes me a bigot! Bigots should be allowed to say any dumb bigoted thing that pops into their head, and I shouldn’t point out to them that I don’t like that way of talking (especially around my children), because that makes me the bad guy. In general, bigots seem to be very confused about the First Amendment.

So, my tolerance is running thin when it comes to people who love conspiracy theories, anti-science people, and bigots.

Oh, and Fox News. I simply cannot stand the spin on Fox News.

Should I bite my tongue? Should I quit Facebook? Should I stop reading the comments? (I know: never read the comments.)

Oh, and in case you’re curious, this is the SHORT rant.


ETA: Oh, yeah, here is one aspect of the whole conspiracy theory MO that makes me nuttier than any other: the whole “sheeple” thing. The people who love nothing better than a good Big Government/Big Pharma comeback truly think they are such special snowflakes that they have special knowledge, that they know the Truth! And the rest of us are too dumb and too duped to see clearly.

Yeah, that’s my FAVORITE.

Coming Independence Days

On Saturday, M and I had our first Mommy & Me swim class (my first one ever, actually). He did not enjoy it. It was an overcast day, and on the chilly side for June, and M was too cold. He cried nearly the whole time in the water, and didn’t want to do any of the exercises. After about 25 minutes, I let him out of the pool. He went to sulk by our stuff.

We’re going back next week, regardless.

Also on Saturday, I dropped Flora off at a birthday party. She walked in, and I had to call her back for a hug and a kiss. She came back, and gave me a quick smooch without complaint, and then she was off to swim for the next two hours.

On my way home, I stopped off at the library, where I stumbled on Bink & Gollie on DVD (we are big fans of the books), and I grabbed it for Kate.

For the first time, I keenly felt the double-edged sword of parenting. We bring these little people into the world, love them, teach them. They are our hearts walking around outside of our bodies.

And if we do our job well, they leave us.

What kind of deal is that?

I am working so hard to make my children independent. Teaching them that their actions have consequences. Letting them experience the world without me watching over their shoulder issuing warnings. Asking for their opinions. And I don’t think until Saturday, until Flora hurried to join her friends without a backward glance, that I realized WHY I was doing it. Or how teaching them to be confident and responsible people had the potential to make me so SAD.

What if I do it so well, they don’t trot back to me for that hug and kiss? What if we do such a good job, they move a thousand miles away? What if we’re so good at it, they decide they want to raise children too? (Fat chance, if discussions with my 9-year-old are any indication.)

Gosh, I wonder if this is how MY parents feel. I mean, they did a great job as parents. Sincerely. And their three children, we have lives of our own now — our own families, and houses, and businesses, and careers. Which was the whole point, yeah?

When I got home, I showed Kate the DVD I had picked up for her at the library. She was so excited. She had been upset because I didn’t let her come for the ride to drop Flora off. When I handed to her, I chucked her lightly under the chin and said, “I want you to know something. That even when I’m not here, or when I say no, I am thinking of you all the time.”

I wonder what I will do when I don’t have to think of them all the time.


Bad Memory

[Dad, you DO NOT want to read this post. It’s got some information in it regarding me, your oldest daughter, that you’d rather NOT KNOW.]

[Okay, you’ve been warned. This is a post I don’t want my dad to read. It contains graphical sexual descriptions.]

[Really, Dad, don’t read this. I’m not even posting this to Facebook because I don’t want family reading this.]

So, this is pretty terrible.

And it made me remember that a pretty terrible thing happened to me almost 20 years ago.

I didn’t report it. Because I didn’t think it was rape. It was definitely sexual assault, and I definitely was drugged, and thinking about it now — nearly 20 years later — is making me a little sick to my stomach.

But part of that sick feeling is simply due to the fact that I didn’t spend time thinking about this until I read this article.

I have always claimed that, although I have been sexually harassed, I have never been raped.

But I would say coming suddenly back to myself with a cock in my mouth and another man performing cunnilingus on me is pretty graphically rape.

And, yeah, that’s what happened. The man performing oral on me asked if we could have sex. I asked if he had a condom. He did not. I said no, and we did not have sex.

I was not as out-of-it as the woman in the article. I could walk, I was not so incapacitated that I involuntarily urinated. I remember *most* of the night, although how I ended up in a bedroom with two men — neither of whom I knew very well — is a blank.

I went to the bathroom and threw up shortly after the one guy came in my mouth.

Then, I washed my mouth out and gathered myself together, and went home. And the word rape never, ever occurred to me. Maybe because I was fairly sexually adventurous. Maybe because when I declined actual intercourse, I was listened to. Maybe because I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t restrained. Maybe because I had an orgasm. I even told the people at the party what had happened when they asked where I had gone.

That doesn’t excuse these two men.

I realized shortly after the incident — probably the next day — that I had been drugged. As well as having had the weird oral menage a trois in the bedroom, I had made out with two women, and while I was hardly virginal, even that was quite a bit of action in one night for me.

And still, after realizing someone had slipped me a mickey, the word rape never crossed my mind. I have never considered myself a victim. (And I certainly would not have donned that mantle as a way of claiming special privilege, as George Will would assert.) This event didn’t haunt me; it didn’t inhibit my ongoing exploration of and enjoyment in sex.

I don’t feel particularly outraged — I didn’t back then, either. Disgusted, that someone would drug me, and other people at this party (seriously, it was practically an orgy in this apartment. I was not the only one with extremely lowered inhibitions).

And of course, even the belated realization doesn’t change anything. Except I can never say never again.

Chore Crafty

One of the things we are trying to instill in our children is the idea that our family is a team. We all have to work together toward common and beneficial goals.

Like having a clean house.

So this summer I decided chores were in order. I had stumbled onto this site earlier in the year, and put that in my brain to return to. I did things a little differently, but same basic idea.


Instead of dried beans or coffee beans (what a waste of coffee beans!), I decided I wanted to color rice. This way each child could have her and his own color.


That’s about a cup of rice to 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol.


Mix in food coloring.


Spread out to dry on wax paper. It needs about an hour.


Write out chores on popsicle sticks.


And, voila!

They pick 2 chores a day; M picks one. If I have a home project for them (like, organize arts & crafts drawers), then they only pick one. There are sticks that say, “Trade with Sib” and “Free Day.”

We are in our first week. It’s going okay. M usually needs help. Some chores are more popular than others. And one of my girls complains about having to do chores, and the other is super helpful. You may be surprised by which is which.

How do you encourage children to help out?

Meatless Monday: RHUBARB!

Our CSA has a check box on their sign-up and renewal forms for rhubarb. Having never used rhubarb before and being otherwise unfamiliar with it (I had never knowingly consumed rhubarb until recently) I usually checked the NO box.

Apparently I forgot to check that box this year when I signed up again. The first week, I got a good bunch of rhubarb — and had no idea what to do with it.

I think I thought rhubarb was hard to cook for some reason. Probably because I had never used it before. I thought it was tough or tart or needed to be peeled or cooked before it could be used in recipes. And I’d always only seen it paired with strawberries… but, I did have quite a number of those to hand as well.

So I decided I was game, consulted Twitter, and looked up a rhubarb-strawberry crisp recipe online.

OMG. It was… delicious. Mouth-wateringly tasty. It was amazingly good plain, but it would’ve paired divinely with vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb is juicy and sweet-tart. It does pair well with strawberries, but it works on its own too. Since the crisp, I have also made rhubarb bread and rhubarb sauce, and I’m already sad that the season may be over, and I will not have rhubarb this week in my CSA box. The recipe I used for the bread made two loaves, and I brought one to work with me. People loved it.

I am a rhubarb convert. And possibly a bit of an addict, too.

Anyhoo, here’s the bread recipe.

Rhubarb Bread
(adapted from Taste of Home)

1 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups diced rhubarb

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans.

1. Mix the lemon juice into the milk and let stand for 10 minutes. (Or, use buttermilk.)

2. Combine sugar and oil in one bowl. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Alternate mixing the milk and the dry ingredients into the sugar/oil mixture.

3. Fold in rhubarb.

4. Mix up topping.

5. Pour batter into loaf pans and spread topping over in little dollops. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If you know how to make a streusel topping, I recommend it. Cool for 10 minutes, and remove to wire rack to cool.

Refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day with butter and coffee!

Rhubarb sauce is stupid easy: 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 to 4 cups of finely diced or thinly sliced rhubarb, 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar. Melt the butter, stir in the rhubarb and sugar, and stir over medium or medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool and serve over ice cream.

Rhubarb: Yes or No?

Sunday Scolding

So, I got scolded at the end of Mass today because of M’s behavior. (Which was totally age-appropriate, BTW. He played quietly with his cars, and got a little goofy toward the end.)

The man said to me, rather sternly, “He is old enough to behave.” I smiled at Michael and said, “Mommy’s getting yelled at!” I turned back to the man, smiled at him, and said, “Happy Father’s Day.”

And then we walked away.


High road? Maybe, maybe not. I have seldom been taken to task for my children’s behavior in public. I think this man was solidly out of bounds. I think he expected me to be cowed, and to apologize. If M had been loud and disruptive, we would have left the pew. But I don’t think anyone but this man was bothered.

What would you have done?

ETA: This was the second reading from Sunday. I think this guy missed the point:

“Reading 2 2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Home Alone

If you are a parent on social media, it would be hard to avoid seeing posts on this story, about a mother who endured two years of the judicial system after she left her 4-year-old in a car on a cool day for five minutes.

My two cents on this story is that if I had seen this scenario going down, I would’ve called the cops on the creeper taking pictures (or video) of this kid in the car. That’s the person I would’ve confronted. Maybe (in the absence of the creeper), I would’ve hung out in my own car for a bit to see if someone returned to the car in a short time.

I suppose if more than 15-20 minutes passed, I would’ve been concerned.

Now, another writer who participates in a podcast I like (Mom and Dad are Fighting, on Slate) found himself in a similar situation, but with more extenuating circumstances. Or maybe less extenuating. First, there were two children, and they were older (he estimates their ages as 12 and 9). However, it was a warm day with outside temperatures nearing the mid-70s. The author hung out for a bit, then left water outside of the car. He saw the mother return to the car as he was pulling away.

This story gave me a little more pause. I don’t know that I would’ve gone straight for 911, but I find it much more worrisome that it was hot outside.

I leave Kate and Flora in the car sometimes, usually when I am running into pick up M from daycare. I am unlikely to do it when it is too hot. I don’t like to leave to car running, but I have (putting the emergency brake on before I get out of the car), especially when it’s been very cold. And I don’t leave Kate alone in the car. I still judge her on the young side for that. Plus she is more impulsive than Flora.

Furthermore, sometimes, when I run an errand that I know will take me an hour or less, I leave Flora “in charge” at home. We have explicit rules about it; she and Kate know how to call 9-1-1; and my in-laws live right next door, about 10 yards away, door-to-door.

The worst that has happened is that I come home to squabbling siblings. “No one listens to me,” Flora tells me. I explain that I didn’t leave her to boss her sibs around, I left her to hold down the fort. She gets a little power buzz sometimes. We’re working it out.

I trust my children. That is first. Second is the fact that the world, while it has lots of risks, is not full of danger around every corner. We buy into the media drama around the Very Bad Things that can happen to children. And yet: we send them to school, we put them in cars to drive them places, we let them swim, we feed them food. Heck, I don’t fuss too much when my children decide to try dirt. (They usually don’t like it.)

Our children are precious. They are (to us parents, in any case) unique and special and the best thing that we do. Of course, we want them to be safe. We want to protect them. But we also have to teach them how to assess risk and let them take risks. We have to let them know that we trust them to “hold down the fort” for a short time.

It seems that our children are more at risk from well-meaning strangers these days than from our decisions as parents. To those well-meaning strangers: butt out. Unless it is clear-cut neglect or danger, do not call 9-1-1. If you are unsure, hang around and wait for a parent to appear.

Oh, and children playing outside alone? Biking to a park? Walking to school? THOSE CHILDREN ARE NOT IN DANGER OR BEING NEGLECTED. Close your curtains and mind your own damn business.

These children are not in danger.
These children are not in danger.


What would lead you to call the police on a parent? Any of the stories here? Why or why not?

Hold Up, Now

Ha, oh, pun not intended.

So today across Twitter came another report of another active shooter, this time in Seattle.

And I had to ask, “How many is that this week? How many is that this month?”


And that’s just the ones that make national news. I am sure my city has a shooting almost daily. I’m sure bigger cities have shootings daily. Domestic disputes, black-on-black violence, bar fights that spin out of control.

The crazy people who go after women, go after law enforcement, shoot up schools — they make the national news.

And we do nothing. We sit on our hands. We say we can’t control guns. We say we can’t control hate, crime, misogyny, mental illness.

We give a HUGE shrug to this shit.


On Saturday night, I went out with my husband to get drinks with two other people. The four of us had a civil, interesting, and illuminating discussion about guns and gun control in this country.

One of these people was a law enforcement officer, and he while he was quite pro-gun, I would not have classified him as a gun nut. We had an interesting conversation about guns in the home, concealed carry, and constitutional rights.

We all had different opinions are views on these things, and I would not have said any of us were extreme in our views.

I don’t think guns are evil. I don’t think people are evil. As a matter of fact, I would be in favor of my children learning about guns and about gun safety. On the other hand, I won’t have a gun in my house because it’s all too likely to lead to injury or death — not to someone trying to break in, but to those in my life whose life is most precious to me.

We have a crisis in this country. I don’t know what to do about it except to add my voice to those out there who think we can do better.

I’ll be sending this post to my representatives in Congress. When Moms Demand Action post something, I’ll retweet it. Something has to change. The status quo cannot stand.