Look, I wasn’t going to say anything, but he brought it up. It’s not that I’m not proud of the fact, it’s just that I don’t like to boast and honestly, the guy’s got enough problems. He’s hated universally by smart people and loved only by those ignorant and/or lazy enough to eat the shit he’s spooning out. He railed against drug addicts then had to admit he was one. And now he’s publicly stated that his penis is 10% smaller than it used to be all because of evil FEMINAZIS. Well, what Rush didn’t tell you is that it wasn’t just any feminazi shrunk his member—it was me.
You see, I have this part-time gig as a Fairy Godmother. I’m like the substitute FG when your FG is sick or has to go to the dentist. Well, one day I get this call and I’m like, “No. Fucking. Way.” That’s right, my client was none other than Rush. Fairy Godmothers, as you know, show up when you have a problem you can’t solve on your own and only if you have equity on account with the FGG (Fairy Godmothers Guild). I have no idea what Rush did to earn that equity–I can only imagine he vampired that shit out of a little girl or boy who crossed his path one unlucky day. I was all set to call my supervisor and straighten everything out, when I saw Rush’s problem. He had Mitt Romney’s head wedged firmly in his anus. I fully admit I cackled.
“It’s not funny,” Rush said, and I bit down on a chortle. I had my professional responsibilities to think of after all.
“What seems to be the problem, young man?” I asked, and Rush sneered.
“Are you gonna help, or not?” Sweat beaded on Rush’s bright red face—he was clearly in some discomfort.
“Is it the size of his head that pains you, or the hairspray? I imagine it’s a bit…poky,” I mused as I walked around them, examining the problem from all sides. Romney crouched on the floor of Rush’s posh restroom next to the toilet, and Rush sat upon his shoulders. “How did this happen?” I had begun to form a theory, but wanted to hear it from the man himself.
“I can’t go anywhere without this guy’s nose up my butt-crack,” Rush moaned. “This time I got caught with my pants down.”
I nodded—sagely, I’m sure. I clicked my tongue. I sucked air through my teeth and made skeptical noises.
“What?” Rush looked alarmed.
“I just don’t know…” I said.
“Don’t know what? You’ve got to help me! That’s what you do, right?” He was getting whiny now. Desperate.
“Look, Rush,” I said. “I’m not sure why I’m here. You’re not the sort of guy who normally gets help from the FGG–you know what I mean? You’re…well, not to put too fine a point on it, Rush…you’re an asshole.”
Rush sighed and nodded, and I could see the irony wasn’t lost on him. “What’s your point?”
“You sucked a freebie out of some little kid or lovesick prince. You crowned yourself king of the GOP—you did everything but send this guy an engraved INVITATION to your anus. Why should I help you?”
Rush smiled. “Because you can’t leave a job undone,” he said. “I read the fine print.”
“So did I, Rush,” I told him, sighing in a way that I hoped conveyed that this was going to hurt him way more than it was going to hurt me. “And you’re right. But I have certain…discretionary powers. Also, I can see the future, and one day you’re going to blame feminists for shrinking your penis on your radio show. You don’t want to lie to America, do you? I’m here to make sure you don’t.”
Rush’s face turned angry and beet red and spittle flew from his lips as he gibbered unintelligible rage. Finally, he managed. “You…can’t…”
“I can, Rush. So, do you want my help or not?” He didn’t say anything, but just then I think Mitt sneezed or something because he lunged and Rush’s eyes bulged out and he screamed “GET IT OUT GET IT OUT I DON’T CARE GET IT OUT!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
*Or “shrank” it—whichever you prefer.
Guest post by Bridget McKenna
I solicited the following guest blog after Bridget chimed in on another post to let us know that as bad as things seem right now, things are still better than they were just a few decades ago. Bridget’s work has appeared in science fiction magazines, computer games, and even in bookstores. Find out more about her on her website. ~Rosie
Recently a commenter here at Rosie’s place remarked on the subject of women’s rights and recent attempts by conservative lawmakers to wage war on them. “It seems lately that we are worse off than we have been in 100 years!” she exclaimed. I know she didn’t mean that literally, but it did remind me that women younger than I (which is to say most of them!) haven’t lived through nearly 70 of the last 100 years and may not have an image of the world before the pill or before safe, legal abortion became a fact. With those two immense historical changes, women in developed countries and a growing number of developing ones began taking charge of how many children they would have and when they would have them or whether they would have them at all.
It’s my belief that women are–despite some recent heavy hitting from extremists on the right–NOT worse off than 100 years ago. Heck, I’m so old I can practically tell you that from experience! And the change that ignited a fire (again) under American women began with a book—The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. Other writers wrote other books about women’s experience in that century, but this is the one women read and responded to in numbers.
And the response was long overdue. In addition to the many largely forgotten social inequalities of the time, birth control before my daughter was born in 1964 was clumsy and inefficient. Unplanned pregnancies were more the norm than the exception. Pregnancies that occurred before marriage usually led to hasty and often unhappy unions, and abortion, while available, was a minefield. In those days, you had to know somebody who knew somebody, and that somebody might be a doctor putting his or her license to practice on the line, or it might be a nurse or medical student with access to instruments and a knowledge of proper sterilization procedures, or it might be a guy with “a dirty knife and a folding table.”* If infection resulted, as if sometimes did, a woman’s choices were death or the hospital, where medical professionals who even suspected an induced abortion were obligated to inform the police. If you didn’t go to jail, they might.
You see this picture? That’s the other choice women faced if they couldn’t find or couldn’t afford the alternative: to induce an abortion at home by inserting a foreign object into their uterus and hoping they wouldn’t end up in prison or dead from peritonitis.
A medical doctor had the power to order a clinical abortion in cases of rape or incest. Sometimes a family doctor would push the rape definition to keep a teenage girl from carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. Sometimes they would diagnose appendicitis, then remove a healthy appendix in order to induce an abortion. I’m certain that if you studied surgical records from before Roe v Wade, you’d find an entirely disproportionate number of girls undergoing that surgery. Oh, and lest I forget, when my mother was a young woman, giving a woman any form of birth control, or information about birth control was punishable by a prison term. You read that right: People went to jail for telling other people how to avoid unwanted pregnancy. In the 1950s, laws restricting the sale of contraceptives were on the books in thirty of forty-eight states. I could write an entire article about Margaret Sanger and Dr. John Rock and the whole Planned Parenthood thing, and maybe I will, but for now I’ll just leave you with those thoughts. Chew well.
Before 1963, only a very few women of my generation were brave enough to fight for equality and reproductive rights, or aware enough to know there was a problem with women’s role in 20th century society, even though their mothers had worked in aircraft factories and government facilities such as printing plants (my mother) and supported troops in foreign lands (my mother-in-law), and their grandmothers had marched for the right to vote.
Now just say that out loud to yourself once or twice. The right to vote. Until 1920, American women didn’t have it except in Wyoming and some other progressive western states. By the way, the entire world wasn’t stacked against women, even if it sounds that way. When the US Congress opposed Wyoming’s suffrage law and threatened to withhold statehood in 1890, Wyoming told them to go to hell; they’d stay out of the union another hundred years before they’d take away women’s vote. They got statehood.
In 1963–the year The Feminine Mystique was published just 49 years ago–most women believed (or more likely thought they ought to believe) that they actually were second-class citizens. I know this because I was one of them, and so was every woman I spent any time talking with–mostly other young wives and mothers. Then some of us read that darned book, or talked to other women who had read it and books like it, and we gave our status in society some more thought. We did it, it must be said, to a lot of resistance and condescension from the men in our lives, most of whom thought things were fine the way they were. A few of them understood that the prevailing system of gender inequality was hard on them, too, for other reasons. Most were afraid of what the changes might mean to them and their relationships and their homes and their society. Some were willing to concede we had a point on equal pay.
Women not only didn’t get even close to equal pay 49 years ago, many if not most people–particularly men and women of earlier generations–still thought women shouldn’t work after marriage, or at least not after the birth of their first child. This put a lot of extra social and physical stress on men, who would often take a second job in preference to their wife finding employment. In the eyes of their fathers and most of their peers, they had failed as men if their wives took jobs. It took some courage to grow away from that social burden, just as it took courage for their wives to assert their right to full humanhood in a world that accused them of failing as women if they left the house.
Women in the 60s–and in the 50s where they’d come to consciousness–were portrayed in the media as wives and mothers. They might do other things, but first and foremost they existed in relation to their husbands and children. It was popularly assumed that women who went to college did so to pursue a better class of husband; it was called “getting an MRS degree.” They were affectionately denigrated on popular TV shows, and made the butt of jokes for their silly ways much the way men are now. Their job was to have dinner ready, kids clean, and house spiffed up by the time their husbands got home. There were a lot of vodka bottles hidden in laundry baskets in those days, because until women read that darned book, they thought that if they felt they were made for more than this, THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THEM. Their doctors tut-tutted and wrote them prescriptions for tranquilizers.
There were always women who broke out of that mold—who had brilliant careers with or without marriage and family, and made names for themselves, and excelled, but during my formative years they were considered exceptional cases. The popular view was they had given something up—something intrinsic to being a “real woman.” Because a real woman was first and foremost a reflection of her man. And so if you didn’t have one of those, you’d better bend all your feminine wiles to getting one; a good provider who’d hopefully be a good husband or father. And if it befell you weren’t happy, some older female relative would be there to tell you “Well, at least he doesn’t hit you.” If, in fact, he did hit you, good luck. The police were very little help, and the church and families often counseled abuse victims to stay in the relationship in preference to being without one. Being in a marriage was more important to many people than being happy or fulfilled or even safe in one. Of course that was all about to change, big time. And a great deal of it was on account of that darned book, The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. Read it if you want to understand how American women went from being suffragettes and flappers and Rosie the Riveter to the mostly cowed creatures we were fifty years ago. It’s been called “the book that pulled the trigger on history” for a lot of good reasons.
Women asking for the equal rights in the workplace or for the right to choose when or if to have children is a huge and disruptive occurrence in any society, and it frightens some people the way civil rights and gay rights and a lot of other social changes frighten people, and for a lot of the same reasons.
I’ll be the first to say we need to stand up to keep the rights we have and to make life better for women in America. But trust me–I’ve been there and I’ve been here, and here is better.
*In the 1987 film Dirty Dancing (which takes place around 1963) Billy Kostecki, played by Neal Jones, tells Johnny (Patrick Swayze) what it was like to take their friend Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) to meet “a guy” someone knew who would terminate her pregnancy. Sound clip here. Penny develops a life-threatening infection from the procedure.
by Amy Sisson
Author’s Note: “Patriot Girls” is my response to news stories showing that statistically, our wars have a disproportionate impact on poor and uneducated young men, the ones for whom the military may be the only viable option. But what if our wars outpace enlistment? What if twenty or thirty years from now, even a draft doesn’t provide enough soldiers for whatever wars we may find ourselves in whether we want them or not?
Tuesday, May 16
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE, but by this time tomorrow I’ll be a Patriot Girl. Ma tried to talk me out of it, and begged me to finish the school year at least, but I’ll be sixteen so there’s nothing she can do. I told her I have the right to do what’s right for my country. And besides, everyone who’s anyone is a Patriot Girl.
Me and Alicia are taking the bus to Austin to register tomorrow. You get free bus fare when you join up. Alicia turned sixteen a month and a half ago but waited for me so we could go together. It was really nice of her, especially since her sister Mary has already been a Patriot Girl for a year and a half. So I printed my birth certificate off the net and packed one small bag, which is all they let you bring. You don’t have to take much, because they give you clothes and everything else you need.
Friday, May 19
I’m a Patriot Girl! We took our vows the day before yesterday, but they’ve kept us so busy I didn’t have time to post until now. First they had an orientation assembly for the new recruits. They explained that our main duty is to support the Patriot Boys who are about to go off to War. These boys are already heroes because they give up everything to defend our freedom, and we need to let them know how much we appreciate it.
One girl, Callie, I think her name was, asked how many of the Boys will come back. She said she heard that most of them don’t last more than six weeks. But Sarge Grayson said that was just a rumor, and it didn’t matter anyway because a Patriot Boy is a hero no matter how long he survives. I thought Callie was dumb to ask that. Everyone knows that our Boys are smarter than the enemy, and they’re gonna come back when the War is over and we can all settle down.
Alicia’s sister Mary, her Boy’s been gone a year already, but he sent her a letter last week saying he’s safe and will be back in a few months. Right now she and little Ben live in one of the dorms for Wives on the other side of the campus, and she keeps busy helping out with the new Girls and taking care of the little ones.
They told us there’s a dance every Friday where we can meet the Boys. Me and Alicia are about to go get our dresses and then get our hair done. I hope I can find a green dress, but I heard that the newbies get the leftovers.
Saturday, May 20
So last night was our first dance! I was a little nervous, because I haven’t been around boys for ages, and I wasn’t sure what a real Patriot Boy would be like. But the dressers fixed us all up to look nice and even gave us perfume. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything so pretty before. The dresser who helped me was a little bit older than us. She said I had beautiful red hair, and she even put a flower over my ear, and then she said I should just be myself and I would be fine. When we were all ready, the Sarge called us together and told us to have a good time, and then we got on the bus to the dance hall across campus.
Alicia was nervous too. I’m glad I had her for company! Some of the new Girls didn’t know anybody else when they got here so they’ve had to make friends fast, but I’m lucky because my best friend is here with me. I even got a green dress! At first when I tried it on it was a little too big, but they fixed it for me by the time we got dressed. Alicia got yellow. She looks good in yellow, but thank God I didn’t get that dress, because no Boy would ever look at me twice in that color.
When the Boys got there, I just about had a heart attack! They’re so good-looking! They all stand so straight and tall in their dark green uniforms, and they looked proud but a little nervous too. They stared at us like they’d never seen girls before, and I guess maybe they hadn’t for a while. Alicia grabbed my hand, and I could tell she was as excited as I was.
One of the officers introduced the band. Can you believe it? Our first Patriot Girl dance and we got Faith Rock!
Alicia and me were standing together by the punch bowl. These two Boys came over and told us their names were Nick and Jason. Nick asked Alicia to dance, and Jason said he’d like to dance but wanted to talk to me first. He said to call him Jase. He asked me where I was from and I told him I grew up in Galveston before we all had to evacuate, and now my Ma lives in Spring, on the north side of Houston.
Jase told me he’s from San Antonio. His father was a Hero who died when Jase was only five years old. Jase has an older brother who’s already overseas, and a little sister who’s nine who can’t wait to be a Patriot Girl. It sounds like he has a real patriotic family, which is more than I can say. After the War is over, he wants to be an aircraft mechanic. It was kind of hard to hear him over the music, but it was fun talking to him just the same.
I was glad when he was finally ready to dance, though. There were some Chaperones on the dance floor, older ladies in gray uniforms. They had minibooks, and I wondered if they were taking our pictures or something. One of them said something to Alicia and Nick, but it must not have been anything bad because Alicia still looked happy. She and Nick went back over to the sidelines and got some punch. I tried to keep my feet out from under Jase’s. He’s cute but maybe not the best dancer!
Then a Chaperone tapped Jase’s shoulder. “Having fun, kids?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” we said together.
“If you want to take a break after this dance, there are rest areas where you can get something to drink and sit down for a bit. Just through that door,” she said, pointing.
Jase looked at me and I nodded, so he took my hand and led me through a doorway at the end of the dance hall. My heart started beating faster. One of the male officers was standing just inside the door.
“Hi kids,” he said. “Names?”
“Jason Stewart and Margie Campbell,” Jase said.
“Right,” said the officer. “311 is free—fourth door on the right. There are refreshments in there, and it’s a little quieter so you can hear each other talk.”
We went in, and boy, they weren’t kidding! They had all kinds of drinks and snacks—lots better stuff than I get at home. There was a flatscreen in the wall showing music vids with the sound turned down low. Jase asked me if I wanted a drink and I said yes, so he got me a Coke out of the wall fridge. Then we sat on the couch, which was long and all comfy, like you could sink into it and disappear. Jase put his arm around my shoulder and played with a piece of my hair.
“You’re awfully pretty, Margie,” he said. I was happy but kind of embarrassed. We talked for a while and had more drinks, and then Jase was kissing me. I was worried at first that someone might come in, but Jase said he could lock the door from the inside. I don’t think I was ever so happy in my whole life. And no, I’m not going to tell you all the details!
Thursday June 1
I meant to write this weekend but I ended up going to a special picnic on Saturday to welcome another batch of new Girls. On Sunday afternoon I tried calling Ma but I couldn’t get a good connection, so I t-mailed her instead. I haven’t heard back from her yet.
Jase and I went to the dance again last Friday. That was the first time I’d seen him since the last dance, because he’s been tied up with training and the Girls have been busy with all kinds of med and psych tests. Nothing that hurt, just lots of hypos drawing blood and stuff. And all kinds of silly test questions, like what do these pictures remind you of, and what weighs more, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers. Anyone could get that one!
This time I had a kind of silvery dress for the dance, and one of the dressers helped me put my hair up. Jase said I looked beautiful. We even got the same room as last time to take a break from the dance, so Jase joked it was our room and I should think of 311 as our secret code number. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow night!
Sunday June 4
I was really happy yesterday, because Jase and I had a great time at the dance again, but then this morning I found out he’s shipping out. He sent me a t-mail and said he would miss me, but he’ll be back on furlough in a few months and he can’t wait to meet me in 311 again. He signed it Jason instead of Jase, and I laughed because I’d almost forgotten that’s his real name. But then I stopped laughing because I’m scared I’ll never see him again.
I ran to tell Alicia, and she just heard that Nick is going too. He and Jase are in the same unit, so it makes sense, but it’s such bad luck. I told Alicia that we could keep each other company at the next dance. I mean, I would maybe dance with another Boy since they need us to help them take their minds off the War, but I’m not doing anything else until Jase comes back.
That girl Callie bugs me. She said one of the Girls who’s being sent home for breaking curfew told her the Boys always say they’re coming back for furlough and then they never do.
“Well, duh, it’s a War and their schedules get changed sometimes,” Alicia said. “Anyway, Janice said her sister Linda’s Boy came back home to Oklahoma just a few weeks ago.” Callie said maybe but she didn’t look convinced. I don’t know what her problem is.
Saturday, June 17
No dance for me last night after all, and I didn’t get to go last week either. Alicia got to go both times, but last week Sarge told me they needed me to help organize some events for the Wives, and last night they wanted me to be here for another Orientation, to welcome some new Girls coming in from the west side of the state. I was kind of bummed. I’ve been down about Jase being gone and I was looking forward to the dance just to get out for a while. I’ve written to Jase every day, but I know I can’t expect many letters when he’s in the field.
Alicia said she had a good time last night, even though she still wishes Nick were here. She met someone named Brent who she said was nice. She says she didn’t do anything with him, but I’m not sure I believe her.
Monday, June 26
Today I found out why I’ve been getting called for more med tests than the other Girls. The Nurse told me this morning that I’m going to have a baby. I was so scared I started to cry. I thought they would send me home for sure, and my Ma would be so ashamed of me.
The nurse was sweet. “Don’t worry, Margie. Everything will be fine,” she told me.
“But I don’t know what I’ll do,” I cried. “I don’t know if my Ma will even take me back. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong!”
The nurse looked at me like she wanted to say something else, but she didn’t. I came back to the dorm, and before I even got a chance to tell Alicia, Sarge came with a letter from Jase. And can you believe it? He wants to marry me, and he doesn’t even know about the baby! He said he misses me so much, and he’ll be able to handle being out there in the field better if he knows he has a Wife waiting for him back home. I showed the letter to Sarge right away and she said she had to check some paperwork, but she was pretty sure we’d be allowed to get married. She said that the Head of the Patriot Girls is something called in loco parentis, like a legal guardian for the Girls under eighteen, so I won’t even need Ma’s permission to get married.
I wish Jase could get back for the wedding, but the timing just isn’t right. His letter said he got emergency orders to deploy to a new location, and he doesn’t want to wait to get married. But he said not to worry, because intelligence found out if they strike at this one spot right away, there’s a good chance the War could be over in a few months. That means Jase should be back before the baby comes. I can’t wait to write him about it.
Sarge says I’m special, because not many Girls get a proposal after only a couple of dances. I remember back when the recruiters talked to us in school, they told us the best thing a girl can do is get married and have children so we have real families in this country instead of mobs of people who only think about themselves. Even after I told her about the baby, she said she was real proud of me. She said that Jase’s proposal proves that God wants us to be together.
Alicia and Mary and all the girls from the dorm are coming to the wedding next week. I t-mailed my ma a little bit ago to see if she’ll come up for it. After the wedding I get to move into the Wives’ dorm. Mary said she’ll help me settle in. Poor Mary is being a really good sport, considering she just heard a few days ago that little Ben’s father isn’t coming back. She’s proud he’s a Hero, but I can tell she’s sad. She said her Sarge told her she’s still young and she can move back into the Girls’ dorm and go back to the dances if she wants. They can take care of little Ben in a special kids’ dorm to make it easier for her, and Mary can see him whenever she wants.
Tuesday, September 12
I haven’t written in ages because things have been kind of dull, but today I found out I’m having a boy for sure! I was hoping for a boy because I think that will make Jase happy.
The only other thing that’s happened recently is that Callie went AWOL. I heard a rumor that she’s pregnant, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.
Friday, February 2
The other Wives are throwing me a baby shower this Sunday. They’ve been teasing me, asking me if I’m sure it’s going to be a boy, and saying they’re going to bring pink baby clothes just in case. They said they don’t get enough chances to buy pink clothes because not that many of the Wives have had girls lately.
The bad news is that Jase probably isn’t going to be back before the baby comes in March. I wish he could be here. I get a letter every couple of weeks, but it’s hard not being able to see him.
I’m also kind of worried about Alicia. I don’t see her that often since she’s still in the Girls’ dorm, but I talked to her a few days ago and I can tell she’s kind of depressed. I think it’s because she keeps meeting these Boys and then they leave. Thank God I have Jase! I don’t want to be mean, but I wonder if there’s something about Alicia that keeps the Boys she meets from wanting to marry her.
Alicia’s going home to visit her mom for a few weeks. We were both going to go home for Christmas but there was a fuel shortage and they had to cancel all non-essential travel for a while. So she’s going for her Ma’s birthday instead. She told me that Sarge said the dorms are a little overcrowded right now so Alicia doesn’t have to come back right away, and they may need to postpone her re-enlistment a little while until they get the housing shortage figured out. I don’t know what Alicia’s going to do with herself back at home.
Thank God I don’t have to leave. I mean, it’s a little dull right now and I miss the dances, but once I have the baby I can at least go and help the Girls get ready and watch the dances from the sidelines. But I’m a Wife and I’m about to be a Mother, and that’s more important than anything else. And when the War is over Jase can get a job as an airplane mechanic and we can get a house and we can watch little Jase grow up. It shouldn’t be too much longer now.
“Patriot Girls” originally appeared in the End of an Aeon anthology now available from Fairwood Press.
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I am excited as hell to announce a brand-new feature starting this week here on Make Me a Sammich: Fiction!
Yes, you heard right: I’ll be publishing short story reprints by kickass writers of my acquaintance (to start with) some of which have may or may not have appeared in Very Important Publications. Eventually, I hope to bring you original fiction, as well. Cool, huh? And like everything else here, it will always be free to read, though I will include a donation button on each story so you can tip the author if you want to. Seems only right. Right?
This is something I always had in the back of my mind to do–that is, to publish topical fiction here–but it was just the tiniest seed of a thought until I got an email today from Amy Sisson and this happened:
You see, Amy wrote this wonderful story called “Patriot Girls” which appeared in an anthology called End of an Aeon published by my friends at Fairwood Press. It’s about a future not very distant in which boys go off to war and girls do their patriotic duty. I’m not going to say more for fear of spoiling it for you, but suffice to say I think it’s perfect for us, so I asked, and Amy has graciously granted her permission for me to publish it here. I can’t wait for you to read it.
Of course, this got me thinking about other stories I’d like to share with you, which led me to send out another query almost immediately, this one to my friend Bob. The story I’ve requested from him is one that I never thought would come true and yet whose truth and consequences are closer today than I’d like to think. Sounds scary, huh? It is. But I’m going to leave it at that for the moment because…of reasons. If I get permission to reprint that story whole or in part, you’ll be in for another treat, dark though it is. I really hope I get to share it with you one way or another–you’ll know when I know!
In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more great fiction to share, and if you know of something I should consider, please let me know. Here’s to the next chapter! (See what I did there?)
The use of the word “bitch” in our culture has been on my list to write about, but I’m not there yet. One step closer today, however, after reading this post and watching the accompanying video, which I found fascinating. I’m going to chew on this for a while. Let me know what you think.
“Bitches Be Crazy” is actually one of my favorite things to say and I haven’t given much thought to the way that the word ‘bitch’ is now a part of everyday vocabulary; unless the context implies that the word is being used in its true sense. But Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” made me think of what the true sense of the word actually means today and how, as empowering, funny, harmless, endearing as it may seem, in real life, it still may be pretty problematic.
In the song, Lupe raps like a true spoken word artist and tells of a young girl and boy who hear the word bitch used by their favorite artists and internalize it in different ways and when they meet later on in life “he thinks she a bad bitch/and she thinks she’s a bad bitch/ he thinks disrespectfully/she thinks of that sexually”. It’s…
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We shared a house on the West side of Queen Anne hill in Seattle, and from the balcony we’d soon note the utter lack of planes in the clear blue sky–all except one lone AWACS jet that probably lived at nearby Boeing Field. The sky seemed so blue in those days after, and my job downtown ensured that when planes flew again, I’d see them framed with the buildings of my city in ways that never bothered me before but were now NOT OKAY. I never wanted to see another plane and building together again.
We watched the news together that morning, Mom and I, while my daughter fought traffic to and from the airport to pick up a passenger who wouldn’t fly today or any day soon. She listened on the radio and we watched on t.v. as the buildings fell. Then we all came together and wondered what we should do. We drove to the local Red Cross office hoping we could be of some help to someone, somehow. They were…clueless. Not sure why we were there. “Oh, that. Yeah, we don’t know.”
I don’t have any conclusions to offer. I’ve watched my country become a security state, if not a police state. I have written, I have spoken, I have occupied. I don’t know what the answers are, but I believe that working together, we’ll discover them, or reveal what we already knew.
Don’t give up.
Is it any wonder that we have right-wing politicians in every state trying to roll back women’s rights when a prominent “Christian” waxes nostalgic on national television about the days when a man could beat his wife and jokes that the husband of a wife who won’t behave should become a Muslim so he can beat her? (Hint: rhetorical question.)
Before I go any further, I’m not okay with abuse no matter who perpetrates it. If this woman is verbally and/or physically abusing her husband, then yes, he ought to do something. I don’t know the whole story, but as Michael says, his wife doesn’t respect him as head of the house, and it has crossed my mind that his problems start there and go downhill.
“Please tell me what I can do,” Michael begs of his spiritual leader. Who very thoughtfully answers,
“Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.”
His (female) co-hose titters in the background as Robertson continues, musing that “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.” His co-host asks why the woman wouldn’t want to talk with her husband about their problems, and Robertson explains.
“She’s a rebellious child and she doesn’t want to submit to any authority. And she probably had temper-tantrums when she was a kid, and…you know, the little girl, ‘I hate you, I hate you…’ …she doesn’t understand authority, when she was growing up nobody made her behave, and now you’ve got a 13-year-old in a 30-year-old woman’s body, and she is acting like a child. Now what do you do with that? You can’t divorce her, according to scripture, so I say…” and here Robertson looks straight at the camera…
“Move to Saudi Arabia.”
Watch the whole ugly mess here:
I backed this new comic on Kickstarter because it features a teen girl superhero bucking traditional stereotypes. Now the first issue is out, so I thought I’d share. Here’s a teaser from the preview:
Let me know what you think, especially if you decide to buy the comic. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story progresses.
This is from late 2009, but I’m not sure I’ve read a better piece explaining to men how to (and when not to) approach a woman respectfully. Some men still won’t get it. Some will, as she puts it, “get pissy.” If you want to know what I think about them, read the article: I’m in 100% agreement.
Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs. She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins.
Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.
Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.
So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection…
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Truth: Sandra Fluke and I and a lot of other women want birth control to be covered by health insurance (the same way Viagra is).
Why is this so hard to understand?
I’m in a long-term relationship (i.e., living in sin), but for the sake of argument, let’s say I’m married. And let’s pretend I still have a uterus. And let’s imagine that my husband has an erectile dysfunction issue, or just likes the way Viagra keeps him standing tall, I don’t know, but his doctor prescribes it and insurance covers it. And let’s say I don’t want to get pregnant right now because I’m in my late 40s and it’s just not a good idea at my age. It might actually be bad for me or the baby. But I want to have sex. I want to have a loving sexual relationship with my husband without getting pregnant. And he’s got this raging Viagra boner, after all.
So, here’s my question:
Why should my husband’s desire for an erection trump my desire to PROTECT MY BODY from an unwanted pregnancy when it comes to health insurance coverage?
It’s just not that complicated, people. It’s about health. It’s about the individual responsibility conservatives claim to value so highly. It’s about our bodies and our right to choose when and whether to carry a child within them.
Tell your friends.
A number of critics here and elsewhere have argued that my logic is flawed for a number of reasons. That may well be true, but not for the reasons they state, I don’t think. I’m going to address those now.
Argument: Viagra is used to treat medical conditions unrelated to sex.
Have you watched Ms. Fluke’s testimony? Two-thirds of it is about women with serious reproductive health issues who rely on birth control medication to treat them and the consequences when they don’t get their medication because the insurance they pay for (unsubsidized by their college) won’t cover it.
Argument: Viagra is not covered by most health insurance programs.
I don’t have numbers for the country at large, but I did find this story which speaks directly to the issue of Viagra vs. birth control and the Catholic church, which as commenter Craig pointed out below was behind the original thrust of Ms. Fluke’s campaign. (Pun intended.)
Argument: Viagra is way more expensive than birth control.
Maybe that’s so, but as commenter Mike pointed out, “birth control is far less expensive to the medical system than pregnancy and childbirth.” Not really a black-and-white thing.
Argument: The choice to have sex without becoming pregnant is not a health issue.
Ok, here’s where we’re going to have words. Let’s talk a bit about pregnancy and childbirth, shall we? I’ll just give you a quick rundown based on experience and let the readers chime in on anything I might have missed.
1. Oh, hey, I’m pregnant! I wake up every morning and vomit my guts out while diarrhea sprays out the other end with every heave. I can’t eat until after 4pm or more vomiting and stuff!
2. Check it out: my ankles are swelling, and if I’m not careful, I could develop preeclampsia and toxemia or a blood clot and die!
3. Lucky me! Pregnancy carries the risk that I might develop gestational diabetes which will increase my risk of developing regular diabetes later in life! And there are lots of other things that can go wrong in my body as well. (Good thing I’m not over 35*, or there would be even more things to worry about, and a higher risk of them happening!)
4. Oh, great, there’s this thing called toxoplasmosis I can get from my cat. It can kill me. Whoopee!
And that’s not even going into just how uncomfortable–and even painful–pregnancy can be. For nine months of your life. But I survived it! Now it’s time to deliver.
1. OHMYFUCKINGGOD THE PAIN.
2. There are so many things that could go wrong, and I could die, but I’m in good hands and I’m not thinking about that because THE PAIN THE FUCKING PAIN OH GOD.
3. My water won’t break on its own. The doc has to reach his hand up inside my vagina and prick the membrane, at which time the water WHOOSHES out and the pain…oh, I only thought it hurt before. I’m so fucking scared. I want to go home. As they wheel me down the hall from labor to delivery, I piss myself.
4. My vagina isn’t quite big enough for the baby to pass without the delicate skin between my vagina and anus ripping as it is doing now, so the doctor uses a scalpel to slice that skin open and increase the size of my vaginal opening. There is blood. Lots and lots of blood. And then, my daughter is born.
What part of this does not sound like a health issue to you? What part of this does not sound like something a person should be able to CHOOSE?
That’s all I’ve got for now. Love ya.
*I’m over 35 now, but I wasn’t when I was pregnant. ;)
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