Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sometimes My Body Just Doesn't Fucking Cooperate

So today was try number 3 at girding my loins for the War on Women, aka IUD placement. Due to my crooked bits, my doctor had tried on 2 separate occasions with no luck. So today I saw a specialist.

I don't just want the IUD for it's happy baby blockage. I have horrid, week long, heavy periods that make me weak, feverish, exhausted and crampy. I have to take iron because they leave me anemic. Forget about tampons, I have to use giant pads and still have to change then every 2-3 hours. I sleep on old towels. Just going from the shower to the bath rug without this layer of protection has ruined more than a few rugs. I spend a week of every month with my knees locked together, in pain, trying not to ruin furniture.

So if the IUD couldn't be placed, the next option was ablation, or basically having my uterus power washed so that I don't have periods anymore. That was the back up plan. (Actually, I would have gone straight to ablation, but thought an IUD is reversible if needs be where ablation is not).

The specialist, who I liked a lot, gave it her best shot. She tried everything she could think of. But you just can't get a straight stick, or even a slightly curved stick, to go around a 180 angle. I looked at the collection of sounds she used, trying to get in there. 5 centimeters. That's as far as she could go.

And since ablation uses the same method and tools as IUD insertion, that's out too. Maybe, if I was under anesthesia in general surgery they could do it. Maybe. But the doctor wasn't hopeful.

So here I am. Still with the awful periods. Now without even a decent back up plan, short of hysterectomy. Which I'm not ready for yet. I have to go back on the fucking pill (which I hate) because that is all that can be done. I can't even use the Nuva ring (which is not awful) because I haven't quite been able to give up smoking yet.

I know, there are certainly much worse health problems to be upset about. But I cried in the car on the way to work afterwords. It feels like such a betrayal, when your body won't cooperate, when it leaves you hurt and tired and mad with no decent solution. And then I got to spend hours at work, hunched over and cramping with all the side effects of an IUD insertion and no fucking IUD.

Someone, anyone, invent a medical sound and IUD combo that can go around a u-shaped corner, and I will worship you as a god/dess.

If all things were equal, sure. But they aren't.

Just a note of warning- there will be some triggery language and use of words meant as slurs against sex-workers in this post. The use of the slurs (in quotes) are phrases I have actually heard and are not meant to demean sec workers in any way, but to illustrate the bias in the system.

The Stranger (groan, I know) has a piece up in favor of legalizing prostitution(their word- not mine).

Here's the thing, if we lived in a world without classism or sexism, sure. I think every adult has the right to do whatever they want to their own body with whomever they choose (so long as everyone involved are consenting adults). But we don't live in that world. We live in a world where the only occupations where women consistently make more money than men are sex work and modeling. We live in a world where a woman with a BA degree will make, on average, the same amount of money as a man without a degree. We live in a world where one out of every 4 women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. We live in a world where 70% of single parents don't receive child support, where daycare costs more than minimum wage pays. We live in a world where college costs more than house and universal healthcare is a pipedream.

Sex work puts workers at daily risk of rape, assault, robbery, disease, and death. Perhaps legalization could so something as far as mitigating these, and that would be great. But once you legalize sex-work, the scanty social safety net we have in place for low-income women gets scantier. There was not-exactly a joke about welfare where I grew up in Nevada. "Why would they pay women to stay home on the state's dime when whoring is legal?" If you think that's hyperbole, just a few years ago in Germany, where sex work is legal, several women were denied benefits for refusing to work as sex workers. Eventually the decisions were reversed, but you get the picture.

So how about legalization? The Swedish model, the decriminalizes the selling of sex but criminalizes they buying of it, is an elegant, and widely considered to be the best, solution. But it's not without huge problems. I am all in favor of not arresting or prosecuting sex workers and in giving them legal means of protection from violent clients and pimps. While this kind of decriminalization is important, it doesn't change the fundamental inequities in the system. It does nothing to give women at the very bottom more choices for supporting themselves and their families. It does nothing to provided healthcare for sex-workers who are struggling with substance abuse and using sex work to pay for the means to self-medicate. It does nothing to give young women better options for paying for college than crushing student loans or exotic dancing. It does nothing to give a poor single mom affordable daycare so she doesn't have to work as a massage therapist who provides happy endings.

And legalization doesn't change society's view that "you can't rape a whore" (said by and SPD officer while giving a guest lecture as Seattle Central Community College). While there technically may be avenues for legal recourse if a sex worker is assaulted, the chances are fairly slim of her (or him) prevailing because of ingrained views.

Until the inequities are changed, the idea that most sex-workers are of the sex positive, happy hooker, who has chosen sex work over a career as a rocket scientist* variety is false. If your choices are limited to starve, suffer, or be a sex worker, then that's not actually a choice.

*Yes, of course some people are exactly that. Good for them. But as in most things, they tend to be the top of the pyramid. Healthy, without children to support, with enough power and security in their work to be able to choose clients and minimize risk. But when we let the top of they pyramid speak for everyone, we all know what happens.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One year ago today

I posted to Facebook that
I realized while reading the Iliad that if for Zeus, Ares, Athena, and Apollo you substitute the White House, Defense, State and the CIA, the politics make perfect sense.

I also rented a Mini Cooper and drove to Ojai, California, for a burrito.

Other Motherhood- When Reproductive Rights Mean More Than Not Wanting To Be Pregnant

There's a post up at Jezebel about a woman who was sterilized against her will when she was 14, after being raped and delivering a child that was conceived during that rape, who is now waiting to find out if the state of North Carolina will finally give her financial compensation for having invaded her body in the most atrocious way possible.

As feminists, we talk a whole hell of a lot about choice, the choice to have an abortion, the choice to use birth control. But there is a huge portion of the feminist community that can't see the otherside of choice. I have heard from declared feminists that "poor women shouldn't have babies they can't afford". Well there goes a majority of the world's population. And the racism, oh the fucking racism. Think about the people who spout "we'll we know the world has too many people". They usually mean too many (brown) people having too many (brown) babies in countries where the resources footprint per capita could fit an entire village into the footprint of one single North American.

While pregnancy doesn't always come at the most opportune times to the most "deserving" (read white, married, educated, employed, insured, middle-class or better straight folks), choosing to parent is a profound act of hope. You have to believe that even if things aren't ideal now, they will get better. You have to take a leap of faith that your own strength will pull you and your child(ren) through. It's not always true that they do get better, but you have to believe it just a little bit to have a wanted child.

And to be one of the undeserving, you have to believe it even harder. No one is running around nagging poor women "when are you gonna start a family?" Instead, as soon as the stick turns blue, people start telling you about your options, abortion or adoption. "Are you going to keep it?" is asked with the slight sneer of condescension, much the same way as someone saying "are you going to eat THAT?" if you were to order a chocolate cake covered in anchovy paste. It is an impossible thing. Can't actually be true. Why would you, oh undeserving woman, think you are capable of motherhood? You, woman with a disability, can't possibly be considering motherhood. You, poor Latina with no real education, can't possibly be considering motherhood. You, 19 year old with a meth junkie boyfriend who refuses to work and just got the car repo'd to buy more drugs, can't possibly be considering motherhood.*

But choose motherhood we do. It's a radical act to choose motherhood when the whole world** wants to spit on you for it. But we make the choice to be hopeful for our own future and the future of our children.

Elaine Riddick was never given that choice. Not when she was raped, not when she was sterilized.

*That'd be me. BTW.

** Whole world meaning the "well meaning" sorts of faux feminists and straight up conservative asshats.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Taking women seriously

The simplest, most important reason that women's opinion needs to be considered as seriously and immediately as men's is sometimes, goddamnit, we're right. This passage from the section on women and the French Resistance from France: The Dark Years 1940-1944 by Julian Jackson portrays a scenario us Hillary supporters are all too familiar with:

Even Helène Mordkovitch, one of the founders of Défense de la France with Philippe Viannay..was reticent about imposing herself. Unlike Viannay, she never harboured any illusions about [Marshal Philippe] Pétain [head of the wartime French regime at Vichy], but it never occurred to her, or to him, that her views on politics should be taken into the account on the newspaper, which remained a male preserve. It took her husband two years to reach views she had held from the start.

The timing of two to three years is striking. In the Chicago Tribune op-ed HIllary for President , a former Obama supporter rallies to the idea of Hillary--about three years too late to be of any use. Apparently his personal identification with Obama clouded his thought process. His outrage at the Hillary campaign's "3 AM phone call" campaign ad is because the ad directly challenges his divine right (and Obama's) as holder of the twin pillars of authority, the law degree and the penis, to rule. "I am mature enough but you are not" remains an unacceptable assertion from a woman to a man. Even if, goddamnit, and to the young pup's sorrow, she is right.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feminism detected in the Grey Lady

Occasionally I open a newspaper and am not instantly punched in the face. On my latest long-haul flight I read a review of the book "All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion" by Lisa Appignanesi in the International Herald Tribune (the global edition of the New York Times, the American bourgeoisie's house organ and purveyor of genteel sexism.) Imagine my astonishment at reading such simple, shining truths "until women entered the field [of studying sexual attraction] and started asking different questions, the experiments tended to produce stunning affirmations of Western patriarchal stereotypes. "

Contemplate also the sparkling passage:

..Appignanesi, who has written extensively on the history of psychoanalysis, turns her back on the ever-­growing scientific literature on love, largely out of disgust with the way sociobiological theories get used to defend a conservative social order: “I’ll believe in evolutionary psychology more, perhaps, when it’s used less as an explanation for male philandering and female nesting,” she writes.

This from a newspaper that files all woman-related stories, including one about lesbian separatism, in the Fashion & Style section? Knock me over with a feather.

Letting go

My lover left Afghanistan yesterday after being deployed there for a year. He's now safely in another country, where he'll spend a few days outprocessing with the military, before going to another country, lather, rinse, repeat. It's probably another 10 days or so before he gets here.

I can finally breathe. I'm starting to cry. It's safe to cry now that he's Not There anymore.

Say what you wish about war. "It sucks" is as fine a place as any to start. But when it's your loved one there, you don't actually let go until your loved one is on the way back safely. My loved one was confined to a big military base while he was there, but it was still There. Rocket attacks, attempts to break security on base, suicide bombers. (Nothing that got near him, but it's as much luck as anything.)

I've been through a lot since he left. Big life stuff. People who I'd trusted for decades suddenly turning untrustworthy, or downright unsafe. Big family stuff, his and mine.

But now he's Not There any more. I can let go and cry, really cry. I can grieve all the shit that's happened, and the people who hurt me or left me, and the loneliness and the oh-my-god-will-it-never-end-ness of it. I can let go because when he gets off the plane he'll be walking off eagerly, instead of being carried out in a box.