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Pro-Life At First Sight?: State Rules to Require Ultra Sound before Abortion June 22, 2010

Filed under: Abortion — afrocity @ 1:11 AM
Tags: , , , ,

On the heels of yesterday’s topic on abortion,  I wanted to quickly  post this news of a new state law in Louisiana which will require all women seeking and abortion to get an ultrasound of the fetus first.  And when this bill says all women, this  bill  means ALL WOMEN for it also includes mandatory ultra sounds for victims of rape or incest who wish to have an abortion.

With everyone paying (rightly) so much attention to the BP oil spill/Gulf crisis, this story did not receive much media attention.

Louisiana To Require Ultrasounds Before Abortions

by The Associated Press

June 16, 2010

Women seeking abortions in Louisiana will be required to get an ultrasound first, even if they are a victim of rape or incest, under a bill that received final legislative passage Wednesday.

The bill by Democratic state Sen. Sharon Broome of Baton Rouge was sent to the governor’s desk with a 79-0 vote of the state House. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the measure.

Supporters of the proposal said they hope the ultrasound dissuades some women from getting an abortion at the handful of abortion clinics in Louisiana, by giving them more information about their pregnancies.

“This is a bill that empowers women,” Broome said in committee testimony, adding that at least 15 other states have a similar requirement.

Opponents said requiring a procedure that might not be available at a free clinic nearby will make it more difficult and costly for women to get abortions. No one spoke against the proposal on the House floor Wednesday.

An ultrasound at health care facilities around the state can cost anywhere from $80 to more than $300, depending on the location, according to a review of health care pricing websites for hospitals and clinics in Louisiana.

It was unclear how significant the change will really be, however. Testimony from both sides of the debate has indicated more than 95 percent of women who get abortions in Louisiana already have ultrasounds performed, without the requirement in place.

Broome’s bill started out in a much more controversial fashion. It would have required anyone seeking an abortion to listen to a detailed description of the fetus that included its dimensions and whether arms, legs or internal organs are visible. The woman also would have been required to get a photograph of the ultrasound.

Those requirements were removed from the bill at its first stop in a Senate committee hearing. The description and the photograph will be optional instead, and a statement must be read to the woman seeking the abortion describing her ability to get the description and photograph and view the ultrasound.

After the proposal was revised, it moved easily through the Legislature with few votes in opposition.

Louisiana has enacted a series of restrictions on abortions over the years, many of which have been overturned in courts. Lawmakers also have placed language in statutes to explain the state only allows abortion procedures because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they are legal.

Earlier this week, lawmakers gave final passage to another bill that would give Louisiana’s health secretary broader discretion to revoke abortion clinic licenses in case of safety and health concerns. Awaiting debate in the Senate is a House-approved bill that would prohibit medical malpractice coverage of doctors when they are performing elective abortions that aren’t required to save the life of the mother.

Ultrasound of twin babies

I am not quite sure how I feel about this one.  On the one hand,  the law may certainly sway a mother to continue with her pregnancy. There is nothing wrong with that as long as her health is not in danger.  However, on the other hand, if I were raped by a family member, I am sure I would not want to see evidence of the assault/abuse.   The images of the attack which live in the mind are potentially traumatizing enough.  Imagine having to look at a child fathered by an act of rape.   I know how painful it is because my mother was raped in 1957 and became pregnant as a result of a violent act- at knife point.   She carried the babyto full term and raised him for one year.  After she could no longer stand to look at her son, she gave him up to the family of the man that raped her.

Because the Louisiana law includes victims of rape and incest, I cannot say that it is absolutely benign.

You be the judge.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Women and Politics: Are We Strong to the Finish? February 9, 2010

Although I am a Republican, I am African American and can relate to the significance of the election of Barack Obama. Whether I like it or not, he is the first POTUS of color and as a country we have been forever changed because of it.  I do not agree with his character or policies but as far as the collective memory of this nation, he is here to stay.

I am not a mother and I probably never will be. Sure I fantasize about it, the feedings, the PTA meetings.

Would my failings as an adult and lapses in judgment cause irrevocable damage to the quality of their life?

Is it possible to be a great mom when my own childhood was so dysfunctional?  When I was raised by a single mom who collected a monthly pay check from Uncle Sam? There was no significant male figure in my life, save for a brother living military life  in Europe most of my life.

What about politics?

Someday this child will want to go out and vote or at least I hope they would want to contribute to the political process.

I also wonder if I were a mom, what would I say to he or she about Barack Obama?

Would I take a copy of Dreams of My Father, hold it in front of my child and say “Bad Man…S O C I A L I ST” ?

Would I yell idiot at the television every time Obama’s image pops up? That would be every day.

You may be surprised at this but my answer is no.

For example if my child arrived from school with a homework assignment about Obama. They have to answer five questions about Obama’s impact on our coutry.

For argument’s sake let’s pretend that the text book is full of liberal embellishments: “Obama is a great man”, “Obama saved our country from the brink of financial Armageddon, “Obama is the greatest president since FDR.”  “Racism almost kept Obama out of the White House”…

How would I handle this situation without passing on my own prejudices against the man?   This is the first president of color we are talking about.   As any good archivist/ historian, I would teach my child to do rigorous research on it’s own.  I would say that while I did not agree with Obama’s policies and I did not vote for him, his election was a pivotal moment in history for all Americans but especially for African Americans.   If the child is very young, there is no need to discuss the motivation and behavior behind Barack Obama.

Afrocity mom would bust out the”Great  Black Politicians in  History”  flash cards which hopefully have cardboard representations Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice,  Michael Steele,  along with Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson and other prominent black Americans.  Let’s save the Obama and Bill Ayers stories  for middle or high school.  Obama was the first black president and I will not steal that moment–the very significance of it, away from my child.   If I wrote Obama off as a simpleton, say as many liberal women  particularly feminists do Sarah Palin, what would I really be teaching my child?  I just marginalized an important historical figure at the expense of my child’s freedom to choose their own heroes.

The "Fernie Swastikas" A Canadian Women's Hockey Team. In 1923 they defeated the Vancouver Amazons. What would you say to your daughter about this picture today?

Every group or identity politic has memorable stories that endure the harshness of forgetfulness.  Stories that we reiterate to each generation over and over again.  I accept that Barack Obama will be one of them.  His legacy will be held to redefinition over the years. Historians will carefully examine his accomplishments and  spin new interpretations  on Barry-O but still he will never go away.

The same can be said for women’s history.  We can be Republicans or Democrats, Independents, Tea Partiers but we still are women.

What if Sarah Palin did win presidential election in 2012?  What would women, liberals in particular say to their daughters?   “Sarah Palin is a CUNT” ? would they hang her and Piper in effigy over the local Planned Parenthood center? Or would they say: “You know what, I do not agree with this woman’s stance on abortion or gay marriage, but her getting elected to the highest office in the nation is a pretty damn big step for all women”?

As it stands now, we have all this unfolding discourse on how qualified Sarah Palin is. She must prove herself. Over and over and over again like a broken record.   No matter how many speeches Sarah gives, she still must prove herself.

I was somewhat upset with Geraldine Ferraro during this FOX NEWS interview with Megyn Kelly.  Again with the Sarah must prove herself.

I wanted to jump into Megyn’s fancy new studio and say “Hey, Gerry…I was a kid when you ran on the DNC ticket and really I think Sarah Palin gave more interview’s and is under far more media scrutiny than you ever were.”

After a year of fumbles and corpse-men, Obamatons are still chanting “All we are saying, is give Obama a chance”

Would they do the same for Sarah?

I will close this post with one of my most memorable moments in Afrocity once watched cartoons history.  Precious and is this episode of Popeye the Sailor Man.  Olive Oyl imagines herself as being President of the United States of America.  She fights sexism and partisan politics, she has a male secretary. Please watch and I am sure you will be equally entertained and frightened that this antique film reel still captures the underpinnings of a woman’s struggle in politics today. It will take a helluva lot more than a can of spinach to get a woman in the White House sowing the seeds of legislation and real change instead of organic arugula.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Are You There God? It’s Me Afrocity: Being A Pro-Choice Republican Without Illusions August 31, 2009

my choiceMore than any other device, the image is the surest way to transcend all barriers.  Achieving a certain notoriety for fascinating the voyeuristic side in all of us, the image is not exclusively  male or female because the common vantage point is that we all have eyes.

When I look at pro-life and pro choice “propaganda”, a term I resisted granted truthfully, that is what it is propaganda or something that persuades and appeals to emotions, I see that the abortion debate is handled in such a way that there is really no middle ground. The accusations are inescapable. Either you believe in murdering babies or you don’t. You are either for women’s rights or you’re not.

In a video interview I taped earlier this month, I described how my political location is life was racially constructed. How does this apply translate to my opinion on abortion? Is it racially constructed as well?

The sexual education between my mother and I was for the most part one without words. Pregnancy was the worse thing that could happen to a black girl. Books open, legs shut was the mantra. Abstinence is the best policy. Did she tell me what sex actually was? No.

It was not until I watched soft porn with my sound asleep uncle that I realized that babies are not made by a woman and a man “lying close together in bed”.

My uncle had the Spectrum cable channel- which was one of the first along with HBO and Showtime. He did not pay for it but somehow we received the signal in his bedroom.  In my need for a masculine figure of authority in my life, I would watch movies in his room as I did my homework. His drunken raucous laughter was somehow calming. Unlike his sister/my mother, he drank heavily and was not always sad. I accepted his Hiram Walker and Sons manufactured mirth over my mother’s growing despondency. Uncle and I would begin by watching action movies or comedies. Being a night owl by nature, I would stay up well past my uncle’s bedtime.

When the adult movies began at 1am, did Afrocity turn off the TV set?

Not on your life. I stayed and watched. Curiosity killed the young PUMA cat.

The abortion dress is said to be the most ripped off image on the internet.

The abortion dress is said to be the most ripped off image on the internet.

At 13 years of age, I  was perceptive enough to determine that these movies were created by men for men. In many films, the women were initially raped but later appear as if they actually enjoyed the attack. Others engaged in lesbian behavior yet there were no representations of men sleeping with men while women watched for pleasure and enjoyment. Then there were the insatiable nymphomaniacs. The woman who can’t seem to get enough.

Through my delicate pre-teen lens  I was the the willing voyeur, watching these forbidden movies which embodied masculine principals of patriarchy and submission. Women were not in a position of power in most of the films, save for several films featuring porn star Marilyn Chambers. Even so, it seemed that Marilyn  thought she was in complete control although I am not sure if walking home with a limp is considered power no matter how much you enjoyed it.

Abortion and rape figured prominently in several films I watched but here again, it was the male who determined whether or not the woman would be “allowed” to end the life of her unborn child.

It was “her fault” that she got pregnant and she would need “his money” to fix it.

To solidify this argument, one film featured a woman who was a naughty housewife. She was of course a nymphomaniac that her husband, while charming could not satiate. She attends a blindfolded only orgy and has sex with a kosher dill pickle, three women and several men. Later when she discovers that her sexual escapade has rendered her pregnant, she cannot afford the abortion with her monthly allowance from dear sweet protective hubby.

To make matters worse hubby was wounded in Vietnam and cannot father a child. As the movie progresses, the feminine antagonist is screwed both literally and figuratively. Her power karma dwindles as she has to prostitute herself for money in order to pay for the abortion.  At the sobering conclusion of the film, our wing clipped heroine is robbed of her abortion kitty by her final customer. But all is not lost. A member of the dominant gender,an abortionist  enters her life and gives her an abortion in return for a sexual encounter.

The erosion of this female character’s strength was what remained with me the most. It was not the gratuitous penis shots, or kinky sex (though that was a pretty big cumber pickle), what stayed with me was her total lack of control.

Roe v. Wade gave us the right to choose but this pornographic film stripped that right away by placing the financing of the abortion, back in the hands of the patriarchy.  Perhaps this was the day I became  pro-choice but I also became pro-women’s empowerment.  Pregnancy is exclusively female along with menstruation. Women should have the right to control what happens to their bodies. I will never change that opinion despite being a Republican.

Not being a mother, I am of course more familiar with the latter bodily function- menstruation.  Now this is the part where I may risk some readers but here goes…

Such imagery only angers and widens the gap between pro-life and pro-choice.

Such imagery only angers and widens the gap between pro-life and pro-choice.

Sunday mine began, as it has since I was 13.  I am also taking antibiotics for a sinus infection which in turn caused me to develop a yeast infection.  Strolling down the Walgreen ailse basket in hand, my mouth drops open at the price of sanitary napkins. $7.99 for a 28 count package of Stayfree maxipads without wings.

The tension between my monthly flow and my cash flow has always been an issue.

I asked myself a rather trivial question. During my lifetime, how much have I spent on feminine products? If I only knew.

While growing up, I never ever saw my mother buy feminine products. We had no money.

You could not buy them with foodstamps.

My guess is that she used discarded old towels we had.

I assume this because she attempted to coax me into a similar practice when we were without money. Our discourse exchange on the matter was burdened by the 31 year gap in our ages. With my first period, I insisted to be taken to the store for pads. Thanks to sexual education in school, I knew they existed. Tampon usage was shunned by most in my class including the teachers. The awful myth circulating was that any girl who uses a tampon is automatically NOT a virgin and will perish a horrendous death of toxic shock syndrome.

Succumbing to her thoroughly modern daughter, mother purchased the old beltless bulky pads for me and did not know how to put them on me. When I ran ou of thoset, I went to the school nurse  pretending my period had caught me off guard. After doing this ten times or so, the nurse caught on and gave me a box of pads once a month.

Abortion-Rights-02

“I have too many and would only throw them out, ” she said.

I was thankful that they had sticky stuff on the bottom and did not have to use safety pins. That nurse fed me the self esteem needed by a maturing young woman. Thank God for school nurses and sex education. The nurse was a woman helping a girl. I could trust her and she knew what it was like to be me. Now what if it were more than just pads that I needed? Should my mother know about it? I thought of the woman in the porn movie. What if I needed an abortion? Take into consideration this article which appeared on Townhall.com by Star Parker, a wonderful conservative that happens to be African American like me:

Abortion 3Monday, August 31, 2009

Star Parker :: Townhall.com Columnist

A time for truth on abortion
by Star Parker

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin missed a great opportunity to personally kick off an issue of enormous importance to her state and to the nation.

She was scheduled to appear with me at an Alaska Family Council event in Anchorage to launch Alaska’s Parental Involvement Initiative, which will require parental notification of teenage girls under age 18 before they can get an abortion. But, the schedules of we mortals cannot retard the imperatives of history, so, despite Mrs. Palin’s absence, we’ve gone to war with the army we have.

Currently 35 states have laws that require either parental consent or notification in order for a teenage girl to receive an abortion. Alaska passed one in 1997.

However, after ten years on the books, in 2007 the Alaska Supreme Court, arguing that sharing this information with parents violated the privacy of their teenage daughters, found the law unconstitutional. So now a 13 year old can get an abortion without the knowledge of her parents.

A large percentage of these abortions are paid for with state Medicaid funds, but no one seems to think that parents’ privacy is being violated using their tax funds to pay for these.

Research shows the remedial benefits of parental involvement when a pregnant teenager considers abortion.

And research shows the profound psychological damage caused by teenage abortion. But, perhaps we should be wondering who we are today that we need to gather data to address an issue as intuitively obvious as whether a teenage girl may abort her child without her parents knowing.

Of course there are exceptional considerations, like abusive parents. But the Alaska initiative deals with this, as did a similar initiative in California, which was defeated last November.

No, this is not about being reasonable. It is about ideology. And what we have are opposing worldviews that cannot be reconciled. It’s about choosing one or the other.

Yeast cartoonYes, I am pro-choice and Republican but even I have my limits. Whether in the name of privacy or under the guise of women’s rights, I do not believe that it is fair for pro-choice advocates to exclude parental consent when it comes to a 13 year old girl, not a woman but a girl, having an abortion. A 13 year  parents should be involved in that decision or at the very least be aware that their child is sexually active.

My decision to be pro-choice is based upon a woman’s right to privacy.

Speaking of privacy over twenty years later, I am no longer the girl in the school nurse’s office. Here I am a full grown woman, standing in a Walgreens drugstore aisle with a problem. The yeast infection medication I need is behind a locked Plexiglas cabinet along with pregnancy tests and ovulation detectors.  Great, now my purchase of this embarrassing product entails my announcing to the Walgreens powers that be that I need something to stop croissant production. Of course with my luck, the only person available to open the security case for me is an Asian man of about 30.

“Which item do you want?” he asked timidly. This poor man did not want to help me and the feeling was mutual. But there we were.

I pointed to the yeast infection treatment that was on sale for $9.95 down from $18.95. Seems my timing was not so bad after all- yeast must be in season. I noted that the store clerk did not look me in the eye. With a quick “thanks”, I took my yeast killers and maxi pads to the cashier who was also a male. I placed my feminine items on the counter along with a bag of 5 flavored Life Savers roll candy. The male cashier flirted with me until he saw the guilty products, Life Savers roll candy and Vagistat, I must be a real winner.

“Do you want me to double bag this?” he asked. His face was red. He was wearing lots of liberal flair. An Obama button (ick) along with another pin that read “Green is the new black”.

Why the red face? Being a liberal, he must understand my plight as a woman.Surely he is a feminist and cares about my monthly cell slouthing activites.

Shaking my head, I said “No, why should anymore trees have to die because I have a yeast infection…I will pay by debit card.”

Yes, with one swipe of rectangular plastic, I do have the power.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY


 

Virginity Suicide by Deviated Speculum August 3, 2009

Filed under: Healthcare — afrocity @ 11:58 AM
Tags: , ,
1973 drawing by C Clement which appeared in "Sister: The newspaper of the Los Angeles Women’s Centre"

1973 drawing by C Clement which appeared in "Sister: The newspaper of the Los Angeles Women’s Centre"

For several members of my family, health care reform was was one of the most compelling reasons for supporting Barack Obama.

“Republicans don’t care about your health, unless you are rich” one member stated.

My reply was that I was not aware that anyone cared about my health when I was a Democrat or poor.  My first pap smear was when I was 22 years of age. Still a virgin on government welfare , I was placed in the waiting room of a free clinic. Many of the women waiting with me had three to five kids, screaming kids. I knew the wait would be long.  It always was. Whether it was a 7 year old Afrocity stricken with a high fever from the mumps or a 22 year old Afrocity waiting for her first of many gynecological exams, the feelings of humiliation, fear and uncertainty remained the same. I hated going to the doctor. The circumstances of my social standing meant that I was destined for subpar care for the rest of my life.

“Are you here because you have an STD?”  A white man of about 30, sat next to me in the waiting room.  As mentioned earlier, this was a free clinic- it was in a very poor part of Houston, Texas.  Dressed in a three piece suit and carrying a nice Coach briefcase, I could tell that he was not “one of us”.  Looking around nervously, he asked me again, “Everyone is here because they have an STD right?”

“No,” I answered. “I am a virgin who is getting my first pap smear.”

“Sure.” He said in a smug tone of voice. “A friend told me to come here because lots of married guys come here when they don’t want anyone to know that they have an STD- no insurance records to trace…I am engaged and if my fiance finds out she will kill me.”

cn4536_speculumThe boundaries of race and class seemed to have dissipated in favor of his need to confide in someone. I did not know why he chose me. There were other people in the waiting room, granted they looked sort of  “crack headish” . Still why confide in some random 20 something year old woman?

“I was at this strip club,” he continued. ” and this stripper asked me to go into a private room. I was drunk and we began to grind.”

“With your clothes on?”  I asked. Oh know don’t tell me that grinding with clothes on gave STD’s  what would I do for fun with my dates now?

The man hesitated, as if he could not remember whether his clothes were on or not. “I think so…Anyway, now my dick burns when I take a piss.”

Wincing at the use of his language, I turned away from him saying that I was sure he would be fine.  He kept shaking his head mumbling something about his fiance and how he would never put himself in this predicament again. “I mean look at this place,” he said. “We will all be lucky not to get a disease just from being here.”

Turned sideways in the orange plastic chair, my back was to him. A huge black nurse gruffly called my name. Finally I was called into a cold room for what would be the worst gynecological exam of my life.  Inside there was an examining table, the paper cover had a spot of blood on it. I watched as the nurse rotated the roll to a clean sheet.

“Take off all of your clothes and put on this gown,” the nurse said throwing it at me. “Here, urinate in this and write your name on  the cup.”

The gown was a faded green color and possessed a strong odor of pine cleaner. I particularly noted the bowl of large metal things – about six of them, soaking in a large metal bowl of white cloudy liquid.  One of those were going to be inside of me, I thought. Taking my time stripping, the nurse came in before I was finished undressing. She did not bother to give me any additional moments of privacy.  Once on the table, legs in stir-ups, she began asking me questions about my sexual history.

speculums“There is none to speak of, ” I answered. “I am a virgin.”

With that she grabbed one of the metal things from the bowl. I felt wet coldness and she was cranking something. I screamed “it hurts”

Suddenly, her mean face peered from behind the sheet covering my legs “Stay still NOW! I won’t tell you again.”

Again the cold metal thing pushed and hurt. In a moment of involuntary pissed off-ness, I kicked her in the face and jumped from the table.  If looks could kill, that nurse would have had my face in that bowl of cloudy liquid, metal thingys and all.  The examination was over. We both had enough.

In the next room, I was told that I had a yeast infection and to stop wearing tight bikini underpants in favor of cotton briefs.

“What do I do to get rid of the yeast infection?” I asked. “Will I get medicine?”

“This is a free clinic and we don’t give medication here,” she said. “Go get some yeast cure cream at a drug store or eat some yogurt for five days.”

On my way out, I saw the STD grinding white guy. He would not look at me but seemed relieved by the results of his exam. His nurse was white and they were chatting it up.  Why her race mattered to me, I do not know but at the time I wondered if she would have been kinder than the black nurse I was given the displeasure of meeting.

Back in my dorm room, I was in pain. I did not have money for the yeast care cream. The yogurt was easily obtained from the school cafeteria. I took some aspirin, sleeping through my anthropology class.  Feeling feverish I went to the bathroom. Perhaps a shower would cool me off. I also felt dirty my earlier experience, talking to that awful man who cheated on his fiance, those metal things in that bowl of liquid. When my panties dropped to the floor, they were speckled with blood. It was then that I knew, my virginity had been lost and that the violator was inhumane.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

 

Feminism Today: Crouching Paper Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lady July 18, 2009

Unhappy feminist Thirty some years ago, I remember walking down the aisle of the grocery store with my mother, holding on to the side of the shopping cart.

“Stay with me,” she would warn.

Of course I did not listen and just when she was thumping watermelons in the produce aisle, I would dart off to two places: the Brachs candy stand where I would fill my pockets with orange slices and caramels (without putting a penny in the sample box) and next I was off to the magazine stand.  I loved to read magazines but the only place I could was at the library or the supermarket.   Occasionally, I would grab a child appropriate magazine like Highlights or Jack N’ Jill.  But mostly I would go for the magazines that my mother referred to as “white folks mags”, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal.  I loved the recipes that my mother would never make and pictures of homes that I would never live in.

After browsing through those ,  next I would look at the “black folks mags” like Ebony, Jet, and Essence to catch up on the latest in black hair care, the 100 most influential black people, and to learn what I could do as a woman to please my black man.  Flipping through the pages, I found insightful renderings on why black women should stop nagging their “good black men” and be more supportive. Now if only my mother had a good black man and I had a father,  we would be all set to go.

obama-cartoonSpeaking of go,  I would leave the magazine section to make a check on the parental figure at this point. Like a good mom she had made her way to the breakfast cereals. Good thing I had caught up to her just in time to give my valuable input.

“Boo Berry cereal,” I said pointing at the box with the purple ghost and filled with colored marshmallows and 16 essential fortified vitamins.

Mom give me a cross look. “I told you not to wonder off. Now stay by me, I don’t want to have to go looking for you before I check out.”

“Okay”

Slam, bam phooey. As soon as she picked up a can of Jolly Green Giant veggies, I was back in the zine aisle, readily situated on a milk crate with Cosmopolitan.  My perception of the “Cosmo woman” was someone who was sexy, in control of her life and armed with an IUD or diaphragm.  Loved those pictures of voluptuous breasts I would never grow because I was destined to be an “A” cup.  Loved the article explaining how to be a bitch in the workplace, juxtaposed with a Halston suit clad woman, reading the Wall Street Journal while holding a man’s head between her quivering thighs. I bet she smelled like that Enjolie perfume too.

My final periodical selection was Ms. Magazine.  An aspiring feminist such as myself needed to keep in touch with the current buzz in women’s movement.

And God created Sarah Palin. Women have come so far today, that we are placed side by side with great men sich as Michaelangelo

And God created Sarah Palin. Women have come so far today, that we are placed side by side with great men such as Michelangelo

Pre-teen Afrocity was down with feminism. Raised on grape juice drink wishes and government cheese dreams,  my completed my feminist tutelage under the best liberal black mom on food stamps in the entire world.

I knew my pre-feminist commandments:

1. I am woman, the other gender does not come before me.

2.Thou shalt not grow up and carve yourself into any image of a housewife.

3. Thou shalt not bow down before man.

4. Honor thy mother and grandmother, and personal shopper.

5. Thou shalt not be pro-life.

6. Remember to keep a safety pin in your purse,  in case garments get “holy”

7. Thou shalt not bear arms, even against thy peeping Tom neighbor.

8.  Thou shalt not kill, unless it is with kindness.

9. Thou shalt not commit adultery, unless he does first.

10. Thou shalt not take the name of your political affiliation, the DNC in vain, for the liberals will not hold her guiltless who belongs to the Republican Party.

Condi Rice will make cornbread in vaginal and melanin hell.  How dare she be a Republican and an African American woman?

Condi Rice will make cornbread in vaginal and melanin hell. How dare she be a Republican and an African American woman?

Fast forward to 2009…Afrocity faltered and is going to vaginal hell. Clean up on feminist commandment aisle 10.  Before switching parties, I was a good feminist. Now liberals are throwing holy Kool Aid water on my face. ARGH, it burns.  Who resides here in vaginal hell with Afrocity? Hi, Tammy Bruce, Greta Van Susteren. Geeze is that…Why it is!!! Anita Bryant.  Hello Ann Coulter, love the hair, still blond and shiny in all of this liberal heat and humility. And of course Sarah Palin working mom, GOP Governor of Alaska,pro-life yep you deserve to be here- nothing about you speaks to the advancement of women’s rights. What’s up  Bristol…Piper are you down here too? What was that? You hate J. Crew clothing for girls. For shame.

Trying to make sense of feminism today is like watching the launch of a space shuttle that blows up in mid-air. Unfortunately, I watched that in the 80’s with the space shuttle Challenger and I am watching it again with the feminist movement of present.

Sarah Palin as you know could never be feminist, and  according to Newsweek writer Eleanor Clift,  Palin has also “let women down”.

Newsweek

“Palin’s Long Run”

As a runner, Sarah Palin has shown she has endurance. What will she do with that?

By Eleanor Cliff

Jul 17, 2009

I didn’t feel compelled to weigh in on Sarah Palin, at least not in print, until I saw her featured in Runner’s World, the holy grail for anybody who’s laced up a pair of running shoes. I don’t know how I missed that piece of her biography, but I learned that she’s been running for 35 years, since she was a child and her parents caught the running craze in the mid-’70s.

That’s when I caught it too, and suddenly I felt simpatico with Palin, an odd feeling since her political inclinations are so different from mine. She grew up doing family run runs, her parents were marathoners, and her dad ran Boston a couple times, another holy grail. “I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running,” she says. Now that’s my kind of woman.

Running is what they call a positive addiction. I once had a stress fracture in my foot, which I ignored as best I could lest it interfere with my run. I didn’t come to my senses until my husband asked how long it would take me to hop four miles. Palin faults the McCain staff for failing to carve out time for her to run during the campaign. She’d issue an ultimatum that she needed to run, and too often it never happened. Just think what a different campaign we might have seen if Palin had been given the time to generate those exercise-induced endorphins and maybe even order her thoughts. She might have saved herself from becoming a laughingstock with that disastrous interview with Katie Couric.

Palin MapWow, before the article’s author Ms. Clift  picked up Runner’s World, magazine she never felt compelled to write about Palin of course until now. That’s a stretch (excuse pun). It is so odd that she felt “simpatico” with Palin because you know as a conservative dragon lady, Sarah Palin does not do normal people stuff like eating wasabi peas, taking a daily shit, or running.

The rest of the article can serve as starting points for a discussion on what is wrong with journalism today.

I have sympathy with Palin as a woman and a mother. She wanted her life back. I get that. But I don’t think that walking away from the governor’s office is compatible with attaining the presidency, and her excuse, that she was sparing the state of Alaska the expense of a lame-duck governorship, was laughable. The detail that jumped out at me from a front-page piece in The New York Times was how Palin’s hair was thinning at such an alarming rate due to stress that her beautician staged an intervention. The governor was clearly having trouble coping and instead of backing away and deflecting the criticism, she engaged with every attack, however petty.

Much of the criticism leveled against Palin is justified. She has the makings of a dangerous political figure, a populist in the tradition of Pat Buchanan, whipping up resentment among “real Americans,” the term she used in the campaign and which applies mostly to white, rural pockets of the country. Now that Buchanan has mellowed into the role of television pundit, we forget that he prosecuted the culture wars of the 1990s with his opposition to affirmative action, immigration, gay rights, and abortion, and that he won the New Hampshire primary in 1996, vowing, “The peasants are coming with pitchforks.”

Buchanan is an unabashed admirer of Palin’s, and no wonder. She’s as good as he is at fanning the resentment of Americans who feel left out and left behind in a world that’s changing too fast for them.

I countered this with my "Pro- Black People- Anti-Obama- McCain/Palin 2008" bumper sticker

I countered this with my "Pro- Black People- Anti-Obama- McCain/Palin 2008" bumper sticker

Clift’s article succeeds beautifully in clinging to every Sarah Palin stereotype sold in the mainstream media market. Quoting the New York Times as a credible unbiased news source reflects fair and balanced reporting. Finding Pat Buchanan in the Palin family tree is also a nice touch. You said Pat and Sarah are pretty much good as conservative blood related cousins because he supports her, correct? Do you think there is any incest going on?  Resentful Americans who feel left behind like me want to know. Hey Ms. Clift, there actually might be a story in that for you.  Also you are so right, the criticism of Sarah Palin is so justified. Let’s embrace those who were brave enough to wear the “Sarah Palin is a CUNT” tee shirts. The criticism was justifiable.

Finally, as was the case with most liberal journalists, Clift gives a compelling reason as to explain why Sarah Palin is a disappointment to all womankind:

…Nixon was easy to hate in a pure, unadulterated way. The emotions Palin arouses in the electorate are far more complicated. Women were drawn to her initially, but she let them down. Her positions were too far to the right and her knowledge too provincial. She wasn’t ready to be president. Those attitudes have hardened with time. In the latest CBS poll, only 33 percent of Republicans say she’d make an effective president; that number was 71 percent last fall. Still, I can’t think of another vice presidential candidate on a failed ticket who remained newsworthy a year later. Nobody cared what Dan Quayle had to say after the Bush-Quayle ticket lost in ’92, and he’s the closest analog to Palin, chosen for the youth and good looks he could bring to a charisma-challenged elder statesman.

On behalf of conservative women everywhere let me grab a bucket and puke.

The CBS poll is most likely biased, most conservatives do not identify as Republicans. I have seen other polls that give Sarah Palin advantages over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, at as much as 75%.  The claim that “women were drawn to Palin initially”  is a strange one in light of Clift’s confession that she never felt compelled to give Palin as single keystroke until she read the Runner’s World piece.   I am never initially drawn to anything that I don’t stay permanently drawn to.  I was never initially drawn to Michelle Obama or her husband.  I was never initially drawn to Nancy Pelosi. I was never initially drawn to Donna Brazille, even when Bill Clinton was president.  I will always remain drawn to Hillary Clinton despite some reservations about her role in the Obama administration.  You can denounce Sarah Palin as a provincial conservative, for her pro-life beliefs. Yes liberal feminists, I know that Sarah Palin should endure a thousand menstrual cramps for denouncing gay marriage. She will never be a feminist.

In the aftermath of the 2008 election where busloads of young women stumped for Barack Obama while rear ending Sarah Palin, I get there are no feminists on the  right, but look at what you are doing and saying to our young women? Are there really any feminists left?

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY

Feminism

 

Thursday Morning Stitch n’ Bitch: Parsing Empathy in Women’s Courtship Songs May 21, 2009

Political Cartoon reflecting the traditonal courting of a woman's vote

Political Cartoon reflecting the traditional courting of a woman's vote

Ah, I fooled you. You thought you would come to Autographed Letter Signed today and find Afrocity writhing with outrage over the blatant sexism in traditional American folk songs such as Frog Went a Courtin. Thursday morning stitch in bitch takes on the symbolic patriarchal hysterectomy- the ovarian assassination of women through music.

Froggy

VERSE 1
Froggy went a courting, he did ride, uh-hu
Froggy went a courting, he did ride
Sword and a pistol by his side, uh-hu

VERSE 2
He rode till he came to masters hall, uh-hu
He rode till he came to masters hall
There he did both knock and call, uh-hu

VERSE 3
Took Miss Margy on his knee, uh-hu
Took Miss Margy on his knee
Says to her, will you have me, uh-hu

VERSE 4
Old uncle Rat, he’s gone from home, uh-hu
Old uncle Rat, he’s gone from home
And I cain’t tell till he’s does come, uh-hu

VERSE 5
Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides, uh-hu
Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides
To think his niece would be a Frogs bride, uh-hu

VERSE 6
Old Uncle Rat, he galloped off to town, uh-hu
Old Uncle Rat, he galloped off to town
To buy his niece a wedding gown, uh-hu

No, sorry to disappoint. While there is much truth to political divisions of sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity finding their way into music and the idea of me getting out my banjo to demonstrate a sensitive and melodic account of my observations as a black woman is a rather provocative one to say the least, I have more mundane things to discuss.

Take a look at the political cartoon above. The one from 1920 drawn by a man. What does this illustration tell us about women and politics?  There she is all dolled up, “woman’s vote” shawl in hand listening to donkey breath on one knee, lying through his bucked teeth, looking uncomfortable in that getup because you just know he wants to run back to the Animal Farm and throw on some Birkenstocks. Besides Mr. Party of Ass  has an entire harem of women voters waiting for him back at home. Why are you so special? He will throw you a notable congressional district or two and woo you with his “progressive” rhetoric but there ain’t no way he’s giving up his seat at the head of the table for anyone who is not “periodically down”  with keeping women in their place.

Comparatively, Grand Ol’ Party Pooper Mr. Elephant looks somewhat belabored as he takes his sweet ass time coming up the stairs. He is not being fashionably late, he just thinks he should not have to be there in the first place because his percieved Waterloo of identity politics make him feel like a pachyderm in a china shop. Who needs to fight for any voter because after all we are all Americans right? Why fight for a voting block? This woman should want to come to his house because although sympathetic to the plight of women,  he hates to have to emphasize again and again that the Republican Party is one of self-reliance and liberty.  If I were this cartooned woman voter, unable to bear the meandering by these two Sideshow Bobs, I would realize that the pickins’ are slim and get my dainty arse of that fainting couch. Who needs these guys? Where are the other girls we need to make some noise of our own.

All snark and criticism aside, this cartoon shows a historic concern by both parties  for the women’s vote. It hints that women and their support are something to be desired politically, but like most disenfranchised groups, they are at the mercy of the patriarcy or the majority (white).  A closer look will tell us that there are masses, mounds, and heaps of evidence which demostrate gender biased wrongs commented against women despite our surrendering the symbolic pink and giving up our votes.

Women pour into the polls in 1922 New York City. Library of Congress

Women pour into the polls in 1922 New York City. Library of Congress

Remember that song by Cher? “If I Could Turn Back Time.” ? There is not one of us reading this post right now that does not wish to go back time and correct one wrong or erase one mistake from our lives. In life there is no edit/undo function. No “find and replace” . Granted, some may disagree with me and argue that pushing back decisions of the past by almost 10, 20 or 30 years may not seem especially significant to some who have never had to worry about discrimination or gender bias. However in the world of legalities and the fight for equal rights, a mere decade could make a world of difference in deciding whether an act was proper and just which could lead to a obligatory “keep your chin up Suzy, you were fucked over but there is nothing we can do about it.”

On May 19 the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision about a case concerning a women’s rights issue

Los Angeles Times

AT&T wins court case over maternity leave
The Supreme Court sides with the firm and refuses to award pension credits to female employees who took a pregnancy leave in the 1970s.

By David G. Savage
May 19, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The Supreme Court on Monday dealt a setback to women who took pregnancy leaves from work before 1979.

The year before, Congress changed the law and said pregnancy must be treated like other temporary disabilities. In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed with AT&T Corp. and refused to award pension credits to those who took a pregnancy leave before the change. The ruling in AT&T vs. Hulteen reversed a decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Some women’s rights advocates compared the ruling to the pay discrimination decision against Lilly Ledbetter two years ago. “This decision is an all-too-timely reminder of the importance of having on the Supreme Court justices who understand the real-world impact of the law,” said Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center.

The failure of Hulteen to win this case echoed the defeat women suffered in Lilly Ledbetter decision. Again a decade can make a difference. It is safe to say that SCOTUS including normally liberal leaning Justice Souter, take issue with statutes of limitations whether written or perceived, and suing for equal compensation. As a black woman there is a further question which I must answer. Could this in someway be viewed as similar to African Americans requesting reparations for past discrimination? Hulteen and Ledbetter are different cases but we cannot deny that they share the ‘”retro” connection.

Before you flog me for being anti-feminist for entertaining my agreement with the 7-2 decision against Hulteen, I will post the response of Civil Rights.org:

Women’s Rights Groups Respond to Supreme Court Decision on Pregnancy Discrimination

May 19, 2009 – Posted by Tyler Lewis

…Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, called the Court’s decision “disgraceful, unfair, and a terrible blow to the equal opportunity laws women and people of color have long relied on.”

“This ruling … undermines Congress’s intent in passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to ensure that women would never again be adversely affected by their pregnancies, and denies Ms. Hulteen and her colleagues the equal compensation to which they are entitled,” said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

I agree with this BUT does it seem at all reasonable that I do not believe that we as women or minorities should right every past wrong by financially compensating everyone who was discriminated against in some way 10,20, 30 years ago? Hear me out readers. This is not about Afrocity turning into a right wing lunatic or some mythologized tale that conservative women don’t give a Ronald Regan’s hair about women’s rights. There are epic accounts of conservative women who have fought against the troubling legacy of sexual discrimination and the patriarchy. A troubling legacy that haunts and silences women’s herstories today.

Woman's vote 2

Cases such as Ledbetter and Hulteen provide talking points for us as women. Not as conservatives or liberals- Republicans or Democrats but as women. Whatever your feelings are on the court’s decision, it once again proves that as women we need to become the future politicians we wish to vote for. Be proactive now not later. Think about the job you are in NOW.  Are you being treated fairly?  No? Then say something about it NOW.  Don’t wait until 2030 and say oh, I think I was treated unfairly back in 2010 and now I want justice.  Let’s craft these “defeats” into historical lessons. Into strong and watchful eyes that get off the fainting sofa and into political activism. Let’s say screw these guys, get our collective acts together as women united to fight discrimination NOW in order to bask in glory together as women. Not political parties.  Re-examine your workplace and its compensation system NOW.  Your future depends on you. Not the Supreme Court.Not some tired ass donkey or fat elephant courtin you. Be Proactive not reactive.

How is that working for ya?

How is that working for ya?

Autographed Letter Signed,

Afrocity

 

Thursday Morning Stitch N’ Bitch: This is What Feminist Pandering Looks Like April 30, 2009

Paintings by Japanese Pop Artist Yoshitomo Nara

Paintings by Japanese Pop Artist Yoshitomo Nara

In February 2009, MS. Magazine offered their bold interpretation of feminism by publishing an article which infuriated me to no end. Featured on the cover was President Barack Obama clad in Superman garb. Looking utterly heroic, Super Obama was peeling off his costume to reveal a shirt which bared the phrase” This is What a Feminist Looks Like”. My blood was boiling. How could MS. Run such a story after what happened to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the election of 2008? Remember guys Obama is the one that said during of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primaries:

“I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.”

Yes Barack Obama…the man who was accused of being a sexist by Geraldine Ferraro.

The man who implied that Sarah Palin was a pig from “Wasilly, AK”

My anger with Ms. Concerned their uplifting of Barack Obama as an example of a feminist while he and his campaign in fact, marginalized the political role of women.

I understand that the relationship between feminism and politics is one that is historically stormy and open to criticism by the patriarchy. Stop being whiny girl, since 1789 you have had 37 women in the senate.

Well I understand that the relationship between feminism and politics is one that has deep connections to liberalism. Sarah Palin can get hung out to dry. She is a conservative so that it is okay when the mainstream media verbally assaults her. Heck, as we are liberal women too so let’s join in on the bash fest by accusing her of being stupid, and a bad mother because she is on the campaign trail while she has a small children. Oh God, she flew on a airplane while she was in labor. Like Hillary Clinton, how can Sarah run the White House if “Her house is not in order”???

Ms. inagural issue depicting Obama as a feminist

Ms. inagural issue depicting Obama as a feminist

By stating this, I am not attacking traditionally liberal feminist organizations such as NOW. I simply want to posit that there can be multiple and coexisting embodiments of feminism. I am speaking against this current and troubling trend that inclines feminist groups this tremendous push- this hypocritical tendency to dismiss any woman that is not an agent of the political left. To be inhospitable and dismissive in response to conservative women who justly deserve to be acknowledged as feminists, only serves to reinforce the power of the patriarchy and undermined any hope of a united front.

In an effort to legitimize their claim that Obama is what a feminist looks like, MS publisher Eleanor Smeal published in the Huffington Post this dandy gem as footnoted proof of the previous assertion and to commemorate President Obama’s 100th day in office:

The Huffington Post

Obama’s First 100 Days: Giant Strides for Women

Eleanor Smeal

President of The Feminist Majority Foundation and Publisher of Ms. magazine

Posted April 29, 2009

By any measure, the work President Obama and his team have accomplished for women and girls in the first 100 days is impressive. They not only have reversed some of the most egregious Bush policies, but also have taken some powerful actions to advance and empower women.

I’ve been working for women’s rights in Washington, D.C. since the Carter days and I have never seen anything like these first days. The pace is fast, and the outreach is inclusive. It started during the transition: The Obama/Biden team reached out to women’s leaders and met with us on a whole host of issues frequently and at high levels.

Oh, how nice. “The Obama/Biden team reached out to women’s leaders…” And tell me Ms. Smeal when they reached out did the feminist leaders reciprocate by offering in return a battered and bruised hand? The hand of feminism that was swollen and stained with the dried but lost and unforgotten blood rendered by wounds from the 2008 election? Come on. Any woman must be blind, deaf and dumb if she cannot admit to herself that the election cycle of 2008 had a crippling effect on feminist identity.

The article then begins to center on Obama’s accomplishments as a feminist during his first 100 days. This is described as a “list of the major Obama achievements thus far vis-à-vis women’s issues.” Smeals adds that the list “ bears repeating”. Yes Ms. Smeal does indeed bear repeating. We could not hear it quite clearly the first time. We still have that ringing in our ears from the whipping we took. Keith Olberman took our dignity into a room and “Only he “ came out.

rs1

Smeals prefaces her list by adding the proverbial pacifying of the savage beast of feminism. You know, kind of like when you have been held prisoner for years in your captor’s unfinished basement. They feed you mush on a plate slid underneath the door for decades but once in a while whenever they are so inclined and feeling periodically UP, they add a York’s Peppermint Patty on the side of your paper plate.

One area of concern that should be noted, however, is the percentage of women in top jobs. We must keep pushing. According to the Washington Post’s appointment tracking database, women thus far number only 30% of appointments to positions needing Senate confirmation. But very encouragingly, appointments include a high percentage of people of color and include many outstanding feminists.

This warrants further contemplation. Color me pissed off. We have 30% of positions that are filled by women but we should be “encouraged”. That is like saying we could’ve had a V-8. I drank some Obama Kool Aid energy drink that promised to turn me into Superwoman and now after 100 days I am feeling weak again.

What follows is the list of King Obama’s contributions to the fight for women’s rights:

JAN 23: President Obama overturns the “global gag rule,” a move that will literally save countless women’s lives in developing nations and will lead to the U.S. re-funding many international family-planning programs

JAN 29: Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring women’s ability to sue for pay discrimination

FEB 4: Obama signs act to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover 11 million children–Bush had vetoed this act twice

FEB 17: Obama’s economic stimulus package saves and creates jobs not only in construction, where men dominate, but in fields where women workers are the substantial majority–health care, child care and education; also increases Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits

FEB 27: Obama moves to rescind the Bush administration’s “conscience” clause, which could have let health-care workers deny patients abortion, contraception or any other procedure they objected to

MAR 2: With the choice of Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary, Obama appoints a total of seven women to Cabinet-level positions

MAR 6 : Obama institutes a new ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and names Melanne Verveer to the post

MAR 9: Obama lifts restrictions on stem-cell research

MAR 11: Obama establishes the White House Council on Women and Girls and names senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as chair and director of public liaison Tina Tchen as executive director

MAR 19: Obama pledges to sign a U.N. declaration to decriminalize homosexuality, which Bush had refused to sign

MAR 20: Obama appointee Elena Kagan is confirmed as the first woman Solicitor General

APR 3: Obama calls Afghanistan’s proposed Shia Family Law–which would permit marital rape–“abhorrent,” helping to lead Afghan President Hamid Karzai to review the law

APR 23: The FDA extends Plan B availability to 17-year-olds–something highly unlikely to have happened under Bush

While I agree that the list includes many items that we can safely check off as strides for women, I wish to counter that legislative victories cannot in isolation translate into sole markers for the success of women. If gender equality is judged solely by these standards, then it will become a myth. Just because something says so on paper does not make it true in the real world.

Furthermore, this “legislation passed” method is a mistake and pure folly considering the way Obama has treated women in the past. Let’s also consider that for the most part our First Lady, Michelle Obama, a woman of accomplishment in her own right, has been reduced by the mainstream media into the traditional role of a rosemary and thyme planting fashion plate. A role which reinforces negative stereotypes of a women looking picture perfect while hubby is diligently working away at the office. Purring dear wifey is every so content to preen and stuff a capon in the kitchen. The girls are in the backyard playing footsy with Bo. All is well because after all (wink) Michelle, your house is in order. Unfortunately this is a role that our first lady seems all too eager to embrace.

yoshitomo_naraPerhaps I am being too hard on Michelle Obama. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps my definition of success in the struggle for women’s rights is too broad. Maybe it should only be articulated through legislative benchmarks.

Call me picky but if we as women dutifully step aside and let down our guard because of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter law what happens if another woman such as oh say Hillary Clinton, or Srah Palin decides to run against Obama in 2012? Sure, I am offering a hypothetical. It may not at all be the case. Mitt Romney may be the GOP presidential nominee and feminists can breathe a collective sigh of relief. No difficult definitions of what makes a feminist to negotiate. But what happens if the hypothetical becomes a reality and all of the “Obama is what a feminist looks like” converts are found among the dead in his underworld of sexism and the patriarchy?

This will be revisited I assure you.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFROCITY