Tag Archives: activism and politics

Why I Will Always Support The LGBT Community

 

When I was a high school student I had a penchant for falling in love with gay men. Nobody was really “out’ when I was a student so in all fairness I didn’t know they were gay. I don’t even know if they knew they were gay (they probably knew, but just didn’t want to talk about it and I can’t blame them one bit. Things were different back then). I only know they are gay now because as adults they have come out.

 

1989

I’m telling you this so you will understand that I had pretty low self-esteem in the dating department as a high school student. Falling for gay men as a heterosexual woman means you get turned down a lot. That’s why when one of my old high school buddies, one of those gay men I had a crush on, recently told me he thought I looked beautiful in one of my Facebook pictures I was really happy. It was kind of validating that he thought I was attractive for a couple of reasons. It redeemed my inner high school student’s self worth. It seemed really honest because it was spontaneous and I knew he wasn’t hitting on me. Also, it reminded me of why I had a crush on him so many, many, many years ago. He’s an amazing human being. He is kind, funny, generous and smart. He’s the kind of person you instantly adore. He smiles more than anyone I have ever met and he gives the best compliments. When we were in Jr. high school and I asked him to dance with me at the 8th grade dance he said yes. It was towards the end of the night and I was sweaty from dancing for three hours straight and my curly (frizzy) hair was sticking out in every direction. He smiled and said, “Your hair is very big tonight.” I know, it sounds goofy, but he was always looking for the good in things and big hair was “in” back then so I was really happy with the compliment. He never mentioned that I was sweating all over the place and I will be forever grateful to him for that.

1993

I think of all of the people I have loved or do love now that are members of the LGBT community and I know in my heart that I will do everything in my power to make sure they are treated fairly and with respect. I will do anything I can to make sure they are given the same rights, choices and options that everyone else has. I will combat ignorance and hatred with my words, my pen, my vote and even with a few rocks if need be. I’m protective of the people I love.  Friends stick up for each other. It’s about equality and human decency. It’s about love and friendship. It’s about being a good person.

1990

It is comforting to know that my problems with “getting the guy” back in high school had little to do with my personality, frizzy hair, or lack of stylish clothes. I just fell in love with people because they were awesome. They didn’t want to date me, but they loved me back just the same. We were friends who laughed, told each other secrets and had our practical jokes.  In the end, that is all that really mattered. Love really does win every time. That is why I will always support the LGBT community.

 

 

I’m Still A Feminist Even After Giving Birth

I know the word “feminist” sometimes drives people a little batty. I get it. It’s sort of like throwing fire onto something already flaming out of control. People like to bicker back and forth about what it does or doesn’t mean to be a feminist. There are extremes in every direction. Still, I am a feminist. I believe in equality for all people. I believe in equal opportunities and the right to the pursuit of happiness for all people. It’s not really something I feel the need to argue about. It’s just what I think and what I believe to be a universal truth.

This hasn’t changed just because I gave birth. This hasn’t changed just because my husband and I decided that I should stay home with my daughter while she is young. This wouldn’t have changed if my husband and I decided to both work outside the home or if we decided I should work outside the home while he cared for Tiny-Small during the day. None of these things would have changed my belief in the importance of equality. My husband and I are just regular people doing our best to survive in this dog-eat-dog world and to make the hard decisions about what works best for our little family.

I’m feeling a little angry because I was recently listening to a feminist podcast and while answering a question from one of their listeners, the two hosts out right blasted stay-at-home moms and actually called us all brain washed by a patriarchal society. I was kind of stunned to put it mildly. The show is called Opinionated if you want to check it out. The episode I am talking about is Feminists Love Shiny Objects if you want to listen to it. I’ve never fully accepted the notion that women must become like men in order to be considered equal. On the contrary, I find the ability to actually give birth to be both a great privilege and an asset. I still look at Tiny-Small with awe and cannot believe my body actually created her. That is remarkable and she is amazing! I embrace my so called “feminine” traits as much as I embrace my so called “masculine” traits (when will we stop defining ourselves by two distinct genders when it is so obvious none of us fit neatly into either category?) When it comes to care giving I don’t think women have a monopoly on it or that men are bumbling idiots like so many TV shows like to depict them as these days. Just look at all of the parents out there, both male and female, doing their best to raise happy and healthy kids. Our genitals do not determine everything about us. They certainly do not determine what kind of parents we will be, what kind of values we will have, or what our many talents might be. I’m not brainwashed. I made a conscious, deliberate and well thought out decision to stay home with my child. My decision doesn’t make another parents decision wrong. It only means my husband and I sat down together, discussed our options, our finances, our circumstances, and our child and came to a conclusion that would work best for us and our personal situation. We’ve both made professional and personal sacrifices in order to provide our child with the kind of life we want her to have. In short, we approach life like a team and utilize each others strengths as best we can and yes, we often put our child first because we are her parents and because we love her. It’s kind of hard to feel ashamed about that.

Sure, I miss going to work some days just as I know some parents working outside the home wish they could be home with their kids some days. We give up one thing and receive another with every choice that we make. That’s kind of the law of being alive. Notice I said “parents” and not “mothers”? Parenting isn’t about your biological sex so much as it is about providing care and education for your kids. Modern parenting isn’t so much of a him vs. her as it is a collaboration between two human beings (of any sex or gender) who are trying to get their offspring to make it to adulthood. We aren’t reenacting the 1950’s by any means. This is a whole new breed of parenting. This is a whole new breed of society and most of us are very alert and aware of what is going on around us. We are enjoying our ability to make conscious decisions based on the mutual respect we share with our life partners. We aren’t brain washed. We are wide awake and taking advantage of the opportunities our parents and grandparents fought so hard to give us. It seems shortsighted and patriarchal, to me, to view child care as inferior to all other occupations. Children are not the enemy of the women’s movement and other women shouldn’t be either.

Another thing that irritated me was the way the stay-at-home-moms were continuously referred to as “just” moms during the podcast. I thinks this is a foolish way to classify any human being. Nobody is “just” any one thing. Many stay-at-home parents have careers going along side their parenting duties and hobbies, friends, community ties, and other roles that they occupy on a daily basis. How dehumanizing to refer to another person as “just” (fill in the blank). That kind of language makes me cringe and assume a level of immaturity on the part of the speaker.

I listen to this podcast because the two hosts talk about current events and point out bias in the media. I appreciate the perspective and food for thought that the podcast usually gives me. I am, however, disappointed in their portrayal of motherhood or more specifically parenthood as something to look down upon. I’m particularly disappointed that a feminist podcast would take part in shaming women for their experiences and choices. It’s seems no matter what path a woman takes she will be eviscerated for it by a group of her peers. We’ve created a lose/lose culture for women. Women should be supporting each other more and standing up for each other instead of engaging in divisive rhetoric that only causes us to fight amongst ourselves and draw imaginary lines in the sand. We deserve better than that, especially from our philosophers, artists, and activists out there.

Fundamentally, there seems to be a lack of mutual respect, running rampant through our culture right now, for people who make choices that are different from one’s own personal perspective.  This is unfortunate, especially for women, because while this particular podcast did not make me want to reject feminism I can understand why some women are turned off and tuned out to the feminist movement. They probably assume they have no place in the movement because their life choices have been devalued by the very people who claim to have their best interests at heart. Parts of the feminist movement seem to be outdated and unrelated to the challenges men and women are facing today. The traditional family unit depicted in shows like Leave It To Beaver is long gone. Why are we still fighting against it? It’s time we moved forward (together) in our quest for equality and started thinking about how to solve some of the problems we are facing now and in this day and age.

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In New Mexico Pregnancy Is Considered A Disease

Tiny-Small is pushing 2 years old and I am sort of pushing 40. I still have a few years to go, but I can feel it breathing down my neck like Rosie does when she is anticipating a dog bone or a walk. My husband and I are asked on a regular basis when child number two is coming or, “When are you going to give that little girl a sister or a brother?” Insert wiggly eyes and goofy smiles along with every comment. Anyway, we started thinking about it too, in part because of the almost daily reminders from friends and family, and well, my biological clock IS ticking, ticking, ticking…. I am getting closer and closer to 40 and I know my chances of having a less healthy baby increases with every week I age. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tiny-Small is growing up and if we are going to have more than one chlid we better do it soon, right?

When I was pregnant with Tiny-Small we discovered my health insurance didn’t cover pregnancy. Apparently Blue Cross Blue Shield has determined that pregnancy is a pre existing condition even if the condition was not pre existing when you started the policy. Luckily, at that time New Mexico had a program for all pregnant women called Premium Assistance Maternity (PAM) insurance that we could purchase for $500.00. I had to jump through several hoops and fill out paperwork until my carpel tunnel erupted, but finally most of my pregnancy and deliver were covered. I paid a few thousand dollars in doctors bills for the first three months of my pregnancy (it took three months for the PAM to start) but at least I was covered for the $10,000  plus hospital stay and all of the procedures leading up to that. In short, it was a financial life saver, a godsend, and the only thing keeping us from the possibility of complete financial ruin and bankruptcy. Two days in the ICU does not come cheap.

We now have a new governor. Governor Martinez was elected and she cut the PAM program as soon as she possibly could along with several other programs like low cost insurance for children of working families. These are families that make too much to qualify for medicaid and do not have access to health insurance through their jobs. In fact, most of the people I know who work full time jobs don’t have access to health insurance through their employers or their jobs. We seem to be a state with few employee benefits, but I guess that should be expected in a state that doesn’t even require employers to offer their employees a lunch break ( that’s even when they work an 8 hour shift). Now I am left wondering how do I have another baby. Can we afford to have another baby? Where do I get insurance now? My private health plan isn’t going to cover it. I know that for sure!

My husband called and made an appointment with a local insurance agency. Over the phone the insurance agent informed us that, in the state of New Mexico, there are absolutely no insurance companies or insurance plans that cover pregnancy. If, and when, I get pregnant again we will have to apply to the New Mexico High Risk Insurance Pool. This is a state-run pool usually reserved for people who are deemed uninsurable due to having cancer or some other expensive disease insurance companies do not want to pay for. In this state, pregnancy is considered a high risk disease. I will likely have to pay an exorbitantly high monthly premium in order to have my next pregnancy covered. I am guessing this is one of the reasons why New Mexico has such a high infant mortality rate, why so many children end up suffering from developmental delays, and why we were declared the worst state for children by the Foundation for Child Development. In short, most pregnant women probably don’t get insurance and don’t go to the doctor while they are pregnant. At least not as often as they should. They can’t afford to. According to Childrensdefense.org a child in New Mexico (in 2011) dies before his or her first birthday every two days. The other statistics presented on this page are too depressing to list here, but I encourage you to check them out, especially if you are a New Mexico resident. I am beginning to wonder if living here is a good choice for families or more specifically my family, but on the other hand people like me need to stay here and try to make it better. When I say people like me I mean mothers, people with friends, and people who actually care about other human beings. In short, I mean all of us. This isn’t right and it doesn’t make me proud of my state. In fact, when I read that over 15% of our our children do not have medical insurance, that 80% of our fourth grades do not read at grade level, and that 10,984 high school students drop out annually I felt ashamed and also a little disgusted. I think we can do better than this and I also think an opportunity for a healthy, happy, and productive life starts with good prenatal care.

Next Monday we meet with the insurance agent in person to get all of the gruesome details. I’ll let you know what we come up with after our meeting with the insurance guru. It’s a little sad to think that the decision to have another baby has to be made in this way. If a different governor had been elected, if the insurance company actually covered pregnancy, if we lived in a different state or even a different country might a different decision be made? Would Tiny-Small have more siblings if we made less money and qualified for medicaid or if we made much more money and could afford to pay out of pocket for any medical surprise that might come our way? It’s an unfortunate and uncomfortable process because in the end I am not sure I am the one actually making the decisions. I know having a baby is always partially a financial decision, but it feels like a factor that has more weight than it really should or than it did even just a few years ago. We are trying to live responsibly, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it pays off in the end. When I look at these pictures I can’t imagine not having a Tiny-Small-2, but when I look at out bank account I am not sure we can afford to have another baby. What if something goes horribly wrong with my pregnancy? I know a woman that calls her son “the million dollar baby.” He was born premature, flown by helicopter to Albuquerque for neonatal care and was in the hospital for over three months. I have no doubt his medical expenses were outrageous. How can I risk it? All I can do now is hope for some kind of insurance miracle. It happened last time so maybe there is still hope.