CDC: No alcohol at all for the pre-pregnant


There is no end to the men, mostly, who seek to govern women’s bodies, who deny women freedom, agency, and power.  Now they want to prevent any woman who MIGHT become pregnant from drinking alcohol, even though there is no solid evidence to support such draconian prohibition.

 

Source: CDC: No alcohol at all for the pre-pregnant

Martha Nussbaum on sexual assault


What do you think?

Martha Nussbaum, a famous philosopher and a woman who has, you might say, “made it,” in the patriarchal halls of philosophy and academe, has this to say to women who would seek justice when famous and powerful men rape them:

Law cannot fix this problem. Famous men standardly get away with sexual harms, and for the most part will continue to do so. They know they are above the law, and they are therefore undeterrable. What can society do? Don’t give actors and athletes such glamor and reputational power. But that won’t happen in the real world. What can women do? Don’t be fooled by glamor. Do not date such men, unless you know them very, very well. Do not go to their homes. Never be alone in a room with them. And if you ignore my sage advice and encounter trouble, move on. Do not let your life get hijacked by an almost certainly futile effort at justice. Focus on your own welfare, and in this case that means: forget the law.

Source: Martha Nussbaum on sexual assault

Do you agree with Jennysaul, below:

Nussbaum draws on her own experiences to discuss sexual assault by powerful men.  Her main argument has a deeply depressing conclusion, consisting of advice to women:

Kansas Planned Parenthood Investigation Found No Wrongdoing, Governor Still Wants to Cut Funding


Patriarchy governing women’s bodies and minds.

Like many across the country, an investigation in Kansas found that Planned Parenthood was not involved with the illegal sale of fetal tissue.

Source: Kansas Planned Parenthood Investigation Found No Wrongdoing, Governor Still Wants to Cut Funding

Sexism Valley: 60% of women in Silicon Valley experience harassment | Technology | The Guardian


Survey co-authored by Trae Vassallo, who testified in the Ellen Pao case, found that for women in tech and venture capital gender discrimination is common

Source: Sexism Valley: 60% of women in Silicon Valley experience harassment | Technology | The Guardian

Gender Bias in Student Evaluations


There’s mounting evidence suggesting that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable. But are these evaluations, commonly referred to as SET, so bad that they’re actually better at gauging students’ gender bias and grade expectations than they are at measuring teaching effectiveness? A new paper argues that’s the case, and that evaluations are biased against female instructors in particular in so many ways that adjusting them for that bias is impossible.

 

Source: Gender Bias in Student Evaluations

3 People Senselessly Killed


929a9504a932e0badec1cb283b682d25I’m quoting from RH Reality Check, one of the best blogs on the net.  Jodi Jacobson, the editor-in-chief,  eloquently exposes the hypocrisy of right-wing politicians, such as Ted Cruz:

Last Friday, two civilians and one police officer died and nine others were wounded in a vicious and wholly predictable attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The alleged gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, who used what the New York Times described as an assault-style rifle to blast his way into the health-care facility, reportedly said “no more baby parts” during his arrest.

This would be a direct reference to false and defamatory rhetoric ceaselessly repeated by GOP candidates and the anti-choice movement over the past six months to claim Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal body parts for research, when not a shred of evidence of illegal or unethical activity has been produced.

It’s no secret that the GOP, now fully co-opted by what was once a radical Christian fringe, long ago set its sights on destroying access to reproductive health care in the United States. With callous disregard to the effects on the nearly three million a year who receive primary reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood clinics, the right has made a religious crusade of efforts to shutter Planned Parenthood, persistently threatening to shut down the entire U.S. government in an effort to do so. State legislatures and governors throughout the country have voted to strip funding from family planning and other forms of reproductive health care, destroying an essential keystone of public health. And an entire industry now exists devoted to, among other things, manufacturing lies about abortion and contraception; passing laws to reduce access to abortion care and make criminals of doctors and patients; picketing clinics; harassing and threatening providers and patients; and denying women medically accurate information.

In this environment, heated rhetoric about abortion providers is only one lit match away from a raging forest fire of hatred and violence culminating in unstable people taking matters into their own hands.

Dream


IMG_4859.JPG

Parrot Cay, near Hopetown, Abaco Islands, Bahamas

Dream time: November 20, 2015, before sunrise

Dream location: Parrot Cay, near Hopetown, Abacos, Bahamas.

I had gotten very sick, and started to draw the windows of my former client, where there were tiny porcelain figurines of girls and animals and much smaller little tea cups that I myself had made with a flourish of my paintbrush–two dimensional becoming three.  While painting I find myself clinging to the building, twenty or thirty stories up in the air, and nearly fainting from terror.

My former client opens and window and brings me in to her rooms which are filled with books in English and German, rare and valuable books, and enormous, elaborate porcelain trees and flowers.  The decor is fanciful, bohemian, educated, and shabby.  I feel at home here.  I have arrived very sick, deeply distressed, depressed, nearly hysterical with weeping.   A psychiatric nurse is called, who thinks I’m going to throw myself out the window, which is nonsense.  But I am sick, far gone into what some might call madness.  I am not mad, I have fallen into a kind of ego sickness, attachment, samsara.

My sorrow is more acute than my client’s, and she does what she can to heal me.   I sign up for some kind of ashram, a retreat that I bike to, far out in the tropics.  I walk the path into the forest.  It leads down, down, and, strangely,  into my former client’s apartment.  I find her dressed in scarlet, Tibetan silks.  She is the doorkeeper.

She leads me to a circular stairway that plunges perilously to deeper floors of rooms, where I meet children laughing and playing, women basking in sunlight and water, teachers.  I retreat, fleeing back up to my client’s rooms, where she tends to me, dresses me, feeds me, until I am strong enough to return to the floors beneath her.

I know I must go, that this retreat down and within, will help me, but I have come late.  I have paid dearly for this retreat, and worry that I have missed too much, that the teachers there will not allow me to start.  I will lose my investment, a heavy price.  I attend some meditation lessons and attempt to blend in, in vain.  My former client works here, too, and helps me to find my way.

I cannot find the guru I need, the teacher who will listen to my complaints and point out the cure.  Slowly I learn that I must listen to myself, hear and feel the sadnesses within, the terrors, the abysses.  Only by embracing what I fear to know about myself, can I heal and grow stronger. Only by surrendering to the darkness can I experience the dawn breaking within.

Ich glaube, daß fast alle unsere Traurigkeiten Momente der Spannung sind, die wir als Lähmung empfinden, weil wir unsere befremdeten Gefühle nicht mehr leben hören. Weil wir mit dem Fremden, das bei uns eingetreten ist, allein sind, weil uns alles Vertraute und Gewohnte für einen Augenblick fortgenommen ist; weil wir mitten in einem Übergang stehen, wo wir nicht stehen bleiben können. Darum geht die Traurigkeit auch vorüber: das Neue in uns, das Hinzugekommene, ist in unser Herz eingetreten, ist in seine innerste Kammer gegangen und ist auch dort nicht mehr, – ist schon im Blut. Und wir erfahren nicht, was es war. Man könnte uns leicht glauben machen, es sei nichts geschehen, und doch haben wir uns verwandelt, wie ein Haus sich verwandelt, in welches ein Gast eingetreten ist. Wir können nicht sagen, wer gekommen ist, wir werden es vielleicht nie wissen, aber es sprechen viele Anzeichen dafür, daß die Zukunft in solcher Weise in uns eintritt, um sich in uns zu verwandeln, lange bevor sie geschieht. Und darum ist es so wichtig, einsam und aufmerksam zu sein, wenn man traurig ist: weil der scheinbar ereignislose und starre Augenblick, da unsere Zukunft uns betritt, dem Leben so viel näher steht als jener andere laute und zufällige Zeitpunkt, da sie uns, wie von außen her, geschieht.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe an einem jungen Dichter, Franz Xaver Kappus.  Borgeby gård, Flädie, Schweden,
am 12. August 1904

 

Take the Taco or Beer Challenge


Are you a woman?  Do you love someone who is female?  Do you believe you have or she has the right to her own body and mind? Do you like tacos or beer?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, please support this campaign to give women more control over their own destinies: Taco or Beer Challenge.  It’s a heck of a lot more fun that dumping ice on your head. Tacos-Beer-Abortion_014258285620

Last night I dreamed that a man I love deeply trafficked with powerful politicos who manipulated elections not to promote candidates whose views they shared, but because this was how the game was played and they played to win.  My lone voice calling out for leaders who protected a woman’s right to control her own body went unheard.  The politicos hushed me by assuring me they agreed with me, while women sat idly on the sidelines.  So this morning I donated money to Trust Women Foundation through this campaign.   Check out some videos of other like-minded here.

BTW, I don’t like all the F-bombs in the subsequent blurb, but the cause is good.  Please check it out.  Taco or Beer Challenge.

Or simply donate to this excellent cause: TRUST WOMEN.

My parents’ marriage


Mom and Dad, laughing at Lake Arrowhead, circa 1956


My parents had a really happy marriage.  They met and fell in love in a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) high school in Los Angeles.   Basically good and good-looking, outdoorsy, kids, they rebelled against their church’s strict rules against drinking, smoking, and pre-marital sex.  Before they got hitched, at the frighteningly young ages of 21 and 22, they shared sleeping bags while camping out before the Rose Bowl Parade.  The early years of their marriage were hard.   My father was in medical school and worked 24 hours at a time in the hospital before going on to his part-time jobs at a gas station and a mortuary.  He didn’t have time to think, let alone feel.  My mother, though, grew lonely and depressed at her secretarial position and afterwards, trying to attend to four year-old me and my much cuter and quieter two year-old brother.  Just because we had been running around all day at our grandmother’s house playing with our uncles and cousins didn’t mean we were tired, or that dinner and the dirty house would take care of themselves.

Mom and Dad in matching Norwegian sweaters with my mother's brothers
Mom and Dad, before they got married, with my mother’s brothers and a snowy friend.
My beautiful picture

Mom and Dad, exploring gold mines and camping somewhere in California, circa 1957

The U.S. Army drafted my father right out of medical school and my parents opted to spend three years in Germany in lieu of two years in Texas.  Although it was difficult at first, especially since my father had to train for six months away from the family, the easier work schedule and social life that they found on the base gave my parents the opportunity to turn towards one another again.  Both of them enjoyed skiing and traveling and socializing with people from different cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. They explored Europe together, usually with my brother and me, but also alone or with friends.

My beautiful picture

Mom and Dad clowning around with their friends at a party on the base in Augsburg, Germany, circa 1966

I remember them laughing, but cannot think of a single time I saw them yelling or arguing at one another. Disagreements usually had to do with money—my father thought my mother spent too much on clothing for herself and the kids, while my mother complained that he spent too much on his sailboats.  He generally deferred to her in actually enjoyed spending money on her, because she was beautiful and elegant and looked great in diamonds.  She appreciated how hard he worked to pay for luxuries and went along with his enthusiasms, such as sailing, even though she never got as excited about it as he did.

My beautiful pictureShe enjoyed just being in his company, she said, even if he seemed to be ignoring her behind his computer monitor.  Both came from musical families that valued classical music.  My mother also liked popular songs but deferred to my father’s more intellectual interests in jazz and opera when they sat together in the evenings.  My father admired my mother’s taste in decorating, so if he decided what they did together, then my mother determined how the boat or the home they did it in would look and feel.  My father liked to jokes and my mother liked to laugh. She laughed at everyone’s jokes. Mum Dad & K

One of the most important lessons I learned from my mother is that one’s husband should be interesting.  “Your father never bores me,” she said.  He loved the way she rubbed his neck on long family car journeys.  While my mother probably dedicated more cognitive room to my father than he did to her, and was generally less able to discuss his feelings, she was emotionally intelligent enough not to read any irritation or frustration he expressed as an attack on her person.

Family Latta

Dad, Kari, Kimberly, Chris, and Mom, in front of our home, 1986

My father’s temperament was basically sweet, and both of my parents had strong, emotionally involved mothers, so it was easy  for him to accept her dominance in the household.  She respected his dominance in the business and financial spheres.  He wasn’t too keen on her wish for another child in her late thirties, but he went along with it because he loved her.   He also accepted very little responsibility for the nurturing of my sister.  “Joan, your child is crying,” I can remember him saying.

They accepted stereotypical gendered roles without buying into a philosophy of male dominance.  My father had some old-fashioned attitudes, but he respected intelligence and ability in women.  Both of them were strongly pro-choice.  They pursued different hobbies but generally practiced them together (Mom needle pointed or read while Dad puttered on the boat). Mom never did master the black runs and usually got cold long before Dad, but she was a good sport and headed out with him every day.

Mom and Dad on the slopes,  Sun Valley, circa 1979

Mom and Dad on the slopes, Sun Valley, circa 1979

Because my father’s job was so demanding, they had to learn how to entertain themselves separately, but they shared the same Southern Californian, SDA roots as well as the same dream of a healthy, happy, family in which parents and children spent a lot of time together outside having fun.  They planned a rich, relaxing, athletic retirement together, but that dream never came true.  My mother died of colon cancer after a short illness in 1990.  She was 54.  Dad remarried another woman from the same high school, but she was an altogether different sort of person and did not bring my father much joy.  Truly happy marriages are rare and precious.

Mom, as seen by Dad, on Freya, circa 1981

Mom, as seen by Dad, on Freya, circa 1981

My parents taught me a great deal about what a good relationship looks like.  Partners do well when they admire each other’s  interests and respect their different strengths.  I also think a man who bores a woman will soon lose her, no matter what else may offer, and that mutual admiration and toleration for one another is vital for long-term happiness.  My parents’ good marriage will always inform my interpretations of other relationships.  It will also help me, a committed feminist and apprentice psychotherapist, to see that even couples who adopt relatively rigid gender roles can share power equally and effectively.

Second Al-Anon Meeting


So, today I actually spoke and said I had trouble with the “god stuff” in al-anon because I’m an atheist and do not believe in a creator or a higher power.  This did not go over as badly as it might have, since I then proceeded to weep while talking about how badly I need help with my son.  A number of people came over to talk to me afterwards, and I will certainly go back to that meeting.
Still, I really am going to have trouble biting my tongue about the 12 steps.  Not only am I never going to “believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity” (step 2) (and actually, I don’t feel insane, either); nor am I ever going to 3. “turn my will over to God as I understand HIM” because I don’t believe in god, or any other deity or exogenous power, certainly not a masculine power  (why can’t they at least use gender-neutral language? the Episopalians do, and the Reformed Jews, and lots of other god-lovin’ folk);  and nor am I likely to admit to this mythological being the (step five): “exact nature of my wrongs,” as though I could possibly fathom them or interpret them accurately; and there is NO FUCKING WAY that I’m going to (step six and seven): “humbly ask” a mythological being to “remove these defects of character” (this defies logic–there is no power that can do this magical thing); and also NFW that I’m going to (step 11) “pray only for knowledge of this mythological masculine being’s will for me and the for the power to carry out this god’s will.  Not this deity, who, according to the cardinals and the popes and all the other masculinists in charge of the church today, created masculine beings to be permanently superior to all feminine beings.  Finally, it is highly unlikely, nay impossible, that I will (step 12)  have a spiritual awakening while submitting to these terms.
If this is the program I have to buy into, the steps I have to follow, then it’s never going to work.
Still, I’m so desperate to talk to other people who have struggled with the stuff I’m struggling with now that I’ll make an effort to get what I can out of the meetings.  So I’ll go along with admitting that I’m powerless drugs and make an inventory of myself and even admit those faults to anyone who will listen compassionately and nonjudgementally, try to make a list of everyone I’ve harmed (that’s a long, long list, and my kid is right at the top of it); and make direct amends whenever possible (one of the most beautiful rituals of Yom Kippor) and continue to take a personal inventory (but I’m sure as hell not going to dwell on my faults, as the steps direct me to do, and that is so like Christianity….focus on your faults, your defects, and crimes, and then pretend that only a deity that does not exist can remove them, so you’re fucked).  What’s with all the negativity and attachment to the exact words that a Christian masculinist penned fifty or so years ago?
Look, I’m going to keep on going.  But I’m also going to keep on kvetching.

Compassion and Capability


I feel a strong, emotional connection with Kat and Maria, best friends who are just beginning their fifth year of medical school in Northern England.  They are very grounded in their femininity, very earthy, compassionate and capable.  Both of them are strikingly beautiful, although quite different, like the sisters Rose-White and Rose-Red.  Kat has pale, milky skin, light blue eyes, and long, waving golden hair.  Maria has olive skin, large, luminous dark eyes, and long, thick, black hair.  Kate is delicate, somewhat nervous, and compulsive, while Maria is steady and athletic.  They are both skilled, intelligent, strong and able to bring about the good that they seek.

Maria and Kat with Joost, Brendan, Pete, Angela, and Sophia in between them

They remind me of best friends in my family history.  My grandmother, Solveig Kristoffersen immigrated from Oslo, Norway to Rosebud, Alberta, Canada, and  went to nursing school with Hilda Hanson. Solveig later worked as a nurse in British Columbia and California, while Hilda became a midwife and eventually opened her own obstetrical clinic in the tiny farming town where she was born. Solveig married Hilda’s quiet brother, Alfred at a double wedding with Hilda and her beloved.

 

Hilda, Alfred, and Solveig on their honeymoon, heading from Canada to California

Observing Kat and Maria at the beginning of their careers has given me a lot to think about.  I’ve been asking myself where my zeal for scholarship disappeared to.  When I was 23, as they are now, I was living in cold-water flat with a poorly functioning coal oven at the top of a pre-war building in Hamburg, and applying to graduate school in Comparative Literature.   I got accepted at Columbia U, Washington U and Berkeley.  Washington U even offered me a scholarship.   I chose Cal because I was so homesick. I should have gone to St. Louis.  At Berkeley I suffered a catastrophe that set me back.  One of my professors, who was and still is very famous both for his scholarship and his habit of sleeping with his students, raped me and then threatened to destroy my career if I told anyone about it.

Yes, it was rape.  He pushed himself on me and I said no.  He said, “you American women say no when you mean yes” and then did what he wanted to.  I deadened my mind.  I was 23 years old and taking a course with him.  I wrote a crap paper on Pride and Prejudice. He gave me an  A.

I dropped out of graduate school for 8 years, during which time I wrote legislation and speeches for a U.S. Congresswoman, and became the Assistant Director of Government Affairs and Director of State Affairs at New York University, taught part-time at Vassar College, got married, and had a baby.  I returned to graduate school when my son was 2, whizzed through the program and got a job my first time out on the market.

My marriage did not survive my academic career, and my academic career did not survive my separation from my son.  I became so depressed living apart from him that I could not focus fully on my work, even though I spent all my time doing it.  My manuscript is about 600 pages long.  Much of it is quite good.  I loved writing it but could not figure out how to finish it, nor could I see the point of publishing it, other than to jump through the hoop I had to clear to get tenure.  No one would read it.  It no longer seemed to be a means to effect positive change in the world.

I left the university and started to volunteer full-time as a legal advocate for women whose boyfriends, husbands, and fathers routinely demean and beat them up.  Now I’m trying to get a women’s center going in Nepal.  It’s not quite the glamorous life I had imagined.  I fantasized about saving Nepali girls from the clutches of slave-traders and pimps, policing the borders and invading illegal orphanages to rescue forgotten children.

Yet every morning I help little girls who used to be slaves get ready for school.  They greet me at the gate of the orphanage, kiss and clutch my hands and pull me into play with them.

Celebrate Easter by Protecting Women’s Rights to Their Own Bodies


And don’t forget that the GOP and all the others who want to kill Planned Parenthood are against Planning For Parenthood.  They don’t want us to be able to plan our pregnancies.  They want to force us to bear unwanted pregnancies; they want to keep us poor, and unfree, and oppressed.  Here’s what one woman is doing to make a difference.