Without a Paddle, Down the River of Trouble Standards

“Paddle” is a euphemism. “River” is a metaphor. The “trouble standards” are odious political currents, rushing us down the course of slippery slopes, floating on hypocrisy, and ripe with harmful selectivity.

THE RUNDOWN

A.

The Supreme Court of the United States, (herein referred to as SCOTUS for brevity), our “highest court”, has handed down two decisions in the last five days which directly harm the rights of women. In the Buffer Zone ruling, SCOTUS held that pro-life protesters had a 1st amendment right to have “quiet conversations” and provide “counsel” to clinic goers, and that the 35 ft. buffer zone was in violation of those rights. A decision which, in consequence, emboldens said “pro-life” protesters to harass and bully women as they seek normal and necessary medical care. Listen, a while back, I encountered a local group of  “pro-life” Catholic protesters, outside a clinic a few miles away. It was happenstance that I was there, but now I wonder if it was just a giant neon arrow pointing me in the direction of things to come. I was furious, at the time, at the sheer arrogance of righteousness presented in groups like that.

THEN: I offered a protest of my own body [I stood/sat in the sun on that busy street, with both middle fingers extended until they left, on two separate occasions], almost without understanding fully why I felt compelled to do so. The second time, I wore this shirt:

Live & Let Choose

Live & Let Choose

It’s a simple answer to the presumptuous title of “pro-life” – women ARE life. We are alive. We live. If you are not for women, you are most definitely NOT pro-life. Live and let choose.

I know, the middle finger is reactionary, and even divisive. I know. But it was a pure reaction, and in light of continuing political attack, I am even more sure that my body was the appropriate and silent tool for that offensive. Now, what did I get for it? Abuse shouted at me from strangers passing by, thrown water bottles, snarky comments from the protesters themselves. The police were called. The police didn’t ask the protesters anything, but rather, asked me to stop what I was doing because it “wouldn’t do any good”.  Outrage doesn’t begin to cover the fallout of those protests. I was by myself and I felt it. Their supporters are vocal & hostile, their detractors are scared. I will say that there were a couple of positive affirmations and one lovely gal brought me cold water. Still, I felt a target on my person [body] each time. Though we were on a public sidewalk, I didn’t feel as though I had any protections.

Now these groups will be further encouraged by this buffer zone victory. In the case of the group I encountered, their protests are contrary to their own pontiff’s wish that they STOP focusing so much on doctrine and dogma, and instead focus on kindness and understanding. To openly defy the head of your own church with mass-produced signs (I’ve seen the SKU numbers on them) and 2-hours-per-Saturday meet ups to “counsel” & “pray” at clinic patients is an organized political move, not a faith based move.

The recent legislative backslide across most of the southern states and much of the mid-western states as regarding women’s access to necessary contraceptive and legal abortion services is hair raising. These developments  have not only created a dangerous situation for women, which includes access restriction, intrusive procedures, and financial hardships, but for the nation’s integrity as the “land of the free”.

B.

In the Hobby Lobby ruling, SCOTUS held that a privately held for-profit corporation could exercise it’s rights to religious freedom [under the RFRA of 1993 umbrella] like an individual citizen, to (selectively) deny contraceptive choices to its employees based on “closely held” religious beliefs. This is the first time that a corporation has been deemed able to exercise religion as a basis to deny a natural individual citizen a right she is legally entitled to by the law of the land.

THE MANY FACETS

1. Religious Freedom -

To paint this as a victory for religious freedom is to essentially place one narrow interpretation of Christianity above all other religions. It is a value placement by the highest court of the land, assigning priority to a singular Christian viewpoint. What it essentially creates then, by subtraction, is a Christianity/version ‘Merica thrall over the entire scope of any other Christian thought on the matter. And, possibly worse, it ignores all other religious groups’ thoughts and positions on contraception and women’s rights. While I’m not going there yet, what will happen when the breadth of this decision expands and impacts other deeply held and “sincere” beliefs? What will corporations-as-religious-individuals choose to object to next? Christian, non-Christian, your religion is not being protected by this ruling. Religious freedom is either for ALL religions’ benefit or it is nothing more than political bullying in the guise of morality.

2. Corporate Rights -

SCOTUS appears, in recent years especially, to be at the beck and call of corporate interests. It was a SCOTUS ruling which opened the door for legal precedent as pertains to corporate personhood, i.e. finding in favor of corporations as individuals, able to exercise individual rights, even to the detriment of the rights of actual (natural) individual citizens. In light of yesterday’s decision, perhaps especially so.

Secondly, the Hobby Lobby case is a direct (and transparent) attack on the beleaguered Affordable Healthcare Act (herein AHA), and its inclusive contraceptive coverage. So, what we have here, as regarding corporate rights, is a case which offers double-bang for its “pro-life” anti-choice buck: a.) a pro-selectively-Christian “moral” referendum for the partisan battle over “abortion contraceptives”, and b.) a pro-corporation-as-religious-individual offensive against the “coercive government’s” AHA requirements. It is a thinly veiled partisan retaliation against the current administration which places any bystanding women’s bodies solidly in its crosshairs.

3. Individual Women’s Rights -

“Individual” rights isn’t correct, is it? In this situation, individual rights is too inclusive. Men, as individuals, can still get Viagra (for sex) and vasectomies (for contraception) from Hobby Lobby, as employees. So, it is *not* individual rights but rather specifically (and with chilling & unabashed selectivity), women’s rights as individuals. Further, it calls into question whether women receive legal protection as individuals at all.

MY THOUGHTS

Continuing that train of thought, I would say, without hesitation, women merit individual legal protections, as natural citizens of these United States; I can’t believe I have to further clarify that statement, but they are right to expect legal protection over and above the unnatural “corporate individual’s” right to exert opinion-based “legal” strictures.

Merit, however, is a pregnant word in our country, isn’t it? It seems besides the point, as merit alone pales in comparison to political and monetary heft. SCOTUS has sent a clear message to all individuals that personal body autonomy is only for some and is less important than political agendas which carry the force of financial might.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG herein) wrote a strong 35 page dissent on behalf of the four justices who failed to carry the winning opinion. Her dissent is reasoned, concise, persuasive, factual, and admonishing. It warns the Court of the mire in which it is entangling itself. The majority opinion draftee, Alito, representing the vote-carrying Five-Old-Men, including Swing-Vote sock puppet Kennedy, scoffs at RBG’s concerns, essentially dismissing them as hyperbole. As much as I admire the women of the Court just for getting on the SCOTUS, and for standing their ground for women – as much as I admire RBG for her vociferous defense of women’s rights and vocal admonition regarding corporate personhood – I am deeply troubled by the ineffectiveness exhibited.

There are more women on the SCOTUS than ever before, and that is a wonderful thing symbolically. Still, if they are unable to defend and affect the outcome of cases which cut a huge swath of corrosion through the rights of individuals who make up more than half the population of the Land, are these women justices anything more than a symbolic placation? Token vaginas placed for political correctness but with no impetus for change? And, in the face of their support of the buffer zone strike-down and their lack of teeth regarding Hobby Lobby – were they ever more than a symbolic tip of the hat? This is 100% demoralizing to consider.

I know. It hurt me to write those last words. I am frustrated and furious. Emotions ARE a part of recent developments in reproductive care for women. It IS PERSONAL. What could possibly be more personal than family planning?

FURTHER THOUGHTS.

At the heart of the concept of freedom is choice; specifically, individual choice as separate from common sentiment. Individual freedom of choice is, in the U.S., based on a citizen’s options and personal preference. That choice should always belong to him or her. Forcing individuals to choose a path other than their own inclinations [through denial of legal and available options and restriction of access] corrodes individual freedom and corrupts every Body involved. Individual or corporate, choice is necessary to define a citizen as “free”.

Following that, women are specifically and continuously being stripped of our choices. It seems clear today that our status as free citizens in our own country is in peril. Corporations have choice, women do not, or at the least women have less choice, therefore, women are not free.

This hurts EVERYONE.

Everyone is impacted by the loss of and attack on women’s rights. Thank you to everyone, male and female, who has spoken out against the prevailing political landscape. I humbly ask that you continue to do so.

Women, we must shed our exhaustion and worry – and DIG IN. If it wasn’t clear before, please understand: the battle just walked up to your front door and rang the doorbell. Don your armor (educate yourself). Open your door with a smile on your face and a glint in your eye. Kick the proselytizers OFF THE STOOP. What we allow is what will continue. Do not allow any more. And VOTE.

PERSONAL.

I should be clear here: I am not anti-religion. I am pro-choice. I am pro-human. I am for body autonomy. I trust women to make their own choices.

I will stand hard and fast against ANYONE who, for ANY REASON, tells me how I should or can make personal decisions in which they are not remotely indicated or involved. Extreme clarity: If my husband wants to talk to me about my choices, he’s earned the right with 21 years of love, support, and understanding. If a stranger standing outside a medical clinic wants to show me pictures of bloody fetuses and shout “Murderer! Baby killer!” at scared teenage girls (under the guise of “gentle counseling”) – well, to put it mildly – I REJECT THAT WHOLLY. And I am ready to assert MY 1st Amendment rights NOT to put up with it. And my 14th &19th Amendment rights, dammit.

I will fight for your right to choose, body and soul. I don’t even ask that much commitment from others, just leave me alone if you disagree. BECAUSE: your disagreement with my choices in no way entitles you to any rights over me.

I have two children. My daughter deserves body autonomy. So too does my son, and any partner he chooses down the road. Countries with good records on family planning availability are more economically and socially sound. Google it.

It is terrifying, specifically as a woman, that my standard of treatment as a human and/or care as a patient, and as a natural citizen of my country, is subjugate to the disagreeing opinion of a corporate entity. Where does that stop? Herein lies the “broad” sweep of the Hobby Lobby decision. Though Alito’s opinion crystalized that this case pertains only to contraceptive care for women, it is now only a matter of time before other “closely held” beliefs are presented as grounds for restricted access or denial to [for example] blood transfusions, organ transplant, et al. The precedent has been set and the window is open to flies on the pie.

There is a lot of chatter about single-payer as an answer and debate about the efficacy of healthcare being tied to employment income. I am going to sidestep these issues right now in the interest of maintaining focus on what is intrinsically scary about these rulings instead … but the internet is your friend. Embrace it.

CONCLUSION.

Scary doesn’t begin to cover it. Harrowing. Denegrating. Frustrating. Agonizing. If I were Christian, I’d be appalled at the presumptive intrusion into the private lives of individuals. Beyond that, there is a deep sadness in me.

I sincerely question my country’s ability to provide legal protection to my children. They are potentially faced with fewer choices than MY MOTHER’S generation. Backwards is never the way forward, regardless of any deeply held convictions or disagreements.

Let me repeat: BACK IS NEVER THE WAY FORWARD.

Now, more than ever, forward is needed. Also, togetherness. As always, I believe men and women working together is the key to equality. Still, women, we must unite and relentlessly pursue our unequivocal and equal status as individual citizens, with the full and merited compliment of choices.

This is still the home of the brave. Be BRAVE.

Thank you.

~m

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Greenest of Green Smoothies

image

 

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

Cut into 1″ pieces & frozen -

1 Granny Smith apple
1 Bartlett pear
1 – 8″ spear celery
1 tsp. Ginger, fresh or frozen, not powdered
4 – 1″ pieces green bell pepper

Blend with:

1 – 2 handfuls leafy greens (I used romaine, kale, & baby spinach)
2 parts almond milk, unsweetened
1 part green tea, unsweetened
1 -2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
Juice from half a lemon

Optional:

Protein powder
Ground flaxseed
Chia seed
Preferred nut

Totally refreshing, just the right amount of sweet, packed with nutrients. Enjoy! :)

~m

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Times I’m glad I can’t go through the looking glass.

This gallery contains 4 photos.

A quick visit to the LA Zoo’s LAIR exhibit. Beautiful & deadly, I love them. Photos are the property of yours truly, individually & as The Singing Bee blog. Please do not use them without my permission. You’re the best, … Continue reading

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Tee shirt.

Made this today:

Image

Image

You can get it here: http://www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product.aspx?number=1265863102 in this style and here: http://www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product2.aspx?number=1265865480 for a black fitted tee style. And here’s one for the guys: http://www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product2.aspx?from=CustomDesigner&number=1265992628

This is not associated with any organization, I just wanted these words on a shirt or two that I could personally wear. If you want one too, go for it. No monetary gain for me either. (I don’t think. I don’t know how Cafe Press actually works. If money comes to me when they sell this design, I will donate it to a pro-choice cause. Let me be clear: this is not for my profit.) If there’s an organization out there using these words already, I don’t know about it, but please bring it to my attention, if so. Thanks.

~m

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Humanist, Addendum.

Hmmm.

Hmmm.

I know I’ve already posted, most recently in fact, a very opinionated feminist/humanist piece. So, apologies in advance. This is not a political blog – this is my blog of thoughts and experiences, where I informally talk and wax philosophical. BUT. It seems over the last week, the universe is lining up multiple vignettes designed to get my vaginal dander up.

*blink blink* HOLY HANNAH – THAT CAME OUT SO MUCH DIRTIER THAN EXPECTED. I should delete it. I know I should delete it. Who says “vaginal dander”? Is vaginal dander even a THING?! Fucking GROSS!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahaha!!!!! I’m leaving it. That’s hysterical.

Anyway – this happened today:

Had an unexpected run-in with a group of Pro-Life protesters this afternoon.

I was out running errands, and I’d stopped at a little corner burger joint to get an iced tea. (It was warm and sunny today – Woo!) Now, I’m never in this part of L.A., so I had no idea what I was about to see. As I enjoyed the coolness in the little restaurant I was looking out the windows, and my gaze settled on a group gathering outside a medical clinic, which was across the street. I noticed the signs and then noticed how they were standing and I leaned forward, squinting.

They were surrounding a young girl (I don’t know – somewhere in the late teens/early twenties) and she was crying. I was immediately filled with fury. It was a busy street, so it took me a while to get over there. I was immensely relieved to see her get away from them and heading in through the doors of the clinic by the time I’d reached the corner. I watched until she was safely in through the entryway and then I pulled out my phone and began to video tape and photograph the protestors.

 

They are smiling bemusedly and unsure what my intent is. After the sirens pass, they resume their Holy Mary prayers, grasping their rosaries. After I walked away they began to sing hymns and lead loud prayers. Please notice their stance. They are standing so that they are facing the clinic doors, though they are also making sure a couple of signs still face the street. Please notice the pious minister leading them. I have just watched these people surround, shame, and bully a teenager. They are 100% without shame themselves. Their quarry got away, but they seem satisfied to have made her more miserable.

I turned on my heel and went to get my truck, which I then parked directly across from them in the medical clinic’s parking lot. I was waiting on my daughter to text me for a pick up and my errands were run… I knew I had about an hour before I had to go take care of my next task for the day. It isn’t much, I know. I wish I’d had hours, like they seem to.

So, I stood up in the bed of my truck facing out, toward them and the street, extended both arms as far out as I could, and proceeded to extend both middle fingers as well. I don’t know exactly what came over me, but I was filled with indignation. I know that much. I’m not so much passive-aggressive, you see, as I am aggressive-aggressive…

This is a medical clinic which provides services at large, not just abortion services. Good grief. Besides that, I am a feminist, as you know, having recently outed myself. And the question that always comes to mind when I see this behavior is: In what way are you helping? In what way, priest, are you healing? In what way is are you leading your faithful to love & human kindness?

Which brings me to my next question. See the man with the sign which reads “Don’t do it – We will help you and your baby” or somesuch. I felt like asking. You know, walking directly up to his eyeballs and asking him. “HOW?” How will you do so? What is your idea of helping that young girl? Will you personally provide a judgment free home where she can have good nutrition and prenatal care? Once you’ve paid 100% for the baby to be born, will you provide a well-paying job with benefits and well-baby care? Because, if so, I might be willing to listen to you for 30 seconds. Or is your idea of help that you will convince her (through shame/manipulation/fear tactics) to carry this unwanted zygote to a full-term fetus, give birth to it and then you’ll kindly help her give it up for adoption. How far does your offer to “help” extend? What about the child you’re so invested in HER keeping. Are you willing to pay and provide for it if she cannot because she’s SIXTEEN?? If you convince her to give it up for adoption, are you committing to taking care to make sure that child even MAKES IT through the adoptive process and doesn’t become a ward of the state? HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU ABLE TO PROMISE THAT YOU WILL HELP HER AND THAT CHILD. You don’t mean it. Don’t even think for one second that anyone believes that you mean that in any way which is actually going to PROVIDE HELP.

Dear protesters I met today, YOU HURT. YOU DO NOT HEAL. Your faith hurts my gender. You say you’re Pro-Life. Surprise, motherfuckers, women are life forms too. I’m pro-choice because I’m PRO-HUMAN. All humans deserve love and consideration. And body autonomy.

Now. Upside? I was enough of a presence, standing above them with both fingers outstretched, that people drove past them and parked at the far end of the lot to get into the clinic. Forty-five minutes, I stood there like that, until my daughter texted me for a ride.

DOUBLE UPSIDE? Damn. What a killer upper arm and shoulder workout it was. I’m thinking of calling it the Double Extended Bird, by the way. My arms were on fire. Imagine how awesome they’ll look after a few more Saturdays. I think next time I’ll take a cooler full of bevvies and a yoga mat, so I don’t have to stand.

Now. I think I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled observations of nature and my joyful running. Because wrath does not suit me.

~m

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Humanist

This is an opinion article. If you are opposed to opinions, read no further. My feelings won’t be hurt. Further caveat: If you are of the sensitive ponytail variety, and talk of feminist ideas is upsetting, please keep reading. Or don’t. Just remember, comments are moderated. Don’t like it? Feel that it oppresses your free speech? I’m totally okay with that feeling, but - too bad. My blog, my opinions. Feel free to rebut on your own blog! Free speech is the bomb, yo.  Umm… also, there is cursing. A fair amount of cursing, cover your tender eyes.

^Pretty sure that intro will have separated the men from the boys. <– pre-article irony.

Now then. Guess what’s on my mind?

Feminism.

Hey, you! In the 18th row! I see you running away. Just stop and sit back down. We’re all friends here. Or, at least, I want us to be. Well, maybe not friends, per se, not with every single person on earth. Because, ew. Still, at the very least, we’re all a part of the human race, aren’t we? So let’s talk.

Misogyny, Part 8,965,347,012...

Misogyny, Part 8,965,347,012…

Guess why the above meme irritates the snot out of me. (I’m asthmatic, folks. So I know from snot, let me tell you.) Okay, now guess.

You have a pretty good idea, don’t you? Someone on twitter just tweeted that meme, with the preface: “Hey! Someone wrote a book about why women get upset for no reason!”

AAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAhahahahahaha. HAR HAR HAR FUCKING HAR!!! Killin’ me. Truly. Meanwhile: Hey, asshat. Way to alienate half your audience! #unfollow

Here’s the best part: I’m only using the above example as an illustration. Of what? Of every day of my life. Every day of your mom’s life. Every day of your cousin Lisa’s life. Every day of your daughter’s life. Every day in the life of half the earth’s population. It’s one of the least offensive examples, in actuality.

In fact, it is practically benign in comparison to some of the thoughts, expectations, and commentary that are also a part of our every day lives. Which is why I’m using it as an example, instead of some of the really heinous shit. Because it’s so prevalent, so “harmless” a result of the Battle of the Sexes, that it is 100% laughed off. But let’s look at the exact message that sentiment conveys: There are so many trivial bullshit reasons for her anger/sadness/tears that no one should ever bother to give a shit about her feelings. It is part of the casual disregard women put up with in even the most dire of circumstances, and often from people they love the most. Not so harmless. Not so funny.

Sometimes I think the biggest battle we will fight, as feminists, is the battle to overcome dismissal. It is ubiquitous and a part of the language, the culture. I often wince when a woman is called “shrill” or “shrieky” because she is arguing her point in her normal feminine voice. Hey, boys. We’re not all contraltos. Sorry. (Except for right this second, because I just got over bronchitis.) But we still have valid thoughts and value to add to the world. Quit with the mommy issues (or whatever closes your mind & heart) and pay attention to the content of our message.

That word though, right? Feminism. <— it practically has leg hair and musk dripping off its shoulder pads, doesn’t it? It sometimes feels like just mentioning or writing the word causes peoples’ throats to constrict in apoplexy. Or their heads suddenly burst into flame, spontaneously alight with knee-jerk reactions. Ffffffffffffffffeminism. *shiver*

SHAMY CONFESSION.

Yep. That word. I was young, once. Not even so long ago. I couldn’t even spit that word out without a certain amount of bile. I know, ladies. I know. But it’s true.

You see, by the time my generation had grown up we’d grown up with Feminism Ver. 2. Our moms were the moms who came through the 60s, had us in the 70s, worked through the 80s and 90s, and spit us out the tail end of one seriously bumpy ride. I graduated high school in 1991, a graduate of that rocky road of feminist thought. And guess what? I felt entirely conflicted.

Another factor, regarding which I would love to see some scientific studies, is that my generation of women shares a striking commonality. Absent/unavailable fathers. Our parents were the bona fide embracers of divorce and The Battle of the Sexes. I know very few women in my generation who grew up with a present and available father. I am honestly curious to know if my observation of this (from a purely anecdotal & cultural standpoint) is scientifically documented and quantified. In what terms did this impact my generation of women and our filter for our experience as humans? How did it impact our self image, to what extent was it a part of our understanding of our role in society?

On the one hand, I was a spiky and assured young woman. I have often joked that I came out of the womb brimming with confidence. I was smart. I was tough. I was headstrong. But I sure did like guys. I liked guys way more than I liked most gals, especially in my age group. And I loved to laugh. Boy, the guys were funny. I had so much fun around them. Most of my friends were guys. On the other hand, by the time I was 18 I’d had some pretty devastating events happen to me at the hands of some of those guys. So, yes. Conflicted. Bruised. Throttled a bit just by being a young female in a world that saw me as prey.

I was tough, though, as I said. And I have always been a self-guided gal. I truly felt that by the time a person is 18, it’s time to own all your shit, even if you didn’t do it to yourself, and grow the fuck up. Handle it. Be a woman, not a child. And, being the spiky personality I was, I was determined to never ever be prey (again). I was also determined to never forget that I loved the guys. For every “bad guy” I knew, I knew about a dozen shitty gals, it seemed.

If you asked me, at the tender age of 20, was I a feminist? I would have sneered and said “Hell NO!”. No no no. Feminist was a dirty word. It seemed to me that the women who called themselves feminists had gone about the fight all wrong. They had been fighting for things I believed in, but then had taken some kind of wonky left turn into adapting themselves to become the men they so abhorred. I laughingly adopted the moniker “feminazi” to describe feminists. Or “manhater”. I couldn’t identify with that mindset. Yes, I’d had males treat me badly, but so had females. “You’ll never catch me calling myself a feminist.” I’d say. Or, “Feminists have ruined feminism.” I’d assert. I felt like we’d dumped the baby out with the bathwater, and many of the things that I loved about being female were treated as betrayals of feminist values. For instance, I love to embrace the feminine powers of persuasion, I never feel that it makes me less feminist. Why should I have to act like a man to be a feminist?! Feminism plainly was not for me.

YEAH, BUT THEN…

A few things happened. They always do. Because, life.

I met a guy. Well, to be more specific, I met a guy who wanted a relationship with 19 year old me. I was so far from interested in a relationship when I met him that I turned down every advance he made, for about a month. To be even more to the point, sex interested me, love did not. I was not “the marrying type” and I certainly didn’t want to date another cocky jock.

Ah, the joke was on me. I finally went out with him and that was pretty much that. Fell in love. Like a dumb girl. We almost killed each other in the first five months of our relationship. Both of us were fighting the demons of our teenage years, and trying to figure out who we were as 20-somethings. Also, he was a small town boy from a Christian upbringing, and I was a well-traveled city girl from a (quite) liberal upbringing. He was used to girls doing what he told them to do. I was used to doing what I felt like and the rest of the world could just hang. (I was rebellious to my center. Still am, really.) To say we were a volatile match is to undersell our differences.

Soooooo… it took us about three years to sort our mutual and separate issues out. But we had a connection. And after that first three years, we knew. I was his lobster, and he was mine.

We had a daughter. That one’s pretty explanatory, isn’t it? Having a daughter makes you appreciate all kinds of feminist thought that you previously dismissed. What requires more explanation is the decisions that engendered. Up to that point, I was the “earner” in our relationship. I was 23. I had marketable office skills and had been working, using them, since I’d turned 15. Once I had our daughter, all my preconceptions about being a “strong woman” flew out the window. I realized that I didn’t want anyone else raising her. I wanted to raise her. No matter what sacrifices it might mean to my independent self, her needs were all I cared about. Now, this is before it was a “thing” to be a stay at home mom, again. That trend is huge now, and a lot more (usually wealthy <– not a value judgment, just part of stats) women are making that choice. We were NOT wealthy. We were two kids with a baby. But we decided to try, to do whatever it took. And we did. The day before I had to give the public defender’s office my decision on whether I was coming back, my guy got a job offer that meant I didn’t have to. So I made the decision to stay home.

Boy, did I fail to realize the can of worms that would open for me with the feminist crowd! I was a traitor to all they’d worked for! I was not living up to my potential, I was wasting my talent. I was allowing myself to be subjugated! I was resigning myself back to the kitchen.

Well, fuck you! I thought. I like the fucking kitchen! That’s where all the food is!

All kidding aside, I really do like to cook. But I digress. After a few years, I realized that because I stayed at home, other women treated me like I didn’t have a right to an opinion on feminist issues. Or worse, they assumed I didn’t possess intelligent thought at all! I must not, I was just a mom. Well, okay. That’s one set of problems. Now for the next.

We had a son. Perhaps my feminist process really began here, at this point in time. Because, hey, my husband’s a good guy. Really. But he did embody some of the assumptive traits that your classic white male has regarding women. Luckily, he and I can talk about anything, so he listens to me and he works hard at continuing to be one of the good guys. Now, here I was, raising another white .[read: priveleged] male. I realized that I had an enormous responsibility to raise a good human, not just a boy who treats women well.

We separated, my husband and I, after 10 years together, for two years. I moved three hours away to the nearest safety net of family and friends I had. The kids went with me. At this point, my husband had a career in restaurants and worked monstrous hours as a manager. I worked for one year at an ad firm I’d worked at when I was 20, 70+ hours a week. For a micro-managing misogynist of the highest order. Then I found a more reasonable job at a law firm as a legal secretary, working 40 hours a week. My boss there was beyond description – he was AWESOME. Still, someone else was raising my children while I worked. It fucking killed me. I have always truly respected women who can do that. My mom had me when she was 17, and worked my whole life, just trying to put food on the table. It’s a terrible equation of needs vs. wants, and most every woman in the world is faced with it. For myself, it cemented my fundamental disagreement with the idea that a woman can only be a feminist if she is a Superwoman. By that I mean: a woman who does it all. It’s a mythology that is unsustainable and unhealthy for women and men.

My husband drove every single weekend to visit the kids. It must have been exhausting for him. Even if he and I weren’t doing well, he drove to see the kids and I am a big proponent of keeping the kids out of your “couple” fights, so I made sure they were available to him. I was honestly impressed with his dedication to the kids, in the face of the seeming end of our marriage. He helped me so much, even when he didn’t need to, and in fact, had no ostensible reason to. We had mutual respect still going for us.

We reconciled. It took a lot of discussion and even more truth-telling, but we realized we still had that connection and we didn’t want to throw that away. Also, we struggled so much through years of not having any money, we’d been through a lot. Today? We’ve now been partners in life for almost 22 years. We make the joke quite often that we’re like foxhole buddies, but with way more sex. We have, in the real meaning of the words, grown up together. Our kids are now two terrific teenagers and I know exactly how lucky I am.

Aha! Feminism!

What did it all mean, in relation to my feminist identity? Well, I am a lucky person, yes. But damned if I’ll disregard the work it’s taken to get to this point in my life. By the time I was 35 I was beginning to truly understand the vast chasms that exist between various strains of feminist thought.

A blazing light bulb seemed to switch on and radiate its glorious revelations inside my skull. At this point, I had a lot of first hand understanding about being a woman in this crazy, mixed up world – and I’m a middle class white woman. To be a woman of color, or from a poor nation, or with a disability? Good grief. Society just loves to pretend they don’t exist. And when they are recognized? Women of color & cultural diversity are treated so badly that I am embarrassed on behalf of all humanity. There is almost no representation of women who don’t fit a specific (mostly white & middle class) set of standards. Well, enough of that. I mean, for real. Fuck that. Women come from every background and they all have a story to tell. All women are of value.

Additionally, I am fed right-the-hell up with the wars women wage with each other. We feed them and so they are propagated through cultural norms. Ladies! Stop that shit immediately. Do not play that game. There is no “right way” to be a mom. There is no “right way” to be single. There is no “right way” to be sexual. There is no “right way” to be a boss/employee/client. Et cetera, ad nauseum. We’re ALL ALRIGHT. In fact, ladies, we are fucking radical humans when we let ourselves be who we are. And we cuss too, just FYI…or not. Hey, whatever floats your boat, mama. There is no “right way” to be a feminist.

Listen to me, women. Feminism is about CHOICES. And beyond that – supporting the choices that women make for themselves. That’s the important part, isn’t it? Look, I’m not going to make the same choice as the next gal and vice versa. The point is – if feminism becomes about ONE WAY, then it is not pro-woman, or even pro-human, AT ALL. Choices, girls. Choices. Creating them, supporting them. Choices.

THE BIGGER PICTURE.

I’m 40 now. A lot has happened in my wacky first half-ish of life.  I’m still spiky – I know, you’re shocked. I’m still smart. I’m still outspoken. I still love to laugh. Wow. Laughing is seriously the best. I hope I do it forever. Imagine my killer abs!

Guess what? I also still love the guys. Men, I love you. Yup, it’s true.

Guess what else? I love the ladies. Now that I’m older and I realize a couple key things, i.e. the young are naturally defensive and girls grow claws for a reason, I also realize that my identity as a woman is most definitely as a feminist.

Because:

I honestly don’t understand how I can watch a stand-up comic and be laughing my ass off, and then BAM! He makes a rape joke. That same comic will vehemently avoid racism or classism and many of the truly abhorrent pieces of culture that it’s unacceptable to joke about. But the jokes about women are still fair game. They’re easy pickings. I  lose a lot of respect when comics go for the easy joke, but especially when it’s about wife beating or rape, or other commonplace misogynist tropes. Don’t get me wrong. (Please, please don’t get me wrong!) It hurts my heart to hear racist jokes, or antisemitic jokes, or any jokes that denegrate. I’m simply saying that, as a woman, specific to my point, misogyny hurts TOO. And to further clarify the damage – women are also black, jewish, and from every socio-economic background – meaning the bullet hits twice (or more) – so crap jokes are offensive not just to our gender but to our culture. Stop.

While we’re on that point, an aside: Dear Hollywood, there are other ways to make your female characters sympathetic. You don’t have to have her raped, beaten or pissed on to do so. Fuckers.

As an even more derivative aside: When I was a girl, Wonder Woman was my jam, yo. Lynda Carter was my Wonder Woman and I watched her every week, kicking ass.

Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Blue Two-lips

Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Blue Two-lips

Now, modern (young) feminists say Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman wasn’t feminist at all. That she wasn’t portrayed as strong or powerful. To them, I say, “I understand what you’re trying to say, but you’re wrong. She was The Shit.” In all seriousness, for girls in my generation? Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner were IT. Besides, Lynda Carter wore that blue body suit LIKE A BOSS. Look at her expression. She’s saying, “Here are my labia, motherfuckers! Now hold still while I kick your ass.” But probably not. Because she’s so much classier than I am. (No, really. Lynda Carter is a class act. I love her. I’m poking fun at the outfit, not her – just in case that needs saying.)

So, what is the bigger picture?

Yes, I’m a feminist. There. I said it. I’M A FEMINIST! You got it out of me. I love feminists and female role models and I say “WE NEED MORE!”. Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison, Gloria Steinem, Prem Chowdhry, (and too many to name) your work continues in my generation and the successive generations, I assure you.

Do you know why I’m a feminist? Because I’m a humanist. That’s right.

I don’t care how anyone else defines “humanist”, here is my definition. A humanist is a human. A human who cares about other humans. A human who cares about the world we live in because it affects humans. A human who cares about the effect we have on our environment because humans have to live there, duh. I do not define humanists as people who are for humanity against all the other things in the world. No, that is anti-humanist.

Now, I know you’ll be stunned by this next revelation, but: females are humans. In fact, we’re half of the humans you know. We’re half of the humans you don’t know. We’re just fucking human right down to our very cores.

We live, we have sex, we even like sex. Plainly we curse like sailors. We have problems. Sometimes we share the same problems you share. Some of our problems are specific to us. But it’s still okay to care about those if you aren’t a woman. Because you’re a human! See where I’m going with this?

We don’t have to be friends. We don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like me. But I don’t deserve to be dismissed because I have ovaries. We deserve to treat each other, and be treated, as humans.

That is all. As the wise and wonderful Simon Pegg recently tweeted, “Love is fucking everything.”<– paraphrased. Go forth and be good humans.

~m

*On rereading this post, I felt that I had unwittingly, as a white middle class feminist, created a somewhat intersectional product. NOT my intent, of course. My perspective is definitely the only one I can speak on with authority, so I was just making informal observations and talking about them, as they related to a stupid twitter comment. That said, I want to put it out there that I truly believe what I said above: we have to stop fighting with each other. I have vast amounts of respect for the differences in the experience of a white middle class gal (me) and those of a black woman, or a Korean woman, or an Iranian woman, or a Cuban woman – and the list of beautiful, vibrant, and valuable women of color goes on and on. Same idea with regard to women of the various different cultural-religious backgrounds. I love you all. Listen. We HAVE TO STOP FIGHTING. The cost is too great. I bend and I hope we all can, as long as we all bend together for the enormous commonalities we share as women & humans. Because I cannot personally change what has happened in the past – but together? We can all personally apply our strength and change what happens in the future. There is exactly nothing that can stop us. Crunchy all-inclusive hippie love, coming your way.

~m again.

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Photo Hike 2 – Big Santa Anita Canyon

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Went on a nice meandering hike up in Big Santa Anita Canyon, visiting Chantry Flat , et al and the trails & hidden places there. Photos are the property of yours truly, individually & as The Singing Bee blog. Please … Continue reading

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Why L.A. Doesn’t Suck

Stay with me here. I know, it’s a stretch.

We’re so used to saying that L.A. sucks. Unless we’re singing Randy Newman songs. But that’s a different story entirely.

Or is it?

L.A. only sucks as much as you let it suck. I’ve been all around the country and visited other countries. I guarantee you how much a place sucks has a lot to do with your attitude… and its available resources.

Still with me? Sweet!

L.A. can be a serious drag. It’s not a great place if all you do is drive to work and back every day. Let’s face it: the freeways blow. Traffic sucks. People can be shitty. It’s a big city with all the proverbial big city warts. <— I’m just going to leave that alone, just how it is.

BUT! L.A. is also full of:

Sunshine ☼

Happy people. I’m sure. Somewhere…

Beaches.

Restaurants galore.

Museums.

Botanical gardens.

We have a zoo, folks.

And hiking.

Because – did I mention the sunshine? If it’s an outdoor pursuit – you can pursue it in L.A. Hiking, running, surfing, cycling, dog walking, toe jam sculpture – you name it. L.A. probably accommodates it. And you really do not have to go broke to play in L.A. Granted, people love to spend money in sunny SoCal, but it’s not a prerequisite for good times.

Case in point – my lovely friend KG came down for the weekend last weekend. She lives in northern California and I think we can all agree that NorCal and SoCal do so love to hate each other.

I am a long-time lover of the Bay Area, however, so I understand why Los Angeles seems like the ungrateful mooch, comparatively. Still. Our taco trucks are better.  Like, way WAY better. There’s this one, in the garment district, and they put grilled green onion on top of the carne asada… oh. my. GAWD. It’s unbelie—

Sorry.

Anyway, KG came down to visit me and I made nefarious plans. Friday we just gabbed and generally caught up with each other. We went out for mongolian BBQ. We drank wine. Good stuff.

KG She’s a cagey one, KG.

Saturday, we went to my farmer’s market. I love it there and show it off whenever I can. There are these bread guys there – Old Town Baking Co. – best 9-grain sourdough EVER. And the berries. And the fresh eggs. And the honey at Bill’s Bees! Good grief. It’s free to go to the farmer’s market. You just find one and walk in and amongst the goodness. How much you buy is up to you. There are so many to choose from. Truly we are the lucky ones.

After the farmer’s market, KG and I went to the zoo.

RAWR.

RAWR. Did you know there are dinosaurs at the zoo?

The L.A. Zoo has been around a long time. When we first moved to L.A. everyone told us that we should go to the Wild Animal Park in San Diego instead. Which is also great. But, it’s not in L.A. and much less convenient – not to mention much more costly. And now that we’ve been zoo members for years, I honestly don’t understand why people FROM L.A. encourage people to go AWAY from L.A. to a zoo. The L.A. Zoo needs your dollars, folks. They do good conservation work there, and have many educational programs.

TIGER. o my.

Tiger, o my.

Gibbon mama with wee baby.

Gibbon mama with wee baby.

Tigers think baby gibbons are delicious.

Tigers think baby gibbons are delicious.

Look at this foot. LOOK AT IT.

Look at this foot. LOOK AT IT.

Over the last few years of membership, we’ve watched them make huge changes to the zoo – it’s getting better each year. Plus, it is also a botanical garden. I love spending a day at the zoo. I’ve taken so many people there with me, in my effort to make people aware of how great our zoo really is. Another bonus? It’s inexpensive. We have a family membership, which is about $120 per year. Awesome deal. But general admission is a mere $13-18 and kids under 2 are free. Give me a break, wouldja? Why don’t you go to the zoo!?

Grumpy flamingo INSISTS.

Grumpy flamingo INSISTS.

Saturday evening we had delicious Mexican food at my local place, just a walk from my front door. Another great thing about L.A. Restaurants are all around, my friends. Now, I understand. It’s not an easy city to get around in if you don’t have a car. I continue to hope that they will continue to work on this issue. We do have the metro trains and buses, and I think they try hard. But – if you want to eat – chances are you don’t have to drive in L.A. And you do not have to resort to shitty fast food if you don’t want to. More than likely – there is a hole in the wall three blocks away, dishing up delicious cultural cuisine. Besides – we could all use the walk, couldn’t we? <— the answer is “yes”.

Sunday was great again – we ate at my husband’s restaurant for brunch, in Downtown L.A., and then we spent the afternoon at the L.A. Arboretum.

Peacock, the noisy bastards of the bird world. But glorious, nonetheless.

Peacocks, the noisy bastards of the bird world. Nonetheless, GLORIOUS.

I know – you thought the Huntington Library was the only botanical gardens in L.A., didn’t you? You’re wrong. *shrug* It’s okay though – shrug it off with me – because now you know! The Arboretum is a completely wonderful place to spend a morning or an afternoon. Admission ranges from $4-9.00 and children under 5 are free.

O, hello. Perchance... a carrot?

O, hello. Perchance… a carrot?

My favorite critter.

My favorite critter.

Boo.

Boo.

All work and no play makes delicious delectable honey.

All work and no play makes delicious delectable honey.

Fast little fu-- flyer.

Fast little fu– flyer.

Nature brings out our natural beauty, don't you think?

Nature brings out our natural beauty, don’t you think?

See? Natural beauty.

See? Natural beauty.

Also, there are flowers and stuff.

Also, there are flowers and stuff.

It's seriously beautiful in every direction.

It’s seriously beautiful in every direction.

If you're into that sort of thing.

If you’re into that sort of thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That said, I also love The Huntington Library and highly encourage visits there, as well.

Alas, it was time to take KG to a plane after the Arboretum and I had to say goodbye to my northerly friend.

NOOOoooo!!! Goodbyes are SAD.

Still, we filled the weekend with so much talking and food and gallavanting that I can not find one reason to complain. And, I doubt I parted with more than $100 over the course of the whole weekend. You know why?

Because I live in L.A. and L.A. does not suck. (Say it with me…L.A. does not suck!)

You just have to take advantage of the resources it has to offer, folks. When your weekend rolls around – and your weekly commute is over – maybe head to The Getty. If you’re musically inclined take in some of the music scene – lord knows we have a huge one. We have the L.A. Philharmonic too. Grab your bike and go ride at one of the many many parks or bike paths in L.A. Go for a hike! Or go down to Huntington Beach, grab a cup of joe, and find a bench above the Dog Beach. If you can’t smile in the breezy sunshine, breathing in the salt air, while watching the dogs (so many dogs) frolic – you may not be human. I love running down there. Those dogs make me smile like a complete idiot.

People, we have baseball, basketball, and friggin’ DISNEYLAND. So, go on.

Please go have some fun. Because otherwise you’ll forget how great we have it.

Also, Philosophical Ostrich just wants you to be happy.

Also, Philosophical Ostrich doesn’t understand a word I just wrote. She just wants you to be happy. And do you have peanuts?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my yoga class.

Photos are the property of yours truly, individually & as The Singing Bee blog. Please do not use them without my permission. You’re the best, thanks! :)

~m

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Banana Seed Bread

Warm, chewy, comforting banana bread. It’s one of my favorite things. And not too unfriendly on the hips. I’m generally resistant to “healthifying” recipes, unless you can do so without taking away from the enjoyment of the food. That said, I find most banana breads, even homemade ones, too damn sweet and they stick to the roof of your mouth like bad pancakes. So, I have played with multiple banana bread recipes, given to me over the years. The recipe below is loved by my whole family.

This banana bread is moist, seedy (and a little nutty), and a true comfort food. It’s lightly sweet, has a pleasant crumb, and is full of nutrients. It is not lowfat, but the fats it contains are the good kind, so you can enjoy it (very happily) in moderation at any time of day.

My Banana Seed Bread. Mine. But I share.

(Makes one large loaf – I usually make it in a standard bundt pan.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I know. You usually ignore this step, don’t you? Well, stop it. Turn the flippin’ oven on so we can get baking. It’s okay. I’ll wait…

Now. Grease your pan generously, then sprinkle some of the chopped nuts and pumpkin seeds in the bottom. Those will sit like lovely decor upon the top when you flip it out, like a pro. Done? O good. Set that aside, love. Let’s mix.

Dry Ingredients:

1 c. whole grain white flour, or All-Purpose, if you’d like
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds, aka “pepitas”
1 T. chia seeds
1/2 T. poppy seeds
1/2 c. rolled oats (whole)
1 c. chopped nuts (your choice) – if you’re fancy, toast them a wee bit first.
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon, to taste
dash of nutmeg
If you have kids, they love to add chocolate chips, don’t they? Or blueberries. I leave that entirely up to you. Add them here, in with the dry stuff.

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl and set aside.

Now for the gooey bits.

Gooey bits:

- 2 mashed bananas, ripe as hell, if you please.
– 1 c. raw sugar OR 1/2-2/3 c. honey or grade B maple syrup (I use 1/2 c. honey. You may like it sweeter. Up to you.)
– 3 T. grapeseed oil or coconut oil. Light olive oil is also great.
– 1 tsp. real vanilla extract PLUS 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste. Or whatever.
– 2 lg. eggs, or 3 regular dinky eggs
– 3/4 c. buttermilk

I’ve been baking and cooking my whole life, practically. So I generally know when something needs a little more liquid or a little more dry … I don’t want to hold your hand here, so I’m just going to say that the larger your bananas, eggs, etc. the goopier it will be.  Goopy is a technical term, but let’s just assume you know that if it seems too runny, it probably is. Add some more flour or oats. But try it out exactly as above first, so you have a baseline for your preferences. This should be thick and lumpy. It’s a quickbread, not a cake. You’re going to have to forgive the blemishes. Nuts, you know. Can’t do a thing with them, the lumpy little bastards.

Bake for a half an hour, checking up on it after 25 minutes and every five minutes or so thereafter. It will be firm all around, golden and slightly cracky, most like. Once it’s done, let it cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Let it cool thoroughly before you cut into it, you heathen.

Or don’t.

Because – WHO DOES THAT???!!

Enjoy, banana britches. Just don’t say I never gave you anything.

~m

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Motherly Brag

Just a quick indulgent moment here:

Attention! If you please!

My daughter, Jackson,

Image

has been cast in a Shakespeare review play, “Women of Will” as Ophelia, for her drama club.

BUT, WAIT! There’s more!

She has just found out that she has been cast in the role of Audrey in the full-scale musical production of Little Shop of Horrors for her high school musical theater club.

I am so proud of her!

~m

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