Posts Tagged think of the children

When hate-reading becomes pity-reading.

If you want to see the Bizarro-world rantings of someone who is both wrong about everything and incredibly pitiable, check out this fresh load of nonsense that Deacon Duncan found us at LifeSite News.

If that’s their definition of “life,” I think I’ll stay out here and wallow in depravity and nihilism.

I’m busy NaNo-ing. I’ve had a good day.

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On the Tragedy of Deaths of People Who Never Lived

John Scalzi gave us this rather disturbing post, which highlights all the ways in which the GOP’s current legislation around reproductive rights, and their rhetoric about rape, empowers violent men to control women’s lives. Think Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Roger Rivard, and most recently, Richard Mourdock. If you have experienced any level of sexual assault, I advise you to proceed with EXTREME CAUTION. It’s a very effective post, but for the same reason can be triggering.

I don’t really have anything to add to Scalzi’s analysis. If you think that it would be so much nicer if all those women who are made pregnant by rapists could just have the babies adopted, rather than terminate the pregnancies, I suggest you read the post. Think adoption makes everyone happy? Seriously: read the post.

Scalzi’s focus is on the relationship between sexual violence and reproductive freedom (or the lack thereof), rather than a comprehensive argument in favor of abortion rights, and the comments are mostly very pro-choice and pro-woman. There are some comments, however, that want to convince us of why Abortion = BAD. I want to show you one of them, and I want to respond to it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Attention-span issues are not just our imaginations.

Zinnia Jones has a great new post up about her son’s struggles with ADHD:

We waited for as long as possible before looking into medication for our son. We explored every other option that was available to us. He had a specialized plan at school and extra tutoring, and he still does. We worked closely with him every day to help him understand his work, and we gave him extra practice in every subject. And it wasn’t enough.

The moral of the story is that sometimes, counseling, special attention and structure get the job done, but sometimes, you need DRUGS.

I was born in 1980. When I was a kid, ADD/ADHD were not really part of the cultural discourse the way they are now. We children joked about how some kids were “hyper,” but we didn’t recognize it as a brain issue that could be addressed with medication. The idea of attention span issues without hyperactivity never crossed our minds, because the adults around us never brought it up, either. I didn’t even know ADHD was a thing until I was at least 16, and where I first learned about it, I am not joking, was in an X-Men fanfic. By then I was an excellent student, but this fanfic writer was telling me things about learning and behavioral issues that I wasn’t getting from my teachers. I wasn’t aware of ADD (inattentive, rather than hyperactive) until I was closer to 20, but by then, it was more of something that people actually talked about.

I wasn’t nearly as badly off as Zinnia and Heather’s son; for example, I responded well to tutoring and subsequently became an excellent reader, and I didn’t have behavior problems. While hyperactive kids can’t sit still, I was too good at sitting still. I was a chronically daydream-laden space cadet for most of my childhood. (Imagine that: a little girl who was always daydreaming grew up to be a novelist.) I wasn’t labeled with attention deficiency, or inattentiveness. I was called lazy, unmotivated, with lousy work habits.

It’s awfully difficult to stay motivated when focusing on simple tasks requires heroic effort.

I know some people around my age who were actually diagnosed and medicated for attention deficiency issues when they were kids, but since I sat nicely in my seat and did well on tests, my teachers never considered that maybe I found it difficult to focus in ways that most children didn’t.

By my teenage years, I learned how to do a good impression of a focused student, and in my early adulthood, I started thinking that ADD would explain a lot about me. By then, however, I’d finished college at 21 and was living like a responsible, tax-paying adult. It didn’t seem that a diagnosis or medication would help me accomplish anything at that point.

However, when I get depressed, my attention deficit symptoms get especially bad. When I am both inattentive and depressed, I have difficulties that affect the people around me. Sometimes those difficulties accumulate over time and eventually come to a head.

I just turned 32, and I still don’t know how I’d function on ADD meds, but I’m taking an anti-depressant that makes me more alert, so it helps somewhat with the attention issues. When it became obvious that Something Was Definitely Wrong With Me, I didn’t go straight for the meds. I saw a counselor, I tried drinking less, I tried eating healthier, I tried going to bed earlier, and you know what happened? Eating healthy food is a good thing, but it didn’t make me feel happier or more focused. Drinking less, also, made no difference. Sometimes I drink plenty and feel shitty, sometimes I drink very little and feel great, but sometimes I drink very little or not at all and still feel like crap, and sometimes I drink plenty and feel awesome the next day. Seeing the counselor helped some, but she also pointed out that it was almost certain that I had ADD, and she urged me to think very seriously about taking meds.

That much should tell us something: a social worker, who is involved in providing mental health services of a non-pharmacological nature, noticed that my difficulties were in the attention-span area, and advised me to consider medication.

When I visited the doctor’s office for an assessment of my brain-chemistry issues, the nurse practitioner put me on an anti-depressant first. Since I’ve experienced the side effects of beginning the anti-depressant, I can see why starting more than one psychotropic drug at a time would be inadvisable. (In case anyone’s wondering: the side effects were not dangerous, but they made me feel like I was about to develop super-powers that I’d be unable to control. Any further tinkering with my brain chemistry would have been a bad idea.) She also ordered some blood work in case I had any nutritional deficiencies that affected my mood, and so far I haven’t heard back about the blood work, but the medication makes me feel better. It’s not a magic bullet, but it definitely helps. Adjusting my diet, drinking habits and sleep habits didn’t help. The medication is the first thing to have a noticeable effect.

So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted Sunday Storytime in several weeks, the answer is very prosaic: I’ve been depressed for months, and so I’ve found it extraordinarily difficult to write anything. I feel somewhat better now, and I’ve written more recently, so things are looking up. Moreover, they’re not looking up because I’m eating more vegetables or abstaining from refined sugar. I’m feeling better because of DRUGS.

 

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Mom-blaming only goes so far.

This is cute. Doug Barry at Jezebel reports on some article at the Telegraph (aka Torygraph) about some study that says children pick up their drinking habits from their mothers, not their fathers:

A British think tank called Demos tracked the drinking patterns of 18,000 people over the last three decades, finding that, at about 16, those more precocious drinkers were most influenced by their peers, while at 34, their propensity to “binge drink” correlated to how much they had thought, as a young-un, that their mother drank. Researchers found that for each step on the four-point scale of booziness that mothers ascended, their children’s drinking rose about 1.3 times above government recommendations. Fathers, meantime, had no such effect on their kids’ adulthood drinking habits

Now, granted, the study subjects were all born ten years before I was, and America is not Britain, but then again Britain is our mother country and we’re not all that different in culture. I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes, the children’s drinking habits have nothing to do with the example they learned from their mother and everything to do with their own depravity. Sometimes, the mother is a near-teetotaler for most of the children’s youth, and the children know it, and they still grow up to fill their Recycling bins with beer bottles. Some children learn things without any help from their moms, such as: it’s fun to get hammered.

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Congressman from Maryland is letting words out of his mouth.

It’s Labor Day weekend, and where I live, that is a big deal, and the big deal takes up a lot of space and makes a lot of noise, so I’m kind of hiding in my apartment for most of the weekend to avoid the crowds who take up the sidewalks and the random motorists who don’t know how to get to the mall. Right? Right. Meanwhile, Representative Roscoe Bartlett, from my very own state of Maryland, is not thinking very clearly about the way he answers questions regarding abortion rights:

“Oh, life of the mother – exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out,” he said. “If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage.” …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage,” Bartlett said. [...]

“Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? They just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice,” Bartlett said.

I think that a pregnant woman who “just [doesn't] want to have a baby!” has a very good reason to have an abortion. I want babies to be welcome family members to invested, enthusiastically consenting mommies and their partners.* If a woman gets pregnant accidentally and simply doesn’t want the child, she is not a moral failure for getting an abortion. The fewer women who have babies just because they forgot their birth control, the higher percentage of children born to parents who actually want to have children, and therefore put a bit of thought and effort into taking care of them, the fewer children who are neglected or abused. In this regard, abortion is not a tragedy, much less is it a crime. Abortion prevents tragedy. It is much easier to say to new parents, “You have a baby, now take care of it” if they actively decided to bring that child into existence.

The second “reason” is just bunk. Sex-selection is not a major problem in America. Where sex-selection is an issue, it’s in cultures that value boys more than girls, and where girls’ lives are, let’s face it, kind of shitty. Where pregnant women don’t have the option of aborting female embryos, their daughters are up against infant exposure, abandonment, malnutrition and medical neglect. This is a much bigger problem than what their mothers want. It’s also about their fathers and grandparents, as well as the other families around them. People like Roscoe Bartlett seem to think that a society will somehow become less misogynistic if women are told that their lives have no value except for making ALL THE BABIES. People like me seem to think that if a culture views daughters as equally valuable children as sons, then terminating pregnancies just to avoid having girls will no longer be an issue. With that in mind, we seem to think that if those daughters are allowed to decide what to do with their grown-up lives, including how many children to have (if any), that will do a lot more for women’s place in society than just forcing women to give birth to daughters when their in-laws are violently determined to have grandsons.

His final sentence is just nonsense. “Opposed to abortion who are pro-choice”? No. You’re making shit up. You’re just opening your mouth and letting noise come out. If abortion is not an option, there is no such thing as pro-choice.

*And gay daddies. I think fertile young women should not be coerced into continuing their unwanted pregnancies for the benefit of any couple in want of a child. But if a woman decides to make a baby for a gay couple, or any infertile couple that wants a baby, that’s awesome. What’s important is that babies have families that really want them.

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Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about everything.

Congressman, who exactly are these “doctors” who’ve been telling you about reproductive biology? They should not be licensed.

“People always try to make that one of those things, ‘Oh, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question,” Akin said. “It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that’s really where—if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Rep. Akin has been told by some nondescript set of “doctors” that the female body has mechanisms that prevent establishment of pregnancy in the event of a “legitimate” rape. The implication, therefore, is that if a woman is pregnant, then she couldn’t have been truly raped. She must have wanted it.

In which case, the question of abortion rights for women who were impregnated through rape is null and void, because there is no pregnancy from “real” acts of rape.

However, just in case he’s wrong, he hedges,

“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Congressman, we do not have to agree to your choice of words. The “child” in question is in fact an embryo or fetus, usually aborted sooner rather than later. No one suggests that an abortion is a way of “punishing” the embryo/fetus, either; it’s about letting the woman get on with her life.

Finally, the suggestion that the rapist should be punished is a big fat NO SHIT. No one suggests that abortion should be used as a substitute for prosecuting and penalizing rapists. There’s no reason why a woman can’t get an abortion while the court system prosecutes the man who forced his sperm into her. This isn’t an either/or. Most pro-choice advocates tend to think that if a woman reports a rape, and she turns up pregnant, the rapist should be prosecuted even if the woman decides to have the baby. The police and court’s actions on the rapists are a totally separate issue from the woman’s reproductive decisions.

And what else does Mr. Akin have to say?

Yet Akin, who was just nominated earlier this month, has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Since his nomination, he’s advocated a complete ban on the morning after pill, and called for an end to the federal school lunch program. He also infamously said student loans had given America, “stage three cancer of socialism.

He wants us to be forced to make babies, but there should be no assistance in seeing that those children are fed. A post-secondary education is reserved only for those who can pay for it out of pocket. In all fairness, though, if we cut off school lunches, then the kids who are currently eligible for the lunch program will spend their school days feeling so miserable and unfocused that they won’t be able to learn anything, so they won’t even think about applying for college.

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Concerned Women for America hate women in America. Hate ‘em.

Ever notice how pretty much every advocacy organization in this country which includes the word “family” in its name is focused on misogyny, homophobia and racism? If we see it in the plural form, then it might be okay, such as “healthy families” or “women and families,” but in singular, it’s nearly always bad news. Groups like Family Research Council are full of terrible proposals for women and children, and they keep repeating this word “family” to make horribleness sound nice.

The House GOP just passed a reauthorization of VAWA with all the good new stuff taken out.

In past years, VAWA enjoyed bipartisan support and garnered little controversy. This time around, however, top Religious Right groups have rallied against the bill due to the protections it would extend to immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of domestic abuse. These groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, and the Southern Baptist Convention’sEthics and Religious Liberty Commission, made noise on Capitol Hill and are most directly responsible for the events that will unfold in the House today.

And…what do these people have to say? Concerned Women for America took the lead in writing to Senators:

We, the undersigned, representing millions of Americans nationwide, are writing today to oppose the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This nice-sounding bill is deceitful because it destroys the family by obscuring real violence in order to promote the feminist agenda. […]
There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children. However, the programs promoted in VAWA are harmful for families. VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence.
Further, this legislation continues to use overly broad definitions of domestic violence. These broad definitions actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims. Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus.

They use “family” to mean that it’s better for children to grow up watching Daddy beat Mommy to a pulp (and possibly put her in an early grave) than to help Mommy take the kids and get away from Daddy. Such situations often also involve violence on children, but I suppose it would be so much worse for children to grow up without their fathers:

In 1998, Johnson was arrested by the Perrysburg Police, again on domestic violence charges. According to the police report, Johnson provided a “very similar” account of the incident to that his wife Ofelia and 14-year-old son gave police. Both wife and son reported that Johnson had Ofelia Felix-Johnson in a wrist lock, and when the son attempted to stop Johnson from hurting his mother, Johnson put the son in a head lock such that he was “unable to breathe and was choking up food,” according to the police report. After the son broke free, the police report continues, Johnson “put his right hand around [the boy's] throat and pushed [him] against the wall with his back to the wall and choked [the boy] for about 5 seconds.”

Timothy Johnson is one of the people who signed the letter opposing the Senate’s version of VAWA. Yes, I’m sure a convicted wife-batterer and child-batterer would know all about the demise of families.

In a sane world, a phrase like “family values” would bring up a commitment to caring for your kids, loving your partner, being there for your siblings and taking care of your elderly parents and grandparents. In public policy discussions, “family values” should refer to policies that empower people to build and maintain healthy family relations, but there is no room for battering in a healthy family. Part of caring for your kids is not beating up their other parent. Part of caring for your kids is also raising them in an environment in which you, and they, are not subjected to violence.

To say it “destroys the family” to empower battered women to leave their abusers assumes that a family no longer exists if the husband and father is no longer in it. It assumes that upholding a man’s relationship to his wife and children—even if the relationship is a toxic one—is more important than allowing women and children to live without battering. If that’s what “family” means, then, fuck it: I’m promoting the Feminist Agenda. Concerned Women for America can go concern themselves right off a short pier.

 

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Amazingly enough, not all teenagers are horrible people.

It would have been so nice to go the rest of my life without talking about Mitt Romney, but something is bugging me and I need to get it off my chest.

You may have heard that this happened, and Mittens is unsurprisingly having to deal with a lot of bad press. At first I wanted to make some keen insight into how his teenage assholery relates to his current persona as a stiff, awkward, emotion-deficient robot, but no, what’s really getting under my skin at the moment is all these Internet commenters saying things to the effect of, “Oh, what does it matter if he bullied some kid in high school? We all know he’s an asshole anyway, so who cares?” Even worse are the ones saying, “Everyone’s an asshole in high school.”

Gee, how do I answer this? How about:

NO.

Holding another kid down on the floor and going at him with a pair of scissors is not some trivial, “We all do stupid shit when we’re young” fit of adolescent indiscretion. What Romney did to the late John Lauber was an act of violence, and a terrifying one at that. I’m willing to discuss the culture at the place and time, and how Romney didn’t get to be that way all by himself, but if you think Romney’s behavior was just typical teenage-boy bullshit, then you must have run with a really bad crowd. I never did shit like that in high school (though I suppose the expectations are different for girls?), my brother didn’t act like that, and I had a whole lot of guy friends and classmates who, amazingly enough, managed to get through their high school years without acting like bullies. Anti-social behavior is not inevitable simply because a guy is between the ages of 13 and 20, and when a grown man is called out for having attacked another boy at his prep school, he should show some remorse. He should, at the very least, admit that what he did was shitty and that he’s not proud of it. Such a resounding lack of acknowledgment is especially terrifying in a man who has raised five sons.

Free us from the tyranny of low expectations.

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Pastor Sean Harris is a horrible person who hates humanity.

Sometimes, they just let it all out for everyone to see:

Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? “You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

The rules for girls are a bit more flexible, and yet somehow, even more fucked up:

And when your daughter starts acting too butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”

How do I put this?

This man hates people. He hates boys, he hates girls, he hates LGBTs, he hates straight people who don’t perfectly tow the gender line.

How do I come to that conclusion?

Because Pastor Harris’s diatribe is not affecting only gay people, or only children who belong to sexual minorities. If it did affect only those groups of people, that shouldn’t make it more acceptable, but to the extent that his congregants follow his advice, he is not encouraging abuse of JUST those kids who are growing up gay. He is encouraging abuse of ALL children. He is telling parents to berate, control and assault their children as soon as they deviate from gender norms, and you know what? We all do that. We all fail to meet our gender’s standards in some ways, because gender norms are socially constructed, subject to change, and arbitrary. All children will here and there do something that doesn’t exactly follow the rules of the gender marked on their birth certificate.

And here’s Pastor Sean Harris, instructing the parents in his congregation to beat their kids into behaving like socially approved, heterosexist boys and girls. He hates gay and lesbian children, he hates straight children, and he hates the adults they will grow up to be. Shame on him for parading his hatred from his pulpit, and shame on all those people who sit in those pews, laugh and nod along with his sermons, and pay his salary. They are all part of the problem.

(And it needs to be said: these same people almost inevitably believe that gay and lesbian couples are unfit to raise children. The irony is terrifying. Kill it, Mommies! Kill it with fire!)

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ALL THE BABIES

Heh heh.

While the “every sperm is sacred” amendment is clever, I would like to propose something that can actually be enforced, and which would give the legislators in question a chance to put their love of children into practice. It would be an answer to this question here:

Between the years of 1907 and 2008, only 77 women have been elected to the Oklahoma state legislature, and currently less than 20 is serving out of a total 149. But who better to pass laws about women’s bodies than a group of men who will never have to worry about the consequences of their religious zealotry?

Who says they won’t have to worry about the consequences of their religious zealotry?

The next time a state legislature is frothing up one of these “defeat the scourge of women who are not perennially pregnant” bills, let’s attach an amendment that creates the following conditions:

1. The state will allow for Safe Haven dropoffs of infants up to 30 days. The state will similarly provide special shelters for homeless pregnant women and girls.

2. The state will release to the public the home addresses of all the state lawmakers who voted Yes on the bill.

3. All of those lawmakers’ homes will be considered Safe Haven zones for unwanted newborns AND special shelters for pregnant women and girls facing parental rejection, domestic violence and extreme poverty. Those homes will be held legally responsible for the safe placement of all newborns left at their doors and for the provision of shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from violent partners for all pregnant females seeking assistance.

You think babies are so awesome that women should be legally forced to gestate and birth indefinitely? They’ll be coming (both the women and the babies) to your doorstep. Have plenty of beds ready.

 

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