Feminist Lunch

I had the nicest lunch today. I’m starting to think that I should just let everyone take me to lunch all the time. We could sit around and talk about whatever interested us and try to solve the world’s problems.

It’d be like blogging, but in person and less effective, since it’d just be one person at a time. Still, this human interaction thing, done face to face might just lead to something interesting.

Anyway, the person I was with is a liberal do-gooder in the medical field and I am a liberal do-gooder in the yakkity-smackity field, and so it’s fun to get together with someone who shares your sympathies but knows much about things you know little about.

But something that stunned me is that, since we were talking about health care, of course we were talking about issues with providing health care to women and I was casually mentioning things that feminist bloggers talk about all the time–

  • the importance of easy access to the morning after pill, especially for rape victims
  • the disconnect between being anti-abortion and pro-abstinence only education
  • the fucked-up-ed-ness of the kind of discourse that seems to frame pregnancy as the just punishment for sluts, even though such a framework, seems, at its core to posit children only as a heavy and uniquely unpleasant burden, and how damaging such a framework is to said children as well as women
  • the bizarre notion that life begins at conception, even though many a body discards many a fertilized egg without women even being aware of it, as if philosophy can somehow trump physical facts if you shout it loud enough
  • etc.

–and my lunch companion kept saying things like “That’s right, but I hadn’t heard it articulated like that before.’

Now, I’d like to think that I’m just some articulating genius, but I actually think that this points to a larger problem among feminists–and in larger society–we are too specialized.

Within our own little groups, we are well-versed in all of the issues, but we don’t quite know how to hear (or even where to listen) to groups outside of our immediate realm of knowledge.

And yet, things like healthcare affect us all and it’s virtually impossible to live one’s life in a way that avoids all healthcare professionals, so it becomes increasingly important that women be able to receive the kinds of healthcare they need from people who are tuned into their right to get it.

So, how do we tune each other in? How can an artsy fartsy feminist converse with a healthcare professional passionate about women’s health issues?

I think this–careful reading, writing, and considering–is one important way.

But I’ve also been thinking about why it is that women’s healthcare decisions are up for discussion anyway. Part of it is, of course, because we can give birth–between our legs the unfolding of eternity or some such shit–and people tend to talk about miracles, but I think that part of it is also that guy at the bar syndrome.

I think that there’s a large segment of the population, both male and female, that cannot wrap their heads around the idea that there are a lot of things that, though they may have an opinion about it, they don’t get a say in it. Just because you see that there is a woman struggling with a decision, it doesn’t mean that you get to jump in and take over and move her to a place you’re more comfortable with.

Everyone ought to have a right to her own autonomy, including her own bodily autonomy. It’s weird and disturbing to me that, when it comes to medical decisions, women don’t. Everything we do with our bodies is given such preposterous moral weight that our whole society feels an imperative to step in and make our decisions for us. It’s very yucky.

In order to be recognized as fully human adults, we have to be able to make decisions that are unpopular. We have to be able to do things you disagree with. We even have to be able to do things your god disagrees with.

(Bitch says it better than me.)

The Worst Thing My Dad Ever Said to Me

Often, I find that when I write something down, it ceases to be painful and starts to be funny. This morning, as I was thinking about how to formulate this, I actually started laughing. Partially, this has to do with me remembering how I was knocking back three Tom Collinses in a very short amount of time and starting to tell Jon about my “inheritance,” but mostly, it just had to do with the ridiculous ways my family fucks each other up.

So, the worst thing my dad ever said to me was “B., you know that you’re the oldest, but Recalcitrant Brother is the oldest son and that is the most important position in the family. It even goes back to the Bible.”

. . .

Let’s go on to the “inheritance.”

None of my dad’s brothers have lived to be sixty. When it became apparent that he was going to make it, he and my mom decided to update their will. I’m sure my uncle B. appreciates this, as the previous will specified that we would have to go live with him in the event of our parents’ deaths, and who wants a bunch of grown-ass children coming to live with him?

So, they updated their will. The recalcitrant brother pulled me aside shortly after this and said, “You know, they left everything to you.” I think he was really pissed off.

But, America, my parents have NOTHING. No, they have worse than nothing. They have approximately 150 Precious Moments statues. And that’s it.

They’ve been poor preachers their whole lives. What little money they had set aside has gone to continually bailing my brothers out of jail or me out of financial crises. They don’t even own a house.

All they have are these creepy little statues with their big eyes and applicable Bible verses. I was telling Jon, I can’t decide if I’m going to eBay those scary little fuckers or throw them all off the top of the Terrace Place parking garage.

. . .

Anyway, I don’t really know the specifics of the vast amounts of nothing I’ve been left, because, although it seems my parents went through the will with the recalcitrant brother, they did not go through it with me.

They handed me a manila envelope, I slid it into the outside pocket of my suitcase, and there it sits, unopened, all this time later.

. . .

I can’t think of anything pithy to wrap this post up with. Still, it’s funny and sad how we’re so ordinary and yet think we’re so important.

It reminds me of when my cousin J. came to visit and he said, “Our family is like the Bible. All these epic things happen to us.” And I couldn’t decide if he realized how ridiculous that was, but I couldn’t refute him, because Sweet Jesus, it’s obvious everyone in my family believes that!

Religion Roadie

The Butcher is up to something this month, which involves him actually having to go to class every Tuesday and learning how to work a television camera.

Tonight he came home and reported that he had been accused of “knowing what he was doing” because he knew how to roll cords.

“No,” he said, “My dad is a minister, and I just get roped into this kind of stuff.”

To which someone replied, “Oh, a religion roadie.”