One fine day not so long ago, our beloved youngest daughter was standing next to her daddy looking at some baby pictures while he fixed some issue or other on my computer. Spock then mentioned, casually yet in a matter of fact voice, “Babies don’t have legs.” Sweet Babou said, “What?!?” Spock gave him a look indicating that he was either unintelligent, deaf, or both. She repeated herself, even more clearly and a little slower for her idiot parent, “Babies. Don’t. Have. Legs.”

She did not appreciate Sweet Babou’s resultant mirth.

It turns out that in every single picture of a baby below the age of 9 months that I’ve got in my house,  the infant is either swaddled into a peapod shape or shown only above the waist. Spock, having learned about the tadpole –> frog transformation from the Wild Kratts, made the logical assumption that human babies did the same thing. After all, when wrapped in a blanket a newborn does have that tapered tadpole look. Spock only sees legs on older babies. QED, babies are born without legs and grew them over a span of a few months. Like a frog.

It’s really well reasoned and logical, when you look at the facts at her disposal.

She was skeptical that we were telling her the truth of the matter until we showed her newborn pictures with legs. She wanted some real evidence before she would commit to a worldview alteration. She didn’t want our anecdotal baloney.  Pictures or it didn’t happen.

That’s my Spock.

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., life as I know it, motherhood | 8 Comments

I have a Tween

This weekend was Lilo’s 9th birthday. Oddly enough, it was her first birthday just a few weeks ago so I am not sure how this has happened. Perhaps it is some sort of Star Trek holodeck switcheroo determined to convince me my baby is in her final year of single digits?

The first thing Lilo said to me upon opening her eyes Saturday was, “Good morning, Mommy. I’m a tween.”

She is crap-her-pants excited about being a tween, y’all. It is just a step below teenagers in the hierarchy of kid coolness. She wants to wear what teens wear (some of the items teens wear today will go on her body when mine is cold and going green) and do her hair like teens do and all that jazz.

I remember that age. I wanted to be thought of as not-a-little-kid so badly. I would shriek at my mom, “Why can’t I do [insert stupid/inappropriate thing here]? I’m a not baby!” I was livid when my parents would treat me like the child I was; by gum I was old enough to make my own decisions.

Har. I was a fetus and didn’t know it.

It’s not too bad with Lilo yet. The stomping to her room is minimal. The hissy fits are moderate in number. The drama, however, if at maximum. Seriously, her drama cannon is set on boom.

There has never been much medium with Lilo in the first place. Since birth, she has gone to eleven. Nowadays, she just has an expanded vocabulary to go with it. The longer the word, the more emphasis she puts on it.

Thus, Lilo isn’t just hungry anymore; she is starving and/or dying of hunger.  She isn’t tired; she is exhausted and soooooooooo weary. It is either the best day of her life or the worst day of her life at any moment, sometimes both in a single hour. If her shoe comes untied she will cry out in a voice of woe, “Why do these things always happen to me??” If she is reprimanded she bursts into tears and wails that she is the most horrible person to have ever lived and we should give her away.

She is simultaneously the sweetest kid on earth. Someone could give her a box of dirt as a gift and she would squee melodically and fervently about it … and mean every word of joy. She helps her little sisters draw. She plays with them and doesn’t boss or bully the way other eldest sisters have done. Lilo comes up to people and gives them spontaneous hugs of true affection. She cries because there are children in the world who need food and are in poverty but she cannot help them all. She is already planning her wedding, and when I (as a good feminist) point out that marriage is not the only reason for existence she looks at me earnestly and says, “I believe in True Love and I need to be ready for it.”

She also told her Aunt Beatrice that the reason we don’t make tacos for her very often is because we are cruel. She looked her aunt deeply in the eyes and deadpanned, “Really. You have no idea how I suffer.” Then she burst out laughing at her own joke.

I don’t were she gets it. Must be from her father’s side.

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., life as I know it, motherhood | 2 Comments

Intersecting Jeopardy

A homeless woman from Scottsdale, Arizona named Shanesha Taylor lost her kids to Child Protective Services because she was desperate to get a job she had been offered.  Seriously. When Shanesha Taylor:

“got asked to come in for a job interview last Thursday, she must have been excited by the prospect. But when you’re homeless, there isn’t always an easy way to take an hour off from watching your kids to be at an interview. That’s how Taylor, 35, wound up losing her children to Child Protective Service — and losing out on the potential job. Taylor was charged with two felony counts of child abuse for leaving her six-month-old and two-year-old in a car with the windows cracked last Thursday for at least 45 minutes as she sat in an interview for a potential job.”

Was she wrong to leave the kids in the car? Yes. Was the bystander who saw them right to call the cops? Yes. Were the cops and CPS a bunch of heartless taint-maggots for not looking at context and cutting this woman some slack? Yes. Were the potential employers who didn’t hire her a pack of asshats for not giving her the job on the spot since she was clearly MOTIVATED to be the hardest working employee they ever had? Hell, yes.

My heart breaks for her.

homeless mom job

Why didn’t she get someone to watch her kids instead of leaving them in the car? Aren’t there programs to watch kids in these kinds of situations? Har. Even without the massive budget cuts there would be a waiting list a mile long and only a narrow window to interview for the job. This poor woman was doing the best she could, trying so hard to get a job and not be a “taker”, but no one would cut her even an iota of slack.

When third wave feminists talk about “intersections”, this is what we mean. Shanesha Taylor got screwed over as a woman, as a black person, and as a homeless person. She was caught, God help her because America sure won’t, at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, wealth, and power. She was the “wrong” gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic level to get any mercy from the patriarchy. She was screwed 6 ways to Sunday. Thus, a bunch of twatwaffles ripped her babies from her arms, like she wasn’t a “real” mother who loved them, and took them away because she was as disenfranchised as she could get.

Gee, when has this happened to black women with no power before?

Jesus wept.

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Feminism, motherhood, racism, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | 2 Comments

Votes for Women!

A couple of days ago it was Gloria Steinem’s birthday. She turned 80 and there was much blogging about it. I, being a rebel, decided to wait a couple of days before throwing in my two cents.

Gloria Steinem was born on March 25, 1934. Women had only had the right to vote for 14 years when she entered the world. There was STILL a shitload of stuff women weren’t allowed to do because they lacked a penis. Gloria noticed this as she grew up, and she didn’t like it. Not one little bit.

Therefore, Gloria became a feminist. A serious, kick-ass, in your face feminist. She wanted equality and by gum she was going to fight for it. Among other things, she started the feminist periodical Ms. Magazine in 1972, the year Fokker happened to come squalling out of the birth canal. That was 42 years ago but it’s not exactly a distant epoch, right?

By the time I was grown, Gloria Steinem and the second wave feminists like her had changed the world for women like me. For that, we owe them a debt of gratitude that is too seldom expressed.

When I was born in 1972, women (even nice, respectable married ladies teaching elementary school) could be fired for getting pregnant. A man could rape his wife with no legal consequences. Women had no redress if they were sexually harassed at work. Women couldn’t own a credit card or get credit in their own name. Before she was married, my mom had to have her Dad co-sign for her just so she could open a checking account at the bank.

My mom also wasn’t allowed to wear pants at her first job. It wasn’t until 1972, when Title IX was passed, that women couldn’t be required to wear dresses or skirts. Since the amendment wasn’t passed until June of that year and I was born in February, I can honestly tell my daughters that women weren’t always allowed to wear pants when mommy was a little girl.

Although “legal abortions were already available in 17 states under a range of circumstances beyond those necessary to save a woman’s life”, abortion was still illegal on a national level and women were still dying from illegal terminations. In “1965, the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200, but illegal abortion still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year. And these are just the number that were officially reported; the actual number was likely much higher.”

Oh, and don’t forget that women were literally being drugged so they wouldn’t resist their second class status. Valium, AKA “Mother’s Little Helper”, was prescribed to women willy-nilly and ingested like tic-tacs, meaning that it was used for “anaesthetizing a generation of British [and American] housewives’ in the 1960s and 70s”.

Honestly, I really didn’t “notice” much beyond the playground and school until the 80s. If you want to see some better perspectives of life prior to a strong feminist movement, check out some first person accounts. As for me, I was never told there was a job I “couldn’t” do as a chick, but I was certainly taught to fear being accused of feminism. I grew up in the great feminist backlash of the 1980s and it didn’t even occur to me feminist weren’t evil man-haters until I started college in 1990. I became a third wave feminist. Nowadays, I throw a fit about the current War On Women that is the new resurgence of backlash. Since fear of women’s sexual and financial autonomy drives the backlash, birth control is once again The Enemy according to anti-feminists. The patriarchy hates it when women chose when and with whom to have sex and don’t “pay” for it with an unintended pregnancy that they are forced to carry to term.

The three female high court judges are doing their damnedest to save the birth control mandate that requires insurers to cover women’s contraceptives, but it looks like the Old Dudes Who Never Had To Worry About it will stab Lady Justice in the back and make sure she can’t use an IUD. Maybe we can all keep an aspirin in between our knees?

I bet Gloria Steinem cannot believe she is STILL having to fight this shit.

Posted in Feminism | 2 Comments

Bread Spread?

Oh, joy.

I just got a call from Honda. My minivan’s “check engine” light was not indicating a minor something. It was indicating a major something. Namely my CO2 sensor and catalytic converter have both gone to live with Jesus. The cost, for parts and labor, will be about one thousand smackaroos. That is more clams than I would like to produce from my particular estuary.

Again with the oh, joy.

The repairs coincide, OF COURSE, with Lilo’s 9th birthday. Also with the deposit for house repairs that are happening this summer, because why not. Did I mention the water that is leaking behind the wood trim of our house and the caulking that must be done? Or the leak around the skylight? Yeah. Fun times.

On the plus side, those are all things and materialistic shit is something that can be dealt with, so I have much more to be grateful for than pouty about.

Nevertheless, I would appreciate it if y’all would help out by pimping my books & blog subscription. If you would be so kind as to share the good word about Betty Fokker: Feminism, Fat, and Fokking, my blog subscription, and Sylvia Ketrie’s Tempted By Infamy then The Fokker would be mightily thankful and would rain down her Papal blessings upon you like confetti.

Hmmmm … if you are disseminating information as a form of fundraising, is this a bread spread?

That reminds me, while I am on the subject of books and pleading on my knees anyway – can y’all show the love via a review or two? There are no Amazon reviews for my Fokker Book whatsoever, and only one for the blog. Sylvia has 4 (all of which I am profoundly happy about) but more is better when it comes to reviews. Unless you hate my writing. Please feel free to keep that between you and me.

Now, I’m off to pour some amaretto in my milk. 

Posted in life as I know it | 1 Comment

WTF Mississippi??

Seriously, there are days I wonder about Mississippi … the days ending in the letter “y”. If it weren’t for the fact The Sweet Potato Queens were from there, I’d be willing to write the whole place off. Which reminds me. Y’all want this book: Fat is the New 30 by the Boss Queen of the Sweet Potato Queens, Jill Connor Brown.

Anyway, Mississippi is all set to execute Michelle Byrom for the murder of her abusive husband. Now, even if she had shot the SOB I would argue mitigating circumstances, since he beat her and forced her to have sex with other men while he watched. Plus, Michelle Byrom had already be abused and forced into prostitution by her step-father as a teen, which is why she ran away from home and married Edward Byrom, Sr. in the first place. However, the part that leaves me gobsmacked is that:

“as multiple media outlets,including The Atlantic, have pointed out , is the jury was never presented key pieces of evidence that may prove her innocence. One major piece of evidence are letters written by her son Edward Byrom Jr., in which he confesses to the crime. The full letter can be viewed here … Byrom Jr., Michelle Byrom and Joey Gillis, the friend who prosecutors say was hired for the murder, were all arrested as part of a conspiracy. Byrom Jr. testified against his mother, in exchange for a reduced sentence after he was arrested as part of the conspiracy to the kill his father. He is now free (on a supervised release). Gillis was released from prison in 2009. Byrom Jr. was the only person who tested positive for gunpowder out of the three arrested for the conspiracy. In addition to the omission of Byrom Jr.’s confession letters, defense attorney’s also never presented evidence about Michelle Byrom’s long history of abuse and mental illness.”

Jesus wept. There is so much reasonable doubt here I could use it to fill a ball pit and frolic in it. Not to mention her defense team is made up of attorneys suffering from brain damage, since “Believing she would not be convicted, her attorneys opted not to present any mitigating evidence, including the abuse she sustained as a child or the abuse Byrom Jr. endured … Michelle Byrom’s attorneys waived her right to have a jury determine her sentence and a judge sentenced her to death. Her conviction was upheld by the Mississippi state Supreme Court, but not without strong objections from dissenting judges. One dissenting member, Judge Jess Dickinson, argued that owing to poor legal counsel she deserved a retrial” but of COURSE no one listened to him.

The US Supreme Court could give a shit less and is refusing to hear the case. That means that “Unless the courts or Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant intervene, Michelle Byrom could be executed by lethal injection as soon as Thursday.”

In a nutshell, a woman who was raped and abused as a teen by her step-father, then raped and abused by her husband, has been symbolically raped by the “justice” system and the male judges who didn’t give a rat’s hairy testicle what she’d been through or the fokking facts of the case. As an encore, they are going to take it up a notch and do something even her step-dad and husband didn’t do – kill her.

Pardon me whilst I pull out my hair in frustration and rage.

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Feminism, rape culture, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | 3 Comments

Why You Should Care

Mississippi, that beacon of racial harmony and progressive thought, is prosecuting Rennie Gibbs for the stillbirth of her baby girl, whom she named Samiya. Gibbs was a 16 year old girl when her labor was induced a month early after an ER discovered the fetus was already dead. Medical experts argue that the cause of death was because the umbilical cord had wrapped around the Samiya’s neck and cite the evidence that Gibbs’s placenta “showed the presence of blood clots — a sign that the baby’s oxygen supply had been cut off. (In a 2011 study by a consortium of researchers around the U.S., 24 percent of stillbirths were caused by blood clots or other placenta abnormalities.)” However, Gibbs was also a BLACK teen whose urine tested positive for drugs. A few days later, “Steven Hayne, Mississippi’s de facto medical examiner at the time, came to a different conclusion. Autopsy tests had turned up traces of a cocaine byproduct in Samiya’s blood, and Hayne declared her death a homicide, caused by “cocaine toxicity.” Now Gibbs is being prosecuted “for “depraved heart murder” — defined under Mississippi law as an act “eminently dangerous to others…regardless of human life.” By smoking crack during her pregnancy, the indictment said, Gibbs had “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” caused the death of her baby. The maximum sentence: life in prison.”

There are two reasons this is egregious bullshit.

First, there is the case itself. Not only was Rennie Gibbs herself still legally a child when she lost her baby, her drug use probably had nothing to do with the stillbirth. Although the baby’s “blood showed traces of benzoylecgonine, a cocaine byproduct, cocaine itself was “not detected,” according to the lab that did the tests.” Moreover, “experts said cocaine has been linked to one kind of devastating outcome — placenta abruption (when the placenta pulls away from the uterus), which can lead to stillbirth. That was not present in Samiya’s death. In Gibbs’s case, the evidence pointed to “umbilical cord compression” as the likeliest explanation for Samiya’s death, the defense experts said.”

Why should you believe the defense experts? Because Steven Hayne is shady as a grove of oaks: (emphasis mine)

“In litigation (much of it by the Mississippi Innocence Project) and news reports (many of them by Radley Balko, now of the Washington Post), defense lawyers and other medical examiners have accused Hayne of being sloppy, exaggerating his credentials, and leaping to conclusions that sometimes had no basis in science. At least four murder convictions based on Hayne’s evidence — one involving an innocent man sentenced to death for the killing of a three-year-old girl — have been overturned since 2007. Despite having failed to complete his certification test by the American Board of Pathology, Hayne not only practiced for two decades in Mississippi and nearby states, but by his own estimate he performed as many as 1,800 autopsies a year (the National Association of Medical Examiners recommends that a single doctor conduct no more than 250).  Mississippi stopped hiring Hayne in 2008, but he continues to testify in cases that he handled before then. In their court filing, Gibbs’s lawyers cited a capital murder conviction of a 14-year-old boy that the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned because of what it called “scientifically unfounded” testimony by Hayne. That case involved both the prosecutor and the judge handling the Gibbs prosecution. (To read more about Hayne, go here, here, and here.)”

Obviously the case against Gibbs is punitive because she was a drug-using black teen unwed mother, not because her drug use killed her baby. That’s bad enough, but there is also the larger ramifications of the law. Even if you are so anti-choice you think personhood starts at the blastocoel stage prior to conception, this shit should scare you. Law’s like these aren’t’ just trying to keep women from obtaining abortions or risk murder charges; they are eradicating a pregnant woman’s rights even if she doesn’t have an abortion. 

For one thing, it is racist as hell. “African Americans, who suffer twice as many stillbirths as whites, would be affected the most” and it will be extra hellish in states like Mississippi, which “has one of has one of the worst records for maternal and infant health in the U.S., as well as some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and among the most restrictive policies on abortion. Many of the factors that have been linked to prenatal and infant mortality — poverty, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, pollution, smoking, stress — are rampant there.”

There are a lot of things doctors think harm a fetus, including hair dye, as well as shit they KNOW harms the fetus, such as tobacco.  Smoking radically increases the risk of stillbirth and doubles the change of neonatal mortality.  Do they test mothers for tobacco use in ERs? Nope. White women smoke while up the pole. Rich and famous white women smoke while preggo. The long arm of the law isn’t reaching for them. How about if a bottle blonde has a miscarriage? Using the same criteria that they are using on Gibbs means that the woman who dyed her hair should go in the pokey because she added to the risk of stillbirth. Being overweight may cause pregnancy complications including miscarriage. Should I have been arrested for endangering a fetus because I was fat and pregnant? How about depraved murder when I miscarried at 12 weeks? Sure, my miscarriage had nothing to do with my weight … but that doesn’t mean a trial wouldn’t have poured salt on my wound.

This will never, ever effect a man. There have been studies since 1991 which show that cocaine can maybe “piggyback” on sperm, meaning women are exposed if her partner uses it. Men who smoke significantly endanger their partner’s pregnancy, even if they don’t smoke around them. Is the law going after the men who got women pregnant if she loses a baby? No. Only the women. 

Where does it end?  Can they take away your baby because you refused to do what the doctors told you to? Yep, that happened. A “baby girl has been kept away from her mother for almost five years after she refused to sign a form consenting to a Caesarean section – even though she did not end up needing to have the operation …  The hospital said that her refusal to give permission for the C-section amounted to child abuse and thus reported her to welfare authorities. This was despite VM saying that she would agree to the operation if it became necessary and going on to deliver a healthy baby. The courts agreed with welfare agencies in New Jersey that the baby, born on April 16 2006, should be kept in care and revoked parental rights. VM was successful at an appeal hearing that reversed the lower court’s decision saying that the mother was ‘unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child’ and that ‘termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.’”

Imagine the state ripping your newborn out of your arms because you wanted a vaginal delivery. Imagine your decision to eat fast food during pregnancy meaning you went to jail if your baby died. Imagine your hair dresser being sent to prison for dying your hair because she acted in a “depraved” manner to your fetus. Imagine women being forced to pass a drug test for alcohol or tobacco in the OB/Gyn’s office. Imagine having no say in your body or your choices once you became a “host” for the embryo.

Is that the world you want to live in?

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Feminism, health, I've been thinking too much, motherhood, racism, shit I think y'all should know, slut shaming | 4 Comments