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

Parasites for Privatization

You know how the far right is always pissing and moaning about the “evils” of “inner city”, “entitlement culture”, and “illegals” as the source of America’s economic woes? Well, not only are the asshats ignorant, misinformed, liars, or all three, they are also a pack of hypocritical twatwaffles.

Why? Because the GOP & the Far Right (unimpeded by spineless, Mammon-blowing Democrats) have been funneling a shit ton of money to their CEO buddies in the form of “government contracts”. This is the end goal of privatization, boys and girls. Rather than having government employees do a job for decent wages, the Right Wing dipshits want to “privatize” the same job via a contract and have non-union employees do it for starvation wages while the guys who own the company who got the contract get billions. Just take a look at the money being poured down the contract hole by the so-called economic conservatives controlling congress and the Dems who don’t bother to even fight because CEOs are buttering their bread too.

 

fed contract spending

That’s right. TRILLIONS of tax payer dollars are going to private companies. “After military contractors, $21.8 billion was granted out to corporate recipients in the form of direct subsidies; literally transfers of cash from the pockets of Americans to major corporations. The biggest winners were General Electric (GE) ($380 million), followed by General Motors (GM) ($370 million), Boeing (BA) ($264 million), ADM ($174 million) and United Technologies ($160 million). $8.5 billion in federally subsidized loans were also doled out to giant oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobile, and $1 billion went directly to massive agri-business Archer Daniels Midland. Of course, the banks also got their piece of the pie: $10 billion in federal insurance went to Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, not including any of the 2008 bailout money. Walmart enjoyed its share of federal insurance backing as well. ”  Then these parasitic hellbeasts turn around and don’t pay their taxes.

How? “The answer has several parts: a lack of transparency and accountability in congress, and other government bodies like the Supreme Court, allows the minority in the house to do whatever they want with essentially no fear of retaliation or loss of support from their constituents. Redistricting is a major culprit in the fostering of this autocratic privilege. There are multiple inter-connected failures of our political system allowing corrupt delegates to sneak literal fortunes right out of the taxpayers coffers — and into the bank accounts of the affluent sociopaths paying the charlatans to hide their subsidies in needlessly complicated budget bills.”

In contrast, how much did the federal government give to poor people in the form of Food Stamps and Medicaid? “It comes to about $235 billion, the bulk of which is SNAP (formerly food stamps) and about one-third of Medicaid. That’s 12 percent of all federal welfare spending and about 6 percent of the whole federal budget.” That looks like a lot of money doesn’t it? Then you compare it to the shit corporations are bleeding off and it is laughable.

First, there is corporate welfare. “To clarify what is and isn’t corporate welfare, a “no-bid” Iraq contract for the prestigious Halliburton, would not be considered corporate welfare because the government technically directly receives some good or service in exchange for this expenditure. Based on the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) findings of $1.4 billion of overcharging and fraud, I suppose the primary service they provide could be considered to be repeatedly violating the American taxpayer.On the other hand, the $15 billion in subsidies contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, to the oil, gas, and coal industries, would be considered corporate welfare because no goods or services are directly returned to the government in exchange for these expenditures.”

Basically, the government hands out $93 Billion a year, not counting the $1.3 Trillion they get via contracts. Jesus wept, General Electric (GE) alone gets more than $100 more from Uncle Sam than all the SNAP recipients combined.

Who is really depending on Uncle Sugar to save them?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nationwide Ain’t On Your Side

A new mother, Angela Ames, returned to work at Nationwide and needed a private, non-germy room in which to pump breast milk. People, including her female supervisor, didn’t give a shit how badly engorged breasts hurt and how embarrassing leaking can be. When, after several hours, Ames came back to her supervisor in tears “her department head told her, “I think it’s best that you go home to be with your babies,” handing her a pen and paper and dictating the contents of a resignation letter.”  Pretty clear case of decimation, right? The woman was being punished for continuing a pregnancy and then having other biological functions that men don’t have. This would never, ever happen to a dude. It was really shitty of Nationwide, yes?

Imagine my surprise when “a federal appeals panel comprised of three Republican-appointed men rejected Ames’ sex discrimination claims, concluding that she did not give former employer Nationwide Insurance an adequate opportunity to address her concerns … “Nationwide’s several attempts to accommodate Ames show its intent to maintain an employment relationship with Ames, not force her to quit,” the panel concluded.” Oh, wait. I feel no surprise that’s what three GOP approved menfolk decided. Although they claim that Nationwide tried their bestest to keep Ames employed (the resignation letter was WHAT now?) and Ames shouldn’t been such a whiney ass, their decision boils down to 1) bitch got preggo what did she expect and 2) bitches be crazy with their breastfeeding.

Anyone wonder why breastfeeding support groups are called lactivists? A woman’s right to breastfeed still needs activist efforts. Tell you what, when you hear tell of a woman who loses her job for choosing to bottle feed do let me know so I can tell all my lactavist comrades we can quit now, okay? 

Oh, and Nationwide also tried to accommodate Ames at meetings “several prior months during which supervisors suggested Ames might have to cut her maternity leave short because the office was “too busy,” derided her for personal decisions about her pregnancy, and warned that taking additional unpaid leave after medical complications with her pregnancy might raise “red flags” down the road.” Whooo-weee! That is some open-arms accommodation right there! Nationwide weren’t a pack of twatwaffles! Nosiree Bob!

Excuse me while I boycott the shit out of the asshats at Nationwide.

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Feminism, health, maximum sarcasm, motherhood, shit I think y'all should know | 2 Comments

Divorce, Poverty, and Blame

Ralph Reed, the founder of Faith and Freedom Coalition, asserts that the “no-fault divorce revolution” is the source of US economic woes and that laws making it harder for people to get divorced would help poor woman and children more than more food stamps would.

That is, I am sad to say, bullshit. It does not take into account that woman are the ones who file for a divorce a large majority of the time.  “A 2000 paper published in American Law and Economics Review and authored by Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen reports data (Table 1, p. 128) from several studies across the United States and spanning more than 100 years (1867 to 1995) regarding the percentage of instances where the woman had filed for divorce. Based on the figures reported in Table 1, I calculated that women had initiated the divorce in 68.9% of all cases

According to the analysis in the Brinig and Allen research, women do so because, even with the downside of reduced material income and the social stigma of being a “single mother”, it is better to end the marriage than to stay with someone who treats them like a second-class citizen. Most of the women asking for a divorce did NOT have equal access to resources in the marriage, and did not have a fuckton of co-parenting support by their spouse. The problem (looked at as a common denominator) is not with the women who want to leave; the problem is in the husbands who don’t pull their weight in parenting and who won’t share equal power within the marriage.

My Sweet Babou treats me as an equal and thinks of himself as equally responsible for parenting. Thus, I remain both madly in love with him and have no desire to divorce him. Not a smidge. Not even an iota.

Ralph Reed concentrates on the minority problem by asking, “do we really want to make it easier for a man to discard the wife of his youth than it is for him to fire his secretary, for him to basically go in and say goodbye when 40 percent of all child support is never paid?” No. No we do not. But toughening divorce laws aren’t going to stop that shit. It will just make it harder for women to escape bad marriages. Also, tougher laws to make men pay child support are the way to make sure child support payments don’t disappear. Decent men will keep paying their child support anyway. How about some badass laws going after the deadbeat asshats who don’t man up?

Even Reed knows that guys failing to be men & fathers is the problem. He admitted as much when he said, “we know, 40 percent of the women and children that are thus cast aside end up in poverty … A woman is far more likely to end up in poverty. A man’s income goes up. So, a lot of the poverty problem in America is a problem of women and children abandoned by the husbands and fathers.” Yep. However, making it harder for women to get a divorce won’t help that. Making dads pay child support will help that.

There is an epidemic of guys, divorced from the baby mamma or not, who scarper and decided not to spend their hard-earned money on something as frivolous as their offspring. A part of this is that the manufacturing jobs & taxes on high earners that once supported our economy have been sacrificed on Mammon’s altar and so a lot of men are in poverty themselves. This does not justify their decision to let the equally poor mom bear the burden of raising the child alone, though. Deadbeat is deadbeat.

It may just be that instead of making a divorce harder to obtain, we look at the deadbeat dad problem and stop demonizing single moms.  As Cara Lemieux puts it:

“Perhaps, if we shifted our focus and held men more accountable for their roles in creating these single mother households, then we would begin to be able to figure out how to prompt a positive change in society. Until then, we are just adding one more thing for the single mother to worry about — seeing herself unfairly demonized in another headline. Now, I am not saying that women should be dismissed of the responsibility. What I am saying is if we really want to change the statistics, we need to start talking to the party that is abandoning their responsibilities — not to the party that is doing everything in their power to live up to theirs.”

I agree.

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