Tag Archives: Hobbes

On Mandatory Miscarriage Funerals

For my own sanity, I’ve been staying OUT of this election so far. I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with this shit show. So last night when I stopped into the crack van (just to say hi, I wasn’t watching the debate) was the first I’d heard of Mike Pence’s stance on mandatory funerals for miscarried fetuses. Horrified, I mentioned a story then that I didn’t want to take over the crack van to explain, but I’ll tell it now.

I went to Catholic high school during the early 2000s. George W Bush was newly-elected President, and this asswipe was the bishop of the diocese. Catholic values, as they were being taught to me, were basically “the gays are going to hell” and some combination of “if you have sex before you get married you’re going to get pregnant immediately and go to hell” and “if you abort that pregnancy so we can’t tell you had sex before you got married, you’re also going to hell”. There was no compassion, there was no understanding, there was just a lot of if you have lady parts you are a Bad Person.

Well, a friend and classmate of mine, Amy (not her real name), behaved like a normal 17-year-old and had sex with her serious boyfriend. She got pregnant, and because of all of this “no sex, also abortion is bad” bullshit, she starved herself for a month until she miscarried. The religion teacher got wind of this and suddenly “also miscarriage means you’re bad” made its way into the curriculum, along with not-so-subtle hints that naming the miscarried baby and giving it a funeral would make you right with God.

So she did, and maybe it made her right with God, but I don’t think she’ll ever be right with herself again. The last time I heard any news about her, we were 24 and she had four children by two different fathers and was still mourning her high school self-induced miscarriage.

Miscarriage funerals can be very important, positive points of closure for hopeful parents, and I don’t mean to say that they are inherently awful. But forcing a formerly-pregnant person to wallow in that if they just want to move on with their life is… abhorrent when it comes from the Church, and completely fucking unacceptable when it comes from the State.

All in all, I’m thinking it was a good call for my sanity that I checked out of this election process ages ago. I’m gonna go vote early for Secretary Clinton tonight and then crawl back under my rock, thank you very much.

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Parting the Red Sea

Uterus-not-havers, buckle up, cuz we talkin’ ’bout menstruation today.

My first period happened when I was 11. Every roughly 20-26 days after that, I got to bleed for another 8. The first two nights I didn’t get to sleep because they did not make feminine hygiene products that could deal with the amount of blood I lost. My cramps were so bad that my choices were “knock self out with Excedrin” or “be screaming in pain” and I’m not actually exaggerating this time.

I mention this because if there happened to be a math test on day 1 of “that special time” when I was “not at my best” because my “vagina was bleeding”? I was completely and totally screwed. Roughly once a month I was physically incapable of being a functional member of society, not because of any sort of social taboo or “moon hut” or whatever, but because my body was attempting self-seppuku. I was actually ecstatic when my period showed up on a weekend because while it completely ruined my weekend, at least I wasn’t missing obligations.

When I was 21 I found out that the birth control pill could be used to at least help regulate that sort of thing and might even make things a little less awful. When I finally got around to telling my parents that I was on the pill, it was in the context of being out shopping on day 1 of my period and my mother stopped and stared at me with her mouth open like “holy shit you can move?!” Last summer I got a hormonal IUD implanted and I haven’t had a period since – and I have never felt so much like an actual, functional member of society. This is what half of society feels like all the time, with no interruptions to their concentration or having to think about crap did that tampon just blow out and I need to get to the bathroom to check but I have to finish out this meeting because it’s important and nope there go my favorite work khakis and my pride.

We’re so squeamish as a society about menstruation, we’re fighting to get contraceptives removed from obligate insurance coverage because SLUTS, but the unfortunate side effect of that is not just that people with uteruses who like having sex with people with penises might occasionally be “punished” with unwanted babies but also that we’re Keeping Women In Their Places because they can’t afford to choose when and if Aunt Flo shows up or what force she shows up with. And that’s some bullshit right there.

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Women’s voices matter

To begin: I am a woman teacher of introductory computer sciences. My two sections this semester have 150 students each. When I say there’s a “pretty good” gender balance, I mean it doesn’t take me too long to find women to make eye contact with while I’m lecturing. It’s definitely nowhere near 50-50, though.

I had a student come into my office hours on Monday and mention, in passing, how intimidating it was that whenever I’d ask a question there were a bunch of male hands that would immediately jump into the air. “The guys already know all this,” she told me. The thing is – they don’t. Most of the time their answers are incomplete or straight up wrong, but the hands are there. The hands always go up. Clearly they know.

I make an absolute point of calling on a woman if she raises her hand, because it’s important for other women – and men – to hear a female voice answering a question. But am I self-sabotaging? Are women afraid to raise their hands now because they know they’ll be called on? I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, the class is falling back into that depressing rut of “programming is for white and east Asian men”, and I feel like I’m already defeated.

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