Gun Control, Public Responsibility and How Lax Laws Affect Women

Wake up people! We have gun control laws. Having reasonable laws restricting some types of weapons and some people from purchasing firearms has been around a very long time and the government’s right to do this has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court. Only FOOLS deal in absolutes as if they are a reality. We create laws to resolves problems which arise and become enough of a problem that it demands the attention of public servants. That is Public Responsibility. Aside from the extremely few complete anti-gun activists, the vast majority of people just want better laws, better enforcement of the laws we have, a closure of loopholes and reasonable restrictions on what can be purchased. People who either do not understand the conversation at hand, or who are the militia wanna-be crowd, keep distracting the issue. This discussion is not about taking all guns away. It is not about the abolition of the Second Amendment. It is not about denying good, law abiding citizens the right to own a gun, or ten guns. No one is coming for all your guns and leaving the citizens completely defenseless. So please, STOP arguing that the left is trying to ban all guns. Banning all guns was not a part of any of the Legislation introduced and discussed these last couple of weeks. That topic is not reality, so come back to this world because there needs to be a real discussion.
So what are we discussing? I believe we can make it easier by not mislabeling or fragmenting the issue. I think we should just take the whole word “assault” out of the equation and talk about semi-automatic weapons and maybe clips that carry 20 or 30 rounds (or more) or can be modified easily to do so. The discussion is about THESE guns, not ALL guns. If you want to be relevant, if you want your voice heard, then you might try sticking to the actual topic of conversation.
I keep asking and asking: Why do we need these guns? What purpose do they serve that cannot be served with a non semi-automatic firearm? Why do you need to be able to shoot over 100 times in the span of minutes?
And no one gives me a viable answer to this. Saying it is your right is not an answer, no more than owning a machine gun is your right. Tell me the purpose it specifically serves that overrides its proven danger. Don’t tell me that someone saved someone’s life with an AR-15 unless that life could NOT have been saved with a non semi-automatic weapon. This is not a conversation about banning all guns, it is a conversation about how we can have reasonable restrictions regarding a certain class of firearm which is proving to be a threat to public safety, and if the value of this weapon outweighs its proven, significant threat for misuse. I am a rational person. Give me a rational answer to consider besides, “It’s my right!.” or “I want one.”
The Supreme Court has validated the rulings of the lower courts that these guns can be banned from sale, and they are in several states. So, the Supreme Court says you don’t have a constitutional right to this gun, that argument is debunked right now. You got anything better than you just wanting to feel awesome and powerful because you can shoot a lot of rounds really fast at a firing range????
Now, I am all about women’s rights and equal rights for all human beings. I’ve said before that we can’t have feminine equality when we do not have racial equality, LGBT equality, religious equality, in short, human equality. Because if anyone is unequal, lesser or greater, then no one is equal. With the outrageous display of radical racism, radical misogyny, radical religious groups (both Christian and Muslim), radical anti-choice demonstrators, radical anti-immigration… (well, you get the idea, there is a serious amount of radicalism going on in the United States at the moment, spurned on with a political movement on the right which says we don’t need to be “politically correct” or even polite) we are seeing a just public concern for any random person full of hate to own guns with the power for a solo-mission-mass-shooting.
But why all the semi-automatic weapons in the first place? Why are men prancing around Jack in the Box with them? Why is it okay for them to have big demonstrations, armed to the teeth, of their ability, if they so choose, to do you harm? These extremist gun groups, such as Open Carry Texas, have made sinister turns into acting out against women who they feel oppose them in any way. And, by the way, they consider such things as selling guns with added safety features an opposition. Their tactics are to bully people around them. They incite conflict, invading peaceful gatherings of others who do not support their cause. They use the guns strapped across their backs to specifically target women. While on the one side they try to show themselves as reasonable and responsible gun owners, they then publish their, “mad minutes.” This 2014 propaganda entailed approximately forty men armed with assault rifles at a gun range blasting at a target they had set up. The target? A female mannequin, top half naked. After a minute of shooting, they proudly pull its pants down to its ankles and took pictures with the mangled mess. They justify this action because they have declared Moms Demand Action as their mortal enemy, and this idea seems to extend to pretty much any woman they want to intimidate. That would include a poor woman who saw a large group of them walking around with assault styled weapons and called the police to report the activity. They published her name, phone number and home address to their members and social media following. She was inundated with threats, hate mail, harassing phone calls and more, simply because they looked frightening and she was a concerned citizen wanting to ensure no one got hurt. Two men also called the police,  but they were not targeted.
These incidents are not new. Bullying behavior with guns by men against women has a long history. I have personally been subjected to it. Later, my niece was murdered by her husband with a shotgun to the head in the presence of their two small children. Neither were assault style weapons. My point being, guns, any guns, are dangerous and too frequently misused for violent acts. So, why do we need to just throw weapons with the power to kill 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 people in a matter of minutes out to the public, to walk around with almost anywhere they want? They have a right to a gun, maybe, but allowing them to carry that kind of firepower thrown over their shoulder infringes on my right to feel reasonably safe.
In short.  You trust you, but I don’t. How do I know if you are the good guy or the bad guy? Are you the one who is planning on killing a bunch of people in a supermarket because you think they shortchanged you or sold you bad cheese? Or are you the guy who plans on saving my child and I by shooting off 30 rounds of bullets into a crowded area and hope you hit the right target? Or are you just the guy who likes the imposing power of having it strapped to you, knowing you look scary and it intimidates others? Those are the only three scenarios I see.
I grew up in Texas; Lived there for almost forty-three years and I certainly know better than to assume that because someone has gun, it means know how to shoot it. Or even carry it safely. Gun accidents are caused by carelessness and stupidity, and I’d really prefer to limit that carelessness(and stupidity) to something that can’t shoot off thirty times. Also, a responsible gun owner who can actually aim and shoot doesn’t need a semi-automatic weapon to get the job done. They have no reason to expend 20-30 rounds to bring a threat down. Honestly, if they are shooting more than twice at the same target, they shouldn’t be shooting at all, because every bullet that misses endangers an innocent life. But it is okay if you kill or injure some innocent people so long as you get the bad guy, too, right?
So, what is the civilian purpose here? To play militia, as if you will need to defend your home against the government? To take a chance of killing a lot of innocent people in your bid to protect yourself with a gun you may, or may not, know how to properly use? To intimidate people?
And while we are at it, why don’t we just go there… what about racism? How many black people have been killed, some completely innocent of any crime at all, because the policeman said they thought the person had a gun? So what if an innocent black man did have a gun? Isn’t he entitled to it, too? Or is this a white’s only gun movement? Are you perfectly okay  with a group of young black men with sagging pants walking down your street exercising their second amendment right to slap an assault style weapon across their back and walk down a public sidewalk? Are you going to call the police? Or are you going to head out there and give them a high five? How about a group of Hispanics? Do they get your thumbs up? Or are you rushing your kids in the house because those people are a threat? Do you assume they are dangerous thugs, gangs or drug dealers? Or are they upstanding citizens like yourself? What about a group of Muslims? Can they have assault style weapons and walk down your street or in your grocery store and you feel perfectly fine and safe? Or are they instantly terrorists? Let’s talk reality.
When you tote that type of weapon around, you scare people. The second amendment does not give you that right. When you are walking around like a bad-ass, intimidating people, you are the terrorist, because you are demanding respect you have not earned by the implied threat of violence. The threat is real because no one else knows if you are sane, rational or responsible. No one knows if something might set you off and you go on a shooting spree. No one knows if you are the would-be hero or the threat. And because of that, it instills fear and discomfort. And where one man is above others, where he instills fear in others, there is no equality. Women aren’t equal, no one is equal if they are forced to be afraid.
We are One Woman, One World.

The Misconceptions of Feminism

So, this is a blog which focuses on equal rights for women, both here in the United States of America and around the world. That means it can be considered a Feminist site. Sure, why not? I’m perfectly okay with that. Some believe accepting this would limit the number of people I can reach. Maybe. Or, maybe I can use it as a sounding board to better educate others on what Feminism is, or better yet, what it isn’t. Some say I should not delve into other political issues such as the pros and cons of gun control, immigration laws, minimum wage vs. livable wage, LGBT Rights, economic and foreign policies, or environmental laws. What do those things have to do with Feminism? Well, everything, or at least half of everything.  I do not ever pretend to speak for all women regarding their personal stances on differing issues. However, I do speak for what I believe is in the best interest of humanity. And last I checked, women were human.

Whether I agree with your viewpoint, always know, that first and foremost, I believe in your right to it and your right to voice it. Even when that is a tough pill to swallow. It does not mean I won’t engage in a logical debate. I will. My conscience demands it from me. I am never inspired by hate or malice. My views are based on contemplation, logical deduction and a hope, optimism,  that I will leave this world just a little better than I found it. It is hope for humanity.

Sometimes we see so many tragedies and injustices coming at us from every direction that our faith in humanity is threatened. With the internet and twenty-four hour world news, we see tragedies with such frequency there is a fear it may become normalized. We may stop caring bit by bit until there is no care left. It is a frightening and callous thought and it sometimes dulls the magnitude of less severely tragic injustices seen and felt from day to day. But we must strengthen our resolve, choose the battles we can fight and give our hearts to it.

There is a myth that Feminism is just about the promotion of women in society. Just like it is a myth that we no longer need the feminist movement. The core of Feminism is human equality: where men and women (including LGBT) of every race and every creed and every social identity are able to stand side by side as equals. Women cannot be equal when racism is prevalent and accepted. Women cannot be equal when LGBT rights are denied. Women cannot be equal when the poor are victimized and exploited. Women cannot be equal when religious views are legislated by lawmakers. Women cannot be equal when their water is poisoned or the air they breathe polluted.  Why can they not be equal? Because their voices are silenced. Just because they are not the only voices silenced, does not make the silence any less deafening. Feminism represents an equality between all people: rich, poor, young, elderly, male, female, LGBT, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist (and all other religious ideologies). When any voice is silenced, or given preference, then we are not equals. So, feminism stands with LGBT Rights, with Racial Equality, with Religious Freedom. With sensible laws that protect the public without infringing on their individual rights. With regulating corporations and business entities to ensure that they do not place profit before public safety. With equal, fair wages for all people without regard to sex, sexual orientation, color or creed. For every human’s right to make decisions about their own bodies.

Feminism is not just about lifting women up, but rather the ultimate idea of fair play and equal regard. It is not saying that a woman can do anything a man can do, because that is a farce, a distraction. One man cannot do the same thing another man can do, so how can you say any woman can? Feminism is the ultimate idea of a world which accepts that feminine and masculine are only senses of identity and do not dictate ability, skill, fortitude, strength, or character. Each person and their capability is unique, and as such, we are all uniquely equal.

So when a feminist speaks out, she doesn’t pretend to speak for every woman, because no two women are the same. Instead, we speak for every woman’s right to be the unique individual she is, every human’s right to determine their own fate and speak with their own voice. So, male, female and LGBT, we are all

one woman, one world.

Moments of silence…

It took some days for my mind to wrap around and digest the tragedy Friday night in Orlando. I know this is a blog focusing on just one part of the greater human equality movement, however, I need to, in some small token because I am only one person sitting on the opposite coast, to say I am so sorry for all those who were lost and injured, their friends and families. Lives cut short or forever traumatized because of a man’s intolerant hate, because he found refuge for that hate to nurture it in extremist ideology. And now, they are gone, without purpose or reason and without remorse from the man who, so coldly snatched them from our presence. There are many things to talk about in the coming months, inquiries  into how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future. But today is not that day, not quite yet. The pain too new, the details unrevealed, undiscovered. The fear too present and the shock has yet to subside. It is not yet time to compare this with other tragedies, quote statistics and certainly not the time to use it for political posturing. It is time to remember these beautiful people, grieve the futures lost, the families broken and bring comfort to the injured. Before we embark, as a people, on the quest to ensure this does not happen again, we need to breath. Reflect. Consider how delicate our lives are and how precious that makes our freedoms. That is our moment of silence, the inner reflection of mourning tragedy before beginning the pursuit of justice or igniting the wheels of change.

Sleep well, dear, precious souls. May you find the eternity you hoped for across the veil.

HISTORY IS MADE: A MILESTONE THE SIZE OF GIBRALTER HURDLED

Clinton wins nomination

HILLARY CLINTON SECURES THE DELEGATES NECESSARY TO BECOME THE PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Like her or not, support her or not, the truth of this historic moment cannot be denied. Hillary Clinton has secured the delegates needed and is now the Presumptive Nominee of the Democratic Party.

The Fight for Women’s Suffrage began in 1848 and it would take seventy-two years of grueling efforts to convince the men in power to give up a portion of it, to share the rights and freedoms they so long held reserved to themselves. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, finally recognizing women as having the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship, including the right to vote.

Every elected office held by a woman since this time has been a milestone, a hurdle crossed against a misogynistic culture embedded deeply in our society. Should Hillary Clinton be elected President of the United States, she will preside as the first female President on the one hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. And in the election the following November of 2020, when women celebrate 100 years of actually casting their ballots to vote, she could be running as the incumbent.

These are possible outcomes in the near future, but they are not today. Today, no matter your political affiliation, no matter whether you Feel the Bern or Stump for Trump or Support Hillary 2016, without regard to your allegiances, ideologies or loyalties, we still should take a moment to realize and celebrate this moment in the history of women’s rights. In this moment, we have finally joined our allies in recognizing by majority votes, that women are equally capable of holding any office of authority and government. The ceiling has been shattered and the ladder extended to our daughters. Today we can look them in the eye and honestly say, “You can be anything you choose to be. If you are willing to work for it, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.”

Today we are One Woman, One World.

“Women are made different from men. It’s Biology.” The bread and butter of misogynistic ideology.

“Regardless, I don’t believe everyone is equal. We weren’t created so. There are reasons why men and women are not the same. Complimentary, yes. Equal, not even close. Lack of equality isn’t linked to hatred and fear. We weren’t made equal. It’s pathetic how people throw fits over things you can’t change, and shouldn’t. Feminism isn’t the same as wanting equality for others based on their race, sexual orientation, or anything else. It’s nothing but excuses. Not every woman can or should have the same job as a man. Such as certain military jobs, civilian jobs that require certain physical and mental strength and abilities.” Ktlyn XXXX (I have redacted her last name intentionally, as she is an example and I am not attempting to cause her any harassment or embarrassment.)

Wow.

I have been working this week on a post regarding the real motivation behind restrictive reproductive legislation. Don’t worry, I am still working on it and will be posting it in a few days. But today I came across a heated discussion in a women’s rights advocacy posting which I found simply bizarre. A woman argued that women are made differently and we lack both the physical and mental strength to do certain tasks and therefore, we are not equal, we do not deserve equality. This is the basic premise that sums up the ideology which feminism is fighting: women have a weaker mental and physical fortitude than men.

Yeah. And where did that idea come from? Sure, women are physically different, generally smaller and, as animals, designed to be able to give birth and nurture their young. Men tend to be larger and stronger. They are animals, too. In the animal kingdom their size and strength is meant to impress a mate and drive off other males of the species. However, the female can still reject him, and frequently does. The most vicious and dangerous creatures in the wild are females protecting their young. Size and strength is no indicator of ferocity. That is the animal kingdom, though, and I only give it as an example of the initial purpose of size and how it accurately plays its role. But we are more than just animals. We are evolved. We are a species of intellect in pursuit of more than procreation. This is what separates us from the animal kingdom: our desire to build, create, invent, and learn; our pursuit of happiness; our aspirations to create a better world for our children. Sadly, what also separates  us is our ability to destroy and prejudiced hate. The animal instinct which has predominantly endured is the endeavor to force the population into submissive control of an alpha male, rather like a troop of baboons, a wolf pack or a lion’s pride. However, there is purpose in the animal kingdom, safety from predators or competition in hunting grounds, leading others to food, or the taking of larger prey in numbers.

But we are no longer nomadic social animals. In the West, we do not need to hunt in numbers for food, nor gather our young to the center of a camp to protect them from wild predators. We do not, typically, fear being eaten. We live in relative safety and are free to use our minds and abilities to accomplish more than mere procreation. We are driven by more than primal instinct. We are inspired by more than fear and purpose has transcended from survival to aspirations of achievement.

So, how does this apply to equality? It is pretty simple, really. Science shows that there is no definable difference between the brain of a man or woman, but that the differences from one to another exist between all humans, making us each individuals. While hormones play a role in what is stimulated in the brain and genetics determine physical gender, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that men are stronger mentally and women inferior. Our mental fortitude is dependent only to our individual ability and that is subject more to environment and social conditioning than biology. Each person has their own sets of natural tendencies, gifts and difficulties, but those differences cannot be defined by gender. They are unique to each individual.  Hormones play a role in development, but do not define an individual. Your gender does not determine your fortitude, it does not create a stronger or weaker mind, it does not limit your ability to learn or comprehend. In all these things which set us apart from being wild animals, men and women are equal.

Gender equality, as it turns out, is not a new idea at all. Over five thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, female citizens shared complete equality with their male counterparts. In a culture which revered happy, harmonious home life, they did not depend on female subservience to accomplish it. Women were completely equal, able to own property of their own accord and receive and leave inheritance. They received the same rations for the same work. Educated women were doctors, priestesses, judges, and governors, even pharaohs. They aspired to positions of power and influence. They held all the same rights as men in courts of law, in marriage and divorce. They even practiced contraception.

This gender equality was part of their economic, religious and social systems. Men and women created their own contracts of marriage and women were free to marry who they wished and negotiate their own contracts. Yes, they recognized that men and women were different, but that character, education, intelligence, talent and leadership abilities were not a product of sex. Despite the other faults of the civilization, in this aspect, they recognized women of all free social classes as equal to men.

So what happened? Other religions and cultures derived from those religions preferred male dominance and female subservience.  As all civilizations rise and fall through the course of history, so, too, did that of Ancient Egypt, but their pillar stood thousands of years as a working society of gender equality. The decline of Egypt had nothing to do with affording women equal rights and, in fact, stood far longer than those misogynistic empires which surrounded it– longer than any other civilization in history. As Egypt declined, other religions swept in to fill the void. Far from being revered, women were blamed for man’s fall from grace. They were taught to bare the weight of that shame.

Which brings us to today. Science has shown that women and men are neurologically equal. The inequality between men and women is not one of physiology, but of conditioning. Women act inferior because they are taught to do so. Girls raised with a continuous negative self-image, one of inferiority to men, are conditioned into obedient, submissive women who believe they are meant to be subservient. They believe it is natural and is supported by the will of their God. Religious texts have gone to great effort to define the roles of women and restrictions on them. These teachings have been fed generation to generation. It is only with the acceptance of religious freedom by governments and broad scopes of education that we find the re-emergence of gender equality. Women have been forced to prove their value all over again and reject male dominance as the status quo. In many instances, this has been a difficult and ugly battle, which still continues today all over the world.

Yes, men and women are different, but a combination of history and science has proven the concepts of equality or subservience are those of social conditioning and not of biology. This applies not only to women, but all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or any other defining element. Raise them from childhood instilling the belief of equality, and they will believe they are equal and will treat others with that same respect. They will never deny themselves an opportunity because they feel inferior.

We are more than animals. We are more than primitive instincts of procreation and survival. We create this civilization we live in, build it person by person, child by child. If we teach our daughters submission and our sons to expect it, the cycle continues. But if, instead, we teach them partnership, equality and respect, we change everything. If we promote and help those brave individuals standing up against misogyny and bigotry in their parts of the world, then we support a better humanity than what we inherited. We must use our voices to confront ignorance and respond to the rhetoric of social conditioning seeking to create a hierarchy of humanity based on gender, race, religion or orientation.  No person is born better or more valuable than another. Gender equality is just one of the many aspects of human equality. The more we speak out, the larger we grow, the more powerful the idea of equality becomes, until it is a force commanded by the populace.

We are one woman, one world.

 

 

 

Misogynistic Legislation: Choices Aren’t Always What They Seem

There is a litany of legislation contrived with no other purpose than to keep women firmly below men in society, hamper their ability to achieve financial equality, workforce equality and even educational equality. I can, and will, expose many of these laws and attempts to pass laws in coming weeks (and likely years, as this is not a problem solved overnight). However, I thought I would start with one of the most controversial topics, the one even many women are split upon, the one which feels so wrong to support because it angrily grinds against our very nature: Reproductive Rights.  That is our right to control what happens to our bodies, whether to have a child or not.  This includes so much, like birth control and its many various contraceptive options. It includes the morning after pill.  It includes offering options for victims of rape and incest, which is such a horrific form of rape by someone a girl or woman should completely trust that we gave it its own name. And, yes, it includes that most contemptible of all procedures: Abortion.  Make no mistake, it is a truly horrific medical procedure, not only because of its ultimate purpose, but also because of the situations which lead to a decision like that. Every woman, no matter her situation, no matter the legitimate causation, completely heals from it. Their body may heal, but a part of themselves will never be the same, even when it is absolutely the right thing to do, even when it is the only viable choice, even when they are raped, even if their life or another life hangs in the balance of that decision, even when they cannot save their baby were it born, they cannot remain unchanged.

Today I had intended to talk about specific attempts at legislation, expose legislators and show their pro-life stance has little to do with the care of an unborn child, but with a deeper motive to keep women chained to the idea that their value is in their ability to breed and they should not be aspiring to more.  But I will save this for another day. Today I want to talk to the pro-life woman who would agree to take away my choice, not in an angry voice.  No waving my hands telling you it is my body and my right to do with it as I wish.  Not telling you that you have no right to your opinion. No.  Instead, I’m going to tell you a difficult and very true story. I’m going to tell you something about that truth that I had to learn the hard way, the painful, heartbreaking way. I want you to see, for just a passing moment, from my perspective and then, perhaps, you will understand, if only just a bit, what we are fighting for.

My story begins in 2003. My then husband of three years and I wanted a child but I was unable to conceive naturally. We had saved money for the costly alternative of en vitro fertilization. I did everything by the books, followed all the directions, which meant so many shots, multiple a day, and a rather painful procedure for them to extract eggs. I did it all gladly. I wanted a child. But once the eggs were collected, the time moved in slow motion, waiting for the phone call each morning from the lab.

Day one phone call: We have 17 fertilized eggs, however (the word you really do not want to hear) five of them are the result of polyspermy, which means more than one sperm fertilized the egg, making them unviable. So, that meant we had twelve left. So, day one was good news, bad news. But mostly good news because twelve sounded like a lot.

Day two phone call: More good news, bad news.  Only eight progressed to dividing properly.

Day three: we are down to five.

Day four: four.

Day five: three are expected to reach blastocyst and we should prepare for implanting them the next day.

Day six: We have two blastocysts which are healthy. Only two left because the third, while it reached blastocyst stage, is determined to be unhealthy and not viable. They take an enlarged photo of the two little potential lives, and show it to me.  This was and still is the most amazing photograph I have ever seen.  They were brilliant orbs of light surrounded by a purple fringe. They looked every bit like concentrated spheres of everything life has the potential to be. Instantly I loved them both, but all too well understood that they hung somewhere in the balance between conception and life. So much could still go wrong and the hope was that by implanting both into my uterus, at least one of the two would attach and become the child we dreamt to have.

The procedure done, I had only to wait and practically bathe in progesterone. In two weeks I would go to the follow up for a pregnancy test. Of course, we couldn’t wait that long. after one week I did the pee on a stick test and was delighted with the positive result. But six days later we had a turn of fear when I began spotting. The doctor had us come in and we did an ultrasound to discover two little, tiny babies and we were told mild spotting was not uncommon carrying twins. We were so excited. Two weeks later, we hear the tiny heartbeats. Everything is perfect. So it seemed.  While it was still too early to tell, she believed we had a little girl and a little boy based on the heart rates, although it was not certain yet.

For three more weeks we continued absolutely happy. Then the real bleeding began. We had made a weekend trip out of town. At the emergency room they were able to see that both of the babies were still okay, but said my body may be attempting to abort the pregnancy. We went home and my obstetrician sent me to a perinatologist immediately. The news was grim and the recommendation even worse. Baby A, the one we believed to be our little girl, was situated high in the uterus, above Baby B, our little boy.  But Baby A, my little girl, was not healthy. He diagnosed her with Trisomy 13, a type of chromosomal birth defect far, far worse than Downs Syndrome.  Not only was her brain malformed, her organs were developed outside the body and encapsulated. It was not something that could be repaired because they would not be functional. She was only viable in the womb where my body sustained her, and even then, at best, I would likely not carry past 5 months even with all possible intervention. Also, my body had recognized she was not healthy and was attempting to naturally abort her. Yes, this is horrible enough. Devastating. The doctor tells us that Baby B, our little boy, is perfectly healthy. Then came that awful ‘however’ which sinks like lead into the bones. However, he is situated below her and if my body aborts naturally the little girl, it will take my healthy son with it.  I will lose them both. If they can stave off by some miracle the spontaneous abortion, then my son will be born so premature he still had little chance of survival and at best would likely have severe health issues as a result.  We were looking at a 18-22 week gestation. The doctor was honest that our son almost certainly would not survive. So what did that mean? Did that mean my only chance was to hope my daughter would not unintentionally kill my son before either could ever be born? I was devastated.  The loss was something I could not wrap myself around, even as the tears ran down my face, the horror was so profound, the whole world looked like obscure shades of grey and every voice held a distant echo as if spoken from far away through a tunnel. I can only vaguely recall the doctor and his nurse, who had walked in holding tissues before giving us the news, looking even more apprehensive after telling us this.  What else could there be? How could they destroy me any more?

My husband asked if there was anything we could do, anything to save our son. That is when the doctor took a breath, as if he had some cue that it would be okay to proceed and then told us about a procedure called a ‘selective reduction.’ It was an abortion.  Not a standard abortion simply to terminate pregnancy, but a procedure which selectively targets a single fetus when expecting a multiple child birth. He told us it was not a guarantee my body would not still attempt to reject Baby A, my little girl, but in most instances, it would prevent the spontaneous abortion. This was the only real option we had to save our son, otherwise he would almost certainly die.

My husband was right on board immediately.  “Fine, let’s get it done.” I think I was too horrified to even speak. And then came the next problem. According to my doctor, due to the extremely religious nature of the area we lived, none of the hospitals performed any abortion procedures for any reason. The only place for an abortion at all was Planned Parenthood, and they were not capable of performing this very delicate and specific operation. My doctor was capable of doing the procedure but was not allowed to perform it at any of the facilities, nor would they allow him privileges if he performed abortions of any kind. We lived in West Texas, amid a huge epicenter of medical facilities, hospitals, clinics and even a medical school. It was the largest medical complex between Dallas and Los Angeles. Yet, due to the political and religious nature of the area, in my very delicate state trying not to miscarry, I was forced to fly hundreds of miles away, to Houston, to a specialist for the procedure.

I made the trip. The horrifying, awful, heartbreaking trip. We saw the doctor, who confirmed the original diagnosis. He also confirmed a selective reduction was the only option we had to save our son. My husband was right there saying we would do it. But, the doctor looked at me and said, “You have to make this choice. I’m sorry.”

I will never forget the sympathy in his eyes. This was not some evil baby killer. This was not a bad man doing the Devil’s work. This was a doctor willing to do the most emotionally difficult procedure to perform because it was something that must be done, must be available and it should be done with skilled hands and not butchers. He was offering me the only chance I had to save my son, but I had to kill my daughter to do it. It was a choice, no matter how right the decision, no matter how terrible the other options were, it was still my choice.  I had to say yes.

Oh the decision seemed easy to the people on the outside. Most of them, by the way, even claimed to be pro-life. No one, not a single person told me my decision was wrong. But they sure wanted to keep it quiet. My husband wouldn’t even let us bill the examination to our insurance for the ultrasound and such.  He didn’t want anything linking us back to the office.  He paid in cash. So, it was the right, secret decision. But none of them had to say yes.  Only me.

I consented to the procedure, which was done shortly thereafter. It was quick, an injection guided by ultrasound. I watched my daughter die. I knew I could not save her, I knew there was nothing that would make her better and that it was the right thing to do. I know there are some who think I could have “prayed her better.” But that would have been irresponsible. I would have killed them both just as surely as I killed her. How would that be right? How would that be just?

Even still, the pain lingers. I think of her often.  I still cry. I will forever be anguished by the choice I had to make. Was it unfair? I don’t see life like that. Life is not fair or unfair, it just is. Every one of us face seemingly impossible decisions at some point in our lives. Sometimes our choices are not between good and bad, right or wrong. It is easy to sit back and say what someone else should do, but it is entirely different to stand in their shoes and make that decision. Some of the legislation being proposed recently would take away that decision. To some that might be a relief, they wouldn’t face a choice, remove their guilt, but to others it would condemn them. What if I could not make that choice? My beautiful, smiling laughing, happy, smart vibrant son would not be part of this world. Had I not been allowed to sacrifice that part of my soul which died with her, my son would be nothing but the memory of a loss. My daughter would die, no matter what I did, at least by my choice, her death was not in vain. Choice.

This is why I support choice. You cannot be sometimes choice and sometimes not, because you cannot place yourself in another woman’s shoes and truly understand the pain that comes with that choice, even when it is absolutely the right thing to do. You cannot judge her or make the choice for her because you cannot fathom the circumstances which lead her there. I walked past protesters who would have taken away the only chance I had to save my son because they could not imagine my choice. So, I challenge you to take a moment to stop creating ideas of what kind of women have abortions. Stop assuming they are morally defunct. Stop assuming I am somehow the exception, because I am not. The women who make this kind of choice do so for different reasons, but those reasons, for them, are drastic. No one aspires as a young girl to grow up and have an abortion. It is not part of the fairytale. I support choice because I could never be okay with someone else making that choice for me. How could I possibly make it for them?  What choice would you have made for me? That should tell you what you need to know about yourself and where you really stand.

Help to keep women in charge of their decisions because they are the only ones with all the information about what brings them there. You would be surprised at just how many lives it saves. We are one woman, one world.

Misogyny: Not the name of a fairytale character, this villain is real

Far too many people see this word and first, have no idea how to say it, let alone really understand what it means. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines misogyny quite simply as:

a hatred of women.

The short, incomplete sentence really does not capture the nature of what misogyny actually means, though.  Dictionary.com does a slightly better job, expounding on the initial four words:

hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women.

While better, neither really define the true nature.  The truest nature of the word in our civilization should read more like:

The desire or action to subjugate women to second class status behind men in society; making women socially and/or legally subservient to men; by usage of power, religion, physical force, slander belittling language or coercion to demean women and diminish the idea that they stand equal to men in intellect and ability.  Belittling women in public or private as a means to control their ability to achieve equality socially, based solely on the fact that they are a woman and not based on any personal merits; to sexually exploit women in ways as to suggest their primary worth is limited to their sexuality and ability to attract men.

That would be better, but it still would not cover the whole of it, what it means, how it effects women all over the world, or even what it looks like. Most people think, “Oh, you know it when you see it!”  But is that true? Is misogyny a boss calling his secretary ‘Darlin'” instead of by her name? Maybe.  Maybe not. It could just be an innocent term of endearment and the boss is just as likely to call a young man working for him “son” or something similar. If he says it while staring at her breasts, then it probably is.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I understand.  Men can’t help what attracts them.  They are wired like that. But he can help how he reacts to his attractions. He does not have the right to make employees feel sexually uncomfortable in their work environment just because he gets a little amorous tingle up his leg when she walks by.  We are an evolved species perfectly capable of controlling our desires and urges. If we weren’t then we’d never have built anything more impressive than a lean-to for all the debauchery going on.  However, while this is probably the most commonly experienced interaction with misogyny outside of religion (which holds the record for brainwashing half the population of the world into believing they only exist to serve the whims and needs of their husbands), it is not the worst. The indirect effect of misogyny is felt by almost every free woman, religious or not, in the United States, and even in many other Western Civilizations.  But I will stick to the U.S. because being a woman living here, I have an insider knowledge.

The United States of America has built a culture around glorifying the sexual appeal of women and denigrating women who are not sexy enough, as though their value is somehow diminished. It’s used to market anything from hamburgers to the cheerleaders of sports teams. It sells pretty much everything. A woman’s sex appeal has become her commodity. Now, there is nothing wrong with being pretty, or even enjoying looking nice.  That is perfectly normal.  But that is not a woman’s value.

From the onset of kindergarten we tell little boys how smart they are, how strong or athletic and how they will grow up to be brave, strong or even heroic.  We tell our little girls how pretty they are. We instill in them a different self value.  We perpetuate misogyny because we have been taught since toddlerhood to do so.  We begin to battle this invisible enemy by first exorcising it from ourselves and refusing to continue the cycle.  It is wonderful to tell your little girl she is beautiful.  But tell her what really makes her beautiful, aside from how she looks, her laughter, her kindness, her spirit and happiness, her creativity, her curiosity, her intellect, her power to be herself and speak her mind, her bravery and even her fear. She is beautiful. And she will, in turn, grow up with self confidence based on who she is rather than how she looks. Encourage her to be brave, face those fears and dare to live a bright life of her own, not one in the shadow as a servant.  She won’t be conceited, nor will she fear age, because age will bring more wisdom and more beauty, rather than its decline. We start here, then we take on the rest. Yes, there is more, much more, we can do to defeat this wolf in our midst, for he has mistaken us as sheep and we are not. Together, we can change everything.

We will take on another opponent to our freedom in the next installment of this blog series on misogyny. We are One Woman, One World.