king tides

photographer: Rachel Lena Sterline
photographer: Rachel Lena Sterline

Isn’t history just repetition and accumulation of power and influence? This is about understanding why you feel so wronged. Don’t you know it takes the Sun and the Moon to make the tides? It’s also true that roaring cats don’t purr. In this specific instance, it is either roar or purr. There is no both.

Cities showed up 6-figures deep. A people’s definition of amazing. Folks are asking if this is another revolution for a problem with no name. Pre-conditions find themselves in dispute along with feeling safe, not comfortable, but safe. You do not have my permission to share this. Pussy is on sale.

Expressions exchanged, uploaded, tagged. Bravery, morality, aggression slants.

Today we celebrate 44 years of codified privacy and personal (white) choice. An axis of origin. To be fair, there’s no standard agreement on how many simultaneous wars we are fighting. Drama should be reserved for love. The noise, the roaring noise, has been the most reliable of our tensions. Hair-triggering sensitivities. Isn’t it ironic?

center

and stupid stuff it makes us shout
oh dance with me oh don’t be shy
oh kiss me cunt and kiss me cock
oh kiss the world oh kiss the sky

— Pixies U-Mass

July 4, 2013 (Oakland)
July 4, 2013, Oakland (photo by Atlee)

The Pope sold out Madison Square Garden this week.
It was spectacle, indoctrination by hypocrisy.
Earlier, his message of misogyny delivered to a divided body politic.

Our rituals are to find each other
to worship sacred altars
at those soft edges of mercy.

The body twists, inertia its own reward.

ritual as routine

When I feel you around me, I believe in our revolution. I hold that privilege tightly.

match
Piedmont, CA 1.27.13 (a vice president kind of day)

During those early morning hours
before the sun’s ambient light assumes its warmth-
orange crush sunrise-
we bury the obvious.

Open your mouth and change my mind.
Convince me that I’m wrong:
critique has become a mechanism to police,
a consequence of systemic illiteracy.

Wait, did you hear the good news?
Pro-choice is now pro-context.
An attempt to amplify reality yet
the burden of semantics remains
unquestioned.

letters and soda

“I want all that boring old shit like letters and sodas.” Fuck and Run – Liz Phair

When I imagined the future, I failed to envision a world that censors state lawmakers from saying the word “vagina,” more specifically because they referenced their own vagina when pleading to maintain the right to have an abortion. My future was based on an assumption that there would be some evolution and general social dignity.

Our politics are getting very personal. Can you handle this intimacy?

I am growing ever more annoyed by heterosexual men whose lips are mum than from the to-be-expected cliched responses of misogynists.

To quote Begin the Begin, “Silence means security.” A security maintained by restriction is ultimately vulnerable. If men who love women continue to be mute, their sexuality and their sexual agency will be as equally depressing.

Like rape, this political repression is about power not sex. Seductive patriarchal fantasy and prescriptive subjection create more than fifty shades of grey when it comes to how we all resist domination. Your silence is your implicit consent. Until I hear otherwise, I won’t know that you don’t agree with the assumed benefits you’ve been reaping all these millennia.

Happy Father’s Day – indeed.

standpoint

found via demighoul.tumblr

Where I came from, it was the lack of choices that overwhelmed you. It should be no surprise that my birth state has maintained this oppression*.

There is one lonely clinic in South Dakota that provides abortions. There are no doctors in the state to perform them; they are flown in from Minnesota. South Dakota has one of the lowest abortion rates in the nation with the most restrictive laws against access to legal abortions (causal effect anyone?).  Starting in July you will have to, after waiting 72 hours, sit through a counseling session at a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC). There are no exceptions, not even if you were raped or a victim of incest, unless it’s a medical emergency. That is worth repeating: not even if you were raped or a victim of incest.

If you’re not familiar, Crisis Pregnancy Centers love to lie to women. They are experts at coercion. They are unregulated. They were established to deceive. They are legal. They have received tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.

What to do?

I suggest that because Crisis Pregnancy Centers apparently can be anything they want, create them with the intent to actually help women and the communities within which they operate. If the law states that you must visit a Center for counseling, then appropriate this trojan horse.  There are no doubt good people fighting this obscene law in corrupt courts (the same courts that allow these laws to exist) and they should continue to do so. But clearly this strategy is not working.

This is a crisis and I see no reason why we can’t take their model and scale it for good.  There are plenty of empty store fronts in downtown Sioux Falls, SD.  Rent this space and counsel women on their reproductive justice options. Because as Leslee Unruh so eloquently states, “What are they so afraid of? That women might change their minds?”

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* “Being oppressed means the absence of choices.” bell hooks Feminist Theory: from margin to center

Choice

It’s National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. A sincere thank you to those who risk their lives-doctors, nurses, volunteers, security guards, administration-to ensure women have access to safe, legal and affordable abortions. Now more than ever, they need our support.

she’s gotta have it

“What relationship can you have with yourself if you systematically  hand your genitals over to someone else?” – Virginie Despentes

Waiting in the Walgreen’s pharmacy line, listening to a man get medicine for his cat (to be picked up by his wife), I was seething. Having been told that I couldn’t refill my birth control prescription until my pack was “80% complete” because “people would buy more than they needed,” I stood at the nexus of body, choice, and a child-free future.

I didn’t want to be the “crazy lady” but I also didn’t want to roll over and take it. I knew the women behind the counter were not to blame for this injustice; this discrimination against my sex.  They were simply reading the computer.  However they were responsible for spewing its bullshit on me and justifying that “insurance companies don’t want to pay more than they have to” mantra.  I don’t want to have to pay more than I have to either: dollars, grief, and potential unwanted pregnancy.

In the end, after my blood pressure returned to normal, I walked out with three more months of apparently highly addictive estrogen and progestin. I was lucky this time and I know it.

It seems like we’re all fighting for autonomy these days.  Ironically, me and the Tea Baggers might actually be yelling about the same things. Stay out of my bedroom and I’ll stay out of yours.

bend don’t break

artist: Mel Kadel title: Pusher Woman

There are crazy people in positions of power that are attempting to pull women’s rights into the dark ages.  Last time I checked, abortion was legal in the United States. It certainly isn’t accessible but it is legal, as legal as getting a root canal or breast implants.

I used to escort women and their partners (boyfriend, baby daddy, mother, friend, etc.) into abortion clinics. (Note: There were many patients that were there to simply get birth control or take pregnancy tests.)  The anti-choice protesters were relentless and incredibly cruel.  Their weapons were fear, intimidation, and lies.  It was brutal and wore on one’s soul.

Patients didn’t fully realize the extent of the situation until they heard the verbal assaults as they left the comfort of their cars. They had been informed when they made their appointments of the potential for confrontation but until you are witness to such absurdity, it sounds conspiratorial. As I slowly approached the patient’s cars, I was often assumed to be part of the threat. The bright yellow “pro-choice escort” vest was invisible on my body.

I shouldn’t have even been there; it was actually quite stupid when you gave it some thought.  I volunteered my Saturday mornings to help people from their car, escorted them across a parking lot, and got them safely inside a licensed health care facility.  If I was helping people (women) get their eyes checked, you could argue I wasted hours and suffered unnecessary sunburns and frostbite.  But because these women were attempting to take agency over their own lives, their own bodies, I had to perform such a function.

I don’t know how to fight crazy.

ironic vulnerability

Living in a state of duality is probably not helping my memory recall. There are small moments within the passing days that spark neurons to remind why you do the things you do. From brave introductions, misuse of the word ironic, and over-sharing, there is repressed anticipation at the thought of it only being a Wednesday.

It’s been sunny and dry here; I empathize for those east of me.

So it is a fact: the internet is not 24/7.

Finding joy and creativity in states of vulnerability is a theory.  Implied within this construct is choice.  What happens when you try to apply such a construct to a contemporary problem, like over 75% of the creators of “knowledge” are men or exceptions are predicated on evidence of force? Does this vulnerability manifest itself in feelings of joy or an outpouring of creative expression? This query is not to discredit a very probable logic since I see and know evidence to the contrary. I wish instead that we didn’t have to suffer vulnerability at all.

artist: jeannie phan "contour drawings"

“deodorized discourse”

After recently hearing Cornell West rap about Socratic energy (living an unexamined life is not worth living) and deodorized discourse (we aren’t talking about the issues; we’re covering up the funk, the bruises), I am hypersensitive to the cover up. There was such hope for this new decade but we find ourselves mired in factional dichotomies paralyzed at the nexus of change.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

In the war on words with its battlefields littered with broken compromises, there are no coherent winners.  Our stories are false and shallow.

In the book, Bodies of Knowledge: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in the Second Wave, Wendy Kline exposes the battle lines around women’s knowledge of their own bodies.  She quotes sociologist Kathy Davis, “it was the method of knowledge sharing and not a shared identity as women which appeared to have a global appeal” for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the seminal catalyst for the women’s health movement. Bodies of Knowledge is an interesting exploration into who owns authentic knowledge and what Kline describes as “the inherent tension between two equally valid truths: the singularity of being female and the plurality of individual experiences among women.” (emphasis added) Klein outlines how the “personal is political” was implemented and eventually institutionalized for better or worse, neither side having a clear victory. The point was made more than once that the false paradox of body and brain, after all most of us have both, is outdated at best and divisive at worst.

Was the “personal as political” or DIY health care scalable? And if not, is that a such a bad thing? Why this need to always go global? Localizing and authenticating your epistemological standpoint within critically examined experiences might actually be worth the engagement and collateral damage. It’s the sharing of those authentic experiences that just may be the missing praxis. A symphony of critical voices who are just as fine operating within the system as around it is a worthy goal that’s often overlooked as a viable vehicle for living one’s life. Of course that shouldn’t be the only strategy for social change but it certainly sounds better than the current chorus.

As access to abortion becomes more and more difficult for the “average” woman, those of us on the body side [choice] find ourselves weary from using the master’s tools. Jane where for art thou?

artist: deedee cheriel
artist: barbara kruger

unpacking your life pile

While I was letting my life pile up around me, the following history happened:

1. comprehensive evidence based sex education got paid, specifically $155M in federal grants

2. medication abortions did not increase the total number of abortions in the United States

3. students want to learn

4. a new wave – post-feminism feminism – was born

I see a dull light shining out from the past dark ages that was the noughties. Let’s stop and celebrate these successes. The list above reads like a cornucopia of change from the status quo.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The crumbs listed above led people to this blog. I’m equally proud and horrified that the internet and its series of pipes dumped people here. How these terms correlate to cacheculture’s content is literally accurate but it’s certainly not definitive.

obsessions

artist: Lorena Vigil-Escalera, found via design work life
artist: Rob Mongomery, found via girlafraid
artist: Sarah Small, found via 1000 words photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!  And even happier day to those of us who choose not to birth or be restricted by our wombs.

Gail Collins’ Op-Ed column in last week’s New York Times, What Every Girl Should Know, is a stark reminder of how precarious our happiness is and how we all need to be advocates for our choices, lest they be made for us.

Sometimes it feels like change is glacial.  Yet it’s only been 50 years that the birth control pill was approved by the FDA, 45 years since married women were prescribed the pill, 36 years since single women could gain access to the pill, and it’s only been 37 years since abortion was codified. It can seem like menstruating women are measuring time by trimesters and months.

We often forget that transforming the cultural landscape is a modern project of progress. We assume that we can map out all the complexities of change and have thousands of theories of action to document these assumptions.  But this is a project where constant change is the chorus and trying to interpret the illogical can become an obsession. What we choose to focus on and obsess over matters greatly because if change is the constant, you may find yourself looking back and not recognizing where you came from.

Hug your abortion provider!

Tomorrow is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.  In honor of Dr. Tiller and those before him, this is a day to honor those who go to work every day and risk their lives for a legal medical procedure.

Things you can do:

In 1996, the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers started as a way to help stop the isolation and create a positive climate for abortion providers across the country. Dr. David Gunn was assassinated on March 10, 1993 by an anti-choice extremist.

Serious business

I’m not surprised that with the masculine tsunami that is about to hit the southeastern United States that this is the image that most fascinates me.

There has been much typed about women in the workforce which may explain the graphic representation of the “economic recovery.”

This year’s Super Bowl has been dominated by the concept of choice and the extremes that entail.  And the game hasn’t even been played yet.  It’s a classic tale of against-all-odds-I-will-survive.

I’m not sure who will win but as Dinosaur Jr wails, “I’m over it.”

If you’d like to subject yourself to even more hyper images of masculine femininity, go here.

Abortion is a Fundamental Human Right

Excellent article on why compromising on abortion is not an option.

“Most importantly, the repeal of the Hyde Amendment must become the number one priority of the prochoice movement and an explicit goal of the larger women’s movement. Much has been written about both movements’ need to indentify more strongly with low-income women and to frame issues of reproduction in the context of social justice and well as human rights. The restoration of funding for abortion as well as a commitment to ensuring that no woman has to choose abortion for solely economic reasons could help build the base of support needed to save legal abortion in the United States.”

Anti-Choice Perspective

“Polls before the vote showed the ban [in South Dakota] would have been approved easily had it included exceptions for rape or incest, though pro-life advocates don’t support aborting babies for those reasons.”

______________________
There can be no compromise with an ideology that does not recognize rape and incest as violations of personhood. To sanction choice in this matter is not an option.

Their line has been drawn.

Appropriating feminist discourse of empowerment and autonomy can no longer be tolerated. Pregnancy crisis centers need to exposed as fraud. “Abstinence only” as state sanctioned policy needs to be delegated to an absurd 20th century notion. They are not “babies.”

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman

Population Control

According to this article, Europe’s “population problem” is directly related to legalized abortion. According to Jitka Rychtarikova, a demographics professor, “abortion has turned childbearing into a choice rather than an act of nature.” (a bumper sticker slogan!)

Low birth rates coupled with legalized abortion is a recipe for cultural chaos and economic disaster. The average European woman currently produces 1.3 children. A number some claim is too low to sustain the population.

Low birth rates have also been linked to women having children later in life due to lack of quality maternity leave. Women often make the “choice” regarding the number of children they can care for and their careers (or lack of).

The US ranks near the bottom of industrialized nations when it comes to adequate maternity leave and affordable day care. And with the shell of what constitutes “legal abortion,” the US growth rate is approximately 2.13%. Using the same narrow sighted argument, the US also has a “population problem.”

It’s a good thing we’ve seen an exponential growth of pregnancy crisis centers.

Spectrum of Choices

In the official government press release for Women’s History Month, George W. Bush proclaims, “Today, the United States of America remains a country that offers the greatest freedom on Earth and believes in the promise of all individuals.”

“The greatest freedom on Earth”
We only have one freedom?
To have any extra may result in confusion and mayhem.

I had a feeling South Dakota seceded from the Union.

______________________

On the surface the idea that men should have more choices in respect to reproduction is newsworthy. Male birth control options are limited. Comprehensive sex education (where you can hear it) is often aimed at women for obvious reasons.

On the other hand when the director of the National Center for Men, Mel Feit, states, “There’s such a spectrum of choice that women have – it’s her body, her pregnancy and she has the ultimate right to make decisions. I’m trying to find a way for a man also to have some say over decisions that affect his life profoundly.”

He is referring to the Center’s latest lawsuit (note the trademark) which argues that because a woman can choose to a) adopt b) abort or c) raise the child, the father should be able to have the option of denying financial support to the unintended offspring.

A spectrum of choice? With the most recent assault on women’s reproductive rights (I’m talking about you South Dakota, my birth state) to hide under the paper tiger of Roe v Wade isn’t a very well thought out legal strategy. Maybe men should start demanding choices in what happens in their lives, it just may catch on in a patriarchal society.

________________________

In a stunning announcement, the American Medical Association has warned about the dangers of spring break. Apparently a lot of drinking and sex happen during spring break. Women need to be careful. [insert finger wagging here]

But of course the fault lies with the out-of-control party attitude that many women (CNN labels them girls – maybe for their naivete?) have during this time of revelry. Men (boys) should suffer no ill will in their bid for the ultimate party experience.

After all, us women have a spectrum of choices should above referenced partying happen to result in conception of a life. If you’re an oppressed dude, you should have the choice of walking away, pockets full – which just happens to be the greatest freedom on Earth.

________________________

It’s International Women’s Day.
A day in a month of celebrations aimed at honoring our fellow sisters.

The Web of Life

According to the American Family Association, one of the most cost effective ways to minister pregnant women who don’t know all of their pregnancy options is to use the internet. Never mind that these are the same folks who advocate that women shouldn’t learn how they could get pregnant in the first place.

A quick Google of “abortion” yields over 42 million choices. Choices that need to be sifted through carefully – no matter what side of the fence you ride.

With the impending confirmation of Alito, choice may become nostalgia. Will the sky fall? No. Will the land of freedom be further defined to include only the suffix? Unfortunately.

Accurate information that doesn’t fall into a binary didactic linguistic nightmare is a rare commodity in this age of “truthiness.

Lust for Life

Ohio Governor, Bob Taft, signed HB 129 authorizing the sale of “Pro-Life” license plates this week. For a mere $30 more, you can get your own Pro-Life plate. It will take 90 days for the bill to take effect.

The majority of the proceeds, approximately $20, will be deposited into the Choose Life Fund. (Choose Death Fund was already taken by the committee dedicated to slashing social service programs.) The money will be distributed to nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to counseling pregnant women about the obscure notion of adoption.

I can’t wait to see what creativity will be garnered from personalized Pro-Life plates.

We need to appropriate their lust for life.

The ideology of such lust is paralyzing. Savvy in their unrelenting worship of dichotomy, it can feel hard to argue against such a mantra.

Living in a world that is white/black, heterosexual/deviant, man/woman, and good/evil makes it easy to understand distinctions and deny what’s in between. All variables that do not fit into these tidy boxes are constructed as less valuable and made invisible.

To see life as it truly exists for most people would mean acknowledging that our systems, institutions, and hegemony favors certain groups over others. Usually the ones on the left of the dichotomy: white, male, and heterosexual.

As we continue to survive in these cultural dark ages, we need to remember that if life is defined for us, it is not worth living. Knowledge is power. And if power produces, we need to fight what the majority produces as knowledge. What is produced as truth is not. Perspective is in the eye of the beholder.

Embryonic Distopia

According to Judge Jeffrey Lawrence in Illinois, “a pre-embryo is a ‘human being’, whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb.” His ruling allows a Chicago couple to pursue their lawsuit against a fertility clinic that mistakenly disposed of a healthy embryo they had hoped would have been their child one day. Judge Lawrence stated that the couple is entitled to seek compensation the same as any parents whose child had been killed.

Citing the state’s Wrongful Death Act, which allows lawsuits to be filed if unborn fetuses are killed in an accident or assault, Lawrence precluded that an “unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person.”

While many believe the ruling will be overturned and is too narrow to adversely affect abortion rights, it signifies the not-so-clever reforms of the anti-choice movement. It would be dangerous to assume that this ruling is absurd. The interpretation of an “activist judge’s” opinion on such a matter is dangerous. According to Judge Lawrence’s logic, the embryo has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There are many who believe despite a woman’s decision, her well-being, and her circumstance, all unborn should be protected. The anti-choice movement’s passionate desire to reform and eventually abolish Roe v Wade comes at a heavy price. While Roe is still legal in this country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access a safe and affordable abortion.

While some fight for a mass of fertilized cells, others see authentic human beings outside of the test-tubes, the gestational wombs, and didactic politics.

——

Take a moment to imagine the possibilities, the untapped markets, and the utopian potential for embryos.

We’ll look back someday and wonder how we ever existed without such consumables as: fetal insurance, womb fresheners, aesthetic product lines designed to ensure our eggs are supple, fertile and maintain their viability (The horror of a saggy wrinkled Fallopian tube!), and the designer vaginal canals to ensure sperm have a pleasant experience on their fertilization trip.

Access Denied: Contraceptive History

I was fortunate enough to view the “largest retrospection on contraception ever assembled.” The traveling History of Contraception stopped at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. While the collection was certainly unique (who keeps their used contraceptive devices?), a lack of cultural context was desperately missing. Cheerfully stating, “you will see the creativity and ingenuity employed in the absence of today’s knowledge and readily available, safe and effective products.” Readily available, safe and effective? Last time I checked, the lack of safe, inexpensive and most importantly, reliable birth control was novel science fiction lost in the bureaucracy of moral values.

Sponsored by Janssen-Ortho, Inc. (a Canadian pharmaceutical company whose parent company is Johnson & Johnson) the exhibit displays various methods of contraceptives – from the candy wrapper as condom to the exotic dried weasel testicle. The journey from torturous, often deadly concoctions (lead and mercury), to our modern day miracle, the pill, summed up centuries of women’s attempts to control their fertility, their bodies, and their lives.

Most noticeable was the lack: the lack of politics, the lack of abortive methods, and the lack of women’s voices. Nearly every device displayed related to suppressing women’s fertility, yet their agency was delegated to the masculine science that “improved” with each generation’s knowledge. The desperation that many of the devices exhumed was quickly passed over to continue the tidy progression of history.

Considering the climate of today’s cultural “values,” I was honored to have seen the display. It is rare to witness such items in a public setting (for free!). Knowing that women have always employed ingenious methods and desperate desires to manipulate their fertility was both empowering and a little depressing.

Here’s to our eggs surviving the next century!