Tuesday, January 22, 2008

35 years

I sat down at my computer a few minutes ago to write a brilliant post on the 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. 35 is a round number, it seems like it demands something special.

But as I sit here wondering what to say, thinking about the great weight of those 35 years, I find myself just feeling tired. Maybe those nice round numbers are heavier than others.

But I will share this: I was reminded today of the beautiful job F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he wrote The Great Gatsby. He lived at a time when modern culture as we know it was just beginning to emerge, and carelessness, consumerism, and corruption were tarnishing the American Dream. Two of his characters are charming yet vapid, prejudiced, selfish people who wouldn't know the dignity of others if it walked up and slapped them in the face, or surprised them with a sincere gesture of affection. They break people the way spoiled children break toys, and after a brief moment of shock at the consequences, they move on to the next bigger, better human toy without so much as a backward glance, and it is the powerless who pay the greatest price.

Gatsby is a warning. Materialistic hedonism destroys, and in the Great Gatsby, it destroys human life.

G.K. Chesterton saw this coming too, before Fitzgerald even published Gatsby. Dale Ahlquist very eloquently explains:

Eugenics and abortion is about the tyranny of the elite deciding who shall live and who shall die. And if it's about the elite, it's about money. It was the Rockefellers and the Carnegies and other capitalist lords who funded eugenics research in the early 20th century. They went on to be major supporters of Planned Parenthood. Chesterton says that wealth, and the social science supported by wealth tries inhuman experiments, and when they fail, they try even more inhuman experiments. They are inhuman because they are godless. But they are godless because they don't want to face how inhuman they are. The wealthy industrialist became agnostic, says Chesterton, "not so much because he did not know where he was, as because he wanted to forget. Many of the rich took to scepticism exactly as the poor took to drink; because it was a way out."

Chesterton foresaw that society would begin to view human beings as commodities. That school children would eventually be seen as industrial tools to be churned out by public institutions, rather than thinking individuals; that the poor and the weak and the elderly would be seen as unsightly burdens, to be abandoned and left to the care of government bureaucracies; that women, facing untimely pregnancies would be bombarded with messages telling them that their usefulness to themselves and society (or their unborn child's usefulness) will be reduced to nothing if they embrace motherhood and give birth.

I am the child of a "crisis" pregnancy, born after the Roe decision, in a state where abortion was already legal before the infamous Supreme Court case made its mark on American history. In the time since Roe, over 48 million human beings, many of whom might have been my friends, have lost their lives. It is true that we in the post-Roe generation have not lived in a world without legalized abortion, and we do not remember what a world without it would be like. But we do know that in an age of legalized abortion, we are lucky to be alive at all.

I cannot embrace the hopeless and selfish utilitarian attitude of the age in which I live, and the society that tried to convince my mother it would have been okay to kill me in the womb. I and the many young people who have been and will be marching for life this week every year will not give in to "the tyranny of the elite deciding who shall live and who shall die". We want to say to our children, "See? We have given you a world that will protect your very life--your entire life, more than it protected ours."

Pro-life feminist Serrin Foster on the betrayal of women by the "pro-choice" cause.
Dale Ahlquist's lecture one Chesterton's "Eugenics and other Evils"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sarah Weddington, Traitor to her Sex

Weddington's Betrayal of Women
Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America

On the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, many will focus on the undeniable humanity of the unborn child now seen clearly by millions through sophisticated sonograms on Oprah as well as in Life and Newsweek cover stories.

Meanwhile, I will be reflecting on the impact of the choice made by attorney Sarah Weddington in 1973.

As her arguments for abortion before the Supreme Court made clear, Weddington saw the discrimination and other injustices faced by pregnant women. But she did not demand that these injustices be remedied. Instead, she demanded for women the “right” to submit to these injustices by destroying their pregnancies.

Weddington rightly pointed out the unmet needs of students: “…there are many schools where a woman is forced to quit if she becomes pregnant.” But Weddington didn’t argue against pregnancy discrimination or even for alternate solutions for a pregnant student.

Weddington did no better for women in the workplace. “In the matter of employment, she often is forced to quit at an early point in her pregnancy. She has no provision for maternity leave… She cannot get unemployment compensation under our laws, because the laws hold that she is not eligible for employment, being pregnant, and therefore is eligible for no unemployment compensation.”

For women with serious medical needs, she further noted: “There is no duty for employers to rehire women if they must drop out to carry a pregnancy to term. And, of course, this is especially hard on the many women in Texas who are heads of their own households and must provide for their already existing children.”

Weddington clearly saw the bind low-income women face when experiencing unplanned pregnancy: “At the same time, she can get no welfare to help her at a time when she has no unemployment compensation and she's not eligible for any help in getting a job to provide for herself.”

Weddington repeatedly said that women need “relief” from pregnancy, instead of arguing that women need relief from these injustices.

What if Weddington had used her legal acumen to challenge the system and address women’s needs?

By accepting pregnancy discrimination in school and workplace and the lack of support in society for pregnant women and parents, especially the poor, Weddington and the Supreme Court betrayed women and undermined the support women need and deserve.

Since then, millions of women have paid the price, struggling in school and the workplace without societal support. After all, when “it’s her body, it’s her choice,” it’s her problem.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion in America, half of all abortions are performed on college-age women.

Since 1994, Feminists for Life has worked to address the unmet needs of pregnant and parenting students and staff on college campuses. For the past decade FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Forums on campuses across the country have revealed the still-unmet needs of pregnant and parenting students — especially a lack of housing, child care, telecommuting options, maternity coverage and medical riders for additional children. FFL found there is rarely a central place on campus for pregnancy and parenting resources. Even when resources are available, they are often not publicized. For pregnant and parenting students kept in the dark about the help they need and deserve, perception is their reality.

This March, which is Women’s History Month, Feminists for Life is helping college students make history for women by hosting Rallies for Resources on campuses across the country — so that women don’t feel driven to choose between sacrificing their children or their education and career plans.

The proposed Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, a bipartisan effort led by Senators Elizabeth Dole and Ben Nelson and Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Sue Myrick, would make grants available for up to 200 colleges and universities to host pregnancy resource forums, create resource centers on campus, and communicate available support on and off campus.

There was one thing Weddington got right. “Whether she's unmarried; whether she's pursuing an education; whether she's pursuing a career; whether she has family problems; all of the problems of personal and family life, for a woman, are bound up in the problem of abortion.”

Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women.

Thirty-five years after Weddington capitulated to inherently unfair practices against pregnant and parenting women, those on both sides of the abortion debate should unite and say “no” to the status quo. Clearly women deserve better.

© 2008, Feminists for Life of America. This article may be reprinted in its entirety, including the author’s name and title, the organization name, and a link to www.feministsforlife.org.

The 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade is in two days. Injustices faced by pregnant women have not been minimized by legal abortion, and the people who perpetrate them are now protected by the legal and social expectation that women facing crisis pregnancies should terminate them.

Nice work, Ms. Weddington.

Via: Christina Dunigan

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Notes to the Fashion Industry: Or, Why I love Sewing

I hate department stores.

I hope the corporate offices of the major ones are reading this, because I know I am not the only woman who is beginning to detest the monumental waste of time and energy that shopping for clothes is becoming.

Granted, we are part of the problem. We'll stay in those stores for two or three hours sometimes hoping against hope that we will find that particular shirt or that elusive pair of perfect jeans. Men (at least most of the ones that I know) do not generally do this. If they can't find the item they want within 20 minutes, they often leave the store. I think I actually see more women in the men's department than actual men. The fashion industry knows this, and so far has done nothing but made the hunt for female attire more and more difficult, thought it works so hard to give the appearance of the contrary.

Since when did the American Dream get twisted in to this exhausting chase after life, liberty, and the perfect little black dress?

This is why I now own a sewing machine. To decrease my dependence on a fashion industry gone berserk.

So here are a few suggestions I offer to the makers and sellers of ladies' clothing, should they wish to make their places of business more pleasant for their customers, in case they wish to win back the business of those who share my frustrations.

  1. Clearly labeled Sizing. When my husband needs jeans, undershirts, or anything else, he can match the size of his clothing to his (listen carefully now) ACTUAL MEASUREMENTS for his chest, waist, inseam, or whatever. We women, on the other hand, have to deal with obscure sizes like '2' and 'medium', with no reference whatsoever to the actual size and shape of our person. This leads to endless time spent trying on garments that do not fit.
  2. End Size Creep. To make matters worse, the actual size of a '2' or a '6' or whatever can vary from one brand to another, and even from one year to an other. When I was I was 12 , I wore a number size distinctly larger than what I am now, and despite the increase in my physical size, the number on my jeans has actually gone down. This could only be possible if there were size creep going on. Don't try to flatter my by telling me I'm smaller. My tape measure doesn't lie. But the label on my pants probably does.
  3. Petites are young people too. Why is it that most of the petite items look like they were made for someone's grandma? I hope to be one someday, but let's not get ahead of ourselves now.
  4. While we are on the subject of height, women come in a variety of height, width and shape combinations. There is, for instance, such a thing as a tall thin person. I don't happen to be tall myself, but I know a tall woman who has a really hard time finding tall pants in a size 6. .
  5. Speaking of shapes, curvy women come in all sizes too. (Jean designers should pay especially close attention to this. The back waist of a pair of jeans should not leave enough extra space for me to carry a sandwich. Ladies, you know what I mean.
  6. Spandex should be illegal. Especially in regions with hot, humid summers. Why on earth is is so hard to make 100% cotton jeans and tank tops?
  7. Quality. As a garment sewer I am learning what this looks like, and I hate to say that I am seeing cheap work in stores that should know better. Seams should hold. Fabrics should be pre-shrunk. Colors should stay. Period.
  8. Value. I should not have to pay $100 for a garment that fits me. That may work for fashion magazines and makeover shows, but it sure adds up fast out here in the real world. This kind of pricing becomes especially ridiculous to the person who knows she can custom make a similar item for herself for half the money, and a quarter of the frustration.
  9. Brand power does not mean as much as you'd like to think. I'll put it to you this way. If you think the chest of my shirt or the butt of my jeans are advertising space, you the company should be paying me for the use of it. That means you, Tommy Hillfiger, Abercrombie, Nike, and Hollister. (and Esprit, back in the 80's) I am certainly not paying you extra money for the privilege of giving you free marketing.

There it is, fashion marketing executives. Free of charge, though you are welcome to pay me if you like.

I must end this post, though with a call to women to stand up for themselves here. Nobody said you have to waste your life at the mall looking for something that isn't there, probably putting enough strain on your feet to require a visit to a podiatrist. If you can't find what you are looking for in 30-60 minutes, politely inform the manager that the store needs to be more friendly to the needs of its busy female customers, and leave with your hard-earned money still in your wallet.

Maybe you'll save enough for a sewing machine.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Birth Control and Bone Loss

The couple that taught our NFP (Natural Family Planning) class had three children, which they planned and conceived using NFP after the wife went off of the birth control pill.

Unfortunately, she already had such severe osteoporosis that her ability to hold and carry her youngest child while standing was severely limited, under the orders of her doctor.

She wasn't even 40 yet when my husband and I took the class. Her back was already showing early signs of the "dowager's hump" that is often very pronounced in older women with advanced bone loss.

Part of the reason for her early osteoporosis was her long-term use of The Pill, according to her doctor.

Back in 2005, the connection between Birth Control Pills and bone loss was documented in a Purdue University Study, and also in 2001

This article, dated in 2007, refers to Loyola Marymount University research published in the journal Osteopororsis International that finds the same. This study was of women aged 18-25, a critical time (in addition to the teen years) for women to be doing everything they can to build up their bone mass.

Imagine what could happen with women who started taking the Pill for acne (or other reasons) as early as 12 or 13 and have spent almost their entire post-pubescent lives on the Pill. I hope someone will study that next.

Some recommend taking extra calcium and getting extra exercise to minimize this rather frightening side effect. Why not just ditch the pill, so the calcium-rich diet and exercise (which are generally good for us women anyway) can have their full effect?

Who knows, maybe one less Pill now could mean we're less likely to need one more (i.e. osteoporosis pill) later.

Magic School Musical...

...the Puppet Show!

Via Alive and Young

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One Tough Mama

Give Jane Hambleton of Des Moines Iowa a round of applause for her responsible and creative parenting.

When she found booze in ther teenage son's car, she took out an ad in the paper, stating:

"OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

(Read the full story at CNN)

Naturally, her son is not pleased with the arrangement, but this is one mother who is decidedly not intimidated by her child's whining. Not even when he claims that the alcohol was left by a passenger. Dumb excuse anyway. He had been told that there would be no tolerance for alcohol in the car, and he should not have allowed it. Whether the booze was his or his friend's, it was still just as illegal. Until he learns this, he should not be driving, and his mother is taking that very seriously.

This is quite refreshing, considering the lengths to which some youth will take their whining, and the absurd frequency with which this works on (what should be authoritative) adults.

Take it from a teacher who sees kids when their parents aren't looking. Be firm when you teach them right from wrong. Most likely, they'll recover.

They may even thank you for it someday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What to teach your kids about Myspace.

I think "Online" by Brad Paisely sums it up nicely. The video, complete with celebrity cameos, makes the message even clearer. (Click here to watch it on YouTube--there is some mature humor, by the way.)

Here are the lyrics:

I work down at the pizza pit
And I drive and old Hundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I 5'3 and overweight

I'm a Sci-fi fantatic
Mild athsmatic
Never been to 2nd base
But there's a whole nother me
That you need to see
Go check out MySpace

Cause online I'm down in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
I drive a Mazarati
I'm a black belt in Karate
And I love a good glass of wine

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
Cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

I get home, I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up the mac

In real life, the only time I
Ever even been to LA
Was when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade.

Online I live in Malibu
I posed for Calvin Kline, I've been in GQ
I'm single and I'm rich
And I got a set of six pack abs that'll blow your mind

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
Cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

When you got my kinda stacks, it's hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot
And I lose a bunch of weight everytime I log in

Online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
Even on a slow day, I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

St. Cassian of Imola, pray for us!

That the patron saint of teachers would be a man who was martyred by his own students, who stabbed him to death with their writing instruments, seems quite appropriate. :)

His feast day is in August, not long before many of us in the teaching profession are called back to work from our much needed summmer vacation.

Read more here:
Patron Saint of Teachers: Or, On the Meaning of the Second Semester

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A post revisited: Tolkien's Women

As we draw closer to the end of the Christmas season, in which we honor our Savior and the mother who bore Him, I humbly offer the following post from last June for the perusal of my fellow Tolkien Geeks:

Tolkien's Women: Marian Imagery in the Silmarillion