conservatism and feminism both end in -ism

conservatism and feminism both end in -ism

Hey, that’s the tagline of my blog!  See what I did there??

One of the questions I’ve hoped to explore more fully in this blog is this: can you be both a conservative and a feminist.

Yes.  Yes you can.

There, that was easy.

But srlsly tho.  Why is it even a question?  Why couldn’t a person be both a conservative and a feminist?  Why can’t those things coexist within one person? Why do feminists have to be only liberal?  Is feminism really linked inextricably to liberalism?

I looked up feminism in the dictionary: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”  That doesn’t seem in any way partisan. To me, it only makes sense for feminism to be independent of political ideology.  After all, women have a set of commonalities and needs that differ from those of other groups and have mutual political and cultural goals that grow out of those commonalities and needs.  

Why can’t people seem to wrap their heads around that?  

Women have things in common, what a shocker.  Men have things in common. Children have things in common.   Parents have things in common. Americans have things in common.  Canadians have things in common. Various groups of all stripes and sorts have things in common.  Conservatives have things in common and liberals have things in common. I’m sure we could sit and draw up a supercomplicated Venn diagram to illustrate the ways in which specific qualities apply to more than one group.  It is only natural various groups might wish to form advocacy groups to lobby for their individual needs/wants even if they happen to belong to other groups at the same time that have different, even conflicting needs/wants.

There are absolutely things that would overlap between the conservative circle and the women circle in that Venn diagram.  There are goals both political and cultural that women have, all women, across the political spectrum, that require advocacy.

You know that old expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?”  Well, it’s true. Nothing in this world gets accomplished by sitting quietly, politely, and awaiting notice. I have found in life that sitting in a ladylike fashion hoping silently for fair treatment generally ends with me being treated like a pack mule – only with fewer carrots. Thus, women across the political spectrum, by virtue of their shared needs, are in need of some type of organized group that says “hey, we’re going to be treated a certain way in the eyes of the law and the government and that’s not open for negotiation because we’re a force to be reckoned with.”  And sometimes an advocacy group becomes a movement. Hence, feminism.

I believe the difference between conservatives and liberals boils down to one simple fundamental difference in mindset, and that this difference sheds light on the conservative/feminism question.

Conservatism is founded on the principle that humans possess a relatively unchanging fundamental nature and that the job of humanity is to discover the best way to live in that nature for maximum happiness, prosperity, and all the rest of that delightful shit for the benefit of everyone.  Like dogs, cats, bunny rabbits, and Komodo dragons, humans universally are a particular set of behaviors and we have to take those behaviors into account when designing our laws and governments and workplaces and families and sexual relationships.

Obviously, conservatives have not always gotten it right.  Historically, they’ve absolutely come up with ways to live and govern that didn’t bestow max happiness and prosperity equally upon everyone – but overall, that’s what modern day conservatives are going for (whether they really know that or not).  It doesn’t matter if you’re a fundamentalist Christian and believe that God created Man in his image or if you’re an atheist and believe that that natural selection has shaped the human genome in a certain way, conservatives believe humans are a thing and that thing doesn’t change at least within our lifetimes, and so we gotsta take human nature into account when building a society and creating the rules that govern that society.

Now liberals, on the other hand, don’t believe this.  They’re blank slaters – they think humans can be improved and should be improved and if only they can figure out how to do that, that humans will change faster than Lady Gaga changes her outfit.  Liberals believe that if they have a college degree (which, they totally DO) and some fucking compliance then utopia could become a reality. They want to use the hand of government not as a carefully designed tool to moderate and mitigate human foibles, but as a carefully designed tool to improve upon human nature itself.  

Liberals believe in alchemy, human alchemy, transforming a “person” (just a social construct anyway) into something else, something they believe will be better, eventually, maybe, after breaking a few eggs, and they believe that changing the fundamental structure of society as a whole is a means to that end. They believe that government exists to change society, culture, and human nature because there is no human nature and so culture and society are simply things that the government should be able to fiddle around with in order to accomplish this utopian dream.

If they only had the right kind of carrot and the right kind of stick, liberals believe they could turn that pack mule not only into a thoroughbred racehorse, but into a flying car.  Conservatives believe that mules will always be mules and so when constructing a flying car one needs to take the actual shape and size of the mule into account when designing it even when it makes the car look a little clunkier and less aesthetically pleasing for those who care about such things.  Maybe it gets a little worse gas mileage. Maybe it’s slightly less efficient. Maybe it wasn’t designed by Elon Musk and doesn’t have the “cool” factor liberals seem to prize so highly. It’s still better than building a flying car to fit a Komodo dragon when a mule is gonna flying the damn thing.

I happen to fall into the conservative category and I believe that humans are a certain way and nothing you can do will ever ever ever change that (well, maybe by waiting a million years or so).  I want a culture and government and laws based in the reality of human behavior instead of a fantasy about what human beings “should” be. So I find liberal efforts to change humanity not just wrong but actually rather evil, since a lot of that changing seems to take place at the end of a gun.  I don’t mean to say liberals, the individuals, are evil, but their idea of using the law and the culture as a brickbat to actually, legitimately try to change human nature – a nature I believe to be set in stone by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and/or God – I find that to be an evil concept.

Because you can put a lion into a zoo but you aren’t ever going to make it into anything but a lion.  It’s not going to turn into a porpoise because you put it in an aquarium. It’s just going to drown. It’s not going to turn into a guinea pig because you feed it celery.  It’s just going to starve. Lions need a certain kind of environment just like humans need a certain kind of environment and it’s incumbent upon those who are running the zoo to figure out what environment is best for lions to live in, and provide it to them so they can live the best and happiest lion life they can lead.  

The female lions in the zoo have certain innate needs; some are the same as the male lions, but not all of them are, and in fact the female lions and their cubs (because can we be real here? Children fall into the female sphere, and only a liberal would pretend otherwise) may even need extra protection from the male lions.

This seems relatively simple until you realize that the lions are actually running the zoo and so you’re putting one lion in charge of the other lion and so you have to take that into account when designing your zoo.  Lion nature being what it is, if you don’t build some sort of safeguard into the system, you’re going to end up with the lion zookeeper keeping all the best meat for themself while feeding the other lions celery.  We certainly don’t want the lion zookeeper thinking “well why CAN’T lions be porpoises?” and launching into a grand campaign to acclimate lions gradually to watery environments (starting first with the lion zookeepers’ political enemies).   And the lion zookeeper can’t expect male lions to act any differently than male lions act, ruling over the pride with threat of violence towards the lionesses and their cubs, doing little work and taking all the benefits despite that, and constantly fighting with the other male lions. But you can’t blame or punish the male lions for that, because they’re male lions, it is in their nature, and the lionesses kind of like them that way anyway.  You just have to acknowledge that their nature is real, it is not their fault and nor is it going to be easy for them to overcome it, and take all of that into consideration, that’s all.

When designing our lion habitat, a balance must be struck between respecting the lion’s (both male and female lions, since their needs and natures do not identically mesh) inherent nature as a bloodthirsty, selfish killing machine while at the same time limiting harm to other lions and respecting their inherent natures too.  Because the whole point of our zoo is to allow the most lions – male, female, weak, strong, old, young – to thrive at their most happiest lion level. It can’t be a habitat where the lion zookeepers make impossible promises that they cannot keep in which all lions will have perfect lives because utopia isn’t an option and utopia generally ends up looking like whatever suits the bosses best.  https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/peoples-commune-canteens-china?utm_medium=atlas-page&utm_source=facebook.com But it could be a habitat where lions can be lions and do lion things with as much freedom as it’s possible for them have while still not indulging that lion nature to the furthest degree and ending up in a terrible world where everyone is killing each other all the time.

For me, that’s what the small government conservativism I subscribe to is all about.  My right to swing my fist (or paw) ends before it hits the other guy’s face (or muzzle).  And as women, sometimes we need to team up to prevent any flying fists, both literal and figurative, from heading our way.  And for me, that’s what feminism is all about.  Since we’re littler and have historically had less money and power, and maybe, just maybe because there are some innate human quirks that make people (both men and women) fall into gender-based patterns that aren’t best for maximizing women’s happiness and potential, we gals need to stick together to advocate for ourselves both legally and in the culture as a whole.  (fun fact – you do not always need to use the force of law to advocate for yourself!)

You can be both a conservative and a feminist.  For reals.  You can both believe that humans have a fundamental set nature that needs to be respected and protected and allowed for, while still acknowledging that male human needs and female human needs do not identically mesh and sometimes female human needs ought to be advocated for and male urges need to be mitigated.  It is ridiculous to say that just because I’m a conservative, that I’m somehow not still a woman, that I don’t want and deserve the right to vote and to own property and to not get raped by a stranger for wearing a miniskirt or beaten up by my husband and to be able to protect my children from those who would do them harm (even if that IS my husband).  

Just because I don’t agree with some (ok, most) feminists on the social engineering stuff, just because I don’t agree that lions can be turned into porpoises if only you spray them gently with sprinklers while shaming them viciously on Lionfacebook whenever they move to a dry corner, that doesn’t mean that I favor nature, red in tooth and claw, where women and children are property and men get to make all the decisions in society because they have more muscles.  Because not only would that world suck (even for the men!) the fact is, the lions are running the zoo here. Great caution must be taken to ensure that the lion zookeepers aren’t using their power for their own benefit at the expense of others. The female lions have got to have input into the way the zoo is run so they can advocate for themselves and their children. Otherwise we end up with a system where the people making decisions are the strong and powerful people because humans have a nature and that’s one of the pitfalls of human nature – the strong and powerful will gravitate to positions of leadership and absolute power corrupts absolutely.   But at the same time this doesn’t mean that the female lionesses are always right and it certainly doesn’t mean they are incorruptible, either.  Strong and powerful people can sometimes look a lot more like Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi than Lou Ferrigno and Larry the Cable Guy, believe it or not.

Now, a lot of people have realized this truth along the way, that you an be a feminist and a conservative and tried to come up with fancy new terms for it like “womanism” or “femaleism” and all I can say to that is UGH.  Look, the English language is full of words that have more than one meaning like “salad” or “set” or “crane” and our clever human brains are capable of using one word to mean different things all of which have nuance to them depending on the context.  “Feminism” is a fine word and will suffice. But we as conservative feminists do need to advocate for a subset of feminism where we can exist and advocate for women’s rights and children’s rights.  We need to exist as feminists without everyone assuming that just because we believe women and children  (perhaps maybe even including children who are unborn) should have rights that exceed that of pack mules, just because we want to be respected by the culture and by the law as fully actualized individuals, this doesn’t mean that we therefore buy into every cockamamie idea that underlies the liberal philosophy.  They’re two totally different things and much of what liberals claim feminism is, is actually, actively BAD for women!

The feminism circle in our Venn Diagram DOES NOT exist solely within the liberal circle.  Feminism is not Lesotho. And really, isn’t it pretty damn sexist to assume that feminism can only exist under the protective umbrella of liberalism?  That women can’t think for themselves and have viewpoints that are different from this other social movement? That women might prefer freedom and not having Mommy Government telling us what to do with our bodies in every arena but sex and abortion (am I the only one who doesn’t get that, like, at all?  “Your body, your choice” with abortion, but you damn well better not drink a 32 ounce soda or smoke cigarettes because that is BAD for you and we all need to live to be 108 years old because human life is so totally precious and everything).

Liberals do NOT have the answers.  In fact, I think they have precisely NONE of the answers.  Maybe they did at one time but not any more because the things they used to believe in, like freedom and tolerance and having a sense of humor and stickin’ it to the Man, they seem to have forgotten about now that they have become the Man themselves.  (and if you self-ID as a feminist and a liberal because of things that happened in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s, you may want to go take a closer look at what the hardcore liberals are really saying nowadays because it may not be what you thought it was).  

Social engineering and victim mentality and political correctness and Nannystatism are creating a society and a culture that I HATE. Honestly, I think all of us hate it, it’s that some people are so committed to liberalism as a religion that they have lost the ability to see clearly the cause and effect here.  Without hyperbole I can say that cultural norms and valuable legal standards that protect not only men but women and women’s children (shockingly, some women’s children ARE men!  AAAA they’re already inside the house!!) are being destroyed left and right…or should I say, left and left, since the left is the driving force behind it.

Don’t celebrate, feminist friends. When things go wrong, when the ties that bind us disintegrate, it is the most vulnerable who pay the highest price.  Women will foot the bill, they always do. Our civil rights will evaporate before anyone else’s and they’ll take the longest to come back again.

It is a critical PART of my feminism to stand against liberalism because it is better for women.  Women will be safer and better off in a small-government conservative world than in a liberal one.  Conservatism isn’t perfect; historically conservatives have absolutely gotten things wrong.  Conservatives must do better in the future at protecting EVERYONE’s rights, not only the strong and powerful.  But we can’t do that if liberals continue taking a battle axe to legal protections, civil liberties, and cultural norms that exist for the benefit and protection of all people – women, minorities, LGBTQ, children – out of a misguided attempt to turn lions into pussycats. 

It’s not going to work, it can never work, because humans are a thing and that thing is not going to change for a very, very long time.  We have to make laws for the world as it is, not a world we can imagine in our minds.  So not only is it possible to be a feminist and a conservative, it’s a necessity.

 

      

a tale of two twitties

a tale of two twitties

Context.  Context matters.  Context explains the larger meaning of the things we see and hear and brings into focus events too faraway to see clearly.  Context changes a hero into a war criminal and an ice cube to a something that can sink the Titanic. Context lets us hear an honest whisper through the hum of a million lies.

We live in a post-context reality.  Not post-truth like the pundits claim, but post-context. We could easily judge the truth of things we read and hear if only we could put them in context.  But context takes time and the news cycle happens fast – too fast for the average person keep up with. Offhand remarks are replayed in a loop, their context long ago forgotten. Tweets written in a moment live on forever in infamy.   Viral stories become runaway trains. And since we’re drowning in information who has the time to go back and thoroughly investigate the origin story of something potentially inflammatory?  Chumps, that’s who. People with no lives who have nothing better to do with their days. It’s so much easier to just hop on the bandwagon and let the flames of outrage burn higher.

When Kevin Williamson got fired from The Atlantic, I thought it was crap.  I wrote about it here: https://atomicfeminist.com/2018/07/19/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin/  But at the same time, my knee jerk reaction is that it was questionable and concerning policy for the New York Times to hire Sarah Jeong given her tweet history.  

I try pretty hard to keep a fair and balanced viewpoint.  I don’t think I live in a bubble and I don’t believe I am a rabid partisan, either.  Because I do try to hold myself to a higher standard, I really wanted to unravel the logic underlying my knee jerk feelz to see if I was onto something or if I was just a hypocrite.  And in doing so, I have concluded that the difference between Kevin Williamson and Sarah Jeong is context. The context is big and unruly and very likely impossible to unravel in one innocent lil thinkpiece.  But I’ll try, because in our divided nation, context matters more than any of us have realized.

There’s an expression that I really like.  It’s this: “Two buttheads met and they butted heads.”   Meaning that sometimes in life, two jerks or groups of jerks have a head-on collision and there’s a really huge explosion in which both parties were at fault and no one walks away from the flames unscathed putting on their cool sunglasses while a rock soundtrack plays in the background.  Sometimes there are no innocent victims. Sometimes, everyone implodes and everyone deserves it. Sometimes, two buttheads just kinda…butt heads. And let me just get that out of the way now. I think Kevin Williamson was an immensely unhelpful douche for saying what he said and I think Sarah Jeong was also an immensely unhelpful douche for saying what she said.  They’re both guilty of pot-stirring when the pot is bubbling along just fine without their input, thanks ever so.

BUT.  It is entirely possible to find people basically assholes but at the same time believe that they have the right to exist and say whatever they want.  It is also possible to not like what these people have to say, and yet still choose to listen to their assholery, or at least coexist with it, because words don’t kill people.  Additionally, places of employment should not have to feel obligated to hire or fire people who have expressed problematic viewpoints.  Again, one can think that these places of employment are right or wrong to do so, even as we defend overall their right to employ who they wish.  Our opinions on any or all of these things may – indeed WILL – vary due to circumstances.  Because context. Different situations have different context and context matters.  

In one corner, we have Kevin Williamson, who has said some controversial stuff but worst of all, the realio-trulio dealbreaker was that on two known occasions in 2014, one Tweet and one podcast https://www.vox.com/2018/4/5/17202182/the-atlantic-kevin-williamson-twitter-abortion-death-penalty said that even though he didn’t really believe in the death penalty, if abortion was made illegal, it would be murder, and thus would be subject to the death penalty.   Hanging, he said, would be too good for them. Ok. He’s an offensive guy. He’s certainly offended me before https://atomicfeminist.com/2017/10/25/hit-the-road-joad/

I don’t find the things Kevin says to be always or even usually helpful to the greater dialogue but he has made me think about some things that I hadn’t thought about before.  

Then we have Sarah Jeong, who has said all this stuff.   Please read this entire thread, because context matters. https://twitter.com/nickmon1112/status/1025437806775226368?lang=en  Jeong is clearly making a concerted effort to be consistently and openly offensive over a period of several years.  This is not an offhand, spur of the moment remark she let slip a couple of times years ago, this is hundreds of tweets over a long period of time, this is an argument she is deliberately constructing for public consumption.  And you can tell me all about how this was countertrolling, sarcasm, etc etc etc, that there was a larger point she was making, and I actually fully agree. I see and understand what she was going for with all that and many of her larger points weren’t wrong.   Just like the writing of Kevin Williamson, the tweets of Sarah Jeong made me think about things in ways I hadn’t thought of before. I don’t find the way she said them to be particularly helpful to the larger cultural debate, but I did certainly think after reading these tweets in a way I hadn’t before. 

The issue is not what Sarah Jeong said.  Full stop. The issue is context. The issue is conflating one tweet and an offhand remark in a podcast with YEARS of tweets and deriding anyone who dares to say “ya know, these things really aren’t quite the same thing at all” as hypocritical.  But Williamson and Jeong aren’t the same thing and it seems extremely duplicitous when people say that they are. The contexts were totally different, and given that kajillions of people then went out and wrote pretty involved thinkpieces passionately defending Sarah Jeong because racism and explaining the greater context of her tweets (when the Scooby Gang unmasked the villain, it was pesky Old Man White Supremacy the entire time!) ya can’t tell me that most of the people sounding off on this don’t understand the notion of context.  

So that leaves me wondering if hypocrisy has been weaponized just like everything else and I am sad to conclude that yeah, it kinda has.

But that’s a thinkpiece for a different day.  Today is about two buttheads butting heads and the greater context in which that occurred.  Am I correct in thinking that what happened to Kevin (where he was punished for free speech) was kinda shitty and what happened with Sarah (where she wasn’t) is kinda troubling?  Can I have those two opinions at the same time without being a huge hypocrite – not using the weaponized definition of hypocrite where everyone on the right is one and no one on the left is, but using my own definition of hypocrisy?  

I’m totally ok with what Sarah Jeong, private citizen, was saying on Twitter.  I’m not saying that she should be banned from society, and I’m 100% NOT saying our girl SJ shouldn’t work somewhere in media making an exorbitant amount of money.  But the New York Times is not just any online magazine. The New York Times is supposed to be America’s pre-eminent news source. I have a golden vision of journalism as a force of good in my heart and mind and the New York Times is enthroned at the top of the pantheon as a wise and fair source of daily news for all America.  

The Atlantic is also there in that pantheon as well – it’s actually my fave news source and I read it most days, far more often than I read the NYT.  But The Atlantic isn’t a daily paper where people go to get their day’s news. The Atlantic is a news magazine, an amalgam of writers from a lot of different schools of thought – like one big editorial page.  The Atlantic is made up of lots of people with lots of opinions and worldviews and backgrounds putting out a unified product. Those of us who read it know that going in and don’t expect a lack of bias from their writers. In fact, the bias is kind of the point; you’re reading editorials and not straight news.  Kevin Williamson at The Atlantic seems more natural a fit than Sarah Jeong at the New York Times. And Jeong is not just a writer at the NYT, she was hired to be on the EDITORIAL BOARD. That means she decides what news is fit to print!

It just seems sort of bizarre that anyone with a history of aggressively giving offense to an entire group of people and expressing opinions that seem at least to me, extreme, regardless of how she intended them, should be hired by a media outlet that is supposed to be unbiased, fair, trustworthy.   A media outlet that is supposed to be fully committed to giving America real news and truth and yes, accurate context, in a world in which those things seem to be under attack from all comers. The NYT is supposed to be fighting off fake news and truthiness like Neo in the middle of an army of Agent Smiths.  In that light, hiring Sarah Jeong seems kinda like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse, doesn’t it??  Journalists and public figures have been dragged on Twitter and even fired from allegedly “unbiased” media outlets for far, far less egregious statements than Jeong’s (when they were on the incorrect side of the liberal agenda, that is). And it has happened so often I’m not even going to go dig up links because either you’ve seen this happen repeatedly or else you’re not paying attention because your mind is already made up and wouldn’t read the links anyway.

Isn’t bias in journalism bad?  I mean that’s the story I’ve heard – Fox News is like SUPER bad because they are partisan and partisanship in journalism is like, the worst and stuff, and so Fox News should be more neutral, you know, more like the New York Times.  Except for that pesky notion that a lot of people, even eminently reasonable ones like me don’t really find the New York Times to be neutral in that “journalists should be neutral” kinda way. That’s why it’s so easy for Donald Trump to get people cheering when he criticizes them – because many already perceive the NYT to be heavily biased.  It’s not exactly like they’re the Switzerland of newspapers, come on.  

It feels very weird to me when a group of people are telling me out of one side of their mouths that bias in journalism is this terrible thing because Fox News and then the very next second one of the most prestigious newspapers, like, in human history, goes out of their way to hire someone – to their editorial board! – who is clearly uberbiased.

Democracy dies in darkness, people.  The truth is more important now than ever!  And by the way, white people stink like wet dogs.  Y u no respect my authority?

Almost feels as if someone realized “ok wow these rightwing whackjobs are trying to beat us at our game, now they’re all like pretending to get offended by so-called racist shit now, GAWD, don’t they know it’s impossible to be racist against white people, ok, whatever, guess they’re not accepting our always-changing definition of the word racism, FFS, so let’s drop the pretense that we aren’t totally biased and go balls deep in it now.”  Since that last sentence was a fun trainwreck that I don’t want to delete, I’ll rephrase: Since some mostly conservative people no longer blindly, silently accept the double standard where it’s fine for everyone else to be perpetually offended except for them, and are actually calling leftists out on their hate speech, the NYT (supposed to be unbiased) has decided to embrace its bias with both arms, both legs, and a prehensile tail. And I’m supposed to hold this up against a dude who said a couple times, with a lot of hemming and hawing, his opinion on something.  A dude who was actually HIRED to write a certain viewpoint by the Atlantic, a mag whose whole entire genie gig entails having a lot of writers of a lot of different viewpoints. Srsly?

Nah.  It’s not the same thing.  Stop trying to tell me it’s the same thing.  Because I know the context and you aren’t fooling me. 

Let’s talk about what Kevin Williamson actually even said.  He said that he was torn on capital punishment but IF one wanted to make abortion illegal, one would have to treat it like any other homicide.  And he also said “hanging’s too good for them” which seems shocking until one understands that Williamson was an unwanted baby, given up for adoption, frequently told as a boy by his adoptive mother that he should have been aborted.  He has wondered publicly if abortion had been legal at the time of his birth, if he would have even been born. Kevin Williamson is entitled to have a complicated, yes even messy opinion on the issue of abortion, just as much as Sarah Jeong is entitled to have a complicated, yes even messy opinion on racism.  

The FACT is, if we as a nation would choose to make abortion illegal, we would have to come to terms with the need for punishment, which we may not be ok with.  Kevin Williamson’s OPINION – at least his opinion he expressed twice in 2014 – is that in the case of women who have abortions, “hanging’s too good for them”. I’ve used that expression a few times, like about people who abuse animals, for instance.  I did not literally mean that I wanted people who have harmed animals to be rounded up and hanged. I wasn’t building a gallows in my backyard or encouraging people to go out and round up animal abusers. I just read a liberal acquaintance publicly calling for people who enabled sex offenders like Larry Nassar, to be hanged – not even the sex offenders themselves, but enablers.  And amazingly, I did not dial 911 to report my acquaintance for making threats.

“Hanging’s too good for them” is a fucking expression, people. It’s a thing people say to reflect their opinion that something someone has done is really, really bad. Not a call to arms, not a demand for public policy, an expression like “Are you working hard or are you hardly working?”

I mean really – when someone asks “How’s it hanging” you don’t immediately assume OMG this person is literally suggesting I am hanging Cousin It, do you?

Williamson wasn’t saying that women who have had abortions should be rounded up and hanged, he wasn’t saying that the death penalty was a good idea – he actually said he was “squishy” on it, if I recall his exact words.  He wasn’t even saying that abortion should be illegal. He was saying that IF we were to take that step, here’s the logical followthrough of taking that step, and I think that is a valuable point to make. Particularly to conservatives who often call (IMO) quite recklessly for abortion to be made illegal without thinking through what a world with illegal abortion would actually look like.

Contrary to popular belief, one can be both adamantly pro-life and have a reasonable and realistic view of the lengths it would take to make abortion illegal.  Williamson wrote thoughtfully and reasonably about the subject here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kevin-williamson-the-punishment-i-favor-for-abortion/2018/04/25/5001c6cc-48c5-11e8-8b5a-3b1697adcc2a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b1d61f91e012  I am not a fan of abortion either, but would never make it illegal due to the costs to civil liberties and I’ve written about that here: https://ordinary-times.com/2017/04/18/the-tomiknockers/  It is clear to me Kevin Williamson has done quite a lot of deep thinking about this topic and he has a very nuanced opinion on it.  When you look at his statement in the context of his personal history and other things he’s written, not to mention simple good sense, it comes off not as the call to action that some were disengenuously claiming it to be, but as far more a message (warning) to conservatives. 

Above all else, what Kevin Williamson is, is an internal critic of conservatism. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/a-dissent-concerning-kevin-williamson/484052/

Williamson’s deeper message, for those who would bother to listen instead of running off to don The Handmaid’s Tale cosplay outfits, is that conservatives cannot have it both ways.  Conservatives can’t call for abortion to be criminalized without first wrestling with the consequences – real, actual, living breathing women would have to be punished for having abortions to the furthest extent of the law.  His point was valid and valuable; beyond that, both corporal punishment and abortion rights are freely debated political topics that a political journalist really ought to be able to express opinions on, even unpopular ones, because they’re being actively debated in the public sphere.

Most of Jeong’s statements had literally NOTHING to do with valid political discourse. Williamson at the least was discussing real political subjects that politicians and journalists have debated openly in the public sphere for decades – the death penalty and criminalizing abortion. Williamson was discussing serious issues that politicians may or may not enact into laws that will then be enforced.  Jeong was saying she takes joy in being mean to elderly white men and that white people should live underground like goblins.

Kevin Williamson was engaging in political speech.  Sarah Jeong was engaging in divisive personal attacks against an entire race of people in the guise of humor. She can say whatever the hell she would like on a variety of topics; she doesn’t need to limit herself to political issues, of course.  And of course, the New York Times can hire her despite her having said those things. God bless America. But it is not the same thing as Kevin Williamson because of the context.  So that leaves me wondering how can millions of people call ME a hypocrite for thinking it’s bad form for a journalist to be fired for having an opinion on a legitimate political topic while defending derogatory statements (and again, there were hundreds of them, dating back years) that have nothing whatever to do with political issues?

Thus I have concluded I am not a hypocrite. A journalist who is expressing unpopular opinions on actual topics in the political sphere deserves to be treated with at the least, equal regard to someone who may call themselves a journalist but is deliberately trying to troll and offend.  If you believe in free speech, free discourse, and the concept of a pluralistic society I simply believe you have got to respect ALL speech, period, end of story.

Gobs of people came forth to write thinkpieces full of mental gymnastics defending Sarah Jeong.  Here’s one of many: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/3/17648566/sarah-jeong-new-york-times-twitter-andrew-sullivan  Thoughtfulness and sympathetic reads don’t seem to be in short supply for Sarah’s POV, even among people I genuinely like and respect, and it’s really quite concerning to me that the same people who would bend over backwards to defend Jeong’s freedom of speech, and the NYT’s right to hire whoever they want, seem to have that sympathy dry up completely when it’s someone whose politics they happen to disagree with.

Now some would say that we are living in desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures.  We have a madman in charge of the nation and maybe, just maybe things like fairness and freedom of speech have to be less important than #resisting and so sticking up for the dubious rights of loudmouth blowhards like Kevin Williamson simply has to take a back seat for a while.  Every day I am told by people who know these things, like the New York Times for instance, that things are worse than ever in this country and Trump’s rhetoric is to blame.  Here’s one article of many. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/the-trump-effect-how-hateful-rhetoric-is-affecting-americas-children-123427/  All of us, including precious, precious children, are being harmed by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.  Because Trump is normalizing hatespeech and disrespect!

Why, Trump is even attacking the sacred media itself! At the end of July, July 20 to be exact, the owner of the Gray Lady (that’s the New York Times, y’all) implored that vile villainous venomspewer Trump to stuff a sock in his antimedia blather before someone actually got HURT by his naughty naughty words.  Here’s an article from July 29 about it. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-trump-media-20180729-story.html  By the first of August, the NYT had hired Sarah Jeong.  https://www.nytco.com/sarah-jeong-joins-the-timess-editorial-board/  

Anyone else got whiplash?

So let me get this straight.  Trump is bad because his words are inflammatory and inflammatory speech could inspire hatred and trigger action, right?  Trump is bad because his words could have a ripple effect that could normalize rudeness and eat away at civility, right? But Sarah Jeong wrote inflammatory things for YEARS and yet the most prestigious newspaper in the country hiring her was ok because…why exactly again? Can someone please explain to me how these two viewpoints can coexist in any way unless there is a huge double standard for liberals vs. conservatives?  If inflammatory words from respected authority figures can truly inspire hatred and trigger action, if they can truly destroy the very fabric of our peaceful society by normalizing rudeness and ugly language, why is it ok for inflammatory words – indeed, real hate speech – to be tolerated, nay, ENDORSED, by the New York Times?

Again, and againandagainandagainandagain what these supposed bastions of truth and honesty are showing me is that where the New York Times is concerned, anything is fine when it’s done by the left. Perpetual outrage, getting journalists fired over speech that falls well within the realm of the political, defending the most heinous and outrageously extreme language – all totally kewl coming from left of the aisle.  All while clucking their tongues and rending their clothes over the right’s rhetoric.

Isn’t Sarah Jeong – even if, as she says, that she was just countertrolling – normalizing anti-white-people rhetoric?  It sure seems like it to me. I believe fully in free speech but I do have to agree that the more people in positions of authority talk in inflammatory and derogatory ways, the more it spreads to everyone else.  So if Trump’s vicious verbal diarrhea is bad on July 20, how can you defend Sarah Jeong on August 1 with any credibility at all?

And ya wonder why crowds cheer when Donald Trump lambastes the media.  They cheer because this IS bias plain and simple and it is freaking obvious and the mass denial coming from millions of people on the left given the larger context is absolutely terrifying.  Leftists are telling us – and not only right wing whackaroos, but just normal everyday people like me who would prefer to not pay any attention to politics – that the rules don’t apply to those on the left, they apply only to those on the right, all the while pretending that the rules are fair and the playing field is level and the sky is green and up is down.  We are told that the concerns of conservatives are “fever dreams”, mass hallucinations brought on by one too many Alex Jones shows, there is no persecution going on here, no double standard, nope nu-uh none whatsoever and a woman who wrote hundreds of disgusting and in my opinion, downright frightening tweets over the course of years has the God-given right to sit on the editorial board of the most prestigious, respected newspaper in American history.   All this is somehow absolutely a-ok and I should continue to fully respect and trust that newspaper and further, I should believe that any division in our nation is solely because of Trump.

Hey media fucktards, a recap – YOU got Donald Trump elected firstly by giving him tons and tons and TONS of free publicity whilst simultaneously running down, even publicly humiliating all the legit Republican candidates because you thought Hillary would easily defeat Trump.  But that wasn’t the only way you created Trump. No, no. You created, elevated, and elected Trump by scaring millions of American people about the intentions of the left. That’s right, people out here in the Heartland are terrified of the liberal movement right now.  People on the right, and even in the center, are scared by the left’s behavior and rhetoric (and if you don’t get why, please go reread Sarah Jeong’s tweets). So when we look at our beloved American journalistic institutions like the Atlantic and the New York Times and see them embracing leftist extremism while simultaneously practicing censorship of people who they politically disagree with, it’s concerning.  Highly concerning. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see it, either, and when people I otherwise like and respect go all perplexed and say “I simply cannot see what anyone on the right could possibly have to be scared about” in this environment, that only troubles my troubled mind even more so.

Because it feels to me like this is a concerted effort to wage a surreptitious war against the right. Sarah Jeong is just another data point that this is fer realz, that this cold slithery feeling I have in the pit of my belly when I think about the future is entirely justified.  Scared people tend to circle the wagons and start embracing aggressive tactics and strongman-types. It isn’t because they want to, it isn’t that they necessarily agree with the strongman on everything all the time. It is because they feel that they have to, because if one side is secretly sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches while the other side is off chasing butterflies with their John McCain memorial butterfly net, that’s an imbalance of power and intentions that can’t be rationally ignored.  

The weirdest, mind-bogglingest we’re-living-in-crazyland thing about all this is that many liberal women claim to be scared that Kevin Williamson and guys (and gals, because in my pretty extensive experience in this arena, women are more pro-life than even the pro-lifeiest of men) like him really, truly have plans to hang women who have had abortions (or put gays in concentration camps or whatever the phantasmagorical phreakout of the week is) even though there’s no evidence that anyone ever intended to do that – like literally, none whatsoever – and plenty of evidence to the contrary.  All this while simultaneously telling me to ignore the NYT hiring someone…for their editorial board…who has hundreds of tweets over several years saying I should be “cancelled”, that I shouldn’t breed, that my opinions are like a dog’s urine on a fire hydrant, that my sons should be killed, and lots of other really awful things because it was all just a big ol’ trolly joke or something maybe I guess.

I’m not laughing.

This context thing.  It matters. U guys want to play this game where when the context suits you, it’s all about the context, and when it doesn’t, it’s forgotten.

But I cannot reconcile in my heart and mind on the one hand watching millions of people having a hysterical meltdown after a free and fair election, rioting in the streets, burning people in effigy, pretending that The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games are coming true because they selected a terrible candidate who ran a bad campaign and barely even lost despite all that, with what is actively happening to conservatives all across America right now this very minute.  Conservative journalists like Kevin Williamson are fired for something they said 2 times, years ago. Neil Gorsuch was criticized for something that was in his high school yearbook and held accountable for things that his mother had said 70 years ago. Lather, rinse, repeat. All the while liberals are excused for years of truly awful tweets, blog posts, and frequent associations with actually-evil people. And these things are happening with the full collusion of the entertainment industry, the vast majority of people in education, and worst of all, the media.  Even the sacred New York Times, supposed to be the gatekeepers of truth and reason and rationality are all-in now, aren’t they? I don’t see how anyone can deny it any more – the media has picked a side. That cannot mean anything good.

So the people defending Sarah Jeong, telling me “move along, there’s nothing to see here”  – again, even people who I like and respect – these people are either liars or they are delusional and I don’t know which option is more terrifying.  But it is TERRIFYING. You are terrifying me, liberals. And scared people circle the wagons. Stop making me circle the wagons because I don’t even LIKE most of the people you are forcing me to circle the wagons with.  You are forcing me to circle the wagons with groups who really are wretched hives of scum and villainy.

And that brings me to my final point.   

One of the main criticisms regarding the public dragging of Sarah Jeong is that the people who dug up the dirt on her were sketchy dudes like Mike Cernovitch and the Gateway Pundit.  They were biased, they were slanted, they hate liberals, they wanted to bring her down. They found out she had gotten hired by the NYT and went out and rummaged through her old tweets looking for filth and they found an ample supply.

That’s pretty creepy, I agree.  Those guys are sleazeballs for sure.  Seems to be happening a lot lately, though, doesn’t it?  Scungy sewer rats going through the ancient dregs of everyone’s online lives trying to find things to damn them with??  I don’t like that trend, not at all, no matter who it happens to.  It’s ugly.

But that’s exactly what happened to Kevin Williamson too.  Because I have a memory that lasts longer than a news cycle, I recall very clearly that there was already a fever pitch of outrage coming from the left BEFORE they had any dirt on the guy.  They were already calling for him to be fired. They were already calling for people to cancel their subscriptions. People WERE canceling their subscriptions. A LOT of people were calling for Kevin Williamson to be fired BEFORE they’d even uncovered his two problematic statements on abortion.  And the liberal equivalents of Cernovitch and Gateway Pundit went and dug up the abortion quotes and off to the races we went.

True story – The Atlantic hired Williamson because they felt that they lacked conservative representation.  Because after getting blindsided when Hillary lost, they were trying to be more inclusive of non-liberal viewpoints (remember how that was a thing for about 5 minutes there?) I think that’s noble and admirable.  But liberals were outraged by that. BEFORE the abortion quote.  They were outraged that The Atlantic hired a conservative who was not a tame lion. They went after the guy till they found something they could get him with and then they got him. Because they could not even tolerate knowing a conservative (internal conservative critic, mind you) held a position on any “respectable” mainstream news magazine.  They drove Kevin Williamson off The Atlantic not because of what he said 2 times 4 years ago but because of who he was, because conservatives are not welcome and conservative thought is not allowed. If they hadn’t gotten rid of him over the abortion stuff, they’d have found something else.  The movement to eliminate Williamson was already well underway when the dumpster divers uncovered the abortion quotes.

Mike Cernovitch and the Gateway Pundit, scumbags though they certainly are, simply responded in kind and looked up Sarah Jeong’s own tweets. Can you even blame them? Why should conservatives be expected to fight with both hands tied behind their backs? Why do liberals get to utilize this type of sleazy tactic but when conservatives do it, it’s different somehow?  The context is that liberals get to do stuff that conservatives don’t and it is not fair. Either it’s ok for everyone or it’s ok for no one. If you say otherwise, hell-LO, you’re a hypocrite.

Look, the “let’s go back and find contextless dirt we can use against everyone we don’t like” crap is like unleashing a fucking Kraken, all right?  It’s a bull in a china shop, it’s using a shotgun to kill a mosquito, it’s getting Bin Laden by nuking Pakistan, it’s like shaving your legs with a flamethrower.  Yeah, maybe you get the guy you’re going after but the fire is gonna get away from you and it’s gonna burn down everything. And now yippee, wahoo, idiots, you’ve torn down the social norms that prevent those dirty trick tactics from being used against YOU.  The argument that the Cernovitch Kraken trying to bring down Jeong is somehow worse than the JessicaValenti Kraken that brought down Kevin Williamson is completely deceptive nonsense and again, just shines this sinister light o’context yet again onto the entire Williamson-Jeong debacle.  

The context matters.  There are two sets of rules, one for conservatives and one for liberals.  Liberals make the rules and enforce the rules, and conservatives are only allowed to have free speech and journalistic freedom within the rules that the liberals create.  Conservatives are second class citizens and liberals think it is right and fair and just that conservatives are second class citizens because conservatives are stoopid dum inbred racist hicks and liberals are sainted highly evolved angels who have only the purest most selfless instincts and can do no wrong. (#cancelwhitepeople #killallmen)

The context matters.  In this system, conservatives should exist at the pleasure of liberals; liberals should get to decide what conservatives get to speak and where they should speak and if you’re a conservative that liberals don’t think should get to have a voice, like Mike Cernovitch (who yeah, probably shouldn’t) or Kevin Williamson (who definitely should), you don’t get one.  Liberals can do what they want and say what they want no matter how hateful or vicious or ugly and conservatives have no recourse. Because when conservatives say anything to call this state of affairs out, they’re called hypocrites or liars or overly sensitive or delusional because liberals like to pretend that this context doesn’t exist.

But the context matters.

 

 

Brigitte Joneses For A Baby

Brigitte Joneses For A Baby

Brigitte Nielsen, a Danish actress best known for co-starring in Rocky 4 (while being briefly married to Sylvester Stallone) recently had a baby.   The interesting thing to most people is that she is 54 years old. The interesting thing to me is that it’s Nielsen’s first daughter after 4 sons.

As one might expect in this social media fish bowl in which we swim, the troglodytes of the Internet feel perfectly entitled to sound off on Nielsen’s decision to bring a child into the world.   She’s too old, they say. The way she conceived is “unnatural” – she had frozen her own eggs over a decade ago and had been trying to conceive with them ever since. She has four children already – adults! – and she should be satisfied with that; asking for more than she already has is greedy.  She will surely die or be infirm and unable to raise the child “properly”. She’s doing this for her own selfish reasons and not for the good of her child.

The reason why I find the maternal longings of a D-list actress of interest is that I too had a girl after 4 boys.  Like Nielsen, my oldest son was an adult when my daughter was born. Like Nielsen, I was in an age group that is considered “too old” – 42, definitely an age many would consider too late to be bringing a new life into the world.  After all, the media likes to drum it into people’s heads again and again…having a baby over 40 is unacceptably perilous for both mother and baby. I am sure that many people thought I was making a terrible selfish decision, although no one ever said it to my face.

They did say other things to my face, though.  While mothers of more than 2 are often criticized, and older mothers are always criticized (it feels that way, anyway), there seems to be a special level of vitriol reserved for women who have sons and still want a daughter, particularly if they have the temerity to try for one.  The very idea that any woman might want to continue having children until she has a particular gender is presented as being borne from some sort of monstrous desire, and worst of all is when a woman wants a daughter. I suppose this is because trying for a son is usually painted as something a woman does for someone else – her husband, her family, her culture – and so a woman trying for a son is seen as selfless, giving, generous.  A woman who admits to wanting a daughter, on the other hand, is either an egomaniac who wants a “mini-me” or a rabid feminist who plans to use her daughter as a political pawn.

But that isn’t reality.  I wanted a daughter in the way I imagine a person who has lived in the mountains their entire life wants to see the ocean.   Not because I was trying to make myself over again or to score social justice points, but because I wanted to see her and know her.  Her, not me. My longing for a daughter had nothing to do with me. It had nothing to do with my sons. I was and am happy with myself and beyond ecstatic with my sons.  I didn’t need a daughter to complete me or to make my family whole.  

I just wanted her.  

It is entirely possible to adore living in the mountains or in the desert and be utterly unable to imagine living anywhere else, but still have a strong desire to see the ocean, to watch the waves break, to know what it’s like to walk in the sand and dabble your toes in the foam.  Some people don’t want to see the ocean and that’s ok. Some have seen it already and didn’t think it was that big a thing, certainly not worth turning their lives upside down for. Others have lived there for years and are used to the view. But others want to see the ocean.  Sometimes a silly little want grows into a longing that takes hold and won’t let go.  That’s how it was for me, wanting a daughter.  It was an experience that I really hoped to have.  I’d dreamt of her since I was a tiny little girl myself.   And I found that I just couldn’t walk away without her, not unless I tried everything in my power to turn my imaginary girl real.

We live in a time of celebrating experience.   People make bucket lists and delight in accumulating life experiences as if they were merit badges.  People take risks and make sacrifices in exchange for experience all the time. Some people climb Mount Everest or go on a safari or skydive.  Some people think smaller and go to Napa Valley to drink too much wine, or to Disneyland, or to see the lights of Broadway. People want things and some of the things people want are not important to anyone but they themselves.  Just like Brigitte, I wanted a daughter for no great or noble reason – I simply wanted her.  Her existence was important to me.  I was willing to take some risks and make some sacrifices for that. My desire for that experience is no more wrong than the person who decides they need to see Paris before they die.

Some would say my desire for an experience does not outweigh my daughter’s need for a young and sprightly mother who can turn cartwheels down steps and will live another 70 years in order to do lots of babysitting for future generations.  But how many of us really have a child in an ideal situation, anyway?? Children are born into situations far worse than Brigitte’s or my daughters’ all the time. Situations of poverty, of abuse, of neglect, in countries torn apart by war, in families torn apart by all manner of terrible things.  Situations in which they are not particularly wanted or not wanted at all. Having a child young is no guarantee of success and having a child older is no guarantee of disaster. My mother had me when she was young but then divorced and started a new family, relegating me to a kind of second-class status within our family (I’m not faulting her, not at all, my parents are wonderful people who raised me well.  My point is simply that youth is no guarantee of a child always getting everything they think they need.)  If our daughters are loved and cared for, and were so hoped for and dreamed about, what difference does it make if we will live another 20 years or another 50?

Because that much is true – the odds are pretty good that Brigitte and I will both live another 20 years at the least, long enough to raise our girls.  Something no one tells you about turning 40 or even 50 is that most of us still have another 20-30 years of good solid living within us, if not more.   Shockingly, my life did not stop when I turned 40 the way women’s magazines had led me to expect that it would. I didn’t crumble into dust and suddenly require a Life Alert button. I still have hopes and dreams and plenty of hours in my day to care for this small entity who has come my way.  Most women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s are not sick or unhealthy. I am not physically fragile. Even though I have a chronic illness I have ample energy to take care of my children, work full time, and run a household. The joy my daughter and my other children bring me only helps to recharge my batteries at the end of every day.

There are no guarantees, of course, but none of us have a guarantee in life.  If Brigitte and I have provided for our daughter’s futures no matter what life has in store for us, 20 years is really just as good as 50, and if we’re lucky enough to have 30 or 40 instead, even better.  20 years is more than enough time to raise a child to adulthood. Beyond that point, it is your child’s life to do with as they will. Life is a gift we give to them, not a project we are doing that requires us to be hands on every second of every day from now till forever.  No one ever tells a man in his 40’s or even in his 50’s, “don’t start that project, Bill, what happens if you DIE before you finish it?” Are we all supposed to go through our lives never doing anything if we may die before it’s done?  Are 25-year-olds the only people who are allowed to plan for an unknown future?

Children are different, some may say.  Children aren’t a stamp collection or restoring a hot rod or sailing around the world.  Children simply need their mothers.  The expectation for mothers is that we will dedicate the rest of our lives to micromanaging our children’s existence from birth till age 70 at which point we will die and somehow they’ll have to muddle through without us.  But in reality most people are quite competent as young adults and don’t even want their mother meddling in their business when they’re 25, 35, 45. Even at 15, a needy, overly involved mother is an unwelcome thing. NO ONE wants their mother all wrapped up in their lives forever and ever.  Our children don’t need us in perpetuity the way people say that they do. Why would anyone build our lives around an expectation that is silly? Why would we base our decisions on a fiction that our daughters will need us desperately until they are 105 years old?

My hope is that by the time I shuffle off this mortal coil, my daughter will not need me any more.  By that point, I plan for her to be able to stand on her own and take care of herself.  I’ve already gotten her to age 6, and that’s quite an accomplishment. We have had more time together than many mothers and daughters have been fortunate enough to have.  I hope with every fiber of my being to be here till she’s a fully capable adult because I’ve found I love it here at the ocean and I want to watch the waves break for many more years to come.  I want very much to see the woman that she will become and to hold her children in my arms.  But I may not get that wish granted to me, and Brigitte Nielsen may not get that wish granted to her.

Nevertheless, our daughters will still be ok. When people ask “what will happen when you’re old and die and your daughter needs you?” the truth is, death happens even to mothers, even to younger women than me, and in fact it used to happen far more often than it does now.   People muddle through. Mothers are meant to give their children a start in life, not to be here until the conclusion.

I wish Brigitte every happiness with her daughter.

  

           

If Kirk ran Hollywood…

If Kirk ran Hollywood…

 

Sorry, fellow Trekkies, I mean Kirk Cameron, not James T.

What if Kirk Cameron ran Hollywood?

Record scratch.  

What?  Hold up, there!  Kirk Cameron running HOLLYWOOD!?!  That’s like a fate worse than death or something.

I know, right?  But let’s play a little game where Kirk Cameron is somehow made Dictator of Hollywood.   

For those who are not fully up to speed on the illustrious career of Kirk Cameron, he’s the kid actor from Growing Pains that grew up and became super religious, or maybe he was all along, not really sure about the timeline there.  Anyway, he left mainstream acting and now focuses on evangelism and making Christian-themed movies. And more power to him.  This is not a Kirk Cameron bash. I like living in a world where people of varying philosophies and mindsets can provide diverse choices in entertainment.

So let’s imagine a world where Kirk and his Christian compatriots were put in charge of the movies you watch, the tv shows, the music, the books and magazines…pretty much everything comin’ at ya from the squeaky clean mind of Mr. Kirk Cameron.   Call it a thought experiment.

Most people, even many Christians, would agree that would an unpleasant state of affairs.  You’d probably feel supremely bored by the product that Kirk Cameron’s Hollywood churned out, if not actively repressed by it.  Entertainment would likely become mind-numbingly homogenous, representing only the evangelical Christian worldview, promoting only evangelical-approved values.  Kirk’s Hollywood would not feature a wide array of viewpoints and life experiences in their final product. Filmmakers and authors could tell their vanilla-flavored tales a thousand slightly different ways using ever-more-advanced CGI techniques but the audience would be left unentertained, unfulfilled.  

Everything would be mundane and predictable since the same theme was simply echoing over and over again.  And if you were from any culture other than fundamental Christianity, you wouldn’t be able to relate to what was on screen. You’d know in your heart and gut that there were millions of perspectives that were being ignored, billions of stories left untold.   Even if you were from the dominant culture, maybe you’d still want more variety. Maybe you’d thirst for something thought-provoking, something that challenged your preconceptions and taught you something you didn’t know before.  Maybe you’d long for a story that came at you from a slightly different angle, showed you a viewpoint you hadn’t considered, made you think hard about what it means to be a human being. 

But you wouldn’t get it.  The products of Kirk Cameron’s Hollywood would not shed new light on the human condition.  They wouldn’t be art, they would be propaganda.

Over time, you might even come to resent mainstream entertainment. So preachy. So dogmatic. So smug and self-congratulatory.  Even when you agreed with the moral of the story, you would resent the heavyhandedness with which it was told.  Art would no longer be used to criticize, to illustrate absurdities of politics and culture. It would only be used to lecture and chastise and preach to the converted. You’d come to crave realness, authenticity, anything other than more of the same. But it would never stop because Kirk and the friends of Kirk run Hollywood.  Every show, every movie, every book – all Kirk, all the time. There’d be no getting away from it.  Eventually you wouldn’t even be able to read a cooking magazine or watch the sports scores on ESPN without encountering gross proselytizing.   Not even a lowly taco salad recipe would be free of the testifyin’.  Kirk would not approve of anything that did not strictly push his evangelical agenda.

Having even the most positive of messages shoved in your face repeatedly would be irritating for all but rabid zealots.  You’d start finding yourself rolling your eyes at “thou shalt not kill” not because you disagree with the principle but because you’re so. fricking. sick. of it.

A while back I decided I was gonna watch Downton Abbey.  I turned it on and it seemed interesting, I generally like that kind of thing, but I could just tell that somebody was gonna turn out to be gay.  Now, please understand, I’m PRO gay rights. I support gay marriage. I think there should absolutely be more stories told about the specific experience of gay people and more stories where characters are gay and it’s not a plot point or an issue or a big deal, but just because people are gay and art reflects life.  I would watch those movies.  I do not and never would favor Kirk Cameron’s sanitized Hollywood where homosexuality is excised from the human experience. But – and I’m not particularly proud of having done this, but I share in the interest of being forthright – I decided to stop watching the show because it was just so damn distracting.  “Is it going to be those two?  Or those two?  Or maybe even those two?”  It was like watching someone operate off a PC-approved checklist instead of telling a story. I wasn’t offended by the concept, I was BORED by the execution. It was boring waiting for the reveal and even more boring that I could immediately foresee every single plot development that would grow out of the revelation. So predictable that even I, pro gay rights person, roll my eyes at the plot twist. My politics haven’t changed, but I’m. so. fricking. sick. of it.

It’s gone well beyond being beaten over the head by the point.  The point is chasing me around the house as if I’m Jamie Lee Curtis and it’s Michael Myers and the point now wants to stab me to death with itself just to be sure I really, REALLY, get it.

I get it, I promise.  I got it like 35 years ago, dudes.  As soon as I heard about the concept, I got it.  I’m with u. I’m just fricking sick of the same handful of moral points being shouted at me again and again and again.  I’m sick of entertainment feeling less like joy, less like relaxation and more like dodging a flock of Hare Krishnas at an airport.  I don’t want any of your damn pamphlets, please just let me worry about my own soul.

I’m sick of boring greedy amoral businessmen.  I’m sick of boring heroic environmental activists trying to uncover boring pollution.  I’m sick of boring blue collar dads who like sports ignoring their boring nerdy sons until their boring nerdy sons somehow save the day using their nerd abilities.  I’m sick of boring noble women who are held back by the nonsensical sexist machinations of boring inferior male coworkers. I’m sick of boring crooked government agents being brought down by someone getting a super important envelope to a boring crusading reporter.  I’m sick of boring corrupt police officers taking boring bribes and boring corrupt soldiers covering up boring war crimes. I’m sick of boring housewives who feel repressed till they have magic boring sex with some boring dude. I’m sick of boring dudes who feel depressed till they have magic boring sex with some boring manicpixiedreamgirl.  I’m sick of scary boring scientists screwing something up and creating some boring monster or disease that then other boring scientists have to defeat using unscary boring science. I’m sick of boring country people who have boring abusive parents but rise above it by moving to the boring city and embracing boring careers in entertainment or the arts.   And I’m so, so, SO superduperly sick of boring cartoon animals and boring spandexed superheroes as generic stand-ins for some oppressed group, going through the motions of a thinly veiled, boring morality play.

I’M BORED.

It’s all so preachy and dull and predictable.   Even though I AGREE with the overall philosophy, the execution is so heavyhanded and cookiecutterish I can’t even stand to watch it any more.  It’s always the same few stories told from the same perspective, the same good guys and the same bad guys, making the same handful of ethical points again and again, never asking a single new question or sharing even a slightly different perspective.  I always know how the hero’s journey will end and I know every single beat we’ll hit along the way, and I don’t think about the story at all once it’s over. Hell, I don’t even think about the story when I’m watching. No new questions are raised in my mind.  The tales I hear and read and see don’t stick with me. They’re like cotton candy, melting away as soon as they hit my brain, leaving nothing behind but a slight, vague sensation of stickiness and a bad taste in my mouth.

I long for programming that does or says something unexpected and unique, for works of art that inspire me to think about something I haven’t thought about before or that I have thought about before but maybe just not in that particular way.  I need some complexity, complexity of plot, complexity of story, complexity of character, moral complexity; I’m dying for some shades of gray here.

For me, the entertainment industry in 2018 is little different than if Kirk Cameron was put in charge of Hollywood.  Even if you agreed with Kirk in theory…stealing, bad…killing, bad…dishonoring mom and pop, bad…loving thy neighbor, good…there’s just something in human nature that resents being preached to.  There’s something in human nature that resents being preached to constantly still more.  Enough already.  We get it. We got it.  What else d’you got?

Most already know about the “the Code” (aka the Production Code, the Hays Code, a few other incarnations along the way) – a set of moral guidelines that Hollywood studios had to follow in one form or the other, from the 1920’s till well into the 60s, when the last vestiges fell away.  Great movies like Casablanca and Some Like It Hot notoriously ran afoul of the Code. While we look back on the Code today mostly as a Puritanical approach to keeping movies squeaky clean in the sex department, it also encompassed political and moral censorship. Movies couldn’t show criticism towards members of the clergy, police officers, other countries, public figures, and could not depict anyone disrespecting the flag.  They couldn’t show prostitution, homosexuality, interracial relationships, and were never supposed to portray criminals in a sympathetic light. Negative portrayals of race, color, or creed were also forbidden.

Kirk Cameron would probably like the Code.  Honestly, the Code wasn’t entirely wrong; there are elements of the ethics underlying the Code I tend to agree with.  But most of us look back on the entire notion and snort derisively because we can so easily see how a blanket dictum led to movies being overly tame, unrepresentative of our nation’s diversity, and lacking insight into the human condition.  It’s undeniable that the existence of the Code prevented some hard questions from being asked via art. It had a huge chilling effect on what movies could have been, what stories might have been told, what truths may have been revealed. You can see it in the movies produced in the late 50’s to early 60’s, as the Code fell apart – the quality of the storytelling grew exponentially. 

If a movie can’t show a guy doing drugs, you can’t portray the harm drug use caused or the ripple effect that it had on his entire life as Preminger did in The Man With the Golden Arm (1955).  If you can’t show extramarital sex, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960) wouldn’t have had much of a plot. Even though there are many wonderful movies from the 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s (many of which challenged the dictums of the Code) it’s clear that the death of the Code improved movies as an art form.  I can’t help but wonder how many secret truths we will never know about the way people of that era really lived and thought and felt because the Code didn’t allow their stories to be told.

And yet we’ve now fallen into our own version of the Code; it may not be formally codified but it exists all the same.  It is simply not allowed to make movies, television shows, or yes, sadly, even books anymore, in which certain moral viewpoints are expressed.  Even briefly, even if you are not advocating them, even if you have a higher purpose for doing so.  Even if you are showing those moral viewpoints only to damn them. Even if their inclusion was germane to the plot and was (or at least attempting to be) thought provoking, challenging, and artistic, the risks of censure are so high that most writers, directors, and actors don’t even take the chance.  Too much is at stake. 

Many people believe that the heyday of movie making was the late 60’s to early 70’s.  The Code was no more, but political correctness had not yet taken hold. Some of the greatest movies ever made were produced during that time period – movies that asked hard questions about real issues, movies that portrayed human beings as flawed beings rather than angels or demons.  I’d like to return to that time again, because I value art and I value storytelling.

But mostly because I’m bored.  I don’t want Kirk Cameron in charge of Hollywood.  I don’t want the liberal equivalent of Kirk Cameron in charge of Hollywood either.  I want artists in charge of Hollywood. And art is messy and imperfect and sometimes makes people uncomfortable.  Art is not made by consensus, committee, or focus group; it’s made by individuals that sometimes will get things wrong – ethically wrong.  But art may reveal more in its wrongness than a perfect and pure religious allegory ever could. Art asks questions polite people may not want to even consider and pushes envelopes right off the edge of the desk sometimes. Art should not tell people what they want to hear a thousand slightly different ways using ever-more-advanced CGI techniques to avoid ruffling anyone’s feathers.  Art is SUPPOSED to ruffle feathers.

Telling people that what they believe is unequivocally right again and again (even when what they believe is true and just and good) is not art, it’s propaganda.       

    

I want to be kissed by a scoundrel.

I want to be kissed by a scoundrel.

I am told Han Solo is problematic.

https://mic.com/articles/186792/does-the-best-star-wars-movie-hold-up-in-the-metoo-era-lets-ask-han-solo#.A2Tfj8OXP

Some authors even go so far as to blame Han for male confusion regarding sex assault.  

http://www.cracked.com/blog/how-men-are-trained-to-think-sexual-assault-no-big-deal/

Since day one, my fear regarding the #metoo movement is that will devolve into strictures not on male sexuality but on female.  I worry that in the name of protecting women from sexual violence, women’s ability to embrace their sexuality as it IS, not as others think it should be, will be diminished and controlled.  I’ve already seen several social media proclamations about what women always like or never like from people who seem otherwise fully reasonable in matters of sexuality and feminism.  Some male feminist allies claim that because (other) men are animals women need to be constantly shielded (by said male allies) from (other) men’s gross and sweaty aggression because women are sexless bastions of purity and are helpless, passive victims who have no ability to defend themselves in the demanding presence of peniskind.   Women shouldn’t even have to think about penises because their brains are too dainty.

The implication is that this shielding process needs to occur BEFORE the fact; that women should never have to endure any act, no matter how brief, no matter how G-rated, that they didn’t strictly initiate because they lack the wherewithal to do so without being forever ruined by the encounter.  Fielding the occasional unwanted romantic overture will surely break the exquisite, inscrutable Faberge eggs that are female minds and thus women need to be kept under the control (thumbs) of the good men who would never do such a thing. It all feels very weird and backwards and Victorian to me.  This concept that women are born victims who need to be constantly protected from sex, never allowed to get into situations that are too challenging for them to handle because they don’t have the strength or the skills – it rubs me the wrong way. And entirely without my consent!

Applying this logic to the Han Problem, as a decent, righteous man, Luke should have ensured that Leia was bundled offworld into the care of robot nuns who would have protected her virtue and made sure that her lips remained unsullied by smuggler saliva.  Right? She would have rather kissed a Wookie, she said as much! And as for what Leia may have wanted but not clearly stated, well, her safety simply had to come first.

The fact of the matter is, I want to be kissed by a scoundrel.  I pretty much have my whole life, starting with when I was 10 years old and sitting in a dark movie theater – a very protected child, mind you, who had not yet internalized any misogyny (that came later).  I don’t know what chemical cascade happened in my heart and mind but Han kissing Leia was the single greatest thing I had ever seen. Even though I didn’t know why I knew, I knew that somehow, someday, that was gonna happen to me.  I hoped so anyway. The first available scoundrel I came across was going to kiss me. I wasn’t going to kiss him, oh no, because that wasn’t how things were supposed to work. I would entice him with my princess-ish charms like spaceship repair, blaster accuracy, and exotic hairstyling, and he would kiss me, and I would like it a super lot.

So these dudes suddenly coming out of the woodwork to explain how creeptasticaly problematic the Han-Leia relationship is feels an awful like people mansplaining my own sexuality to me.  Remember mansplaining? It’s bad. Don’t do it. Because I am telling you as a woman that Han kissing Leia was not creepy, it was perfect and wonderful and even now I still think that with every fiber of my being even though I know that I am supposed to think otherwise and that I should not be admitting this terrible humiliating secret to my closest friends let alone writing a thinkpiece on it that might actually be read by somebody someday.

But, but, but he didn’t have her permission, they were on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere, blah blah blah, yeah I read that first article.  Look, we saw about 15 minutes of the entire Leia-Han relationship, ok? We don’t have a clue what transpired between them after the Death Star blew up, what happened at the afterparty the night Leia gave Han and Luke their medals, what happened for months on end on Yavin and on Hoth and on transport ships in between.  We didn’t see how Han may have comforted Leia when she was feeling low about Alderaan’s destruction, we didn’t see how many times they chatted and flirted and laughed together and all the subtle non-verbal communication going on between them that Han picked up on and we didn’t because we are imaginationless idiots writing thinkpieces for Mic magazine.

Leia did not feel threatened or in danger from Han.  NOTHING in her demeanor at any point in time in any of the movies indicates that she was scared of Han, like in a rapey way.  She seemed perfectly comfortable with him. She argued with him, insulted him, bossed him around, treated him like an inept servant.  From the moment they met she was busting his chops. She called him a scruffy nerf herder, for Porg’s sake. Later on she risked her life and her freedom to save him.  Han and Leia always had relationship of equals – maybe not even equals, really, since she was a princess and he was a lowly smuggler. He was kind of her employee, her underling, her minion, even.  She had a lot more power than he did, really, in pretty much every way. Cue the “Leia was actually sexually harassing Han” bit in 3, 2, 1…

Ok, so right before they kissed she was nervous.  Scared, even. That is true. Brave, strong Leia was scared.  But she wasn’t scared of HAN, duh, gawd, I cannot believe I have to explain this.   It is glaringly obvious to me anyway that it was because she was having some pretty intense feelz that she didn’t think she ought to be having.  Feelz can be scary. And she knew it too, that’s why she was so prickly and defensive every time Han got close to her. It wasn’t because she didn’t like him, it wasn’t because she thought he was a rapey bastard, it was because she liked him too much and that was a scary experience for her.  And Han knew it too, he saw right through the charade. It wasn’t because he was a predator that got his jollies off of forcing women to do stuff against their will, it was because Leia was putting on an act and he understood that. If Leia hadn’t actually liked Han, Han wouldn’t have made moves on her.  He didn’t make any moves on Mon Mothma, did he? No, he saved his scoundrel-y moves for the chick who he had (rightfully) perceived was into it.

But why was he so damn pushy over it?  Why didn’t he accept what Leia was saying at face value?  Well, obviously, because he was getting other messages from Leia that occurred in the many, many weeks, months and possibly even years between the events of Star Wars and the events of The Empire Strikes Back.  Just like how, oh, I don’t know, two adult humans in the actual world are probably sending all kinds of signals to each other that they both might detect and act upon without anyone stopping to blink and awkwardly clear their throats before drily stammering “By the by, I am finding myself interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with you, are you in any way interested in that possibility, no hard feelings if you aren’t, just tossing it out there for your consideration.”

Han realized that the reason why Leia didn’t think she ought to be having those feelz is because Leia (like virtually all women both fictional and real) was socialized to follow a certain set of respectability rules drummed into her bunned head starting when she was in her cradle back on Alderaan being rocked to sleep by robot nannies.  Leia (like virtually all women both fictional and real) had been socialized since Padme birthed her to sometimes follow society’s rules even when it wasn’t in her best interests to do so. Han further realized that Leia’s internalized rules did not involve getting it on with a sketchy, morally ambiguous smuggler very far beneath her in social status while a war was going on and both of them could die at any minute and an ill-fated romance could cause all kinds of trouble and heartache for everyone.  It doesn’t mean she didn’t want to, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t the best thing in the galaxy far, far away for her to do. And it for sure doesn’t mean she was getting rape-kissed. It simply means that Han picked up on some messages she was sending via other modes of communication that were louder than what she was saying verbally. It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening to her, it was that he was listening to some other things she was saying too.

I am – not unlike Leia – a defensive, prickly, highly strung woman.  And because of that I sometimes will take a swing at even people who have my best interests at heart, who care about me, who want to be on my side.  It’s not just romantic stuff either, it’s friends and family and well-intentioned strangers. Is that really very unusual? Who hasn’t made mistakes, missed opportunities, been afraid to take a chance on something that could have really been awesome if only you were brave enough to give it a whirl?   A good friend, a relative, someone who cares about you can sometimes point that out, give you a stirring pep talk about winning one for the Gipper or whoever, or in the case of truly good friends, very nearly even twist your arm and force you into making the leap. No one says a word when it’s your mom or your best friend spurring you on.  The idea that someone, a scoundrel, perhaps, could see through your protestations and breach your defenses and make you realize hey, there’s really something here, maybe I should take a closer look at this concept even though the good little girl in me is telling me not to is the stuff romance novels are made of.

I think this happens a lot and not only in the world of Han and Leia, but also in the worlds of Sam and Diane and Dave and Maddie and Veronica Mars and Logan and Billy Joel and whoever that complicated chick is that he wrote all his good songs about.  A woman believes that because of society’s rules, a man she wants is off limits to her. He’s low class. Unpredictable. Crazy. A downtown man. Like, so totally wrong for her! He’s a scoundrel maybe even. I think many women depend upon the scoundrels in their lives to take action in situations where said woman is scared (What if he rejects me? What will my friends say?) or is listening too hard to the unhelpful little voices in her head (I so totally should NOT be doing this! I’m such a slut) or is so intent on following the rules (I’m not supposed to kiss guys like this! He voted Trump probably!) that she loses sight of what she herself really wants. So she leaves the ball in his court whilst sending indirect, nonverbal encouragement as a passive way of getting what she wants without having to be the one who initiates it, without responsibility or remorse or risk of rejection. She sends the signals, he pursues or not and she allows herself to pretend she’s getting swept up in the moment if he makes a move. She never has to take a chance that he’s not into it, she never has to really REALLY make the decision to tell society’s rules to eff off until she knows he’s on the same page, and she never has to drop the pretense that she’s anything less than perfectly ladylike.  Because one thing most women agree upon regardless of girl power and slut walks, is that chasing men is like a super duperly big no-no.

Han and Leia was not a Pepe Le Pew situation where her lips said no, no but her eyes said yes, yes.  There was obvious, definite, 2-sided chemistry between Leia and Han. Theirs was a relationship of friends and comrades.    I think a LOT went on that we didn’t see onscreen. You send the signal and you wait. Leia knew.

I am unclear on how sending the signal and waiting is going to mesh with overt female consent for everything, even a tentative first kiss.  I don’t believe that ~most~ women are, overnight, going to feel comfy with making the first move towards initiating sexual contact with men.  There is a deeply ingrained cultural pressure upon women to follow a pretty narrow set of societal expectations in this arena, few of which involve being the pursuer.  There is even an argument to be made that these female preferences for pursue-ee status may be at least in part innate and not cultural. And I don’t think that ~most~ men are, overnight, going to feel comfy with women doing initiating relationships with them, either.  Men may want to pursue, may prefer it, may be programmed to do so culturally and/or innately, and we’ve heard enough jokes about desperate women chasing men to know or at least strongly suspect that many guys are put off by Sadie Hawkinses.

Truth – we can’t litigate and legislate romance because it’s all very shades-of-gray-y.  I am wary of blanket rules that seem to overly simplify a complicated issue that is probably best left to each individual couple to work out for themselves in any given moment.  We’re dealing with instincts and desires that run way down deep in places that most of us have never probed (er, so to speak) and personally I trust women to be able to navigate those waters for themselves.  

All throughout history, whenever society has acted on behalf of women for their own protection it has manifested itself sooner or later as less freedom for women.  I don’t see the consent issue as being any different. The “c” word gets dropped and all of a sudden we’re hearing…from MEN…about what women like and don’t like, about what women want and don’t want, about what women will willingly consent to and what they will not.  And apparently one of the things that men have decided that we delicate, wilting, crushably-fragile oh-so-feminine females simply cannot handle is being kissed by someone we’ve known and have interacted with for months without having issued a strict verbal invitation beforehand and without ever having sent any mixed signals.   Ok. Sure. Yes. That makes sense (no it doesn’t).

Heads up, dudes, YOU’RE the ones that can’t control yourselves, some of you.  Why don’t you let me decide what I like and want for myself? Because I want to be kissed by a scoundrel, I assure you that I do.

And I actually as I write all that, I think I understand the reason why good and decent men can’t let me decide for myself that I want is to be deeply and somewhat forcibly tongued by a man on the run from the Hutts.  It’s because blaming men’s bad behavior on Han Solo is easier than considering the possibility that maybe there’s something dark inside of themselves. Something that may need wrangling and taming; something that cannot be indulged even in a society of gross overindulgence.  Because I refuse to believe that men are that dumb! I do not and will not believe that most men truly cannot see the difference between someone who is into is and someone who isn’t, into it. I don’t believe for one single solitary parsec that most men cannot see a difference between Harvey Weinstein and Han Solo, that most men truly cannot see the difference between exposing yourself to a woman you barely know and kissing a woman with whom you’ve had a complicated monthslong interpersonal relationship fraught with sexual tension without asking “pretty please with sugar on top” first.

And while I suppose it is possible that a small percentage of men are indeed clueless idiots who are hopeless at reading body language and can’t tell the difference between a movie and real life, it seems far more plausible to me that a much higher percentage of men know exactly when a woman is into it and when she isn’t, it’s just that some of them kind of like it when a woman isn’t into it and wanna do it anyway.  

Thus the Han-made-me-do-it defense is not gonna fly with me.  “We men can’t control ourselves because we’re helpless buffoons…animals, really…easily dazzled by boobies, and such…we can’t control ourselves, so of course we can’t control ourselves, I mean even Han freaking Solo is a rapist, practically, and that’s what we watched growing up, you know, and um, lookit, also girls in bikinis provoke us, to insanity, practically, just to the left of insanity anyways, so maybe, possibly, if it isn’t too much to ask..if you could just give us a pass on the things that some of us did, because we are just dummm, you know, it’s, like, rape culture, I guess, and stuff, and we can’t help it.  Beer commercials. Just sayin, you probably ought to be wearing a burka.”

This entire argument is contingent upon a kiss that many, many women find romantic and appealing (it ain’t just me, chaps) being bad and why is it bad?  It’s bad only because it’s there. It’s bad because we all saw it growing up and that includes some guys who are looking for an easy way to excuse their own bad behavior and that of others so they aren’t guilty by association.  To blame it on Han Solo seems to me to be a huge dodge of responsibility, a sidestep, and what’s worse, it’s adding insult to injury. It’s compounding bad behavior by befouling something that was important to not only myself but to many women.  And I don’t think that’s right, to take something away from women in order to explain away or justify the bad behavior of men. Any more than it’s right to make women wear burkas to prevent men from raping them.

I am not entirely sure that replacing the occasional unwanted kiss – which women are NOT too fragile to be able to handle, mind you – with women not being able to get what they want from sex because the culture vultures have been too bluntly instrumental about what constitutes “consent”, is a good trade.  And now that you mention it, what’s so damn great about “consent” anyway? What does “consent” even really mean?  Because it’s not so cut and dry as people want to make it.  What if you only consent due to external pressures and societal expectation? Women have consented to all kinds of crazy ass shit over the years when they thought they were supposed to – and still are (Aziz Ansari, looking at you here).  I do not believe that swiping right for a shot to be treated as a Tinder cum dumpster by some dude you just met…loudly consenting all the while…is in any way more empowering than Han giving a seemingly reluctant Leia a kiss that she wasn’t quite sure she wanted but then she realized that she actually kind of did.   

In fact there’s a suspicious conspiracy theorist in me that is starting to think all this is a gambit, a ploy, a way for men to still get exactly what they want  – which is lots of fer-reaky sex with a rotating schedule of messed up girls whose self-esteems are in the toilet, without having to exert any effort as a romantic partners or limiting themselves in any way from the all-you-can-sex buffet.  Men want women to think they’ve held up their end of the bargain by talking super loudly about consent when what many of them are doing is treating women like they are disposable sexbots. Some men seem to want “consensual” sex with women to be like Lando Calrissian sexing up droids (a disturbing concept, since in the Star Wars universe droids seem self-aware, yet can be reprogrammed and have their memories wiped) http://eleven-thirtyeight.com/2018/06/droids-sex-and-consent-should-it-work/.  

These men want women programmed by the culture so we kinda feel like we can’t say no to anything (because the threat is, if you don’t consent to everything, there’s always someone else who will) even as they exclaim loudly that it’s ok to say no (just be aware it’s totally over if you don’t consent to everything, because if there’s no one else who will, there’s always Internet porn) and they want us to call that empowerment.  They want us to call that feminism!! So they equate a Han-Leia kiss between equals that turns into a relationship, with a grope from a stranger…with a proposition from a boss…with a Louis CK move…with a rape and somehow it’s all the same thing because if it’s all the same thing it not only makes the small things seem bigger but doesn’t it make the big things seem smaller?   

I mean it almost seems like they’re trying to float away with the rest of the garbage.

 

One of these things is not like the others

One of these things is not like the others

I can’t believe it.

Sarah effing Palin strikes again.

Every time I try to open the lines of communication with a liberal friend about how it feels for everyday conservative America (including people like me, who are really just the teensitinesiest bit conservative) to be constantly on the receiving end of name-calling, mockery, thinly veiled threats, and real live ACTUAL death wishes coming from the left (hint: it’s bad, mmmkay, and leads to intolerable shit like Donald Trump getting elected) this happens:

“Welp Sarah Palin once called liberal America Not The Real America, herp de derp, and I cried lots of supersad tears over it.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/21/AR2008102102449.html

Fuck you, you did not.  Seriously, most liberals don’t care one flying FIG about being called Not The Real America or unAmerican or any of that.  In fact, a pretty healthy chunk of them take at least a little delight in being unAmerican. I know this because I used to be a liberal and I admit freely I hated America with the passion of 1000 fiery suns and went 4 whole years not saying the Pledge of Allegiance in high school and feeling exceedingly self-righteous about it because I KNEW that America sucked a$$ even worse than the Class of ‘87 did.  I remember absolutely despising America – the concept, the execution, the fireworks, Hank Williams, Jr, the Osmonds, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, trailer parks, Christianity, barbequed meats, becobbed corn, all of it right down to that goddamn bald eagle. Did you know it’s a scavenger? It eats GARBAGE, just like America. America IS garbage and eats garbage and spreads its garbage like disease, and just like garbage the American experiment should be buried under tons of dirt and allowed to ferment until it rots away and ceases to exist or burned into ashes maybe instead and replaced with something better like Europe or maybe Portland.

I remember with crystal clarity having those feelings daily for years.  I hated America with more passion than I felt for mostly anything except perhaps Duran Duran.  Thus I am just not buying that the average liberal is losing any sleep over being torn up re: Sarah Palin’s opinion.

I believe most liberals trot out that stale ol’ Sarah Palin quote (that was ten years ago, people!) because they think it gives them political traction with conservatives.  It’s like fracking, you don’t really care about it because it doesn’t really affect you, but you think WE care about it because it affects us, so you talk about it. (37% of all readers just said “Well I for one actually care about fracking because blah blah blah STFU YOU DO NOT)  It’s as if because conservatives value “being American” (whatever that even means), liberals believe that by invoking Sarah Palin’s horrific decadesold verbal transgression maybe conservatives will think “Well gee whillikers, I’d certainly be upset if someone called me unAmerican, yup, you’re right, that was a low blow, she probably shouldn’t have said that.  Our bad.” And maybe that actually worked for a while there between the Dawn of Sarah Palin (who contrary to popular belief, was an absolute NOBODY among right-leaning voters when she came out of Wasilla to sink the McCain campaign like an impossibly upbeat torpedo and didn’t represent or speak for conservatives, the group at that point in time and barely does now) and today but heads up, it doesn’t work any more, not on me anyway.

Because the fact is, liberal chums, quite a lot of you DO hate America.  Maybe not YOU personally, I’ll take your word on that, ol’ buddy ol’ pal, but a lot of your compatriots actively hate America.  At least the red part of it, anyway. The American American stuff.  Statement of fact: you will never find a flag or a cross or a gun or an eagle or a Harley Davidson motorcycle embossed on anything belonging to a liberal.   All that red white and blue bullshit I used to hate so violently and vehemently in high school and college (and still don’t particularly love TBH, an aesthetic viewpoint you may be shocked to learn is not at all unique amongst conservatives who are actually far more diverse in thought and opinion than we are made out to be), you hate it just as bad as I did.  

You demonstrate your hatred constantly in every way you possibly can – in music, in books, in tv shows, in cartoons and bumperstickers and slogans on T-shirts. The people who speak for you say it – the politicians and celebrities and reporters and college professors. There are a kajillion tweets a day with some important lefty mouthpiece saying how much they despise America and how they wish the United States was more like Canada or Australia or Sweden and how embarrassing it is to be an American and all those kajillion tweets get a kazillion retweets.  You’re not fooling anyone with your crocodile tears over Sarah Palin saying this that or the other thing, it’s a nonsense political ploy, your ace in the hole that you think proves some point but it’s all lies and bullshit just like 90% of all the other stuff you say.

Let me digress for a minute to talk about cunts.   

You know that recent Samantha Bee thing where Roseanne said some awful thing and then Bee said “cunt” (which is like NOTHING compared to what Roseanne said) and some conservatives suddenly flipped their shit and y’all were left scratching your no-poo’d man-buns in perplexity about the hypocrisy of it all?  Well, that’s you over this Sarah Palin thing. I mean seriously, Sarah Palin saying “not the real America” is so utterly minor in the grand scheme of political barbs (political barbs are ALLOWED, people, barbs are not off limits! Hillary calling people in red states deplorables is a dumb as b@lls but it too was a political barb and allowed just the same as Palin’s “not the real America” should have been allowed).  Yet you trot “not the real America” out like it’s some magical totem you can invoke to shut down the VERY LEGIT point that the left en masse is doing an awful lot of ugly talkin’ here and maybe-just-maybe conservatives have valid reason for being a little bit concerned about the long-term implications of your guyses present mindset. You’re scared, concerned, feel threatened, conservatives?  Well, Sarah Palin, case closed, check and mate, Elvis has left the building.  Your argument is invalid, Sarah Palin’s hair is a bird.  U throwing Sarah Palin in my face is Sam Bee saying “cunt” only writ large, since it is STILL going on and on and Sarah Palin happened forever ago in the grand scheme of things.  You and yours are insulting and even outright threatening me and mine every day via 100,000 different mediums and when asked about it you blink stupidly and pretend that you don’t know what I am talking about and have the audacity to ask me to list my sources to prove this outrageous claim.  

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  My SOURCES? How about everything and everyone on your side for like, oh, I don’t know, the last mywholeentirelife?

But ok, whatever, I’ll play.  Let’s just go over a FEW of the more notorious things that are just a wee bit more…shall we say, in your face…than Sarah Palin saying “not the REAL America” during the course of a political campaign, shall we?

Famous singer says she hates America, later explains it’s because America is fat  https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ariana-grande-says-i-hate-807275

Reporter says coal miners should die and they deserve it https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/12/12/1610198/-Be-happy-for-coal-miners-losing-their-health-insurance-They-re-getting-exactly-what-they-voted-for

Childhood icon says old people need to die to protect the environment https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/20/bill-nye-climate-science-needs-older-generations-t/

Tech company founder says Middle America is a shithole filled with stupid people http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/08/tech-company-founder-middle-america-is-a-shthole-filled-with-stupid-people/

Television writer says it’s good that Congressmen he politically disagrees with were shot https://twitchy.com/samj-3930/2017/06/23/classy-bill-nye-writer-is-ok-if-a-few-old-ass-conservative-white-men-have-to-die-to-pass-gun-control/

Hollywood royalty calls for mass execution of NRA members https://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/10/05/famous-singer-calls-for-mass-execution-of-nra-members-it-doesnt-go-over-well

Hollywood royalty calls for woman to be raped…  http://dailycaller.com/2018/06/20/peter-fonda-asks-for-sec-nielsen-to-be-caged-and-publicly-raped-for-enforcing-immigration-law/

…and child to be molested.  https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/peter-fonda-barron-trump/

Actor bullied and forced to apologize for saying conservative writer has good intentions  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/7/19/17593174/mark-duplass-ben-shapiro-apology

Anointed celebrity golden girl and Friend of Hillary celebrates the extinction of white men https://twitter.com/lenadunham/status/793929098926166016

Congresswoman calls for members of presidential cabinetto be publicly harassed/bullied by the private sector to force political agreement  https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/25/politics/maxine-waters-trump-officials/index.html

Failed presidential candidate calls those who did not vote for her backwards, pessimistic, racist, sexist, jealous, and very obviously worst of all, poorer than her voters http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-says-trump-won-backwards-states-in-2016-2018-3

I could sit here and post like a hundred of these, a thousand of them, and I could back them up with a MILLION examples from fictional sagas where conservatives or Christians or country folk were mocked as stupid/inbred/ignorant and/or portrayed as bad guys and terrible people and it would still be a drop in the bucket really.  And remember, these are NOT just random yo-yo’s on the street, these are famous people putting together thoughts that they KNOW will be highly scrutinized by millions of people. The average everyday liberal yo-yo’s are also posting similar sentiments, I’ve read them, and honestly, YOU’VE read them too. You like to pretend you haven’t read them when I press you on the issue, but you’ve read them and a good many of you have written them yourself.  I read these sentiments on social media all the way back into the Obama administration when you were winning and winning wasn’t good enough, oh no, you had to also stand over the virtual corpses of gay-marriage-opposing Christians WHO YOU WERE FRIENDS WITH and instead of being magnanimous, conciliatory, generous in your triumph, you pushed your digital foot into their cyberchest and screamed victory into their avatar’s face.  (and I happen to agree with you on gay marriage but the gloating and mercilessly unkind behavior to people who didn’t agree after gay marriage was legalized was one of the most troubling things I’ve ever witnessed)

When I say “we’re scared” you bloody well know why or you are the stupidest, most inside of a bubble person ever.   

Yet again and again, I emerge from hiding like a little shy mouse to try to explain this to you, to tell you my concerns, to express the concerns of my friends and neighbors out here in Shymousepeopleland and in return you give me Sarah Palin?  REALLY? Is saying “not the real America” during the course of a political campaign really equivalent to calling for murder and rape? Is ur complicated feelz about hearing “not the real America” one time 10 years ago REALLY equivalent to millions of mousy conservative folks being actually afraid to talk about their deeply held political beliefs because they know they’ll be stomped on by a thousand combat boots and maybe even lose their little mice jobs at the cheese factory if they do?

I don’t think it’s unreasonable paranoia for conservatives to have some concerns in light of the many troubling statements that YOU, liberals, both everyday folk and those in your leadership, are making every. damn. day.   The people you are surrounded by and look up to are saying that I am evil. Not wrong, evil. And evil things are to be eradicated. ERADICATED.  The moldy, outdated past that had nothing good in it at all whatsoever should be eradicated utterly from the history books, ushering in the glorious, flawless, golden Future of Tomorrow in which everything will be perfectly utopian and everyone will be happy all the time.  Or else.

This is happening, it is real, and I don’t need to post 10,000 examples to prove that it is real every time we chat, because you gotta be living at a Helen Keller level of oblivious if you don’t see it.  And you – who are ostensibly my friend, right?? I thought so anyway – telling me that it is unreasonable paranoia on my part because Sarah Palin, makes me even more concerned. Because one of these things is NOT LIKE the others.  

And this is not me calling for censorship!  Not EVEN! I think it’s fine for Samantha Bee to say “cunt” and Robert DeNiro to say “fuck Trump.”  (even though, again, it’s dumb as b@lls if you wanna win elections IMVVVVHO cause you’re gonna need the moderate people like me and I for one will never vote Democrat again not even for the freaking dog catcher).  Feel free to call me a cunt or a gash or a deplorable and I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. But don’t you even dare, for a single solitary minute, talk to me condescendingly like I’m a fucking idiot born yesterday and try to conflate a minor political jab that happened 10 years ago with high school teachers casually suggesting burning down a pizza parlor over some people’s political and religious beliefs https://www.weaselzippers.us/219251-high-school-teacher-in-liberal-mass-town-calls-for-burning-down-indiana-pizza-shop-over-christian-beliefs-on-gay-marriage/

https://www.christianpost.com/news/memories-pizza-where-christian-owners-got-death-threats-for-not-catering-gay-weddings-closes-223357/  And this shit is happening CONSTANTLY from you people and it’s bad and making our country less and less pleasant and worse, less and less unified.

Tolerance!

Tolerance?

Now I know there are people on the right who have done and said some terrible shit and yep it’s indefensible.  But for some reason you never bring those people up, do you, preferring instead to resort to bitching and moaning about Sarah Palin.  Why? I suspect it’s because deep down inside you know that those people are not mainstream. Alex Jones is not mainstream and you know it and I know it.  Alt-right trolls are not mainstream. But on your side? The extremists RULE. Lena Dunham, who was once put in charge of Hillary Clinton’s Instagram account for a whole fucking day that’s how much of an insider she is, made a cheery video about how great it was that white males would go extinct.  You cannot disavow the extremists in your midst because 97% of you ARE extremists and the other 3% of you have your heads so far up your own asses that not even the soothing sounds of NPR can lure you out.

God, I miss Dick Gephart.

I have a child who’s an instigator.  He will push and push until finally one of his siblings flips their shit, usually over the most minor, mundane, innocuous thing but it’s because he’d been doing that same thing and worse for the last 17 hours straight.  Then he will profess shock and outrage that he’s being punished for this microaggression that he of course never even meant to do. He’ll point a quavering finger at whoever it is who had simply responded in kind out of exasperation since he’d been provoking them for a good long while prior.   Then he cowers behind “but Johnny did so and so” and gets all offended and claims to have no idea why anyone is even angry with him when everyone knows it was Johnny all along.  You know the type. He’s not a bad kid and I believe that HE mostly believes what he says and probably cannot understand why he is in trouble most of the time because he also has a selective memory and seems to immediately forget the bulk of all his small but obnoxious transgressions.  

What my child fails to understand is that we, his parental units, have been watching his behavior lo these many years and we KNOW that whenever one of his siblings blows up at him, it’s usually entirely justified because he’s such an unremittant little passive-aggressive pissant.  That is YOU, liberals. You poked us and poked us and poked us for decades and we took it in good faith, with good humor, in the spirit of a pluralistic society, but now ya done poked us one too many times and you cannot, CANNOT run back and hide behind “but Sarah Palin!!!  Fox NEWWWWSSSSSS!” any more.  Even though I suspect that you have the short-term memory issues of any garden-variety unremittant passive-aggressive pissant and you don’t even know why we’re mad at you because you didn’t even DO anything, trust me, you did.

Better start keeping score because we have started keeping score.

AKA check yourself before you wreck not only yourself, but everything.  We got a good deal here, America. We got a good thing going. We got freedom and a world of choices and technological shit that was unimaginable when we were children and you can absolutely reject the trappings of “America”, the bald eagles and Jell-O salads and deer heads on walls and Little League baseball and toddler beauty pageants while still embracing freedom and the marvelous stuff that freedom has created for us.  Because the freedom stuff is the stuff that really matters to us right-wing wackos. Believe it or not we don’t care if you like the same home decor and extracurriculars we do if you’d just stop telling us how problematically awful the stuff we like is and writing thinkpieces on how our every preference reveal us as much-dumber-than-u monsters. I promise we don’t want to force our way of life onto you.  That’s your department.  

The stuff y’all think of as “the real America” is just aesthetics. We can share the American stuff – freedom and tolerance and respect for individual rights and civil liberties – without sharing the aesthetic trappings. Conservatives do it every day – I assure you, my daughter has never been in a beauty pageant nor does the severed head of an animal adorn my home, and I don’t even LIKE apple pie. But I don’t go around judging and insulting my comrade-in-arms who does like those things, and our relationship works.  

Sooo, I’ll do me, and you do you, and Bubba McLardass or whoever you think lives out here in the red states can do him, and we could all live happily side by side in peace and harmony but ya gotta quit with the demonizing everybody who doesn’t like everything that you like all the time.  And if you can’t do that, if you can’t change, I get it, change is hard. But at the least you need to ADMIT that a lot of the people on your side of the aisle are saying some things that are beyond the pale and way outside of the boundaries and that we on the right have reasons to feel afraid of these people and fear makes some people who are already halfway there, get totally cray-cray. 

Please, PLEASE just admit that your side’s rhetoric, from the very bottom right on up to the tippity top, has gone way beyond something mild and minor Sarah Palin said in a speech 10 years ago because by pretending these things are in any way the same, you are then compounding the matter with deceit and condescension and making me question the motives of everyday people I genuinely like.

That’s right, dudes and dudettes of the left, I LIKE YOU.  We ARE all totally the real America and I like you bubble-headed Coasties from Haight-Asbury all the way to Greenwich Village.  We have way more in common than you think. I believe you mostly have good hearts and some of you even mean what you say which makes you wrong, not evil.  I don’t mean you any harm and I don’t ~think~ u mean me harm either, but when you piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining, I start wondering if you’re really my friend or if you’re just looking for a convenient place to drop a dook.

 

Babies behind bars?

Babies behind bars?

According to a recent article in Cosmopolitan, the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act means that a flood of poor women will be going to jail – deliberately – to get prenatal care.   The author claims that prior to the implementation of the ACA, for many women, prison was their main provider of prenatal care, and should the ACA be repealed, it will be so again. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8672870/obamacare-repeal-will-send-poor-pregnant-women-jail-prenatal/  

Of course, the ACA does not really mean all women have access to prenatal care.  It simply means that they have insurance. Insurance does not always equate to health care.  Health care, for most people, carries additional costs and fees beyond the amount insurance covers.  The amount of money I had to pay out of pocket for my pregnancy and birth in 2009 vs. my pregnancy and birth in 2012 more than doubled in only 3 years.  Our insurance paid a lower percentage of my prenatal care post-ACA. Since the price we paid for our monthly insurance also went up significantly at the same time, it certainly didn’t translate to affordable care for us, anyway.  If we hadn’t been able to afford the money for the co-pay, our insured status would not have equated to prenatal care for me. But I digress.

The author of the Cosmo piece never exactly proves that because the women received prenatal care in prison, that it was really their REASON for being in prison, nor does she establish that the women in question tried very hard to get prenatal care outside of prison, either.  And even before the implementation of the ACA, there were social programs that offered free health care to people below a certain income available for the taking – no need for poor women to go to jail to get prenatal care. But let’s take the claim at face value. For the sake of argument, we’ll agree that at least some women are willing to deliberately subject themselves to prison to access prenatal care.  Some would argue that adequate prenatal care is so important to the good of the country that so we should provide it for free to everyone. Let’s accept that as a given, too. As a caring, empathetic society, we should ensure that everyone has access to some basic level of food, water, air, and prenatal care. But what adequate prenatal care should entail is hard to pin down, exactly.   “Adequate” is a pretty amorphous term. What does it really mean?

Women’s magazines and medical experts universally agree that adequate prenatal care is very important for the health of women and their unborn babies.  Without adequate prenatal care, terrible things can happen. But as most women who have had a baby will testify, the bulk of prenatal care involves an afternoon taken off work, finding a sitter for your other children or dragging them along if you can’t, a stressful drive into heavy traffic, paying for parking in a crowded parking garage, waddling into a building full of sick and possibly contagious people, waiting an interminable length of time for a nurse to check your pee sample/take your blood pressure/measure your stomach/weigh you and scold you for the amount you’ve gained, be it too much or too little, and then waiting another interminable length of time for the doctor to show up.  The doctor shakes your hand and glances at your paperwork and tells you to return in a month, 2 weeks, a week, or a few days, depending on how far along you are. Sometimes you get to listen to your baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler, which is fun.

Quite frankly, a good percentage of prenatal care is bullshit.  You lose an entire afternoon, if not a full day, to see a nurse for a few minutes and a doctor for fewer.  Somebody behind the scenes dips a test strip into your pee. It’s basically an excuse to listen to your baby’s heartbeat.  Lots of appointments, lots of ultrasounds, lots of tests, lots of weighing and measuring and poking and prodding, but most of it is only window dressing.    

If you have concerns about aches or pains they are usually played off as inconsequential.  If you have minor pregnancy complaints, they are easily fixed. If you have heartburn, take Tums.  If you are constipated, take a stool softener. Varicose veins, put your feet up. If you’re nauseous, try soda crackers.  But adequate prenatal care should not mean going to the doctor for advice about soda crackers and footstools and reassurance over cramps.  It should mean that which is minimally adequate for a healthy pregnancy. Adequate means good enough, not best of the best. Yet women are sold a bill of goods where if they don’t have it done exactly as the OBGYN suggests, their uterus will implode, taking out everyone within a 5 yard radius.  

Things can and do go wrong in pregnancy.  But most of what pregnant women receive when they get prenatal care is useless.  It isn’t preventative, it’s a placebo. A lot of hassle for a lot of nothing. Most of the patients OBGYNs see in the office are not having emergencies and most who are having emergencies are well aware they are having them.  In fact, developing emergencies are sometimes missed during prenatal visits when doctors and nurses write off concerning symptoms as minor complaints, lulling women into a false sense of security that everything is ok when it actually isn’t.

Most serious problems in pregnancy (that are able to be corrected by doctors, that is) show up towards at the end of pregnancy.  Gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia rarely develop before the 5th month and usually much later. Problems during the first trimester of pregnancy are almost always terminal.   If you’re losing a pregnancy before 26 weeks (more realistically, 32 weeks) there is usually little they can do to save your baby. Despite this, some doctors will have women come in every 2-3 days day at the beginning of a pregnancy for something called “betas”.  Betas are blood tests to check the level of pregnancy hormones in a woman’s blood. They’re done repeatedly to see how fast they’re rising. Slow rises can mean a pregnancy is not developing normally. But fast rises, while encouraging, do not guarantee a pregnancy is developing normally.  Betas are largely pointless, but women love them anyway. They will obsess over their betas. Women whose doctors won’t do betas lament over not having their beta numbers. But betas are totally useless because if the pregnancy is ending at the earliest stage of gestation, there is nothing doctors can do about it anyway.   Betas are a huge waste of valuable medical dollars that could be spent more wisely on about a million other things.

Some other things that doctors like to do in early pregnancy:

Prescribe really expensive prenatal vitamins, but prenatals are readily available over the counter for a much lower price and prenatals have never been shown to do anything to help a pregnancy anyway.  https://www.statnews.com/2016/07/11/prenatal-supplement-unnecessary/  Folic acid has, but most foods are fortified with folic acid now, and it’s also readily available over the counter at a fraction of the price as the prescription brand.  Vitamin D may also be a good idea, but again it’s available in fortified foods and also over the counter.

Prescribe progesterone supplements which data indicates are no better than placebos and do not help maintain any pregnancy that isn’t developing normally http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/9829-201606229829

Pressure women over 35 into having amniocentesis or CVS tests that carry a risk of miscarriage even though there are now non-invasive blood tests that do the same thing for a much, much lower cost and without risk to the pregnancy http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/noninvasive-prenatal-testing

Send women for “dating ultrasounds” which involve something called a transvaginal ultrasound wand (just as pleasant as it sounds) to verify when the woman got pregnant.   Even when the woman knows exactly when she got pregnant, many doctors insist upon the “dating ultrasound” even though it is of no proven medical benefit. They are also very unreliable and many times women end up highly stressed out when a technician can’t see a baby on the screen because they are not far enough along.

Insist upon doing Pap smears and other preventative vaginal exams “because they won’t be able to do them later in pregnancy.”  But Pap smears only need to be done every 3-5 years https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines.html

Put women on bed rest or pelvic rest even though these things have never been shown to help sustain pregnancy and bed rest even make matters worse by causing blood clots in the legs.  https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-news/experts-call-bed-rest-be-discontinued

Things that doctors DON’T like to do in early pregnancy:

Check thyroid levels of women with a history of thyroid problems.  Thyroid problems are known to cause or contribute to miscarriage and yet some women have to fight tooth and nail for their doctors to do these tests and adjust their medication even when they’re experiencing troubling symptoms.  https://www.endocrineweb.com/news/reproductionsexuality/15793-untreated-low-thyroid-function-during-pregnancy-can-lead-trouble

Properly investigate severe cramping and spotting.   One true medical emergency that does occur in early pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs in the Fallopian tubes (ectopic pregnancy).  The tubes can rupture and cause potentially fatal internal bleeding. It’s rare, but worthy of a thorough investigation, not only to be sure an ectopic pregnancy has not occurred, but also to avoid medical mismanagement where a viable pregnancy is terminated.  There is a strange dichotomy wherein ectopic pregnancies are both frequently missed http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-828X.1996.tb03282.x/full but at the same time viable pregnancies are terminated wrongfully http://commonhealth.legacy.wbur.org/2013/10/ectopic-pregnancy-misdiagnosed-methotrexate

Investigate unexplained fevers.  Women occasionally go into their doctor with an unexplained fever during pregnancy.  Yes, usually it’s viral. But occasionally a woman develops a bladder or kidney infection during pregnancy or even an infection in the uterus.  Because doctors often assume fevers are benign in cause, infections may be left untreated until a woman is very ill. If the infection is in the uterus, the pregnancy cannot withstand it.  Invasive procedures like Pap smears and transvaginal ultrasounds (as in, those things that some doctors like to do without cause in early pregnancy) during pregnancy may raise the risks of uterine infections, due to a lack of sanitization of equipment, the medical provider, or contamination of the gel products used during the procedure when technicians reuse the same container of gel again and again rather than opening a new sterile package for each patient.   https://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/3_1deLaparoArthro.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973690/

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm299409.htm

The argument for Mercedes-level prenatal care is that “If it saves one life, it’s all worth it”.  But the problem is, when every patient is treated as a ticking time bomb in need of intense scrutiny, it makes it much more likely the minority who really ARE developing a complication will be missed.   It’s like a reverse form of the needle in a haystack. Doctors and nurses are so busy dealing with all the pieces of straw, they can’t spot the needle even though it’s shiny. If a doctor’s office is so busy doing “dating ultrasounds” that it doesn’t have the capability to quickly and thoroughly investigate a woman who is actually having symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, then they’re doing it wrong.  And if they’re so busy doing those “dating ultrasounds” that employees can’t even clean their equipment properly, wash their hands, or even open a sterile container of ultrasound goo, then they’re making even more needles to lose in the stack.

Some doctor’s office do early pregnancy right.  They refuse to see patients (without cause) until the start of the second trimester.  This allows them to better focus on their patients who are experiencing real problems and those later along in pregnancy and at higher risk of developing complications.  It also prevents temptation for doctors to cave in to their patients, who often demand interventions like dating ultrasounds, beta testing, and progesterone supplements when they are not medically indicated.  Unfortunately these non-interventionist doctors have to compete with the offices that are willing to do unnecessary intervention, so the pressure is on everyone to provide more and earlier care.

Prenatal care is likely even being overused even into the second trimester.  Most serious, life threatening pregnancy complications do not start to occur until the 5th month of pregnancy, and even then it’s only a tiny percentage which gradually grows to a still-small percentage by the 9th month.  So why do ALL women have to come in for numerous appointments even when their risk of complications is miniscule? Is this the best of use of our medical time and dollars? It probably isn’t, and any woman who is experiencing weird symptoms and is terrified and wants to come in right away only to be told “we can squeeze you in next Tuesday at 3” wants to tear her hair out knowing that most of the people in the doctor’s office are only there to listen to their baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler.  

Did I mention how fun that is?   It’s pretty fun. Fun enough to justify wildly inflated medical bills?  Nah. Fun enough to justify having to wait days for true medical emergencies?  Definitely not.

There are some very clear markers for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia that are easy to spot.  Increasing blood pressure, sugar and protein in urine, and excessive weight gain are early signs. Why not allow pregnant women to take their own blood pressure, check their own urine with dip sticks to check for sugar and protein, weigh themselves, and call for an immediate appointment if anything seems off?  Maybe come to the lab a couple times for a blood test at the start of the second trimester and the start of the 3rd to rule out anemia, gestational diabetes and a few other rare complications? A woman wouldn’t even need to see the doctor for that, if everything came out ok. It would give doctors and nurses more time to answer the mundane questions about heartburn and support stockings via email.

Some women won’t do those things, of course.  But I’ll wager that most if not all of the women who aren’t willing to take their own blood pressure and check their urine for glucose and protein once a month are also the ones who weren’t going to prenatal exams anyway.  And that’s not meant as a slam on them. If you don’t have reliable transportation and someone to watch your children, it becomes a massive ordeal to go to the doctor’s office once every 2 weeks or even once a month. If you work a non-professional job, and are expected to work 9-5 M-F, it’s undoable.   And knowing that you’ll face judgement from the nurses and receptionists if you miss an appointment or two makes it that much harder to show up at the visits you can. Who can blame them for wanting to stay away? I actually suspect we’d see better compliance with a do-it-yourself approach than with traditional prenatal exams.

Articles about women going to jail to get adequate prenatal care are nonsensical because no one is even questioning what that even means.  No one is calling for “good enough, get the job done” prenatal care. They’re calling for an unnecessary amount of prenatal care that most do not need, which puts huge burdens onto the backs of poor and working-class women (whether or not they have insurance).   Prenatal care as it exists here and now, America 2018 is NOT adequate. It’s a fun and reassuring life experience for women who can afford it and have the luxury of being able to get to the appointments. But a lot of women don’t want a fun and reassuring life experience, they want adequate prenatal care.  Truly adequate. They want a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby and I believe we can do that with far fewer visits.

No one needs to go to jail for “adequate” prenatal care.  We need to start giving women the option of a basic level of care.  This isn’t harming women, it’s helping them. If doctors weren’t stretched so thin, they’d be better able to serve all their customers.  They may even be better able to help the women and babies who truly require medical intervention by decluttering the doctor’s schedules and making it easier to spot the needle in the haystack.  It would very likely be more affordable as well – an important consideration given the recent debates over health care. And nobody would have to go to jail to get it.