Tag Archives: birth control

Call The Midwife and Social Justice

27 May

CallTheMidwife_S5_BLUFor those who follow this blog, you know I am a devoted fan of Call the Midwife.  My husband and I just finished watching the conclusion to season five and wow! While the story is quite different from the show I fell in love with during seasons one through three — where they were drawing from Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s — season five proved to be an amazing journey. The season fully explores topics of social justice — issues of power, race, misogyny. In fact, season five seems to be the point of reinvention. This is where the show decided to really take on themes of that are sadly still relevant today such as queerness, the lesbian love story, and poverty, and how differently women have to navigate the world and how difficult it can be for women to govern their own bodies.

From the start, season five addresses powerful topics and does not shy away from where and when people in the “helping profession” cause harm. Such is the case in episode two, which deals with breast feeding or using formula. What is lovely is that our dear Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) is able to offer some repair work with a woman who was unable to breast feed. Episode three was very difficult to watch and deals with how we treat pregnant women who are not married and also takes on the issue of abortion. I strongly recommend this episode, as here in 2016 women still face so many of these same barriers. Of course, if we then look at intersecting identities, we look at how women of color and queer women may face even more barriers.

The show also takes on sex work, poverty, and the clandestine lesbian affair between Patsy and Delia. We also see the advent of the pill and how we look at women’s reproductive health and choice. I have to say that every episode is very intense and well done. I will continue to use many of the episodes in social work classes I teach, as they address what good social work can look like and what intersectionality is.

While I am exceedingly sad that our Pam Ferris has left the show, and I still miss Chummy (Miranda Hart), I am thrilled that Call The Midwife will return for a sixth season.  Rumor has it that our Chummy will return. I don’t know of another show that takes on social issues the way this show does, especially around the disparities of how we treat women. Well Done! Stay tuned for Season Six.

Bigot of the Week Award: Mike Pence and Matt McLaughlin

27 Mar
No, I'm Not Gay!

No, I’m Not Gay!

Sadly, Republican Governor Mike Pence signed into law on Thursday the freedom to hate and discriminate. This law is fairly far-reaching in how it will impact many communities.

Yes, the obvious community it allows for hate and discrimination against is the LGBTQ community. I would also like to call attention to the fact that this “Religious Freedom” law also paves the way for police officers to refuse to defend mosques or synagogues because it may go against their Christian beliefs. This law now allows the refusal to help women experiencing domestic violence, as previous laws in place to advocate for women  may not apply to someone whose religion says someone may discipline their spouse and children however they deem proper. I presume this law also allows the medical profession to now legally deny women access to birth control.

Help me understand how this law is beneficial to anyone’s civil rights? How is this not about protecting the fear of white heterosexual Christian men?

Demonstrating his enormous privilege and horrific lack of reflection, Pence had the audacity to observe

This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.

As icing on the one-man-one-woman-only wedding cake, he also signed the legislation in a private ceremony. Just a little shy about making your hate public, Governor?

In other atrocious news, a most dishonorable mention must go to Matt McLaughlin. McLaughlin is backing the bill in California called the Sodomite Suppression Act, which calls for the execution of gays with a bullet to the head. Goodness, McLaughlin certainly seems obsessed with anal sex! Gratefully, California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, is desperately trying to find a way to just dismiss this modern-day Nazi bill.

Enough awful news! I am in search of all of the many heroes that need celebrating.

Women’s History Month: 2015

1 Mar

Womens-History-Month-300x153Today marks the 29th year we celebrate National Women’s History Month. My dear friend Molly Murphy MacGregor led the pioneering effort to recognize how women have impacted, shaped, and influenced our world. Molly — always very humble — is the co-founder of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) and a key force behind why we now celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States. The not insignificant move forward started in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Finally in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

Sadly, we still see enormous resistance to treating women equally and equitably. The Republican controlled house sent a very clear message when they voted no on the equal pay act. This past February we saw Representative LaVar Christensen and Representative Brian Greene trying to defend rape, a very sad echo of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock talking about “legitimate rape.” Yes, we continue to witness myriad vicious attacks on women and their bodies.  John Boehner and his ilk seem to want property rights to every vagina in America.

Over the course of the month we will look at women pioneers and women who fought for civil rights, while we also examine the continued hypocrisy and double standards that exist, as we witness right wing extremist policing women’s eggs.  Reproductive health is debated by men (Catholic Bishops? Darrel Issa‘s all-male birth control panel?) with paternalistic moralizing and no reference to women at all. Sadly, it is not just men that are trying to control women’s bodies, but a faction of self-loathing women — who have internalized male oppression — are also hurting women. Are you listening Susan G. Komen Foundation? Helping everyone learn Women’s History is the best preventative for creating any new Phyllis Schlaflys or Karen Handels.

We have much to celebrate and much work yet to accomplish.

Call The Midwife

23 Jan

Call the MidwifeAbout six months ago, my dear friend Janet Putnam recommended the BBC series Call The Midwife, explaining that I would love it because it demonstrates really good social work.  I must confess that I was rather hesitant and was not sure I would share her interest in the show, given it is about a bunch of nuns.  My interest was piqued some because it is also about the beginning of National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Coincidentally, this past Christmas, my friend Brad sent me the first season of Call the Midwife. It seemed I would have to cave in and watch at least one episode. Wow! My husband and I have officially become addicted to this brilliant series.  The story was taken from midwife Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and is based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s. It truly is a documentary of the start of NHS and of splendid social work — walking alongside people, being present on their journey and offering help.  I love that the real progressive voices often come not from the “modern” nurses; instead the Anglican nuns provide  the progressive narrative. The stellar cast work together in such harmony, they compel one to continue watching.  A social justice icon, Vanessa Redgrave, narrates our story, as the mature Nurse Jenny Lee. Pam Ferris, from Rosemary and Thyme, is the feisty, stern, yet lovable Sister Evangelina.  The amazingly talented and funny Miranda Hart stars as the exceedingly endearing Chummy.  Judy Parfitt, many of you will remember from her Oscar worthy performance in Delores Claiborne as Vera Donovan, plays the lovely and absent-minded Sister Monica Joan.

Tea(r) Towel

Tea(r) Towel

This ensemble cast provide not only a narration of birth, they also give us a didactic story of health care, social work, feminism, and social justice. Each episode is like a gift — a remarkable story that is utterly compelling. I must confess that I cry so much I have to have a tear towel at my side. If you have not had a chance to watch this amazing series, I encourage you to watch at least one episode, for I know you will become addicted to this very sweet and sad story of humanity from birth to death.

Soulless Supreme Court Sponsors Corporate Christian Religion

7 Jul

Roberts CourtThe United States is still reeling from the Supreme Court decision last Monday, July 1 — now a day living in infamy. Disappointing, but not wholly surprising to see the Koch Bros. purchased Justices: Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy imposing their collective Catholic male dominated perspective on a nation that purportedly honors separation of church and state.  Our SCOTUS is starting to feel and look more like a branch of the Papacy pre-Vatican II, rather than part of a system of checks and balances among the three branches of American Government.

This infamous decision by the Catholic Five is not just about access to birth control — it is directly about women’s health and who gets to determine women’s health.  This decision also reinforces the never accurate and consistently sexist idea that sex is solely for the purpose of procreation and must never be considered for recreation by consenting adults. It sends a clear message that women are here for the sole purpose to produce children — they are objects owned by their husbands.  Yes, I am astounded that we are even having this conversation in 2014.  What will the next decision be? Shall the Catholic Five on the Supreme Court designate a police force to police every bedroom to ensure people are only have sex for the purposes of procreation?

What happened to separation of church and state? What will be the ripple effects of this monumental disaster of a decision? Do we now have a set precedent where corporations can limit services or goods to the LGBTQ community or the Muslim community? The intersections of race, class, gender, and religions other than Christianity are apparently now targeted officially by the highest court in the land. The Hobby Lobby decision shores up any potential cracks in the Citizens United decision where we witnessed how corporations can purchase their very own supreme court justices.

Fortunately, we have the sage voice of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you have not read her dissent, I encourage you to read her wise words and warnings. We also have an ally in President Obama, who is dedicated to using executive orders wherever possible to minimize the damage. However much the Teahadists may bemoan his actions, we must remember that the Presidency is part of the three-party system. The Executive branch can — and at times MUST — check the judiciary when it over-reaches!

Don’t let the complacent, corporate cogs at the major news outlets fool you. This is no “narrow” decision! If corporations have free speech and religion rights, what else might they do? Do they have the right to form “well-ordered” militias? If one religious sect can impose its will on a common good like health care — based on their “firmly held” but scientifically false beliefs — what else might lower courts decide they can do? With the death of DOMA we saw how quickly lower courts will adopt a major SCOTUS ruling and effect a sea change in state laws. Is Hobby Lobby the next wave? If so, this will be a tsunami of hate and bigotry.

Sadly, we now see the floodgate of religious hate sanctioned and legalized with the Wheaton College injunction.

CALL TO ACTION: The Justices are in it for life. Little can be changed on the Judicial front for now. We need Congressional action to reverse Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, restoring the corporate veil and re-affirming that corporations are NOT people. That won’t happen in Boehner’s house or if the GOP takes over the Senate. Vote wisely this November. Targeted populations, like women, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and other intentionally marginalized populations who tend not to vote in mid-terms must mobilize to send the message: We will not stand for this!

Bigot of the Week Award: May 31, Roman Polanski

31 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

I need to send out a huge thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for her nomination of this weeks’ bigot! Outspoken director Roman Polanski managed to add to the wrong side of his legacy with some very misogynistic comments this week. Speaking to the press at the Cannes Film Festival, Polanski offered bizarre non sequiturs, medial nonsense, and vicious sexism–I suspect we need to up his Haldol dose significantly!

I think it’s a pity that now offering flowers to a lady becomes indecent. […] trying to level the genders is purely idiotic. I think it’s a result of, like everything else and I will be Marxist here, of progress in medicine and these are outcomes of it. I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, masculinized her … that chases away the romance from our lives and that’s a great pity.

I’m not sure where to even start with this. The most innocuous bits are the strange idea that offering flowers is anti-feminist (perhaps he needs to work on his delivery…) and the nonsensical claim that anything he said is vaguely Marxist. (Remember, Marx was a  defender of women’s rights!)

Far more troubling is his absolute dismissal of any attempt at gender equity. Does he not understand oppression? This isn’t about all people being identical, it is simply about social justice — ensuring that all people have equal opportunity and access. Apparently he’s getting his science from the modern GOP, too, claiming that birth control masculinizes women and destroys romance. That manages to be a mix of medical lies and outright lunacy. One would think that a man who built his career on movies exploring sexual freedom — including the S&M picture that got him to Cannes — would be a bit more celebratory of science that makes sex more free from consequence.

Polanski may have directed a couple of classics and suffered some significant personal tragedies. One would think that being a Holocaust survivor and having his wife brutally murdered would have endowed him with a greater sense of empathy and the human condition. Alas, it has not. He also skipped town the day before his sentencing on unlawful sex with a minor after raping a 13-year-old. He’s been a fugitive from justice for nearly 40 years. It seems he’s also a fugitive from common sense and basic decency.

Bigot of the Week Award: January 4, Hobby Lobby

4 Jan
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Sadly, ringing in the new year doesn’t stop the flow of ugly behavior that needs to be called out. This week’s winner managed a triple whammy with misogyny, religious hypocrisy, and anti-Obama (talk about racist undertones) shrieking all in one lawsuit.

Hobby Lobby is a chain that operates over 540 craft and hobby stores in 41 states. It was founded by evangelical fundamentalist David Green and is privately owned by his family. As with any other major employer, they are bound by Federal laws regarding employment. That includes the insurance aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to provide coverage for a wide range of birth control options. There is an exemption for very small businesses and churches.

The Green family sued, maintaining that the law infringes their religious freedom. They’re playing the victim card, making the usual faulty claim that how they worship should be related to how they operate their PRIVATE SECULAR business. The Greens can believe whatever they want; what they cannot do is impose those religious beliefs on their employees. By choosing to operate in the public sphere, they are bound by laws designed for the public good. This is true of the family’s other holdings, including the Mardel chain of bookstores.

How typical of far too many false christians to whine about their rights while trying to suppress the rights and freedoms of others. How dare the women that work for them want fair and equal access to health care? How dare the President try to provide that care in a fair and reasonable way to all Americans, regardless of how they spend their Sunday mornings?

The Green’s lawsuit has been blocked at every level. They petitioned the Supreme Court, but Justice Sotomayor denied the petition, stopping the case. Right wing groups are making them out to be martyrs, mounting “Hobby Lobby Days” like the circus that they spun out of Chik-Fil-A’s hate sandwiches. Hobby Lobby says it will lose $1.3 million per day for refusing to implement the law. There’s an easy solution: realize that you sell bedazzlers and don’t operate churches. Treat your employees with respect and human decency. I think that’s what Jesus just might do.

Number 3 Bigot of the Year 2012: GOP Rape Apologists

29 Dec
Number 3 Bigots of 2012

Number 3 Bigots of 2012

There were plenty of examples of the Republican War on Women in 2012, ranging from battles over contraception to the stunning failure to renew the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Nothing was quite so vile, however, as the shockingly repeated misogyny regarding rape. No fewer than five candidates for Federal office said something appalling about rape victims, often relating to shutting down a woman’s right to choose.  For a party that consistently demonstrated how much it HATES women, the GOP was determined to own every vagina in the land.

The most famous are Senate wannabes Todd Akin (MO) and Richard Mourdock (IN). Let’s take a quick look at the whole fool’s gallery.

  • “The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, […] gift of human life and accept what God is giving to you.” Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (PA), Jan. 20
  • “If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room; I would give them a shot of estrogen.” Rep. and Presidential candidate Ron Paul (TX), Feb. 3
  • “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Senate candidate Todd Akin (MO), Aug. 20
  • “It was really an issue of the Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in with an emergency rape.” Senate candidate Linda McMahon (CT), Oct. 15
  • “When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (IN), Oct. 23

Sadly,the media largely overlooked the first two, but Akin’s bizarre comment went viral and sunk his nearly sure thing candidacy. The GOP tried to get him out of the race, but he stayed put. With all their hopes for the Senate evaporating, the GOP leadership stuck by Mourdock. That included another lovely “gift from God” quote from Sen. John Cornyn (TX) and an endorsement from Mitt Romney. Happily for the nation, sensible voters said no to false KKKristianity and blatant misogyny.

Dishonorable mention for misogyny even beyond the GOP standard goes to radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh. Not content to rail against the contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, he targeted Sandra Fluke, a woman testifying before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage. Limbaugh called her a slut and raved about contraception in a remarkably ignorant way, even for him. He devoted days of his show to the topic, resulting in a costly backlash as sponsors fled from his toxic spew.

Bigot of the Week Award: October 19, Jason and Tommy Thompson (with a dash of Linda McMahon)

19 Oct

Bigot of the Week

This week the Wisconsin Senate campaign of Republican Tommy Thompson hit a new low. At an RNC fundraiser Thompson’s son Jason, campaigning for his father and for Mitt Romney, decided to inject a little racism into things.

[Let’s] send President Obama back to Chicago—or Kenya.

REALLY? Are the Republicans still hooked on the racist themes of birtherism? Have they no real issues to run on? Jason Thompson offered a nonpology saying that his boss and his dad were irritated with him and he is sorry if anyone was offended. Nice way to avoid responsibility for the actual racist words you said. Tommy Thompson, meanwhile, has denied that his son actually said anything offensive, despite the ample online evidence of him uttering those very words. Not too big a shock from a man who has also violated a campaign pledge to stick to issues but consistently points out his opponent’s, Tammy Baldwin’s, sexual orientation–nothing like good old racism, homophobia, and misogyny coming from the Republicans.

Not wanting to be left behind, Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon dished out some crazy this week too. (Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for this dishonorable mention.) Trying to pretend she’s pro-choice while placating her far-right base, McMahon argued against asking religious hospitals and employers to provide contraception. Dancing around the issue, she managed to create a whole new phrase: “emergency rape.” Nobody’s quite sure what she meant or how it differs from other GOP constructions like legitimate, honest, easy, or forcible rape. But of course words don’t have to mean anything as long as they get you votes.

Bigot of the Week Award: October 5, Matt Birk

5 Oct

Bigot of the Week

After all the voices for equality emerging from professional football lately, it was perhaps inevitable that a player would feel obligated to buck the trend. Jumping in with both feet (in his mouth), Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk decided to blast his homophobic bigotry far and wide ( I suppose he is a wide end receiver hehhehe). The man who was named NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in February wrote an OpEd for the Minneapolis Star Tribune (the home of his previous team, the Vikings) aggressively opposing marriage equality. On what basis? His desire to impose his religion on everyone (he’s Roman Catholic,  you know the Pope in his beautiful frock covering up all the sex scandals)  and the sad lie that marriage exists only for the children.

Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children — the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.

Yes, you should care about both, Matt, and the fact that this “redefinition” creates equality and sends that next generation the message that everyone has value. I guess that doesn’t matter to you. Not content with his essay, Birk also recorded this toxic PSA for the Minnesota Catholic Conference reiterating his stand. I guess all of you single parents are sinners in the eyes of Matt Birk.

Thank you to my friend, Jennifer Carey for inspiring this week’s Dishonorable Mention, which goes to the Arizona legislature. Not content with their state’s abhorrent racist laws on immigration, they’ve decided to join the war on women as well. HB2625, which passed the house in March, is now working its way through the Senate. This odious bill allows employers to opt out of the mandated provision of birth control. Employees must submit to intrusive questions,verifying the purpose of the medication to be solely for medical reasons and not to prevent pregnancy. The bill would grant employers the ability to deny female employees the right to be covered based on religious beliefs. Given the makeup of the Senate and the nasty beast sitting in the Governor’s office, it is very likely that the bill will become law before long.

%d bloggers like this: