Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Wisconsin is debating whether or not transgendered inmates should be allowed to take hormones in prison. And I'm wondering why there is still a question about this.

Okay, well, technically I'm not. Men have a very odd, perverse fear of MTF transsexuals, and some women pick up on it, too, from family members or friends or religious leaders. Ignoring the "god made you right" argument for now, Freud had a point-- most men are very attached to their penises and the thought of having that rather beloved organ removed is disturbing to them, even if it's not actually THEIR organ that is being removed. On top of that, there's the threat of mistaking a MTF transsexual for a woman, which, despite how much they may declare "I would always know," is always possible, like after a few beers.

Men are afraid of transsexuals. Women pick up on this fear and combine it with a sense of "biology must be right," thus joining in the anti-transsexual vibe. But honestly, it's just fear. And yes, there are many people who consider themselves transsexual who are actually disturbed, confused, whatever. But at the same time, there are out there some people that genuinely have very little wrong with them except that they feel they are in the wrong body (and thus may be depressed or have difficulty with interaction or whatever, but that's secondary). And then there's the argument, "Transgenderism is the only psychological disorder in which medicine decides that the problem is with the body, not the mind."

Well, no, not really. I have a pathological dislike of moles, particularly one mole that was on my skin and I hated for my entire childhood. I was actually at the point of scratching at it with my nails, thinking that it itched, whatever. It was a regular, benign mole, and my hatred of it was all in my head. Eventually, I talked to my therapist and to my mother and we decided to just get the stupid thing removed. Now I have a two-inch-long scar on my arm, which most people would consider to be worse than a tiny little mole. Me, I consider it SO much better. Healthy tissue, no need for surgery-- but in the end, it was easier and better for me to remove the offending part and get on with my life than to learn to accept it.

Now, obviously a mole is not the same thing as wanting to rearrange your whole body. But at the same time, my point is obvious-- people who do not want to change their minds will not be able to change their minds, and be unable to get the kind of help that might convince them to accept their body as it is. If you can determine that they will not later regret it, then they should have the ability to change any body parts they want. They should be allowed to be accepted as whatever gender they chose to be.

A while back a bill was introduced to Congress that would protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. One version included gender identity and would have protected transgender and transsexual individuals. It did not pass, so they rewrote it to just cover homosexuals-- and it got through the House (it's still in the Senate, I think). Meanwhile, abuse of transsexuals is still not a hate crime in many places even if it is only done to the person because they are a transsexual. There is a constant insistence that transsexuals should have to mention their birth sex before even starting a relationship, and yet a non-transgender person does not have to describe the shape and size of their genitalia now and when they were born. I will concede that before it's time to get naked, pre-op transsexuals should mention that they still have male genitalia. But not before a date.

I do wonder what we can do to help the image of transgender people and help protect them from others...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Casualities of Casual Sex

Here's the thing about casual sex: If you are informed and educated, healthy, your partner is informed, educated and healthy, and you both want it, then there is nothing wrong with casual sex.

If you and your partner are informed and educated, you will know not to drink or use drugs beforehand, to use birth control including but not limited to a condom (male or female, in case of accidental disease spreading), and not to expect anything from the other person afterwards except maybe another offer for "consequence-free" sex. If you are both healthy and mentally stable and use birth control there will not be any consequences. Thus, if that's the case, more power to you.

BUT. How many people, especially young people, drink or otherwise impair their judgement before having sex with someone they don't know well? How many don't understand birth control, or don't like how condoms feel? How many never check for diseases or know they have them and have sex anyway because they are impaired or they don't think they can transmit them via whatever they're doing? And how many go into it hoping that it will turn into something more long-term and are hurt when the other person doesn't call, or are having sex because they were abused or hurt in the past?

Maybe you are into casual sex and are none of the above things. But if the OTHER person is, you're in just as much trouble as they are. So go, have sex all you want, it is your choice; but please, do it with people you can trust. People who think there is nothing wrong with this choice don't seem to understand that in our world as it is today, casual sex with people you do not know and trust is very, very risky-- because you might get hurt, or you might hurt someone else.

That said, there is another problem from casual sex-- by making it an expected norm, we've labeled everyone who doesn't engage in it as either frigid or religious. The frigid/whore (or whipped/commitmentphobe) dichotomy is alive and well and it's perpetuated both by the "save it for marriage" types and the "sex please, and lots of it" types. Those of us who chose to only have sex in committed relationships, or to wait, often feel pressure from all sides to pick one or the other when in fact it is our body and we should be allowed to do what we want with it.

And almost everyone is guilty of it. If you've never heard of a party-girl type with many multiple partners and thought, "That's kind of... slutty..." then you've probably heard of some girl saying she'll wait for marriage and thought "She's just doing it because she's been brainwashed by her parents and her religion." Guys get it too-- they either sleep around a lot and are thought of as "afraid of commitment" or "misogynistic" or they never sleep around and they're "whipped" by some girl or a loser.

Sometimes I think humans MUST be designed to see the world in black and white. Nothing else explains why we are always so insistent that something can be one thing or another but not in between. Same as me or not like me but not in between. Democrat or Republican but not a mixture. Slutty or frigid but not in between. We actually have to fight that instinct. And we definitely should.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Let's Update the Divorce Courts, Shall We?

I've said before I don't believe we should have alimony. That's not exactly true. The thing is, alimony came about when wives were expected to stay at home after marriage, thus preventing them from advancing their career, and making it impossible for them to get a job afterwards since they had no marketable skills. When it was conceived, it was a good thing, since it meant that women were not left without any income after the divorce.

However, today alimony is used as a revenge tool to bilk the wealthier partners out of their money. Many people who receive alimony are employable or even have a job, they just want to maintain their previous lifestyle.

So my view on alimony is this: If both partners are employed full time, there should be no alimony. Ever. Clearly they can support themselves (though they might require child support).

Now, if one partner chose to be employed at a job for which the part-time pay puts them beneath the poverty line, at the time of the divorce, due to reasons directly relating to the marriage (to maintain the household or to care for children), then the partner who was employed full-time should have to pay the part-time employed partner some court-determined amount that is just enough to raise them above the poverty line, but is not enough to either lower the breadwinner's income BENEATH the poverty line or to raise them up extravagantly high. Then, the alimony would end as soon as the partner with the part-time job either got a full-time job or remarried.

So for example, let's say partner A makes $20,000 a year and B makes $5,000 a year, and the poverty line is $10,000 a year. A would have to pay B $5,000 a year in alimony. But if A made 100,000 a year and B made $5,000 a year, B would still only get $5,000 a year, and if A made only $12,000 a year, B could get no more than $2,000 a year.

If one partner was not employed at all at the time of the divorce, the same rule as above should apply, maximum $10,000 a year until they get a job or remarry. However, the partner had to again be unemployed for reasons relating to the marriage-- because they chose to stay at home and maintain the household or, more significantly, to raise the children. If they are disabled or they wanted to pursue other interests, then they are not the other partner's responsibility.

And if neither partner is employed, neither should have to pay alimony, even if one of them gets a job after the divorce. Only exception would be if you could somehow prove that one of the spouses quit their job to prevent having to pay alimony to the other.

All of this excludes child support, of course, so the primary caretaker, if they are unemployed, shouldn't not have to sustain their children at that level. My only complaint is with alimony (glorified welfare).

Now, I know that there are "no-fault" laws but there are definitely situations where a person shouldn't have to pay alimony even if they meet the above criteria. For example, if the marriage was shorter than three years, the unemployed partner can probably go back to their previous job. Also applies if the unemployment was for less than three years. If you can prove that the person wasn't actually staying home for the kids or to maintain the house, they shouldn't get alimony. If they were abusive to the working spouse, they shouldn't get alimony. Basically it would have to be decided by a court, but while child support can be as high as necessary, alimony should be very low, and only for homemakers who have made themselves hard to employ through their marriage.

Also, no partner should get more than 50% of the joint assets, and not a penny of the assets that are in their spouse's name alone. If they were foolish enough to not keep either their own or a joint (if they are the less well-off) account, it is their own fault.

Divorce penalizes the rich and the hard working. It shouldn't penalize anyone. People have a legal responsibility to take care of their dependents (children), but not their spouses. I think it's time the divorce courts acknowledged that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nuclear Terrorism on Mecca

Here's an interesting topic Ryter and I were discussing last night.

What would happen if an American (or Israeli) dropped a nuke on Mecca?

Not the country-- an individual. The US government wouldn't do that unless something specific provoked it, like Saudi Arabian Islamic terrorists nuked Washington, and even then it would be doubtful. Israel would wait until they were nuked first. But if a terrorist group of Islamic extremists could fly planes into the World Trade Center, an American anti-Muslim extremist could theoretically smuggle in or drop a nuclear bomb on Mecca.

Then what?

Well, if it was an American, I'd guess the US would immediately find all contacts of the individual and turn over anyone who had knowledge of or involvement in the plan for trial and execution. We'd also send as much aid as possible to the area, trying to make reparations and prove to the world that it wasn't our doing and we don't support terrorists.

Meanwhile the entire Muslim world would hate us anyway, and eventually, a world war would break out.

And if it was an Israeli, I'd guess Israel would also make reparations, but in a kind of half-hearted way, due to international pressure. Then there would be a war between every single Muslim nation and Israel, and possibly with the US allying with Israel.

Meanwhile, what would happen to Mecca?

I am reminded of the Ganges River in India. Hinduism states that the Ganges is sacred, and bathing in it helps a person to obtain salvation. Drinking the water at the end of your life will take your soul to heaven. Spreading of ashes there is also holy.

But the Ganges River itself runs through some of the most populous areas of India. It is thus filled with untreated raw sewage, runoff from the leather industries, partially burnt or unburnt human remains, and livestock corpses. It is a steaming cesspool of filth and disease, and the Hindus still come. They come, they bathe, they get sick. They touch this vile, polluted, revolting river because they consider it holy.

So I believe the Muslims would still go to Mecca. They would go to the radioactive ruins of Mecca and then die slowly of radiation poisoning. Not all of them, but many. So nuking a site that people of a faith MUST go to, the terrorist would be committing a crime against humanity ten times worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because you would kill not only the million or so inhabitants, but also the pilgrims (especially if it was during the hajj, with four million pilgrims), and give radiation poisoning to millions of Muslims who would try to go at some point before the fallout cleared. Most Muslims would not go before they had children and were old and able to die, so the population would not decrease.

The trouble is that the ground itself is holy. It's not just the Black Stone and the Zamzam Well and the Kaaba. That is the land where Muhammad walked, and thus, it would be holy even if to touch it was to guarantee a long, slow, painful death.


I have to say, if I ruled the world, I would turn Mecca into the Muslim version of the Holy See-- a separate, unique state not controlled by the country it is within. I'd also say they had to allow non-Muslims to visit (but not during the hajj, because of the sheer volumes of pilgrims they already must handle). I would love to see Mecca some day-- I would even wear a hijab for respect if it was asked of me-- but I never will be able to, because Saudi Arabia has banned all non-Muslims from entering the city. Even if that were not the case, I would be hesitant to go anywhere in Saudi Arabia because of Sharia law.

It saddens me to think of all the ancient holy cities-- Mecca, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cairo, and more-- that I would not be safe in as a woman, as a American, and as a non-religious person. So much history, and it is trapped in a place filled with hate and war. It feels sometimes like the land there is just so sick of dealing with humanity that it almost NEEDS fallout just to give it a chance to breathe, to take a break from tens of thousands of years of civilization. And yet, what we would lose would be unbearable, for while Africa is where we were born, the Middle East is where we grew, and where we became what we are today.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Patriarchy : Radical Feminists :: Communist Espionage : 1950's Politicians

This is very long, but it's been building up in me for a while now.

The definition of a patriarchy: social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly: control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.

Is Western white middle-class and upper-class a patriarchy?

Well, let's examine it. Legal dependence of wives-- in Western society, wives are legally independent. Reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line-- well, descent, yes. But that's just a name and if a father is absent or has a dumb name kids can be named for their mother. It's really more the choice of the parents, it's just that traditionalism says it's the guy's name. But moving on, inheritance in our society unless specified goes to the nearest living relative-- the oldest child or a sibling-- and doesn't have to remain in the male line.

Is the father the head of the clan or family? Well, let's think. Mothers are usually working. They are also expected to be the "mature" parent-- dads can play with their kids and be lovable goofballs, but moms have to be authoritarian. In most households today, the mom handles the day-to-day budget (because she buys food and household necessities); she raises the children and oversees their well being; she controls when the couple has sex; heck, she even gets final say in decorating. Now, I'm talking absolutes-- we don't all have this dynamic-- but it is what society, particularly the media, tells us it should be. Mothers "should" be calm, cool, collected, and capable of both working and managing the household, and they should reign supreme in their homes. For white, Western, middle-class and upper-class society, the mother is the head of the family.

According to the strict sociological definition of a patriarchy, we are not a patriarchy. We are a mixture. Aspects of our culture are patriarchal still, like names. Other aspects are egalitarian, like inheritance and dependency laws. And some have even become matriarchal, like who is the head of the household.

Of course, there are some subsets in our culture where not the case, but the fact is that unless you are a devout religious person, uneducated, of a minority that has been traditionally uneducated, an immigrant, or not living in Western culture, you do NOT live in a sociological patriarchy no matter how much you want to complain about one.

But what of the second part, the broader definition? "Control by men of a disproportionately large share of power?" It is undeniable that more men that women are in political office. But why? We have ONE presidential candidate this year who is female. People don't tend to vote solely on the sex of their candidate-- but they can't vote for a woman if a woman doesn't run. I look at the average ballot and there are three or four candidates and maybe one is female. Women aren't running for office-- they are choosing not to. Therefore, until you can prove that when equal numbers of men and women run for public office men will STILL control the political power in disproportionate numbers, I will withhold judgment about it. However, I suspect that were that the case, we would have a much more egalitarian situation.

Why aren't women in politics, then? Surely it is because the men are oppressing them somehow!

...Well, not really. Women avoid politics for a variety of reasons, but the most common ones I've heard are "I wouldn't do national politics because I'd be away from home too much," "I don't want to run for office because politics are nasty and I don't want to have every bit of my past scrutinized," "I don't want that kind of attention, if I become famous I want it to be for _________," and "I wouldn't get elected because I am _______ (a minority/an atheist/uneducated/not pretty enough for TV/too liberal for my area/too conservative for my area)."

Which are all valid reasons to not want to run for office, and the difference is that while many women take them as a sign they shouldn't run, many men just ignore them, and put up with their past being scrutinized, and put up with the attention. I don't know why that is the case-- social conditioning or hardwiring-- but it is the case.

Still, if we live in a political patriarchy you can't blame the men. Most of them would be happy to vote for you if you ran and agreed with them on the issues. Power doesn't fall into anyone's lap, you have to go out and GET it.

And economic power? Many wealthy people in this nation are men. That's because as a WHOLE (not individuals), men are more likely to go into business, or computer science and then invent something, and that's where the money is. Women are more likely to go to college (we make up a larger percentage of college attendees than men except in the computer sciences, theoretical math, and physics) and get jobs that relate to their specific major, but then once they start working, what happens?

Women have to take time off for maternity leave if they want biological children. That's obvious. Most men don't (can't, sometimes won't) take paternity leave, though, and that's a big chunk of time. Then because the women are the head of the household and society says they need to work AND raise children properly, they chose jobs for their flexible hours and benefits, not for their ambitiousness. Naturally those jobs are not as likely to get them up into the CEO rankings. As terrible as it sounds, from an economic position paying women less for the same work makes sense-- women are the ones who stay home to care for sick kids, they have maternity leave, they avoid overtime to get home, and they aren't as likely to push for advancement. This is not universal, but it is common enough that you have to consider the employer's position (note: I'm not saying having a wage gap for the same work isn't wrong).

Some feminists will counter by saying "Women should not have to meet the default standard set by men." So should men have to meet the default set by women? At times, sure. Mothers and fathers should spend equal time off work with sick kids, for example. But women have set an impossibly HIGH female standard-- not just impossible for men, but also for WOMEN. Why are so many women feeling stressed out, overworked, put upon? Because they are fulfilling the "superwoman" ideal, the high-powered executive mom who comes home, cares for the kids and maintains the household, and is always composed and cool-headed. Women will make themselves miserable living like that. Should they go back to being housewives? Of course not, it makes no sense economically to have half your healthy adult population staying in the home, and many women would be even less happy in that situation. But instead, women need to change the image of themselves-- they need to make themselves seem LESS together, LESS perfect, and meanwhile encourage their husbands or male partners to take a more active role in the household-- which doesn't mean giving him assigned chores to do, it means letting them pick wall colors and deciding together if you have the time or money to take little Susie to ballet class twice a week. And they need to teach their sons and daughters that maintaining the household and raising the children is not the province of EITHER parent. In a few generations, you'd see equality in home life-- and once you have men having the same demands at home as women do now, the workplace will be increasingly accommodating towards parents and potential parents, and men and women will see more equality there.

So my points are:

1. Westernized, educated, middle or upper class Americans (or Western Europeans, Australians, etc) are not living in a strict patriarchy.

2. In the broader sense, perhaps we are living in a patriarchy, but that can change easily in time if women approach the issue from the right direction-- which does NOT mean sitting around bemoaning "The Patriarchy!" or fire-bombing the homes of conservative men in the public sphere (however fun the latter might be).

What should women do to affect change?

1. Stop complaining. It alienates people and does little good. Instead, look for solutions.

2. Start small. The smaller the change, the more likely it will slide past the notice of most people-- and the more likely that you will later get what you REALLY want. Exceptions are for life-and-death situations, like fighting domestic violence or hate crimes.

3. Go into politics. Want to change the world? Your vote's not THAT important (but vote anyway). But if you go into politics, you can be a voice for many people. Plus, then you get more women in politics, which is what feminism wants. Even if you don't think you'll get elected, run anyway. Get your opinion out there. And encourage other women to run too, even if it's just for mayor of Podunksville.

4. Go into jobs that will make you a lot of money, and do a damn good job at them. That's how you'll get economic power. Be the next Donald Trump with a business empire or invent a processing system that makes you billions. The only thing holding women back from economic power is ambition. And when you do start making billions, start giving it all away-- want to be loved and remembered by millions? Be an Oprah or a Mother Teresa; and Oprah doesn't have to trudge through shit unless she wants to.

5. Don't try to be superwoman (unless you want to be Oprah). No one seems to get that this attitude is not helpful to feminism. Women can't set the standards for themselves higher than the standards for men, because if they fail, it makes them seem weak. So split household management with your spouse (not just chores). Don't take charge at home unless you have a higher standard of cleanliness you need maintained. Your life won't be perfect, but you will be helping a movement.

6. When it comes to household tasks, sons and daughters are equal. They'll live alone someday, they need to do everything. Teach (or have your spouse teach) them to do their own laundry properly, to vacuum and pick up after themselves, to scrub toilets and mow the lawn. Teach them to cook, too, as it's helpful for #5 when your kids can make you dinner after you get back from work. Household management can and should be gender-neutral, as I said before.

7. Never, ever assume you are oppressed. Instead, assume you are on top of the world, the one in power. Besides making you feel better, this will make other people treat you like you are in control too. It sounds like just "positive thinking" but people assume that whoever is in charge will make themselves known as such and will know what to do. It works.

8. Get into show business, and write/produce movies or TV shows where the man is capable and intelligent, but the woman is not weak. I want to see one TV couple, somewhere, where neither partner is weaker than the other. I'm sick of bumbling goofball dads whose kids don't listen to them, but I don't want to go back to the strong man of the house and the weak, delicate woman who cooks his dinners and tells the kids "Just wait 'til your father gets home!" either. Kids absorb so much of what they perceive as a "normal" family from what they see on TV (I know, scary, huh?), so if the media was more egalitarian, kids would pick up on that. But that can't be done as a gimmick, either.

That and a few generations could change the world. Religious revival is going out anyway.

Now, I want to make one thing clear-- this does not apply to many, many women out there. The vast overwhelming majority of 3rd world and developing nations are truly patriarchal. I do not deny that Saudi Arabia is a patriarchy or even, say, parts of Eastern Europe. It also doesn't apply to immigrant families and pockets of immigrant communities (immigrants themselves and a few generations removed if they don't Westernize), because many of them take the values and family dynamics from the "old country." It also only minimally applies to anyone who is uneducated, especially if they are uneducated and a minority, because I don't know enough about their lives to fairly discuss them. And I acknowledge that in some places religious communities are patriarchal and that is passed on to the mainstream in that area.

But your average "FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!" feminist is white, educated, from a middle or upper class background, and living in the Western world. They are not truly oppressed, and by focusing on their own "oppression" instead of working to help others who genuinely need help, they are doing the world a great disservice.

Read More:

Feminism 101 talks about the concept of patriarchy as perceived by feminists.
Patriarchy as defined by Wikipedia.
More on feminist views of patriarchy.
Dads on TV, courtesy of MSN.com.
Children and television-- I think it's a bit outdated, but the point-- that kids learn gender roles from TV-- stands.

The Victorian woman in the black and white photo is Victoria Woodhull, a very interesting character who was more than a little ahead of her time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is hospital birth traumatic?

I've read a bunch of stuff comparing home birth to hospital birth lately and I've been thinking about it a lot. The thing is, giving birth at home is higher risk. This is undeniable. Fetal mortality or injury happens more frequently. The data is there.

But at the same time... We have babies who are born who are GROTESQUELY deformed, who normally would not live through birth, and for good reason. Obstetrics often interferes with natural processes, and while it is the mother's choice if she wants to go to such extremes for an infant who will die soon anyway, or need massive surgery, or something, in this country the law says we have to save every child we can at birth. Home birth probably can be called more "natural" birth because deformed babies who shouldn't survive are less likely to.

And there is truth in the "traumatic" nature of hospital births-- many, many doctors are pricks who treat all their patients like idiots, and many OBs will severely disrespect the mother by, say, assuming she'll change her mind, or inducing labor when they shouldn't, or manhandling her. Should all efforts be made to save the baby? Yes. But there are a lot of processes that are done in hospitals frequently not because of the health of the mom or the baby, but because of convenience.

Episiotomies are a classic example. Most women don't need episiotomies. They might tear, but tearing will heal, and there are non-invasive methods to prevent tearing. Episiotomies should only be done if the vagina can't naturally stretch for some reason (like the birth is very, very fast), the baby is actually impeded from exiting, there is fetal distress (like his heart rate stops) and they need to resuscitate, or in some cases, if there's a breech birth (as in the picture at right, a footling breech). Many OBs do episiotomies to speed things along when they aren't needed, and what's worse, many of them used to sew up the vulva tighter than was needed, calling it a "Daddy stitch." I don't know how common that is today, though. Unnecessary episiotomies are a danger (of infection, of painful healing) that needn't be taken.

Many people describe "birth trauma" as originating from being touched or entered without direct consent. This one kind of bugs me, because how hard is is before the labor really gets going to say, "I may need to touch you in this way for this reason, in this way for this reason, in this way for THIS reason..." and then do a quick warning before actually touching? There was a story on the Navelgazing Midwife's blog about a woman who had a doctor put her hand up her vagina and into her uterus, without any sort of pain killer, with no more warning than "Brace yourself, sweetie, this is gonna hurt." Would it be so hard to say, "I need to do thus-and-such or you will have complications, and I have to put my hand up there, and would you like a shot? But I have to do it soon."

I mean, yes, there are times when things are happening too fast to really ask for permission every time you touch between the woman's legs, but not always. The least a doctor can do is not offer an epidural more than once until the woman asks for one (it's not just about doing it "naturally"-- I know, for example, that I will want to wait until I feel it is unbearable before I get an epidural simply because I don't like any meds that I don't really, really need), and neither allow the nurses to say disrespectful or manipulative things nor say them themselves.

They should really have a better code for OBs, more specific than the Hippocratic. There's a lot of things they do that they shouldn't or should do a little differently. Actually, gynecologists and ER docs in general need a better code for handling female reproductive systems, especially for rape tests, which if they are not done properly can feel very invasive. I can't remember where I was reading this (Feministing?), but someone was talking about a doctor who brought students in to see the pattern of bruising on her thighs after she was raped, despite never clarifying with her that that was okay, and tried to take pictures for the jury if she decided to go to trial. I was reading that and thinking, uh, why couldn't they cover her genitals with a cloth or something, and just take pictures of her thighs? It would still show the evidence without making her feel violated.

My feeling on home birth is it's okay as long as one accepts the higher risks, and those risks are made clear. I also think that direct-entry midwives (who require only on-the-job training and maybe a few classes) should have much stricter regulations and certification as such. And hospital birth should be done in a more delicate, caring manner. Women at that time are flooded with hormones, they need to have people who understand their emotional needs. And no doctor should ever treat a woman with less respect, consideration and care because she was a home birth transfer to the hospital after a complication.

And one more thing-- unless the baby is going to be put up for adoption or is in the NICU, the mother should get to hold the baby either right after the birth or the second she (the mother) wakes up. I'm of the opinion that it should be quickly wipe down, towel off, check for immediate problems and hand to the mother, or the father if the mother is under anesthesia at the time. That sort of thing rarely causes problems and means the world to parents.

Men's docs probably have similar problems with making men feel violated, like in proctology, but it comes up less often and I want to be an OB/gyn, so naturally I'm focusing on that issue.

To find out more, here's what I've been reading:

Navelgazing Midwife is a natural birth and home birth advocate and works as a midwife/birth coach.
The Homebirth Debate Blog exposes some of the dangers of home birth and the problems that come from home birth advocacy. Caution-- the writer is very anti-home birth. However, she cites real articles and studies so you can read those.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Random Musing

Sometimes I think if modern feminists stopped focusing on children's toys, women's fashion, chivalry, and how middle-class white Western women like themselves were being oppressed, and directed their collective energy completely towards fighting domestic violence and countries where girls cannot walk to school without being raped, the latter problems might not be so prevalent-- and might even be abolished.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Teaching Gender Roles To Children

From this Feministing post...

I believe in abolishing gender roles.

I don't believe in doing it immediately, or forcing my kids to not have them.

It's too hard on the kids. That's all there is to it. Childhood should not be about meeting some idealized world view, it should be about learning how to work with the world you have.

So my kids will ALL have the same kinds of toys that they share, but they will have to ask for them. For babies and toddlers, might as well share everything. When they can talk, though, I will give them the toys they ask for, even if the girls only want dolls and the boys only want trucks.

If my son asks for a doll, it won't be frilly and girly and pink. It will be something like a neutral-gender baby doll in a green or yellow onesie. My sons will probably play with plastic food (little boys LOVE play food, in my experience). My daughters will probably play with trucks and Legos and trains. Pink and frills should be avoided for boy's toys, though, because pink is SO connected with girls (though honestly, who has a pink playhouse for EITHER gender?). But that doesn't mean they can't have dolls, it means those dolls have to be a bit more boyish or neutral in appearance. And I won't buy girl clothes for my sons or boy clothes for my daughters unless I learn that they're transgender. Girls should have girl hairstyles and clothes until the secondary sex characteristics start to come in, and the same is true for boys (long hair's okay, but not like, pigtails or a high ponytail). That will do them well in school, to not be mistaken for the wrong gender. And it won't really hurt them, because while it clearly says "boys and girls are different" it doesn't really say "boys are better than girls." Just that they're different. Which they are.

And as for teaching them household gender roles? My mom taught me and my sister how to cook and do our laundry when we were preteens but my brother is just now learning at almost 18 years old. My kids will all learn to cook, clean, fix things around the house, change flat tires, do laundry and go grocery shopping, and not once do I intend to say "This way you can impress a guy someday!" like my dad said. Instead, I'll say, "You need to know this when you live on your own" because they do. Besides, any household I'm in will probably involve a stay-at-home or working-from-home dad anyway (medical career), so it's not like they'll get the impression that Mommy has to do all the chores and raise the kids.

And yes, I hope I'll teach my kids to suppress their emotions in public, but share them at home, because that's how you become successful. And yeah, that's a male gender role. So what? It's also a GOOD IDEA. Because whatever people might say, the surest way to survive school without, I don't know, dropping out, or in my case ATTEMPTING SUICIDE, is to learn to control your emotions in public and vent in private. And after I learned, I didn't suppress my emotions completely. I talked to my parents, I took it out at home, I complained to friends-- but in public, I could be strong.

I'm not as good at it as I should be, but I'm learning. The value of it is that no matter how progressive the people around you are, they will, on some subconscious level, take displays of emotion as weak. You are more likely to get hired if you seem cool and collected. You're more likely to make new friends if people don't perceive you as moody. Of course, you need ways to express those emotions, so I'd also teach that once you trust someone, you can share things like that with them. You can cry in front of someone you trust. But you will find life a lot easier to face if you can maintain a mask if need be.

Other "male" or "female" traits: being aggressive or passive (probably discourage both in favor of assertiveness-- and knowing what battles you can win) or becoming the breadwinner (again, I'm going into medicine and I fall for writers. Chances are I, the mother, will be the breadwinner).

What I don't agree with are feminists who insist on teaching their children to be "gender neutral" by essentially making them feminine-- using the worst aspects of feminine nature. Not in terms of the toys they play with, but in terms of teaching them that it's okay to be emotional in public or that competitiveness is bad, who lie to them and say things like "pink isn't a girl color" despite the fact that society decides what things are gender-specific and society says pink is a girl color. You have to make sure they actually understand the way the world works, even if you think the way the world works is wrong.

I look at it like this. I will tell my children not to have sex until they are 18 and legal adults and to make sure their partner is the same. I think that the time a person starts sex is not contingent on age, but on maturity and each person reaches that point at a different age. But to survive in modern society, a person should not have sex until they and their partner are 18. Otherwise, archaic laws or angry parents or double standards in high school could make their lives miserable. It's the same way with gender roles. A person needs to understand gender roles and be able to conform to them if they want to to get by, even though they should not exist.

Continue telling me how wrong I am in the comments if you like.