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Posts tagged ‘equal rights’

Medical Autonomy Chronicles: The Virgin Pap Smear

ETA: 18 Sept. 2010 After this post was linked at FWD/Forward in the RR, it was brought to my attention that this post possibly could be triggering to some people. This post should have a trigger warning for a graphic description of a medical procedure done on a young virgin girl. The procedure was upsetting to her, and the description could be potentially upsetting to readers who have had similar experiences or who have been sexually assaulted, or medically raped/assaulted. My most sincere apologies for not having the forethought to include this warning sooner, and to anyone whom this lack of thought may have hurt. ~OYD

Where did it come from?

A conversation starts about shaming in OB/GYN care, which is an important one.

Suddenly all of these people have flown out of the wood work to make sure that all of we lady folk know that getting our pap smears and pelvic exams is Just! So! Important! Medical and non-medical alike.

They need not even all be lady folk themselves, but experts who have lady relatives who have had their lives saved by paps, so they must impart to us the urgency to spread our thighs and allow ourselves to have invasive medical procedures that we do not want. Medical procedures that can be painful, traumatizing, and even, as has been show, unnecessary.

But there is a whole slew of thing that keep we peeps, and I say “peeps” because I am certain that there are people who do receive pelvic exams and paps who do not identify as women who may also feel bullied or forced into these medical procedures that they do not want as frequently as people feel the need to force us into them.

Why with all the pressure? Even when most of the information I found says every 2-3 years (I think it is worth noting that the Australia site is the only one that has information specifically for people with disabilities)? Even that information is varied. It seems that people, even medical providers pressure people to get paps every year. Especially if you want birth control. There seems to be this habit of holding birth control hostage if you are unwilling to submit to having a metal or plastic instrument shoved into your vagina and having bits of your cervix dug out.

Even on virgins. Oh, yes. In the U.S., for I can not speak to other nations, there is this fixation with making sure that doctors or other practitioners are the first ones to shove things into the genitals of virgins girls seeking birth control, whether or not she is seeking it for sex. Even though there are several good medical reasons why she could want birth control that don’t involve wanting to partake in heterosexual intercourse.

When I was fourteen, I was having period cramps from hell. I was bleeding like a stuck pig for three days straight out of ten. I would need to miss at least one day of school a month due to period cramps because I couldn’t get out of bed from the pain. Sometimes I would vomit from the pain.

Eventually, the cramping started coming when I wasn’t having my period. I was having cramping so bad that I was begging to miss school during this time as well. I remember my mother thinking I was a hypochondriac around this time of my life. She would sometimes groan, and often joke to her friends that I always thought something was wrong with me. I would often try to hide pain from her because I didn’t want her to laugh or make fun of me. She even had our doctor convinced that I was making things up. When I finally got in to see him, he chucked, and without really examining me, told me I had Mittelschmerz, and that what I needed was to stop coddling my body during my cramps and to get up and start being active during my cramps. This would not be the first doctor my mother convinced to laugh at my pain in my life.

So, I tried following his advice, and I would damn near pass out during gym class or band. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t eat and it would bring me to tears, dizziness, and I would dry heave. Finally my mother took me to the doctor again, who finally did an ultrasound and determined that I had large ovarian cysts that were causing me to have painful periods. I needed to see a gynecologist for a consult.

On top of being worried that anyone at church would think that I was having sex (because I knew so little about sex education at the time that I thought that the GYN was only for people having sex or babies), I was nervous. Incredibly nervous. I thought for sure that everyone thought that I had done something already and was lying about it. The gynecologist was the brother of my science teacher, and we were in a relatively small town. I was so worried that someone would KNOW WHERE I WAS. Also, that I was A LYING SEX HAVING SLUT!

Yes, I had cysts, and the doctor said that the best treatment was going to be to put me on the birth control pill (OH THE MORTIFICATION!) because it would help reduce them and ease my period. It was supposed to reduce my period and help them be shorter and lighter (let’s get this clear, for me this was a lie! I still have 8-9 day periods that are reminiscent of a butcher shop). He wanted to know if I was sexually active (OH MY GOD DID HE JUST SAY THAT WAS HE TALKING TO ME *FACE FLUSHING SCARLET*), and even though I said no, I had to have a pelvic exam and pap smear anyway, because that was routine procedure for prescribing birth control. (Wait. What?)

My mother had dropped me off and signed all the consent forms. How nice of her. I had no idea what was going on. What? OK. I guess so. What did that mean? You want to put WHAT? WHERE?

Suddenly this doctor, this man, whom I didn’t really know but looked an awful lot like my eighth grade science teacher, which made me really uncomfortable, was feeling my breasts, telling me that I needed to do the same thing in the shower (Uh-huh, OK, keep looking at the ceiling. That was nice of them to put a poster up there…). I had to put my feet in stirrups, which reminded me of riding horses as our friend’s farm, and certainly didn’t put me at ease. I was naked, and I had never been naked in front of any man who was not may Daddy trying to help me dress for bed, and that hadn’t been since I was about ten, and it wasn’t like this.

I was asked to slide down until I was squatting. There was cold jelly, and a metal thing, and even though he was talking to me through most of it, I remember the poster of the wooded lake on the ceiling, with the bridge over it, with one of those quasi-religious inspirational sayings on it. Suddenly I was being penetrated by metal objects and fingers…and it felt wrong and awful and I just was always told that this shouldn’t happen… not like this. Hot tears ran down my face. He asked if I was OK as he felt around inside me while pressing down on the outside of me at the same time. I could only nod, afraid of what my voice would sound like if I gave in to it. I don’t even know why they bother with gowns. They are laid open, and my whole being, my essence felt exposed on the cold crunchy paper. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I shoved them into my hair, and pulled tight.

I didn’t know that doctors ever did this.

(The poster has a lake…are those birch trees?)

And it hurt. And he felt my ovaries to check for the cysts. And he took his sample…and it felt like a sample of my soul left me.

For all the talk of how having sex outside of marriage or whatever message had been pounded on me for however long, and how it would leave me hollow and leave me feeling worthless and damaged, and for all the ways I had been told that casual sex would leave me reeling and feeling depressed and with a hole of missing self-esteem, nothing I did in my consensual sex life has ever compared to the way that pelvic exam and pap smear felt to me, a fourteen year old girl. A person rising on the crest of womanhood, not yet there but ready to fly, and having had myself violated before I took my first steps.

I left that doctor’s office with a script in my hand and a hole in the depths of my soul and a hollow in my heart. I walked to my friend’s house, because I remember that my mother was on second shift. A long and lonely walk toting my French horn, the plastic molding of the case banging against my shin. They were the kind of friends that had become a second family to me, who kind of took me in as the kid who needed looking after sometimes and loved me intensely. I remember the mother, telling her where I had been and what had happened. And while I have never experienced what I consider sexual assault outright, I can imagine that this must be an ember of that fire. I cried, feeling dirty and awful and ashamed, as she held me.

My friend’s mother looked me in the face and leaned against the carved post dividing the kitchen, holding my face in her hands, as I looked into her angular face, with her short wavy hair, and her kind, almost smirkish smile that always had a way of washing comfort over me.

“Being a woman is Hell”, she said, which surprised me a bit, this being back in my church days. “Going to the gynecologist can feel as embarrassing as Hell, but it won’t always be so awful”. She hugged me against her shoulder, and brought me some Texas Sheet Cake, because it seems that chocolate could always help me calm down sometimes. Or maybe is was a combination thing.

I wonder if maybe it is a combination thing. If maybe I had been informed a little more and had an iota of a clue about women’s health care, and what a pelvic exam and pap smear is all about.

Or, maybe if things like pap smears aren’t forced upon young people who are not sexually active, or upon people who don’t want them. If we don’t hold birth control hostage. If we don’t do things like force people to the outside of their own health care, we might be more prepared. We need to set clear guidelines (OH WAIT! ACOG!) to make sure that folks know what doctors are expecting and what is actually needed, so they can be aware of what is suggested to keep them healthy. This “maybe every year, but it is really only needed every so-and-so years, but, hrmmm…we feel like doing it every two years stuff” isn’t cutting it. We have a right to know the guidelines, and to insist that we only have invasive medical procedures as often as needed. Not as often as someone else who is not us feels like it. Even Scarleteen, a site I love, is vague on the expectations of the requirements for paps and pelvics. We need our medical professionals to stick to what ACOG has laid out (or, in my case, I would like them to just be aware of what ACOG has put out before I am), so we can get a standard measure of care. ACOG has said the risk of being treated for a false positive is not worth testing every year.

Really.

When I see articles like this, I realize it is more about making sure we control women, who just can’t be left to their own medical decisions! They are all so silly! This isn’t about shaming women for being nervous or embarrassed (for very good reason). This is about understanding that people have a right to autonomy over their own bodies. Yes, even teenagers! (I know, I am so silly, thinking they might be people who have thoughts about their medical care!) And health care is a part of that autonomy. An important part.

Education, consistency, and plain ol’ listening to patients might help. Listening to women and people in general who have to have these procedures might be a step. Re-evaluating the reasons for insisting on them for simple things like birth control, especially for non-sexual reasons in virgin teenagers might be a step. Being more compassionate to people experiencing GYN care for the first time — or even in general — might be a step. Including women in conversations about their reproductive care might be a step.

But demanding, shaming, controlling, hostage taking of parts of care? That is not helping.

It could kill, and I venture to say it will do the opposite of what all of your concern-trolling of reproductive health is intending to do.

Kid had it right, learned it in Pre-school even: My face, my space. My body, my business.

Children Take Up Space (and Notice When We Don’t Notice)

We were at the movie theater on post the other night seeing some new movie or another, which is the great thing about the post theater, because they show movies for free, so if we are on base and can’t think of anything to do we wander over and see whatever is playing and sometimes lose track of what we saw and when. It might have been the new Robin Hood movie, because it was so very busy that we left The Guy to go wait in line for snacks while Kid and I secured seats. It was pretty crowded and we were having some difficulty finding just three seats in a row (a lot of this was due to the fact that people were NOT following the rules, that you can not just plop your bag down in seats and wander off, you need to have people physically in most of the seats saving one or two of them, or something along those lines, but I have found that a lot of U.S. people on this post believe that the rules don’t apply to them /digressing).

We wandered down closer to the screen than my neck can tolerate, and then back up towards the back, and struck gold with perfect seats on the back wall between the two entrances. Just as I was settling us in, a Filipina woman I know from Kid’s old Tae Kwon Do class (she goes to a different one now) came up to us with her young daughter, who is break-your-heart adorable and so small I could put her in my pocket, like Thumbelina. She and Kid used to get on really well in class, even as she is about half Kid’s height, and Kid was protective when other kids would pick on her for being so young. She has the most beautiful dark eyes, and at this moment they were filled with tears, and her chin was trembling like she was just holding on to not letting out in a full on wail right then and there.

She had seen us wander down by their seats, closer to the front, and had said “Hi!” to Kid in her tiny voice, and in the hubbub of the pre-show settling in we hadn’t heard her, and had turned around and headed to where we sat now. The young dear was so upset that we hadn’t seen her, that we hadn’t noticed her there, taking up space, trying to get our attention, that it nigh broke her heart. Her mother brought her up to say hello to us, and I gave her a warm hug and apologized for not seeing her before, and Kid said hi and did the same. Sorry that there was no room to sit together, they went back to their seats and we stayed in ours, and Guy joined us and we settled in for what was Not a Bedschel passing hit (I watch these things for free so you don’t have to spend money on them, peeps!).

The point of this 500 word story is that, like Renee will often tell you, children take up space. They sit there, and they exist in our world, and like That Thread of Angry Making at Feministe (most of you should know the one) that went on and on to prove that we as feminists, womanists, and social justice activists (and I’ll let you know where I fall on that scale when I figure it out) really fail hard at seeing children as what they truly are; a marginalized class of people who need their rights fought for and protected.

People of Color, People with Disabilities, LGBTQAI People, plenty of marginalized persons have movements behind them, and yet in social justice circles people feel free to openly say “I hate children” without repercussions. Children are routinely beaten in the name of “good order and discipline” (and parents are blamed for not doing so in the name of “not being attentive parents”) and no one pays attention. We expect children to be silent unless spoken to, and we often walk around and talk around them as if they aren’t even there. And possibly more importantly, like our little friend, they notice when we don’t notice them. They notice when we fail to take them into consideration. They notice when they don’t matter. They notice when the world, when those who are meant to love them, don’t fucking see them or hear them.

Children take up space in our world, and they are defenseless against the harm that is done to them every day, and I don’t understand why the protection of their voices and their rights is not considered a feminist/womanist/social justice issue outright, without having to start a Bloglandia Kerfluffle. Protecting their rights doesn’t mean you have to give up your declaration of being “Child-free-by-choice” or that anyone is asking you to be a human incubator. Protecting the rights of children doesn’t compromise your right to Choice. It won’t force you to be a parent any more than being an LGBTQAI ally means you have to Gay Marry. No one is asking you to even enjoy the presence of children or babysit our Kid so we can go out and enjoy an evening with conversation that doesn’t involve Harry Potter references. (OK, even if it was just us, that conversation probably comes up. LOL.) Or Star Wars. (O WAIT THAT’S ME.)

Children take up space, and when we don’t notice them, they hurt. It isn’t just a mother’s issue to let you know that. Children notice that we don’t do enough to give a damn about them, whether they know about social justice or not (some of them do, mine does). It hurts them. It should hurt more of us to realize this.

Who DADT is Really Hurting: A Signal Boost

a piece of barbed wire against a blurry green background, with small, thin strands of fine spider webbing holding on to the prongs.Every weekday leading up to the launch of the Defense Authorization Bill the Servicmembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is running a new media campaign called “Letters from the Frontlines: Letters to President Obama“, which is a collection of open letters from actual servicemembers and their family membes who are affected by the horrendously awful DADT policy. Gay Rights Blogger Michael A. Jones from Change.org is running them, and I would like to share a recent collection of them, some of which I have shared at my Tumblr.

Also, the Senate Armed Services Committee happens to be chaired by my Rock the Casbah senator, Karl Levin. You can find the info for that committee here, if you are so inclined.

Discharged Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” … Twice

I was ousted from the service I loved, facing a recoupment of $13,000 sign-on bonus I received, and ushered to the gate. I felt shunned, broken and confused.

After a year of recovery, I received a letter recalling me back to service. While I didn’t understand why, I had an overwhelming sense of joy to return to the service I so loved.

I was sent to Kuwait for a year with the U.S. Navy Customs Battalion Romeo in 2006 where I continued to garner accolades for my service and even upped in rank, all while serving completely open. My immediate commanders and colleges were aware that I had been discharged once under DADT and knew that I was gay, yet they supported me because I was a great sailor.

The Humiliation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) on base, acting without authority, continued her own investigation and convinced the ranking Admiral that regulations mandated that he move to administratively separate me with an “Other Than Honorable” discharge; a move that would result in the loss of my 20+ year retirement.

Acting without the proper authority, she even went over the Admiral’s head and appealed to the Navy’s personnel office, telling them I was taking “sexual liberties” with patients, which she knew was not true.

I wanted to serve my country. Now, I was fighting to not be humiliated by it. At the SJA’s encouragement, the command initiated discharge proceedings. I knew I’d be discharged but my retirement and my livelihood was also on the line.

Gay Troops are Fit For Military Duty

But everything changed a few months later. A cadet went to my commanders and told them I was gay and dating a fellow cadet. During the investigation that followed I made no comment to the JAG officer conducting the investigation. I was eventually called into my commander’s office and disenrolled from ROTC in August 2002. I received a piece of paper saying I was no longer fit for military duty due to “homosexual conduct.” You can’t even imagine how that feels. Almost 8 years later, I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry.

A Letter From a Gay Soldier in a War Zone

Mr. President, my unit is extremely undermanned. We’re working around the clock in Baghdad. My commander informed me that the Army cannot afford to lose me. I was told that they would prepare my discharge paperwork, “stick it in a Manila envelope, and keep it in a desk — for now.”

One moment they wanted to throw me out and the next they are hiding evidence to keep me in.

My comrades now know that I am gay, and they do not treat me any differently. Work runs as smoothly as ever, and frankly the only difference I see — besides my pending job loss — is that I am free of the burden of having to constantly watch my words and ensure my lies are believable.

Losing Some of Our Best Soldiers to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Eventually, the stress of constant fear that I could lose my job no matter how hard I worked or how well I performed, became too much. I knew from the stories of others that even serving to the very best of my ability could cost me my job. I knew that an anonymous tip — by someone who was jealous of my success, angry with me because of a disagreement, or mad because I rebuffed a sexual advance — could trigger a demoralizing, demeaning investigation under DADT. And if I was not willing to lie, I knew an investigation could lead to my discharge.

I was lucky, though. I did not get kicked out, but that does not mean that DADT didn’t affect me. The uncertainty and fear of knowing that anyone with a grudge could end my career, and the sadness in realizing that at any time my country could callously discard me for no other reason than the fact that I was gay, pressured me to give up the career I loved. I chose not to reenlist.

A Mother’s Dream For Her Gay Son in the Military

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” throws more than just service people into the closet; it throws moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, godparents, friends and loved ones in there as well.

As a mom, my heart breaks for all the gay and lesbian “kids” in the military, and for all the special people in their lives who live with us in the closet.

I dream of actually being able to write to the President, my senators and representatives in the Congress, and actually signing my name, something I can’t do now due to the risk of outing my son.

Serving in Iraq an an Openly Gay Soldier (trigger warning for ableist language)

After an investigation into my statements and the harassment, I was told I was an exceptional Soldier and to “drive on” with my work. It was a great a relief to break the silence. My colleagues suddenly understood why I had always been so detached and began asking me to join them in activities outside of work.

Later that year my division deployed again and I served the entirety of the deployment as an openly gay Soldier. I no longer had to lie if someone asked if I were married or had a girlfriend, I didn’t have to write my emails in “code.” I no longer feared being “outed.” I finally was able to be honest.

A Lesbian ROTC Cadet, Denied the Chance to Serve

As much as I longed to be an officer, I realized I was not willing to compromise my integrity to do so.

Mr. President, I tell you this not looking for sympathy but rather to plead with you to do everything possible to end this arcane, discriminatory law. It hurts our military every day to force our men and women in uniform to lie or else face discharge.

You gave me hope that I might be able to serve honestly and openly in your State of the Union Address. If you repeal this law today, I’ll sign up to serve my country tomorrow.

Photo: jonycunha

International Women’s Day Blogging — Equal Rights

A pink and purple colored globe over the title "Blog for International Women's Day".What does that even mean?

Women’s rights and feminism has met with such a backlash in my experience. Why can’t it be about human rights? Why do women want to be better than men?

These questions stem from a gross misunderstanding of feminism in the first place, and a tendency to be intentionally dishonest in discourse. Both questions presume that women’s rights and feminism begin with on an even playing field, instead of the kyriarchal construct that is the society that is designed and lead by men where we must sit and wait for the table scraps of what we are allowed to have that are tossed our way.

Then the real fun starts, right.

Because that is when we start fighting amongst ourselves.

We can’t possibly have equal rights, because we are so busy fighting ourselves and oppressing each other in the process while denying that it is happening. While we fight for Choice we deny that aspects of the Choice argument that systematically oppress certain groups of women. While we insist that women’s rights help everyone, we indignantly refuse to see how our blanket arguments silence many women living in quiet oppression. We want intersectionality, but only if it fits with the agenda that is popular with the commentariat. Even the name “International Women’s Day” leaves out so many who still exist on the margins and deserve a place in this movement (if they want it). But we routinely leave them out while we piss in our own sandboxes.

We have to make room to grow together, and we have to make room to expand, to allow women who don’t fit the privileged commonality of what mainstream feminism, and the primary focus of women’s rights champion’s. We also have to remember that the U.S. experience isn’t universal, and that we can’t expect that our way is the right way. We have to know that while we can offer a hand of assistance we can not always do the work for someone. We have to allow other people to form their feminism along the framework that fits their model so that they can tear down their own axis of oppression.

We have so much left to fight for, because we are still waiting for certain menfolk to finish playing Masters of the Universe and grant us permission to exist, and to have the right to exist as we are when we have the audacity to do so on the axis of gender and oppression. We owe to ourselves and to each other to not destroy ourselves from the inside while we are trying to tear down the structures that hold us back. There are many who want that for us. We are better than that, in so many ways. But we won’t be equal with anyone until we realize it.

God Doesn’t Hate Me!

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Contrary to popular belief…and maybe to some recent evidence that might persuade me if I were an individual who would ponder such thoughts…

But yesterday’s New York Times ran an Op-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristof about Religion and Women.

Kristof gives a great run down about the various ways that the major world religions have spent their time over the centuries putting women in the place of second class citizens, from excusing rape to demanding their silence to teaching that it was perfectly OK to throw acid in their faces for the audacious act of going to school. He points out that it isn’t a doctrinal message, this violence and abuse that causes oppression to be carried out in the name of religion. Biblical scholars, Kristof says, even argue that Paul never really said that women should always be silent.

So who is it, then, that decided that women should be shunned, used, or abused and have it justified by holy sacrament?

The men in charge of interpreting the holy law, or waging the holy war.

That makes my Pagan/agnostic bones tingle (or maybe it’s the Topiramate, who knows), to read about a speech delivered by former President Jimmy Carter, (whom, apparently I fall close to on morality tests, who knew?), where he stated,“Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” and I think that hits the nail on the head of what has alienated me from religion for a long time, at least until I found Paganism. Women have long been cast aside as less than.

It reminds me of being young and being involved in church for the first time, and like all things I take on, I threw myself in head first. I wanted to do it well. But I wasn’t allowed to serve communion, even though my friend was (because he was a guy, of course), or take offering. I couldn’t lead prayer. If I was older, I was allowed to teach Sunday School, but for now I could work in the Nursery, rocking babies, like a good mommy in training.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it at the time. I have always — and this is in no way a statement of femininity or innate nurturing instinct — enjoyed other people’s babies (and then, eventually my own, even though it wasn’t ever my plan until it happened). But I didn’t understand the divide, and because you are a girl never made enough sense to me. Why couldn’t I pass a tray of grape juice around during evening service? Why couldn’t I read a passage from the Bible or give a prayer? Didn’t God think that I was just as important? Wasn’t I told that I was made in his image too?

No, actually.

Of course, a lot of things didn’t make sense to me, and my Aries personality and a youth pastor telling me, a 17 year old girl who had been tossed from home to home, working and buying her own way at a minimum wage job, that she had a problem with money and was greedy and a bad person because she didn’t tithe, began my Great Schism. And no I didn’t want to talk about it, and no, I didn’t feel like having it Mansplained to me anymore, by anyone. Not even other Youth Ministers that I had good relationships with.

I bounced. I might have flounced, but I was 17*, and while I was mature due the nature of my situation, I had a stubborn streak to beat…well…Hell.

I had to reconcile it for myself, and figure out why I wasn’t good enough. No matter how hard I worked or how good I was, I was never good enough for God.

To me, some 12 years later, that speech from Carter is like a breath of air. That little quote, that one moment in time (even, again, coming as permission from a white man), gave me pass to feel that my feelings of frustration during my time in the church were validated (but never relieved, because my whole extended family is Catholic, and I was the wayward Other…so…hence, the Guilt).

This brings me to The Elders, which sounds like something out of some of my favorite fantasy works. It is a real thing, made of Awesome, in that it is a Who’s Who of former world leaders, and comprised of many religious and spiritual powerhouses, lead my Nelson Mandela. Among the ranks are Carter, Aung San Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, and several others. They meet with a silent moment of prayer, and have many goals, including not attacking religion, but recognizing, according to Robinson, “if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”

While I find myself mostly outside of religion, I love the way it works, and to learn about the different kinds. I’ve also live three major world religions from birth to now, and know much about them not just from a college intro class, but from life experience. I love how people who get to the fundamentals of what their religion is love their religion without hurting others. And The Elders do that, and more.

With the formation of The Elders, and my big crush The Dalai Lama naming himself a feminist, perhaps organized world religions haven’t failed me after all. Perhaps there is hope that they can foster a place where women will be treated with love and dignity and respect. As equal citizens, because that is all I have ever wanted.

*Teenagers are not a monolith. I was, sometimes, your stereotype, the moody girl prone to over reaction. But, I was also the girl who had to adapt to many adult situations. Many teenagers are like that. Do not assume that teenagers are not thinking, mostly adult-like people, worthy of respect, despite what you might read eslewhere.

My Congressmand Does Not, In Fact, Rock the Casbah

Yoshi, a green dragon like creature, falls to his demise as Mario, a white man dressed in red, bounces off of him to safety. The de-motivational poster reads "Betrayal. You traitorous swine."After almost a month of correspondence and petition signing, Congressman Stupak finally got around to having one of his aides respond to me. In fairness, this letter is fairly well tailored based on what I actually wrote, and yet, it is ridiculously condescending, and predictably skirting of anything that I said. Thanks for that.

It should also be noted, that my Congressman hates me. Yes. Me, specifically. He hates me as a Native Woman. There is no place for people like me in his world, because my health care needs won’t matter to him. Lest he forget, also, that there is a whole bunch of Michigan yet above the Mitten. “Northern Michigan” isn’t “above Traverse City”. There is a whole Peninsula left. It’s on the quarter and everything. HA!

So, Thanks for nothing, Mr. Stupak. Thanks for mansplaining that one. I’ll be sure to include this as the intro to your new Broadway show “Fuck You!: The Musical.

Letter after the jump. (more…)

Planning Ahead

Something that has been tumbling around in my head is the issue of repealing DADTObviously.

Repealing the legislation isn’t enough.  There is still the matter of dealing with the UCMJ.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The UCMJ is what the Military uses to maintain its own law and order, if you will excuse the term.  The UCMJ has some very specific things to say about so-called “homosexual acts”, as some would call it, in Article 125.

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient
to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Elements.

(1) That the accused engaged in unnatural carnal copulation with a certain other person or with an animal. (Note: Add either or both of the following elements, if applicable)

(2) That the act was done with a child under the age of 16.

(3) That the act was done by force and without the consent of the other person.

Explanation.

It is unnatural carnal copulation for a person to take into that person’s mouth or anus the sexual organ of another person or of an animal; or to place that person’s sexual organ in the mouth or anus of another person or of an animal; or to have carnal copulation in any opening of the body, except the sexual parts, with another person; or to have carnal copulation with an animal.

If DADT is repealed, without Congress changing the UCMJ there is still the chance that all of these people who are now allowed to be free and open about themselves could still be punished under Article 125.  So, it comes as a great relief to find this in the Stars and Stripes online today:

A panel of legal scholars has suggested that Congress remove sodomy as a crime punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a recommendation that could boost efforts to end a ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

The Commission on Military Justice recommended that Article 125, which deals with sodomy, be repealed, arguing that “most acts of consensual sodomy committed by consenting military personnel are not prosecuted, creating a perception that prosecution of this sexual behavior is arbitrary.”

I mean, yay!  Someone is thinking ahead on this.  It isn’t often that I have witnessed the Military being proactive rather than reactive to something (if you can call it this).

Plenty of heterosexual couples have violated this, let me assure you.  I would be interested to see the stats that back up the claim that the majority of people discharged under Article 125 are straight.

Since I first found this article on the Free Republic (OH MY EYES!), I am sure that Conservajerks are going to be all over this one.  So let’s address something, shall we?

OpponentsZOMG!  If we repeal Article 125 then the Military will think it is OK to have sex with children!!1!

Fact: 1) You can not have sex with children.  Children can not give consent.  The correct term for that is rape.  2) Raping children would still be illegal under UCMJ Article 120, which covers and defines, say it with me now, rape.

Now, I have a few issues with Article 120 all on its own.  It deserves to be addressed, but it covers the child rape issue pretty clearly.  Any person who has not attained the age of sixteen years.  Pretty clear.  It is already illegal to rape children.  So, saying that we need Article 125 to prevent this is pretty much intentionally obtuse.

OpponentsZOMG!  If Article 125 is repealed, then the rape in the Military problem will get worse, because it will be harder to punish!!1!ELEVENTY!

Fact:  Ummm.  No.  Again, Article 120 already covers this.  Rape is already illegal, and the Military is already taking massive steps to prove that it takes rape and sexual assault seriously, with more training than you can shake a stick at.  Also, there is a little thing that the UCMJ has called Article 134, otherwise known as the “catch all” clause, meaning if they don’t think they can bust your ass with something else, they sure as hell are going to get you with this one.

So, we can put to rest the thought that Article 125 is so badly needed that we can’t repeal it.  In order to make the repealing of DADT, to allow service members to serve out and open freely, without fear of being hurt, abused, or otherwise hazed in their working environments, often leading to suicide or physical and mental illness, often left untreated because the service member is discharged without benefits .  It needs to go (and, let’s be honest, it needed to go, like, 100 years ago.  Really.) and the sooner the better.

Now, who do we talk to about getting this done?

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