exactly that

Posts tagged ‘reproductive justice’

Why Act Surprised?

A row of military combat helmets on a bench in front of what appears to be the knees of presumably soldiers, all clad in Army ACU camo.So here’s a funny story for you…

With an all Democratic Congress, and a Democratic President, we weren’t able to get a lot of shit done that was promised to us, and without saying “I told you so” (oops, a lot of people just did and have been, like The Red Queen), it isn’t like we didn’t see this coming when you are forced to choose the lesser of evils.

We do not have a Pro-Choice President, despite what all the orgs might have toted along the way.

One of the things that I was extremely angry to see, and in part really made me doubt the power of push-button petition activism is the fact that we allowed Congress to strip the portion of the Defense Authorization Act that contained provisions for women servicemembers’ healthcare, specifically the part having to do with her ladybits.

But apparently the need to care for your ladybits is far too controversial if you tote a gun around a battlefield or are working aboard an Aircraft carrier and while you can expect the government to fund your steel-toed boots (which they don’t) and buy your ship (which they do), you can’t possibly expect them to cover all of your body parts in your healthcare coverage (which they should).

Women have not been allowed to receive abortions in military facilities for a long damned time. It has been lobbed back and forth in Congress casually by men who never will ever have to worry about how an unplanned or, yes, unwanted pregnancy will affect their careers (and let’s not pretend that most of Congress never has been part of the military or isn’t so far detached from it that they are irrelevant).

This trifle of information might not seem like a huge tidbit to someone in the States, but to a woman serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, or, say for example, Republic of Korea, countries where abortion isn’t legal, then it is an issue. These are places where an unwanted pregnancy can’t be dealt with on the economy because the laws don’t allow it. A woman would have to find ways to travel to the nearest country, after securing leave from a commander who is more than likely a man, and who will more than likely want to know why (forcing the release of private medical information).

This of corse all costs money, forgetting all the money for travel.

But some women don’t have even these luxuries, and they know that ostracization isthe biggest fear of all, and they take extreme measures at the end of the cleaning rod of a rifle.

I’ve been seeing a lot of outcry, recently, about Republicans wanting to strip abortion services and provisions from insurance coverage for women over there in the States.

Welcome to our world.

We, uniformed women and dependent (I hate that word) family members of servicemembers have long been denied access to safe, legal abortion services. For four decades our access to abortion has been a political ping pong ball, and our access to a full range of reproductive health services has been nothing but a rec room game.

Unless we can prove rape or incest, or we can get a doctor to say that our lives are in danger (and that is purely at the discretion of the doctor, and I could tell you horror stories of women who have been at the mercy of doctors unwilling to declare this), abortions are not to be had. We only recently were able to access Plan B as part of our TRICARE Formulary (the medications required to be on-hand at all military treatment facilities).

And when the call came out to support the repeal, the silence from mainstream feminist groups was staggering. The only large group that supported it was NARAL, and I am pretty sure I only heard from Nancy Keenan in my inbox twice (usually with a call for money), twice again at Change.org.

My petition to garner support ended with only 631 signatures after more than six months of driving it and pushing it in a way that I was afraid was going to lose me friends and followers. But I believed in what I was doing with all of my person, so I didn’t care.

And Congress stripped the Burris Amendment, the amendment that would have repealed the ban on military abortions in military facilities (if they were prepaid with private funds, and it required no government funds to support) from the DAA prior to passing it.

Military women still can not have a full range of medical care, even though they support and defend a country in which it is legal.

So when I see the outcry from feminists on their blogs and see everyone outraged that Republicans in their new Republican controlled congress are blocking abortion access from insurance coverage and chipping away at the rights of civilian women to access abortion (which I think is wrong, and have said unequivocally many times) and doing their damnedest to make sure that abortion is difficult to access for civilian women…I am finding it hard to say anything but…

How can you be outraged? I am not angry… but kind of flailing here. I am not holding people accountable personally, but when we needed the support of people to pound home this issue… we didn’t have it.

When you fail to take a stand to protect the rights of a small group of oppressed people you can not possibly expect that your rights will not be chipped away at next.

We have to stand together or we will fail to stand at all. When the Republicans managed to succeed in squashing the only chance for military women to have abortions included in their health care and cast it off as a “contentious issue”, it was only a matter of time before they managed to presume that it was OK to continue to dig away at the rest. Why would they think that anyone cares about women’s health care? We don’t seem to care about it enough to stop them from steamrolling over a small group of women, so on to the next group, then the next and so on…

Or, is it because soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coasties don’t matter? I mean, as I said on tumblr, we know they fight wars, which is wrong, so I guess it is OK that they don’t enjoy the same rights as us, amirite?

I am not sure, but all of this outrage just overwhelms me.

Welcome to my world.

You had a chance to support us in return for our service and tell the Rethugs that you give a damn about full, comprehensive health care for women. I can’t believe you are surprised by this next step Congress has taken.

If you are a servicemember or dependent family member who needs access to a safe abortion and has been denied, the ACLU is looking to represent you. You may contact me at ouyangdan [at] randombabble [dot] com and I can put you in touch with someone who is willing to help you, while keeping you anonymous if you wish. You are not alone or without people who care about you.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

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.

Race, Disability, Ms. Magazine (Again), and Mythbusting the IUD

It happens every now and again. Someone writes something really remarkable. A post or article that is so full of win that I want to give it as much attention as possible. It has a ring of truth that many people don’t want to read, especially segments (HA! Segments. By segments, I mean most of feminism.) of feminism that believe that reproductive justice is a one-size-fits-all movement and that we should all snap-to and join together, because all of our interests are equally yoked in the fight. A strike of brutal honest fact that shows that some victory has been won, historically over the backs of others.

But then I read it and I see some little segment of non-truth, some swipe that isn’t as well-done as the rest that leaves me with a sour taste and I see it as equally harmful to some.

That can be said of this almost-home-run piece by Nicole Guidotti-Hernández at Ms. Magazine’s blog. It isn’t a secret that I have my share of issues with Ms. or their blog, like their ridiculous Obama as Superman cover or the recent blog post about how all us disabled folk were a hive mind of dupes working for the anti-choice movement. The difference being that Guidotti-Hernández’ piece was actually good. Solid. The reproductive justice movement, and feminism in general, has thrived on as marginalized women have laboured, forgotten. White women, rich, well-off women marched on to vote, enjoy their new freedom, and gain rights and non-white women nursed their children, and disabled women stayed in the corners forgotten as worthless and unworthy anyway.

Nicole had me until the part where she seemed to be dissing on IUDs:

Yet, I can’t help but think of a recent visit to the gynecologist (not my usual one, but an affiliate in the practice at the University Medical Center in Tucson), at which the doctor kept insisting that I consider an IUD even though I am unmarried and have no children. As a recently tenured faculty member with a hyphenated “Latino” name, this unwavering persistence that I need an IUD–or, rather, am a good candidate for one–and therefore not needing to reproduce, suggests that reproductive racism is alive and well, even for an Ivy-league educated Chicana. It makes me wonder how many other Latinas, educated or not, are being pushed to control their reproduction with this subtle racism that is the dark underbelly of reproductive justice.

I can sympathize with her feelings of frustration here. My own heritage is full of women who were forcibly sterilized. Perhaps what she senses was happening is in fact what was going on. I don’t know. I am not one to fully discount institutional racism. I know all too well what it feels like to feel like your provider isn’t listening to you, maybe even better than she does. There is no excuse for a provider to not listen to your wishes. It still doesn’t change the rest of it. It is also entirely possible that she had a doctor who was simply trying to give her the best possible birth control option for her, and that because she hasn’t researched the IUD properly, and that she is spreading myths about it, that she was dead set against hearing that it was that: a great choice for her. Having “Native American” stamped in my medical record didn’t make obtaining my one any easier. I had insurance on my side, and even my “white” appearance, getting me more than one odd glance when what they see doesn’t match what they read. I am forgetful with pills. I am horrible with getting refills. I have all kinds of complications that interact with hormones, and more reasons than fingers for doctors to dissuade me from having more children. And yet, I have had the opposite experience. Twice.

It is also no secret how I love my IUD. How I have had to fight to get it. Why is that you ask? Why did I have to fight to get it?

Because people seem to be caught up in the days when IUDs in the U.S. were getting a bad rap for still being dangerous, and it seems that most people — women, nurses, doctors, preachers, whathaveyou — can’t be bothered to pick up the latest literature and brush up on what is so awesome about IUDs, or so safe, convenient, affordable (for a privileged sect), and practical.

Modern IUDs, available in two forms: The plastic hormonal and the copper non-hormonal (Mirena and Paraguard in the U.S.). The thing is, they are not just for married moms of three kids these days. IUDs are also great for…well, almost anyone. No longer do you have to have popped out kids in order for your cervix to be right. Some doctors still believe otherwise, and I believe that if we continue to allow people to spread myths like the above quoted passage, they will continue to turn women away from this great form of birth control. Armed with information, doctors, nurses, and even *cough* nurse midwives, will begin to see that everyone’s cervix is different and that it depends on the woman, not her status of maternity.

Being married is no longer required either. It is more important to be smart and responsible about your sexual health than to be in a marital, or even a monogamous, relationship. I think people realized a while back that being married is no longer (HA!) proof that you will be protected from STIs. Many professionals recommend a second barrier method in conjunction with an IUD, but you would have to use that with the pill, the patch, and most hormonal birth control anyway.

IUD is about the most popular form of birth control in the world. In fact, according to Guttmacher, its use in Europe outdoes the other leading three uses of contraceptive in the U.S..

Why could that be?

Well, for one, if you opt for the Paragard, or copper version, there are no side effects. Once your body adjusts — most women experience mild to “oh my stars I want to ker-smash things” cramping the first month or so — you no longer have any of the brought-on-by-hormones deals that are associated with the pill, the shot, etc. Smokers, those with high blood pressure, heart disease, and even people like myself who have medical situations that interfere with the pill, can happily use the copper IUD.

Mirena offers a low dose of hormones with the benefits of being an IUD. An extra whammy if you will. Conditions like endomitriosis are believed to be helped slightly by its use. It is also believed to help aid heavy periods and can help lighten them. It won’t set off metal detectors at airports*. Slate has a good article that focuses on the IUD.

Both are easily reversible. By “easily”, I mean “almost instantly”. I mean, were I to go in to my doctor’s office today and have my Paragard removed, The Guy and I could, in theory, conceive a child within ten minutes of the doctor leaving the exam room. Long term doesn’t mean permanent. You don’t have to wait a month (or longer) for the hormones to leave your body. Many women in Europe and Asia use the IUD as an alternative to the more permanent sterilization at the end of planning their families. The U.S. just hasn’t caught on yet.

It is also ready to use the day (THE SAME HOUR!) you have it inserted.

The start-up cost is, sadly, higher than most other forms (between $300-$500 without insurance), but the maintenance is lower. “Lower” here reads as “virtually nonexistent”. Every other form of birth control requires you to maintain. The shot and ring: Monthly. The patch: Weekly. The pill: Daily. Condoms: Every damn time (no, really, you can’t re-use them, even if you wash them!). With the IUD, you have it inserted, and then you basically ignore it for five years or ten years, depending on your device (well, you should stick some fingers in there to check for the strings once a month or so, but checking your bits out is a good idea anyway), or until you decide to have it removed, barring any complications (and I am not saying there won’t be any).

There is no month-month cost, and if you are paying $60 a month in birth control, over the 5-10 life of your IUD, it is cheaper. In reality, I know that if you can’t afford $60 a month, you likely can’t afford $300, let alone $500, but this is the reality of the economics of the device. If you have access to a women’s health clinic, like a Planned Parenthood, they may be able to help assist. More VA centers are getting into the Women’s Health arena, with closed curtains and everything, but I am not holding my breath. IUDs are usually covered by insurance, but I am not going to pretend this is always the case. I know quite a few notable exceptions to this, which is why it is important for people to realize that reproductive justice issues are a part of women’s health care.

The reason attitudes like this irritate me is because even OB/GYNs and other women’s health professionals have a hard time paying attention to the good side of IUDs. The reasons for this, I am not sure, but it makes it damned difficult for people who want or need them to get them. Some people who need them, who can not use other forms have a hell of a time getting them, and not just because of lack of availability or costs, but because doctors just simply don’t keep up with the latest information (as I recently found out for myself).

You would think that its 99% + efficacy would be a drawing factor. Sure, studies show that the pill and patch and condom also tote these, but with perfect usage. Typical usage put them at closer to … not so much. Depending on who you ask, those methods are more or less reliable if you use them well enough. The copper IUD is has a less than 1% failure rate, and the hormonal IUD a pretty close second. That is the most effective birth control after abstinence. A couple of hormonal birth controls come close, but really, it is the most reliable.

It just irks me, irks me to no end, that amidst sharing parts of a dark history that needs to be highlighted that someone would mix in myths with their, possibly justified, suspicion. Non-white women have endured a long history of forced sterilization, and messages that we shouldn’t enjoy the same freedoms with our reproductive rights. That justifies the suspicion with reproductive medical professionals. I’ve had them myself. But it doesn’t mean that every time it is going to be that way, or that things like IUDs are suggested to keep our wombs closed forever, because that just isn’t what they do, and I will not sit idly by while someone writes a mostly good article, and while it is passed around passively and highly praised (albeit, mostly deservedly). But someone needs to point out the flaw. Someone needs to point out the dangerous myth. Maybe some young woman, maybe a young Latina woman, possibly with some sort of disability or need I can’t think of, someone who doesn’t want children while she completes an education, or doesn’t want a family and doesn’t want an invasive procedure like sterilization, might read this article and think that she has no other options. And specialists will only confirm that suspicion.

I can’t have that.

For more IUD love from a non-white perspective, see Lena Chen.

More of my IUD love.

*I had the surprising experience of my IUD setting of a metal detector at the Honolulu Airport while going to drop The Kid off for an Unaccompanied Minor flight. I had no metal whatsoever on my body, no clips in my hair, and a t-shirt on. The guards were baffled, that the wand was only picking up a crackle near my abdomen. They let us through and when I came back, it was the only thing that occurred to me. They agreed that it was what must be giving them issue. We all had a good laugh, and it cheered me considerably.

If only they wouldn’t act like KIDS…

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So I didn’t have to read more than a paragraph or two of this to be annoyed.

I am not even sure that “annoyed” is the proper adjective (or past participle, wev) here.

These kinds of posts in feminist spaces make me want to toss in my feminist card and return my free toaster oven (it doesn’t work on the 220 volt anyway). The first thing that these kinds of posts do is set expectations that are too high. Whether or not these posts say it directly, and irrespective of later claims and clarifications in comments by the authors, they are expecting children to behave at an adult threshold. They are expecting children to comply with behavioral norms established by and for able-bodied adults. They are also putting the onus on able-bodied adults to “control” that behavior, only mildly admitting that children do not yet have the faculties to reach those thresholds.

The only nod I will give to this post by Jill, who has privilege coming out her nose here in this very U.S., East Coast centric post, is that she isn’t calling for parents and care-takers to hide indoors with the windows locked for 18+ years. Children do need to learn how to live in our world, and how to behave in public and interact with people who are not them and their parent or parents/caretakers. But here is a newsflash for the child-free crowd: part of socializing children is also about teaching them that they are not the center of the universe. That is why we take them to places that are not “kid friendly”. That is why we go to restaurants that “couldn’t advertise any harder that children will be bored out of their skulls“, because they need to learn that they need to live in the grown up world too. That is why we tote the big bags full of crayons and toys and snacks and enough stuff that makes it look as though we have moved in. That is why it takes some of us two hours to leave the house (the “we” that means whoever this includes, not necessarily me, even though I once fit into this, but this is a very privileged set of parents and caretakers) with youngins. We work over time to make sure that our kids behave. Most of us.

Another newsflash might be that “behave” isn’t synonymous with “control” because it seems to escape the attention of many a Feministe reader and commenter that children are people. You can’t control a child any more than you can control a 30-something grown woman who is a fully formed human being. They have feelings and needs and desires…the big difference here, and it’s a big one, is that they lack the capacity of communication that allows them to express these things clearly to the people in charge of satisfying these needs. And I don’ t know about you but that sounds like it is fucking irritating. I sometimes get sensory overload and just can’t communicate that, and I am an adult so people tend to listen to me more than they do to children (I am struggling for a Dumbledore quote here but it is escaping me, so I will have to watch Prisoner of Azkaban later). We as parents try to modify behavior. We try to communicate with children. We try to listen to them and validate them. What I find that most people who don’t have children mean by “control” is that they want us to grab a crying, frustrated child who is overloaded with feelings that they can’t express (an action that would get an adult punched by another adult, I am sure) and try to cover their mouths or even spank them. People assume that if they don’t see a parent physically engaging with a child or verbally (and sternly) having a dialogue with a child that they are taking a laissez-faire approach. We are lazy, the admonished “rather be friends” parent.

Again and again I see in comments that if such behavior in children was displayed by adults, such as a fight with a significant other in a restaurant, they would be expected to leave the public space for the sake of others. Well, of course they would. This equating of adult behavior that is inappropriate for public consumption to a child’s behavior is absurd, because you can not expect children to hit the same bar of behavior as adults. They are not adults. I don’t even expect 17-year olds to hit that same threshold, but I so see them as nigh adults, and expect a level of appropriate behavior. Because they are humans and individuals. Capable of behavior that is appropriate to them, and most of them surpass and exceed the threshold that even I set (which is higher than most, because of my weird notions that they are potential adults and all). We can not possibly expect them to behave like adults. They are not adults. This is a terrible straw argument. Plus, comparing typical child behavior to inappropriate behavior of adults (fighting, drunken conduct) is insulting to children. They are humans.

Also, I would like to note that any behavior that children might engage in that is outside of smiling demurely is not “misbehaving”. Children occasionally cry. They tend to be loud sometimes. Every now and then they want or need something and they don’t know how to tell you that, or they are bored, or they are tired, or any number of things we can’t predict from the Pandora’s box of their range of emotions, and they will find a way of communicating this. It happens, so far in my experience, all the way up until eight, and counting. This is not “misbehaving”. So far, it is behaving. I have seen this “misbehaving”, and a toddler dropping a crayon on the floor in a restaurant to see the response of a person picking it up. Again. And again. And again. Is not “misbehaving”. Read a baby development book for Ceiling Cat’s sake. That is typical development. They like reactions. In fact, if you ignore it, they usually stop.

Which brings me to my next point. (more…)

Trust Me

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A couple of weeks ago I asked my PCM for a referral to OB/GYN to replace the IUD that I had to surrender over the summer. She and The Guy and I have been talking for some time about the options and realities of having another child with my condition, and the answer we came up with is that we will wait for a little longer and see if I am still doing well with my current regimen.

Usually these things take weeks to schedule, but they called the next day, and I had my referral appointment on the second day. No matter what your history in the OB/GYN clinics you have to have counseling in order to get birth control through the MTF (all the ones in which I have been treated anyway), and the idea is that you get to talk to your OB/GYN about all of your birth control options, what you want from your birth control, take his or her advice, and decide on what is best for you. That is the theory, anyhow.

Some people (like me) have an idea ahead of time what they want or what is best for them. I, for example, due to my medical history and ongoing condition, am not able to use a hormonal birth control. Because of that I know that the copper IUD (ParaGuard) is the best option for me. Also because of this, I often read up on ParaGuard and IUD use in women, and try to keep abreast of any information regarding IUD usage, risks involved, etc. The IUD has such a bad reputation from so much misinformation that I feel the need to stay on top of this. Some would say this makes me a big smarty-pants-know-it-all. I say that sometimes a woman can’t trust that her doctor is going to take her word at face falue, and in the off chance that her doctor isn’t as awesome as mine she needs to be prepared. I am privileged to have information available at my fingertips.

I did not realize that my appointment would not be with my usual kick-ass OB/GYN, Dr. K, the same one who saved my fallopian tubes and life this summer and who promised to give me a shiny new IUD whenever I was ready for it. Not panicking when I saw the face of a woman I didn’t know I sat down as she introduced herself as Nurse Midwife V and told me that she had been looking over my file. Great. Maybe she was doing her background reading too, because I really tire of bringing every doctor up to speed constantly on my condition when it is right there on the computer screen for them to see. I don’t have a bunch of degrees and I can keep up with the required reading.

Before I had even the chance to say anything she told me that I was “not a candidate for an IUD” because of my ectopic pregnancy, and that she was not going to refer me for one. When I started to say that I understood that there were some risks she cut me off and told me that my pap was also past due and kept talking. I tried to assert myself past her obsession with people rooting around in my vagina, to let her know that I was aware that there were risks involved with the IUD, but that I knew that not only was what happened to me rare, but that I knew it was rare that it might happen again. But she wasn’t having any of that. She kept right on talking like I wasn’t even there.

I told her that my regular doctor had already said I was fine to have one. She responded by saying that it usually took weeks to get in to see him, as if this was supposed to deter me somehow. I also tried asking if the new ACOG regulations had been implemented yet, thinking this might distract her and get me closer to my goal (also, I am in the lag area none of them know what to do with, being 29, soon to be 30) and all she would say was that my pap was past due. Is it? I don’t know. I had a normal one in late 2008. I am in a mutually monogamous relationship…

When I left I told the front desk that I would no longer allow Nurse Midwife V to treat me. I am currently in the process of filing a formal complaint against her. What shouldn’t have happened here was having everyone from the desk staff to the NCOIC (that’s Non-commissioned officer in charge) tell me how nice Nurse Midwife V is and how everyone likes her so much, and that she is well known for being very good at what she does. That might well be true, great. My experience is that she was condescending and rude, and didn’t help me with my medical needs to my satisfaction. I think that people forget that sometimes, that doctors and nurses are also here to provide a service for us. I have a medical need, and she didn’t meet it. I shouldn’t have to settle for that. No matter how nice and great she is to work with. I also shouldn’t have my experience erased and dismissed by everyone in place to help me when things go wrong for me. That is not good patient advocacy.

I am rather privileged, however, in that I was able to make another appointment, and I saw Dr. K the next day. Had I been someone who had to drive a long way to a clinic, I might not have been able to. Had I had to pay out of pocket for this visit, or if my insurance limited the amount of OB/GYN visits or birth control counselings I was allowed per year, I would not have been able to. Had the travel cost me money I did not have, this would not have been possible. Had I not had the type of job I do where I set my own hours, I might have had to miss work. These are the kinds of things that women face when they come up against providers like Nurse Midwife V, providers who don’t want to listen to women, who won’t talk to women about their own bodies and medical histories. Providers who don’t trust women to be actively involved in their medical processes. Providers who can’t be bothered to involved women in the partnership that should be their own medical care, especially when it comes to their reproductive health. As it was, having to go back a second time was already taxing on my spoons, and stressful, because now I have be on my game. Suddenly I have to come in educated on something that my provider should have known the first time.

Thanks to meloukhia’s indominatable Google-fu I took in the information I was looking for, backing up what I had already said, that an ectopic pregnancy did not preclude me from having an IUD (or, that a previous ectopic pregnancy was not a contraindication for an IUD). Dr. K was impressed that I was so prepared. He told me that he had heard that information, but he himself had been so busy that he hadn’t had time to read any of the journals for himself. He told The Guy (who went with me this time, because they like to banter back and forth in Korean) that I should come in from time to time to keep him updated on current women’s health, and said he wished more people came to him so informed. He said that whomever told me that I couldn’t have an IUD was wrong. I was prepared, but I shouldn’t have had to come in as if I was fighting a war.

Two weeks later I have my IUD.

Nurse Midwife V didn’t care to ask why, after having one IUD failure (as rare as they are, b/c they are pretty much the most effective form of reversible birth control out there, with a fail rate of less than one percent), I would want another IUD. She didn’t bother to find out anything else in my medical history that might affect my decision to make that very personal choice about birth control, like that I am on medication that might have contraindications with hormonal birth control, or that previous specialists had determined that hormonal birth control is a migraine trigger for me. She simply asserted her own opinion (as wrong as it turned out to be) and called it a day. But all of that information is in my medical record if she cared to look. The same record she said she reviewed when she made her initial judgment.

And now, I can’t trust her.

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…)

MTSS #24 — Condoms

Great episode (sorry, can’t embed *coughWordPresscough*). *

Are you back?

(more…)

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