Open Threads, snarky's machine

Open Thread

I am doing Nanowrimo this lovely evening and I’m focusing on my 50k word count goal. I am 2300 words away! I am gunning for an early finish tomorrow.

Anyway, rock this open thread, Shapelings. Fluffication rules don’t apply.

In keeping with what Sweet Machine wrote in the last open thread, BEHAVE.

Here’s the comment policy

This is my first open thread, so be gentle with me!

147 thoughts on “Open Thread”

  1. I’m making harira for the first time! I read that it was quite possibly the best soup in the world and I had to try it.

    Also, evidently the Dems have enough votes to break a GOP filibuster.

    This is our first autumn in the south and I am blown away by it being November and warm enough for just a light sweater.

    (Obvs these are not in order of importance.)

  2. Wow, only 2,3oo to go! I’m impressed! A lot of my friend do the Nanowrimo thing, and rarely get past 10,000 :P

  3. I’m really freaking out about my graduate school applications. x.x They’re due December 1st, and I still have SO MUCH LEFT TO DO ZOMG. My cashier job is not helping with the stress, because being a cashier at a grocery store the week before thanksgiving is sort of like being a soldier behind enemy lines in a war. If I escape without some minor emotional trauma, I’ll count myself lucky. x.x

    On the plus side, I’m insanely proud of my graduate school audition CD and will take the chance to pimp it here.

  4. I made pumpkin brownies this afternoon, off of a recipe that a friend gave me from Isa Chandra Moskovitz’s Vegan Cookies book (except I used non-vegan baking chocolate inadvertently — fortunately, I’m not actually vegan) and they smell wonderful. I would recommend making them even just to eat the batter.

    Also, I’m playing in a concert tonight with the Minnesota Freedom Band (= gay band) and we’re doing space music! It’s pretty awesome.

    A Sarah, I’m way up north (although not quite in the Great White North) and it’s been too cold not to wear a winter-type coat since, oh, the second week of October . . . I’m almost, but not quite, jealous.

  5. I am also doing NaNoWriMo! But alas, I am not 2300 words away from finishing. I’ve had a lot more non-writing days this month than usual, so I am barely keeping my head above water. But I persevere nonetheless!

  6. HT, you have such a lovely voice! I downloaded all of them and will pitch them into my rotation, so when you’re famous, I can tell people I heard you back when . . .

    Can I ask where you’re applying? (I’ll totally understand if you don’t want to talk about it. I wouldn’t mention where I applied to law school — at least to my family — until I’d gotten responses.)

  7. @A Sarah – Zomg, making soup. Seriously, I am in awe. I left a cake on top the car this morning on my way to play Nurse Goodkind. As a cook/baker, that’s how I roll!

    @Jenny – This is my seventh (I think) year of Nano and I realize I have to lay the smack down pretty early or I’ll be binge writing the very last day. This year the process seemed effortless (not saying the words are actually worth reading) and I can attribute it to having to write A LOT for my job and all these pet projects like zines, screenplays and short fiction challenges I’ve designed for myself.

    @Hidden – I am sending cyber mojo your way. Grad School applications strike terror into this cold, bitter chocolate flavored heart. I admired those who push through. I melt down every time I start one. The process tends to overwhelm me.

    @Stephanie – What’s on your program?

    @Phoquess – Have you participated in any “Write-ins” either locally or via the web. I have gone to a couple of local ones and found there was more talking about writing than actual writing. I haven’t tried any of the Nano sponsored events. I’m hoping to try at least one before this thing ends.

  8. NaNoWriMo has always intrigued me, but I’ve never had any time to devote to it. Maybe when the kiddo’s in school or something.

    I keep thinking about going back to school, even though what I really need is a job.

    Screaming kid == NOT FUN.

    Also: finding dead mice in on a glue trap in the kitchen? Mildly disturbing, but also somewhat reassuring.

  9. HiddenTohru, holy buckets!!!! You’re, like, REALLY GOOD!

    (Hm, oh dear. I don’t mean for that to look as surprised as it does, as though I had low expectations and was then proven wrong. I’m just always surprised when real, actual people I know can sing that well.)

  10. @ Stephanie – Thank you! X3 I am applying to the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (why I moved to Cincinnati, obviously my top choice), Bowling Green State U (in Ohio, not Kentucky) and University of Indiana at Bloomington. x.x IU is the hardest one, by far.

    This is the most difficult period for most aspiring opera singers, because physically a person’s voice doesn’t mature fully until the mid to late 30s, so starting an opera career before the beginning of your 30s is not advisable (the stamina isn’t there, and you can actually end up hurting yourself by attempting to do more than your young voice is capable of). A lot of people go to do their undergrad, then finish at 21 or 22 and then go “okay, grad school now” and do that, then they’re only about 24 and still have a good six to eight years before they can reasonably expect to get into opera. Some schools prepare you better than others for this, my undergrad didn’t prepare me very well at all (and I ended up taking a few years off, I graduated in August 2008 and won’t be going to grad school until Fall 2010, assuming I get in). A lot of people get jobs and say “oh well, I’ll continue my studies privately” and either don’t have the time or discipline to do so.

  11. I desperately need a change. I have a good job but I live in a little desert town and I’m at wits end. I even know EXACTLY what I want to do. I want to go back to school and finish my undergrad.

    Yes, my undergrad. I never finished. By sheer luck I work in a field where most of my colleagues have their master’s degrees. I know that I’m lucky but not finishing school is forever a burden on my mind.

    On the other hand, I feel like I lack the courage to quit my great job and do what I want to do. I simply don’t understand how people can just go back to school and live seemingly on nothing. But people seem to do it all the time. Argh! What to do?

  12. Hi all, this is my first comment on Shapely Prose! Been reading for a while, decided to try an be more active. Hope everyone is having a good weekend :)
    I’ve never partaken in NaNoWriMo, never had an idea knocking around at the time.
    Today has been spent making soup and uni work, yay. Now I’m trying to find a Christmas present for my boyfriend-he’s so awkward to by for *sigh*

  13. Snarkysmachine, as a matter of fact, I am at a write-in right now (an in-person one at the city library.) Writing has been good, actually, with long periods of silent work time and randomly but appropriately timed conversation breaks. I’ve gotten a lot more work done than I usually do so I definitely think it’s worth my time.

  14. Thanks for the download links, HiddenTohru. I’m stuck in an airport for the next 4 hours and your songs are helping.

    I am also weighing sleep debt vs. deadlines, and, should deadlines lose, considering whether there’s actually anywhere in an airport that it is feasible to nap as a solo traveler.

  15. Can I ask a really dumb Feminism 99 (even less than 101) question? I’ve been wondering about this since the Sarah Palin thread, but only just found this open thread to ask y’all about it. So, here goes:

    Is it possible to be a feminist AND to be pro-life?

    There seemed to be a lot of complaints about Sarah Palin not being a “real” feminist, and this was one of them. (I’m not American, so I know very little about Sarah Palin personally, but this aspect of the conversation made me wonder.) I guess I don’t see that a moral/religious conviction of this type necessarily excludes the holder from either believing in equal rights for women in general, or in calling themselves a feminist?

    But perhaps I am influenced by living in a country when legal access to government-subsidized abortion is neither a problem nor a major public issue…

  16. Oof, I’m so far behind on NaNo. I’m at 22,446, which, granted, is better than I’ve ever done in my four years of trying. Still, it’s over ten thousand words behind, nnf. Not giving up, though!

    CynicaJellybones, can you go to school part time? I never finished my undergrad either, and that’s what I’m doing right now.

  17. @Elizabby I found this and it provides a decent discussion of this issue.

    For me personally, I would tend to say a cautious “no”. In the sense, that anti-choice means limiting the choices of women, where feminism goal should be allowing access to choices for ALL women regardless of whether or not we agree with those choices.

    Personally, I find feminism at times to be quite “anti-motherhood” as it relates to SAHMs (stay at home moms) while privileging SAHDs.

    The anti-choice discourse is framed in such a way that it denies women agency. I can’t co-sign it.

    I can however co sign a woman personally having issues with abortion provided her politics do not advocate infringing on my right to choice.

    I have friends (many of which who have had abortions) take this position and are silenced because folks feel it’s a slippery slope towards anti-choice rhetoric. I disagree.

    Again, this Snarky talking and not the Voice of Shapely Prose™.

  18. @Insufficient Data–Not as long as I stay in this town. And, what’s more, my job is very full time. Moving to a new place without my undergrad seems very daunting though. It’s really interesting, the trap this never-finishing-my-undergrad has set for me. Or rather, I set for me.

  19. Snarkysmachine, as a matter of fact, I am at a write-in right now (an in-person one at the city library.) Writing has been good, actually, with long periods of silent work time and randomly but appropriately timed conversation breaks. I’ve gotten a lot more work done than I usually do so I definitely think it’s worth my time.

    Ooh, that sounds like heaven. The events I have attended haven’t been as well structured. I definitely want to meet others doing NaNoWriMo, but also want to get a bit of writing done as well. Hopefully, the next event I attend will have more structure. It looks to be orchestrated by a long time NaNoWriMo’er so there’s promise!

    Are you rereading what you write? Or waiting until the end?

  20. Couple of interesting stories in the New York Times this week. It seemed completely inappropriate to dump them in the TDOR thread, but an open thread is link-dumping gold!

    “Sexual Harassment Is ‘No. 1 Quality of Life Offense’ on Subways, Police Say” (
    “Sex Offenses on the Subways Are Widespread, City Officials Are Told” (

  21. Elizabby, that’s not a dumb question at all. :) It’s a matter of opinion of course, but IMO the two philosophies are not compatible. Even the issue of when life begins is irrelevant – it’s all about bodily autonomy. If a 22 week old fetus is just a clump of cells that is nothing more than an extension of its mother’s body, then it stands to reason that she should be allowed to have it removed at any time. If a recently fertilized egg is a real, full person, deserving of all of the rights that personhood entails, the woman whose body it is occupying still has no obligation to carry it in her uterus for 9 months. My personal philosophy is a bit closer to the latter than the former, but I have had an abortion and I would do it again if I were ever again in the unfortunate situation of being pregnant and unable or unwilling to be pregnant and/or care for a child.

    Also, I don’t think Sarah Palin has ever claimed to be a feminist, has she? I’m not American either and I try very hard not to follow the news.

  22. ^ And uh, that was kind of unfinished. I meant to add that limiting women’s bodily autonomy is the exact opposite of feminism.

    I can however co sign a woman personally having issues with abortion provided her politics do not advocate infringing on my right to choice.
    Also, this.

  23. Snarky, As a long time reader & first time poster I’m so glad that you’re now here in an official capacity.

    I tend to agree with your personal views with feminism as it relates to the abortion issue.

    In the seven years since I was pregnant with my first child, I have seen more traditional feminist platforms/groups/outlets promote choice as it relates to out of hospital births, which is a big issue for me.

    As a woman of color and a SAHM to biracial children who are usually “mistaken” for white, I’ve had a host of situations in seemingly progressive circles where race & class have intersected with sometimes jaw dropping results…

  24. Elizabby, years ago, before finding SP (and before finding a lot of other things) I used to think I was both feminist and pro-life.

    I’ve since come to the conclusion that they probably aren’t theoretically reconcilable, but more to the point, in my experience, they’re never actually reconciled.

    Which is to say I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever seen an anti-abortion person or organization saying, “Hey, it seems we’re fighting a criticism that restricting abortion means, necessarily, restricting the rights of women and cooperating with sexist/misogynist/patriarchal structures. WOW WE HAD SURE BETTER BE FALLING OVER OURSELVES TO DISMANTLE THE PATRIARCHY AND TO UNMASK MALE PRIVILEGE IN THAT CASE!”

    I mean, take a look at Feminists For Life, who, if there’s a counterexample, are probably it. [EDITED: And even they aren’t exactly the dominant face of the pro-life movement!]

    I just don’t see them talking about men or masculinity all that much, and I don’t see a lot of men involved. I don’t see them doing a lot of other stuff, either, in terms of engaging the kinds of questions and issues that most [other?] anti-oppression circles seem all to be engaging… including “privilege” language, and widespread critiques of the white feminist old guard from whom they seem to draw.

    I mean, I can kind of squint and look out the corner of my eye and appreciate where they start — that they want to protect all liminal, vulnerable life that the market economy would be glad to erase because it isn’t productive — but… thud. That’s how they strike me. Yeah, okay, liminal life, but then… thud. But read it yourself. I haven’t visited the site in a while, so maybe they’ve caught up. Certainly if I had to be stuck in a room with an anti-abortion activist I’d prefer it be one of them as opposed, say, to Randal Terry. [shudder]

  25. Oh, y’all, the previous discussion on women doing better in college then men(as well as several other discussions from the past) came in very handy this week when our Professional Responsibility Prof. asked why a) Women are relegated the Legal Writing classes more often than not, and b) Why women aren’t such a strong presence in law schools? (actually asked in reverse order) I was able to answer b) with the help of you good folks, but when a male friend of mine raised his hand to answer a) and said something about women being naturally better at arts, etc. my hand shot up in the air faster than you can say “sexist.” Thankfully, he knew he had put his foot in it. Anyway, I rebutted with the whole teachers pushing girls and boys towards the “appropriate” subjects, yadda yadda and took a LOT of flack for it from several people. *sigh* When a random dudebro from the back row actually cut me off to ask (sarcastically) if the elementary schools I was talking about are the ones with 90% female teachers, the Prof won my eternal devotion by putting him in his place. Twice.

    Anyway, I’ve only ever known about NaNoWriMo for a few years and it was after I started pursuing my JD so both times I’ve been too busy. Sounds cool though. I’m hoping to do it some day.

    Today I picked up a pre-made lasagna at the grocery store and it is exactly like the pre-made lasagnas I’d buy in Ireland during my summer study abroad program. Gross and nostalgic. =)

  26. Wow, I just mixed metaphors up ^^^there — the “looking out the corner of my eye” metaphor followed immediately by the “thudding” metaphor — but I’m trying to learn not to apologize compulsively so I’m resisting the urge. YOU’RE WELCOME! (Also I don’t want the other bloggers to come kick my ass.)

  27. I’m not usually for whining but this hasn’t been the greatest of weeks for me.

    1. My work is kinda going like this lately.

    2. I rode my bike to work yesterday. I ride out past some dairy and sheep farms on my way. It was one of those foggy/misty mornings that we do so well in the Pacific Northwest, so the feel of the mist on my face combined with some seriously pungent sheep gave the effect of riding through aerosolized sheep shit. I’m still grossed out.

    3. My 2-old has busted out with a fever this morning. My guess is H1N1. It’s been going around and we haven’t been able to get the vac locally. We’re set to drive up to visit the grandparents for Thanksgiving, so this could throw a serious monkey wrench.

    Obviously not in order of importance. Explicitly focusing on what I’m thankful for this week will be a good exercise. Right this moment? SP open thread.

  28. Oh, geez, krismcn, I’m sorry. (I have a two-year-old, so that’s the one that pushes my empathy buttons the most. But aerosolized sheep shit and uncooperative findings suck too.)

  29. With much encouragement from Snarky, I’m attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I’ve got my head above water at about 37,000 words (I know better than to be competitive with a pro). I’m past worrying about being able to write enough but starting to wonder how I’m going to wrap this thing up.

  30. @Elizabby I absolutely reject as feminism ANY feminism that is anti-choice.

    I simply do not believe that limiting a woman’s access to abortion or ANY reproductive choices or information is feminist.

  31. @ A Saraha I *love* harira! It’s well worth the effort, and it’s not very hard to make anyway. I think it’s totally among the best soups in the world.

  32. @snarkysmachine I sometimes read what I write, but only to get reoriented or to check a detail I mentioned earlier. Or sometimes, if I think the writing was good, to cheer myself up. I’m actually splitting myself between two stories, one of which is complete and which I hate, and one of which I like and is incomplete. I don’t read the story I hate. But most of my stories end up at least a little bit redeemable after a year or two of ignoring them, so I have hopes.

  33. Livia_Augusta, shoot, if I’d have known you were a harira veteran I’d have bothered you for advice while cooking it! I think I got just about everything right except that I wasn’t deft enough to make eggy ribbons. I’ve never managed that, in any soup whose finishing touch is eggy ribbons — egg drop, avgolem-however-you-spell-it, and now harira.

    Snarkys, congrats on being so prolific a Nanowrimotor [nanowrimator? nanowriterimo?] and on your first open thread!

  34. And Sarah B, way to stand up to random dudebro!! Also, your comment made me want to introduce you to two lawyer friends of mine who I think you’d love. One studied in Ireland as well and now works in contract law in NYC, and one is teaching in an LLM program at an Ivy and both are AWESOME!

  35. What about a feminist who is interested in reducing the number of abortions through effective birth control education so that unwanted pregnancies don’t have to happen in the first place? Or maybe that just goes without saying…

  36. Yeah, so I seem to be posting more comments on this thread than I’ve posted on the blog in the past four months combined. (Do y’all remember I moved waaaay across the country and started a faculty job in July? So basically I went from being mostly at home, in my sweats, with my kids, writing my dissertation; to being mostly at work, in grown-up clothes, teaching, sitting in meetings, and… writing my dissertation. Unfortunately the great vanishing of my free time coincided almost exactly with my getting my blogging sea legs, so I’m sort of the Blogger That Wasn’t.)

    ANYWAY, I have a question. Does anyone have any advice for dealing with schools/teachers that want to do “paper bag Indian” type stuff for Thanksgiving? Our oldest is in kindergarten so this is the first year we’ve been up against that. We’ve found some educational materials at, but I’m also grasping for strategies or lessons learned.

  37. A Sarah, not to sound too eager, but I am always looking for interesting people to network with and I just happen to be shopping for a summer internship at the moment, if you know what I mean. =)

    I hope that didn’t sound too sleazy.

  38. In other random news, I mentioned the Texas marriage legislation fiasco in a conversation with my ultraconservative dad. He likes to ram his political views down my throat, which I am practicing dealing with without causing a big argument. Anyway, it was really cool because we ended up on the topic of gay marriage, and he agreed that popular vote on minority rights was not really how it’s supposed to work, that’s not how it should be done (acknowledging that if we’d held a vote on women’s rights or rights of people of color, that wouldn’t have passed either.) It was a surprisingly awesome moment.

  39. Sarah B, ha, no, I was kind of trying to gauge whether you’d like an introduction without sounding too creepy!

  40. A Sarah: Should I email you? It just so happens that I am looking to get into transactional law (aka Contracts) so if your NY friend had any advice, that would be awesome!

  41. IUD update: I got my IUD put in on Monday. It wasn’t bad at all, just a little cramping when it was inserted and no pain afterwards. I bled a little bit more than a normal period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. And I only had to pay a $15 copay!
    I also scored a good deal on a tent and pair of trail running shoes at the Mountain Hardwear warehouse sale this morning. Life is good!

  42. Huh, annimal, interesting… I’m trying to decide btw. IUD and Essure, so it’s nice to hear you’re happy with the IUD.

  43. I’m failing NaNoWriMo so hard. I’m at like 15k. I was doing well, but then got a new job (yay!), gave my notice, and my supervisor decided to work me as hard as she could legally get away with from that day to my last day (which will be nov 29th). Sort of a “use it til it breaks” rule, but for employees.
    NaNo kind of took a back seat, ever since.

  44. My partner and I just played our own version of Stump the Cook using the following ingredients:

    Boneless Chicken
    Brown Gravy Packet

    I was the cook and had a very yummy dinner. It’s cold and I’m unmotivated to tame the kinky coils and put on clean clothes. I have a Fight Club fridge so I am super proud there were actually things that would work together so deliciously.

  45. Oh, it’s nice to hear that people are still doing their NaNoWriMo stuff. I gave up early on because I am ultra-wimpy. But might try again next year, because I’m tenacious (and possibly bone-headed) like that.

  46. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who has no interest in nanowrimo.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m not crazy, I just started training for the Avon Walk, though I can’t register for a few more weeks because that can wait and new running shoes can’t.

    @Elizabby In my experience in the US, pro-life activists work very hard to try to take away legal access to abortion. And when that doesn’t work, they protest outside women’s health clinics which perform or provide referrals for abortions, trying to shame everyone who enters the clinic doors. My favorites were the women passing out pamphlets explaining how using birth control is the same as killing babies. This was annoying when I was getting going in for an exam and birth control prescription, I can’t quite imagine how someone who is at the clinic for an abortion might feel.

    It is possible that living where there is legal access to government-subsidized abortion and no immediate danger of that changing, your concept of pro-life differs a bit from mine.

  47. @Elizabby – I don’t know, maybe this discussion is far enough up in the comments that it’s sort of over, but I’m going to have to tentatively agree with Snarkysmachine and A Sarah in that feminists can’t really be “pro-life.”
    Obviously there are issues with the terminology to begin with since calling anti-choice people “pro-life” suggests “pro-choice” people are also “anti-life.” Even really anti-abortion feminists are still pro-choice, even if they think one choice is better than another. I’m not entirely sure there are feminists who think abortions are “Great! Abortions all around! I hope I get pregnant just so I CAN have an abortion!”
    I personally don’t like the idea of abortions at all. I feel like it is a little person even when it’s just a fetus, but hey, guess what? That’s what I believe. And just because I believe it doesn’t mean I get to say, “This is now illegal because I think it’s icky. None of you can do it. Well if you MUST do it, then do secretly with unlicensed practitioners in a dangerous environment and with no anesthesia.”

    That’s where the choice part comes in. I wouldn’t personally choose to have an abortion performed on MY body. You do what you will with yours, and I may or may not like that, but I’m not going to persue legal action to force you to do what I’d do.

    I mean, I don’t -like- when Anne Coulter, for example, comes out with new books, but I’m not going to persue legal action to force her to shut up, either. Free speech, yadda yadda. *grumble*

  48. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who has no interest in nanowrimo.

    I am a writer and rabidly so. But one thing I have lacked is the ability to write on demand. This is fundamental skill for anyone who dreams of being a working writer. NaNoWriMo has definitely developed my skill set in that regard in a way that daily blogging/livejournaling did not.

    I encourage NaNoWriMo for everyone – even non writers – because the skills one can develop (time management, working against a deadline, silencing the inner critic, doing shit regardless of your feelings about the task, etc) are useful in many areas of life.

    When I first started doing it I was pretty intimidated by the process, partly because up until that point I saw myself as strictly a short fiction writer. Now, I’m primarily a novel writer and an essayist, two interests I most likely would not have developed without NaNoWriMo.

    That said, it’s not for everyone.

    @Jessikanesis – I don’t feel we’re too far off in terms of ideology. Though I do not discuss my personal feelings regarding abortion publicly for a number of reasons, the least of which being my personal reasons do not inform my desire for access to safe, legal and affordable abortions for those who seek them.

    Also, pro-choice is not analogous to anti-life, as the operative word is “choice” and that is the concept being protected. It is often framed this way by many and I take exception to it.

  49. I am obsessively watching True Blood. Sookie just insisted that a 100+ year old vampire she’s in bed with refer to her as a woman, not a girl.

  50. Snarky, As a long time reader & first time poster I’m so glad that you’re now here in an official capacity.

    I tend to agree with your personal views with feminism as it relates to the abortion issue.

    In the seven years since I was pregnant with my first child, I have seen more traditional feminist platforms/groups/outlets promote choice as it relates to out of hospital births, which is a big issue for me.

    As a woman of color and a SAHM to biracial children who are usually “mistaken” for white, I’ve had a host of situations in seemingly progressive circles where race & class have intersected with sometimes jaw dropping results…

    Thanks, Kia!

    I do feel as though SAHMs, regardless of their political affliations (if they are assumed to have any at all, as they tend to be painted with an apolitical brush) are lumped largely into a monolithic group used by feminists as a talking point. I do not see SAHDs used in this same way. I see them privileged for being progressive, courageous for often doing very little besides staying at home with their children – a choice many moms make without the same fanfare.

    Michael Chabon’s new book seems to speak to some of this and in his interview with Terry Gross he touched on the way in which SAHDs are privileged, though not in that fancy academic language.

    As for “progressive” circles as it relates to race/class conflation…

    I have written a lot about the way in which dominative narratives about POCs are reinforced in so called “progressive” spaces. Resulting in putting POCs with class privilege in a position where their “authenticity” is in question, while at the same time romanticizing poverty and those afflicted with it.

    In addition it serves to enable working class White folks to minimize the ways in which their white privilege intersects with class status leading to a lot of frustrated and silenced folks on all sides and dishing up a whole heaping serving of sweet boneless fail.

  51. I’ve been learning to play First Person Shooters and chewing through free games like there’s no tomorrow. I am developing what I feel to be an unnatural love for the AK-47 in this one game, broke up with EA Games over Battlefield Heroes, and discovered that in most FPS games you can’t be female. One of them only has one female model, you have to buy it from the real money shop, and she’s described as “beautiful but deadly”. Screw beautiful, I’d rather just be deadly. My husband is going gaga over this new found addiction, but has failed to grasp that I really only want to play games where I shoot other players, and has suggested every objective driven shooter to me, including Mass Effect and Fallout 3.

    I’m getting constantly fragged by people who have been playing shooters since dinosaurs ruled the Earth, I’m running into every cheater in existence, and I’ve been called every word in the dictionary used to demean women, gays, disabled people, and racial minorities. On the other hand, it’s just so gratifying to see the word HEADSHOT fill up the middle of my screen.

    On the subject of being “pro-life” and feminist, I’ll ask as BitchPh.D. does, “Do you trust women?” If you trust women enough to let them run their own lives how they see fit, that includes letting women make the medical decisions that are right for them. If you don’t trust women to run their own lives, you’re not a feminist. You can feel that abortion isn’t the right choice for you personally but that’s a pro-choice position, that’s your choice. Once you start thinking about the choices other women make, if you’re a feminist you realize that those choices are none of your damn beeswax.

    You may want to help create a world where there are fewer unwanted pregnancies, because that makes all other women’s lives easier. You may want to create more economic stability so that women don’t have to abort because of solely economic factors. You may want to create better sex ed courses to reduce the numbers of teenage pregnancies. These are all feminist positions that have a side effect of reducing the need for abortions, but they don’t interfere with women making their own medical decisions.

  52. GH, I don’t play FPS’s (I like strategy: Those who call the shorts are never in the line of fire) but there is nothing irrational about appreciating the AK47, the most practical weapon since the bronze spear.

  53. I do feel as though SAHMs, regardless of their political affliations (if they are assumed to have any at all, as they tend to be painted with an apolitical brush) are lumped largely into a monolithic group used by feminists as a talking point. I do not see SAHDs used in this same way. I see them privileged for being progressive, courageous for often doing very little besides staying at home with their children – a choice many moms make without the same fanfare.

    Oh heavens, this.

  54. So weird that this pro-choice feminist question came up, I was just wondering about it today, I have to say I agree with all the answers.

    I have a question. I tutor a 3 year old and when I ask him about pre-school I ask him if his friends are boys or girls, and he never seems to know. I’m also trying to get him to use the proper pro-noun for gender when talking, currently he only uses the male pro-noun. I think all of this is because he has 2 brothers and a father living with him, but only his mom, me (once a week) and recently his grandmother (she’s staying to help take care of the youngest baby and will be leaving soon) as an example of females on a regular basis. Is there a way to make these differences understood in a subtle way (I obviously am not going to do the whole anatomy discussion, more of a discussion of how men and women present their gender) or should I not bother?

    I kind of feel icky about him seeing the world solely as male, even in just language. He uses the word boy and man, but doesn’t seem to understand girl and woman. I also feel like putting a big distinction on it is harmful. I don’t know, maybe it’s normal for young kids to only see their own gender, but I feel like young girls don’t only see the world in solely feminine terms, they learn about males early.


  55. Hidden Tohru – hey, BGSU grad here! Not the music program though. My only advice on any grad school application is demonstrate to the school that you will finish. They’re not only looking at your credentials and skills, they’re looking at you as an investment. Will this person finish this program? Do they seem prepared and responsible and sure of what they’re signing up for? That seems to be really important to a lot of grad programs, especially given the completion percentages at the higher levels.

    I am not doing NaNo, but having spent the last three weeks surrounded by people who are, I finally pulled my poor neglected novel out tonight and poked at it for the first time since August. *sigh*


  56. @Jessikanesis – oh, I’m still working my way through all the comments, and thinking about it all. I’ve lead a pretty unexamined life in feminism to this point – my mother was one of the 60’s feminists, so I’ve read the Women’s Room and that kind of thing, but when it comes to dissecting the metanarrative and sussing out male privilege I’m pretty much a baby in grade school…

    So although I haven’t said anything else, I’m reading and appreciating all the comments and the link, thanks Snarky.

  57. @GodlessHeathen – thanks for that link too, very interesting. However, I do note that Bitch Ph.D makes an exception for the absolute moral position that life is sacred and abortion (and the death penalty) is NEVER right. She doesn’t seem to say that this is an anti-feminist position, although she goes on to say that all the other anti-choice positions are, if I read her correctly.

    I’m getting the impression that most here would not agree with this position, and would say that being pro-choice is the ONLY acceptable position for anyone who calls themselves a feminist?

  58. @Alibelle – It’s actually entirely developmentally appropriate that a 3-year old wouldn’t be using gendered pronouns correctly. Those are distinctions that kids are just starting to make at 3-years old, in terms of language usage. He’ll probably use them pretty much interchangeably when talking about men or women for another year or more. It’s only really in the last year that my 5-year old has been using them correctly. He’ll pick up the distinctions on his own without you making it explicit (assuming, of course, you use them correctly). I wouldn’t be concerned.

  59. You may want to help create a world where there are fewer unwanted pregnancies, because that makes all other women’s lives easier. You may want to create more economic stability so that women don’t have to abort because of solely economic factors. You may want to create better sex ed courses to reduce the numbers of teenage pregnancies. These are all feminist positions that have a side effect of reducing the need for abortions, but they don’t interfere with women making their own medical decisions.

    OMG Godless Heathen, this is what I was thinking in my brain, but you put it out there so much more clearly than I could ever hope to. So…. this!

  60. Good luck with Nanowrimo!!!!!

    It’s so sad and bizarre that the many of the same people who are anti-abortion are also anti- birth control.
    We live in a strange, bizarre culture.

  61. @ A Sara

    About the thankgiving paper bag situation. Are you asking:

    A. How to discuss projects that you find distasteful or inappropriate with the teacher?
    B. For art ideas centered around thanksgiving?
    C. Educational supplements for home teaching?

    I teach elementary art and don’t want to write you novel without knowing what you need specifically. :)

  62. @Alyssa:

    I think it has to do with that “be fruitful and multiply” clause in that ironclad document known as the bible. /sarcasm

    No offense to any Christians on the board. I know not all Christians take the Bible so literally.

  63. @ Sarah B.

    Thank goodness you stood up to that sexist in your class. My blood boils when it comes to chauvinistic views on art making. Art (along with music, dance and drama) is usually amongst the first areas to get cut of a school’s educational program. This isn’t because it isn’t as important as other subject areas (because it definitely is!) but because it is seen as a “feminine” topic, whereas math, science and technology are seen as “male” topics. In my opinion this is why the arts are pushed to the side whenever possible..because, “girls aren’t as important as boys.” (*this makes me want to scream*) In my opinion this is also why the arts are seen as talents instead of skills. I personally hate the word “talented” because to me it implies that there is no hard work or skill involved in the endeavor. (*eye roll*) A lot of the time when I hear it, the word talented or talent is used to describe what is perceived as a feminine activity. You can be a talented musician, dancer, poet or artist but you are only considered smart if you are a mathematician or scientist. Just another example to me of gender bias rearing it’s ugly head. Sorry that guy is such an ass..but proud you kicked it!!!


    I am kind of a vitamin freak and my naturalist doctor sent out an article about H1N1 and had told me to take vitamin D. I believe I still have the email at work but I may have deleted it. I will try to look for it on Monday if you’d like me to?

    I have a question…
    I hope it is okay to make multiple posts in a row..or is that discouraged? Not sure..I just started posting more in the last couple of months and don’t want to get “post crazy”.

  64. I decided today that I want to learn to do a handstand. And I decided that I want to learn to do it by my birthday, in April.

    It sounds kind of crazy, I know, unless you know that for about 5 months now I’ve been focusing really hard on building my strength and muscle isolation in the context of dance (I take bellydance), so to me, building my upper body and core strength enough to do a handstand seems like a, not logical exactly, but interesting and motivating goal.

    I really wish there were classes and facilities for adults to learn these things from scratch the way there are for kids. The only adult dance classes I’ve ever seen are ballroom, bellydance and (once) ballet. And gymnastics? Forget it. Sigh.

  65. annimal :

    IUD update: I got my IUD put in on Monday. It wasn’t bad at all, just a little cramping when it was inserted and no pain afterwards. I bled a little bit more than a normal period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. And I only had to pay a $15 copay!

    COOL! Ok, that does it. Your positive story is the one that’s pushed me over the edge. I’m going to go in to see my doctor this week about getting an IUD. As I mentioned on a previous open thread, my nuvaring has given me some really unpleasant side effects and I’m looking forward to trying something else.

  66. Nice work on NaNoWriMo, snarkysmachine!

    I failed miserably at it last year, so this year I’m doing NaSoAlMo, or National Solo Album Month instead. It’s a challenge to write and record a solo album in the month of November. Right now it looks like I’ll actually be able to complete this challenge. :)

  67. I am all about the IUD. I got mine about 5.5 years ago and it is awesome. I had a lot of issues with the pill (I hate taking pills in general, and loathe taking them every day, in addition to unpleasant hormonal side effects) that the copper, hormone-free IUD allowed me to escape. I do get cramps that are both more frequent and more severe than I ever did before, but after the first 6 months, they got a lot easier to deal with, and the few hours of discomfort a month are more than made up for by not being on hormonal meds.

    I am thinking about switching to Essure, since neither my husband nor I want kids. The current vague plan is for him to get a vasectomy, and then when he checks out as safe, for me to drop the IUD and do the Essure thing. We’re belt-and-suspenders types about the important stuff :D

    Since the feminism vs. anti-abortion thread seems to be going strong, my two cents: I firmly believe that no-one has the right to use my body without my consent. That means no sexual contact I do not consent to, no harvesting my organs for transplants that I do not consent to, and no using my body as a life support system if I do not consent to it. Whether the offense is conscious and intentional on the part of the person attempting to use my body for their ends is immaterial. If I do not consent, I have the right to defend my bodily integrity from the person or forces trying to violate it.

    To say that someone else has the right to use my female body regardless of my consent *because that is what female bodies are for* strikes me as fundamentally anti-feminist. If you feel that abortion is wrong, OK, I can respect your desire to not have an abortion. As it happens, I have moral objections to fertility treatments – there are so many kids just in the U.S. who are available for adoption that people undergoing that treatment seem like they are acting out of sheerest vanity and selfishness. I find it morally abhorrent. But I would NEVER tell someone that they cannot seek medical treatment for a quality of life issue (some people could only be happy with kids of their own genetic material), or tell someone what they can or cannot do with their own body. I am pro-choice, even when the choices being made are those that I, personally find questionable or wrong, because what someone else decides to do with THEIR OWN BODY is none of my concern. I think fertility treatments in an over-populated world are wrong – and I would not pursue them FOR MYSELF. That is where my right to make decisions about fertility treatments does and should end.

    Restricting the rights of women to decide the disposition of their own bodies, as anti-abortion activists who push to have their views made law do, is fundamentally anti-feminist.

  68. Holy giant comment, Batman. That got a little long. Anyhow, it occurred to me to add that just because I personally have decided not to have children of my own does not mean that I think less of women or families who do decide to have children. I am really bothered by specific aspects of current fertility treatments, but then again, I am not in a position of desperately wanting kids of my own bloodline. Hence why I would not vote to legislate against availability of fertility treatments. The fertility thing was primarily to illustrate my point about the difference between choosing for one’s self and presuming to choose for everyone else.

    tl;dr – I am not anti-baby or anti-motherhood, and I hope that I did not come across as either.

  69. I have written a lot about the way in which dominative narratives about POCs are reinforced in so called “progressive” spaces. Resulting in putting POCs with class privilege in a position where their “authenticity” is in question, while at the same time romanticizing poverty and those afflicted with it.

    In addition it serves to enable working class White folks to minimize the ways in which their white privilege intersects with class status leading to a lot of frustrated and silenced folks on all sides and dishing up a whole heaping serving of sweet boneless fail.

    So well said, it bears repeating.

  70. @pudgy ninja

    I too think a lot about fertility treatments. I work with many women who have gone through years of treatments and have had one or two children. My concern, in addition to yours, is that we absolutely do not know what effect these “treatments” are going to have on women’s health over the long term. It is one giant experiment with women’s bodies, lives and the lives of their children and families. Do I think this would happen if we were talking about men’s health> Absolutely not. I also know that these “treatments” are not available to everyone and the implications of bias and privilege over the spectrum is huge. That being said, it is my job and my passion to work with every parent and child and I am lucky to be able to do so.

  71. Krismcn, I figured it was probably a developmental thing. He gets it right a lot now that I’ve pointed it out and said that if it’s a girl it’s she, if it’s a boy it’s he. I think he’s actually doing it to humor me though. :)

    Nalabean brings up a really good point about fertility treatments (I’m going to have to second, or third the opinion of them being “wrong,” and I really wonder how kids who were adopted feel when they see people going to such lengths to avoid having to adopt kids) and classism. In Bust a while back they were talking women wanting to get their tubes tied before they’d had kids or when they only had one. A lot of women get turned down, but some women were going in and acting “crazy,” dressing like they were homeless or poor, and lying on the forms and being approved.

    I hear so many people talking about how true “Idiocracy” was and how we should do something to stop stupid people from breeding, or poor people. Ugh. Like every smart person came from a rich family or all rich people are smart, or all smart kids come from smart parents. At least xkcd guy had a good response to it:

  72. Just a comment to +1 the IUD love! I’m almost 2 years into my Paragard (copper IUD) and love it. :) Pills and Nuvaring gave me wonky side effects and made me hyper-emotional. Feel sooo much better on non-hormonal and no remembering to have to take a pill every day or swap out a Nuvaring every week.

    My previous (female) obgyn didn’t want to give me an IUD (plus, I’m NP (nulliparous – no kids)) — so I switched to a much more fem- and body-positive practice and they wholeheartedly supported my educated decision and set me up right away. DON’T let a doctor tell you you can’t have the type of BC you want because of their own prejudices – find another doctor if at all possible!

  73. The “I don’t approve of infertility treatments” thing strikes me as a bit of a red herring. Yes, there are many children in need of adoption in this country. Most of them are older, special needs, or otherwise very very different from having a baby. Adopting from other countries, while more likely to give you a young child, is incredibly expensive (as are fertility treatments, admittedly). And there are so many racial issues around adoption that I don’t feel remotely qualified to address.

    Basically, I want to trouble a false dichotomy of fertility treatments versus adoption as “baby 1” versus “baby 2”, as if those who choose fertility treatments are simply making a selfish choice where all other factors are equal.

    Of course, folks are still welcome to their opinions, and I don’t know that I feel so comfortable with the prevalence of fertility treatments, myself. But “don’t use fertility treatments; just adopt!” isn’t really the simple answer that it seems.

  74. @Karen

    I agree that it is not as simple as “just adopt.” Creating a family with children is a much more complicated process. Creating a family period is a complicated process. So many of us have had to recreate family for ourselves as adults and then figure out how or if to integrate our families of origin. Simple is not what comes to mind when thinking about families and families with children.

  75. Naturegrrl, I think I’m looking for advice on talking to the teachers about why we don’t think they should be doing paper bag Indian type lessons… and if that can be accomplished in a way that doesn’t shut them down to listening, then so much the better. (I realize someone else asked a similar question here recently but I couldn’t remember the Shapeling or the thread, so if someone has that link I’d be glad to go and read it.)

    We’re trying to make clear that we actually do think it’s a very bad idea to do so (so, not just a case of “You can do whatever you WANT with those OTHER kids but I don’t want MY CHILD…” etc.) while NOT coming across as saying “We think you are bad teachers and this is a bad school.” My husband’s begun the conversation, but I expect this will be an ongoing thing every year in November.

    To give you an idea of the broader dynamics: the school is 60% Latin@, we are white. Also, we have class privilege compared to most of his classmates. His teacher is a young white woman who (as she’s revealed in one-on-one conversation, though not to my mind in an especially inappropriate way) is an evangelical Christian goes on international service trips to “Africa,” which she seems to talk about, with the kids at least, as though it’s all one country. So on the surface at least it’s rather a Nice White Lady scenario. (Argh, wish I could find the link to that MadTV spoof… do y’all know what I’m referring to? To be sure, I say this as a recovering Nice White Lady myself. Which is to say, his teacher reminds me a lot of me when I was just out of college.)

    There’s also a dynamic in place where my son gets special treatment already. He, unlike most of the kids in his class, came in to kindergarten reading… or, well, reading English, at least, which is the instructional language of the classroom though it is not the language spoken in many students’ homes. So he gets to go to the first grade class for reading, for which he gets a lot of attention and praise from other teachers. Plus, related to my husband’s cultural background as well as his and my political beliefs, our son’s opted not to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day in class. My point is, he’s already getting singled out and accommodated on at least two other fronts.

    So on the one hand, saying “Please don’t have children dress up as an oppressive stereotypes of Native Americans, as part of a pageant designed to conceal the genocide on which the United States were founded” is really necessary….
    yet at the same time we can only ultimately draw the line at our *own* child’s participation, and if we do, it becomes ONE MORE THING that makes this white male child with graduate-degreed parents special and accommodated and different. And are we, as parents, more likely to get what we want because we’re seen by some of the school’s decisionmakers as One Of Us, as people whose opinions are well-considered and informed rather than being a function of the “problems” of the “population” that the school “serves”? Damn right we are.

    Huh. More than you asked, I’d say. :)

    Well, thanks, everyone, I think just writing that all out helped me get a handle on the factors. Hope it wasn’t inappropriate of me to take up that much space while I did so.

  76. More on defining feminism:

    @alibelle–is the child’s first language English? I only ask because not all languages emphasize gender in personal pronouns. I knew a little boy whose parents both used ASL exclusively, and his spoken English reflected that. He didn’t distinguish between “him” and “her,” because ASL doesn’t generally (it’s more “that person”). He also had slippery past-present-future tenses, because they’re not represented with separate words in ASL (they are indicated, but it’s different). As soon as he got to school and had more exposure to conversations with standard English speakers, he caught on fine.

  77. @Elizabby: I would actually give a tentative “yes” to your question, despite being rabidly pro-choice for myself and for all women.

    I think it’s very easy to talk abstractly about why feminism and pro-life ideology are not compatible – and I don’t mean that to denigrate everyone who has here, because I agree with all their arguments. I also think that living in the U.S. makes it difficult to keep in mind the components of the pro-life movement that are not so explicitly anti-woman, since 99.5% of the pro-life activism we see here is vicious, cruel, marginalizing, slut-shaming, and violent. But there are many Catholic and Orthodox Christian women who are pro-life and do incredible work to empower women around the world, and who I am not comfortable dismissing as unfeminist on the basis of their stance on abortion alone. Their actions do more for women than mine ever will, I can almost guarantee. And they’re not on TV or marching on picket lines or giving comments in magazines.

    So I don’t know. I think everyone here is right, but I think there’s something to be said for the women I mentioned above. And I think they get forgotten about most of the time.

    I’d like to point you to a livejournaler I read on and off, who is both pro-life and a feminist. She blogs here and her posts on abortion are here. I don’t agree with her, clearly, but I do find her perspective to be interesting, valuable, and well-articulated.

    @Mcfly: DO IT. It’s the best sexual health decision I’ve ever made. I have Paraguard, and while I’ve had cramping, it’s absolutely worth it to be a sexually-functioning person again. Which I was not on NuvaRing or the Pill … you know, the treatments I was on in order to be a sexually-functioning woman.

  78. On feminism, abortion, life, choice, religion, and false dichotomies (from an entirely U.S.-centric and largely Christian point of view)

    (First of all, this is U.S.-centric because it’s the only system I know. I don’t know nearly enough about any other countries’ health care policies, women’s rights histories, or attitudes about religion to have anything approaching an informed opinion.)

    As both a feminist and a Christian, I have really struggled with the issue of abortion. I believe that all human life is sacred. I oppose the death penalty and most wars. I do subscribe to just war theory, the idea that it is possible for war to be morally appropriate under very specific circumstances, although I strongly dislike the way it is generally mis-defined and mis-applied. (It tends to get distorted into “All nations have the right to defend themselves,” sometimes with pre-emption added in. The original formulation had to do with a traveler being attacked by bandits, and essentially said that, although Christians should be nonviolent, you may, if you wish to, defend yourself if attacked by bandits, but you must defend a helpless person likewise attacked.)

    You can perhaps see how this could lead to profound moral problems with abortion. I believe that abortion is morally justified in cases of danger to the woman’s life or health, or in cases of fetal nonviability or deformity such that the child, if born, would be unlikely to survive for long, or the prospective parent(s) would be unable to properly care for the child. I also believe that abortion must be and remain legal, because the government has no right to legislate the use of women’s bodies. I am fond of the Bible, but I am also fond of the Constitution.

    As such, I dislike what I perceive to be the false dichotomy between “life” and “choice.” I am a strong supporter of both. Publicly, I identify myself as “pro-choice,” because “pro-life” has become so conflated with the belief that abortion should be illegal, and with the behavior of people who picket clinics and harass women. Maybe I’m just naive, but I rather doubt that many of the women who get abortions are doing so blithely, with no thought whatsoever of its implications. I suspect that for most women, it is a difficult decision, and one that no one has the right to make even harder for them.

    I do favor reducing the abortion rate through better access to and education about reliable methods of birth control, as well as through greater support and help for pregnant women who might choose to continue a pregnancy if they could afford to. I strongly suspect that universal access to medical care could well have the side effect of reducing the number of abortions, even without the abominable Stupak amendment. This is just one of many reasons that I don’t understand the religious right’s opposition to health care reform. It flies in the face of Matthew 25, in which Jesus clearly says that turning your back on the sick, the poor, and the oppressed is the same as turning your back on Him.

    I’ve gotten off the subject, and I apologize, but I just get so confused and angry about the behavior of my American co-religionists. There seems to be an inability to separate the Bible from the Constitution. The first informs how we should live, and the second places limits on the power of the government. They do not and should not overlap.

  79. @Mcfly! I hesitated to ask my doctor for an IUD, since I’d read that a lot of doctors wouldn’t let me get one since I hadn’t had kids. I had also heard that they hurt like hell going in and cause a lot of bleeding and cramps. I didn’t have huge side effects from the pill, just the small kind that crept up on me and could be explained by perimenopause (weight gain, sluggishness, and a lower sex drive, although it was still pretty high) When I went off it, I felt so much better. I felt more like myself.
    As I was mulling over what to do, my brother got a blood clot in his leg and had to spend 5 days in the hospital. Blood clots are one side effect of the pill, so that sealed my decision.
    As it turned out, my doctor is very open minded and thought it was a good idea, and I wouldn’t have to pay anything other than my co-pay. She did tell me it would hurt a lot going in but that would be over quickly, and that I’d get heavier bleeding and cramps during my periods, especially during the first few months.
    She told me to call on the first day of my period to set up an appointment. The cervix is a bit more relaxed then and it makes insertion easier, and it probably also minimizes the chance that someone is pregnat but doesn’t realize it. (they also did a pregnancy test)
    I may be a bit unusual with regards to lack of pain during the insertion. The doctor and nurse seemed a bit surprised by it. Since I just got it, I don’t know how it will be for future periods, but so far I love it.
    I’m facing a possible layoff next year, so I also love the fact that I am now covered with regards to birth control for the next ten years, which should take me all the way to menopause.
    For those of you who are considering getting one, I recommend the IUD Divas website

  80. @Godless Heathen — hey, you know what’s a great game? Team Fortress 2 is a great game. By which I mean, if you get it on PC, hit me up; I’m perpetually looking for more people to run around and be a doof with.

    And man, NaNoers, way to go! I always start NaNo every year, and then immediately give up, although this year was a bit of an anomaly — I added a second major this year (engineering and music, why did I think this was a good idea?) and the workload as been… well, INTENSE describes it pretty well.

  81. @Q, yes his first language is english. Actually the ASL thing was what got me started thinking specifically about the pro-nouns. I’m taking an ASL class right now, the professor is an interpreter also for a high school age girl who has an implant and her parents really push her to speak (she went to an oral deaf school as a kid where they would slap her hands hard every time she tried to sign) and when she does she doesn’t use male/female pronouns properly. Other kids don’t make fun of her for it, but they do get confused and stare at her. That’s the main reason I was pushing him to use them correctly.

  82. congrats on nanowrimo! i am thinking of doing it another month, but i cant this month. i did it last year and got 20k in. congrats on finishing!

  83. I’ve never gotten around to doing NaNo, because it takes place in just about the second worst month possible. Worst would be December. My Christmas preparation is in full steam in November, because I have to mail most presents I buy. If NaNo were in, say, March, I might consider it.

    Any Londoners or avid travellers here? I’m going early next month and I want to visit Madame Tussauds. I’d like to know when is the best time to go there to avoid rush as much as possible.

  84. @pudgy ninja – WOW! “I have moral objections to fertility treatments – there are so many kids just in the U.S. who are available for adoption that people undergoing that treatment seem like they are acting out of sheerest vanity and selfishness. I find it morally abhorrent”

    As a representative of the morally abhorrent (when after a year of trying to conceive I had not become pregnant we sought medical advice and in the end my husband needed to make changes in his medication in order for us to conceive.) I would highly recommend you keep your judgments to your self. While you state you would never tell anyone they could not seek medical treatment you quite willing tell a board full of people you do not know that you find some of their choices morally abhorrent. While claiming not to be anti-mother you certainly are harshly judgmental about how people become parents.

    And the idea that people do not adopt because they are desperate for children of their own bloodline or would only be happy with children of their own genetic material is ridiculous. As if people choosing to seek medical treatment for their infertility are all the same, have the same motivations and desires. The ableist nature of this argument is staggering. It is the moral duty of those with a medical condition to not seek treatment but adopt other people’s children. But it is fine for people without medical issue to go ahead and become pregnant and not adopt. And holy heteronormative would your contention then be that all gay and lesbian couples who wish to have children but do not adopt are of the sheerest vanity?

    During the time I was trying to conceive one of my neighbors was also making the decision to conceive. She is a lesbian woman and her partner was transitioning. My husband has a chronic medical condition. During a rather humorously honest discussion we were listing all the reasons our families were, in a adoption parlance, “not as desirable”. Which lead to us laughing and crying at the same time. Yep not subjecting ourselves to interviews, scrutiny, home visits, medical exams etc, that are needed to adopt seemed not vain and not desperate but practical and logical. We each had children who somehow managed to live happily in one bedroom apartments for several years, our children’s fathers are just fine and we are quite pleased with our choices. Or we are morally abhorrent, vain, desperate, over populationists. Either way.

  85. Amy How, this is an open thread, so she expressed her opinion, she doesn’t have to keep it to herself. She was also using it as an example of how you can dislike something and find it wrong and still not try and put up roadblocks against it to keep people from being able to choose that option. She was supporting your right to choose that road even if she was personally against it.

    It was interesting to hear your side of the story. I usually hear people saying that they want their “own” child, and I do find that disgusting, but if you aren’t a good canidate for adoption (the standards are frankly stupid) I see it as reasonable. I’m afraid I’ll never see people who get fertility treatments to have huge sets of kids all at once as anything but upsetting, though.

    The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was you saying you recommend she keep her opinions to herself. They are her opinions, this is an opinion thread and she expressed them very respectfully. I see no reason for her to keep them to herself other than you not liking what she said.

  86. Other Becky: Thank you for putting that so clearly. I feel the same way but have had a hard time putting it into words that way.

    I do consider myself to be a pro-life feminist but as pro-life has come to mean anti-choice of which I am definitely not, I have begun to identify as pro-choice. Which is difficult amongst the christian circles I spend time with because to them pro-choice means anti-life.

    And on a deeply personal note: I have been there, faced with that decision. I went from believing I’d never even consider abortion for myself to thinking seriously about getting one. At 23, with 2 young children already in my home, as a single parent and very, very poor, being faced with an unexpected pregnancy put me squarely in the middle of contemplating a choice I never thought I’d make. I chose to go with adoption instead and it has been a beautiful experience and I wouldn’t even consider doing it differently if I was suddenly granted the ability to go back in time and change anything. That experience also gave me empathy I didn’t have before. I advocate strongly for women in the same situation to go with adoption instead of abortion but ultimately, it is their choice and it is not my right or my government’s right to take that choice away from them.

  87. @Alibelle – I simply disagree that calling the tens of thousands of people who have sought infertility treatments morally abhorrent, vain and selfish is respectful. Opinions are great moral judgment I could do without.

    I questioned the language used because I found it to be ableist, heteronormative and demeaning of women’s choices. Not just because I did not like it. If someone used the words morally abhorrent to describe the choice not to have a child, to have an abortion, have weight loss surgery, have breast reduction surgery, have SRS etc. I would call that out as well. I believe opinions can be expressed without the moral judgment.

  88. Yeah, I’m kind of over calling women who seek fertility treatment “selfish,” regardless of how it’s expressed. You know who else could seek adoption instead of having biological kids? Every single person who has biological kids. And yet some how, they’re not called selfish for it despite the fact that a child born without the use of fertility treatments uses exactly the same amount of resources as a child born with fertility treatments.

    Plus, such arguments tend to ignore the many, many, many issues surrounding adoption, such as the fact that it is very hard to divorce from racist and classist practices that have been and are used to coerce women into giving up their children. So yeah, respectfully expressed or no, still can’t really respect that opinion.

  89. Yeah, actually, I raised an eyebrow to that “morally abhorrent” bit too, Pudgy Ninja, but then I also read you to be dialing it back in the subsequent follow-up comment. Respectfully, though, I don’t know that it’s possible to call an act morally wrong, but then also code your perception of the act’s moral wrongness as just one of your own personal subjective opinions.

    Because, I mean, in the first case the act is wrong in itself, but in the second it’s wrong for you given who you are and what things you want from life. At least, I can’t quite square the two in my own mind.

    It seems to me very different than, for example, saying “I have major beefs with Aspects A, B, and C of the fertility *industry* [or Aspects A, B, and C of cultural constructions of “fertility” or race and adoption or childhood or biological parenthood or what have you]… but of course I almost certainly can’t know whether any individual person seeking infertility treatment is doing so rightly or wrongly, selfishly or unselfishly, because such personal decisions are always TREMENDOUSLY complicated and it’s not my body or my life or my beeswax.”

  90. I’m afraid I’ll never see people who get fertility treatments to have huge sets of kids all at once as anything but upsetting, though.

    People do that? I was under the impression that women who choose not to have selective harvesting are the ones who have had issues with miscarriages in the past (selective harvesting possibly causing miscarriages).

    I have an aunt who’s had two kinds of fertility treatments — Cl0-Med and IVF; 1 kid per — and I don’t know her motivation. Also, I don’t care.

    I do, of course, care about the fact that women with less-than-perfect fertility may be socially pressured to spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to have these different procedures done just to produce the experience that society seems to determine to be the entire point of being female, but that’s different. Being worried about that is trying to protect a woman’s choice, not take it away.

    On a completely different note, @Snarkysmachine, my band played three movements from Holst’s Planets (Mars, Jupiter, Neptune); two pieces from Star Wars; Star Trek through the Years; Skylark; When You Wish Upon a Star, etc. It was pretty awesome.

    And yay, HT! I applied at all of those schools either for undergrad or grad (ended up withdrawing grad-in-music applications). It is kind of annoying; I think that’s why some of my classmates in undergrad went on to get DMAs: not sure what else to do until they’re 30ish. Especially the lower-voiced.

  91. Bravo Amy How.

    Even if you are a ‘traditional’ heteronormative family, adoption isn’t a simple thing you can ‘just’ do. It actually appears to be cheaper to adopt a child from overseas than in the US, unless you go foster-to-adopt. Which is emotionally expensive in the extreme — a co-worker of mine is now suffering dreadfully from the fear that a neglectful abusive birth-mother that her baby is absolutely terrified of will claim custody. They are also having issues with a social-worker accusing them of ‘cherry picking’ the system to get the blonde blue-eyed boy, which is absurd since he’s the first baby they got to foster, and the same social-worker said he was mentally retarded when they first got him, and they wanted to adopt him then, too. The other couple I know who fostered and infant with the intent to adopt him had similar nightmares. I will not suppose it’s selfish to want a kid who carries your genes, nor to want to have a baby without going through months of torment wondering if you will be allowed to keep her.

    I’m not keen to hear criticisms of how people get their children or how many children they have. I know a couple who have five, and the off remarks they get about this seem to stem from just the same place as the remarks I get about how how I’ve got none. Evidently one aims for one male and one female and stops at two or three if that doesn’t happen, and doing it any other way is ‘selfish.’ Seems awfully strict, doesn’t it?

  92. It seems to me very different than, for example, saying “I have major beefs with Aspects A, B, and C of the fertility *industry* [or Aspects A, B, and C of cultural constructions of “fertility” or race and adoption or childhood or biological parenthood or what have you]… but of course I almost certainly can’t know whether any individual person seeking infertility treatment is doing so rightly or wrongly, selfishly or unselfishly, because such personal decisions are always TREMENDOUSLY complicated and it’s not my body or my life or my beeswax.”


  93. I think a lot of the argument here is that most people (myself included) know about fertility treatments mostly as coming from the popular media. People like Octomom, who are really abusing the system (and who even knows what the whole story could be there, but personally I think that woman needs some help, and I mean that with kindness in my heart) and giving a horrible impression to the world at large. I’m not saying this excuses anyone for stating opinions which are classist or ableist, I’m just saying this may be part of the problem. Like it or not very few of us are capable of analyzing everything all the time (as much as we might try), so some things we do tend to take at face value.

    Personally, I think there’s a huge overpopulation problem in the world, which has little or nothing to do with how many infertile people try fertility treatments. Any of the current ideas on how to deal with it (including the incredibly horrible “fix the poor” idea, which I’ve heard from members of my own family before) are violations of basic human rights, so people haven’t really made any effort. Personally, I think better medical care and better education would be a great first step. I also think more family planning classes would be good, as I think many people have kids because it’s “what you do” rather than because they actually make a conscious choice to do so (or, more sadly, go along with their spouse, because it’s really shocking how many people discuss if they actually want kids before getting married). Getting people to actually discuss their motivations behind having children, and making a conscious decision, would be capital. Of course, this is assuming, as I said, that we’ve all gotten the medical care and education we need to make such a choice.

  94. Personally, I think better medical care and better education would be a great first step. I also think more family planning classes would be good, as I think many people have kids because it’s “what you do” rather than because they actually make a conscious choice to do so (or, more sadly, go along with their spouse, because it’s really shocking how many people discuss if they actually want kids before getting married). Getting people to actually discuss their motivations behind having children, and making a conscious decision, would be capital. Of course, this is assuming, as I said, that we’ve all gotten the medical care and education we need to make such a choice.

    While I agree with the spirit of your idea, I feel as long as we’re creating these programs within a society which actively places more value on some lives there is too much danger to tread toward eugenics.

    People have children because that’s what happens sometimes when egg meets sperm. That’s generally how it goes. The idea that folks need to process and study before procreating in a society which would unfairly place those burdens on the most disenfranchised is more than a little problematic.

    We live in a society where Juno is a tragicomedy and Black girls doing the same thing are considered morally bankrupt and “worthless”. Adding more hoops for folks to jump through in order to make reproductive choices seems to me to run counter of what feminism, humanism and womanism states as movement goals.

  95. @Savagewoman – I live about 15 miles from London. In general there are not too many tourist in the winter compared with the summer, and I would guess that if you go at the beginning or end of the day you are likely to find Madame Tussards quieter. But I would suggest the simplest thing would be to phone them when you get here and ask them when the quieter times of day tend to be!

    As for the child/infertility thing: I have two biological children whom I love dearly, but before I’d had them, I did not experience the urge to motherhood nearly as intensely as some people seem to. If I had not been fortunate enough to conceive easily, I don’t think my personal drive for parenting would have been sufficient to push me into the demanding and lengthy process needed to become a mother either through infertility treatment or through adoption. In later life, I had several miscarriages and as a result spent a lot of time lurking on infertility blogs, and I have to say that, having read the varied and heart-rending stories of some of these people, many of whom end up running the whole gamut of parenting options from natural conception to infertility treatment AND adoption, I think it’s far too simplistic to dismiss any of these choices as morally aborrhant, because in every case there is an individual story to be told. Certainly my own views on the subject are far more complicated now than they were when I was just considering it from a theoretical viewpoint.

  96. @ Snarky’s – Oh no, I don’t ever in any way intend to make this some kind of requirement or law! I’m not coming at this from a “people need to get licenses to be parents” way, but more from a “let’s educate people that it’s totally okay to not be a parent, if they want, and give them the medical care (especially for women) so that it can always be a choice”. I admit there’s a lot of privilege that I’m speaking from, but my spirit is in knowing that there are people (mostly girls) my age of all races and cultures who’ve never even been told that it’s okay NOT to have children. It’s just assumed that’s what we’re supposed to do. Hell, I didn’t even consider not having children until I got to college. I always thought as a little girl that I would grow up, get married and have babies, because that’s what I was educated from birth that girls did, regardless of how educated they were (my mother got her master’s from night school while dealing with a mostly absent husband and three elementary school aged children).

  97. Oh no, I don’t ever in any way intend to make this some kind of requirement or law! I’m not coming at this from a “people need to get licenses to be parents” way, but more from a “let’s educate people that it’s totally okay to not be a parent, if they want, and give them the medical care (especially for women) so that it can always be a choice

    I think in some communities, it’s not a matter of not realizing being childfree by choice is option, so much as even if many folks do not wish to be parents, children can be seen a way of asserting agency.

    I do think there should be more education at the middle/high school level about making different choices as it relates to reproduction. But this would require unpacking heterosexual and cisgendered privilege, which most schools aren’t willing to do.

    It would create a climate of dogs and cats – living together and mass hysteria! We can’t have that! :)

  98. Bleh, I pressed send too soon. The rest of my comment is that I get what you’re saying, though, and agree that it would be problematic to implement. I don’t really think we’re at the point, as a society, where it could even be tried. Until we stop our war against the poor and get universal medicine (and truly equal education), not to mention stop valuing some people over others, I don’t think it would be carried out very well at all.

  99. I just want to join the chorus saying getting off NuvaRing has been great, & Paraguard is kickass. I settled on the diaphragm and so far it’s much better. My sex drive had pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel, and I kept making excuses — I’m in school, I’m stressed out, the weather’s so cold — and one month off of hormonal methods I feel like myself again. There is a silicone-based diaphragm for the latex-sensitive.

  100. I’ve got to just say, I agree with a lot of the points being made here, but I don’t really know if it’s possible to have an opinion without having a moral judgement. At least not in this case, I mean, I know you can really hate pepsi and not judge it morally. That’s simply because it’s based on taste, but with things like abortion and fertility treatments, it’s all based in PERSONAL (I emphasize this because I mean it when I say personal, it’s obviously not what’s the end all be all of what’s right or wrong) values and morals. I’m pro-choice because I believe it is morally wrong to deny women a choice of what to do with their own bodies. You have an opinion about her statement because you think it’s morally wrong to be ablist.

    Going without expressing those opinions and moral judgements so harshly would have been better in her original statement, but they are part of what forms her opinion.

  101. Yes, well, if you’re going to have opinions that include moral judgments of others (“X = selfish”), then you can expect to be called on them, even if you only express them as your “opinion.” It’s just one of those things.

  102. I’ve got to just say, I agree with a lot of the points being made here, but I don’t really know if it’s possible to have an opinion without having a moral judgement.

    What I read pudgyninja to be saying was *both* “I think it’s wrong to have children by using fertility treatments, but I think it would be wronger to legislate against it because it would violate fundamental rights,” *and* “Hey, if I were in that situation I expect I’d probably adopt because I’m really concerned about population growth, but of course I’m not in the situation and I realize it’s really complicated, so I wouldn’t say that it’s *wrong* because how could I possibly know?”

    I might have misunderstood. My point is just that you can’t really affirm both, even though both are opinions. And as LilahMorgan points out, if it’s the first you’re saying, then, yeah, you can expect some serious disagreement.

    Gah, sorry, I don’t know why I’m going all Undergraduate Philosophy Class in the way I’m writing this evening, and I fear that it might sound like the kind of oh-isn’t-that-an-interesting-argument tone that drives me crazy when other people use it to consider abstractly things that affect me personally. I’m getting tugged on and bothered by kids right at the moment, and writing this way is the only way I can keep track of my thoughts!

  103. If I ever want kids (I hate kids) I will adopt rather than be fruitful or multiply, because I have multiple genetic problems I don’t want to pass on. I made this decision for myself, and if freedom means anything it means that my decision is binding for me and only for me.

    I do think that choosing to adopt, for anyone of any class or health status, is a morally awesome thing because of population pressure and the current oversupply of children languishing in warehouses. I think the adoption process should be streamlined and perhaps subsidized (The preceding is not an informed opinion).

  104. I just want to add my 2 cents, that when I went to a conference for Turner Syndrome there was an infertility specialist there. He said he wouldn’t suggest In Vitro for us because while at the conference he learned about specific heart issues most Turner Syndrome women have that made in vitro risky for us. I wanted to kiss the dude, I mean…he didn’t just go there to speak, he actually took the time to learn about us. And even though he makes his living doing in vitro he said if he did heart testing on someone and found certian risks he would tell them he couldn’t do it, it’s not safe. I left this conference loving doctors, despite meeting so many horrible ones, because of guys like him that were about our health more than making a buck.

    It’s an easy decision for me to say no to in-vitro. Adoption isn’t without its own issues but it’s the only option for me. I do have to say, though, that this is an seriously seriously personal decision and I would not want to take the right of infertility treatments away from someone else. Not everyone going through in-vitro has the health risks I have. Some people can even use their own eggs, and don’t have to have donor eggs…like people whose fallopian tubes are hurt due to car accidents or an ectopic pregnancy …their eggs are just fine, their hearts and the rest of their health may be just fine – they just can’t conceive. Actually, in the case of someone who’s had an ectopic pregnancy, it may actually be a health BENEFIT doing in vitro over natural, you can control where the embryo attaches to and prevent another ectopic pregnancy. It is a much much less clear cut decision for them, and I can only speak, like A Sarah said, from my experience and not from theirs.

  105. oh and HiddenTohru….dang!!!!! I’m a singer, too, btw, and I’ve studied classical voice so I have an appreciation that comes from beign a student. You are amazing.

  106. I do think that choosing to adopt, for anyone of any class or health status, is a morally awesome thing because of population pressure and the current oversupply of children languishing in warehouses.

    This made me think of several anecdotes, but as a disclaimer, I do not think in any way that this is what @aleks is saying. At all.

    I have several friends who are adoptive parents, and they’ve all mentioned to me how folks who feel this way — that they’re doing a great, loving, morally awesome thing — have said so in front of their children in ways that make it seem like they had done the kids a big favor, and it must be a huge burden on the parents. Like, “Wow, it’s really so good of you to adopt these kids. What a trooper you are. What a selfless thing you’re doing by taking them in. ” Which, of course, impresses the idea on young children that they are somehow less than, less desired that biological children, and possibly more trouble/more difficult to raise. The kids reactions have been heartbreaking — asking their mom and dad if they’re going to send them back if they’re bad, that sort of thing.

    One mother pointed out to me, “We didn’t do it as some act of charity, to help the children. The children helped us to create a family, the family we wanted.” Her take was that, while the adoption was likely good for the children, she and her husband adopted out of the desire to create a family for themselves — something she framed as a selfish desire. Certainly, we were both horrified by the things folks said in the hearing of her kids (both about their adoptive status and about their race, since she is white and both her adopted children are Hispanic, from South America).

  107. Thank you Karen. If I ever do adopt kids I will be very careful to say “I wanted to be your dad” not “You needed someone to be your dad.”

  108. Has anyone else ever tried nutella and/or peanut butter mixed in with greek yogurt? Cheesecakey and yummy and easy to whip up when there’s not much in the house.

  109. I’ll have to agree with you on the “morally abhorrent” and “vain” as being words that were very strong and offensive. I don’t agree with “selfish” being ridiculous though. Having kids is selfish, the world is over populated, and you aren’t having kids to make the world a better place, you’re doing it because you want kids. That is something you want (and should obviously have if you want it, I don’t feel it’s actually detrimental, but having kids doesn’t actually make the world a better place) you want a family, you’re doing it for yourself. It is selfish, but to me there’s this terrible connotation that goes along with the word selfish. I don’t think it’s horrible, everyone is selfish in pretty much every single thing they do. I’m not sure I’d be able to agree that more than one or two things any person does aren’t selfish. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that unless it’s actually detrimental to other people.

    Sorry, was that like a major digression? I’ve been doing homework all day and things are a little fuzzy.

    Oh, on the happy fluffy side of things has anyone else seen the movie “D.E.B.s”? It’s got some stuff that is not so good, but it’s recently become my new favorite movie. After hearing Kevin Smith talk about how his brother is gay and he realised while talking to him that there are no movies that represent gay people, I’ve been looking for some. This one is your basic dumb rom-com but with lesbians, and not in the usual “let’s get the boys off while these girls make out,” kind of way. It was shockingly normal, but homo-normal? ;) It’s really goofy too, which is a plus for me.

  110. I have to say I’m surprised that the pro-choice movement is still willing to use the term “pro-life”. The anti-legal abortion side is not more supportive of life in any way whatsoever, and don’t deserve the linguistic power to constantly imply that pro-choice is anti-life.

    I’m another that is anti-abortion on a personal level, but vehemently supportive of available abortions. I consider anti-birthcontrol, and anti-childcare, and anti-single mother support, to be (some of) the worst sort of violence against women, because it is so insidious and soulkilling to deny humans free choice of how to live and function. It’s using our instinct to procreate and to nurture against us by denying the ability to choose it freely. If you don’t have the choice to say no, you can’t fully say yes, on some deep level.

    hmmm. If I was more of a crusader, I might consider a campaign to change “pro-life” to “pro-illegal abortion” or at least “anti-reproductive choice”.

  111. Lily:

    Most folks working in the pro-choice movement won’t say pro-life, for just the reasons you mentioned, and also for PR reasons (if we can cast us as good, and them as bad, maybe we’ll get more donations!). Most say “anti-choice”.

    Similarly, most folks in the “pro-life” movement won’t say pro-choice. They say “pro-abortion”. Because everyone likes life, and so many fewer people like abortion. And maybe they’ll get more donations!

    Really, after working in a pro-choice non-profit, the whole language thing feels like it’s about donations and money to me, even though in other contexts, I generally agree that languages choices are meaningful and important, and am very careful about my language. The PR bit of it all kind of irks me, and so I’ve taken to calling each movement what they ask to be called (much like I do with people), although I absolutely agree that the pro-life movement is anything but.

  112. I should also note that if I do ever want kids it’ll be to have someone home to let the dog out if I have to work late, so perhaps my comments aren’t applicable to society at large.

  113. It can be easy to be confused about pro-life and feminism, because the anti-choice movement has done a very good job to confusing what pro-life actually means. It means “I want to legislate my belief so that you may not make choices I would not personally make.”

    Women who personally find abortion to be something they would never do, and even feel is morally or spiritually wrong, can still be feminists. But only if they realize that they can’t legislate their personal belief onto other womens’ choices. And of course, the word for someone who doesn’t want to legislate their belief onto other womens’ choices is “pro-choice”.

    Wanting to legislate away womens’ choices — so that we remain second-class citizens at the mercy of our biology and of male sexual dominance — is absolutely unfeminist.

  114. @pudgy ninja:

    Y’know, for the past little while, while I’ve been reading horrible things on this site and other similar sites about abortion doctors being shot and clinics being terrorized, I’ve been occasionally catching a glimpse of the folder from the infertility clinic, with the picture of the happy couple and darling baby on it, and thinking that at least here’s one set of doctors that nobody’s going to have any problem with. Mmmm, happy baby, take me to my happy place. Now here you’re saying what they’re doing (and what we’re doing) is immoral. That’s . . . startling. Like tripping over a brick on the sidewalk.

    I’m not going to claim to be all butt-hurt about it or be taking it personally, but that’s a pretty strong opinion to hold about a pretty broad range of treatments. My husband and I, because we are both large people, are not going to be able to conceive in the normal fashion. Tab A doesn’t reach slot B, and that’s as explicit as I’m going to get. We’re going to need a little help from a nice doctor with what’s basically a glorified turkey baster.

    We’re currently going through months of tests and consultations, because of my size and age, so that the doctor is comfortable not just that they can help me conceive but also that it will be reasonably safe for me to do so. I think they’re being a bit over fussy about that point, but hey, a few extra hoops is not a big deal.

    It never even crossed my mind that anyone would think there was something wrong with what we’re doing. I’d kinda like to see what it is you think is wrong with it. We want to have a child. We want a chance to conceive. This is something my cousins, my brother, my friends were mostly able to do without problems. I’m going to need some help. Oh well.

    If I can do it at all, I will be amazed and joyful. A lot of things that women are supposed to be able to do or to want have been marked “not for you” for me for a long time because of my size. I haven’t even got people asking “When are you going to have kids?” because they just, I don’t know, assume I can’t or I don’t want them. Except my mother, but she’s stopped hinting any more. If my body can do this quintessentially female thing, then it will be a lifted middle finger to this idea that I’m somehow not a real woman or less than a real woman because I’m fat.

    If I can’t do it, we’ll re-evaluate. I don’t know if adoption is even an option for us any more because of my husband’s age. We’ll forge on and carry on somehow, whatever happens. But we’re trying this way first.

    You’re free to continue to think that’s somehow immoral or selfish. As I said above, as an intellectual exercise, I’d even kinda like to hear why you might think so. But, as with anyone else who wants to call me selfish for having kids, for not having kids, for having kids this way and not that way, as far as your opinion affecting what I’m going to do, you can take a flying leap at a rolling donut.

  115. @ A Sarah and alibelle and all the other commenters – yes I was absolutely using fertility treatment as an example of something I find personally objectionable that I still do not think I have the right to legislate against. Because I am pro-choice, I do not lobby to have fertility treatment restricted, nor do I hang around clinics telling women who know their own circumstances better than I do, that they should stop and physically obstructing them from seeking treatment. I did express myself online, yes, and if asked directly in personal conversation, I will admit my feelings on the subject. I have a right to hold an opinion – but not to force anyone else to comply with that opinion.

    That said, I’m coming to realize that in my enthusiasm to use an analogy about reproductive choice form the other side of the equation, I came across as a callous asshole. And I am sincerely sorry for being an ass in the way I expressed myself. The language I used was unnecessarily combative, and had I realized that there were people here for whom this was something other than a theoretical issue, I would have found a less aggressive way to express myself. I suspect my current discomfort is the result of some kind of my own privilege biting me in the butt, and I am sorry for that.

    I’m not sure if this coming across any clearer than my first attempt, but essentially – my opinion about choices other people make about their own bodies should not be the determining factor in whether or not they have the right to access those treatments. That was what I was trying to get at.

  116. Also, I seem to have been way over-broad with the term “fertility treatments” – there was a specific type I had in mind (widely publicized in recent and contemporary media, multiple births, heavily tied in to class privilege) and I forgot about the rest of the range when I posted.

    Which still doesn’t excuse the sweeping ass-ness. Or, as several of the posters up-thread pointed out that it had some incredibly ableist assumptions which I had simply never examined – it had honestly never occurred to me to think of infertility as a disability issue. I’ve mostly thought about family planning as an issue related to class, and to a lesser degree, environmental impact.

  117. My neighbor just gave me one of those folding banquet tables. Six feet, baby! I have been lusting and debating getting one because it would make a good dining table, large workspace, crafting table and all of the above all at the same time.

    Holy run on sentence. I love this effing table.

  118. Congrats, snarkysmachine!! I am wildly impressed by anyone who can finish the 50,000 words. I have a tough time with ten-minute plays.

    And congrats on your new gig here. I am loving your posts.

    In the open thread vein, I am still boiling over the world of body-shaming/sexism/ableism/classism that is the new Reebok ads. They are so made of fail that I just shake my head when I see them and lose the ability to form coherent thoughts.

  119. Since this is an open thread . . . I just want to take the opportunity to thank you, Snarkysmachine, for sharing your voice here. I just discovered your blog and have added it to my daily reading list. You’re a treasure.

  120. In the last open thread someone (I can’t find the name unfortunately) recommended Girl Genius* to me, and I wanted to say thank you! I read the whole thing from the very beginning until the latest installment in a couple days, it is fantastic! I have added the Omnibus Vol. 1 to my Christmas list (I’d like the big versions but I don’t have a lot of space), and now I’m trying to resist updates so I can read more than one page at a time!
    * I hope this link works, I’m never sure which tag is correct.

  121. Not sure I want to jump in on the fertility treatments bandwagon. BUT as a happily childfree household-as someone who WOULD need medical measures to conceive, I understand folks wanting this option. When I was younger, I had seriously considered single-parent adoption, but found it was just not economically possible to do that well. I am all for options for everyone, but admit I find it puzzling the amount of angst some women go through over this issue, since I have fertility issues myself and just don’t find it such a HUGE issue as other things. Oh well, yet another thing the media seems to be able to use to get us all excited AND divided.

    I am also proud godparent to two wonderful kids my friend adopted from Eastern Europe. I can vouch that foreign adoption is not easy, cheap, or expedient. These kids will always have attachment issues, and some things come up I would never have thought of. Who knew adoptive parents of foreign born kids need to get a baseline med evaluation so later malnutrition and abuse don’t get construed as happening under their watch. So no-not easy. But totally worth it!

    Oh and re the IUD-Fort Knox security is what we are all about around here. I have had one for about 7 years, and it has been the GREATEST. I have had to take the pill to prevent near constant bleeding for over 20 yrs. I have some hormonal issues that prevented me from using the straight copper, but the Mirena with very low dose hormones has done the trick. A bit of serious cramping at insertion and for a day or two. Lovely side benefit-no period at all. Just lite spotting about 10 days a year. My fabulous OB_GYN says she wore one too, and it allowed her to tranisition to menopause with almost no effect whatsoever. Score another point for the IUD. Best $75 co-pay ever!

    @ hidden torhu- more kudos from another (former) vocalist. You have not only the chops but the attitude. I might have stayed with my formal studies if I had known more folks like you. The thought of working every day with typical voice and especially opera people made me choose a different career path. I think you will fare well with your voice AND maturity!

    Thanks all for a visit to the land of the smart-n-sane for today…..

  122. Kristinc,
    One of the best places I know to get help with learning to do a handstand is in a good Anusara style yoga class. I’ve let my yoga practice go in the last year as I finished my dissertation but before that I could do a great handstand and it felt AMAZING!!!

    If you want to work towards it without actually being up in a handstand, start by putting your hands on the ground and walking your feet up a wall until you are at a 90 degree angle (sometimes called L pose). This is a great position to build strength without having to worry about the balance. If it feels like you’re going to fall forward at first (happens with tight shoulders), get a friend to push their hand against the middle of your upper back. Just feeling that a few times usually gets people to feel where the balance is.

  123. Yikes, I obviously didn’t read the whole thread before posting.

    My opinion: “Pro-life” as a movement in the US (and Canada I believe) is not compatible with feminism. A person being pro-life can be, as long as zie is pro-life with regards to their own body/life, and not in favour of legislating restrictions on contraception or abortion.

    I totally agree with the ‘trust women’ comment.

    NaNoWriMo: I am vicariously participating, since what I’m writing isn’t a novel, and since I’m not trying to get to 50k words. The fact that there is %0.1 chance that I will get to my goal by November 30 is beside the point…

  124. @HiddenTohru – good luck with the auditions. I am partial to IU, and Bloomington, but I’m sure the other schools are great too. You have a lovely voice.
    @Snarky – ‘sweet boneless fail.’ My new favorite phrase.
    @Krismcm – I’m trying to figure out where your sheep farms are … I’m a PNWer too. Sorry about the sheep-shit mist. Also, I think you were the one who wears superhero underpants? I posted something on FB about being excited about the existence of such undergarments and got a surprising number of responses from (adult) people wondering where to find them. hee.

    re Nano – this is the first of several years that I have NOT done it. I have done it 5 times and fell short (at about 35k words) only once. I declined this year because I am really excited about the novel I wrote last year and have been saving my energy for editing/rewriting it, which is much, much harder than I ever expected it to be, but also much more rewarding. I’m going away for Thanksgiving to take another focused go at it. Note to all of you who think you can’t make it: I have completed the last 20k words in 4 evenings; I have done 25k words in a weekend (not doing other work). You can do it!!

    I think you can harbor a personal preference to carry any and all of your OWN pregnancies to term and still be a feminist but I don’t think you can want to control other women’s bodies and still be a feminist.

    And, since this is open thread – I have been watching my kittens discover a Netflix adhesive cover strip (flapping slightly in the breeze from the heat register) and it has been hi-larious.

  125. @Snarky, I am fascinated by this comment, but I can’t quite picture what this looks like when it’s happening – can you elaborate or give an example?

    In addition it serves to enable working class White folks to minimize the ways in which their white privilege intersects with class status leading to a lot of frustrated and silenced folks on all sides and dishing up a whole heaping serving of sweet boneless fail.

  126. @Snarky, I am fascinated by this comment, but I can’t quite picture what this looks like when it’s happening – can you elaborate or give an example?

    “I’m a poor white guy, what privileges do I have???”

  127. @ Everyone who complimented my recordings and/or encouraged me – thanks a ton. <3 I posted them here not just for the pure egotistical pleasure of hearing how great I am (and while I'm still young and have more work to do, I do realize that I'm very good), but also because I've been really stressed out by the applications, and I wanted some confirmation from a source that wasn't my mom (who is my #1 cheerleader) that I'm doing the right thing. Sometimes you need stuff like that, y'know? So thanks again. <3

    @ chutti pen specifically – I find it amazing how few intelligent voice students there were at my college. XD I mean, some of them (only a few) were intelligent, but there were a good many who had the completely wrong attitude about things, and goofed off instead of working, or what have you. My undergraduate voice teacher required us to translate every song we sang, and write a paper on it (researching the opera it was from/the context of the poem/any other important info), which gave our performances a nuance and understanding that most of the other students didn't have, because the other teachers didn't require that. Admittedly, while it was a decent school overall, I wouldn't say Appalachian State U. was the best music school. XD It certainly was good, and it served my needs at the time, but it isn't as good as IU or CCM. ;D

    I recently was talking to my current voice teacher (a professor at CCM) about a little side project I'm interested in. My best friend is a classics major (ancient Greek is her specialty) and I'd discussed performing parts of the Iliad with her. Of course, we would have to find a composer to set it, and do some research into how people thought ancient Greek music might have sounded, but it would be an amazingly cool thing to do. And she went "you really need to study some other stuff besides opera singing, because you're too intelligent to just sing opera for the rest of your life.” I was kind of shocked, because no one had ever said something like that to me before, but when I think about it, the few opera singers who are the most “famous” tend to be the most intelligent ones, because the real depth of their performance comes from a place that can only be reached by thorough study and learning of an opera, not just learning the notes and singing pretty. And I would love to study ethnomusicology or theory or something too, but we’ll see what happens. X3

  128. Hidden Tohru-
    Yes! I know you will find your fellow nerds at IU (mom went there). And yes yes to the translation and contextualization. I can’t imagine singing an aria without knowing at least SOMETHING about the opera. Milton Cross, I love you in a pinch.

    Languages help, but that is what drew me away from voice. I wound up in Asian languages, which I don’t really speak anymore, but which led me to lingustics and English Language Learner support in educational publishing. So be careful on that road if you want to keep singing!

    Ethnomusicology. Double yes. When I decided to ‘recover’ from the Opera community, I joined a very strong Gamelan. I don’t know how familiar you are with Indonesian music, but the whole ethos of Gamelan is cooperative, and solo grandstanding is very much frowned upon. The instrument itself is believed to have a spirit, and the players are more summoning this spirit than they are exhibiting talent. There is an improvisational technique I believe is called ‘imbal’ which is all about tuning into what should go on, versus waiting for the next break in the action to put forward your supremely talented contribution. Changed the way I play and sing forever. Only rarely do I get a glint of this when performing jazz ( versus the ego-blast of competitive improv). I have a few folks that absolutely cannot believe I know any theory or could read a symphonic score, etc. simply because I am a vocalist.

    You sound like you are on the right track. Outside the close knit Opera community, you will always be fighting for relevancy unless you can demonstrate greater understanding. Why voice as a principal instrument should seem LESS than anything else to many people astounds me. THEY should try carrying around a horn or a cello everywhere they go and then eating through it. Hah! I am rooting for you to get into a program where you can become very well-rounded musically and otherwise. I think you really will. Keep us posted, OK?

  129. Gosh I hope people are still posting on this thread. I don’t want to wait until the next Open Thread.

    I have a problem, my best friend is strictly against my viewpoint about weight loss and I didn’t realize how badly it offended her until today. We’ve talked about it lightly before and I could tell she was really trying to open herself up to it, but frankly I hate debates, I hate serious discussions about disagreements, so I never bring it up.

    Well today she saw me post something about weight loss on a forum we both frequent and I guess it really set her off. She was off to fight. Now, she’s not getting mad at me for having this opinion, at least I don’t think. But she does think I’m wrong and so I think it bothers her when I say in public that I think dieting or exercising and eating well for the sake of losing weight is a bad idea.

    We debated/argued for awhile (it was thoroughly unpleasant tyvm) and I began to realize that I think the reason why she’s having such a hard time accepting my point of view is 1. she believes most people are liars (she’s pretty anti-social) and 2. two years ago she lost 30lb and this year she’s gained 10lb back.

    How do you guys deal with friends like this? It sucks because while there are things we absolutely do not agree on at all (she’s very logical minded and it makes her very bullheaded about topics she knows little about, like psychology) there are also things that bring us together quite well. She never brings me down and even though I know she disagrees with me and my opinion she never actually said anything negative about me during our argument.

    So I guess what I’m also asking is, does anyone have any up-to-date reliable sources on the following topics? Preferably studies:

    – 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back within 5 years (and that includes people who stop drinking soda and eating fast food)
    – Yo-yo dieting (or losing weight and regaining it over and over) is unhealthy for the body.
    – Not all people who are overweight/obese are over-eaters who eat a lot of fast food, drink a lot of soda, and never exercise. (This one is tricky, she is pretty anti-social and I honestly believe she believes most people in the world are liars and stupid.)

    I want to be able to answer her questions when they come up, and they will come up again. I don’t want to ask her for us not to talk about it anymore because I *know* I’m right, I know I have this opinion for a reason, and I know that if I ask for that she’ll believe I’m only asking because I’m not confident in my reasons.

    I just want to close this request (and I’m very sorry for wasting anyone’s time) by saying she’s a very nice, pleasant, and funny person. Just not on this issue. So I’m sorry if I’ve made her sound like a total troll.

  130. @ chutti pen – OMG GAMELAN. When I was in high school they had a Tuvanese Gamelan at UNC (I went to high school in Chapel Hill, NC) for one brief period (I think it was less than a year), and I happened to go to the music camp that summer and they let us watch them play AND IT WAS AMAZING. I’ve always wanted to try it since then, it’s one of the most fascinating things ever. You’re right, the collaborative effort is amazing, and the spirituality of it all… so beautiful. The other campers were kinda like “this is lame” but me and a few others were just entranced (one camper even was playing, he’d been working with the professors and students at that Gamelan for a few months before the camp started).

    Also, I will take your language warning to heart. I’m in love with German (was nearly fluent and got to study abroad there one summer, but it wasn’t with a music program, just the language program) and I have to be careful not to let my love of it overtake my love of singing. But it’s such a cool language (I also took Japanese for three years in high school, and am fascinated by classical Asian music, although some of the nasality bothers me aesthetically).

    Also, I feel you on fighting for equal treatment with instrumentalists. Personally, I think the flighty singers are the whole reason for that attitude, because instrumentalists see much more of them then they do of the serious ones, and judge us all based on that. *Sigh* But I’m always going to prove them wrong, thankyouverymuch. X3 Also, I find it helps to not act like a complete diva, and assume the instrumentalists/orchestra are going to work around you (especially when it’s way easier for you to make the change as one person than it is for them as fifteen/thirty/two hundred people).

  131. Ducky, I think hte FAQ has links to various posts with further links to useful information.

    As to your friend–you say you don’t want to table the discussion because you know you’re right, but keep in mind you’re fighting not only against her ignorance but against her wish to believe the worst about other people (I’m a curmudgeonly grump and I don’t go nearly so far!). In this case it’s worth asking yourself, would you rather be right, or be happy? I don’t think you’re going to get very far in trying to combat negativity that extreme without using up some serious mental and emotional resources.

    It honestly sounds like she’s taking out her discomfort with herself and others on you by being so very offended and unpleasant about your beliefs re: weight. My reccommendation, based on what I’ve had to do with similar friends, is to set a clear boundary–sure, give her information, but tell her something like, “I’m willing to discuss this with you futher after you’ve read the information I’ve provided, after you’ve processed it, and only if you can be polite and respectful toward me [and possible, ‘and other people as a whole’.]” Then stick to it. If she’s willing to engage you on those terms, it’s much more likely she’s thinking and processing. If she isn’t, it’s very likely she’s lashing out and picking a fight and nothing productive will come of such conversations.

    Best of luck to you in resolving the situation peacefully. I hope your friend listens and comes closer to peace with herself.

  132. In the spirit of open-thread-y-ness, I am announcing that I’ve finally got a full-time job, which means I GET TO QUIT MY CUSTOMER SERVICE JOB! *confetti and cheering*

    I’ve mentioned this before a while back, but I’m currently a free sample lady, and for the past seven months or so I’ve had to listen to other people’s food issues every freaking day, 4 days a week, and since years of customer service jobs have cemented that “Customer’s Always Right” mantra into my brain, I never feel like I can say anything to them. After all, I’m just giving them a free sample, and obviously I’m not qualified to questiong their whole worldview, especially when my own body image is often as unsteady as a game of Jenga. So I just smile and nod, and let them hand back the sample they thought they wanted a second ago before they realized there was so much sodium/sugar/aspertame/ground fetus powder/high fructose corn syrup/calories/trans fat/whatever.
    Now, I’m usually very sympathetic to people who “can’t have” whatever they want, because often it’s because of health issues, like diabetes, celiacs, nut allergies, lactose intolerance, etc. But when people just plain don’t think they deserve the foods they like, they project it onto me as if it’s common knowledge that I’m going to agree with, and then because I’m so customer-service-y, I DO agree with them, just to keep from rocking the boat.

    Customer: “Oh I can’t have that. That’s just sinful. All that butter… it sounds far too good!”
    Me: *smile* “Okay then! Maybe next time. You have a nice day!” *SMILE!*

    Customer: “Which of these do you think I should get?”
    Me: “I like this one personally.” *points*
    Customer: *scoff* “Yeah well, read the nutritional info and you won’t like it anymore.”
    Me: “Oh.” *shrug* “I don’t know.” *SMILE!*

    But now that I’ve given my notice, I have slowly been creeping out of my shell when it comes to reacting to some of this shit. What are they going to do, fire me? This is the conversation that happened yesterday while I was giving away samples of a Carvel Snickers ice cream cake (om nom nom…)

    Customer: “Oh dear God, it’s ice cream.” *tries a sample and makes orgasm noises* “Oh that’s dangerously good. How many crunches do you think a person would have to do to earn a real serving size bowl of this stuff?”
    Me: “I don’t know. I usually don’t need permission to eat ice cream, because I’m a grown up.”
    Customer: *blink*
    Me: … *SMILE!*

    Actually, no one’s yelled at me or complained about me yet, so maybe all that “customer’s always right” stuff was for nothing. I could have been speaking my mind all along.
    Still, I feel like that was probably a little harsh.

  133. @ A Sarah

    I thought of you as I saw all first grade going to the bus wearing paper pilgrim hats and paper “head dresses” ugh!

    Anyways…I thought I would send you this link. My best friend is Native and sent it out to me tonight and it was very powerful.

    If for some reason it doesn’t come through it is on YouTube and entitled..

    Thanksgiving: A Native American View

  134. @ Jessikanesis – I tell customers what I think only if I judge them to be perceptive to it. After a while of working in retail I started to be able to recognize those people who’d probably report me for even disagreeing with them, versus the ones who are just making conversations about their food and might be a bit shocked (and possibly enlightened) by any conversation about food being okay. Especially the women who expect me to agree with them because of my deathfatz, and then I go “actually, I don’t think about that stuff, because weight is 90% genetic anyway, and I generally stay at this weight no matter if I starve or stuff myself.” It’s like you can see the lightbulb going on in their heads. Of course, I have always believed that The Customer Is Almost Never Right. XD I act like the customer is right, but then turn around and tell my fellow cashiers as soon as they’re gone what a nutcase they were. So it doesn’t cost me any effort to speak my mind to people. I am always wary of little old ladies, however. They can come on all friendly, but turn on you in an instant. They are the natural enemy of all retail workers everywhere.

  135. Jessikanesis: Yay! Congratulations!

    My only similar moment was when I was working in a bookstore about 13 years ago. A customer said to me, rather confrontationally, that he had found the “Women’s Studies” section but couldn’t find “Men’s Studies” anywhere, and what did I have to say about that? (FYI, I was 19 at the time; he was in his forties.) First, I told him that if he was looking for Robert Bly, those books were mostly in self-help. When he persisted, I suggested that he try history, business, theology, economics, politics, psychology, and biography. He left in a huff, but if he complained to a manager, I never heard about it.

    Ducky: Are you yourself fat/”overweight”? If so, try using yourself as an example, and asking your friend point-blank if she thinks you’re stupid or a liar. This is a potentially risky tactic, as you may find out things you’d rather not, but sometimes forcibly taking things from the general to the personal can cause an “aha” moment.

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