Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Being a writer requires thick skin...

They say you should never discuss politics, religion or sports with strangers...or friends...or apparently at all! And in yesterday's blog, true to form, I broke two of the three rules - so just for the hat trick - Go Pens! Go Braves! Go Yankees! Go Tigers! (No, not Missouri! ;) )

Seriously though, I got lots of support and lots of venom. I spoke my piece and I respect what others had to say as well. First off, I think some people missed the point. I didn't say only men were at fault(women are making these choices too) or Christians were at fault(I don't think that). I also stood up for many groups in the post - including both of those mentioned groups. But obviously I hit a nerve. Which in the sheerest form of irony is exactly what every writer tries to do.

But it's hard. Especially when those comments come from people you know and love. But that's the beauty of it, and the exact point of yesterday's rant. Freedom. I can say what I want and so can you. Freedom of choice. And is a beautiful thing.

Some of you attacked me for my religious choices. I'm a Christian, if you know me at all, you know this. I know lots of Christians who are the most amazing people. I know Jewish people, atheists, Mormons, I even know a Buddhist! No judgement! Just because I want to stand up for freedom of choice in certain matters doesn't mean I agree with everything I mentioned. Freedom is the basis of what I want for everyone. And it wasn't a religious blog, it was political and the backlash showed exactly why it is so hard to divide church and state. It's personal and people feel strongly and have convictions. But that's not what this blog is about...

The most brutal feedback came to me via my inbox, but trust me when I say, I was not attacking anyone personally. If you took it personally, perhaps that's something to think on. All I'm saying is to each his own and it's not my place, your place, nor the governments to tell me or you otherwise. We have laws so we aren't a society of poo flinging monkeys but too much control and we lose our rights and our choices and in the end our freedom.

I knew when I posted yesterday it would be a house divided on the results. But I stand by what I said. The people I was talking about in my blog were politicians who are supposed to represent the people but are really lining their pockets. They aren't solving things. Now, before you get all wound up - am I saying my views are what the majority want? Absolutely not! But what I am saying is the power needs to belong to the people, not a handful of old men and women who aren't really in touch with their voters views. I have trouble with overly Left views as well as too far Right. Democracy happens in the middle.

I'm thankful for the support and the other because at least people will get up and fight for what they want. I don't mind being a lightening rod for progress. And again, to you, who called me everything except a Godless heathen, I promise you - my faith is strong. My views are my own and I know what I'm fighting for. I'm fighting for you. So that you have the ability to belittle me and humiliate me instead of having a normal debate about our differences. You didn't even stop to ask me what I thought about certain things before assuming what I am and calling me all sorts of lovely jargon I won't repeat here. And I do thank you for using my inbox.

So here is my point. As a dancer, you create something and some people like it and some people don't, but it's art and subjective and not everyone knows about dance so even though you take every critique personally, it helps you grow. You put a piece of you out there and let people see it. You gauge their reactions and know that it's not you, even though it kind of is.

But in this journey becoming a writer, every word on the page is me. Whether I'm writing my views or creating my own characters and what they would say. People are judging you every single second their eyes are on that page. When you write something good, most people smile and nod. When you write something bad, you become fuel for jokes and fodder that spread across the world wide web like wild fire. But when something you write hits home, emotions get involved. People get attached to characters. People might even cry when their stories end. People tell you how they would write the story and when you write something like yesterday, people lash without thinking of the person sitting on the other side of the keyboard. While every writer wants this, it's still pretty damn hard to sit back and take it.

Hey, I get it! It's part of the gig. And I have been guilty of it myself. Lashing out at faceless posts that are just black and white letters on a screen. But really, it's a little piece of someone's soul. Everytime you put something out there you have to be a little braver, a little stronger, and unfortunately, a little harder. By the time I get published, I might be made of marble.

What keeps you from becoming a stone? The support.  And the venom. But mostly the fact that maybe, just maybe, you're making a difference. That's what I hope to do.

So if you liked yesterday's business, thanks! And if you hated it, I thank you too for taking the time! No one can grow if you're always floating downstream...just next time...easy on the name calling - believe it or not, I have feelings too! ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is the War on Women real? Or is it something more?

First off let me start with - I'm a woman. Surprise! I am also a mother of two girls who will grow into women and a son who will mostly like care for a woman someday. They then, will have children of their own, some of them might be girls who grow into women. Do yo see where I'm going with this?

Yes. I know politics. I watch politics. I cringe at politics. Sometimes I even laugh at them. But right now, I fear politics. I'm a devotee of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and even though they are comedy shows, I fear they are showing more truth of the matters at hand than the 'real' news networks nowadays. But unlike most people today, a truly scary number, they watch these shows and nothing else. Maybe, God forbid, your network news of choice is FoxNews. Or CNN. Or even the Today show or local news. People see one blurb and latch on. They don't investigate. They don't learn. They take one statement at face value and base all their decisions on that one moment in time. It doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican, it's time we all face the facts - news is very rarely objective. It's just become another really long, repetitive reality show.

So do your homework before jumping on someone's bandwagon. You never know when the driver might take you headlong into traffic!

Normally, I watch something. I go to other sources. I read. I learn. And then I make my decisions. (Holy crap! I sound so well adjusted - when did that happen?) I don't always make the right decision but at least I'm educated when I make a mistake. Hold on - I need to change out of my big girl pants...

But lately, the news has me worried. People bandy around the words Liberal and Conservative and I've commonly been labeled one of them (guess which one...), but really, at this point, it's not about either of those. It's more akin to a contest of whose pride and stupidity can go the distance. It's a contest of who can say the least offensive thing and which side can blow innocuous things said by opponents out of proportion. Right now - the proverbial feces is striking the bladed circular object - and it's little string has been clicked three times for high speed.

Good thing they taught us all how to duck and cover back in school!

What am I speaking of? The War on Women. Is it real? Yes. It is. It's so real my uterus has folded in on itself and is hiding in the corner. The things happening right now are so upsetting. Need some examples? I got some for you.

1) In Kansas they recently passed a law that allows men to beat their wives. Yes. You read that correctly. In Topeka, claiming budget cuts, they are letting misdemeanors slide, so they repealed the domestic violence law. Here's an article on it.  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65733.html
I'm sure it works the other way too, but this is normally a one sided affair. I know, I know. I'm not ignorant to the crimes against men, but if you look at the numbers, you'll see what I mean. At least 15 men incarcerated for spousal abuse were released when they repealed this law. It also means something much more frightening. There is no protection for these women since now they can't even get a restraining order SINCE THE ABUSE IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED BREAKING THE LAW. Now where do you suppose the first place these angry men went after being in jail?
(Note - add that to the long list of why I would never move to Kansas!!!!)
Wonder what the healthcare laws for women beaten bloody are there? Which brings me to my next point...

2) Several states want to make it a law that women can only take birth control if they have verified proof from the doctor that it's for a medical reason. I got one for you - These women don't want to get pregnant. It's not mystical or religious! That's just basic science. Yet the laws proposed state that the Doctor's note (hello, fourth grade! Didn't know I needed a hall pass...) must tell in detail that the woman will be in physical duress or peril without said birth control.
Funny - I didn't see a proposed law halting research on the male Pill or prohibiting the use of condoms.
*Note - One congress woman in Oklahoma did want to add an amendment to the law to make male masturbation illegal, sighting the point of conception side of the bill. (Read up - The Personhood bill - OKLA) The male Congressmen shot her down saying, and I quote, "The Government should not be able to tell a man...or a woman...what to do with their bodies. That no one but that person would know what is better for them. It is a matter of freedom and liberty infringement." The Congresswoman added, "Now they see how it feels." Oh my God! Really??? Double standard anyone???? (PS. With the amendment for the men, it didn't pass.Hmmm...not about the women's rights? Really?)

Other states have proposed, and some passed, laws making abortion illegal, even if you were raped and conceived that way. Also complete internal and invasive exams, with ultrasound, before legal abortions, to show the mother what's already in there I guess are now required. And no, the woman in question cannot refuse to have it done because IT'S THE LAW. 

You know back in Victorian England, mid 1800's, women were forced to go through horrible invasive exams and the like to determine if they were 'clean' and fit for marriage and society. Also to determine if they had been unfaithful in marriage. When same suggestions were made for men, who could have as many sexual partners as they wanted, it was deemed to embarrassing for a man to go through these procedures. It was okay for women, because by law and contract, they were property.

 Now tell me, is this where we're headed? I shake with fear.

3) There are, of course, all the things that have always been there. The debate between work and stay at home mothering, which by the way is work! Why is it stay at home dads are doted on, lifted up and looked up to but a woman in that same place... If you stay home you must have no ambition. No drive. Lazy. You're life is cake.Ever hear this one? I wish I could stay at home all day and have some time. Go ahead. Stay home. Let me know how much 'time' you have.
But one the flip side, if you go to work, you don't care about your kids as much. You're selfish.
You're vilified either way. Men, while sharing their own forms of judgement, do not understand this part of being a woman.
Just this week a Democrat said something dumb about stay at home moms. Now while her soundbite was heard round the world, the entire point she was making was not stay-at-homes moms are lame. What she was talking about was one woman in particular and she didn't mean moms don't work. But put that aside. The Republicans leapt onto the bite like bees on honey. Romney led the way, talking about the value in motherhood. Not even a month ago the man said all women should go to work, so they could have dignity, even if it meant more childcare costs for the States!!! I can feel my blood pressure rising.

I wonder if we should go back to registered draft - men only. If we women are so frail as to only be of true value at home, raising our children and cooking and cleaning, then perhaps the only way a man can feel his true sense of worth is to go and fight for his country. NO men - you don't get a choice. The men on the hill have decided since it's best for what they believe is a perfect society, you'll just have to go along with it. Also - we'll be putting everyone who isn't blonde headed and blue -eyed in the basement.  Geez!

4) How about the issue of whether birth control, if we retain our rights to it, is covered by insurance? I noticed that none of the men, and you know some of those congressmen use it, brought up the fact that their ED meds are covered. Yes, that's true. I'll wait while you fact check me... See? Almost all ED medication is covered.
So apparently the Conservatives don't have a problem with sex. And since they want to teach complete abstinence policy, I guess I see why they don't feel the need for it. The problem comes when women speak up and say I'd like to have sex but not fifty babies. You know what happens when there is no BC? The Duggars. That's what happens. Is that what you want in every home in America? National average of children right now is 2.5 and already we have starving children, abandoned babies, orphanages overflowing, substandard education and not enough money to go around, and yo want to roughly, or at least double the number of children the average family will have? How is that going to work?
And not to mention, it's not just about pregnancy. Prevention means safety. Sexually transmitted diseases are bad enough. We are on the cusp of being able to wipe out AIDS and now they want to take away sex ed and preventative measures???? What the hell? I can't even explain this method of thinking because I can find not one shred of sense.

This problem jumps from just women to all freedom and laws about each and every little thing. Where do you draw the line? How far does it go?

My point is this - and here's what it all boils down to, from the War on Women, to same sex marriage, to home schooling - politicians are basing our societal structure on their religious beliefs. I applaud them for standing by their convictions - but go be a Deacon or a Priest then, Lord knows the churches could use some good ones, but don't try to run the country. This country was founded by people trying to escape religious persecution. (Which of course meant they came here and immediately tried to 'fix' the Indians' beliefs.) But if this Nation still stands by the right to choose, the right to freedom, the right to worship, free speech, the list goes on...then that is what we should all be fighting for.

You want a Christmas tree on your house that touches the moon but everyone else in your neighborhood is Jewish? Who gives a crap? Neither one of you should be offended by the other, because neither one of you is trying to convert the other. Some want to pray at school. Great. Others don't? Fine. Can you show me one Christian who truly feels like praying everyday? Or who does? I think they are few and far between. You're a man and you want to marry another man? Good for you! You found love. Few ever do!!! You got knocked up and can't have the baby? It's your right to choose.

Am I gay? Would I have an abortion? Do I pray? Bottom line - does it matter to you??? And it shouldn't matter to me if you are or are not any of those things. What's right for me isn't right for me neighbor - usually it's not even right for other family members, but that's my point. To each his own.

Since I don't want a free for all or mass chaos, how do we fix all this?

It's simple and it's already there in black and white...Division of church and state.
The Christians will yell - But my Bible says ( pick any cause I've discussed and insert here.)  is wrong to do!  Maybe, maybe not...but I'm pretty sure the line before that was do not judge. Love thy enemy. Give to the poor. Wealth not shared and the love of money if the root of all evil.

I guess some people missed that part. Did they buy the cliff notes?

I mean - The Conservative Christians, who frankly are just prancing around in their holier than thou pants right now, go to church every Sunday and worship the biggest Liberal of them all, Jesus Christ! I mean think about it - hippie robe, lived on a basic commune, gave to the poor and asked for nothing in return, helped those who couldn't help themselves, free healthcare for everyone, long hair - He even wore sandals!!! And when the time came - he asked for nothing for himself, it wasn't about his glory - and it sure as hell wasn't about his tax bracket. He preached love and equality.

Don't believe me? Check out the books (all written by humans by the way) left out of the Bible. The men who met to build the Bible chucked all the ones where women had power. It's a historical fact the men were threatened the women would rise up and they wouldn't have them as property and be able to keep their concubines and such. Also, they added their own things that their society deemed evil at the time (such as homosexuality, although it had been accepted all over the world until then) and passed it off as God's word. There are historical facts to back me up here. Turn on The History Channel at any given time and after ten hours of Nazi's and another one of Pawn Stars, you'll see what I mean.
To sum up - I see you showing me your beliefs in your Bible - now show me where it says these things in the Constitution....

I bet you're wondering if I'm a Christian. I am. I am also very spiritual. But truly, does it matter right now?

This is a political debate, remember?

The Parties can't have it both ways. Republicans condemn Obama for his religious beliefs and then back a Mormon candidate? Democrats knock the Elitist Romney while they themselves are sharing his tax bracket and using the same platforms. Would they enjoy being the pot or the kettle?

Now I don't care what your religion is. You can be Mormon, Christian, Wiccan, you can worship purple flying monkeys that only come to Earth every 22nd year on the 7th of August, I don't give a damn as long as you protect my Freedom and my rights. And those of my children...and their children...do you see where I'm going with this?

Church and State are Oil and Water. They do not mix. ( I said that like Gandalf saying "You shall not pass") I think it's best if everyone just takes a step back and looks at the mess we're in, form a game plan and get to work. That would be great if that's all it took, but the truth of the matter is, we're all going to need to stand up for what we believe and hold our own. I know it's not just the ladies, plenty of men are on our side too, but listen up! We women have strength, endurance..we build people inside our own bodies without using our hands for crying out loud! We can go the distance. And we will. Not just for us, but for our little girls. For our boys who might be gay. For our parents who have worked their whole lives and won't have social security. For the family members in the future we will never get the chance to hold, this will be our gift to them, our legacy:

A Nation as great and as strong as it's ever been.

The United States can be the greatest place to live because of our freedoms, our choices and rights - no matter our skin color, who we love, what God we worship or whether we are a man or a woman.

So I leave you with two thoughts :
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
I am woman, hear me roar.