As Featured on News Cult: Why I Support Planned Parenthood

After the extremely maddening, unjust, horrific shooting that took place at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, I think now is an especially important time for me and others to show their support for Planned Parenthood. I’ve always supported it and always will, as long as it continues to be what it has been and is—a safe, accessible place for everyone, regardless of gender, to receive affordable and necessary healthcare. Regarding Friday’s shooter, I’ll just say this: why is it, that when the attacker is a Muslim, he’s an “evil, radical Islamic terrorist,” and when the subject of police force is black, he’s killed before he gets to exercise his right to due process, but when the shooter is white, he’s a “mentally deranged lone wolf,” brought into custody alive, and no one presumes to know his motives until he has his day in court? That is the most fucked up, backwards, infuriating inconsistency in societal judgment and law enforcement that exists. It seems more than safe to say that Robert Lewis Dear, a man who’s been accused of and in some cases charged with rape, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and being a peeping tom, decided to put his hunting gear on and shoot up his local Planned Parenthood, killing three innocent people and wounding nine others, all in the name of “no more baby parts”—another completely illogical, sick display of hypocrisy, which was clearly influenced (some may even say brainwashed) by the far-right bigoted propaganda in the form of doctored videos that represent a completely false portrait of Planned Parenthood, and countless other slanderous, hate-filled, ignorant displays of fundamentalist intolerance by extremist conservatives.

To set the record straight, let’s start off with some facts about Planned Parenthood. It’s been a healthcare resource for men and women for 99 years. There are 8 million+ Planned Parenthood activists, supporters, and donors. 3/4 of Planned Parenthood’s clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies. 34% of all Planned Parenthood health services are contraceptive services. The estimated number of unintended pregnancies averted by Planned Parenthood contraceptive services each year is 584,000. 3% of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion services. The increase in male Planned Parenthood clients from 2000 to 2010 was 105%. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 5 million people worldwide with sexual and reproductive health care and education each year. 76% of Planned Parenthood clients are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. 8 in 10 Planned Parenthood clients are 20 years of age and older. And 1,000,000 clients are served by Planned Parenthood-supported partners in 10 developing countries.

I support Planned Parenthood because all of those things, all of those facts, are good. I believe that everyone, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic standing, sexual orientation, creed, should have equal access to healthcare. Unfortunately, because of the overwhelming disparity in wealth in the United States and worldwide, and the incredibly high cost of healthcare in the U.S. especially, a lot of people don’t have access to healthcare. But everyone has access to Planned Parenthood. Even if they don’t have insurance, or can’t afford treatment. Planned Parenthood accepts and will care for everyone, regardless of potential compensation. People who refer to Planned Parenthood as “an abortion clinic,” are, simply, wrong. And while I’m happy to take the wind out of the crutch that is the “Planned Parenthood is bad because ABORTION” argument, I also want to make it clear that I support Planned Parenthood BECAUSE it provides abortions, among countless other vital healthcare services. Abortion is safe. Abortion is legal. Abortion is a choice that is made individually. I don’t care if you don’t like abortions—don’t get one. But you sure as shit don’t have the right to tell me I can’t get one.

Don’t try to argue that abortion is the same as murder. Murder is what the Colorado Springs shooter did to those three innocent people, each of whom had spouses and young children. And no one should be forced into parenthood, especially if they aren’t ready for it or don’t want it. I don’t care if you think sex is a sin, and don’t believe in birth control because of your antiquated, unnatural, suppressive beliefs that cause most of you to end up molesting little boys—then don’t have sex. But you have no right to tell me or anyone else that we’re not allowed to have sex, and, furthermore, enjoy it, without having to reproduce as a consequence. There are lots of scientific arguments for why people shouldn’t reproduce, not least of which is overpopulation, which is leading to the rapid environmental degradation of the planet—but how about, I JUST DON’T WANT TO HAVE A KID, so I’m not fucking going to. Period.

Planned Parenthood is a safe haven from hyper-critical, imposing, overbearing attempts to control individual rights and freedoms. It provides non-judgmental, supportive healthcare for people in most need of it. It’s easy to step up onto a pedestal of moral superiority and cast shame upon people who don’t share your beliefs. It’s easy to operate from a place of violent power—which is what people who oppose Planned Parenthood to the point of voting to defund it on a federal level, and attacking its clinics, do. But despite all of those obstacles, Planned Parenthood fights every day to support everyone—whether that means providing a safe place to get an abortion, distributing free condoms, counseling patients on STDs, giving cancer screenings, or providing an affordable routine pap smear—no matter what. It’s a hell of a lot harder to fight against hate, and violence, and ignorance, than it is to perpetuate it—what Planned Parenthood does takes courage, and without it, so many of us would be lost. So I stand with them, and am not going to stop, despite acts aimed at terrorizing doctors who provide crucial, feasibly attainable healthcare and women who exercise their right to reproductive freedom.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/support-planned-parenthood/

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As Featured on News Cult: Why I’m Voting for Bernie Sanders

You mean besides the fact that he’s ridiculously good looking and has a voice that can only be described as sensual? There are lots of reasons I think Bernie Sanders should be the next U.S. president. Before now, I had lost all hope in the U.S. political system. I was convinced it wasn’t even worth voting anymore, because the only choices were evils, just on a scale of lesser to more. And I still think that’s the case, except when it comes to Bernie Sanders. I think he’s our one and only beacon of hope before we plunge further into an irreversible,  corrupt, 2 party system that’s ostensibly democratic but in actuality run by corporate America. And a lot of people think he doesn’t stand a chance. But he needs to be given a chance in order to stand one–don’t count him out before he’s had a fair shot.

For starters, Bernie is a true public servant. Meaning he has spent his career working for the people, not getting rich or dying trying. Different sources will give you different numbers, but on average his net worth seems to be between $300-500k (in 2013, it was $330,506). Which basically means he owns a house. In stark contrast to Hillary Clinton and most of the other candidates, whose net worths are in the tens of millions. He believes that there shouldn’t be such extreme wealth inequality. Which to me is just a basic human principle–how is it ok that there are people sleeping on the street, starving, lacking adequate healthcare and access to education, while the next block over there are people living in such excessive wealth, corrupt with power and greed, setting sail on their yachts after they cheat on their taxes and earn money off the backs of underpaid laborers (for example, please see: Walmart, which Hillary Clinton was on the board of for 6 years, or Bernie Madoff, or Republican proposed tax cuts for the wealthy, or Wells Fargo’s subprime lending fraud, to name a few)? How can we all sleep soundly knowing that such disparity in wealth and corruption of power exists?

Sanders’ emphasis on wealth inequality represents his focus on fixing domestic issues in the U.S., which leads his international policy towards peace. Because if there is peace, there is no need for war or for the U.S. to engage in it internationally, which leaves more time, money and effort to spend on fixing domestic issues. It really is that simple: he wants to work on improving the United States, and not making things worse abroad. And he has a proven track record in this: he voted against the Iraq War, has been advocating to lower the U.S. military budget since 1992 in favor of redirecting those funds to domestic issues like poverty, education, industry, etc. (the military budget has gone from $270 billion in 1992 to now $610 billion), and has consistently condemned the inhumane use of torture as a tactic of war. Again, to me, peace is a basic human principle: it makes no sense to fight violence with violence. Call me naïve, but war is so clearly and disturbingly counter-intuitive, and if we ever have a shot in hell of it ending, we need a president who will actually work to end it (Obama insisted he would, but in reality has waged deadly drone wars and didn’t pull troops out of Afghanistan as promised).

Sanders supports less overstepping, meddling, and violence by the U.S. not only abroad, but also domestically. For example, he supports an individual’s right to determine what to do with his/her own body, as opposed to the government being able to choose; he supports racial justice and the demilitarization of police in the U.S.; and he supports an individual’s right to privacy, as his consistent voting record on the Patriot Act proves. And he supports not only each individual’s right to these freedoms, but also government oversight for the sake of protecting those individual freedoms. For example, he advocates for the right of every person to be able to access healthcare and education by way of government measures.

All of these stances Sanders takes, as far as I’m concerned, boil down to believing in humane treatment and equal rights for everyone. Of course there are countless other issues to consider, more than I can cover here, but these examples give you a good idea of his overall platform. It’s easy to oppose him on grounds of wealth privatization–in other words, if you believe in hoarding wealth, and an “every man for himself” ideology, it’s easy to accuse him of being  a grubby communist who doesn’t believe people should be able to keep the money they earn. But what that argument fails to take into account, besides a basic level of compassion for humanity, is that a lot of the wealthiest people don’t earn their money all by themselves. They earn it by employing and underpaying laborers, through inheritance when they’re born into privilege, and by cheating, whether by insider trading, evading taxes, or tying up their money in trust accounts so that the countless people suing them can’t access it. Yes, those are just a few, broad examples, but if we’re being honest, we know that’s often the case (again, please refer to the above examples I gave: Walmart, Bernie Madoff, tax cuts for the wealthy, and Wells Fargo). So why should those people’s wealth be protected above all else–including other’s rights to live, above the poverty line, with access to adequate healthcare and education?

And even if the top 1% earned their money completely above board, where is the recognition that all lives matter, not just rich lives, and that maybe it doesn’t make sense to be spending billions keeping the wealthy wealthy, when so many people are living in such despair? And if nothing else, can we at least all agree that the wealthy shouldn’t be getting tax breaks, compared to the wealth-less? I mean seriously, fine, keep your billions of dollars, Top 1%–but don’t expect to pay less taxes than someone who makes 1/1,000,000 what you make while they struggle to keep food on their table, their families healthy, and to get their kids through school day in and day out.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=70775

As Featured on News Cult: Porn: Let’s Discuss

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Porn is a real doozy. I have so many thoughts and emotions and questions about it. It’s the one thing I can never make a solid decision about. I could spend hours (and have) debating back and forth on the subject. That may make me sound crazy, but what else is new. You’re probably thinking “Really, Alex? What is so complicated about porn?” Well since you asked, let me tell you.

Porn is supposed to be all about sexual fantasy. It’s a tool to stimulate fantasy and pleasure. And I have no problem with sexual fantasy or sexual pleasure, theoretically. I actually think they’re good. I think they’re normal and a part of life that is fun and exciting. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about our sexuality, like many of us have been taught, but we should express and enjoy it. But porn is the crossroads between fantasy and reality. It is real people acting out fantasies. So can it really remain in the category of fantasy? Sure, someone watching porn isn’t physically involved with whoever is in the pornography, but whoever is in it is a real person, somewhere, someplace.

And the reality of porn isn’t necessarily a problem, either. Except that we don’t know the circumstances under which it’s made. Namely, we don’t know the situation that the actors are in. Sure, some of them are renowned and so we know their history in more detail, including their age, background, “career path,” etc. But a lot of porn features nameless bodies and faces, whose stories we don’t know. We don’t know if they’re consenting, or if they’re even of age (barring cases where it’s blatantly obvious). And that’s one of the things I’m wary of. Especially when the porn is exploitative in one way or another.

For example, of the countless “categories” of porn on any given site, there are many that focus on a domination/submission dynamic. Whether that involves whips and chains or a gang bang or a teen/adult dynamic. And again, part of me is tempted to say that porn represents fantasy, and we shouldn’t condemn our fantasies because they’re natural parts of us, and fantasy is ok, if for no other reason than it’s not reality. So even if some porn promotes a domination/submission fantasy, it’s still ok because it’s just that: fantasy.

But another part of me can’t accept that. Because it may just be fantasy, but what if the fantasy is wrong? Like, I think people would generally say gang bangs are not great and a little rapey (if not actual rape), and adults having sex with underage teens is against the law, etc. So does the fact that porn is just a theatrical presentation of these acts that society at large would discourage in reality make it exempt from criticism?

This all begs the question too, is there even such a thing as “wrong” fantasy? How much can we control what turns us on, and how much should we? I know that as a feminist, I’m tempted to condemn the majority of porn because it exploits and objectifies women. But at the same time, if that is the fantasy that turns someone on, am I allowed to condemn that, any more than I’m allowed to condemn their sexual orientation (which I believe I am not)?

And of course there’s still the issue of not always knowing the age of the actors or how much control they really have. Like, in the case of the “teen” category–are the actors of age but playing underage? Or are they actually underage? And when it comes to the whips and chains, is the person being whipped and chained actually ok with it? How much are these actors agreeing to and how much are they not?

I realize I’m really just posing a bunch of questions here, but that’s because I think porn is a huge grey area. And while I recognize that this discussion is a complete boner killer and takes all the fun out of porn, I find it to be inescapable. Does anyone else wonder these things? I feel like a lot of us just turn on the porn, click on whatever video stimulates us the most, without scrutinizing why it turns us on, if it’s ethical, if it’s even ok that it turns us on, etc., and we just get to work and then move on with our lives. Which I’m not even saying is wrong–part of me thinks that’s great. But that’s exactly my point, though–how much questioning and analysis and thought are we required to put into porn, if any? I honestly don’t know the answer. What do you guys think?

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=70105

As Featured on News Cult: Gun Violence: Let’s Discuss

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I’ve never weighed in on the gun debate publicly. I’ve always had thoughts, questions, feelings about it, but haven’t ever taken to social media. Perhaps because I felt like my voice didn’t matter among the millions of others pronouncing theirs. And I still feel that way–what I say here, or anywhere, isn’t going to change anything. And maybe it’s not supposed to. And maybe I’m not trying to influence anyone or anything. But as this latest gun violence-related tragedy at Umpqua Community College has hit us, I, as it seems many others too, have reached a sort of point of reckoning; a bizarre plateau of indifference, mixed with horror, mixed with defeat. We know this place–we’ve been here many times before. Too many. Yet, here we are again. And I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said already by countless others, over and over again. But I want to finally discuss my many mixed emotions and thoughts on gun violence, with hopes that maybe it will contribute to a larger conversation, which maybe some way, somehow, will bring peace to whoever needs it.

First, I kind of think the Second Amendment right is irrelevant here. I know that’s what most people who are pro gun rights center their argument around, but I don’t think that’s really the crux of the issue. No one is arguing that people who are capable of handling guns properly shouldn’t have the right to bear them. The problem lies with people who misuse guns. That’s where the policy change needs to happen. So everyone calm the fuck down about how your guns are going to be taken away. And also, frankly, some of you who think you should be carrying guns probably shouldn’t anyways, so laws limiting their accessibility would probably be good for you too.

It’s pretty simple–require background checks on people who are buying guns. And background checks that involve an investigation into mental health, as well as criminal history. Would you give an untreated schizophrenic person a gun? No. It’s literally that simple. And this is coming from someone who considers herself crazy. Like, I would probably fail a background check. Do I think I’m able to carry and use a gun responsibly? I know I am. But I also respect that with hundreds of millions of people in the U.S., there have to be certain laws and procedures that apply en masse. And if that means that if you pass the crazy test (as in you fail it–like, you pass in that you’re crazy), you can’t carry a gun, and I would def pass the crazy test, then so be it–I won’t get a gun. If that means that hundreds, thousands, potentially millions of others who couldn’t and/or wouldn’t use a gun responsibly also couldn’t get one, I happily sacrifice my individual right–for the common good. Isn’t that what patriotism is all about? (Like, I’m really asking–I don’t get it. Loved the movie but I’ve never been a good patriot).

I’m not so selfish as to protect my right to bear arms above all others’ rights–including their rights to life. I would rather I never have the right to own a gun than any more innocent lives be taken by people using guns who shouldn’t. And this isn’t all to say I think background checks would permanently solve all gun violence problems and there would never again be mass shootings–but it’s a start. There are no perfect answers. There are no complete solutions. But there are better and worse ones. 

And let’s talk more about mental health. I think this is the main issue. People get outraged when the focus of the gun debate becomes mental health. Because they say mentally ill people aren’t more likely to commit crimes involving gun violence. And mentally ill people get painted as the villains. I happen to think that argument is also a pile of horse shit. The point is not that mentally ill people are dangerous, and everybody take cover because who knows when they’re going to be mentally unstable and shoot up a place. The argument is that people who commit acts of gun violence need help. They are mentally ill. Not that every Tom, Betty and Susie with Down Syndrome is going to open fire at school. But that in order to kill people, especially in a mass shooting, you have to be somewhat mentally ill. I honestly believe this. And yes, hatred, and racism, and prejudice, and sadism can be products of mental illness. I already know what a lot of you are thinking–that I’m using mental illness as a crutch–an excuse to pardon gun violence. But that, too, is besides the point. The point is that if everyone had better access to mental health resources, people wouldn’t fall through the cracks. They wouldn’t get to the point where their only solution is to kill multiple people and themselves. They would be able to work out whatever underlying issues make them want to commit these acts of violence, and, hopefully, not end up committing them.

But so long as we have a government that is primarily driven by greed and profit, the mental and physical well-being of its citizens will never be paramount. Wherein lies the money, therein lies the power. I just came up with that. I should be a chief of staff. Or lots of people have probably said that before. Whatever. Like, we all know this by now: the government gives approx. -0.000001 fucks about us. Unless you come from oil money. So I suggest getting a job with good health insurance, or marrying someone with a job that gives good health insurance, or dying before you turn 27. Omg the 27 club FINALLY makes sense–they were all anticipating the reign of Obamacare!

Because we all need mental health help. You may not want to admit it, but you’re fucked up by virtue of being human. So you need help. You may not need as much help as your neighbor who’s writing manifestos about how he’s going to blow every woman’s brain out who ever didn’t want to date him, but you still need help. And if you’re lucky, you’re afforded the help you need. If you’re not, you and a lot of other people are potentially at risk of the consequences. 

I guess my bottom line is we need to do a better job of looking after our people–by instituting not just stricter gun laws but more effective mental healthcare regulations. And maybe stop thinking about what all of this means for us as individuals, and start thinking about what it means for society at large. Because while God knows we would love to live in a vacuum without contact with anyone else ever, that’s just unfortunately not reality. You may be vehemently stubborn in your belief that you can and should be able to own and do what you want with however many kinds of guns you want. But think for a second about what the world would look like if everyone thought that way–what it does look like with that being the mainstream pattern of thought.

If nothing else, fall back into thinking about what that means for you again–it means people can attack you and your loved ones with guns rather easily. One minute you’re watching a movie in a theater (which like btw why are you doing that who does that anymore ever heard of the Internet??) and the next, you’re being sprayed with bullets from an AK-47 some lonely teen bought off the shelf at Walmart. Is that really the best way for our society to function? (I’m inclined to say yes because I think the world would be better off without selfish people like you, but also I’m rising above it and saying that, for fuck’s sake, NO– no that is NOT the best way. I’m willing to coexist with you–reluctantly, but still–if it means a less violent world.)

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=67365

As Featured on News Cult: What Do You Wear to an Abortion?

You’re either pregnant or you’re not—there’s no “maybe,” despite how light the positive sign is on those four tests you took. But even your doctor seems hopeful. She says the urine test is “weakly positive.” She says she’ll do a blood test to get concrete results, and not to panic. But while you wait for your final truth, telling yourself that maybe, just maybe, those tests were “weakly positive” enough that they were actually negative, you’re pretty sure that you’re just fine tuning your skill at the delicate art of denial.

Afterwards, you remember back to seeing that first, faint plus sign, and feeling that it signified a sense of hope, despite all the dread. And now you’ve lost that hope—you’re without it. You are emptier. You will lie awake after and feel that something is missing. Your life is quieter, and while you keep standing still, the world keeps moving without you. You feel robbed, but you robbed yourself.

You wonder how long you can milk this “eating-for-two” thing. You think how thankful you are that you aren’t carrying this to term because of how much weight you’d gain. And you think how awful it is to think that. “What do you wear to an abortion?” you ask your boss. “Sweatpants?” you say, before he has a chance to answer, but also in the awkward pause left by your awkward question. “Probably,” he nods confidently. “And a giant pad. And they’ll give you pads to take home. And some to put in the freezer. Or, no, that’s for childbirth. I’m getting them all mixed up.” You think, what would I do without him. He’s far better equipped to deal with this than I am.

You’ve never wanted kids. You’ve always been afraid to have them. You actually kind of despise them. But, having life inside of you is, you think, weird. You’re embarrassed you can’t come up with a more sophisticated word to describe the feeling. But it’s just weird. You want to call it a baby, but that makes you sad. You feel weird calling it “a life,” because that sounds so new-agey, but you also hate the word “fetus.” Whatever you end up calling it, which varies each time, you feel that you should shield it. Protect it. Love it and nourish it. And instead, you’re killing it. You feel like it’s disrespectful to call it “it.”

You wonder if it’s a boy or a girl—and what it would look like. You feel bad drinking alcohol and coffee, and pushing on your stomach too hard, but you still do. You only have three days left with it. You want to talk to it, but wonder if it can hear you. You want to show it the world. But then you tell yourself, “Don’t be ridiculous, it’s not even really close to a person yet. It can’t feel anything.” You tell yourself not to get attached. No one else seems to be getting attached. They tell you, “only a few more days,” and, “it will be over soon.” They say, “We know what we have to do,” and “we have a game plan.” They tell you, “Get it taken care of ASAP.” “It’s really just a nothing thing.”

Someone you’re very close to will state, rhetorically, “I assume no one wants this pregnancy to proceed.” She’ll tell you, “Well you could have a miscarriage, which would be convenient.” She’ll mean well, or maybe she won’t, but it all comes out wrong. She won’t tell you that she, too, once went through the same thing, because she and her partner, people you trust, decide they don’t want that information to go public. She’ll tell you that withholding that information didn’t cause you any harm and it was born of an effort to not influence your decision. But it does harm you—because knowing it would’ve meant you weren’t alone. And knowledge is power. Especially when you’re going into a terrible mess blind. She insists that you “take care of this as soon as possible,” and that she is so relieved she doesn’t have to convince you how big a mistake it would be to have a baby. You wonder what twisted logic led to the conclusion that those statements weren’t influential, but telling you something relatable, and that would’ve lightened your burden, would’ve been. You feel betrayed.

You walk out of your room the day of, dressed in baggy sweatpants and a Red Sox shirt. You’ve really been trying to work on your underwear line lately, so you’re disappointed that even though the pants are loose, it’s still there. You consider changing into tighter spandex, but then you think, “It would be weird to wear a thong to an abortion, right? I could wear regular underwear, but the underwear line would be even worse then. They would judge me for wearing a thong. Plus, you can’t really wear pads with a thong. And I would just get it bloody and ruin it anyways. Thongs are meant for special occasions. For impressing people. Wear your worst underwear. It doesn’t matter if that gets wrecked.” You decide that he, and everyone else, yourself included, can deal with your underwear line today. He looks at you, sees your shirt, and smiles, but seriously, as he says, “don’t wear that.” He bleeds Dodger blue. And purple and gold. You laugh and say, “Are you serious? If anything, it’s symbolic to get this done in this shirt.” He asks, “Do you like the Red Sox?” You answer, “I don’t care, I just like Boston.” “Don’t wear that,” he laughs, but means it. You go to pick out a new shirt. You choose a forest green one. He says, semi-jokingly, “That is kind of Boston Celtics green.” You feign aggravation and say, “fine,” and then go back to your room to start over. He follows you as you start rummaging around your shirts, pulling them out onto the floor in a messy pile. You hold up one you got for free that says “Hooray for Boobies” on it: “Should I wear this one?” He laughs, “It would be really funny if you wore that.” You say, “Yeah, but I’m not sure I want to deal with the judgment or questions I’ll get.” “Yeah,” he says, “you probably shouldn’t wear that one.” You then move on to a plain white Hanes t-shirt that you once wore to a highlighter party—a party where everyone draws on each other’s white shirts in highlighter, and you’re all standing in black light so the highlighter looks neon. You hold that one up and say, laughing, “Maybe I should wear this one. It says, ‘You’re on my vagenda’ and ‘Born again virgin.’” He laughs and says, “Just wear the green one.” You look down at your dark blue toenails and, grasping at straws to please him, half-jokingly, say, “My toenails are Dodger blue, right?” He looks at them, smiles triumphantly, and says, “Yeah.” Crisis averted.

No one wants this baby. Except you. Kind of. But you know you can’t have it. You ask him how he feels about it and you tell him you’re sad, but you see in his eyes that he doesn’t feel the same. You’ll hear him say, “It’s the right decision” over and over again. He’s trying to feel what you feel, but it isn’t there. He won’t touch your stomach. Until one night he does. You ask him if you’re supposed to say bye. Are you supposed to say sorry? You want to ask him if he wants to spend time with it, but they’d think you’re crazy. You want it over with so your attachment doesn’t have time to keep growing. But you also don’t want to let go.

It only takes less than 10 minutes. You wish there was a heartbeat that you could hear. And then think you’re cruel for wishing that. You wonder if there is a heartbeat, but the doctor doesn’t offer any information. You don’t get to know your baby. She assumes you don’t want to. When you see the ultrasound after, you see the image that always has a baby in it. But yours doesn’t have a baby. Afterwards, you have a dream that there’s a baby in the picture. You wake up hopeful, but it’s too late.

You’re surrounded by signs. Multiple times every day, you see pregnant women, or babies, or something pops up on TV that’s about your situation. Before, you dismissed these as silly superstitions. After, you wonder about them. You’ll have a conference call with a writer and he will bring up a book about abortions. Your stomach will sink. He’ll ask you if you’ve had any personal experience with abortions. He’ll spend 10 minutes talking about them. He’ll tell you about a documentary he worked on that included footage of a real abortion. He’ll say, “After they suck the baby out, it goes into a vacuum chamber, and then they sort through the baby parts. So in the documentary, you see a close-up of a fetus hand while they sort through it.” You sit there, listening, shocked. You are speechless. You gulp and force yourself to play along—you say, “Wow, that’s really interesting.” You feel sick. You were already wondering about your baby—when they took it out, did it die right away? Did it feel any pain? But now, the image of it being sucked out and thrown away, but not big enough to have any parts to sort through, will be vividly in your mind. Your doctor will tell you that she’s pregnant, afterwards. You will start crying as you say, “congratulations.” A young mother and her young daughter will sit next to you on the bus, afterwards. The daughter will point at the butterflies on your bag and say “spider?” You’ll say, “Butterfly.” She will point at each of them, one by one, and each time, you’ll say, “butterfly.” You will underestimate how hard this will be for you. Maybe it’s supposed to be this hard. Maybe these signs are the universe’s way of punishing you. In the waiting room, you’re surrounded by visibly pregnant women and their babies. You wonder who, if anyone else there, is one of you. You are bombarded with life and reminders of what you’re doing. It haunts you.

You resent everything you’ve given up because of him. You resent everything you’ve put on hold for him. You resent that you’ve put yourself on the backburner because of him. This is his fault. You blame him for this. Nothing he does is quite right. Nothing he does is enough. Even when he brings you flowers, and makes you tea. You bite your tongue when he’s always late—don’t push him away. You did that already once—you were too needy. He won’t call you “babe” anymore. He’ll grow tired of you. He won’t touch you. When you cry, he will eventually limply throw his arm against you in a weak attempt at what he thinks he’s supposed to do—you think, it would be better if he didn’t touch me at all. You ask him if he will talk to you about it at some point. He asks, annoyed, “why is it so?–” and then stops himself, but you know the rest: “Why is it so hard for you to move on?” You can tell he just wants to go to sleep. He’s a simple man. You think to yourself, over and over, “I killed my own baby.” Then, you think, “I killed my baby for you. It was ours but I should’ve been looking out for the part that was me. And the part that was you that you didn’t want.” You think, I can’t do this—I can’t lose him, but even more, I can’t struggle every day, trying to stay in his good graces, trying to stay acceptable and desirable to him. You think, I am destroying myself. You feel that you’re about to break. He will break your heart. It will be your fault.

You think, it’s too late—I will never have this baby. This baby is gone. Yet I cannot let it go. You think, you’d rather go through this alone, because now, you’ve never been so lonely. You think, you can’t share a bed with someone you feel so utterly distant from. You think, you feel more alone in bed with him than sleeping by yourself on the couch. You spend the whole day envisioning saying that to him when he calls, but he doesn’t call. You hate him. Don’t complain that he’s shoving you aside to wait in the wings, because he’ll walk away again. Just give him the benefit of the doubt. Convince yourself it’s not settling. You’re not good enough for him, so tread lightly. This situation is delicate. You want to yell at him, and say, “You’re doing it all wrong.” You think he may think he’s doing it all right.

You are alone in this, whether you like it or not. You are isolated. This cross is yours alone to bear. People can try, but can’t fully break in from the outside. And some of them won’t try—they will abandon you. This has happened in your body, and therefore even more so in your mind than anyone else’s. It only gets worse with each passing day. How are you supposed to move on? Everyone else is moving. How do they do it? How do you move like them? They expect you to keep moving. They don’t understand. Yet, you’ve hardly cried this entire time. You feel fine and then wonder if you are. You feel fine and then wonder if that’s ok. You wonder if you’ll carry this heavy weight your whole life. You wonder if it will get lighter. You wonder if it should. You wonder if your regret will pass. You wonder if you’ll forgive yourself.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/what-do-you-wear-to-an-abortion/

Cheating: Let’s Discuss

I’m sure most of you are thinking, “what’s there to discuss?” You probably think there’s no excuse for infidelity and that it’s pretty unforgivable. But are we so sure about that? I mean, I’m tempted to agree that cheating is a dick thing to do in most cases, but aren’t there exceptions to every rule? Doesn’t the context in which the cheating happens help determine its ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’? As with most, if not all, things in life, I’m confused conflicted.

If you’re like me, and are kind of baffled by the concept of monogamy, cheating is understandable, at least. There’s of course the straightforward, if not unimaginative, biological argument–that we’re all supposed to be sowing our seed as widely as possible to propagate our genes. But, more so, the prospect of spending the majority of your life with one person–spending most of your time with them, living with them, having sex with only them–is kind of horrifying. For one, it sounds about as exciting as Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit collection. But also, it’s just plain unrealistic to think that’s sustainable. Peoples’ attention spans don’t last lifetimes–we’re like magpies/Jack in Will and Grace and shiny objects–we are easily diverted and want more! new! better! and we want it now!

So aren’t we all kind of micro-cheating every day? Even if you think cheating is wrong and are devoted to your monogamy, you can’t deny that we ALL look around and appreciate others’ attractiveness, we ALL flirt around, and we ALL fantasize about other people, whether we are in a monogamous relationship or not. Isn’t that super depressing? As much as I would love to believe it’s possible and feasible and tenable to be passionately in love with just one person until your dying day, if we’re being real, LOL.

And when people say “marriage takes work” or “marriage is hard, you have to work at it”–THEN WHY WOULD YOU EVER DO IT?! Like whenever something is going to be difficult, heartbreaking, hard work, whatever, isn’t the smart thing to do to run as far away as possible (or actually walk, because running is also too hard)? I mean, I certainly don’t approach my job, or exercise, or rational decision-making with a “Yeah! Let’s DO this!” attitude. And again, if we’re being honest with ourselves, I don’t think anyone really does.

Considering all of that, I would argue that it not only makes sense to me why people cheat, but we’re all cheating every day–if not in a physical, tangible way, at the very least we all have wandering eyes/minds. So isn’t a better, more understandable alternative to monogamy to have an open relationship outright? Isn’t that better than having one or both parties looking around, if not actually fooling around, all the time but just pretending to be monogamously devoted? I mean, as thankful as I am that we have shows like Cheaters and Ryan’s Roses, and frankly don’t know how I’d survive without them, it may work out better for humanity if we didn’t set ourselves up to fail by attempting the farce that is monogamy.

But, then again, if I had a boyfriend who cheated on me, I would probably send an email to everyone in his life vividly detailing every bit of his indiscretion–and I’m talking TO: or CC:, not BCC:–let’s get a nice “Reply All” chain going. So as understanding as I am of infidelity, I’m 100% a complete hypocrite. I don’t even personally love the idea of an open relationship–I’ve never been good at sharing. Like, when I was a kid, I would tape a sticky note around all of my yogurts in the fridge that said in caps “ALEX’S YOGURT” so my dad would not eat my yogurt. Even though he paid for it. But I digress.

Some people can totally get on board with “free love” and noncommittal relationships, but I’m not sure I can, and I think most of us can’t, at least ultimately (like maybe we can in our binge-drinking 20s, but when 30 rolls around and we realize that we’re not cool anymore, and never probably were, but we are just approaching death as our bodies become progressively more flabby, we probably want to cling onto someone else with a death grip for validation that WE’RE OK DON’T PANIC).

I mean really, what’s the alternative to monogamy if we can’t get on board with open relationships? I guess it’s just to die alone. Which actually doesn’t sound like the worst. Think about it–you’d have complete control over the remote always, so the TV would remain permanently on TLC (Bravo is also acceptable), you wouldn’t have to pretend to like your in-laws and buy them passive aggressive Christmas presents, you would never have to do that weird sex thing he likes, and you could shame-eat all the Fruity Pebbles in the world, but if no one was around to see it, did it really happen?

So, in conclusion, I don’t know.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/cheating-lets-discuss/

Plastic Surgery: Let’s Discuss

OK, let’s unpack this. Because frankly I have a lot of mixed emotions on the subject and need to work. it. out. And to clarify, I’m talking about elective plastic surgery–not reconstructive and/or medically necessary surgery, or gender reassignment surgery. We’re talking purely Joan Rivers, Kylie Jenner, and Pamela Anderson here. Granted, I don’t know their medical circumstances, but I feel it’s safe to assume that their cosmetic surgeries are of the elective sort (and if I have to hear one more person say that a “deviated septum” is really the legitimate cause for their nose job, I’m going to start responding with, “yeah, and I’m fucking the Pope.”).

If I were Kim, I would be like, “Wait, Kylie, did you cut off my face and are you wearing it as a mask?”

On the one hand, I absolutely believe that every person has the right to do with his/her own body what he/she wants. So I feel that I need to take the “to each his/her own” approach to plastic surgery. On the other hand, I can’t help but think that the main reason people elect to have plastic surgery is because of a societal and cultural standard of appearance that they feel they need to meet, not because of some inborn instinct they have to have fuller lips, a more perfect ass, or balloon tits. Sure, if everyone was getting a nose job because it served some evolutionary or biological purpose, I don’t think I would feel so strongly opposed to it. But it seems to me that the main reason for it is that in our culture, particularly in the U.S., smaller/less crooked/more refined noses are coveted as “ideal” and “beautiful.”

But according to who? And why? If we all look inward, I think we would find it hard to come up with a good reason or explanation, other than, “that’s the mass media-dictated standard of beauty.” But even then, there doesn’t seem to be a logical justification–it seems that some people just decided that “beautiful” or “desirable” = a certain set of physical traits, and everyone bought into that over time, making us no better than lemmings, really. So, if I consider the reason behind an individual’s choice to have cosmetic surgery, I still find it hard to justify.

Furthermore, I think that there are harmful consequences to plastic surgery. Not just the obvious possible medical complications, but when celebrities or public figures who have had work done are touted as representations of true beauty, the message to the public is that we should all look like that, or at least strive to, and if we can’t attain that look, there is something wrong with us. But of course we can’t attain that look, because we don’t have the money to spend on it. Also, a lot of the time celebrities have plastic surgery but don’t admit to it, which makes their message even worse: “I am beautiful, and I am this way naturally, so if you can’t make yourself look like this naturally, there’s something wrong with you.” Of course this is especially dangerous when it’s being conveyed to young fans. And I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that females are generally held to stricter standards of beauty and appearance than males in this society. So, essentially, the message that young, impressionable girls are receiving via media is that they need to fit a certain physical mold in order to be attractive and desirable.

I know I’m not the first to say any of this, but I think it’s important to talk about, because even I, a self-proclaimed feminist and graduate of a women’s college, find myself buying into these unrealistic beauty standards. And I have been fortunate enough to have access to quality education my entire life, and consequently the resources necessary in order to form informed responses to mass media propaganda, so I really have no excuse for falling prey to it. Yet, I do.

Every time I think about plastic surgery, I try to remain as objective as possible, and debate both sides of it. But every time I consider the pro argument that someone is having it because they want to and because it will make them feel better about themselves, I come back to the conclusion that the reason they want to have it and it will make them feel better about themselves is because it will help them attain the physical ideal that is promoted in our society and culture, and therefore, it is not such an autonomous decision as that argument would suggest.

That said, I’m always open to other ways of thinking and hearing other’s opinions on the matter. And I do thank all the people who have had horrendous cosmetic surgery for giving us all something to laugh at (I said it–SO SUE ME):

    

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/plastic-surgery-lets-discuss/