We bring what comes around

I had a conversation with my mom recently concerning a certain person who has engaged in certain unethical actions. She has information about said unethical activities. I suggested (rather strongly) that she should do what she can to make that information public. Basically, she should make sure this person pays for his or her actions.

She blew it off with a “what goes around, comes around” kinda thing.

I exploded a bit (I am prone to that anymore).

The Koch brothers are assholes. How are their bad deeds “coming around?”

They aren’t and they won’t unless we do something about it.

That phrase “what goes around, comes around” is designed to keep people who are hurt by the actions of others from responding and, therefore, accepting the hurt that was imposed upon them as just. That phrase is designed to keep people from stopping the bad actions of others. That phrase is a phrase of oppression, to keep the rabble from uprising.

That phrase needs wiped from our culture.

What goes around won’t come around unless we bring it.

It’s time to bring it.

My Letter to the Editor

If you thought we could get a break from political divisiveness after election day, I am sorry to disappoint you. Our state government is already making moves to curtail women’s rights again.

Governor Kasich appointed Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis, who has no apparent medical backgound, to the Ohio State Medical Board.

Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus has said that HB 125, the so-called heartbeat bill, is being brought back during the upcoming lame duck session.

And on Wednesday, the Ohio House Health Committee is voting on HB298, which would defund Planned Parenthood health centers in Ohio.

Our responsibility does not end with the votes we cast on election day. It begins there. Voting is the very least we can do. Contacting our governor and our congress members in Columbus, who are hoping that we are so fed up with politics that they can slip unqualified appointments and bills that have a history of being voted down by the electorate, and letting them know we are watching is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Let’s focus on the really important issues

A local section of the patch.com newssite occassionally posts stories from the police blotter. Recently, we got this story about a magic mushroom bust*.

A 23-year-old female resident of the apartment called police at 5:21 p.m. Sept. 18 to report a case of domestic violence.

Emphasis mine because that is the last time the domestic violence is brought up. The rest of the story talks about the mushroom lab found in the apartment. You know, mushrooms, those really dangerous things the kids eat to get high. Drugs so dangerous, that finding a lab in an apartment stole the plot.

Just how dangerous are these shrooms? Consider th chart below from The Lancet on Drug Harms in the UK. This chart shows the various harms done by various drugs complete with an Overall Harm Score!

Drug Harms in the UK Chart

See alcohol, the totally and completely legal drug, in the top spot with an OHS of 72? (I don’t know what units we’re dealing with, but it doesn’t really matter for my point.) Now, cast your eyes way, way down to the other end of the chart. There, sitting in last place, with an OHS of 6, is mushrooms.

This drug, in last place of harmfulness, is so important to get off the streets, that we have a news story about a lab bust: a news story that starts out with a phone call about domestic violence: a news story that is so focused on DRUGS that we don’t even find out if anyone was arrested for DV.

Because drugs are the important issue, here! Who cares if someone was getting beaten? Mushrooms, man! Domestic violence wasn’t even important enough to make it to the tags of the post.

We don’t discuss the issue of domestic violence any more than its usefulness as a plot point to get the police into the story.  Beating family members takes a backseat to a, mostly, victimless crime. This is how we set priorities in our country.

*The comments on the story are for another post. The concept that criminals don’t deserve protection is right up there with the Perfect Victim™.

Epiphanies and taking it personally

My mother teaches an unnamed course at an unnamed college. She recently asked her students if any books they read ever changed the way they thought of the world or a particular aspect of the world.

One student described being raised as a Catholic and attending church frequently while growing up. He recently read Nietzsche and realized that he would have to question everything, everything including his religion. So, for the time being, he was abstaining from church while he thought things through.

Perfect example.

This was immediately followed by a student who said that he read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and it just reaffirmed his faith!! I guess his epiphany was that he was right all along!

Apparently, one person questioning the faith he was raised in is an attack on the faith of every other person in that room.

Women in Secularism

Melody Hensley, the wonderful lady at CFI who has been instrumental in organizing the WiS conferences, yesterday put out a request for what the WiS means to us. Here is my email I sent off to her.

So much of my life has found me the lone female member amongst a group of males, from my baseball days of childhood to the motorcycle clubs of adulthood. Everything around me was always addressed to the men, had the point of view of the men, the concerns of the men, leaving me as an outsider even as I was a member.

I joined the atheist movement and found myself, again, surrounded by men’s voices, Dawkins, Myers, Hitchens.

Feminism is as an important part of who I am as is atheism. It can be exhausting to be the lone feminist in the midst of a group of men. Finding the existence of Rebecca Watson, Jen Mcreight and Greta Christina were rare reprieves from the constant push of sexism.

The Women in Secularism conference was an explosion of women in atheism for me. The brilliant speakers gave me names of women whose voices I can now hear through blogs, books and radio, not just their own, but lists of those from the past, women I had never heard of, but who had done so much. The friendly and brilliant attendees, some of whom I am still in contact with have made me feel so less like an outsider. And with their voices and mine, it is slightly less exhausting being a feminist in atheism.

I cannot thank you enough for making this experience available to me and other women like me. It is so very important to know their are women out there who have Things To Say™

Career Choices

My daughter’s high school’s website has a guidance page. This page is for parents and students to stay informed on programs available for further education. Things like:

“Are you a sophomore or junior interested in a career in technology? Then you should attend the free summer IT Career Camp at Akron University.”

Or

“Are you interested in a career in Forestry or related careers? If so, you may want to attend the Ohio Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp this summer. See your school counselor for details.”

So, imagine my surprise today when I read this:

“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority of Akron is sponsoring its 32nd Annual Debutante Cotillion on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. A Cotillion is a formal social gathering where teenage girls are presented as debutantes, or young woman new to the community. Applications are now available and the deadline for submission is June 22, 2012. See your school counselor if you are interested in this event.”

I’m not sure what this is doing on an education site. “Are you interested in a career as a woman?” just doesn’t work, here. We need to stop selling the “MRS” as a degree choice.  I am not saying that anyone not interested in furthering their education is lacking in any way. I’m not saying that someone who chooses to spend their lives as wife/mother is bad or lesser. There is nothing wrong with that. What I’m saying is promoting “be presented as a debutante” on the page meant for things like “Wanna be an astronaut? Take this class!” sends the absolute wrong message to our children.

There is no equivalent for boys. Unless I am woefully uninformed, there is no “You’re a man now! Let’s put you on the spouse market!” event that happens in our country. We don’t tell boys that their prime quality is their marriageability. So why do we continue to do it to girls?

Little Lady

We recently took a family vacation to a tiny coastal town in Northern California.  It had an airstrip, a golf course, a non functioning lighthouse and two restaurants that were each open three days a week. There was a marina, which really seemed to be one of the main points of the place. Lots and lots and lots of boats were crammed into a teeny space. But, it was quaint and beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

While searching for something nice to take home to my brother as a thank you for stopping in at the house and making sure no one had stolen our copper piping or set up a meth lab while we were gone, we visited the tiny general store there. It was packed with a surprising range of fare for such a small place. The next closest store being a 20 minute trek up the mountain made this place a relatively necessary provider for some people, I would imagine.

I found a suitable t-shirt and proceeded to the register where I noticed a little cardboard sign saying “CASH ONLY.” Knowing I had very little cash on me, I asked my wonderful husband for some of his. He handed over his wallet to me and went about perusing the goods.

My husband and I have always shared our money. It is just that kind of relationship where everything is ours. There is no mine and no his. (Except the motorcycles. They do not count in this conversation.) I listen to other couples who keep their separate accounts and watch them have spats over who’s paying for what. It’s not something that we do.  Throwing all our money into one pool is something that works for us.

Both names are on our checks. We both have the same credit cards. This, actually, was a necessity at one point. A number of years ago, I received a credit card offer in the mail that was affiliated with a cause I was interested in. At the time, I owned half a house and all the vehicles were in my name. When I called to apply, the man said I had no credit. Apparently, having my name on the mortgage meant nothing. Since Steve had set up all the utilities as I was having the busiest week of the year at my job when we moved, everything was in his name. I had credit cards on his accounts, but my name, apparently, wasn’t on the accounts themselves.  A simple oversight, on both our parts, that had huge ramifications.

I actually had to have my husband cosign for me to get my own credit card. It was embarrassing to be a responsible adult who pays all her bills (sometimes early and a few times twice) need a man’s help to get credit. I wondered how many women lose their husbands through death or divorce and find themselves suddenly alone and entirely devoid of credit. They must, then, be treated as an adolescent, with a real adult to back up them up in case they make poor decisions while they learn the world of finance.

Since then, all things have gone in my name, all loans, new credit cards, to guarantee this wouldn’t happen to me in the future. I’m very proud of my credit rating.

I’m also proud of the fact that I out earned my husband by a whopping $1.86 last year. We’ve been making close to the same money for a few years, but he, typically, gets better bonuses. Last year, due to a fairly nice raise I worked hard for, I finally beat him out.

So, imagine my reaction when the cashier, (Remember him? The one in California selling me the nice t-shirt?) looked at me with my husband’s wallet and says “Now, remember, that’s your allowance this week.” You could hear the “little lady” dangling on the end of the sentence.

I know he was kidding. I know he was trying to create a nice, light banter with the touristy customers in his shop. Unfortunately for him, he picked the wrong kind of banter for me. I looked him in the eye and said, rather tersely, I’m afraid, “I make more money than he does.”  It was all I could get out through my clenched teeth.

He made a mumble about just making a joke. I didn’t respond to that, because I was too embarrassed and angry.

Yes, I get embarrassed and angry when people assume that I need to be taken care of financially solely because I am a woman. I pay all of our bills.

I get embarrassed and angry when someone thinks that, because I’m a woman, I need to be given my money in small amounts and be told to be careful not to spend it all too soon! I do our taxes every year.

I get embarrassed and angry when people treat me like a child solely because I am a woman.  I have been able to pee by myself for 40 years.

I get embarrassed and angry when people use sexist comments as small talk. Small talk is a huge part of our social interaction. We chat about traffic, sports, weather, all sorts of things. That this man felt that treating me like a child is an acceptable part of every day social interaction is infuriating to me.

These are the little, insidious ways in which I am constantly reminded that I am, no matter how old I get, no matter how accomplished, no matter how responsible, still viewed as less than an adult, needing to be taken care of by the men that surround me. But, I am supposed to ignore it because, well, it was just a joke, right?

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