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  1. problem chylde
    problem chylde July 31, 2010 at 8:13 am |

    I love your writing so much, maia.

    anyone who thinks that adoption is an alternative to an abortion is nuts, it totally ignores that you have to be fucking pregnant for a fucking year first.

    I always wonder why people don’t talk about this. Why do people act as if it is so easy to be pregnant and have a child? So many things can go wrong during pregnancy that jeopardizes the mother’s life and the baby’s life. It damned sure isn’t a cakewalk. I think it has to do with perspectives on health. Western medicine still hasn’t integrated physical, mental and emotional health considerations very well. So even though your body is physically capable to bring forth a child, that doesn’t mean your mental health and emotional health are on that level. Nor does it mean your physical well-being will remain sound during and after a pregnancy.

    Plus the time. That’s almost a year. A year is a very long time. It’s not like no one notices you’re carrying a baby for a year and then everything goes back to normal once you give it to an adoption agency. I just… people need to think deeper about the meaning of giving birth and of motherhood and of parentage. The ownership/relinquishment model isn’t adequate enough.

  2. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 8:21 am |

    As a mother and a woman, my heart goes out to any woman that has been raped, brutalized, dehumanized and still values the sanctity of life enough to carry the product and often times, constant reminder of the brutality she suffered.

    In the states, the consensus from the powers that be is abstinence, abstinence, abstinence. When young teenage girls choose not to follow that course of action what are they left with – pregnant, scared, uneducated and with limited resources.

    I’ve watched as school district after school district bans sex education, frowns upon distributing condoms to promote safe sex and prevent pregnancy, and as a consequence I’ve cared for more young women infected with HIV than I can count. I’ve assisted in the delivery of babies to mothers as young as 13.

    The cycle seems to be unending.

  3. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 8:26 am |

    it always amazes me the mental gymnastics that people go thru to explain away things like this. on the one hand is fighting for the right to not have children – for certain women – and on the other allowing/accepting that some other women will be forced to have children. also, on the one hand saying that certain women “shouldn’t” have children & then calling them bad mothers when they do, while also not providing them the means to make any other choice. some women of color have been forced to have children – like animals, either for “breeding” purposes or otherwise. others are forced to not have children (re forced sterilizations, forced birth control).

    the first time i got pregnant, i certainly didn’t see abortion as an option. i couldn’t have afforded it, wouldn’t have known where to go to procure it, wouldn’t have had anyone to take care of me after the fact. i ended up miscarrying and being simultaneously sad at the loss and relieved.

    i think there are assumptions that if a woman has a child, she did so entirely by choice. and now should “pay” for that choice. and that if she seems to be a “good” mother, then she must have chosen to have the child and be happy about it. but if she is a “bad” mother, it’s because she didn’t ever want that child anyway and how dare she bring another child into this world? i know that one of my ex-husbands threw in my face that my “unplanned” child was the reason i was such a “bad” mom. and i was like “dude, uh, he was unexpected but not unplanned.” we (a former husband) had been trying and had been told i wouldn’t be able to have children and i had miscarried before. but so what if he had been unplanned? with that husband (the one who thought me such a bad mom) i had 5 further miscarriages. the first time, he was relieved and didn’t understand why i was upset. the second and third he was upset and very nurturing to me. the fourth he was angry with me for losing, for getting pregnant and giving him hope and then losing it. the fifth he was angry with me for getting pregnant and told me if i had the child he would leave. none of those five pregnancies were planned or expected. and abortion wasn’t discussed as an option, because he sure as hell wasn’t gonna pay for it.

    i remember walking in our community, in the flea market, and seeing these beautiful Mexican and Guatemalen women, pregnant. and him saying to me “i want to see you like that, with that big belly, carrying my baby”. and me knowing that it wasn’t likely to happen and feeling confused because he knew that it wasn’t likely to happen but suddenly there was this pressure to make it happen. and yet, when it did happen (well, i never managed to get to a big bellied stage) then it was a disaster and how dare i get pregnant and put him in this position?

    sometimes options don’t exist. sometimes you did everything “right” (my first pregnancy, i was on the pill and we used a condom. my fourth thru eighth were all after i’d had my tubes tied.) and it still happens. and sometimes you don’t have options to do anything about it. and you make the best of the situation. and it’s not like it’s all so simple. because you can totally want and be happy about a child you weren’t expecting. you can be annoyed, confused, frightened, wish you weren’t in the position, wish you had options, and still want to have the baby and want to be a mother.

    really, having or not having a child, being or not being a mother to that child – these are choices on either side that have often been taken out of the hands and self-determination of women of color. and even in 2010 these “choices” are not our own.

  4. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable July 31, 2010 at 8:34 am |

    This is as powerful as your last post. It feels like a call to action.

  5. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 8:48 am |

    PrettyAmiable: This is as powerful as your last post. It feels like a call to action.  

    Most def! I was reading a blog earlier this morning detailing the savagery taking place in the refugee camps in Port-Au-Prince. Women and young girls are being victimized daily, and these are just the offenses that are being reported. What about the women who, out of fear, shame, or whatever are keeping it to themselves.

    But as usual the world turns a deaf ear to the suffering of others. We develop a severe case of A.D.D. and would much rather focus our attention on who’s attending Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, what Snooki has to say about Obama or who’ll be the next American Idol. Fuck that!

  6. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt July 31, 2010 at 9:33 am |

    This post felt like a kick in the gut. Not because of what you’ve said, but because of the truth in it. I know a woman who was pressured by her husband into having more kids than she wanted and it breaks my heart.

    i am so pro-abortion because no one, and i mean no one, should have to be pregnant if they dont want to!

    This! So much this! It’s not fair on the person who carries the child and it’s certainly not fair on the child.

  7. Octavia
    Octavia July 31, 2010 at 9:34 am |

    I wanted to join up to let you know how much your writing has affected me. You are a powerful writer who has challenged and expanded my thinking, and from reading your blogs an amazing woman, revolutionary mama. I so admire your courage and the work you do for women and I love the Lilith Plan. The treatment of you on your other posts here has been horrible, so much racism festers up when the surface is barely even scratched.

    There is a sickening lack of awareness in white communities of the real lived experiences of women of colour (because we won’t stop excusing and listen) and why reproductive, mothers’, and children’s rights are so fundamentally part of a struggle for any real freedom and autonomy. Social reproductive violence against women of colour is so monstrous, yet is often treated as unimportant or not even known about by whites. We don’t want to know. It might offend our apparent right to make awful judgments about other women who aren’t ‘like us’ or something.

    Abortion in my socialised-health-care-very-liberal-by-international-standards country is publicly funded but still has serious access problems, particularly for rural communities and surprise surprise, the abused and the poor (the latter are mostly POC, again so surprising). In this country that ‘tops the global peace index’, we still have to gain the approval of two medical professionals to decide whether being pregnant is right for us. This is not autonomy, yet it is very good by many international standards. Most women seeking an abortion here use a loophole of being “mentally unfit” to be more likely to gain permission for an abortion. It is an arrogant myth that even in liberal societies abortion is easy to access for every woman or girl, that it is simply the woman’s choice so we are somehow allowed to punish her if we perceive she (and she alone) has made a bad one.

    And the “just adopt!” argument is ridiculous. Even with my privilege unwanted pregnancy would be physically dangerous for me. Just as one facet, my medication causes birth defects (and two of my health issues cause pregnancy complications). If I go off it, I get ill. And that’s not even mentioning the mental trauma of any forced pregnancy or birth.

    @Other commenters: I agree, this is a call to action.

  8. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 9:36 am |

    Excellent post.

    And mai’a, regarding your friend and her rant about breeders. You have to remember, part of coping with things (like being unable to have children) is telling yourself that it was the best thing anyway. Rather than looking at your friend’s comment as a slap in the face to you, perhaps it would be better to realize how lucky you are, and realize that you can help your friend- by letting her vent on the subject.

  9. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 9:48 am |

    whoa… i should have known it was only a matter of time. “breeder” is not a slap in the face and not meant personally and you shouldn’t be offended as a BLACK woman whose ancestors until very recently were literally bred like livestock. you should be more sensitive and realize how “LUCKY” you are.

    i swear, reading comprehension is not a strong point on this site. and compassion/ability to just LISTEN to a woc without telling us how to express ourselves, even less.

  10. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 10:03 am |

    Aaminah: whoa… i should have known it was only a matter of time. “breeder” is not a slap in the face and not meant personally and you shouldn’t be offended as a BLACK woman whose ancestors until very recently were literally bred like livestock. you should be more sensitive and realize how “LUCKY” you are.

    Not only should it offend black women, it should offend every woman. However, it is more offensive to some women of color considering the “breeding” practices our ancestors were subjected to.

  11. lt
    lt July 31, 2010 at 10:04 am |

    Thanks for a wonderful post and to echo everything Octavia said. And fat steve, yes, that may be what prompted her to say that, but it doesn’t make her ignorance any more excusable. And I’m sure maia can do without your condescending advice.

  12. Marle
    Marle July 31, 2010 at 10:07 am |

    Roschelle: As a mother and a woman, my heart goes out to any woman that has been raped, brutalized, dehumanized and still values the sanctity of life enough to carry the product and often times, constant reminder of the brutality she suffered.

    That’s rather gross to call a child a “product”. Like that child is not an individual, separate person, just reminder of how s/he was created.

    Also, don’t go on about how great it was that they value “the sanctity of life”, like they’re better than women who’ve been raped who don’t want to create life. Some people want to give birth at a given time, some don’t, and neither choice makes them better or worse. And that’s as if they even had a choice, which may or may not be.

  13. Sumayyah
    Sumayyah July 31, 2010 at 10:08 am |

    Whoa… This is powerful stuff.

    When I was pregnant with my 1st child, it was hard for me to make a decision. My (now ex) husband and I were having major problems, debating splitting up. I had just quit my job because it was driving me insane and I was unable to function. Money was tight. And then came “congratulations, you’re pregnant.”

    While I went on to carry and give birth to my child, for some, the decision is not so easy. Those who are raped and brutalized, those who are trapped in relationships with abusive partners, those with no money, no means of support… There is not always a clear “choice” available.

    I agree. This is a call to action. It it time for us, especially those of us in the States, to stop with the “abstinence only” rants and return to true sex EDUCATION. Also, it is time to consider the women that are poor, the women that are raped, the women that are forced, the sex workers, the virtual slaves. Choice is a word of the privileged, and it shouldn’t be.

  14. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:18 am |

    Roschelle, i’m not Black and i’m offended by it and agree that all women (really, all people) should be. But the context was that he was saying it specifically to a Black woman who has already put forward why it would have been particularly hurtful for a “friend” to use such a term.

    i come from a long line of First Nations women for whom the practice was “breed them out!” and we still, in 2010, have a sexual assault rate 6x that of the general population in the U.S., are routinely denied access to abortions, and yet are also still, in some areas, sterilized against our wishes & without our permission. so i take offense to the term breeder on general principle, but at the same time, i can’t say as i feel it in the same acute manner that Mai’a would. my experience and the collective experience of my people has not been the same as hers.

    what disturbs me is that we are supposed to be compassionate to this woman who cannot have children (and yes, i think we should be compassionate) to the point that it is OKAY for her to say hurtful things to Mai’a and not have us condemn them as hurtful. and who is to say that Mai’a didn’t already realize the place of pain her friend’s comment came from and didn’t give her leeway for making it? but raising it here is still valid as it makes a necessary point.

    again, the point, afaik, is not to position those who can have children against those who can’t. it’s really very much about how “choice” isn’t really there for many women. some people, there is no “choice” in that they cannot have children. others there is no “choice” in that they cannot not have children. that’s the issue here: recognizing that “choice” is often a privilege and that many women simply do not have that privilege at all.

  15. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 10:24 am |

    Aaminah: whoa… i should have known it was only a matter of time. “breeder” is not a slap in the face and not meant personally and you shouldn’t be offended as a BLACK woman whose ancestors until very recently were literally bred like livestock. you should be more sensitive and realize how “LUCKY” you are.
    i swear, reading comprehension is not a strong point on this site. and compassion/ability to just LISTEN to a woc without telling us how to express ourselves, even less.  

    @Aaminah In no way did I say that calling someone a ‘breeder’ was inoffensive. I was saying that the comments were a result of the friend’s disappointment at not having a choice. The friend has NO choice- even if they lived in ideal world- she would not be able to have children. You can’t empathize with that at all? That being presented with that might make you say something you don’t mean? I am making an assumption- I’m assuming mai’a doesn’t have close friends who are racist- so I’m looking at this as an isolated incident.

  16. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:28 am |

    also… i don’t know because i don’t normally read Feministe, but i have seen this so much with Mai’a’s posts, so i’m gonna say it:

    when someone writes about a personal experience, using it as an anecdote/example, they aren’t asking for approval or advice for “did i handle that the right way?” when Mai’a wrote about her friend asking her if Aza was with her when inviting her out for drinks, or writes here about a friend calling her a “breeder” (and furthermore how “immoral” it was for Mai’a to be considering not ending her pregnancy), she isn’t saying “am i right or wrong?” she’s just sharing a lived experience. she isn’t telling the complete story of exactly how she responded at the time, or the backstory that led up to it, or the future story of how further convo went down later. she is pinpointing a specific instance where something was said/done that points to a larger point she is making.

    and consistently in comments, people have grabbed onto her expression of disagreement/hurt/anger over what was said/done and assumed that she has no right to feel as she does and that it is she who isn’t seeing the bigger picture. it’s quite ridiculous, insensitive and derailing. it’s an easy way to completely avoid addressing Mai’a’s larger point. and yes, i really do wonder if the same thing happens when white women write about their experiences and point out anecdotes, or if this is something that is reserved for woc who some people just can’t begin to be bothered to listen to and try to understand.

  17. La Lubu
    La Lubu July 31, 2010 at 10:31 am |

    You can’t empathize with that at all?

    I can empathize with that, sure. But a mother shouldn’t have to listen to a rant about “breeders” and how “immoral” they are for bringing children into the world. In other words, you don’t get to feel taller by standing on my back. I’ve got enough feet finding their way there, thx.

    Which comes down to choice again, and how not all choices are respected. Especially women’s choices.

  18. mh
    mh July 31, 2010 at 10:32 am |

    Thanks for this.

  19. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:32 am |

    Fat Steve, don’t be so disingenuous. of course i empathize (more than you even could, since i actually was told i would never have children and only had one by a miracle) with the fact that the friend has no choice and won’t ever be able to have children. that does not make it right for her to say something that is overtly racist (whether it came from a place of pain or not) AND judgemental to Mai’a. but you are DERAILING. conveniently. this isn’t about that friend. or that friend’s pain and right to cause pain because she is in pain. and you telling Mai’a how she “should” feel about it and what the “right” reaction should be is really probelmmatic.

  20. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:37 am |

    also, we all have close friends who we don’t realize are racist until these “isolated” incidents happen and then we get to see a side of them that we had no idea existed. the fact that they have suffered or are oppressed in other ways does not make it okey-dokey for them to express that racism that has been hiding in them. and us bearing the brunt of that racism is not something we should just smile off and say “oh, she didn’t mean it”. it still has to get called out as racist.

  21. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    Aaminah: Fat Steve, don’t be so disingenuous. of course i empathize (more than you even could, since i actually was told i would never have children and only had one by a miracle) with the fact that the friend has no choice and won’t ever be able to have children. that does not make it right for her to say something that is overtly racist (whether it came from a place of pain or not) AND judgemental to Mai’a. but you are DERAILING. conveniently. this isn’t about that friend. or that friend’s pain and right to cause pain because she is in pain. and you telling Mai’a how she “should” feel about it and what the “right” reaction should be is really probelmmatic.  

    I’m sorry, you’re right about a lot of that. I was presumptuous to imagine that maia didn’t consider that her friend was coming from a place of pain (which is perhaps why she only mentioned it now.) However, I don’t know why you put the word ‘should’ in quotes and the word ‘right’ in quotes. I never used either word, I said “perhaps it would be better.” You criticized my reading comprehension then you literally quote me as saying something I didn’t say.

    I agree the advice to maia was stupid and condescending and a knee jerk reaction to someone being upset (oh, don’t worry about it- look on the bright side.) But is was nothing more sinister than that.

  22. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 10:42 am |

    @Aaminah What’s the point of writing for people of a different perspective and allowing them to comment when you don’t want their perspective. If my view is unappreciated- that’s fine. I really think in those cases, comments should be disabled.

  23. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 10:46 am |

    Marle: That’s rather gross to call a child a “product”. Like that child is not an individual, separate person, just reminder of how s/he was created.

    the embryo is defined as “the product of conception”. Therefore, I was not out of line using the terminology with reference to a pregnancy. Mai’a post, in part, spoke of an experience she had with congolese rape survivors who viewed their children as gifts. That speaks volumes about the strength of women which is great.

    I never said women these women were better. You did

  24. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:50 am |

    omg, it’s ALL ABOUT YOU, Fat Steve! i’m so sorry i didn’t realize that.

    1. i did not “quote” you. quote marks are used not only/just to denote actual words said but to denote what the underlying interpretation is of what was being said. your whole tone was that Mai’a should see things a certain way, your way.

    2. you can have a different opinion/perspective. you can even express it. by all means. but condescending, excusing racism, and telling woc how to feel/express themselves is not quite the same thing. and don’t think i don’t notice that you are ignoring that anyone else responded to your comments and reserving your disagreement for me.

    3. no, comments shouldn’t be disabled. people just shouldn’t act like asses in the comments and think no one else can tell them when that’s what they’re doing. and comments should, actually, make some attempt to stay on topic and address the WHOLE picture presented by the post. not nitpick because you can’t seem to be bothered with the speaking to the larger issues.

  25. Rebecca
    Rebecca July 31, 2010 at 10:52 am |

    Fat Steve: What’s the point of writing for people of a different perspective and allowing them to comment when you don’t want their perspective. If my view is unappreciated- that’s fine. I really think in those cases, comments should be disabled.

    Because there are useful and constructive things to be discussed. But what isn’t among those things is your suggestion that it’s really okay to rant about someone else’s reproductive choices and that Mai’a was obligated, as a friend, to listen to that.

  26. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 10:56 am |

    also, i don’t speak for Mai’a. shit, i feel like that should be posted in all caps above every comment i make. so people wouldn’t imply that Mai’a is the one who isn’t interested in a different perspective and should close comments etc. because silly ol’ me took issue with something that was said. again, i don’t speak for Mai’a. Mai’a may or may not even agree with me, and probably agrees with some things and not with others.

  27. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 10:58 am |

    Aaminah, where did I disagree with you? I totally agreed that my comments were stupid. I said my comments were presumptuous, thoughtless and stupid. I just thought you were quoting me inaccurately about the ‘should’ and ‘right’ You explained that. I have no issues with you.

  28. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 11:05 am |

    Rebecca:
    Because there are useful and constructive things to be discussed. But what isn’t among those things is your suggestion that it’s really okay to rant about someone else’s reproductive choices and that Mai’a was obligated, as a friend, to listen to that.  

    Ok, let me make it clear. That is not what I was saying. OK, maybe I was relying too heavily on my experience and thinking of similar things that happened to me. I have had friends say things to me that have had me in tears later. So I told mai’a what makes me feel better when a friend says something awful- letting it go. I realize that I was presumptuous in assuming that I came to some brilliant conclusion to ‘move on.’ I was stupid, presumptuous, I was a dick….but I wasn’t ever suggesting the words weren’t offensive.

  29. Cactus Wren
    Cactus Wren July 31, 2010 at 11:05 am |

    If I may interrupt the you-said-no-you-said long enough to return to the topic:

    The problem is that pro-liars do not see women as persons. Even women pro-liars don’t. They don’t see women at all — they see an object, a sort of machine for producing (preferably) sons, a convenient free-standing appliance. They call this appliance “the womb”. A fetus, for them, doesn’t exist inside a woman’s body — it exists inside this object called “the womb”.

    And that makes things so much easier, at least from the pro-lie point of view: I really believe that’s why they use this “the womb” circumlocution so consistently. After all, what need has “the womb” for concern? “The womb” has no rights, no will, no needs or wants. No one needs to worry about the individual worries or concerns of “the womb”.

    And of course, “the womb” can produce babies and give them away without a second thought, as easily as well-meaning-but-irresponsible pet owners give away extra kittens.

  30. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 11:14 am |

    yes, Fat Steve, i get it.

    i just think that we (a very general we) need to be careful when we make assumptions but also when we are so intent on seeing both sides of an issue that we effectively minimize oppression being done by one side. especially when facts are that one side does a lot of oppressing and it’s the ones being oppressed who are constantly being called on to be compassionate and see things from the other perspective.

  31. rox
    rox July 31, 2010 at 11:16 am |

    Maia, I want to thank you for acknowledgment of what women go through when they lose children to adoption. I have long been wishing that womens rights activists cared about this issue at all.

    Having lost my daughter to adoption, I can say that adoption has the most soul destroying experience I could ever envision. And I know that I am not alone, in feeling that adoption caused a level of trauma that I have never, nor will I ever fully recover from.

    The idea that women should carry a child for nine month and bond and love that being inside them and then never be allowed to love and parent their child again is barbaric. As punishment for having unprotected sex.

    I write a lot about the class and economic issues that go into relinquishment, and the ways the we as a society can support women who find that abortion is not an option for them when faced with crisis pregnancy, without shoving adoption on them as the only way to give their child an enriching successful life.

    I am firmly pro-choice, but I know that abortion was not right for me, and for many women, even those among us who are pro-choice and non-religious. However in comparing the studies that have been done: The trauma, PTSD, psychological harm, emotional devastation, and life long grief that have been documented among women who lose children to adoption are in NO WAY comparable to what women go through in an abortion.

    I have known many women who HAVE struggled with having an abortion, for a variety of reasons and I think women should be allowed to talk about that without it being used as fodder for the pro-life/pro-choice debate. I have also know many women, in much greater quantity than women who lose children to adoption; that don’t experience any difficulties at all with an abortion. I have NEVER seen that happen with adoption.

    Just to say.

    I would encourage anyone interested to read my blog, in fact I would deeply appreciate it! I am an adoptee whose mother was exploited as a breeder, and I wound up going through the same experience that she did, losing my daughter at the same age she lost me.

  32. Sara
    Sara July 31, 2010 at 11:32 am |

    I really like this post.

  33. Devin
    Devin July 31, 2010 at 11:41 am |

    I was drawn to this post because this is something I feel really strongly about. I am not a mother, nor have I ever been pregnant but I know plenty of people who have been and were put in a difficult situation. Reproductive justice is something we should never stop fighting for. Being a mother should be a personal choice, not an obligation or something we are forced into in any way. Keep speaking out on this issue, I know I will!

  34. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 31, 2010 at 11:44 am |

    Aaminah, you should also know that a large reason of why I address my posts to you is because I find much of what you say articulate and thought provoking.

  35. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Fat Steve, do not try to get on my good side with flattery, LOL. La Lubu is far more articulate and thought-provoking. ;)

  36. Gentleman Cambrioleur
    Gentleman Cambrioleur July 31, 2010 at 12:24 pm |

    Thank you for your writing. Your three posts on motherhood have been the best things I have read here in a long time.

    People who talk about motherhood being a “privileged choice” have probably forgotten about the campaigns to sterilize poor women, disabled women, and women of colour; about the child protection services that will often take children away from single mothers by force and place them in foster families; about the adoption agencies in Global South countries that will take children away from families that can no longer afford to feed them and pass them on to people like Madonna against the parents’ and the child’s will; about the laws some people are talking of passing to prevent trans men from giving birth and trans and queer people in general from having children (yes, this affects trans and queer people too honest I swear!) and I’m sure there are more.

    For a lot of people living under the boot of society, having children is an act of defiance and affirmation of life. When people in power are telling you, you’re worthless, your life sucks, you ought to die, is there really a best way to prove them wrong than to say, No, I am valuable and my life overflows with so much wealth that I will have a child and pass it on to them.

    I’m a childfree queer white woman btw, but from a culture (French Canadian) where extended relatives are very close and often have huge families, and I’ve helped raise my siblings and given/received help from aunts and cousins and nieces in times of need and I can relate to your model of activism, even though I wouldn’t claim the term “mama” or “mami” for myself. Families are powerful, and they don’t have to be the family that you were born with.

  37. Emmy
    Emmy July 31, 2010 at 12:38 pm |

    rox: Having lost my daughter to adoption, I can say that adoption has the most soul destroying experience I could ever envision. And I know that I am not alone, in feeling that adoption caused a level of trauma that I have never, nor will I ever fully recover from.The idea that women should carry a child for nine month and bond and love that being inside them and then never be allowed to love and parent their child again is barbaric. As punishment for having unprotected sex.I write a lot about the class and economic issues that go into relinquishment, and the ways the we as a society can support women who find that abortion is not an option for them when faced with crisis pregnancy, without shoving adoption on them as the only way to give their child an enriching successful life.
    …I have also know many women, in much greater quantity than women who lose children to adoption; that don’t experience any difficulties at all with an abortion. I have NEVER seen that happen with adoption.Just to say.

    WHOA WHOA WHOA. HOLD. UP.
    Although I respect that there’s a lot of baggage behind how adoption is carried out among poor communitites/communities of color (much as there is baggage around how abortion is carried out in these same communities), making a blanket statement about “adoption trauma” is way off track. A friend of mine gave her son up for adoption because she didn’t feel ethically comfortable with an abortion, but also recognized that she didn’t want to be responsible for a child for eighteen-plus years of her life at that point. She arranged an open adoption, and still maintains a good relationship with her child and his adoptive family. Additional family friends have also been adopted (one from abroad, one domestically from the US) and have the most loving set of parents anyone could ask for – it’s at best disingenuous to imply that all adoptive parents are inherently causing suffering.
    This reminds me, very strongly, of the women who claim they’ve been scarred by “abortion trauma” and go around preaching the anti-choice message. Do some women regret their adoptions? Certainly. But some women also regret their abortions, or their choice to raise children, and implying that one is an inherently unethical choice that always harms people would be considered deeply offensive by a lot of the people I know.

  38. Kaz
    Kaz July 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm |

    This is an amazing and powerful post. Wow.

    Just – @Roschelle:

    We develop a severe case of A.D.D. and would much rather focus our attention on who’s attending Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, what Snooki has to say about Obama or who’ll be the next American Idol.

    Could we stop it with the ableist language please?

  39. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm |

    Kaz: Could we stop it with the ableist language please? 

    Are you serious? For a few weeks the world’s attention was focused on Haiti and the plight of the Haitian people. As soon as the media drops the story, some act as if people aren’t still suffering in that country.

    Ableism?! Please…

  40. Nanci
    Nanci July 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm |

    I’m so thankful of your posts. I think that as a hispanic woman who has been lucky (and to an extent, ignorant) enough to not really understand the thousands of facets of white privilege (because I’ve never really been fully burdened by it), these posts first confused me. I didn’t understand the anger, until I started reading more and realizing how much I ignored the troubles of other poc. I’m still so far away from knowing and acting as much as I want to be, but with these posts (and those of others), I think I’ll get there slightly faster.

  41. Jay
    Jay July 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

    La Lubu: you don’t get to feel taller by standing on my back.

    La Lubu, I love you. OK if I use this? It crystallizes so much.

    And thank you, Maia, for this post and for the work you do, and for bearing witness. Your words stir me to my own work, and my own witnessing.

  42. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm |

    What a beautiful post and a beautiful idea. I agree with everyone else that this feels like a call to action. I’m sure many of us would be thrilled to assist you (if you would like our assistance that is). Is there anything we can do?

  43. mh
    mh July 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm |

    @Rox–I look fwd to reading your blog, and thank you for reminding me I need to think about this more. I grew up in a mixed family (one adopted kid, two biological ones) and have many friends with different kinds of adoption experiences but the issue of relinquishment has not been at the forefront of our talking and thinking about this.

  44. La Lubu
    La Lubu July 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm |

    Jay, absolutely!! Aaminah, thanks much!

  45. GinnyC
    GinnyC July 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm |

    Mai’a: I am loving your posts this week!

    This is an issue that haunts me because not only do many, if not most women in the world not have a choice not to become mothers, many if not most gay women in the world do not have a choice not to become wives and have sex that they do not enjoy. I am extremely aware of how privileged I am as a middle class woman from an accepting family in the U.S. to have the choice to only have the sex I want and to only have a child if I decide that I want a child.

  46. Chally
    Chally July 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm |

    @Aaminah @16

    Happens to this non-white women when I write about personal stuff here all. the. time. See this thread on a memory of a racist incident I experienced.

    Roschelle:
    Are you serious? For a few weeks the world’s attention was focused on Haiti and the plight of the Haitian people. As soon as the media drops the story, some act as if people aren’t still suffering in that country.
    Ableism?! Please…  

    Yes, Roschelle, ableism. You appropriated deafness and ADD to as a means of expressing negative things. You may find this series and site helpful.

  47. Norah
    Norah July 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm |

    Roschelle: Are you serious? For a few weeks the world’s attention was focused on Haiti and the plight of the Haitian people. As soon as the media drops the story, some act as if people aren’t still suffering in that country. Ableism?! Please…  (Quote this comment?)

    Yes. A severe case of ADD? Nice. I’ll be sure to remember that having ADD is JUST like media and people acting like horrible situations are over once we stop paying attention to them.

    And I think Maia’s post is great. I am someone who a lot of people would prefer be forcibly sterilised. Even from people who would never bring that up I hear what a problem we would have if I got pregnant, and I wonder if they’re thinking it.

  48. Aaminah
    Aaminah July 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm |

    re Rox’s comments and Emmy’s taking exception…

    disclosure (since it seems like you can’t be taken serious if you don’t disclose everything): i am adopted. i am a transracial adoptee. my adoptive parents also had adopted a white girl prior to adopting my brother and i, and i have a super close relationship with my adoptive parents. my brother and sister were both known to be “extreme ‘special needs’ (how i hate that term)” at the time of adoption and it was assumed that i was… not. my brother and i (though not my sister) were severely abused by our adoptive parents.

    i did not personally read Rox’s statements as applying one single experience across the situation for ALL birthmothers that give their children up for adoption, nor that she was castigating all adoptive parents in any way.

    giving your child up *is* not an “easy”/i.e. non-painful/never question it again choice. just as keeping your child knowing that you don’t have much support isn’t an easy choice to make. and having an abortion isn’t an easy choice to make. but again, we are assuming – incorrectly, as the very thesis of this post discusses – that women have choice.

    Rox writes that she works with women who have lost their children to adoption, either by “choosing” to relinquish them or by having them taken. and let’s be real: the truest baggage is the fact that far more children are put into the adoption industry because women don’t have a choice than otherwise. even women who do make that choice (versus having the child taken) often feel they have no choice, are often coerced, are often pushed by any number of people or realities that they didn’t really “choose”. and it is just fact that many women wrestle with pain for that “choice” for a long time. just as many adoptees wrestle with pain at some point trying to understand why their mother let them go/had them taken. it would not be fair for us to wipe all that pain away and say it’s not the norm. i mean, i trust that if that is the anecdotal evidence Rox has seen working with such mothers then it is probably true. just as it is the anecdotal evidence i have experienced/witnessed.

    i don’t think raising how traumatic adoption “choice” can be for women is quite the same as saying ALL women feel horribly guilty and traumatized by giving their child up. for some women, it was the best choice and they sleep quite soundly knowing they were able to make it – and more power to them. but the point was when contrasting the trauma of having an abortion versus carrying/birthing a child and then giving it up – it is problemmatic for people to take away options and tell a woman she just should have the baby and give it up. that it is somehow more moral and not as traumatic. it most certainly can be traumatic.

  49. Naamah
    Naamah July 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm |

    Fat Steve: Excellent post.And mai’a, regarding your friend and her rant about breeders. You have to remember, part of coping with things (like being unable to have children) is telling yourself that it was the best thing anyway. Rather than looking at your friend’s comment as a slap in the face to you, perhaps it would be better to realize how lucky you are, and realize that you can help your friend- by letting her vent on the subject.  

    The fucking fuckhell? I am not going to sit there while some obnoxious ass vents on the subject of how gross bisexuals are, or how all kinky people are child porn addicts or how atheists are all assholes and going to hell or how fat people should just get some self control already and stop stuffing their fat faces. So I don’t even know what the hell you are thinking with that listening to hostile “venting” shit. That is really, REALLY offensive.

    That person was seriously out of line. Friend or not, nobody is obligated to sit there and listen to that kind of offensive fucking bullshit. I am pretty sure my real friends wouldn’t want me sucking up justifiable anger just so they can blow off a little steam. Fuck that. They want me to call them on their bullshit, and I expect the same of them.

    I’m fat, I wish I were thin,* and I wouldn’t expect a friend of any size to sit there and listen to me therapeutically hate on “skinny bitches” even if I often truly DO need help coping with that in a non-destructive way.

    Jesus Christ. What the hell? Why are WE expected to sift through another person’s bullshit to divine their true motives and feelings, instead of THEM being expected not to be motherfucking assholes?

    * I’m down with the FA thing; this is a way in which I’m broken, not a philosophy I think is good for me in any way.

  50. Annaham
    Annaham July 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm |

    Absolutely amazing post, Mai’a.

  51. Andrea
    Andrea July 31, 2010 at 6:36 pm |

    Mai’a, every day I get home and check Feministe hoping there’s something new by you up. You are amazing, and I heart you so flippin’ much.

  52. Eghead
    Eghead July 31, 2010 at 6:38 pm |

    Once again I am reeling from the language in your posts. I was so behind this– everything you say about ‘breeder’ is so correct, and something I’ve been trying to articulate– and then WHAM with the ableist language: “anyone who thinks that adoption is an alternative to an abortion is nuts.”

    I am truly sorry that I am not able to engage with your ideas, but I need a break from this blog for a while.

  53. nathan
    nathan July 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm |

    You know, I’m not sure what exactly you want changed in terms of the use of the word “nuts” Eghead, but it seems to me that at a certain point, one could niggle with every last word of a post that could possibly trigger someone until the entire post is rendered meaningless.

    I think the critiques of the whole “trigger warning” in general a few commenters have made in the past few posts of Maia’s are worth considering. Who’s definition of “trigger” should be used on a public forum? Who gets to decide? And who benefits?

    How would you rephrase the sentence in question? Because I’m having a hard time coming up with an alternative that conveys the message in a powerful way.

    To me, the whole use of charged language is such a fine line. Where does the policing end? Do you police the regular writer’s posts in the same way? What happens when the message is so diluted as to not offend anyone? Does the world change this way, or do we all just get to feel a bit of warm fuzzy before going back to life as normal?

    I’ll be honest. As a white male, I have sometimes wondered if anything I have to say is wanted on this website. But you know what, at some point, I have to suck it up, and either say something or stay quiet. Some of the comments about men have triggered me as well because I really try to be an ally, and open to learning.

    And that’s just it. The only way to be open to learning is to be open to hearing something you don’t want to hear, disagree with, and might even be triggered by.

    I’ve read every post by Maia. There’s never been a time when I have felt that she has deliberately said something just to get a rise. I can feel the passion, dedication, and life experience pouring our in her writing. It’s tons more interesting than hate fests on Mel Gibson, or some of the stuff I’ve read on other feminist websites.

    Is the word “nuts” the kindest word available? No. But is it something to reject an entire piece of writing over?

    I’ll ask again – do you police the language of every other post on here in the same way, because if not, then there’s something else at play. When I first heard commenters wondering if Maia’s posts were being derailed because she is a WOC, I wasn’t sure what to think. But after all the derailing I’ve seen on here this week, it’s so obvious to me that Maia’s got people uncomfortable, and they’ll say almost anything to feel at ease with their worldview again.

  54. Roschelle
    Roschelle July 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    Chally: Yes, Roschelle, ableism. You appropriated deafness and ADD to as a means of expressing negative things. You may find this series and site helpful.

    Turning a deaf ear to the suffering of others is not an ableist statement. Not only is deaf defined as the inability to hear it is also the unwillingness or refusal to listen. Perhaps using ADD as the equivalent to the speed in which some people turn their attention elsewhere after the initial shock of a certain situation is over was insensitive, and in the future I will re-think my word choices more carefully.

  55. Chally
    Chally July 31, 2010 at 8:55 pm |

    Well, I can’t speak for Eghead, but certain the other writers and I try our best to be aware of ableism in language on this site, nathan. Speaking of which! Roschelle, if you can’t accept when a disabled person tells you about what ableism is, and when you don’t want to accept that you are using deafness metaphorically, then I think you need to do a bit more research and definitely think about this a bit more.

  56. Austin Nedved
    Austin Nedved July 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm |

    Once again I am reeling from the language in your posts. I was so behind this– everything you say about ‘breeder’ is so correct, and something I’ve been trying to articulate– and then WHAM with the ableist language: “anyone who thinks that adoption is an alternative to an abortion is nuts.”

    “”You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean”” (Matthew 23:24-25).

  57. Chally
    Chally July 31, 2010 at 9:12 pm |

    That’s quite enough of that. On topic or I will grow harsher in exercising my modly powers.

  58. Amanda
    Amanda July 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm |

    Thank you so much for this post. I am right on with, having become a mother, I am SO FIRMLY pro-choice for all women (I was before but it’s a whole new level now). It’s been a hard thing for me to articulate well but you did it – thanks.

  59. sadie
    sadie July 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm |

    Maia, I love your posts.

    I don’t have a lot to add to the discussion here but will say that my body was forever changed by my pregnancies. i got pregnant on purpose, and I can’t say I’d give it back, but the impact on my body was huge and not particularly positive. I’ve often thought about that when discussing adoption as though it’s a neutral option.

    also, on the question of adoption trauma…it seems to me that when a woman doesn’t have a set of options from which to choose, the course she is forced to take is a lot likelier to be traumatic.

    on a tangent…i actually find the language of choice problematic. I think what women need is not ‘a choice,” what we need is options, because without options there is no choice. and those options need to be available to *everyone*, and include contraception, abortion, adoption (open, closed, whatever is needed), healthcare for pregnancy, healthcare and societal support for parenting, a safe and just world in which to raise our kids….

  60. blue milk
    blue milk July 31, 2010 at 11:48 pm |

    Love coming here and finding all this stuff on motherhood!

    I detest the way the anti-children/anti-mothers conversation focuses on ‘choice’ – you chose to have this child so you are responsible for all the disadvantage and discrimination that comes with that. There is a reason individualism is the mainstream of conservative philosophy, people – it maintains the status quo and it blames the victim. If you find yourself embracing individualism for your arguments then start wondering what happened to your progressive politics.

    Having children really isn’t a true choice for the bulk of mothers – which doesn’t mean that they don’t love their children and love being a mother – just that being able to exercise full reproductive control in your life is still a fairly rare event for women.

  61. problem chylde
    problem chylde August 1, 2010 at 6:46 am |

    I know this is a definite sidebar; so feel free not to approve it:

    i also have worked to reclaim words like ‘crazy’ ‘nuts’ etc. and use them as i see fit, rather than simply as a pejorative. while at times still allowing them to be a pejorative description. because i dont see my own mental states as always healthy or conducive to accurate thought and perception.

    i think this is an interesting way to look at reclamation of ableist language. i always find myself retracing my steps when i write, to edit my labeling of things as crazy/insane/nuts/foolish and trying to find words that capture my meaning without cursing. (because i could easily say everything is fucked or bullshit and have that be the end of it.) but when you put it in that paradigm, it opened my eyes to something about that language, and how using it in certain contexts isn’t necessarily an indictment of people with mental disorders. it hits to the crux of how to separate a bad label for people’s state of being from a damaging/disorienting idea.

    still a lot of issues surround implementing that policy; but thanks for bringing that perspective, maia.

  62. nathan
    nathan August 1, 2010 at 10:24 am |

    Maia – thank you for writing about your writing process. As a fellow writer, I appreciate the care you put into using language.

    I really hope that I didn’t come off as someone who thinks it’s ok to say anything, even if offensive. That certainly wasn’t my intent.

    It’s more that I find it concerning when writing becomes solely about not offending others. Because that can easily lead to a kind of smothering that destroys the impact what the writer wishes to intend. And frankly, sometimes people need to be offended in order to wake up.

    “i actually sat there for a few minutes and worked it through in my head. and i realized that i was actually making, in my assessment with my experience of ‘craziness’, an accurate analogy. i am not simply saying that people who hold these ideas are ‘wrong’. i am saying that their grasp on the shared experience of pregnancy, birth, adoption is tenuous at best.”

    It would really be a loss if this kind of working through isn’t embraced by people on sites like Feministe. There has to be a balance point between protecting people from abusive, oppressive use of language, and allowing for the kind of written expression that conveys exactly what a writer wants to convey.

  63. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 1, 2010 at 11:10 am |

    nathan: It would really be a loss if this kind of working through isn’t embraced by people on sites like Feministe. There has to be a balance point between protecting people from abusive, oppressive use of language, and allowing for the kind of written expression that conveys exactly what a writer wants to convey.  

    Is it really such a hindrance to say instead that “anyone who thinks adoption is an alternative to abortion is entirely uneducated on the subject”? I didn’t weigh in on this because I’m sure mai’a has had enough of people combing over her post for tidbits that we might find personally offensive when the truth is that her life is so different than the one traditional Feministe readers lead that she deserves the chance to express herself in her own words in our space – whatever they may be. But using mai’a’s writing and mai’a’s message as an excuse to use language others might find harmful, and daring to say something to the effect of “I’m a member of x group, so I can use derogatory language to x group because it doesn’t bother me” or “it applies to me in this way” without acknowledging that by and large, x group is horribly discriminated against and dehumanized with that same language and then adjusting accordingly? And then saying that not using oppressive language can be detrimental to your language – because what – you don’t have the vocabulary or patience to say something without contributing to oppression? Keep in mind that “nuts” did not say exactly what she wanted to say – she needed a follow up post to explain what she meant.

    Nathan, if you have a personal message as profound as mai’a’s to convey and if you’re asked to guest-post on account of that message, I’ll cut you the same slack. But you’d be remiss to think that if someone reads something you wrote that utilizes oppressive language and you can’t explain your creative choices as eloquently as mai’a did that you won’t be horrifically shut down.

    Sorry Chally, I understand if you delete this comment but nathan’s been irritating me with this “But being PC hurts MY language!” crap.

  64. nathan
    nathan August 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    I honestly don’t know how to respond. I get the sense that no matter what I would say about this, unless I strike a zero tolerance policy, there will be someone pissed and upset.

    I stand behind my comments. You and I can disagree.

    “Nathan, if you have a personal message as profound as mai’a’s to convey and if you’re asked to guest-post on account of that message, I’ll cut you the same slack. But you’d be remiss to think that if someone reads something you wrote that utilizes oppressive language and you can’t explain your creative choices as eloquently as mai’a did that you won’t be horrifically shut down.”

    I accept this as a possible outcome. In fact, I’ve had a few comments on other posts on here that have been torn apart, and I accepted that. I’m not one to go on and on in defending myself. I certainly make mistakes, as does any writer.

    What I find interesting though is that a few word choices in a given post can, and are, used to shut down the author’s broader messages. There’s something off about that. Some commenters are very good at pointing out a word, saying “check this,” or asking “why did you use this word or phrase?” But others use a word or couple of words to derail the whole post. I just don’t agree with that.

    And at this point, I feel like I have added to the derailing of this post enough. So, I’ll stop.

  65. Rose
    Rose August 1, 2010 at 1:29 pm |

    Reading this and other feminist blogs has a exposed me to a lot of bigotry against gynaecologists and obstetricians who are frequently perceived and portrayed as patriarchal charlatans.

    Thanks for not making the Lillith blog something that drives away people who believe in a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive freedom.

  66. Jigae
    Jigae August 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    Aaminah:
    3. no, comments shouldn’t be disabled. people just shouldn’t act like asses in the comments and think no one else can tell them when that’s what they’re doing. and comments should, actually, make some attempt to stay on topic and address the WHOLE picture presented by the post. not nitpick because you can’t seem to be bothered with the speaking to the larger issues.  

    Comments shouldn’t be disabled… people just shouldn’t say things I disagree with. I’m skipping out on these posts from here forward but I am really shocked by your policing of these threads. It has a chilling effect on all of us: straight, gay, white, queer, people of color, atheist and religious, with child and without. I know I’m not going to change your mind, but sometimes disagreements are really disagreements and not the results of toxically unexamined prejudices. If we don’t let people speak and don’t honor all of their truths we’re no better than the people we rail against.

  67. Jigae
    Jigae August 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm |

    Chally: That’s quite enough of that. On topic or I will grow harsher in exercising my modly powers.  

    Chally: Are you going to speak to mai’a about her use of the word ‘nuts?’ I think there are some issues here with feelings of unequal enforcement. Maybe Roschelle’s just reclaiming ‘deafness.’ It’s hard not to see this as at least a minor form of hypocrisy.

    I apologize for being contentious. It just feels like privilege is being abused and denied all at the same time.

  68. Aaminah
    Aaminah August 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm |

    Jigae,

    if you choose to not engage with Mai’a’s thoughts, that is on YOU. it’s got nothing to do with me “policing” convos here. i am for open dialogue and recognizing that we don’t all always agree and that genuine discussion of those disagreements is the purpose of a blog like this and a way of sharing/learning different ideas. that said, the consistent personal hatred, misquoting, decontextualizing etc. that has gone on thruout all comment threads on Mai’a’s posts is really not conducive to genuine discussion, now is it? it isn’t about whether i disagree – hell, i am the one that said comments shouldn’t just be closed – it’s that some people are being just plain mean and willfully not engaging with Mai’a’s ideas but nitpicking at a word or a thought here and there that they can’t move past. considering that in these same threads i’ve been accused of privileges i don’t even possess to cover up the spew that IS hateful coming out of other people’s mouths, i don’t even know what you expect me to say. i’m not policing anything here – i’m answering specific points brought up and trying to encourage that we actually consider what Mai’a is really saying instead of constantly derailing, as some commentors seem to only know how to do.

  69. PJ
    PJ August 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm |

    From one of Aaminah’s comments on the “Ain’t I a Mama” thread:

    “maybe we say “fuck feminists” because that’s all feminists have EVER done for/to us.

    think about that, all of you privileged, entitled whine-monsters that are far more obnoxious than any child i’ve ever met.”

    So this is a way to “share/learn different ideas?” If my comment gets moderated so be it, but the above language is nothing more than a verbal kick in the face.

  70. JK
    JK August 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm |

    I read this, and I think my mind went to that same but wait! your friend wasn’t trying to be racist! place, and in reading the comments I wonder if people, probably mostly white people, try to make these things ok because they remember saying stupid stuff that was -ist of some sort, and its a way of trying to say, but I wasn’t coming from a bad place- and she wasn’t either! For instance, two years ago on this blog I learned from the comments to a post that the phrase “call a spade a spade” is racist. I am sure I have used it at some point in my life, statistically I am sure I had, and I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist. I am sure I have also said worse in moments of idiocy and ignorance.

    This is not an excuse for calling people “breeders”, nor is it a reason you should forgive anyone who is upset you are upset by it, but I think that is the reason for it.

    I am sure this gets mentioned in every thread about adoption, but The Girls Who Went Away looks at women in the US in the 50s and 60s who put children up for adoption, and it is utterly heartbreaking. At least one teen mother (telling the story decades later) mentioned that the young women in her Home For Unwed Mothers were rented out, more or less, to the well-to-do people living nearby. It was quite popular to have a “girl” from the “home” help you out (I do not remember the woman’s race and so I am not going to draw conclusions there). They quite literally viewed these woman- not just their chubby little infants- as income. Terrible. I am not so sure we have moved away from that. There is an MTV show, Teen Mom, and one of the women they follow gave up her baby for adoption. It’s sometimes hard to know what is genuine emotion on that show, and what is “we need a story line for the camera”, but Caitlynne, the mom, tries to talk to the adoption worker after she gives up the cute little white baby, and the worker basically blows her off, since her on-going mental health or open-adoption circumstances are not an issue once that kid is adopted. It’s heartbreaking.

  71. Chally
    Chally August 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm |

    Jigae:
    Chally: Are you going to speak to mai’a about her use of the word ‘nuts?’

    You know, it was really disrespectful and dismissive to go right over mai’a’s head and put it to me like that, especially right on mai’a’s own thread. Seeing as you’ve asked, personally, I am really uncomfortable with the use of that term here. I’m also not about to tell a person with a history of mental illness (what privilege are you referring to?) how to use the term, though, you know, Pretty Amiable has some food for thought.

    I’m bothered that people are focussing on this in that mai’a’s use of language has been a particular focus in responses to her, and I know plenty of bloggers here have used that term before and not been called out. That’s something we should all keep in mind.

    So, exercising my modly powers: everything that can be said about the use of “nuts” has been said, and we are done now. Can’t say something about the post? Don’t say anything.

  72. Daomadan
    Daomadan August 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm |

    I’ve been reading your writing this week Mai’a, and I’ve been floored every time. Your words are incredible and I feel them in my gut.

  73. Athenia
    Athenia August 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm |

    I don’t mean to trivalize other women’s experiences but I just wanted to say that I feel for women who have a choice, we kinda *don’t* have a choice.

    What I mean is, do the people of the world think that we, as humans, have choice about whether or not to have kids? Do people really think people will stop having kids? There will people who will *always* have kids. In fact, those kids are gonna help you get your paycheck.

    So, when people feel indignant towards parents and children, I feel it doesn’t make sense. Children aren’t magically going to disappear because we have “choice.”

  74. Miss S
    Miss S August 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm |

    And frankly, sometimes people need to be offended in order to wake up
    This is a fair statement. How many people were offended at Mai’a’s last post? How many people found her motherhood offensive? How many people found BFP’s statement about feminism so offensive that they couldn’t possibly engage in the discussion and they couldn’t possibly understand her need to use that language? This goes both ways: calling out issues with someone’s language is also a way of silencing them. In case the last thread didn’t make that obvious.

  75. Miss S
    Miss S August 1, 2010 at 10:58 pm |

    Adoption is certainly not always a good alternative to abortion and abortion isn’t accessible everywhere. It’s hard to remember that when you’re in an area with 2 or 3 planned parenthoods within 30-40 minutes.

  76. twelve o'clock
    twelve o'clock August 2, 2010 at 3:57 am |

    Mai’a,

    I admit I initially found your tone off-putting in your first posts on feministe. At the risk of dwelling on my own experience of reading, when that’s not the point, I found your language combatative. Reading your comments on various threads and this post, however – thanks. You’ve made me rethink a lot of things and engage with a lot of ideas. Your writing style helped that by forcing me to come back and back to what you actually said.

    “i dont assume that a woman chose to give birth; simply because she cares for her child. nor do i know what kind of internal choices she has made to be able to love a child.”

    ^This sentence crystallised the post for me.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and work here.

  77. vibes01
    vibes01 August 2, 2010 at 5:40 am |

    nathan: You know, I’m not sure what exactly you want changed in terms of the use of the word “nuts” Eghead, but it seems to me that at a certain point, one could niggle with every last word of a post that could possibly trigger someone until the entire post is rendered meaningless. I think the critiques of the whole “trigger warning” in general a few commenters have made in the past few posts of Maia’s are worth considering. Who’s definition of “trigger” should be used on a public forum? Who gets to decide? And who benefits? How would you rephrase the sentence in question? Because I’m having a hard time coming up with an alternative that conveys the message in a powerful way. To me, the whole use of charged language is such a fine line. Where does the policing end? Do you police the regular writer’s posts in the same way? What happens when the message is so diluted as to not offend anyone? Does the world change this way, or do we all just get to feel a bit of warm fuzzy before going back to life as normal? I’ll be honest. As a white male, I have sometimes wondered if anything I have to say is wanted on this website. But you know what, at some point, I have to suck it up, and either say something or stay quiet. Some of the comments about men have triggered me as well because I really try to be an ally, and open to learning. And that’s just it. The only way to be open to learning is to be open to hearing something you don’t want to hear, disagree with, and might even be triggered by. I’ve read every post by Maia. There’s never been a time when I have felt that she has deliberately said something just to get a rise. I can feel the passion, dedication, and life experience pouring our in her writing. It’s tons more interesting than hate fests on Mel Gibson, or some of the stuff I’ve read on other feminist websites. Is the word “nuts” the kindest word available? No. But is it something to reject an entire piece of writing over? I’ll ask again – do you police the language of every other post on here in the same way, because if not, then there’s something else at play. When I first heard commenters wondering if Maia’s posts were being derailed because she is a WOC, I wasn’t sure what to think. But after all the derailing I’ve seen on here this week, it’s so obvious to me that Maia’s got people uncomfortable, and they’ll say almost anything to feel at ease with their worldview again.  (Quote this comment?)

    go on with yo fine male self….

    ps. being scottish, and white, and female..i would find the term breeder offensive also…because it denotes cattle imagery

    i would also find it offensive if i posted something like this post up for all to see and discovered the only thing that the commenters are interested in is bickering over who knows what she “really” means….

    people, how in the hell are we supposed to fight ignorance and hate when you have just exemplified it in the grandest fashion right here on this thread

    i mean seriously….beacons of light, dont think so….

  78. Aaminah
    Aaminah August 2, 2010 at 5:53 am |

    PJ: From one of Aaminah’s comments on the “Ain’t I a Mama” thread:“maybe we say “fuck feminists” because that’s all feminists have EVER done for/to us.think about that, all of you privileged, entitled whine-monsters that are far more obnoxious than any child i’ve ever met.”So this is a way to “share/learn different ideas?” If my comment gets moderated so be it, but the above language is nothing more than a verbal kick in the face.  (Quote this comment?)

    of course it is, PJ. when you take things outside of their context and make them all about you.

    as with everyone’s response that “fuck feminism” was a personal verbal kick in the face, you are ignoring everything around it. it’s sorta funny… i have been verbally kicked in the face repeatedly in these threads (and frankly, it’s why i don’t read Feministe except to support Mai’a – because as far as i have ever seen, Feministe comments typically are a verbal kick in the face against women of color, mothers, genderqueer etc. – this site is one of the most traumatizing/triggering places i have ever been), Mai’a has been verbally drop-kicked in the face repeatedly, BFP was verbally kicked in the face… heck, i think other commentors would say they’ve had a similar experience. the typical Feministe commentors were shutting down communication from the beginning. but how dare we express frustration at that, right? how dare i suggest that commentors who *had already stated that they couldn’t bear to discuss Mai’a’s ideas* because she had used the words “fuck feminism” might actually be the ones shutting down communication. it gets TIRING listening to ya’ll saying whatever you want to say, no matter how hateful, no matter how closed off, no matter how ridiculous, but heaven forbid that we ever respond in kind or tell you that we are fed up with your princess antics. and i think it’s pretty obvious thruout these threads (and this site in general) who does the silencing and who gets silenced. big props to the Feministe Team for attempting to invite in voices that are marginalized on this site the rest of the year and who are then demanded to explain how they dare to write here for two weeks. honestly, i think most people here just can’t handle hearing the truth for a couple of weeks out of the year. once Mai’a is gone from this site, i’ll be gone too. because i have seen the ugliest of humanity here. and then you can go back to being the center of the universe with your privilege never questionned. so just chill.

  79. Chally
    Chally August 2, 2010 at 6:28 am |

    Aaminah:
    big props to the Feministe Team for attempting to invite in voices that are marginalized on this site the rest of the year and who are then demanded to explain how they dare to write here for two weeks. honestly, i think most people here just can’t handle hearing the truth for a couple of weeks out of the year.

    Honestly, Aaminah? That’s not only true here two weeks of the year. I’ve been pushing against, for instance, racist demands and bullshit against me since I started here. When I can even get my status as a non-white woman acknowledged, that is, as I touched on when we spoke on tumblr in late July. I think a part of the problem is that we can’t even get the work that regular writers on this site with particular marginalisations do acknowledged, which feeds into these attitudes towards guest bloggers.

    I hope you’ll excuse this brief sidenote, mai’a, as it felt pertinent to express.

  80. Aaminah
    Aaminah August 2, 2010 at 6:58 am |

    Chally, as you have probably (or should have) noted – i am not a regular Feministe reader. The reason i’m not is because every time i have ever come on this blog, the comments section has been so full of racist fail that it was sick-making. i do not know you, do not know how long you have been blogging here, and can only imagine what kind of crap you have had to deal with. like BFP, i find the site triggering from the get go. even when i see something linked elsewhere, there are often quotes from the actual posts that i find triggering or problemmatic. so i think you, perhaps better than others, can understand why many woc do not consider this site to be in any way a safe zone. either way, the Feministe Team has made a concerted effort, and expressed that it was a concerted effort, to arrange for guest posters who would challenge the usual way people view this blog. i think you have done an excellent job if that was your intention. but i’m not surprised that so many of your “loyal” readers and commentors don’t appreciate it and make it clear that they’d love it if us newbies would just disappear and let them get back to normal.

    ::now going to check out your posts, since i think i’ve never read a single one::

  81. Chally
    Chally August 2, 2010 at 7:13 am |

    Yeah, mate, I understood. :) (If you want me to recommend stuff I’ve written of specific interest to you rather than go back through everything, feel free to shoot me an email: chally.zeroatthebone at gmail dot com :).)

    I’ll be quiet now and let the rest of you continue…

  82. Aaminah
    Aaminah August 2, 2010 at 7:34 am |

    oh, no, dear. :) i don’t think you’d be able to assess what would be of specific interest to me. i’m interested in a whole lot more that people give me credit for. ;) i’m just gonna start reading from the top down and skip comments. and i’m gonna be quiet now as well, and excuse myself from further convos because i’m tired of people using their dislike of me and my ideas as an excuse to avoid or hate on Mai’a and her ideas. :) it’d be so lovely if comments would actually center her writing, because it’s quite amazing, really.

  83. Chally
    Chally August 2, 2010 at 7:39 am |

    Sorry to be leaving yet another comment – I’ll take it to email if I have anything further, mai’a – and this ‘it’d be so lovely if comments would actually center her writing, because it’s quite amazing, really.’ – but, Aaminah, I meant *you* could tell me about the sort of thing you wanted to read about, not that I would assume!!

  84. S
    S August 2, 2010 at 7:51 am |

    I’m disappointed in this thread to see sex education brought up so quickly as The Way to Fix The Problem (or even A Way to Fix the Problem). Most women in this world don’t get to “choose” to have children, and most women don’t get to “choose” to have penis-in-vagina sex, either. I would posit that most women in the Global North don’t get to really “choose” whether to engage in penis-in-vagina sex, because our cultures tell us from Day One that a woman must have a man, that getting a man requires having penis-in-vagina sex with him, that if a woman doesn’t love having a penis in her vagina then there is something wrong with her (and/or she must be a lesbian), and that “true” expressions of female sexuality involve being sexually available to men.

    I would posit that even the most privileged woman in the world, even if she has never been raped herself, does not have much of a “choice” when it comes to penis-in-vagina sex. She might THINK she does, but when you’ve had the same message come at you from all angles since childhood, it’s hard to separate innate desire from inculturation. I even hate the term “have sex” or “had sex” when it comes to women; in a lost of situations it’s more a matter of “being fucked” or “a man fucked her”. Shall we go in to how many women of color in the US are sexually abused, or pimped out (But it’s “consensual”, right? She “chose” it because she loves her boyfriend so much, so it’s okay?).

    Which is part of how women – as a global class – are oppressed.

    So, no, I really don’t see how sex education will really help.

  85. autre.auteur
    autre.auteur August 2, 2010 at 9:49 am |

    A related article of interest– misoprostol in the developing world:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/opinion/01kristof.html?_r=1

  86. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2010 at 10:30 am |

    Fuck this for a game of tennis. This site is perpetually riddled with ableism. Other ‘isms’ are jumped on and called out immediately, “How dare you speak in such a way to [minority]“, yet PWD are excluded, mocked, criticised and made to feel like they have no part in any discussion. The attitude seems to be “Well if you weren’t here moaning about your ‘rights’ we could get on with discussing REAL minority issues, so Fuck off.”

    The Americentrism is hard enough to stomach, but the ableism makes me sick. I can think of a few ‘reclaimed’ words that would lead to an instant ban here, but ranting about crazy, deaf, ADD nutters is apparently fine.

  87. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    Also- if anyone’s aware of any lively feminist/activist sites that at least acknowledge that non-Americans and PWD exist, and that aren’t completely ciscentric/het-focussed I’d love to hear about them.

  88. sarah
    sarah August 2, 2010 at 11:36 am |

    Athenia: I don’t mean to trivalize other women’s experiences but I just wanted to say that I feel for women who have a choice, we kinda *don’t* have a choice.
    What I mean is, do the people of the world think that we, as humans, have choice about whether or not to have kids? Do people really think people will stop having kids? There will people who will *always* have kids. In fact, those kids are gonna help you get your paycheck.
    So, when people feel indignant towards parents and children, I feel it doesn’t make sense. Children aren’t magically going to disappear because we have “choice.”  

    i’m trying to understand your point about the attitudes of some people in the context of the post, like the friend in the post who used the word “breeder.” i certainly agree that harsh and offensive words about someone’s choice to have children is inappropriate, but you take it a step too far, and your point is lost.

    and all I can read is that you think women are “biologically choiceless.” talk about anti-feminist and anti-woman.

    biologically speaking, you’re correct that women having children is (currently) required for the human species to continue. but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be choice involved about when, how many, with whom, why, how, and if at all an individual woman has children. i think that many countless women would still choose to have children, even if many chose not to – and we would be better for it.

    i think in some ways your comment really gets at one of the cruxes of anti-feminism — that ultimately, the purpose of women is to have children, whether we want to or not. and that’s severely misguided. even if every woman on the planet decided to not get pregnant, would it be morally justified to force pregnancy upon them? no. it absolutely would not.

    yeah, maybe I sound a little odd for putting the rights of individuals over the future of our entire species, but women should absolutely be in charge of their own reproductive destiny. it is not our purpose to reproduce at the whims of others.

    I’m sure there are women who vehemently disagree with the perspective that women aren’t required to have children — whether from a personal, religious, or moral perspective. and because of them, it will probably never get to the point that we’re having babies to keep humans from blinking out of existence. it’s all about balance and individual choice.

    so let’s allow all women to choose their own reproductive path, whether that be motherhood now, delayed motherhood, or childless forever (via birth control or abortion or abstinence). let’s not use abusive language towards anyone for whatever they may choose (if they have a choice). let’s work to give women a choice, and not demand that every woman give in to her “biological choicelessness” that you seem to be promoting.

    how is my brain telling me I don’t want to have children not biological? last time I checked, what’s in my skull is part of my biology too, even if I have a uterus too. I’m a person, not just a womb.

  89. sarah
    sarah August 2, 2010 at 11:37 am |

    agh, sorry, i forgot to close one of my bold tags above. blerg.

  90. nathan
    nathan August 2, 2010 at 11:50 am |

    It always comes back to how people can have a conversation. How can you encourage more people to keep talking, despite their differences, confusions, and ignorance?

    “i research plants, herbs, flowers for their abortifacient qualities. i study acupressure texts. i build del-ems. i make the information available through any means i can find. cause a lot of women, women that we see everyday with their children never had the choice whether or not to become pregnant or be a mother. ”

    As an aspiring herbalist, this totally fascinates me. I would have loved to hear more from others about this, and the many other issues that came up in the post.

    Instead, most of the comments have been about a handful of troubling words, and how to handle them.

    It feels like a lost opportunity to have a rich conversation that might actually impact some of the readers – regardless of whether they are commenting or not.

    It sounds like some have still be impacted, and have some new issues/ideas to consider – and I’d include myself in that group. But how many more have checked out, or decided not to comment because they were afraid that every last word would be subject to brutal critique?

  91. jemand
    jemand August 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm |

    @nathan, ok I’ll talk about herbs then, since I have an interest in edible wild plants which sometimes spills over into learning a few medicinal uses of wild plants as well.

    So I know, say, pennyroyal, will cause an abortion. But I also know that anything strong enough to do something as specific and medically powerful as an abortion is going to also be a dangerous sort of chemical– even if “natural” in a wild plant you found yourself.

    OBVIOUSLY maia is knowing this since she is studying this stuff, but we as a culture, at least in the US, give a “pass” to natural products that we consider automatically safer. So if we’re going to talk about plants with powerful medicinal properties, I just want to make sure that somebody puts out the idea to those reading that this isn’t really something you wanna do on your own, that if it’s strong enough to cause an abortion *correctly,* that just misusing it slightly is going to cause a dangerous abortion. Or whatever else you’re trying to use the medicinal plant to do.

    There is a sort of halfway acknowledgment of the fact that a very vast and powerful body of knowledge on plants and their uses exists or existed in the native peoples who lived on that land for so long— which is true…..

    But it can’t really be replicated by a couple google searches.

  92. nathan
    nathan August 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm |

    jemand,

    true. too many people assume that natural means “always safe.”

    one of the big problems i have seen is when people mix pharmaceuticals with herbals. sometimes, it’s no problem, but often mixing the two causes trouble.

  93. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni August 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm |

    ~nathan – “most of the comments have been about a handful of troubling words, and how to handle them.

    It feels like a lost opportunity to have a rich conversation that might actually impact some of the readers – regardless of whether they are commenting or not.

    It sounds like some have still be impacted, and have some new issues/ideas to consider – and I’d include myself in that group. But how many more have checked out, or decided not to comment because they were afraid that every last word would be subject to brutal critique? “

    Yeah, you’re right. People are put off commenting. But y’know, they’re PWD who obviously do not have relevant opinions or life-experience, or anything valuable to contribute to any discussion anywhere, so that’s OK. Hopefully they’ll all get the message and fuck right off so that the important people, those whose opinions actually matter to YOU, can sling around ableism without worrying about offending any touchy crips.

    I love how everybody, from any part of the world is expected to learn about U.S. politics and conduct themselves according to the views/sensibilities of Americans when commenting here, regardless of their own nationality/background, otherwise they’re labelled ignorant. Most USians assume that anyone online is one of them, so any comment regarding GLBT rights/race/class that doesn’t match the U.S. worldview is discarded as irrelevant or just flat-out wrong, yet it’s apparently open season on non-NTs and PWDs each and every day but that cannot be criticised because you feel it infringes on your freedoms.

    Funny how you don’t seem to be against the ‘critiquing’ of words that relate to issues other than those voiced by PWD. I love how there have been complaints from a few of us on here, some saying they’ve been hurt enough to not be able to carry on, people who feel ‘othered’, and your response is basically “Wah wah my freedom of speech, look at this PC bullshit”.

    Your sense of righteous privilege is nothing new to me, or to other PWD (not that there’s many left here who will openly identify as such after the ‘Blogging Against [dis]Ableism’ trainwreck, where comments were closed as soon as actual-factual PWD entered the discussion and objected to the SuperCrip/Brave/Inspiring tropes). Your reaction to being called out is not new either.

    You’re not a lone island making a stand against the nasty PWD, you’re one amongst billions who think that PWD are sub-human, do not deserve respect, and that erasing them from dialogue is good because it makes you feel better when you don’t have to worry about one of ‘them’ catching you out when you babble bigoted, privileged nonsense.

  94. flip flopping joy » Blog Archive » on being triggered

    [...] * especially not when a mere two posts later, we all decide that the same person who deserved being called an abusive mother, having her daughter laughed and mocked, etc *because of the language she used*–should feel *honored* when a “friend” hurls unsightly language at *her*. [...]

  95. ACG
    ACG August 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    @Partial Human

    Fuck this for a game of tennis. This site is perpetually riddled with ableism. Other ‘isms’ are jumped on and called out immediately, “How dare you speak in such a way to [minority]“, yet PWD are excluded, mocked, criticised and made to feel like they have no part in any discussion. The attitude seems to be “Well if you weren’t here moaning about your ‘rights’ we could get on with discussing REAL minority issues, so Fuck off.”

    Weighing in here as a white, lower-middle-income, college-educated, childless-by-choice woman with the crazazy–so take this as you will–but ableism isn’t ignored here, and PWD aren’t criticized and disregarded. That just happens on some posts. See, on posts that center around racism, the comments thread gets derailed over ableism, U.S.-centrism, heterosexism, cissexualism, and socioeconomics. On posts that center around disability, the threads get derailed over racism, heterosexism, socioeconomics, cissexualism, and U.S.-centrism. On posts that center around trans issues… I’ll let you guess.

    We all give lip service to the fact that feminism can only work if we embrace the concerns of other minority groups, but realistically, we all want our particular minority concern to shuffle to the top of the deck. So we all put on our particular filters–I’m CBC! You insult me with the natalism of this post!–and fail to look at the big picture–How dare you use a word that’s insulting to crazy people!–which is that, in fact, black women frequently have been compelled to or prevented from having children, crazy people frequently have been prevented from having children, transsexual people and PWD frequently are physiologically unable to have children, all of the aforementioned people are more likely to be the victims of acts that could cause them to have children against their wills, and women of every majority and minority find themselves without the opportunity, education, or finances to prevent or end a pregnancy when they don’t want one, but whatever, because mai’a said “nuts.”

    Does that mean we all need to let every slight or negligence pass without comment? Of course not; JK didn’t learn that “call a spade a spade” was racist until she saw it called out in a thread. But there’s a time to unpack -ist language at length, and then there’s time for you to say, “Hey, that’s really ableist, and I’m offended,” and then I say, “Oh, shit, I’m really sorry, I didn’t know,” and then we keep moving. Or we keep hammering it out until we have to hit “home” to remember what the original post was about.

  96. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni August 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm |

    autre-auteur – I’ve read a couple of interesting articles about that very issue this weekend. Apparently one Indian generics company is intending to package the misoprostol+mifepristone together for roughly $5 (U.S.).

    The most pathetic news quote from the anti-choice side was “This will put lives at risk.” Rather than creating a Bogeyman out of what is essentially a miscarriage, they should perhaps figure out why people need to do this, or would rather do this for themselves. Abortion should be safe, legal and quick to obtain.

    In parts of my country 80% of abortions are through RU486 before 8wks, because the NHS finally had the good sense to realise that the quicker someone could access termination facilities, the smaller their chance of physical and mental side-effects would be. That directly translates into money saved for them, so it was actioned very quickly. It’s also free of charge, so nobody is sitting around for weeks, or even months, making themselves suicidal with worry over money, or what happens if they start to show, or how to arrange travel to another state. It’s hospital-based so nobody’s essentially wearing an “I’M HAVING AN ABORTION!” sign on their heads, and there’s no risk of being shot, or blown-up, or being told they’re a murderer.

    The U.S. govt. needs to realise that not only are people already using the drug, but that the numbers will grow unless access to services is unhindered, cheap, and not demonised.

  97. Faith
    Faith August 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm |

    “It’s hard to remember that when you’re in an area with 2 or 3 planned parenthoods within 30-40 minutes.”

    30-40 minutes is not easily accessible for many people. The closest PP to me is about 45 minutes. While I could travel that far with limited difficulty, I know plenty of women in my area who simply can’t travel that far, or can only travel that far with pretty considerable difficulty. In order to travel that far you have to have a car, money to buy gas, or someone willing to take the time to travel with you who does own a car. In some areas you could take a taxi or bus – which is not an option where I live at all – but then you’d still have to be able to pay for that taxi or bus ride.

  98. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni August 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm |

    ACG – from my POV I see a post about how someone used a word that felt like a “smack in the face” to the OP, and reminded her of the oppression her people face.

    Can you see the irony?

  99. ACG
    ACG August 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm |

    Oh, I’m not trying to tell anyone what to take or not take offense at. I was only pointing out that this is hardly a unique offense on this site, and even that ableism is one of many -isms that come up frequently. Ableist language here, cissexual privilege there, heteronormativity down there and U.S.-centrism around the corner. And while I make a little light here, it’s not because those things aren’t important–they’re a very, very big deal. But they’re fairly evenly distributed across posts and comments threads, because the posts and comments are written by human beings and sometimes we post without thinking things out thoroughly (or even, sometimes, at all).

    And I, as I add another scoop of bath beads to the privilege in which I soak, certainly have no room to tell anyone to get over any offense. But when something comes up like -ist language or unrecognized (or unchecked) privilege, there’s always a big, messy pattern.

    “Um, can we avoid the [thingy]ist language?”
    “God, it’s not a big deal. Can we just look at the point of her post?”
    “Excuse me, it’s a huge deal. Just because it’s not your deal–”
    “I really didn’t mean to offend anyone. I said it because–”
    “Can you people not understand that it’s a term used in common conversation?”
    “Can you not understand that it shouldn’t be used in common conversation, because it’s offensive?”
    “Us people?!”
    “Listen, all I was trying to say in my post–”
    “Stay out of this.”
    “So, I haven’t read the other comments on this thread, but I wanted to say that I’m not a fan of the author’s [thingy]ist language.”
    “This is my reason for saying that.”
    “It’s a bad reason.”
    “Don’t jump all over her!”
    “Can we take a minute to talk about the topic of the post itself?”
    “What, you don’t think this is important?”
    “God, I don’t know why you people get so hysterical about this stuff.”
    “HYSTERICAL?!”
    “Okay, I haven’t read the other comments on this thread, but…”

    I just wish we could establish a new and different pattern for this brand of discussion such that we could avoid falling into the usual trap and address such important topics without deviating too far from the original topic.

  100. nathan
    nathan August 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm |

    ACG said it better than I was able to. Thank you being so clear.

  101. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm |

    ACG: I just wish we could establish a new and different pattern for this brand of discussion such that we could avoid falling into the usual trap and address such important topics without deviating too far from the original topic.  

    Ah, like when people make a transgression that offends somebody, gets told “back the fuck off my -ism,” and then the transgressor realizes what they did is hurtful and says “Sorry” without “but not using-ist language makes it so much harder for me, a person with privilege leaking from my ass, to communicate my offensive thought because I can’t function a fucking thesaurus or use my words to explain what I really mean!”?

    I agree. Let’s push through with that.

    And for anyone who didn’t read my above comment, I don’t think this is an issue with mai’a’s usage, and I really enjoyed her thoughts about reclaiming the words.

    Nathan, when your excuse is to use oppressive language for effect or because you are too fucking intellectually lazy to word something better, you are not going to win supporters from the group you are choosing to offend.

  102. Jigae
    Jigae August 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm |

    ACG, that was humorous and spot on. How can we find a way to speak to each other without the conversation devolving into this metatextual debate about language and privilege? It even happened in the Jane Austen Fight Club humor post!

    And because I feel guilty at being so constantly off topic on these posts, I’d like to say that I love the name the Lilith Plan. It just feels right. I’d also like to add that the acupuncturist and massage therapists, I’ve talked to about “pressure point abortion” have all agreed that a lot depends on the intent of both practitioner and client. It’s about the energy being brought to bear when needling Large Intestine points or the method with which the abdomen or sacrum is massaged.

    It’s a topic bodyworkers largely seem to avoid but I wonder what research (scientific or anecdotal) could discover and what less toxic and harmful alternatives might be able to be developed.

  103. Athenia
    Athenia August 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm |

    @ Sarah

    Hey Sarah, thanks for your comment. I guess what I’m trying to say that we don’t have a choice in:

    1) The process of pregnancy

    2) The growth of kids—the time and energy etc required of caretakers etc.

    But what we do have is a choice to not discriminate. We have a choice in whether to build societies for pregnant bodies and children.

    In Maia’s first post, she talked about how people don’t have the right to childfree spaces. Many commenters disagreed because they felt that having a kid is a choice and therefore those people need to live with the consequences. To me, this is like saying those people are asking to be discriminated against. Which is silly. (not that I completely agree with kids in bars, but bear with me here)

    In this post, Maia talks about how for some people, motherhood isn’t a choice–she talks about women who are raped, threatened, and beaten. But it doesn’t matter how or why someone becomes pregnant–at the end of the day, if people are discriminating against you because you are pregnant or you have a kid, that is wrong. (Just as if you are being discriminated against if you don’t have kids).

  104. ACG
    ACG August 3, 2010 at 12:19 am |

    PrettyAmiable – Yeah, that, pretty much, and some other stuff.

  105. Miss S
    Miss S August 4, 2010 at 3:07 am |

    Faith- You are correct, having a Planned Parenthood within 40 minutes doesn’t make it accessible. I meant for me personally, it’s easy to forget that reproductive clinics aren’t always accessible. One is only a couple of miles from my former university, and I had a car while living there. I’m pretty sure there was a bus too. And we could get the Plan B pill from our campus clinic and the Planned Parenthood. So I have to remind myself that not everyone lives so close, or has transportation.
    Now I live in the middle of nowhere so it’s easier to remember :)

  106. Links – 6 « To My Potential Allies
    Links – 6 « To My Potential Allies August 12, 2010 at 9:27 pm |

    [...] “Being a Mom isn’t Always a Choice.” Black women in the states have historically been forced to be pregnant and to produce offspring, but not to be a mother. Being able to not choose to bear a child can be a privilege, and so can being allowed to be a mother. [...]

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