Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Check Your Triggers

“Know thyself” - σαυτόν
Ancient Greek aphorism

I can’t stand trigger warnings.

And I don’t mean the standard ones that have been around for years like, “WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS” that appear on articles about war or crime or famine or Jonestown. I’m talking about the modern phenomenon of alerting readers that the words that follow may remind you of something unpleasant, even traumatic, so continue at your own risk.

Doesn’t all reading involve risk of some kind? Words are powerful. There’s that John Donne poem that makes me cry every time I read it and a certain Edgar Allan Poe story that elevates my heartrate, makes my palms sweat, and my teeth chatter. But isn’t it my responsibility to know my triggers well enough to either pander to my sensitivities by avoiding potentially upsetting text or understand my own fragility well enough to be able to confront and cope with my emotional reaction should I stumble across words that unnerve me?

Now I know folks who clamor for trigger warnings aren’t (usually) referring to crying at reading the sad ending of a poem or needing to sleep with the lights on after reading Poe, or are they? Trigger warnings began as a way to alert sexual assault/abuse survivors that a forum post or conversation thread online included discussion of rape, assault, or abuse as a way to give the reader a heads-up to avoid that thread if she was still in danger of anxiety, PTSD flashbacks, depression, or any other negative psychological sequelae by being reminded of her own personal experience. I get this. I really do. But what started as an optional acknowledgement of the sensitivities of others has snowballed into demands of warnings of all kinds and swift condemnation for label-less prose.

Ugh, give me a break! No fainting couch for me, thank you very much. So imagine my surprise when I was triggered—in the truest meaning of that word—by something I recently read. I just emerged from two days of flashbacks, a panic attack, and intense suicidal ideation after reading a seemingly innocuous fairytale-inspired young adult novel.

In my life I’ve survived several instances that meet (or exceed) the definition of trauma. I have navigated the post-trauma waters for years with the help of God, a supportive family, longsuffering friends, and some of the best psychiatrists and therapists on the planet. But probably most important is that with the unfailing help of my support system, I have developed a keen insight into how best to protect myself from the tentacles of the past without preventing my full participation in the present.

I know I can be a marshmallow when it comes to, well, lots of things. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become much better at treating myself gently. I try to plan for a potentially stressful situation by ensuring I have enough time alone to prepare (or to recuperate), or time with friends, or an appointment with my therapist on the calendar. And yes, sometimes I avoid situations that might be too unsettling. I can handle a little turbulence, but it’s crucial to maintain altitude and cabin pressure, and therein lies the rub.

The book that sent me into a two-day tailspin was a thin, easy, and enjoyable read. It was not about war, crime, famine, or Jonestown. It was not about child abuse, sexual assault, or kidnapping. But death was a main character; a personified, tall, handsome Lord Death replete with a horse and a cape and eyes full of sorrow and starlight. As ridiculous as it sounds, this was enough to knock me off course. My adolescent flirtations with Death blossomed into a courtship that culminated in a suicide attempt that landed me not into an early grave, but into a hospital for a month.

In the decades since falling off of Lord Death’s horse—as I begged him to carry me to the baby killed in my abortion—I have ventured into the wood looking for him once or twice a year, but I have never again tried to join him. This recent stroll through the underbrush felt less like a treasure hunt and more like hide-and-seek. I knew I didn’t want to find him, but I was still helpless to leave the game.

Should I have seen it coming? Maybe. Should I do some background research before I read something new (especially if the word “death” is in the title)? Maybe. Will I warn my friends with a history of depression or suicide attempts that this book might upset them? You bet. Should the publisher print a TRIGGER WARNING to alert readers that the story deals with death and people die in the book? Absolutely not.

We live in a big, big world and it is impossible to determine what content might elicit post-traumatic anxiety or emotional turmoil in another person. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each individual to tame his or her own demons, ideally with help from an extended support system. I am grateful for the dear friends in my Book Club who insisted I attend our gathering (by offering me a ride), calmly and patiently listened to me share my reaction to this month’s reading selection, acknowledged my unique response, then matter-of-factly went on discussing the book as if it were, well, the harmless piece of fiction that it is. That was enough to snap me out of it.

This experience has not quelled my desire to seek out new combinations of words to thrill, challenge, enrage, teach, wound, and maybe even trigger me—because ultimately it’s my finger on the trigger (bad metaphor!) and my responsibility to choose wisely, and to reach for a helping hand should I choose poorly.

Post by Dymphna Anonymia

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pro-Life IS Pro-Woman

On a college campus in Texas, a prolife group put up a display of 2,904 crosses - one for every abortion that occurs each day in the United States. 

The display was vandalized.

The students put it back up.

The next day a video surfaced...

In it, a male pro-choice student expressed outrage that each cross merely represented “an aborted fetus."

He went on to speculate about what else each cross might represent, such as a woman who was able to go on to become a politician or doctor because she wasn’t saddled with the burden of motherhood... 

Perhaps each cross represented a woman who was raped and wasn’t “forced” to bear the “result of her assault?”

As women we found this incredibly condescending. 

So in true New Wave Feminists fashion, we’ve decided to enlighten our "white knight" on what these crosses actually represent...

They represent the 64% of women who attend post-abortion counseling each year and say they felt coerced into abortion by their partner, parent, or abuser.

They represent the women who were lied to and told that they’d be crushed by the financial responsibility of raising another child… when in reality there are so many local outreaches that strive to help women in unplanned pregnancies with:

-Medical bills
-And so many more resources. All for free.

They represent the social justice warriors who convince women that without abortion they won’t be able to become politicians, or doctors, or innovators. Because nothing screams “feminism” like a man telling us what we CAN’T do, right ladies?

They represent a world that tells teenagers their lives will be destroyed if they have a baby at 17, 16, 15… that they can’t let their child live because they aren’t strong enough… instead of creating a culture that tells women THEY CAN….

They can have their child and finish school….

They can keep their baby and still reach their goals….

She can choose life at 16 and her future will hold so much more love and joy than she ever imagined.

Each cross represents a child that had to die because rather than eradicating poverty and hunger; we decided the poor are better off dead.

These crosses represent the women who were raped and then told that they couldn’t carry the “result of their assault” to term and that they must abort. They were the ones that no one bothered to empower with the truth that… This is YOUR CHILD TOO. 

No, because instead of doing that people continue to use “rape arguments,” listen to that, “RAPE ARGUMENTS!” These women's worst nightmare has become nothing more than a talking point to promote your political agenda. 

And so we are seldom able to hear, through all of the rhetoric, about the heroines who CHOSE LIFE ...and PS, they are disgusted by the way you use their stories to promote even more violence rather than celebrating their victory over their victimization.

These crosses represent the unborn men and women who unlike the amazing Rebecca Keissling’s and Ryan Bomberger’s of the world, were not allowed to live since we’re all still horrifyingly comfortable with this patriarchal construct that says because of their father’s transgressions it’s okay to callously refer to these HUMAN BEINGS as “rape babies,” and dispose of them like garbage. Victim blame much?

What if each one of these crosses represented a campus predator, an abusive boyfriend, or a flat out douchebag who knew that abortion was his best friend because it would allow him to use and exploit women for his pleasure without any consequences? Well, at least not for him…. Right?

But someone pays. And we, as females know, it’s always the unborn child and often the woman who has to live her whole life knowing that she bought into a lie that she couldn’t live her dreams without sacrificing her child’s life.

That’s bullshit and we’re not buying it anymore.

Look, we believe in bodily autonomy. We actually believe in it so strongly that we think you should be in control of your own body from the moment it first exists. From the moment your unique DNA is created within your mother’s womb at conception, to the moment your heart starts beating just 18 days later.  

No one can force you to choose life just like no one should be able to force you to have an abortion. We just want you to know that we are here no matter what you decide with the support and resources you need. 

To any students on campus who have had an abortion, this display was not done to hurt you, quite the opposite. We want you to know that we are here if you ever need to talk. You might not regret your abortion, but if you do come talk to us. No one should have to live a life filled with shame and guilt. We’re here to listen and get you help, no judgment.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Leading By Example...

"Today while I was on campus with the ‪#‎WeDontNeedPP‬ Display, I met a student who told me she is scheduled to have an abortion on Saturday. We talked for awhile, and I asked why she decided to have an abortion. She told me she doesn't think she can finish school and be a mother. After sharing with her the myriad of resources available to pregnant and parenting students on campus, I looked her in the eyes and said, "You are strong enough to be a mother and finish your education, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't..." She burst into tears and thanked me for talking with her. I gave her my contact info and told her to let me know if there is anything that she needs." -Lisa Atkins

THAT is pro-life feminism.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Representation Matters

Recently I had a gut-wrenching response to the casting of Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone. My reaction surprised me and threw me into a state of uncontrollable sadness.
It hit me personally because being a dark-skinned black woman with a wide nose, big lips, and kinky hair is still apparently not good enough. I know, I know, where am I going with this? You see, representation matters.
Instead of getting an actress that best fits the physical description of this incredible woman, they choose someone who looks NOTHING like her, paint her skin, and add a prosthetic nose and wig. These are the lengths they had to go to create this non-fiction character instead of getting someone who naturally fits the mold. For those who don't quite understand, just do some research. Colorism is real and many women are still discriminated against because of the shade of their skin. Many women still struggle with major self-hatred and insecurities because society has built a standard for what true beauty is.
Just Google “beautiful women” or “beautiful hair” and see if you can find anyone who looks remotely like me without scrolling until your finger hurts. Yes, I am not ignorant to the fact that many women of all shapes and sizes will be omitted from this list, but stick with me here. Representation matters in more ways than you or I can count.
And that’s easy to say, but what does that really mean?
Last month I saw a meme that had a little black girl looking up at a black female character from Star Trek that said just that: “Representation Matters.” It then went on to quote Whoopi Goldberg. 

“When I was nine years old, Star Trek came on, I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, Mom, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.”  — Whoopi Goldberg

THIS… All of this.

(In this moment I’m holding my newborn son tightly as tears stream down my face and I whisper to him, “I want a better world for you”.)

When women of color see that they can do something, they can be somebody, it makes a world of difference. We are so much more vulnerable to oppression when we think we we’re not good enough, or we can’t be anything we want to be.

Later that week Destiny tagged me in a post on Facebook that stated, “Black women have almost 40 percent of total U.S. abortions each year, despite Blacks being only 12 percent of the population.”
I already knew this; it hurts my heart every time I read it. Why aren’t people talking about it? Why does the black community treat abortion as though it’s a necessary evil, as though without it black women will never be able to succeed?

Destiny went on to say:
“College groups across the country - made up mostly of white young adults - ARE talking about it, but all that is doing is infuriating people of color. It comes off as a white savior complex. This is something that is impacting the black community so enormously but yet people within that community remain silent. That has to change, and it has to be black men and women leading the charge.”
She is absolutely correct. The question remained… where is the representation? Why the silence? Where are the people of color fighting for these unborn children who are dying at alarming rates?
My heart aches. The deepest part of me is in anguish because we still have a long way to go. Buzz words such as White Privilege, White Savior Complex, Institutional Racism, Infant and Maternal Mortality, Pre-school to Prison Pipeline…Abortion. These words inflame an uncomfortable response in me. A response that - especially when filled with birth hormones – turns me into a weeping mess drenching my infant’s head with tears.
Because all of these words provide a very sad commentary on the value of black life today. We have come a very long way but we still have a ways to go. This is the very reason why in order for anything to change we must first start where life begins and that is within the womb. If we cannot value the least and most innocent of us then it certainly should not matter who plays whom on the cinema screens. By WE, I mean African Americans, Blacks, People of Color, however you like to be recognized. WE must take a stand against injustice and be the change we wish to see. We cannot just sit and watch as others who are not directly affected by our plight take the reins and lead.
Representation Matters.


Post By Cessilye Smith

Friday, March 4, 2016

I didn't have an abortion, and it saved my life...

This week we've been bombarded with stories from celebrities, CEO's, and all around successful women who claim their abortion(s) saved them. They talk about how they wouldn't have been able to be successful and still fulfill their dreams without sacrificing the lives of their children.
I don't know about you, but "I couldn't have" is not a phrase fit for feminism. The beliefs we have as women needs to be build on, "I can" and "I did," because therein lies a message of strength and resilience that all women should hear. They need to know they are capable of facing an unplanned pregnancy and persevering. They need to see that there is a way for them to pursue their dreams without sacrificing such a powerful part of themselves along with the life of their child. They need to know they are not alone.
True feminism surrounds those women with support, encouragement, and resources... not a violent "choice" she might live the rest of her life regretting. 
With that said, I decided to dust of this short essay from our facebook about my own "I can and I did" moment. Because we as women and we are capable of anything. We're done sacrifices either our dreams or our children... when we know we're strong enough to have both.

"The panic is temporary. The fear is temporary. The crisis is temporary. The days when you wake up thinking “how did I make such a huge mistake” are so few in retrospect.

You have nine months for all that, but then it gets good. Still difficult, don’t get me wrong, but so so good…

My “crisis pregnancy” turned 15 today. He’s just a year shy of the age I was when I became pregnant with him (a thought that absolutely terrifies me, trust). However, he’s anything but a mistake.

He’s the other half to all my inside jokes. He’s the best person I’ve ever known. He’s the one who binge watches Doctor Who with me and teaches me about robots and video games. He’s the reason I started New Wave Feminists. He’s the owner of a pure heart, swiper of my favorite CDs, and contributor of copious amounts of laundry. He’s the kid who still has me hanging around skateparks a decade and a half later. He’s often my (much needed) filter, because he’s a stereotypical naturally mature firstborn, and the last one to ever let me down. He’s the kid that I didn’t really raise at all, but instead grew up alongside. He’s my heart and soul.

I didn’t know it at the time, but choosing life for him would give me a life that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

See, you don’t realize how temporary the “crisis” is when it’s consuming your every waking moment, but as soon as you get beyond that… Such beauty can be born from that which we never planned.

Fear is temporary, but the courage you gain facing it lasts forever. Panic subsides, but the strength you find in the midst of the crisis endures. Perhaps the most amazing thing though is how the love you feel for this new life, whether it was intended or not, suddenly turns a “mistake” into a miracle.

I didn’t save my son by “choosing life.”

He saved me."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This just in: threatening rape totally cool, as long as you're "pro-choice"

Last week the Purdue University chapter of Students for Life caused a furor on campus when they hung posters drawing attention to the extremely high abortion rate in the black community. In response, Purdue staff member Jamie Newman got online and offered to rape the female relatives of a pro-life student. 

Time and again, mainstream feminists tell us that rape isn't about sexual pleasure but power and control, and time and again, seemingly mild-mannered, liberal, pro-choice men offer to sexually violate their opposition, and not one mainstream feminist bats an eyelash.

Apparently, holding the viewpoint that a child in the womb has no bodily autonomy and is deserving of no protection under the law gets you a Misogynist Asshole Hall Pass at Feminist High, and we lesser women with our backwards notions of human rights for all humans need to keep our traps shut, or we'll get what's coming to us.

I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I'm not. Back in 1998 Nina Burleigh, then Time contributor and White House correspondent, famously said of then President Clinton, “I would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.” It seems today’s feminists are still welcoming misogynist men into their ranks, open-armed and open-mouthed, with nary a blush.

When Jamie Newman felt comfortable threatening to rape women, it telegraphed to those of us watching that he doesn’t expect any outcry from the social circles and intelligentsia with whom he has allied himself. His bold defense of these threats evinces no fear of rejection from his peers, people who trumpet to anyone willing to listen of their virtues as defenders of women and minorities. It begs the question, why is that? I think the words of Nina Burleigh hold the answer for us here.

When men aligned with leftist causes perpetrate acts of disdain, aggression, and even violence against women, their feminist supporters have historically and continually looked the other way, so long as those men continue to be vocal supporters of legal abortion in America. Essentially, a man can be a raging prick, and threaten to use his too, without any fear of reprisal - as long as he's whispering the proper sweet nothings in feminist ears.

The acts of Jamie Newman and the deafening silence from the abortos underscores yet again that the modern feminist movement has lost its right to proclaim itself pro-woman. 

Fauxminists have bedded down with whatever man they could find that would support legal abortion, and they don't care how many women have been abused in the process. (See: Hillary Clinton.) Having done so, Third Wave "feminists" have made themselves irrelevant in the greater social conversation. They are being replaced with unhindered female thinkers who are ready to fight for the rights of all people - without exception, without apology.


Post by Maegan Murray

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Abortion Slacktivism And The White Savior Complex

The documentary film After Tiller is a fascinating look at the abortion industry, but it's also a fascinating piece of propaganda. It delves into the issue of late term abortions, a topic too grisly for most people to consider. 

The film focuses on a few of the few - the tiny percentage of abortionists who will do the procedure all the way into the third trimester of pregnancy. Only four doctors to be exact.

Dr. Hern is one of them. Most days he commits late term abortions in Boulder, Colorado. However, when reminiscing about how he got his start in After Tiller, he talks about his peace corp days in Brazil... 

What most people will conveniently overlook as he pulls at our heartstrings, is that he was looking at this community through a lucky set of eyes. A very lucky set of eyes. He chose to go to this impoverished country. He was not born there and forced to live there, like these women do day in and day out. He chose to tend to these underprivileged children for a set amount of time. He was not forced to conceive and care for them his entire life like the women of this village who he claims he was simply attempting to help. He chose to offer "safer" abortions as the "solution" to these women's problems, because he doesn't have to live with the fallout of the many more unplanned pregnancies and subsequent terminations that will continue to plague these mothers, sisters, and daughters since the real problem was never actually addressed at all. Meanwhile, he has flown back to the comforts of his American life and now uses their circumstances to justify his living extinguishing other human lives.

The pregnancies are only a symptom of - and abortion merely a BandAid for - the real problem: that women in many communities the world over live in a deeply patriarchal society where they have zero power, autonomy, freedom, or opportunity. We hear phrases like "baby machines" bandied about in the U.S., but here it might actually apply. Most of these women are going to grow up, be impregnated, and bear child after child, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Reproductive rights mean nothing if you ignore the fact that these women have no control over whether or not they will reproduce in the first place. And rather than addressing the true oppression these women are facing, Dr. Hern simply offers them an abortion after their rights have already been sufficiently trampled on. 

That is lazy activism from a privileged man who wants to pat himself on the back when really he's only compounding the problem.

I wish this were a unique story, but unfortunately this is how the west tends to treat most people not lucky enough to be born here in America (and of course those unlucky ones here who had the audacity to be born poor). Here's some pills, if they don't work, we'll kill your children for you. It's not that we don't care, it's just that we think these sorry excuses for "help" are the answer, when the real answer is to encourage economic health and self-sufficiency. "Give a man a fish..." We all know the saying.

Meanwhile, when we discuss abortion, we often hear the argument "But what about a woman's choice?" The response is pretty simple: "We are all for a woman's choice, but by the time there is an innocent human life inside her, the choice has already been made."

But what about the truly poor women of the third world, who don't get to choose whether or not they get pregnant, or raped by their husbands for that matter? Can your magical Western pills stop that from happening? I didn't think so...

It's difficult to see clips of a poor Brazilian woman, sitting outside a hut, no running water, no electricity, only the food she can grow or kill, with seven children playing around her in the dirt, and no say whatsoever in whether or not she has more. The ones she has are already hungry. Who on earth would say it's a good idea for her to keep having child after child she can't feed?

To the slacktivists, the answer is, of course, is birth control and abortion: send a (probably male) doctor over there to pat her on the head and scramble her baby up in her womb and suck it out and dispose of it and send her back to her life with a few hormone altering packets of class 1 carcinogens, where she will continue to have no power or control or real choice. Then if she gets pregnant again, and he'll go suck her next baby out, and so on and so forth. She'll still be poor and helpless, and he'll be a savior... to some. But certainly not to her. 

That is a sorry excuse for a solution. 

The answer, of course, is to advocate globally for women's rights, and for economic opportunity, which is the only way women will be able to access those rights. A world in which every girl can decide for herself what kind of life she's going to have; every woman can choose to marry or not marry, be a mom or not be a mom; every woman can wake up in the morning and have power and autonomy over her own body and her own life, from the moment it first exists.

Maybe it's just a dream, but that's the kind of world we are working toward.

These "saviors" in After Tiller do nothing but perpetuate the victimhood of women. They don't actually solve any problems. They just help keep a repulsive system running by propping up a patriarchy that preys on poor women.

After Tiller is absorbing, fascinating, and seductive. But it's propaganda. Don't let it fool you. Women - all women, everywhere - deserve much better than the desperate, wounding abomination of abortion. They deserve true liberation. 

- Post by Destiny & Kristen