Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
We just got back from a wonderful trip that included several nights in a rustic cabin on the side of a mountain in West Virginia. The nights and mornings were cool, the days were warm and balmy without the oppressive humidity of Florida and the scenery and wildlife were breathtakingly entrancing. Our cabin was one of a group off Hy19, north of the New River Bridge and close to a sweet little town called Summersville. Due to the abundance of Mountain Laurel that grew wild on that mountain, along with wild black raspberries, blackberries and wild red currants, sweet peas, daisies and Queen Anne's Lace, the spot was called Laurel Ridge Cabins. Deer shared the meadow with the owner's horses and let us get close enough to take pictures.
The only "off" moment of this idyllic situation was in the form of an agreement we were required to sign for the benefit of the owner, a former Texan turned WV mountain man, with a large brood of five children, and a very quiet wife, who was a leader in his local church. Said document stated that we agreed to no public drinking, no drunkenness, no consumption of spirits outside your cabin and no profanity. It also stated that we were to "dress modestly," which meant, no drooping pants or going shirtless for the guys, but, more emphatically, no tube tops, short shorts, spaghetti strap tops, backless tops or swimsuits without "street clothing" covering them for the female guests.
Now this is something with which my hubby and I had no problem. We are past the age to dress in that manner, though we would have when we were younger and had the bodies for it. But, on very hot days, and having struggled through Florida summers, I was compelled to tell Mr. G that, in our part of the country, such dress was common and, indeed, necessary in order to withstand the heat and humidity. His reply put my back up faster than a cat when cornered by a dog.
He first said that he sure was glad he didn't live in Florida. Then, he said that he didn't want any husbands being tempted to stray by the sight of these scantily-clad nymphs. I replied that we should hope that the husbands of which he spoke had the maturity and self-control to avoid infidelity. With his broad Texas accent and his stock delivery style of the fundamentalist Christian, he offered this "wisdom." "Well, to me, it's like taking a person who really loves to eat, sitting that person down at a banquet and then telling them that they can't eat any of the food."
"So," I countered, "it is your belief that infidelity is the fault of women in provocative dress, that she bears the total responsibility for the transgression and that the man is excused of responsibility because of his inherent appetites?" He started to quote scripture and invoke the image of Eve, the seductress and I had to stop him. I told him that we were paying guests and that his rules were easy enough for us to follow and that we would just agree to disagree. He said he would pray for me, which meant that he would pray that I would see things his way and the subject was dropped.
All this brought back the mindset of the EMS/BSE. We were the transgressors and the fathers of our children were just boys being boys with a wink and a nudge. It is unfortunate that this dusty, moldy, archaic attitude still exists. How convenient for the fathers of our children that we were seen as the ones who must control the lust and lack of self-control of the male gender. St. Paul did a really good job incorporating thinly disguised mysoginy and patriarchy into the early church. A predominately male clergy has taken his letters and run with them.
I watched Mrs. G, a very sweet, pretty and talented lady, as she quietly followed her husband's lead in everything. She baked me one of my favorites, a carrot cake, for my birthday which fell during the time we were there. Yet, it was Mr. G who graciously presented me with the cake as if he were totally responsible for its existence. I made it a point to express my thanks to Mrs. G and telling her that she was a formidable baker (which she is). I felt like, any minute, Mr. G was going to pat his wife on the head and talk about how well she followed his orders. This is a man who admits to being weak enough to let a bathing suit or a tube top tear his moral fiber and compel him to commit adultry, yet he is the leader over his wife in all things because he is a man. WHAT is wrong with that picture?
Now, our beef with the EMS is about coerced surrender, mandated secrecy, civil injustice and lack of access to information about our children, not sexual behavior, but I feel that we must address this whole "responsibility" thing. We still get that ignorant, self-righteous comment, "well, you were the one who spread your legs" from time to time...usually from an adopter or an angry adoptee. Don't forget, for a minute, that, from the fathers of our children, there was a lot of cajoling, begging, manipulating and even threats that went into our perhaps unwise, but normal and predictable encounters with the fathers of our children. With my first pregnancy, which I thought of as a tragic love story, I will acknowledge 50%, and no more than that, of the responsibility for the conception of my daughter. I give the responsibility of her subsequent surrender to the facilitators, social workers, tormenters, family members and her faithless father who pushed me into that horror.
The conception of my son is 100% the fault of his father. What I refused to give, he took. Even that trauma was blamed on me due to my previous behavior with the father of my daughter. I had been marked with a scarlet letter and the animal who fathered my son was ego-driven to not be turned down by someone with my "past." Even those in authority saw my sexual assault as something I had, more or less, "asked for."
So, these randy deacons and elders, patriarchs and judges feel that a woman who dresses in a certain manner, or is no longer a virgin is a Jezebel who will lure them to their doom. Ergo, they must see themselves as weak, sex-obsessed, drooling satyrs who can be led around by the foreskin by any decent-looking young woman showing cleavage. I wonder if Mr. G really thought about what he said and his reasoning.
And I wonder if Mrs. G heard what he said and thought the same thing I was thinking. I am going to light a candle for her. She needs it.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
I just love this picture. It shows just how insidious secrets can be. I also love the article it accompanies about STD's and Infertility.
We get a lot of very nasty comments from the general public, as well as those who have a stake in our criminalization, about taking the "responsibility" for the loss of our children to adoption. You've heard them all, I assume..."you didn't have to spread your legs," "you could have said no (what about rape?)," "no one held a gun to your head (they might as well have)," etc., ad infinitum! Well guess what? A lot of infertile people, who think they are more deserving of our children than us bad, old, unwed mommies didn't keep their knickers on and their chinos zipped, either! GASP!
It has long been known, by the medical community, that STD's, along with bad lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity, prior drug use, etc., account for an appreciable number of infertility cases. Rather than a bundle of joy, these unfortunates received inability to produce those little swimmers, scarred and impassable fallopian tubes and other such goodies for their early sexual activities. Who is holding THEM responsible? On a personal note, I know one contemporary of mine, now the wife of a dentist, who was always raring to go when the boys suggested a trip to lover's lane. Yes, she adopted. Now I am saying, "Hmmmmmmm?"
Don't get me wrong. I do know that there are some infertile people who just were struck by lightening and are not responsible for their infertility. There are also many of us who were raped, molested and intimidated by older men or used by inconstant lovers and were not solely responsible for the results of those actions. For many of us, it was a matter of loving, not wisely but too well, believing in our beloved's constancy ('coff, coff') and being young and impulsive. This has been happening since the beginning of recorded history. Those that didn't get pregnant were the "lucky" ones, I thought. Well, looks like old Mr. Chlamydia might have had something to say about that along with The Great Applauder (clap).
The assumed sainthood of the infertile adopter grates on my sensibilities. Being called a slut and a tramp when you are nothing but a disillusioned and frightened girl who has values just like everyone else, can make you a bit resentful of the secrets and lies that put us in that position. We weren't sluts...we were PREGNANT..a perfectly natural condition for healthy, young women. Now, if I can get this straight, a girl can get pregnant in a committed (on her part, anyway) relationship with ONE partner. But contracting an STD usually occurs when the activity, on the part of one or both, has included MANY partners. Now who's a slut? Hey...just postulating, that's all.
In any event, I doubt that adopters who fit into this category will ever come clean (yuk, yuk) about it. I just think this knowledge gives us all a good, object lesson about judging, name-calling and assumptions. Before anyone else jumps, when they see a natural mother, to the conclusion that she was loose and immoral, remember these medically documented facts and think about it. It would be just as wrong to assume that we were sluts as it would be to label every adopter as an STD carrier.
What goes around.........
07/08/2009 *As a good friend pointed out in the "comments" section, I neglected another leading cause of infertility which is delayed childbearing. In the battle to "have it all," many women put off having children until they had/have attained some vision of what they consider success. The thing that chaps my bootie on this one is that these women then turn and predate on their sisters, using the desperation that comes when a woman has no other choice than to surrender their child against them. So, what I have learned from this is that childbearing is for the young and that the sisterhood of feminists flies out the window when it comes to the old "give me a child lest I die" syndrome. This is one HUGE women's issue that is ignored by NOW and anyone else who would be an advocate for the rights of all women.