Monday, July 27, 2009

Aw, Ya Went And Got Yerself Pregnant!

That title says something about how women seem to be the ones who are responsible for everything sexual that goes on in this world. Somehow, a lot of folks don't hear that noise generated by the hurried unzipping of many a fly. Funny, but I remember that eighth-grade biology really emphasized how it takes a male to impregnate a female of most species, including homo sapiens.

To elaborate upon a theme, I noticed that one of the weapons used to keep us mothers silent and in our places has lost its effectiveness among those of us who think for ourselves. Some of the self-righteous, closed-records set still try to use the old, "well, you are the one who spread your legs" put-down as the killing point of their argument. They, of course, neglect to mention that we had a little help in that department.

What gives me the giggles is the fact that many of these blue-nosed hypocrites expect us to still feel guilty about having sex outside the holy chains of matrimony. Grow up, People! In the years since many of us awakened from the sleep of the good, little barfmuggle, we have learned a bit about life and truth. I do not feel the least bit repentant about having sex with my daughter's father. I was young, passionate and believed myself to be deeply in love. That happened to many a young woman in my time. Some were lucky and didn't get caught with a baby bump, some were suddenly wed in a whirlwind ceremony and some became part of the natural cycle of life and inmates of maternity prisons.

Very few of my contemporaries made it to their wedding bed, virginity intact. None of the young men from my era would admit to being a virgin when they got married. *wink, nudge* Yet we still have to deal with the anti-mother, closed records nimrods who will, when they run out of arguments, trot out the sex/sin card. Puleeeze!

Let me enlighten these folks. We are not complaining or repentant or regretful about our sexual activity during the EMS. We are angry about our treatment, about having our babies coerced from us, about being treated like non-mothers when our hearts and our bodies knew better, and about being left totally out of the loop when it comes to being allowed to speak for ourselves. Why would we go along with the agencies, adoption attorneys and the NCFA, who trot out (natural)mother privacy at the hint of an open records bill? They are not authorized to speak for us. That would be like allowing the fox to speak for the hens. If there are so many mothers who want to stay in that bad-girl closet in which you tried to imprison us, let them show their faces. So far, all we have seen are allusions to anonymous Jane Does in less than convincing numbers. If they are still allowing any person, institution or social group to keep them wrapped in a shroud of shame, then that's a problem they need to discuss with a good therapist.

Now hear this! For every shame-filled closet dweller from the EMS, there are scores of us unrepentant, unapologetic mothers who feel that a life-long stigma and separation from our children is too big a punishment for the non-crime of unwed sexual activity. Being overcome by passion, being swayed by the amorous whispers of a randy suitor and giving in to the dream of love, those things have happened since the beginning of recorded history, still happen and will happen in the future. So why do these hateful , spiteful mother-dissers think that we are going to fold and cry "Uncle!" just because they pull out the old "you're the one who raised your skirt" ploy?

I come from the Bible-Belt south. I was raised with southern Baptists and Victorian sexual attitudes. My sex education was less than informative. I lived with the shame thing for quite a while until I stopped comparing my insides with the outsides of others and started learning about human nature. I even took the blame for being raped by the father of my oldest son. If I can shed that shame, anyone can. And shed it, I did!

Let's get real. If you want to debate us, then give us some logical arguments. Stop with the attempts at emotional bullying by pulling out the dusty, irrational "naughty girl" crap. I am confident that I speak for many of us when I say we won't blush, retreat or hang our heads when you do that.

We'll just shake our heads and wonder if that is the best you can do.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Personal Responsibility And The Religious Man

Every so often, I am slapped in the face with the reality of the elitist, sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic nature of the large network of fundamentalist Christians in our midst. I cannot lie and say that it doesn't disturb and, at times, enrage me, but I do know that I will probably run afoul of this despicable ignorance throughout the remainder of my life and I had best be able to shrug it off.

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

Responsibility Goes Both Ways

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.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Who's "Anonymity" is Protected?

As those of us who want our information are finding, not everyone was in the dark about who was who in adoption land. The whole argument about protecting the privacy of the natural mother flies out the window when you view actual adoption decrees and documents available to those who adopt.
One mother/adopted person from our era, who lives in MO, saw several adoption documents and, on ALL of them, the natural mother's name was right there, as clear as day. That means that the people who adopted KNOW the mother's name and could give it to their adoptees. This further proves that the parties protected by the closed, secret adoption process were the adopters, NOT the mothers. Tales are now coming out from several sources which back this up...that the mother's full name was available to most adopters.
One document pertaining to adoption from that era talks about being able to "guarantee that the (adopters) will be free of interference from the natural mother." The specter of the mother showing up, pining for her child, has long been the worst nightmare of the adopter. The fact that they fear this and that the adoption facilitators knew they needed some kind of safe-guard against that eventuality proves, to me, that they knew the emotional impact on the mother would be intense.
One mother is extremely angry about the fact that her son's adopters knew who she was. They could have saved her son a lot of trouble. Despite the fact that they told him they would help if he wanted to search, and despite the fact that they knew her name, they never volunteered the information to her son. It is also infuriating to think that we spent decades in the dark about the welfare of our children when the ones who had our children had open access to our identities.
So all this crap about "protecting the (natural) mother's privacy" is pure manure. The fact that many (No, I can't say ALL) of these people had our names means that fairness should ensure that we have equal access to their identities AND to the amended and original birth certificates of our children. We have been saying, for years, that none of us were ever promised life-long anonymity from our offspring. That has been nothing but smoke, mirrors and the adoption industry covering their pink asses.
The more we find out, the more there is for those in the industry and those who benefited from our loss to worry about. It's about time that the myth of the protection of the (natural)mother's privacy was laid to rest. I, for one, am tired of taking the heat from adoptees who believe that garbage and the ones who spread it around. It was the ADOPTERS who wanted and got the protection...period!
Let's try a little bit of truth in the mix.