Monday, August 27, 2012

I haven't said much about this, but I am tired of keeping quiet.

Since when is it acceptable for a man with no medical training to go on television and perpetuate a lie and further slander the honesty of women who are victimized in a shameful, painful, brutal way?

These past few weeks the issue of rape has been tossed around after a Senatorial Candidate attempted at  sugar coating or stratifying that rape (that is if it really happened to the "supposed" victim-- according to Akin) is not  a situation that would result in a pregnancy. With those comments, Akin legitimized the fear of rape victims who refuse to report out of shame or because they have seen fellow victims painted as liars or exaggerators.

Additionally, there are people in jail (namely men like Jerry Sandusky) who got away with years of sexual assault and raping children because people around him did not want to admit the lengths of depravity and shame inflicted on multitudes of children. But how many people would question those children if they chose to speak up? How long were victims holding themselves silent because they did not want to admit to the shame or the guilt of being involved in such an act? There are many victims of sexual abuse of all ages and genders who refuse to speak up not just out of shame, but also fear-- fear that is often instilled in them by their aggressors. One of the fears is that they will be portrayed as liars, or that they will be ostracized by their loved ones or peers.

Bearing this in mind, is that not exactly the type of attitude embodied and perpetuated by the statements made by Todd Akin?

My question is this: With regard to females -- at what age do our girls become people who we should protect from predators to people we label as liars, sluts, or as "asking for it," in their behavior or merely because of our reproductive assets? When do we as women no longer have the right to draw boundaries when it comes to our bodies and the protection of our decisions when it comes to our bodies? Is it when we reach the age of puberty?  Is it when our bodies can conceive?

If a man claimed he was raped, he may not become impregnated, but he would rarely be questioned in his claim. Why? Because it is such a demeaning and painful experience; males who would be brave enough to come forward, men who would be willing to shoulder that shame and humiliating act would rarely be seen as someone who would create such a story.

Frankly, I am angry. I am incensed that there are enough people who are misinformed or who are lost in the midst of their generational, political or cultural paradigms who believe that women don't deserve to have the same considerations in intellect, freedoms, and protections under the law. We as women have a right to be treated equally, and not doubted merely because we are vulnerable in physical and emotional makeup.

It's enough that women who suffer from rape have to deal with the shame and often do not report it --and there are women who bear children of such acts.

What are we doing in the media but perpetuating the continuance of a cycle of behavior merely by our attitudes, cynicism, and public (as well as private) stances because we refuse to face that we should be working to protect the vulnerabilities of those who stand to be victims?

The fact that rape is questioned, and classified in a ranking of legitimacy has now led to the discussion  being tied to the abortion and birth control argument and it is frustrating.

Pregnancy is a highly personal and intimately life altering, especially for women. 

I firmly believe that no woman in her right mind with any sort of compassion, or religious and cultural influence would consider abortion in a flippant manner or see it as a convenient preferred option. Such a procedure is painful, scary and terribly intimate. It involves surrender and complete invasion of a very fundamental part of our being-- where a woman has to electively grant control of her body to another human.

For media to perpetuate the argument and the fervor to which so many strangers feel they have a more rights over an individual woman than she has over her own body and her reproductive cycle is a sad argument, especially when she has to make the decision based on a sexual act that she did not consent to in the first place.

To demand that a woman relive and shoulder the trauma of rape because society places her value below the perceived morality of the nation is a sad degradation of the liberties on which we were supposedly founded.

To believe that women have magical powers that can terminate fertilization of her egg if it occurred in a time when it was a traumatic event is an especially misinformed and misleading belief.  Furthermore, to infer that women in general would lie about rape in order to go through traumatic invasion of her uterus, shows that there are men who still refuse to understand the complexities of  reproduction and child rearing beyond the implantation of their seed and that women are the vessel to perpetuate their progeny.

As a woman, I am sick of the assumption that because I do not think it should be the position of any lawmaker to tell me what I am allowed to protect when it comes to my eggs, my uterus, my pregnancies, my sexuality and my gender that I am some "left wing nut liberal."

 I'm not. I'm a woman.

I believe I have rights under the law that should protect me as equally as it would someone opposite my gender. Period.

To say that women should have a choice in their health and reproductive rights automatically places me in some categories and minds of some that  I am someone "who approves of killing babies"-- simply because I do not think that a group of people or strangers should have a say over my own reproductive rights merely because they think they do. Has the law ever told a man he was required to wear a condom, or be sterilized? Beyond pursuit of child support, has there ever been a law which forced a man to be responsible for a pregnancy or to participate in the life of a child he did not mean to conceive?

 Isn't that an offhanded form of violation to us as women in a milder form?

When it comes to governing my body:  I would be just as angry if the government told me I could not have more than one child or forced me into abortion or birth control.

The fact of the matter is, I should be allowed to have domain over my body. As a woman,  I should be allowed to speak out against being victimized without the fear of being labeled, disbelieved, or becoming a soapbox for some politician who wants to question my integrity because of what he believes about rape, pregnancy and women.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Vision Board

There's a book called  "The Secret" which sells the idea that positive thoughts and visualization can bring on success.

The theory is that if you open yourself and your energy, you draw to yourself more of what you focus upon.  This theory makes a lot of sense, considering the evidence of what we see around us. The people who focus on the negative and worry often seem to be bearers of more stress. Those who focus on the positivity open themselves to more positive outcomes.

I think it is more about perspective. Making one's own luck is often a matter of where one chooses to look, focusing outward and looking for opportunity, as well as being open to it, but not stressing about the how or the when or why.

I myself have often found what I am seeking or had things happen in my life when I stopped telling myself that it would never happen, or wishing in a negative manner (envy).

Such as it is, I have a vision board. It is only about 1/3 complete because I know I have more dreams and hopes.  But my vision board is there to remind me of the goals and hopes I have for myself and my family more than anything. It allows me to re-center my focus when I forget, or when I get to stressed or distracted by everyday life.

On my vision board I have: 

  • A smiling couple moving into a new home- It has been a while since we considered ever owning a home. We tried once when we were young, but we didn't realize we didn't need everything new, everything right now, and everything everyone else has. 
  • A check to myself for a hit screenplay, and the New York Bestseller list with my name penciled in.- I often need to remind myself that I write well, and I can make it a successful life venture. I may be out of practice but I can become published beyond newsprint; I can turn it into a career.

  • Travel destinations-  When I was in Rio in 2010, the city had just won the bid to host the Olympics. I told myself I would return in 6 years, I would be back to see it in person. There are many other destinations, but that is one I do not want to pass up. I have all the faith in the world that my family and I will make every destination on that board.
  • A woman running and a scale that reads, "Joy." -Vanity may be a part of this, but I also know I want a healthy body and a healthy outlook in accepting my body in its limits and its potential.
  • Our Future Business- My husband and I dream of a future where we own a Cafe' and Wine Bar which includes a small book store. It's good to have visions beyond the right now, and to dream big. 

There are no shortages of people with doubts, but my vision board only allows the possibility of what can happen if there were no doubts, and the barriers are surpassed with diligence and dedication.

What I still would like to have on my vision board:

  • Habitat for Humanity- Not only do I want to build a house and success for myself, I want to help others have a home of their own.
  • Water.Org Travel and Assist (or something of the like)- There are so very many people in this world who don't have the luxury of dreaming of trips to exotic destinations, large homes and business success. The big dreams they have are of giving their children clean water, basic nutrition, minimal healthcare. I want to be a part of that.

Beyond that, the spaces let open are for future possibilities I have yet  to realize.
I always find myself wondering how I see so many people more successful than I am at this stage in my life, and then I have to remind myself that not all success is material.

I have success in my family. I have  had the advantage of being a stay at home mom for my daughter. I have been able to pursue my education, navigating my way through an associates degree, a bachelor's degree, an Undergraduate certificate, and am now working toward my Masters.

Speaking of my family, some of that empty space on the board is theirs to fill. I want them to have reminders too; they should be able to pass the board and look up knowing they are as much a part of my happiness, life goals and vision, as anything else.

There's a quote on the board that embodies a belief I hold dear: "Make your Own Luck."
Eyes and mind open, opportunities are often caught by those who do not let themselves become too distracted and forget to look up and around at the world around them.

Don't forget to seek out that four leaf clover. They're out there.  In one month, my daughter and I found three, plus a five leaf clover (which still hangs on our refrigerator as a reminder that our luck and the success in our lives depend on where we look for it).

What would you put on your vision board? What's important enough to you for your future that you would display it without shame or question?