If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.
Happy, sad or angry – my son cannot stand to see me cry. As we held onto each other in that sea of people, he just kept looking at me and saying, “You’re going to get married, mama. You’re going to get married.” I nodded and laughed as I continued to cry, “Yeah, I’m going to get married.” Then, he held my hands and said, “Promise me you’ll get married as soon as you can, before they can take it away.”
And that is the reality of the world in which he has lived – that rights are bestowed by higher powers but can just as easily be taken back.
I looked around me… at the woman in her fifties standing alone smiling and crying, at the elderly couple holding hands who could not stop sobbing, at the couple who had a sign proclaiming their 25 years together and then to all the very young activists who shed no tears, only laughed and cheered.
For those of us who are older, legal recognition of our relationships seemed unfathomable for most of our lives. For those young activists who were all smiles, it has always seemed inevitable. There is no doubt that this was a political victory but, for many of us, it was so much more personal than that.
Seriously, if we believe a 14 year old is too immature to know how to take a pill, do we really think she’s adult enough to handle an unwanted pregnancy?
The truth is that the age restriction is completely arbitrary, tied only to our puritanical comfort levels. And listen, I get it; I think it’s fair to say that most people are uncomfortable with the idea of a 14 year old having sex. But here’s the thing - access to Plan B isn’t about keeping a 14 year old from having sex - by the time she gets to the pharmacy, that ship has sailed - it’s about keeping a 14 year old who has already had sex from getting pregnant. And despite what urban legend (or past embarrassing FDA memos) may tell you, making emergency contraception more available is not more likely to make young teens have sex - it will just make them less likely to end up pregnant.
We can’t let our discomfort with teen sex trump young people’s right to sexual and reproductive health and we can’t continue to let politics trump science. If we care about young women’s health and bodily autonomy and integrity, we’ll drop all age restrictions from emergency contraception. Anything less isn’t just illogical - it’s immoral.
What kind of world do we live in when young men are so proud of violating unconscious girls that they pass proof around to their friends? It’s the same kind of world in which being labeled a slut comes with such torturous social repercussions that suicide is preferable to enduring them. As a woman named Sara Erdmann so aptly tweeted to me, “I will never understand why it is more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist.”
And yet it is: so much so that young men seem to think there’s nothing wrong with—and maybe something hilarious about—sharing pictures of themselves raping young women. And why not? Their friends will defend them, as they did in Steubenville, tweeting that the young woman was “asking for it” and that the boys were being unfairly targeted.
Women and girls are the ones expected to carry the shame of the sexual crimes perpetrated against them. And that shame is a tremendous load to bear, because once you’re labeled a slut, empathy and compassion go out the window. The word is more than a slur—it’s a designation.
Paisley wants to know how he can express his Southern Pride. Here are some ways. He could hold a huge party on Martin Luther King’s birthday, to celebrate a Southerner’s contribution to the world of democracy. He could rock a T-shirt emblazoned with Faulkner’s Light In August, and celebrate the South’s immense contribution to American literature. He could preach about the contributions of unknown Southern soldiers like Andrew Jackson Smith. He could tell the world about the original Cassius Clay. He could insist that Tennessee raise a statue to Ida B. Wells.
Every one of these people are Southerners. And every one of them contributed to this great country. But to do that Paisley would have to be more interested in a challenging conversation and less interested in a comforting lecture.
The modern ‘epidemics’ of teen pregnancy and obesity can be understood as a modern manifestation of these sorts of anxieties about the ‘contagion’ of working class and poor communities, about “unregulated” female sexuality. Many sociologists have used the idea of “moral panic” to describe how society’s wider anxieties (about criminals, communities of color, the poor, immigrants, etc.) are framed as threatening to the social order, and transformed into hostility and volatility.
I don’t mean to imply that teen pregnancy is necessarily good for young women, or that there aren’t health outcomes of obesity (although the data has been surprising – with a recent analysis suggesting that being overweight might be actually associated with a lower risk of death). What I would like to argue is that since these “epidemics” – and these campaigns – disproportionately break down across class and race lines, these ‘shame and blame’ posters in fact serve to throw a cloak of moral legitimacy upon race and class panic.
The panic here is clear: marginalized bodies are out of control, unable to care for themselves or their children. Self-control (regarding sexuality, regarding food), so valued a Puritanical American ideal, is disintegrating, and a disintegration of the social fabric is sure to follow.
Public health campaigns which rely on shame rather than empowerment, which cast individual blame rather than crafting collective solutions, which target marginalized bodies rather than corporate entities like the food production and distribution industry, can be seen as symptoms of wider social ills: racist and classist public control disguised as public health.
Alice Walker, The Color Purple
I am a mother of three girls, ages 2, 6, and 8. Two of them are Sandy Hook School students – one in first grade, one in third grade. I would like to share with you our experience with Dec 14th and my feelings on gun control.
My third grader has gone thru some deep grief over the loss of her siblings’ friends. She was devastated by the loss of the teachers, especially her principal, Dawn Hocksprung, whom we all loved. She is angry that this has happened, that lives were lost so tragically and that she can no longer go to her school. When she was evacuated that day to the fire house, she did not know if her little sister had survived. She struggles with the concept that there is evil in the world, that something this horrific could happen to this town, to her, to her sisters, to her friends. She is 8.
In addition to the tragic loss of her playmates, friends, and teachers, my first grader suffers from PTSD. She was in the first room by the entrance to the school. Her teacher was able to gather the children into the tiny bathroom inside the classroom. There she stood, with 14 of her classmates and her teacher, all of them crying. You see, she heard what was happening on the other side of the wall. She heard everything. Shooting. Screaming. Pleading. She was sure she was going to die that day and did not want to die for Christmas. Imagine what this must have been like.
With PTSD comes fear – all kinds of fear. Each time she hears a loud or unfamiliar noise, she experiences the fear she had in that bathroom. She is not alone. All of her classmates have PTSD. She struggles nightly with nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, and being afraid to go anywhere in her own home. At school she becomes withdrawn, crying daily, covering her ears when it gets too loud and waiting for this to happen again. She is 6.
Imagine being this age and living like this. My children face their fears every day by getting on the bus and going to school. Would you be able to do the same? How would you feel if these were your children?
Although we are getting help and trying to heal, this will affect us for the rest of our lives. We are thankful that by the grace of god, our children came home to us on Dec. 14. As a family and a community, we are deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss of so many innocent children and beloved teachers.
We are also furious.
Furious that 26 families must suffer with grief so deep and so wide that it is unimaginable.
Furious that the innocence and safety of my children’s lives has been taken.
Furious that someone had access to the type of weapon used in this massacre.
Furious that this type of weapon is even legal.
Furious that gun makers make ammunition with such high rounds and our government does nothing to stop them.
Furious that the ban on assault weapons was carelessly left to expire.
Furious that lawmakers let the gun lobbyists have so much control.
Furious that somehow, someone’s right to own a gun is more important than my children’s rights to life.
Furious that common sense has gone out the window.
Furious that lawmakers are too scared to take a stand.
The “what if’s” never stop going through my mind. What if this weapon were still banned? What if there weren’t high capacity rounds? What if the shooter had different bullets? I think the carnage would have been a lot less. Yes, there would have been losses. But there would have been time. Time to react and possibly make a difference.
Those children and teachers had NO CHANCE. They did not just get shot. They got blown apart.
It’s time to stop catering to the gun owners and lobbyists and start caring about our children, our families, our teachers, our friends and our neighbors. The NRA does not care about people, they care about money.
I don’t believe that anyone, other than the military, has a right to own the type of weapon or ammo used at Sandy Hook.
The second amendment is not limitless.
Weapons like the AR15 have no place in society. This is simply common sense.
Veronique Pozner, mother of Noah Pozner, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, gave this statement which I believe whole-heartedly:
“The equation is terrifyingly simple: Faster weapons equal more fatalities. This is not about the right to bear arms. It is about the right to bear weapons with the capacity for mass destruction.”
We are trying to move forward, but there must be change. If our lawmakers cannot make this change, then we, as a people will elect those who will.
I dare the Republican members of Congress to take a meeting with her, or any other parent of the victim of gun violence. (via inothernews)