Category Archives: feminism

Taking Responsibility: Pro-life Feminism

In all of the hub-bub surrounding the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood, the most disturbing is the accusation that those who support the pro-life/ anti-choice side, or those who just don’t want to support Planned Parenthood by giving them free government money, are somehow anti-woman, or worse, hate women. I am not going to speak for anyone other than myself but here are my thoughts on this sad, sad topic and if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be: responsibility.

-If you do not have insurance and need medical care, you need to take responsibility. Planned Parenthood is certainly convenient and easy to find but it is not the only option for free/ reduced cost cancer and STI screenings (especially if you find yourself wrestling morally.) The CDC offers a program in all 50 states called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. If the CDC program is difficult to get to, try calling an OB/GYN office to see how much they will charge for screenings. You never know until you ask, right? One good place to start would be with traditionally Catholic hospitals, or OB/GYNs affiliated with them. Another resource is One More Soul, to find a Pro-Life Physician who might be able to help out.  As far as STI screenings, you can go to your local health department (as STIs are a public health issue.) Obtaining free chemical or physical birth control is a bit trickier. Pregnancy crisis centers usually offer free condoms, but to qualify for free chemical birth control (i.e. the pill,) low-income women may be required to apply for and be accepted into government programs (such as medicaid.) Which leads to…

-If you do not have insurance to cover chemical birth control, you need to take responsibility. Is there something you can do without? Is the data plan on your mobile phone really that needed? What about cable or sateillite? Those weekly mani/ pedis? To be honest, I have not purchased chemical birth control in over 4 years, so I have no clue how much it costs. The costs might be so out of control that simple cutbacks might not be enough. I don’t know. If you are a new reader, you might be wondering how we don’t have a house-full of children running around if there is no chemical or physical birth control involved? The Mister and I decided to learn about our fertility and we practice Natural Family Planning, also called Fertility Awareness. We observe mucus changes and basal body temp (when I am not nursing at night, which I am now, so we rely on mucus,) we track, we chart and when I am fertile, we abstain. That last part is where people usually say “Whoa, stop the bus!” But if you think about it, we have the control to not eat ALL the time, to not lie around in bed all day and to not wale on someone if they tick us off (unless you are on “The Bad Girls Club”) so why is it so odd to expect a couple to abstain when fertile? Which leads to…

-If you can’t afford chemical or physical birth control and you don’t want to learn about fertility awareness or follow the fertility awareness teachings to a T (after all, fertility awareness only works as well as the users using it… kind of like chemical or physical birth control, eh?) then, you need to take responsibility and I have to say it… don’t have sex or have sex with the expectation that there is a chance that you will conceive a child and that child will be it’s own unique creation and all yours to love and care for. If you are not ready to welcome a child, remember we are highly evolved creatures, there are other ways to declare undying love than bumping uglies.

As a parting remark, I want to put it out there that often times, people will declare you a non-feminist if you are pro-life. They will say stuff like “every child a wanted child” or “my body, my choice,” but I have to ask:

-Is it a choice if a woman has to choose between her child and her job?
-Is it a choice if a woman is told “end it, or I am leaving you?”
-Is it a choice if a parent threatens to disown their daughter if she carries her pregnancy to term?
-Is it a choice if a woman has to choose between putting food on the table and having a child?

We don’t want to set women up for false choices. The idea of choice implies that each option is viable in itself, not the lesser of two evils. In my mind, what we are telling women is “You don’t have the capability to do seek out resources on your own, if the government doesn’t give them to you and if you were to get pregnant at an inopportune time, you are better off getting rid of the pregnancy because your life is ruined if you even try to raise a baby and reach your goals.” How is that empowering women?

One of my best friends, and I will not name her here for she knows who she is, is the strongest person I know. She discovered she was pregnant not long after college graduation and she had her baby. She and the father married but later divorced, but she is rocking her life. Her child is amazing, everything that you would want in a child. She is a homeowner, she works full-time and is just an inspiration to me. I don’t know if abortion ever crossed her mind, but I thank God that she chose for life because our lives would be that much emptier without her and her child (after all, having a child changes you.) But that begs the question: Would I have abandoned her had she terminated her child. No, we are called to love and support each other through all times. Tough and Easy. That’s just how it goes.

For further reading about Pro-life Feminism, check out Feminists for Life.
______________________________________________________________________
Lent begins this Wednesday and I’ve decided that for 40 days I am going to avoid these HEAVY topics and try to focus on the spiritual with a dash of levity here and there. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Catholic, feminism, life, political

Setting the Record Straight

I’ve been kind of fired up about things in the past few days. I don’t know if it’s the mess that is going on in Wisconsin or just the climate in general but before I continue, I want to make something very clear:

My history is closer to that of Mary Magdalene than that of the Blessed Mother.

Oftentimes, parents are afraid to talk to their children about drug use because of their own past drug use. They fear being seen as hypocritical or telling their kids “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, I can tell you, the only illegal drug that I ever consumed was alcohol before I was 21 (I was and am far too paranoid for anything more,) but I did find myself making what I now consider to be poor moral choices when I was a young adult.

I had grand plans of saving myself for my husband and that pledge to self was easy enough to keep in high school. I was not part of the popular crowd and I didn’t really hang out with the partiers, I was more of a floater… but I was really into my studies and I was a band geek (in fact I was a drum major.) So, yeah… kind of nerdy. But my studies paid off as I received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I started Madison in the Fall of 1998 and I did a pretty good job to balancing the studies with the party lifestyle that I adopted. I managed to keep my resolve not to go “all the way,” but that didn’t stop me from engaging in some heavy petting. (Yes, this is kind of weird to write considering that I am pretty sure my mother and my mother-in-law both read my blog, but it is what it is.) Sophomore year, I really spent too much time partying and drinking and as a result, failed Organic Chemistry which effectively killed my dream of being a doctor. Now, keep in mind, I was on scholarship at this point and as it was an academic scholarship, failing classes is not really part of the deal. Basically I was told to straighten up and fly right or kiss my scholarship good-bye. Failing that class was a wake-up call for me and I never earned less than an B since then. Junior year started and I had been dating my boyfriend at the time for the entire summer. We were doing the distance thing, so we were only together on the weekends. Then a weird thing happened… September 11. For some reason, that horrible act lead to me to decide that we could all die tomorrow so it was time to “Carpe Diem!” I slept with my boyfriend not too long after then. I was 21.

He and I broke up later that fall and it was after that break-up that things got kind of crazy. I really bought into the notion of female empowerment by being able to pick up a guy in a bar. But I can tell you, with every “conquest” I felt crappier and crappier about myself. For a few hours, I was loved, I was admired, I was favored… and then I was discarded. I fell into depression and was under treatment by a Cognitive-Behavioral therapist for almost 3 years. While in therapy, I learned how to form healthier relationships and it helped lead me to where I am today. I really wish that I could write that the Church had more of an influence on me at that point in my life, but I really can’t. While I converted in 2002, I didn’t start learned about the Church’s teachings on sexuality and contraception until after the birth of the Bear, in 2007. (I used contraception, both chemical and physical, from 2001 until 2006. Since after the Bear’s birth, we’ve used the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning.)

The Soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II wrote that the opposite of love is not hate; it is use. It seems, with sexuality, we tend to take two avenues: repression or free-for-all. Neither method is healthy nor works. Why am I putting all of this out there and writing about such sensitive and private topics? Because maybe one of you reading is where I was in 1998… in 2001… in 2007. Ignorance is bliss… but do we really want to live life blind, deaf and dumb? So, what am I planning on telling my daughters (and/or sons if we are blessed in the future?) I will teach them that sex is a beautiful and powerful act. It is simple but at the same time incredibly complex. It has the power to create and the power to destroy and the only difference is in how it is wielded. I will teach them that we all make mistakes and we all may have regrets, but in acknowledging those mistakes and desiring to change, to be better than yesterday, is the mark of maturity.

6 Comments

Filed under Catholic, family, feminism, history, life, marriage, mothering, political

Getting off the fence

I used to be a fence sitter in the realm of the polarizing topic of abortion. I have close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-choice; I have other close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-life. For the longest time, I would hem and haw and try to tactfully avoid the question or topic for fear of angering or alienating a friend or worse, losing a friend.

I am not very good at memorizing scripture, but there is one chapter of the bible that has really “spoken” to me at varying times in my life: Matthew 10. Quite a few passages from this chapter has lead me to writing this today:

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of federal monies that are used for preventative health screenings, which include contraception and cancer screenings. Currently, Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal dollars for abortion services, and the removal of this money cuts off it’s “family planning” side. As an aside, the monies were being provided under the Title X Family Planning Program enacted in 1970. According to the US Health and Human Services Website:

Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. (emphasis mine)

Opponents of the funding cut, use the argument that by cutting the money to Planned Parenthood, we are putting the lives and health of women at stake. But not all Title X recipients are being cut, only Planned Parenthood, which may be the most accessible if not the most well known “family planning” center in the US.

Not every Planned Parenthood office provides abortions, but every office will council and refer to an abortion provider as needed. One question to have, is Planned Parenthood providing abortion as a family planning method? I don’t know. I guess that would depend on why the abortion is performed. According to their 2010 fact-sheet, in 2008, Planned Parenthood performed 324,008 abortions and referred 2,405 pregnancies for adoption. Planned Parenthood is not without other controversies, either. Last March, Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts of America caused some issues when they partnered to do some “No-Adults Allowed” Sex Education. A few weeks ago, the pro-life group, “Live Action” released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees skirting the laws and essentially helping a man posing as a pimp for an underage girl. Planned Parenthood has come out and said that the videos are all hoaxes among other things. For me, though, Planned Parenthood and abortion are intrinsically linked and culturally very personal.

According to the Gutmacher Institute, black women account for 30% of induced abortions in the US. However, according to the 2000 Census, black (or black with something else) women in the US made up 6.8% of the total population. Another percentage from the Gutmacher Institute is that 69% of pregnancies among black women were unintended, but Planned Parenthood is providing Family Planning services? Bottom line is that family planning services do not make money, but abortions do. Abortions are not covered by federal dollars, so the women are paying out of pocket for the procedure. According to the PPFA Annual Report for 2008-2009, the non-profit ended with a profit of $63.4 million. To clarify, non-profit is a tax status, so that means they don’t have to play Government Taxes. (The 2009-2010 report has not been released.)In New York City, 71% of black teenagers aborted their children in 2009. According to LEARN, the largest black pro-life group in the US, between 1973-2001, abortion has claimed more lives than AIDS, Violent Acts, Accidents, Cancer and Heart Disease combined (their stats come from the CDC.) So, what’s going on here? Why are we, as a community, allowing this black genocide to continue?

Women deserve better than abortion. Of those 324,008 abortions in 2008, we can say at least half of those would have been little girls. I am never a fan of those who criticize without bringing another option. In my opinion, we need to:
– redefine our definitions of “love,” “sex,” and “intimacy.” Intimacy can lead to sex and sex can lead to the creation of life. Sex very rarely, if ever, leads to intimacy or love.
– support pregnant women more, whether it is in their jobs or just personally. A woman should not have to feel compelled to choose between her child and her job. Maybe some of those federal monies should go to Pregnancy Resource Centers/ Emergency Shelters to help pregnant women with no place to go. Let’s give adoption some better PR.
-Stop Glamorizing Teen Pregnancy. Yup, MTV, I’m talking to you. Now, I have to admit, I have NEVER seen “Teen Mom” but what I have heard about it makes me vomit in my mouth a little. Some say it’s a great window to the realities of teen motherhood, others say that it makes girls think that they are one pregnancy away from landing a reality show and FAME!
-Celebrate the involvement of the father. Too often pro-choice voices talk about how it’s the choice of the woman, but there are at least 4 people involved in that choice: The Mother, The Father, The Child and God. In having the abortion, the mother takes away the choice of the father and the choice of the child.

A baby is not just an extension of the mother’s body, like an appendix or gall-bladder. It has it’s own genetic code and is a separate being. Just because it is dependent on the mother for a period of time does not make it more or less valuable or give it less of a right to live. My children are still very dependent on me. Just because they do not rely on me for their oxygen exchange or nutrition, doesn’t mean they are not still dependent. Do I have the right to deny them life because they count on me?

I’ll close with two quotes:

“The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood)

________________________________________________________________

What are your thoughts? I fully believe in civil discourse, but I do expect a certain level of decorum when engaging in debate. We all have differing opinions and no one person is more right than another and we all have the right to speak our minds. Can’t wait to read your thoughts.

1 Comment

Filed under Catholic, family, feminism, history, life, mothering, political, race

All a matter of perspective

Today I read a guest post on The Feminist Breeder that kind of got to me. In the post, the author spoke about the influence that Disney Princesses have on the psyches and developments of our children, especially our daughters. As a mother of two daughters, I am a little taken aback at the Disney Princess, or Princess in general, bashing that seems to be the trend in some mothering circles.

If you are an old friend here, you know that I champion and celebrate my femininity. To me, my feminine nature is not something that I shy away from nor is it something that I hide or try to emasculate. I believe that God made each of us, male and female, in His image and the masculine and feminine are meant to complement, not complete with, each other.

The author of the guest post gives concrete examples of why she feels her way against the specific princesses and in thinking about it, it is all really a matter of perspective and I would like to offer my counter-points to her points:

#1 Ariel: Ariel’s story could be seen as a story of sacrifice. When an individual chooses to enter into a relationship of his or her own will, certain sacrifices are made for that love. How many of us can honestly say that we have never given up anything in a relationship? In the case of Ariel, she chose to sacrifice her treasured voice to have the chance to be with her love. Now, I will say that there is the part where the Sea Witch basically tells her to win Prince Eric’s heart by using “body language,” but she is the evil Sea Witch. (I will say that I disagree with Disney’s use of making the “bad” characters ugly but I do think that serves a purpose that I will discuss in a bit.)

#2 Belle: Contrary to what the author states, Belle was not kidnapped by the Beast, rather she offered to take her father’s place in serving his “Beast-imposed” sentence for essentially breaking and entering into the Beast’s castle. To be a little tongue-in-cheek, the Beast would have been in full legal rights to kill Maurice for breaking into his home, but instead decided to hold him prisoner. Belle did have full reign of the castle (except the West Wing, but she went there anyway) and while she was there helped the Beast to tame his rages and try to become a gentleman. In the end, she saw through his facade of anger and selfishness and loved him for who he truly was.

#3 Snow White: The commentary here lies in the pride of the Queen and the envy that she felt for her step-daughter, not in that Snow White was too pretty. The sins of Pride and Envy so consumed the queen that she resorted to having the child killed. At the end of the film, the Queen willingly changed her outside to match the ugliness of her insides and died in that state. There are thoughts that the apple could be a symbol of the fall of man (a result of the serpent’s deceit and man and woman’s pride) and therefore the use of the kiss to wake Snow White by the Prince could be allegorical to Christ saving Mankind. (OK that might be a stretch…)

#4 Aurora: True, another story in which wrath, envy and pride take center stage. In this case, Maleficent is slighted by not being invited to the party and takes out her revenge on the baby.

What we have to remember, however, is that Disney is the messenger. The stories that these movies are based on were written hundreds of years ago. They are tales of morality and social commentary and are not the gentle fairy tales that we have become accustomed to. For example, in the original “Cinderella,” the step-sisters have their eyes pecked out by birds in the end and in Hans Christian-Anderson’s “The Little Match Girl,” the poor match girl freezes to death on the streets on Christmas Eve while people walk past. Fairy Tales might be better named Morality Tales in which the good prevail and the evil perish.

But what really gets me in all of this is what I see as a blatant double-standard. This week, the news was a buzz about “My Princess Boy,” a children’s book written by a mom who’s 5 year old son likes to wear dresses and likes to dress as a princess. It’s drawn applause and accolades for it’s inclusive attitude and message of acceptance and for spreading the message that clothes are just clothes but it does make me wonder: why is it progressive for a boy to dress like and enjoy princesses and regressive for a little girl to?

I will say that the guest author gets it spot on in the end. She acknowledges the power of her parenting and the power that she has a positive female model for her daughter. Ask anyone who their most impressionable model was growing up, positive or negative, and I’ll bet they’ll tell you it was a parent… and not a Disney Princess.

(As an aside, the guest author says her daughter received a “Sally” for Christmas. I can only assume she means Sally Carrera from Cars… you know, the lawyer with the… pinstriping. But she was a 2002 model and that was the trend. But you know… Doc fixed her up once she broke down in Radiator Springs, so another male saving a female? Or do animatronic cars not count? And Sally was voted one of TopGear’s sexiest cars… but it could also be “Sally” from “The Nightmare before Christmas” and that would be a little scary, in my opinion.)

__________________________________________________
So, what are your thoughts? Are we reading far too much into Princesses? Or can kids just be kids?

Pax Christi!

5 Comments

Filed under feminism, Friday

Everybody plays, everybody wins.

Last week, Elita at Blacktating.com wrote a post about an upcoming book that came across her desk. (She works for the library system and is therefore, even more of a hero to me.) Anyway, the book is entitiled: Is Breast Best?: Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood. I am not going to discuss the book here because Elita does a good job on her page, but I am going to give my hypothesis as to why we are still dealing with these mommy wars.

Now, mind you, I am not a social scientist and everything that follows is essentially out of my head but bear with me here. I am thirty years old (born in 1980) and if you are my age, or younger, you might remember the phenomenon of “Everybody plays, everybody wins.” (In fact, it might still be happening.) The basic idea was, in the realm of sports specifically, every child on the team got a chance to play and everybody got a trophy. The basis of this was the question of how losing would affect a child’s self-esteem and it seemed to have been determined that the self-esteem of children is so fragile that it must be protected from any hits at all costs. But let’s look at the fruits of this labor:

-Helicopter Parents: We have a whole generation of parent afraid of letting their kids make mistakes or getting hurt that they will hover near by and swoop in as soon as a danger (real or imaginary) presents itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, if your kid is in bodily harm- swoop, swoop away, but if your kid is over the age of 18… it’s time to stop swooping.

-I know a woman who is a Nursing Professor, teaching graduate level nursing courses here in Missouri and she has had to field irate phone calls and emails from the parents of her students (mind you, this is graduate school so these students are at least 22 years old.) These phone calls are usually to discuss/ argue against bad grades. Because of the privacy act, the professor is not allowed to discuss the grades with the parent, but that does not sway them.

-Many people, my age or younger, are afraid of making mistakes because of the Everybody plays, Everybody Wins mentality and as a result, we have the Mommy Wars. We have a group of parents who grew up being told that they could do no wrong and that they were perfect in every why that when they encounter a teaching or philosophy that is counter to their own held beliefs the effort is put forth to discount/ disprove that counter-philosophy.

So, let’s get back to this book:

A big problem people have with pro-breastfeeding campaigns is the notion that “Breast is best” or “Breastmilk is a superior infant food.” The author of the book is taking the opposite approach and defends formula as being just as good as breastmilk, however this assertion is false. Formula is not and never will be just as good as breastmilk. It just won’t. Look at it this way:

Statement A: A potato from the garden is superior to processed, fast food french fries. French Fries will fill you up and keep you from being hungry, but it is not the same as the potato. Manufacturers try their best to make the french fry nutritionally equal to the potato but as close as they come, it’s still a french fry and not a potato.

Can you argue with the above statement as being false? Now, I love french fries and I could eat them at every meal, but of course I don’t because that would not be good for me. So let’s read that statement again with some substitutions:

Statement B: Breastmilk is superior to Formula. Formula will fill you up and keep you from being hungry, but it is not the same as Breastmilk. Manufacturers try their best to make formula nutritionally equal to the breastmilk but as close as they come, it’s still formula and not breastmilk.

While most people would not call statement A false, there would be plenty out there to say that statement B is false, even though the only change was in 2 words.

So, where am I going with this? Breastmilk, Formula, Homeschool, Vaccines, Fast Food, Juice, Wooden Toys, etc., etc., what ever parenting choices you make you have to be confident that you made the right decision for your family. My SIL hated breastfeeding and therefore did not continue very long. My SIL is a strong, confident woman and knows that she did the right thing for her family. But she also knows that formula is not the same as breastmilk and is not going to convince herself otherwise. What is right for my family is not right for my BFF’s family and we need to stop pretending that every family is the same in every way.

But with that said, breastfeeding advocates are not going to stop giving the facts about the nutritional superiority of breastmilk because there are mamas and mamas-to-be out there who are still deciding and discerning what feeding method is right for them and they deserve all of the facts. Maybe what we all need is a little dose of humility and we need to stop trying to be the best at everything. After all, in this life not everybody is going to play and win but once we are with Jesus and get our crowns, all of this stuff will just be noise.

__________________________________________________
So what are your thoughts? Are you a Helicopter Parent? Was “Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins” a good thing for us? Are we, as parents, just neurotic?

As an aside, this is my 100th post!! If you’ve been reading all along, thanks! If you are a new reader, there are 99 other pretty good ideas to read!

Pax Christi!

2 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, feminism, life, monday, mothering

Is Civility Dead?

This morning, “The Today Show” ran a segment asking this question. Before interviewing a psychologist and a pop culture expert, they ran a montage with recent clips of down right bad behaviour:

Serena Williams cursing out the ref at the US Open
Sen. Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie!” at the President
Table Tossing on The Real Housewives of New Jersey
All out Brawls on The Jersey Shore
Varying clips of Simon Cowell insulting auditions on American Idol (there are too many to post just one!)

What was the expert response to “Is Civility Dead?” Pretty much a yes. But you don’t have to be an expert to know this fact. All you have to do is walk out of your front door. In our house, manners are key and my husband and I know that we are the most important models for those manners for our children. We made it a point from an early age to teach our children “Please,” Thank You,”” May I please…,” etc, etc, and while they are far from perfect (after all we are all human and my husband and I are far from perfect models) there is nothing more heart warming than hearing your child remember her manners without prompting.

A quick personal story about the lack of civility in life happened to be about two weeks ago. I took the girls with me to the local outlet mall and after a bit, The Bear had to go to the washroom so we headed to the family washroom because they have a child sized toilet which makes everyone happy. I had our beastly inline double stroller with me and so off we went. The door to the family washroom is pretty heavy and opens in toward the room so getting in is really no problem, but getting out while pushing a stroller can be difficult if you have no one to hold the door for me. While we were in there, two women with strollers were getting ready to leave, so I held the door for them to exit and we did our business. Once we were ready to leave, I got the girls back in the stroller and tried to leave the room. I had the door partially open and the stroller wedged in the door and I was trying to simultaneously push the stroller through the door and hold the door open. (Did I mention that our stroller is 100 lbs when weighed down with both kids?) While I am performing this amazing feat of mommy-dom, there are no fewer than three people watching me. Not offering to help, just being entertained. Finally, I asked someone to pull the stroller out of the doorway, and we were on the way. I was not so much embarrassed but saddened. I don’t know if we, as a society, have become afraid of offering help for fear of offending or what, but I can tell you, I would have loved for one of those three people to say “May I help?”

One of the experts made the comment that the death of civility seems to be linked to the rise of the internet and the anonymity that can follow. After all, it’s easy to flame people or leave very nasty comments when you can hide behind the label of “Anonymous.” One of the blogs I follow, The Feminist Breeder, wrote about the double edged sword that is popularity. She wrote from the perspective of a popular blogger and her time as a rock star (she was a member of the band Veruca Salt.) Leaving of nasty comments on a blog is particularity hurtful because, believe it or not, bloggers really do have feelings. I am sure there are those out there who might think “Well, if you can’t take the criticism, don’t put yourself out there.” But there is a fine line between crtiticism and just being venomous.

There are times that I think about changing my settings on this blog to allow for “anonymous” comments to allow for people to make comments without saying who they are because they really feel the need to be private, but I know that would just be a bad idea because I could find myself holding back or censoring my opinions and thoughts because of trolls who like nothing better than to leave nasty comments that they don’t have to stand behind.

So how dow we take back civility? If you are a parent, do not discount the power of basic manners. If you read internet blogs, do not hide behind the title “Anonymous” just to leave nasty comments. If you are a tween, teen, or adult, do not forget your own manners and at least offer help to someone if it appears they are struggling with something. The worst thing they can say is “No,” (hopefully, it’s more like “No, thank you”) and you can go on your way. If you are offered help but do not need it, do not be offended or take it as an insult to your own ability, but smile and say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you,” which ever is most applicable.

I don’t know if we will get back to men wearing fedoras outside of the home (a future blog post) but we could get our manners back.
__________________________________________________
So what are your thoughts? Is civility really dead or am I just being old-fashioned? Today is also All Saints Day. We are going to try to make a cake for Sts. Stephen, Michael, Brigid and Lucy (Lucia) (FYI: Michael is my confirmation name. The rest are members of the CCM family.) For a cute All Saints Craft, check this out!

Pax Christi!

3 Comments

Filed under feminism, life, monday, mothering

Can I get a Witness?

Yesterday was Respect for Life Sunday and so the homily focused on the sancity of Life. DH and I discussed the topic a bit, and I realized that life issues can be a difficult topic to discuss, even between spouses. It kind of got me thinking… as a Catholic Woman and Mother, why do I find it so difficult to discuss, let alone witness to, life issues?

My thoughts are that we as a people love to cling to our individuality and personal decisions and there is the desire of not wanting to offend another and so we water down our personal convictions as to not alienate another person. How many of us, in meeting a possible new friend, tend to avoid discussing “hot button issues” (politics, religion, etc) because we really want that other person to like us and to not think that we re a weirdo. (To be honest, DH’s family tends to avoid those topics among family because of the desire to keep the peace.) But in doing that, we are presenting that new friend with a false identity… great way to start a friendship. For me, the difficulty lies in who I used to be and who I am now. While I am still pretty liberal in most topics, in the venue of Life, I have become staunchly anti-death which in some circles equates me as also being anti-feminist. I don’t think of myself as a mindless fem-bot but at the same time, I don’t see how being pro-woman and pro-life have to be mutually exclusive. And why is it not OK to change? After all, I am not the same person I was in high school and college (I am older, pudgier, smarter, with more life experience,) why can’t my political/ moral/ personal views change as well?

By and by, I have been very blessed. When DH and I started our family, it happened seamlessly. All of our parents are in great health as are DH’s grandparents and my paternal grandmother. Women on my mother’s side of the family easily reach the triple digits. So in my case, it’s easy to speak out against:

-Abortion, when one’s pregnancies occurred in the context of a happy marriage

-Stem Cell Research, when you are not struggling with Parkinson’s or Huntington’s or Diabetes

-In Vitro Fertilization, when you’ve had no issues getting pregnant. (As an aside, Robert Edwards, the IVF pioneer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine this weekend.)

-Euthanasia, when you’ve never watched a loved one suffering, living a life that others consider not worth livng.

If you are like me, you’ve given yourself these excuses more than once. You say it and then you feel a little better because you’ve sidestepped giving your true thoughts. While we may have avoided offending another person with our lukewarm response, we miss out on the fallacy common to all of the excuses: What I am doing is MY will and not God’s Will.

-I am going to abort this child because I don’t want the baby.

-I am going to take stem cells from this embryo, killing this embryo, for research.

-I am going to create a baby in a petri dish because I want my own baby, not another’s.

-I am going to put my loved one out of their misery because I can’t stand to watch them suffer any more.

So you might be thinking, “Yeah, I can see that, but don’t we have free will?” To that I have to say that Free Will and God’s Will are not one and of the same.  I know that people hate to hear that phrase “God’s Will,” especially when God’s Will is not what we want to have happen. And you know, I equate it a bit with my job as a parent. The Bear, at three, would love nothing better than to eat Oreo cookies for lunch. But I tell her that she may not do so. She may cry and pout, because she is not getting her way, but I, as her parent, must negate her personal will and desire for her betterment.

So, where do I stand on all of this? Well… you’ve have to stay tuned to find out. For the next 4 “Ask CCM Tuesdays,” I will present the teachings of the Catholic Church on each of the above Life Issues along with my personal stance on it. Tomorrow, we will start with Stem Cell Research.
__________________________________________________
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. But please, keep things respectful and constructive!

Every Tuesday is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

Pax Christi!

1 Comment

Filed under Catholic, feminism, infant mortality, life, mothering

Final Thought Friday: Is it Sexist or Just Polite?

Is sexism, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder or is it more concrete and sinister? This topic came up bit ago among some of my friends and it really got me thinking.

The basis of the discussion was the holding of doors open for women, and men acting as placeholders in a line or even giving up their place in a line, pulling chairs out from the table and generally deferring to women at all times. Those of us involved all had differing opinions on whether such actions could be construed as sexist or if they are just what polite boys do.

To borrow loosely from the Supreme Court, is sexism is kind of like pornography… I know it when I see it… or is it real?

In my life I:

– am referred to as Mrs. _____ and I RSVP to weddings as Mr. and Mrs. DH’s first and last name
– want doors to be held open for me, hands full or not
– get all giddy when DH opens the car door for me (doesn’t happen often because we don’t go many places one-on-one.)
– have never had men stand for me as I arrived to or departed from a dining table but that’d be pretty neat
– have never had a gentleman tip his hat to me. (but then again, men don’t wear hats anymore. Sigh. Thoughts of a bygone era… and no, baseball hats don’t count.)
– love it when DH thinks to walk on the street side of the sidewalk (although there is debate about this one as people could hide in the alcoves on the non-street side of the sidewalk
– loathe “cat-calls,” “wolf-whistles,” or any other animal like mating call. That’s just wrong.
– am not your “baby,” “sugar,” “hot thang,” “sweetness,” “b*tch,” “wh*re,” etc., etc. But I am a chick. (I don’t know why Iike “chick.”)

I could go on and on, but I got to get to parenting. What I am trying to say is, in my opinion, the idea of sexism is really grey. I don’t think sexism and sexual discrimination are the same thing, mind you, but is sexism definable?
__________________________________________________
You have thoughts, you know you do! Share them here. I welcome disagreements but you have to be respectful and stand by your statements.

Pax Christi!

3 Comments

Filed under feminism, Friday, life

Guess that whole “Dairy State” thing only applies to cows

I am really sad to say, that my only negative nursing in public experiences have come in my home State of Wisconsin. The first happened almost a year ago, and you can read about it here and the second happened this past Saturday at the Beaver Dam Country Club (which, is not as toney as it sounds.) It’s funny. Their motto is “Where Strangers Feel Like Family.” Let me know your thoughts on that one at the end.

Dear Husband’s (DH’s) cousin was married this weekend to a lovely girl he met at Madison. The ceremony was beautiful, held at the Wisconsin State Capital Building. We got there in the nick of time and as a result were seated in the Gallery section, which offered a great aerial view of the wedding plus we were in comfy theatre style chairs which made for easy nursing. After the wedding we headed to the Great Dane for a quick microbrew and then headed up the road to the country club.

There was lots of milling about during cocktail hour and The Dragonfly wanted Mama milk so I obliged while at the tables around the bar. (Wisconsin is smoke-free which I find great, so there was not pesky smoke to bother us.) While we nursed, I chatted with family members and all was good. After cocktail hour, Steve’s Uncle had us all come outside. He is an amateur naturalist and cultivated over 1000 Monarch Butterflies for a butterfly release. It. Was. Gorgeous. It was as we were coming back into the club when it happened.

This schmuck, whom I later found out was the husband of this really nice bridesmaid I met, and he cronies said just loud enough for me to hear as I walked past “There goes the Breastfeeding Queen” in this snide tone of voice. Of course, anger flared up in me but I decided to turn the other cheek rather than confront a drunk idiot. DH noticed my dour mood and asked what was up. Of course, I told him and he was ready to throwdown. DH is not what I’d call a lactivist by any means, but you do not mess with his family. I tried to put it out of my mind, but it’s hard when you are criticized by someone you don’t know over something as innocuous as feeding a child. And, no, I don’t believe that a breastfeeding mother should have to hide away because she is doing something “private.” Peeing is private. Eating is not. And to be honest, more breast is seen in Abercromie and Fitch ads or on the beach or at the mall than what I was showing in breastfeeding.

The Dragonfly only nursed three more times while we were there and DH decided to stay at my side for those nursings. He later told me that the bartender was not too appreciatve of my breastfeeding in the bar area as he kept of shooting me dirty looks. Sorry dude. I wasn’t going to nurse in the dining area because we were thisclose while eating. Seriously, my FIL was 4 inches from my left and my SIL was 4 inches from my right and the chair behind me was… yep, 4 inches behind me. The Dragonfly is now about 28 inches long… kind of tight. Now granted the actions of the bar keep are not indicative of the club but still…

I love my home state and I know that the actions of a few do not a reputation make but I really feel for moms who maybe aren’t as confident in their nursing. What would she have done when faced with such scorn? Formula feeding moms want to know why breastfeeding moms have to be all up in arms about breastfeeding in public and this is why. No one thinks twice about a mom bottlefeeding and the same should be said for breastfeeding.

__________________________________________________

Pax Christi!

2 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, feminism

My Top Ten Reasons for Breastfeeding (WBW: Day 2)

There are so many reasons out there to breastfeed and it’s hard to try to compile them into a top ten, but here we go:

10. It’s free

9. I never worry about having a clean water source handy

8. The milk is always at the right temperature and is ready to eat

7. There are no additional dishes to do

6. I don’t have to get out of bed to conduct a night-time feeding

5. I can stop tantrums in an instant

4. Breastfeeding is a great pain reliever for little boo-boos.

3. It’s eco-friendly

2. There are no added chemicals to worry about

1. Did I mention it was FREE?
__________________________________________________

I am sure you have some personal points to add to this list! What are advantages have you found by breastfeeding? Do share!

As this is WBW, my posts this week will reflect this. In addition, use my blogroll visit other blogs that celebrate breastfeeding and the joy that comes from it. Make sure you check them out! Also, the 8th Edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is out. This edition has been revised since 2004 and it. is. awesome. Seriously.

Pax Christi!

2 Comments

Filed under breastfeeding, eco-friendly, feminism, funnies, mothering