Tag Archives: world

I’m a Barbie Girl…

So… I have this old Glamour Magazine Subscription that I have had for years and whenever I get a new issue, I find myself practically busting blood vessels out of frustration at the content. I first subscribed to Glamour back in the 90s because it, to me, was the anti-Cosmo. Cosmopolitan was all about “Do this to please your man” or “try this to make him moan,” basically making women into drooling, fem-bots whose only goal in life was to please their partner of the night. Glamour was different… it was empowering women to go out and make something of themselves and rule the world. Glamour still has that at it’s heart, but it seems to have morphed into Glamour’s wanna-be tag-along friend.

Glamour still writes about the hard hitting issues, but it usually involves women in “those other” countries. Women facing brutality because of religion, Female Genital Mutilation, Women getting torched because their husbands don’t want to be married to them any more, etc, etc. But then it will turn around, and white-wash serious issues that their readers may be facing. Some of the things in the September issue that just pissed me off:

pg. 266 Talks about the Birth Control that your OB/GYN uses (IUD.) Explains how it works with respect to sperm motility/ sperm environment. Where it is placed, how effective they are, price, if your guy will feel it and how it feels getting the piece inserted, but NOTHING about the SIDE EFFECTS or who SHOULDN’T use one! From American Pregnancy Association:

An IUD should NOT be used by women who:

  • Have or ever had cancer in the uterus or cervix
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • May be pregnant
  • Have pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Have a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • Have Gonorrhea or Chlamydia.
  • Are not in a mutually monogamous relationship

Potential side effects from using an IUD include:

  • Mood changes
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Cramping (copper IUD)
  • Increased bleeding during menstruation (copper IUD)
  • Nausea

Emphasis mine, because if you have read a Glamour or Cosmo, you know that a mutually monogamous relationship is NOT the norm.

pg. 274 Article is titled: “Everything you don’t know about your Lady Parts… but Should!” and had a pic of a nude, from the waist down, woman holding a rose at her mons pubis. Pg. 277 starts a series of questions from readers about their “lady parts.” Because Vagina is too much to say. And has pictures of subliminal vaginas (even one in an orange cross-section.) One question in the section was about vaginal discharge and how it changes throughout your cycle. Now, I know that not everyone is anti-birth control like I am, but wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point to even mention Natural Family Planning? But it’s probably better that it was not… back to the whole monogamous relationship thing. The closest they came was to say that, “after you release an egg, discharge gets cloudier and thicker. ‘All the better for catching and trapping sperm, which your body naturally wants to do.'” Wait… my body is giving me natural cues that aren’t masked by synthetic hormones?? No. Way.

There is a redeeming factor in the “Lady Parts” article. Have you heard of “The Barbie?” Yeah, me neither, before I read this article. The Barbie is a type of female genital cosmetic surgery in which the total labia minor (the inner lips of the vulva) are surgically removed. WTH?! But it gets better, doctors can continue on and remove the fatty mons pubis (the mound you see when you look down at your toes and you are nude) via liposuction and the prepuce of the clitoris (protective skin around the clitoris.) Thank You, Porn Industry.

In case you were wondering, the World Health Organization defines Female Genital Mutilation as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” If it walks like a duck… and sounds like a duck…

Pg. 375: The Piece de Resistance… The number one thing HE wants in bed. “Fellatio, blow jobs, going downtown, giving head…” The article goes on to talk about how great it is and how empowering it is and how only “10-20% of women felt disgusted or bored by it.” The article runs about 2 pages long, with a nice Red Rocket popsicle melting for a graphic along with “Blow Job Milestones in History,” but only a narrow side bar about the RISKS associated with Oral Sex. Hmmm.

So, yeah. Glamour I am so over you, but at the same time, shame on you for filling the heads of tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings about how this is what an empowered woman looks like. In your pages, female empowerment means sleeping around (just make sure you have the “right” birth control,) getting your dues at the office (but don’t be a b*tch about it,) and doing it all (as long as you keep him happy in bed.) Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to my Good Housekeeping.

(But I will say, without Glamour, where will some of my posts come from?)

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Filed under feminism, political, Tuesday

Nomad

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a reader. I love to read and I will read just about anything and everything. I am a fast reader and I can tear through a 300 page novel in about 2 days if all circumstances are right. (Plus it helps that the Dragonfly tends to be a lap sleeper so that affords me usually a 2 hour block in the afternoon in which I am sitting in my rocker with the child and a book. It’s lovely!) As I’ve gotten older, I have found my tastes evolving from mindless fiction to non-fiction novels… especially biographies and auto-biographies.

I most recently finished Nomad written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ms. Ali was born into a Muslim family in Somalia. She left her family and fled to the Netherlands when her father decided she should marry a cousin living in Canada, who she had never seen. Once in the Netherlands, she learned the language, the culture, worked odd jobs and eventually became a translator and a member of Parliment, before immigrating to the United States. She speaks highly of assimilating cultures and traditions into the majority, rather than allowing ethnic enclaves to exist and to perpetrate centuries old traditions that are not mallable to Western thinking.

This idea that immigrants need to maintain group cohesion promotes the perception of these people as victim groups requiring special treatment. If people should conform to their ancestral culture, it therefore follows that they should also be helped to maintain it, with even their own system of legal arbitration.

In the real world, equal respect for all cultures doesn’t translate into a rich mosaic of colorful and proud peoples interacting peacefully while maintaining a delightful diversity of food and craftwork. It translates into closed pockets of oppression, ignorance and abuse. (pg. 261)

Ms. Ali is an atheist but tolerates the Christian God more so than the Muslim Allah (which is kind of funny because in the end they are both the same God.) She does challenge those who fervently believe in the laws of Islam, especially women, who she believes should be doing more for other Muslim women:

On campus after campus I would stare in despair at these confident young men and women, born in the United States, who had so manifestly benefited from every advantage of Western education yet were determined to ignore the profound differences between a theocratic mind-set and a democratic mind-set… These students seems to lack a basic human empathy for other Muslim women- women who are just like they are but who cannot speak in public or even go to school. If they lived in Saudi Arabia, under Shari’a law, these college girls in their pretty scarves wouldn’t be free to study, to work, to drive, to walk around. In Saudi Arabia girls their age and younger are confined, are forced to marry, and if they have sex outside of marriage they are sentenced to prison and flogged. According to the Quran, their husband is permitted to bear them and decide whether they may work or even leave the house; he may marry other women without seeking their approval and if he chooses to divorce them, they have no right to resist or to keep custody of their children. Doesn’t this matter at all to these clever young Muslim girls in America? (pgs. 133-134)

Perhaps the cause most dear to Ms. Ali’s heart is the rights and dignity of women, especially when is comes to honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage and veiling. I do get the impression that she sees Muslim women who choose to wear the veil as still being repressed by the men in their lives, and who knows, maybe they are. But you know what, this all got me thinking. Do you want to know what honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage and forced veiling have in common? They are all legal in some countries and in the eyes of devout Muslims, can be interpreted as part of Shari’a law and used to support the subjugation of women. For these same devout Muslims, Shari’a law trumps that of Western laws, including US law. (Please note: it is very hard to find a neutral source discussion Shari’a law and women, so I include two separate links here and here. Both are biased, each in either direction.)

Many times, in discussing my pro-life views with people, they inevitably state one of two things: “If you don’t like abortions, don’t get one” and “If it was that bad for women, it wouldn’t be legal.” This brings me to this conclusion: Just because something is legal, does not mean that it is right. Just because it is legal to grind off your 4 year old’s clitoris, remove her inner labia and part of her outer labia and sew her vagina closed, doesn’t mean that it’s right. Just because it’s legal to marry your daughter off as soon as she begins menstruating (so as best to preserve your family honor) doesn’t mean that it is right. Just because killing your 4 year old because she underwent a gynecological exam after an allegation of molestation is legal doesn’t mean that it is right. (Ms. Ali is very pro-choice but she does comment how she appreciates how the pro-life and pro-choice camps in our country, for the most part, can discuss this difficult topic without resorting to violence.) But the question remains, where are the Western feminists in this fight?

There are many factors as to why Western feminists are not jumping fully into this fight for Women’s Rights. One is the threat of violence that stems from the more fanatical forms of Islam. Another is that Islam is headed by men of color and there is the issue of Western ideals being imposed on men of a minority status. Another is Western countries, in fear of seeming colonial or otherwise oppressive, do not want to force others to assimilate to that particular society’s norms.

For the longest time, I was really against the thought of assimilation. Thinking that if people make the choice and fight (or pay) to come to the US, the least that we can do is let them hold on to their cultural identities. But I do believe that there is a fine line between holding onto family traditions from the old country and completely distancing yourself from those in your “new” country, preferring ethnic enclaves on Western soil, with rules and laws to match. Is there an easy answer? As with the best questions, not really.

Ms. Ali mentions one way to push back is to engage in dialogue and to ask tough questions. She was raised in an environment where question asking was not permitted and met with violence rather than answers. From page 215:

Free Speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society. And yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and to offend.

and from page 212:

All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not.

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Have you read Nomad? What are your thoughts? Is Ms. Ali just trying to bad mouth an otherwise peaceful religion or is she telling the hard truth? The next book I am reading is Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. Grab it from your local library and join me!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under feminism, Moslem, political, Tuesday

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)

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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.

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

NIMBY, I guess.

Remember a few weeks back when I gave my opinion on the Ground Zero/ Mosque controversy and I talked about how it’s not just Ground Zero at which the debate is happening? If not, you can read it here.

Anyway, this morning I woke up to this report.

It all makes the CCM very sad.

(in case you were wondering, NIMBY stands for “Not in my backyard.”)
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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!

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Filed under Moslem, political, world

Let’s talk about Mosques, shall we?

Yesterday, I spent the morning with some of my ladies and we were discussing this Sunday’s Mass Readings and the common theme of Humility. The Gospel (Lk 14:1,7-14) is the parable of the wedding feast in which Christ reminds us that when choosing places at the wedding feast, it is better to choose a lower station rather than a higher one, as by choosing low, the host can elevate you to a higher status, but if you automatically choose the higher station, the host come to you and ask you to move as someone more important than you is to sit there.

(The funny thing is, I saw this happen at my brother-in-law’s wedding and a guest had to be informed that she was not supposed to be sitting at the head table. It’s funny looking back and thinking about it but at the time it was weird for all parties involved.)

The Gospel goes on to suggest to us that when throwing a party or feast, rather than inviting friends and family, who would feel the need to reciprocate, you should invite those who are at the fringes of society… the down trodden and outcasts who have no means to reciprocate. We discussed this last point at length and thought about who were the outcasts in our lives.

Extending the parable, making the feast not just an actual wedding feast, but the feast we celebrate at every Eucharist and the feast awaiting us in Heaven, we talked about the usual: family members who have fallen away from the church, the homeless, those weird relatives that just don’t know how to dress for occasions. We came to the conclusion that the ones on the fringes are the ones that don’t completely mesh with our values and ideals. That’s when one of the moms piped up about the current Mosque controversy in New York and how Moslems are filling the role as the outsiders because they are different.

I know, you might be thinking: “They’re not just different! They’re terrorists!” or you are thinking: “Yup, go on, oh wise CCM (tee hee)” But stay with me here. I know that it’s easy for me to say that I do not oppose the mosque, sitting here in middle America, but I would think the same thing even if I was living in Battery Park because it is the right thing to do. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If you look carefully, there is no asterisk by the word “religion” that says “provided that the religion in question is part of the main-line Christian type.” I guess we could get into whether the developer of the mosque is a US citizen (I don’t know) or if those who would use the mosque are citizens as well (again, I don’t know.) But for me it seems as if that is a dangerous slope to be heading down.

I was watching coverage of the protests at Ground Zero and there was a gentleman wearing an American Flag bandanna with a sign that said: “You can build a Mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca.” Therein lies the rub… I could be wrong, but I don’t think Saudi Arabia has the same freedom of religion that we have and in my mind, by dictating where the mosque should be built, we are no better than those to whom we are trying to be an example of freedom.

My husband also offers his perspective on the matter. (FYI: DH grew up in Northern Wisconsin and is of Irish and German descent. In other words, “straight up White.”) His thought is this: If it is bad taste to build a mosque at Ground Zero because a fringe sect of Islam killed Americans of every color, religion and gender, then we should make sure that all churches are destroyed that are around or near where the KKK lynched men or otherwise terrorized blacks because the KKK is a Christian Organization.

I know that there is the the thought of just moving the proposed build site to somewhere less hallowed, but isn’t that what terrorists want? For us to change our habits and decisions? We have to remember that the actions of a few do not dictate the whole. Just because the KKK considers themselves to be Christian doesn’t mean that all Christians ascribe to their tenets of faith as not all Moslems are out to kill the infidels. Maybe instead of gleaning all of our information from Fox News, CNN or even The Daily Show (even though I heart Jon Stewart) we should learn about each other by reaching out to one another.
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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!

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Filed under Catholic, life, Moslem, political, Thursday, world

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?
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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!

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

Who gets to decide if it is a choice?

No, no, this isn’t a pro-life post (sorry to disappoint!) But I was listening to The Diane Rhem on NPR last week and they were discussing the proposed ban on face-covering veils in France. The discussion got a bit heated among the panelists and I found myself yelling at the radio at times.

I can understand the worry of the French Parlament, burkas can be used to conceal explosives of suicide bombers and face-covering veils can obscure the face rendering facial recognition software inoperable but does that still make it right for a group of politicians to dictate what a woman can and can’t wear?

Let’s be honest here, for the most part, the Western World is not known for being the most modest place, especially for women. I mean, here in the US, we seem to have a HUGE problem with breastfeeding in public but we don’t blink an eye at a 12 year old traipsing around wearing a belly bearing halter top and booty shorts a la Lolita. In talking to some people about this, I’ve heard a lot of comments along the lines of “If they want to wear the covering, why don’t they live in a country like Saudi Arabia where it wouldn’t be so obvious? Hmmm.

Additional arguments for the ban take on a “feminist” perspective in that for some women, the wearing of the burka or hijab is forced upon her by male relatives. While that is true, what about the women who choose to wear the burka or hijab? Should they be forced to shame themselves in the sight of their God because of the laws of man? Why don’t we address the treatment of women by radical Muslim men instead?

Where would the line be drawn? Would nuns and religious sisters be required to dress in short shorts and tank tops because “everyone else does?” What about priests? Should we ban Roman Collars because the collar is a clear religious symbol that is unduly pressed upon our non-religious brethren? Would we have to restrict the wearing of saris and buddhist robes because they too are long and could be used to conceal weapons?

I personally love wearing my veil to Sunday Mass and I have been known to take a long, black pashmina and wrap it around my head, hijab-style, on particularly bad hair days. Now granted, the proposed ban does focus on face-covering veils, but who is to say that the ban will not become more far reaching and attempt to secularize all types of religious dress?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but it does make for an interesting discussion. Should governments mandate what can and cannot be worn by its people? Or is it better for society to exert the pressures?
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What’s your opinion? Thoughts? I know you have one!

Pax Christi

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Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, feminism, life, race, wednesday, world