So, You’re Pro-Life:

I hope you realize that unsafe and illegal abortions can maim and kill women.

I hope you realize that in countries where abortions are illegal, they are still performed in far more dangerous conditions.

I hope you realize that clinics like Planned Parenthood provide health care, such as pap smears and mammograms, to low-income women who might otherwise not be able to see a doctor.

I hope you are working hard to get all kinds of sex education taught to the public, including abstinence as a valid choice, but not limited to abstinence as the only choice. When people know how to correctly use contraceptives, they are less likely to have the unwanted pregnancies that end in abortion.

I hope you are working hard to establish social programs that will help low-income families receive the support they need to have healthy pregnancies, and to support their children after they are born.

In fact, I hope you are championing for an inclusive health care system, which covers all people, and covers reproductive health and contraceptives.

I hope you respect the current, ongoing, important, and valuable life of the woman who has an unwanted pregnancy and has no desire to be pregnant.

I hope you’re fighting to end the rape culture we live in that blames victims, that says they deserve to get pregnant and shouldn’t have a choice but to keep that child. I hope you’re empowering our men so that they know to respect boundaries, that they know to respect women, and that you’re empowering our women so that they know they can say no, and are never obligated to have sex with someone they don’t want to.

I hope you’re also working with survivors of domestic abuse, helping them leave relationships where pregnancy might be used as a means of control.

I hope you’re not spouting racist statistics that unfairly claim certain communities have higher instances of abortions.

I hope you are aware that wanting a baby, and trying to have a baby, and then having to abort that pregnancy due to unforeseen problems, like the pregnancy threatening to kill you, is an absolutely devastating thing that shouldn’t be judged with slurs and picketers.

I hope you’re willing to help and support the lives of those who are already born- babies, children and grown-ups- and aren’t relegating them to second-class citizens.

I hope you’re working hard to make sure that every family that wants their children has the means to support them, so that the children do not have to be put up for adoption.

I hope you’re aware of how many children are in the US foster system, and how hard it is for a child that is special needs, or a child that is not white, or a child that is older, to get adopted.

I hope you are willing to consider adoption as a means to grow your family, or at least, being a supportive foster parent.

And even if you’re unable to do that, I hope you’re willing to advocate for those already born children, to make sure the homes they are in have the means to feed them, clothe them, and buy them school supplies, and that they are being loved and respected and allowed to grow and flourish and not just shuffled around like an object.

I hope you know that abortion will never, ever truly be 100% eradicated, and I hope you know that access to safe, legal abortions is necessary, and the number of abortions can be best reduced through supporting and empowering women and families.

Links:

Adopt US Kids

Planned Parenthood- some women’s only source for any sexual/reproductive health care

A very special thanks to my very best friend for contributing to and helping to edit this post. Uteruses before Duderuses.

Two Grandparents and a Patriarchy

I’m a feminist.

Manbeast and I have never had a specific conversation about whether or not he identifies under the ‘feminist’ tag, but he believes in equal rights and is becoming more and more socially aware, which I think is an important thing and good on him and stuff.

So I’m a feminist and I flip-flop pretty hardcore between being ‘ultra-femmy girly girl’ and ‘slovenly subhuman creature.’ I wear make-up and I refuse to do dishes and if you tell me that my high-heels are oppressive I will stab you with a stiletto*… unless I’m wearing wedges that day.

I’m also insanely close to my grandparents. They didn’t raise me or anything, but they’ve always been important figures in my life, I tend to get on with them better than my real parents, they let me eat dessert, and I lived with them on and off when I was in undergrad. Then I moved overseas, and back, and then to the literal other side of the United States and I haven’t seen my grandparents in over a year.

We miss each other.

They are big fans of Manbeast.

They are big fans of attending my wedding and judging any and every unconventional choice that I make.

They are in their late eighties.

Their health is failing.

And I’m scared.

When I popped the question (“can we fast track getting married for the sake of my grandparents?”), it didn’t really come out of nowhere. Marriage as a thing that would happen had been discussed several times. So we knew it was a thing that would happen, but that was it. Now we know its a thing that will happen in the relatively near future. Look at all that concrete planning I’m doing!

Even at this abstract stage of planning, where I know it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen as soon as feasible I find myself in a sticky situation I never expected to be in.

I’m a feminist and I’ve dreamed about my wedding since I was a very young girl.

I’m a feminist and I started a wedding Pinterest board.

I’m a feminist and I want to walk down and aisle in a pretty dress at a pretty venue and eat a pretty cake. I also am working really hard not to buy into the idea that I need all the shiny things and I read A Practical Wedding religiously, as if one website will be enough to ground my premature fits on insanity.

But the time I’ve had to start thinking on this as a serious reality has confused me more. I’ve always wanted a wedding. Do I care about marriage as an unequal and flawed social institution? I guess I don’t, not the way I care about eating a fancy cake, anyways. Manbeast and I haven’t made any binding legal commitments to each other (unless you count our apartment lease). I have friends who are in relationships that are committed, friends who want to spend the rest of their lives with their partner, friends who are heterosexual, who just don’t want to partake in the ritual of marriage for any number of reasons: They’re uncomfortable with the inequality, the socially ingrained sexism, they don’t feel the government has any place in their relationship, they resent the pedestal society places married relationships on.

I’m with them, I’m totally with them. My relationship is valid and serious and we are 100% committed in sickness and in health… which means we pretty much have to enter a legally binding marriage because we both have medical conditions that could throw us into the ER at any moment and we can’t afford (literally) to be without insurance. Even if I did not want to placate my ailing grandmother, we can’t take the risk that one of us could be underemployed and uninsured simply because our status isn’t official. And it sucks that “getting insurance married” is something we may have to do before the year is up. And it pisses me off that laws can dictate what should be a deeply personal commitment and make it all about receiving benefits. If it pisses me off this much, I can’t even imagine how GLBT+ couples feel.

Then there’s the fact that I feel like I’m betraying feminism by wanting the glitz and glam. All I need for a good marriage is Manbeast. But for a wedding? I want the shimmeriest, bluest, cakiest reception possible! I feel like caring about that is wrong though, especially when I consider how annoyed I get by so much of the pageantry surrounding these events. I’m going to judge people who subscribe to traditional wedding ideas, people who get ‘be my bridesmaid?’ cupcakes made instead of just asking people, but I’m on etsy looking to see if anyone would be able to make a custom kissing fish cake topper.

I don’t think I should want that. I should be rallying for equality and eschew Pinterest because it’s so ridiculously heteronormative (and also really heavy on Jude-Christian marriage ideals… it’s not a very progressive site).

“You shouldn’t worry so much about this,” a friend said. “You’re aware of these things, it’s not like you’re blindly subscribing to the patriarchy, you’re allowed to enjoy feminine things without guilt.”

“You’re right,” I said. “I guess I just have to admit that sometimes the patriarchy has shiny things, and I get to enjoy them.”

Some links for your consideration:

An Alaskan Senator is now Pro-Gay Marriage because it’s an institution that needs saving, even if we have to turn to the gays to get it saved

An article that drops some statistics on marriage decline

Just Googling ‘the atlantic marriage’ brings up some interesting articles

And old news, but if you’re really committed for life, having to renew every seven years shouldn’t be a big deal

*Hilariously, the job that I wear extra supportive sneakers for helped give me patellar tendinitis, and now I can’t wear heels.

In Defense of Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch is the much-maligned 2011 film by comic book interpreter/director Zack Snyder, and unlike his well-know film like 300, Sucker Punch is based on an original script that he co-wrote.

Billed as a female empowerment movie, people landed pretty¬† hard once they realized how much of the plot was made up of brothel scenes and panty shots. It’s not an un-empowering movie, there are certainly worse out there, but well, the male gaze in this movie is real and it’s hard to tell if it’s an intentional commentary or just straight up written and directed by males male gaze. I’m going to defend this movie, as it is seriously one of my favorite films, but I’m not going to try and gloss over the fact that it is flawed and deserving of criticism. I just don’t think it should have been written off as being terrible. Because I don’t think it’s terrible.

So this post has been in development for awhile, probably from the moment I watched a bootleg version on my apartment in the land of unenforced copyright, the Republic of Korea. Recently Manbeast and I acquired the blu-ray extended cut with 15 minutes of extra footage! Watch the extended cut. A lot of those 15 minutes are just the girls prancing around with their big guns, and it can get tedious, but an added two seconds in the first scene clears up one of the hugest plot holes in the entire movie.

Spoiling as little as possible, let’s just say that someone shoots twice, and that’s how someone ends up dead. Because the original one shot cut makes no sense because physics and ballistics and this isn’t Wanted (the movie) so bullets don’t curve.

The other added benefit of the extended cut is that suddenly Sucker Punch is all about symbolism. For a movie that takes place on three layers of consciousness these repeated motifs are really great to point out and remind us of the other worlds we’re not currently visiting. Everything just ties in better.

I believe that, at it’s core, Sucker Punch is a movie about sisterhood. Baby Doll ends up in her situation when she fails to protect her sister from their step-father, Sweet Pea (arguably the film’s true main character) has her co-dependent relationship with her sister Rocket, and ultimately Baby Doll is forced to make a very sisterly sacrifice for Sweet Pea. This all on top of the fact that the whole group is comprised of women trying to help each other achieve on goal.

One of the main complaints that I heard about the movie was that in the fantasy sequences there were no stakes. Well, based on the robot train scene, I would say that’s not a very well supported statement, but regardless there are clearly stakes overall, trying to escape the brothel/asylum. I think it was fun to have some fight scenes that were just plain fun and you didn’t have to worry about the characters dying. Except they do die, so it’s not as if actions are completely without consequence. The other complaint is that Snyder couldn’t decide what girl power movie he wanted to make, so he just made all of them. That’s a fair critique and I’m not going to counter it, because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened.

I think Sucker Punch is a lot like Inception in that it forces you to question the movies reality. We know why Baby Doll ends up in the asylum but as for what really happens all we know is that she stabbed an orderly, started a fire, and helped someone escape. We don’t know if any of the other women in the group are real, and it’s my belief that they aren’t, which is why they are so easily disposed. Baby Doll helps Sweet Pea, because in saving Sweet Pea (half of the only other sister pair we see in the movie) makes up for her failure to save her real sister. The death of Rocket is merely reliving the death of Baby Doll’s sister in a different setting.

The movie has a decent amount of depth, if you allow it to. There is even nuance and subtlety. Yes, there are gratuitous panty-shots, and it’s not the second coming of great feminist movies (assuming there was even a first, although Sucker Punch does pass the imperfect Bechdel Test). It’s a film about camaraderie and sisterhood and is the only action movie I can think of where all the action is done by women, which really, even with gratuitous panty-shots and Game of Thrones level rape references, should count for something.