Archive for the 'Women’s Issues' Category



I made my students do a Poetry Slam. I forced them to watch one done at the White House by a very talented young man and told them to write a poem. What they turned in was crap and I told them so (in nicer terms than this). So I made them watch a few more videos (all COMPLETELY appropriate for the classroom), gave them a lecture about poetry not being all about rhyme scheme and repetition but about a visceral connection to yourself and your emotions. And I made them do it again.  They did, so I did 🙂

I love teaching.  I LOVE teaching and every day I see teachers who don’t.  I see teachers who have lost sight of the student, who are just coming to a job.  I see teachers who blame 16-year-old kids for not giving a crap about their education without stopping to discuss the clear fact that NO ONE in this country gives a crap about their education, sometimes not even their parents.  I see teachers who are more worried about the terms of a contract than the needs of a student.  I see teachers who use all their sick days and personal days, too.  I see teachers who get pissed off when they know they’re going to be evaluated because it means they actually have to teach something.

And I see teachers who are moving from sub job to sub job because they dared to move mid-career or decided to spend a few years at home with their children.  I see teachers with experience and degrees left on the sidelines while recent college grads get the few contracts available because they’re cheaper.  I see teachers trying to find a way to reach growing classes due to a shrinking staff and juggle the modifications from 15 IEPs.  I see teachers become mediators, nurses, counselors, mothers, and disciplinarians all in the span of 60 seconds and hear them turn boys into men in less than a sentence.

I see an industry in serious need of reform on every level and a country that can’t see its way to doing anything other than blaming the teachers.  I see an industry that is ruled by politics and not be knowledge, more interested in money than books, and more occupied with answers than with questions.  I seen an industry that no longer serves the public in the way that it should or could and must be changed NOW.

And most importantly, I see the student, the child waiting to be lead in the right direction.  I see the student whose search for knowledge survives even the worse teachers in the worst schools in the country.  I see the student who finds his own books when his school has none and the student who gets up before 5 AM and rides the bus for over an hour to get to the charter school across town and NEVER misses a day.  I see potential.  I see the future and I DEMAND to be a part of it.  Give me a job!


Mad Women: Sexuality

For some reason I was a little late to the party on Mad Men, and the only thing I can say is, “Thank Godness for Netflix!”  So far I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Season 1, but they hold a lot of signifigance for me.  First, I’m intrigued by what appears to be one of the most accurate portrayals of the life of women in the 60’s, the type that I desperately wanted to avoid, soley by hearsay.  The idea of being intellectualy, socially, and even physically trapped in my own skin is terrifying, yet these women dealt with it daily.  No wonder their doctors all thought they needed to see phsychiatrists!

One incident that stood out in the first episode was a femal character’s trip to the Gynocologist for Birth Control Pills.  While examining her, he suggested that their use might turn her into a strumpet, and though they were expensive, she need not become the town tramp “to get her money’s worth”.  He also cautioned that if she abused the pills, he would revoke her perscription immediately, which leads to the disturbing question: How would he know? 

In that same episode, men were lauded by their comrades for their sexual appetites.  The male lead was introduced in his mistress’s apartment, and we only meet his wife later when he comes home late to a supper in the oven and the children already in bed.  An engaged man, due to be married on the weekend, was practically encouraged by the others to take his last shot at a women other than his fiancée, and of course no one said a word when he came on to one in such a strong manner as to hurt her.

Though the social mores of this generation have given women more freedom in this regard, I still see a double standard.  When my daughter was born, her hippie father promptly announced, “I guess it’s time to get a shotgun.” This is the same man who’s favorite onesie for my son said, “SINGLE” across the chest.  Birth Control is not an over the counter drug here as it is in many countries, and women who date many men are seen as sluts, while men who date many women are practically raised up on the shoulders of their comrades and are NEVER urged to “settle down”.  We have come a long way, and yet, have so far to go.


Having a Girl

Throughout this pregnancy I have been terrified that I would have a girl.  Despite the remarkable advances made in the 20th Century, this is still very much a man’s world.  I’m reminded of that every time I pull into the parking lot of my company and see the men’s cars, more expensive and more kept up than the women’s because they are paid 30% more on average, even though they do a hell of a lot less work than I do.  I’m reminded of that when I look at photos of the United States Congress, The United States Senate, the United States Supreme Court, and the Presidential Cabinet (though huge props to Obama for moving us a little further along).  I’m reminded of that when there is a gathering of the heads of major universities and major corporations.  I’m reminded of it when I look at my health care plan and see that there is 80% maternity coverage, no birth control coverage, and no coverage for pap smears and mammograms.

I see the way women are still treated in today’s society, still objectified, still ignored.  I see “women’s professions” being considered less important, women’s sports being covered less, women’s issues being glossed over in the media, and women’s bodies being legislated.    I hear young women talking about the way they should behave in relationships – how to bite their tongues when their partner is angry, how to dress to please a man, how to cook to please a man, and how to clean to keep their partner’s happy.  I see little girls wearing clothes tat are too old for them because they’ve learned early that the sexier they dress, the sexier they dance,  the more a boy will like them.  I see women putting on themselves the majority of the housework and the majority of the childcare because they can’t rely on their partners to help them.

Having a girl makes me nervous.  I can only hope that her chances of being truly equal improve as she grows.


The Audacity of Hope

I’ve been waiting years for this night and I’m absolutely terrified.  I really, really want to believe that Obama’s going to win, but I’m afraid that he won’t and I’ll be crushed.  A world in which McCain is President is scary for me.  I believe that he and his party want to control as much of my life as they possibly can including who I can marry and what I can do with my reproductive organs.  I believe that if he wins, people will die from a lack of healh care and young women who have been raped will be forced to endure back rooom procedures or deal with the possible cconsequences of being a victim. I believe that funding for alternative education will be cut, putting me out of a job and stem cell research will be stunted, putting me out of a sister.

I don’t believe things will be perfect under Obama.  I don’t even necessarily believe they’ll be all that better than they are now.  But they will be better.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get to keep the civil rights we have and gain a few more.  I don’t expect to see a revolution.  I just don’t want to feel like we’re in a hole that we’ll never climb out of.  I need hope, and McCain can’t give it to me.


Vice-President Mommy

I have a real problem with Sarah Palin, and it has a lot more to do with how she is taking care of her family than her warped view on the issues.  In the week since the convention I haven’t heard Ms. Palin say much, unless she was attacking someone, but her actions have been speaking for her.  She has been interviewed, she has been on the road, and she ha been extremely busy, as any vice-presidential candidate would be.  So my question is this: Who is taking care of her baby?

She has five children, the youngest with Downs Syndrome.  Taking care of a child with special needs is difficult.  I should know, my parents have been doing it for 27 years now.  It’s incredibly time consuming.  The other children can get lost in the mix because their parents are stressed, distracted, and often dealing with doctors and other care professionals.  If Ms. Palin becomes vice-president, who will be taking care of this child?  Will it be the same person who was looking after Bristol when she was having sex at 16 (or younger)?

Despite all of the reasons I would not consider voting for Sarah Palin and John McCain, the strongest is that she has a young child, and though it may be biased, it is a reality.  Babies need their mothers at home.  They need their fathers, too, but you cannot run on a “family values” platform and leave your young children in the care of someone else.  If you want to be in politics, wait until your children are at least five years old.  Anyone with small children should be putting their family above themselves, regardless of the job description.


Humanizing the Right

So, McCain’s Vice Presidential pick (what’s her name again?) has a teen daughter who’s pregnant.  I think the campaign leaked this to the press so that Republicans can be seen as caring, compassionate people who accept young people who make mistakes.  She’s 17, but she’s going to keep the baby and marry the father.  Vote for us.  We’ll raise your child in a nice, Christian church and teach her that she only has one option when it comes to pregnancy, but neglect to mention that because we only teach abstinance, she’ll be afraid to discuss birth control with her parents and this might happen to her, too. I feel bad for the girl.  Not bad enough not to be cynical about the reasons why her pregnancy is being discussed, but  that’s usually something people want to keep quiet, and her mother’s political choices made her youthful indiscretions fodder for the media frenzy.


Whatever You Do, It’s Wrong

I’ve heard a lot of things about being a mother, but I heard Barbara Walters say something that really made sense.  Women stress about staying home with their kids, about being working mothers, about feeding children the right food all the time, about giving medications and vaccinations to babies, etc…, and no matter what you do, there’s always someone saying it’s wrong. 

Which also means that there’s someone who’s saying it’s right.  We do the best we can.  We agonize over every decisions hoping that we won’t screw-up our kids, but knowing it’s inevitable that something we’ve done will come back to haunt us.  Probably several things.  I’ll try to keep that in mind when I abandon my son to the care of “professionals” when I return to work next week.

Let’s not forget that the mothers of these young men and women are probably agonizing over everything they’ve done as well:  4,143 US soldiers killed in Iraq, 30,509 US soldiers wounded in Iraq

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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