Thursday, July 22, 2010

Domestic Violence Today

So let us continue with a frank discussion about domestic abuse. I recently had my eyes opened to the truth of it all that I had never really understood before. See my previous post for some of the details, but you know, people sometimes don’t really see things until given examples. I took a class last semester called Counseling Women Towards Empowerment. One of the best classes I have had so far since I want to focus on adolescent and teen girls. In this class I met a singular woman who runs a battered woman’s shelter. I have a family member who was abused, so there was some firsthand experience for me. Several women in the class left that day with a changed view of the harsh realities of abuse. One was a police dispatcher who admitted to having shrugged off repeat calls for domestic violence with the typical response. So this will be a series of posts with this first being a descriptor of abuse, and the next being an example led post that illustrates the realities of domestic violence and how things actually occur in our world.

So first let’s talk about abuse. What is it?

Well, what most people think of is this:

“What is Physical Domestic Violence?

Physical domestic abuse is what one usually thinks of first - physical injuries inflicted against the survivor. Physical abuse can include shoving or pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, throwing object, injuring or threatening with a weapon, or physical intimidation. Physical domestic abuse can also include false imprisonment or confinement, like locking someone in a bathroom for an extended period of time. Denying access to medical treatment or necessary medications is another form of physical domestic abuse.”

This is only one type. This is the final stage in an abusive relationship. By the time these things have happened, other types of abuse could have been going on for years or even decades.

I must emphasize this point: Physical abuse does not have to occur for there to be an abusive relationship, but this is the only kind that usually comes to police attention.

“What is Emotional Domestic Violence?

Emotional domestic violence is the most pervasive form of domestic abuse, yet it can be the hardest to recognize. People who experience emotional domestic abuse don’t have outward signs of abuse like victims of physical domestic violence. Emotional domestic abuse is comprised of belittling talk, constant put-downs or criticism, lying and deceit, name-calling, social isolation, controlling behavior, threats of harm to self or others, blame for actions, and guilt. In many cases, an abusive relationship will escalate from emotional abuse to physical abuse. This is not to say, however, that emotional abuse is not serious in its own right; emotional domestic violence can cause long-lasting trauma.”

This type of abuse is often ignored by police when it is reported because there is no “crime”. This is often a first stage in an abusive relationship. Sometimes, this is the only abuse there ever is, and it is often enough to keep control of the partner.

“What is Financial Domestic Violence?

Financial abuse most commonly occurs in tandem with other forms of abuse. It is another way for an abuser to isolate and control a victim. Financial domestic abuse can include stealing money, using someone’s credit without consent, forbidding someone to work, forcing someone to work in a threatening or dangerous job (for instance, forcing someone to sell drugs or do sex work), or forbidding someone access to their own money. If someone is the victim of financial domestic abuse, it can be hard for him/her to leave the abusive situation since s/he can be without any financial resources.”

Often this is another first step. And again, there is mostly no “crime”.

“What is Sexual Domestic Violence?

Sexual domestic violence is any abuse of a sexual nature that occurs within an intimate partner or family relationship. This can include forcing someone to participate in sexual acts against one's will, refusing to have safer sex, infecting someone with a sexually transmitted illness, or exposing someone to materials of a sexual nature without one's consent.”

Rape does occur inside marriages. And it is often covered with the “wifely duties”. Most of the time when women who are being sexually abused are told by friends and family things like, “Just close your eyes and it will be over soon” and “get it over with, you’re the wife after all” and “if you don’t he’ll find someone who will!”

Quoted sections retrieved today from here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Breast: Sexualization and the Feminist Agenda

So, onward with my tirade about Feminism, huh? So lately, there has been a ton of humbaloo about breastfeeding in public. I like the post over on Why I Protect, Support and Promote Breastfeeding. I've heard many breastfeeding women and lactivists claim that the act of breastfeeding encourages that stereotypical gender role, but like my last post, it isn't about that.

As a feminist, this oversexualization is the problem. Breasts are for men's sexual pleasure. That's just wrong on so many levels. The presence of breasts is there for biological reasons. The breast as well as curvy hips are indicators of fertility, which is why men find them attractive. Biological factors influence attraction, which is why the current idea of the super thin woman goes against the biological drives of humankind. Extremely thin women are not seen as very fertile. The presence of the "child bearing hips" and large breasts are a way the males of our species identify the most likely partners that are the most likely to procreate healthy offspring. Indicators of health are also healthy hair, skin, and teeth. Sound familiar? All the "attractive" things men look for. Biological factors also are the reason men often seek muliple partners, in a genetic sense it is in the best interest of the male of any species to impregnante as many females as they can. This is overridden by our sense of love and reason in partnering, but in many men infidelity happens as a result of these natural, biological drives.

And yes, this biological attraction goes both ways. Women tend towards attraction to men with nice buttocks, thick thighs (signs of virility and fertility in men), and broad shoulders. The "V" from shoulder to small of the back is almost universally appealing to women. However, there is one more thing, women tend to look for financial stability to care for their children.

So yes, the presence of these sexual attractions are indeed there, and to deny it is to deny simple biology. HOWEVER, the feminist agenda comes into play in the idea that women should not be turned into "objects" of sexual desier. Just a women desires a man with a nice butt, men desire a woman with nice breasts. But does the presence of a man's butt put everyone on edge? No...so why should the presence of a breast do this?

Why the Breast? Because, over the years, women have been recognized as property. Women are "given away" at their weddings by their fathers, and/or brothers. Why is this? In old times, women were the properties of their fathers, and brothers if the father was dead, and at the wedding, would be "given" to the husband as property. And the famous phrase "if anyone has any reason these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold their peace"? This comes directly from the idea that at the wedding, aka property exchange, should anyone have claim to the family's assests, they had to speak there or lose that claim. The whole wedding ceremony, wrapped in a religious garb, is originally one elaborate property exchange ritual. Today, they've omitted the "love, honor and obey" from the wife's vows, but they still pronounce you "man and wife" in most places, not "husband and wife" because the ceremony was originally putting the wife in the place of the man's property.

Now I hear the arguments already. Hear me out.

Why are abused women often faulted with their own abuse? Other women even often say, "well why doesn't she just leave the bastard?" That is part of the problem. With abused women, the reason many look the other way when they know it is happening is because it is "their business" and "she'd leave if she wanted". The truth is the old ways of having women as property influence this idea. "their business" can be interchanged with "his property". This extends to child abuse. Children are also historically viewed as property of the man, thus what he does with them was his buisness. And because of the wedding transfer of property, the wife is property as well.

Here are some interesting facts about abuse. Women who die as a result of abuse rarely die until they try to leave. Therefore a lot of times, women who stay with abusive spouses are doing so for their own safety. And with the involvement of children, I've haeard many times how "wrong" women are to stay for the sake of the children. Well, here's the trick to that. Women often stay to protect those kids. If a woman is being abused, she often intercedes to protect her children. If the abuser is beating her, sometimes she can get him to leave her kids alone. If she were to divorce him, most times there would be visitation. Meaning that she would have to leave her children ALONE with her abusive ex spouse. When she can't protect them. Out of fear of retaliation toward her thorugh her kids, she will stay.

In the end, it is all leading back to issues of "property" going back many years. And because of that, those issues lead back to the original issue, the sexualization of the breast. And it is all related to the feminist agenda.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Feminism and Breastfeeding

So I've seen some women who claim they aren't feminists. They say that feminism is detrimental to the act of breastfeeding because feminism is about equality in all aspects, including child rearing.

I can truthfully say that true equality in child bearing and child rearing is impossible. Until a man can carry a child for nine months, then give birth to it, then lactate for the duration of the child's nursing, there is no true equality to those that choose to bear children. So then, since feminism is about equality, one canot believe in having children and lactating and be a feminist...right?

Wrong. Let's first dispell some misconceptions about what feminism is.

Myth: Feminists hate men.
To the contrary, women who ascribe to being feminists do not hate men. Men are a part of the culture we live in, and the way we interact with men determines a lot about those who are interact.

Myth: Feminists despise traditional "gender roles" such as "mother" or "caregiver".
Not at all. There is nothing that says that a feminist cannot enjoy being in a traditional position of being a stay at home mom. The trick is that she should not be expected to be a stay at home mome, or she should not be expected to be in a positon of being a working mom. Being a feminist means having the right right to choose that gender role without being forced into it by anyone else.

Myth: Breastfeeding locks a woman into child rearing, therefore goes against feminism.
BIG TIME Untrue. Breastfeeding is something that only a woman can do, just like child bearing. It becomes the best choice for women to care for their children and themselves. It is true a man cannot do this but if a man is supportive of his wife/partner, then there is equality in breastfeeding.

Myth: Feminsim means equality in every aspect of life, bar none.
This is perhaps the most rediculous notion about feminism. There are times when equality is impossible due to physical restrictions. You would not expect a man who is 5 foot tall and 120 lbs to do the same amount of lifting as a six foot tall man who is 320 pounds. Let's be real about things. The same thing goes for child rearing.

So what is femism about. Equality, yes. In opportunity and chances to have access to work and education. But to deny a woman's femaleness is to deny a part of her just as to deny a person's race is to deny a part of their identity. And the rights of a woman to make her own choices are essential. More on this later...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Lonely Heart's Cry

Her eyes open,
unable to see very well.
She tries to call out
but her voice is quiet and weak.
She cries out to those that care for her.
The come, see she is dry and okay and leave.
She weeps again.
All she wants is a human touch.

[Long ago they touched her,
hugged her, kissed her,
Long ago when she was young.
When her eyes saw well.
When her voice was strong and loud.
When she had usefulness to them]

Cold and alone, she can't reach the covers,
and her hands grasp but cannot hold.
How cruel can they be to leave her?
Alone and shivering in the dark.
Then they come, changing her bed and clothes.
And cover her up finally,
but soon she is too hot, and she cries out,
and they look in and leave.
She is not in real distress.

[What is she to do to get their respect?
Shouldn't it be something given to her?
So frail and unable to do for herself
yet they leave her alone, in the dark,
as the fears of what is unknown mount.
And her tears fade,
only because no one will come,
and she knows it too well.]

The door opens, and she looks up.

"Mother, we've come to visit.
And we've brought your new granddaughter."

The frail old woman holds the frail little girl.
They stare into each others eyes.
And each one knows the pain of the other.
Without a word,
without a gesture,
they share something so poingent,
no one else in the room understands,
and the old woman begins to weep,
and the little girl begins to cry,
because they know.

They are both alone.

Only Five Minutes

Only five minutes.
The tears and fears would rage
only five minutes.
Nothing could happen in
only five minutes.

Alone in the dark,
fear rising in her tiny chest,
she fights the bars
that keep her inside
and away from those who could
comfort her.

And her little leg
slides betwixt the bars
for just a second
and she is flooded with pain
and still alone.

She becomes sick and finally
she is no longer alone
but the pain is nearly unbearable
as she weeps and cries,
finally comforted.

But again, the next night,
she is alone again,
and still in pain and crying,
and left alone,
only five minutes.

Five nights pass,
in pain, in fear, and alone,
until her caregivers realize
that there is something wrong
with her.

Five nights healing,
a broken leg as she cried
and no one came to her aid,
leaving her alone, in pain and fear,
for only five minutes.

(This is a true story I have heard along my time talking to other parents, of a mother who let her child cry it out for five minutes. In that time, the child broke a leg, and continued crying each night, until finally she began screaming in the daytime when they put a shoe on her. Her leg was broke for five days when they finally took her to the doctor. All in only five minutes.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Bottle and the Crib

So now we get into some of my newer, more extreme views as a parent, specifically as an attachment parent. I'm a frequent reader and poster on several boards that talk about both breastfeeding and co sleeping, two things that I believe in very much. And I've come to a few conclusions recently in regards to bottles and cribs. Please, no one be offended by what I'm about to write. Every parent raises their child as they choose, and there is no wrong way to do so. The following are simply my views on observations on the general population of parents, in particular a type of parent I label the "convenience parent" which I know are not something that my friends are among. This will be explained in a forth coming parenting blog.


Both the bottle and the crib are creations of western society. Granted, the actual use of bottles dates back for many, many years, but until our society got ahold of the idea they were reserved for those that could not nurse their children for one reason or another, and never as a matter of choice. Cribs became popular in the 19th century, which is no surprise because at this time nannies, wet nurses, and really anyone else to care for the baby became popular. Sometime during this time, rearing a child as well as the way a child was to be treated became a very similar practice to today. Before this time, to separate a child from the mother at night would have seemed a very unusual practice.

First an observation on the animal kingdom. No matter your views on God/Supreme Being of your choice, you must at least admit to there being some connection between animals and humans. The fact that humans are a mammal influences my next comments. No animal is known to leave their young to sleep in another place. No animal is ever given artificial milk by vets or caregivers unless it is an absolute last resort. Marsupials live with their young inside a pouch until they are able to leave. Primates carry their young with them most of the time. All animals nurse their young until around the time the milk teeth fall out. If you've ever had a puppy or a kitten, the first canines they have are curved inward toward their mouths. These fall out about six to eight weeks and are replaced with regular teeth. About this time, this six to eight week mark, is when felines and canines wean their young, or their young self wean. Now, in humans, these milk teeth are what we refer to as baby teeth, meaning that natural weaning, when left completely unimpeded by society, will occur sometime before these teeth fall out. In general, this happens between three and four, with the baby teeth beginning to be lost around five to six.

I've heard it said that animals wean at six weeks so humans should as well. Well, if you take the lifespan of a cat, which we will say is in general 15 years, and the life span of a human, we will put this at 75 years, and then compare the two you come up with an interesting fact. Humans should nurse longer, relatively.

This "bottle" and "crib" both impose a barrier between mother and child. A plastic/glass bottle contains a manmade formula that tries to imitate milk, with an artificial nipple. Society deems this the appropriate way to feed because it is neat, pleasing to watch, and does not have to be done by the mother. The chore can be given easily to another, be it a nurse, nanny, father, parent, whatever. The crib becomes a tiny cage in which the baby is placed to sleep because it is "safer" than sleeping with the parent. My question becomes, how many cribs or bassinets have killed children? How many babies have died from suffocating because they've become entangled in a faulty crib? How many children have been injured? So the logic that the crib is "safer" is faulty in itself. And it is a physical barrier between the mother and her child. Not only is the milk delivered by an apathetic bottle, the crib likewise has no feeling toward the child, it is not warm, it is not living and breathing. So the child wakes alone behind bars that it cannot escape from, and it fears, because children develop life preservation skills early on. A baby's startle reflex is a protective reflex, and so are most of their reflexes.

People argue that sleeping with an infant is too dangerous. They may roll over on them. They might fall off the bed. They might... This is all true. However, as a mother, I also recognize that I have instincts. These instincts protect my child, causing me to wake at the slightest movement, and causing my own sleep to be light and easy to wake from. Now, I will admit to one thing: when feeding with a bottle, these instincts are NOT as strong. I have experienced both. The missing element is breastfeeding. Those hormones that are present during nursing are not there when a bottle is involved.

So to close this blog of my somewhat extreme views, I suppose my whole point is that I wish more women would realize that humans have been around a long time, and during that time, the normal way of raising children has not involved either cribs or bottles. The normal way of raising babies in other countries does not involve cribs or bottles. So maybe, we as a society should rethink our perception of both of these. Is it wrong to use a bottle? No, but it also should not be considered the norm. Is it wrong to use a crib? No, but it also should not be considered the only safe way for an infant to sleep. I guess my point is that our society seems to have it backwards, really. Things that are natural are pushed aside for the artificial, to the point of being considered dangerous. Life itself is not entirely safe, and no matter how you feed or sleep, bad things happen. I will return to this idea of sleeping with my blog on some theories on SIDS in today's society at a later time.

Changing as a Parent

So, before I had kids I used to think I knew what I would do. I would do it all just right. I would buy a pretty, expensive crib with pretty expensive crib bedding, I would have a changing table with all the tools right beside it, a glider rocker to rock the baby to sleep in his perfect little room with the blue tabbed curtains and sheers with stars that matched the little white and blue rods on them. I wouldn't be my mother, no matter what, I would breastfeed because it was the way you did things correctly and all of this I was so sure about.

I wanted a natural birth. I wanted it all perfect. Up until I had my first doctor's appointment with Nathan where my blood pressure started skyrocketing. He then said the dirty word, Pre-eclampsia. Bed rest. I though I could handle that, then I had to go in for induction. Nothing went according to plan and my "natural" birth, turned into thirty hours of hard labor, 20 hours of pitocin induced hard back labor, and two doses of Stadol and an Epidural that had to be dosed twice. Then I spent two nights walking the floor with pillows of fluid on my feet because of the pitocin, and a baby that would not stop screaming. This was not in my plan. Took him home and he screamed more than anything, and I was just happy when he slept because i could sleep. I was a good girl and had the bassinet beside the bed but I would fall asleep exhausted with him clutched tightly in my arms while nursing and wake up two or three hours later, refreshed because he had slept, and sore as hell because I hadn't moved. I hadn't moved one inch, my arms around him, my legs pulled up protectively under his legs. But fear got the best of me. I was young and uniformed and only knew what I was told. Babies go in cribs...right? Then at four weeks I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. I had no pump with me, and the idiots at the hospital didn't provide one, they gave me a cup and said there you go. So after not being able to pump to keep production, then the anesthesia for surgery, my milk dried up. We were living with Mike's mom at the time, who had not nursed her children, and I had no real support or know how. So to the bottle we went.

Take two. My second attempt at a natural birth. This times things were off to a bad start, with the constant nausea, well into my seventh month of pregnancy, and then the gestational diabetes set in. This time I was ready for him, though, I bought a bedside sleeper, because I knew I wouldn't want him in his crib right away, and figured he would sleep near me because I was going to nurse again, and this time I wasn't going to lose supply for any reason. The day before my induction, I went into labor, and I was in more pain than I ever thought possible. I was begging for Stadol by the time I got to the hospital, where they had no beds until after noon. No one thought I'd have him before then, because I was only four cm, and then my water broke, and I was fully dilated and ready to go, an hour later. I had thankfully gotten Stadol as soon as they put in the IV, which they had to do twice, and then once a bag of fluids was in they got my epidural in. The Stadol didn't help, however, but the epidural did. However, I had it all of about half an hour before my water broke and my still fussy head was not quite understanding the dips on the monitor that were Nick's heartbeat. He was in distress, and the nurses and doctor's were scrambling. No birthing bed, just a nurse on each side, and doctor at the foot. I had to deliver right then, still groggy and unable to feel my legs from the epidural. I almost had a c section, because his cord was around his neck twice. So I didn't get to have him laid on my belly like Nathan was. So again, things were not as planned.

Then we slept together for the first time in the hospital, his tiny body up against mine. I had wanted to wait, but we both needed sleep, and I finally said to hell with it. My baby, my choice. I had refused Percocet for this reason, I wanted nothing affecting my mental state while he was with me. Motrin all the way for me. We came home and he didn't like to sleep anywhere but with me, and I realized, I was okay with that. He needed me. And it felt natural to have him beside me. Even if he goes to sleep before I do, like now, he's laying on the bed right beside me as I type on my laptop. At night, I wake at his first squirm, and he never gets to utter a sound before I'm nursing him again, and truth be told, he never wakes up at all.

I look back and think how much I've changed. For the better