As If Birth Control Opponents Couldn’t Be Wackier…

Leave it to a U.S. legislator to introduce a bill allowing employers to fire female workers for using birth control to prevent pregnancy. The bill, introduced by Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko, passed the state senate judiciary committee 6-2.

From Jezebel:

A proposed new law in Arizona would give employers the power to request that women being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they’re using it for non-sexual reasons. And because Arizona’s an at-will employment state, that means that bosses critical of their female employees’ sex lives could fire them as a result. If we could harness the power of the crappy ideas coming out of the state of Arizona, we could probably power a rocket ship to the moon, where there are no Mexicans or fertile wombs and everyone can be free to be as mean a cranky asshole as they want at all times! Arizona Heaven!

Yesterday, a Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Republican Debbie Lesko’s HB2625 by a vote of 6-2, which would allow an employer to request proof that a woman using insurance to buy birth control was being prescribed the birth control for reasons other than not wanting to get pregnant. It’s all about freedom, she said, echoing everyone who thinks there’s nothing ironic about claiming that a country that’s “free” allows people’s bosses to dictate what medical care is available to them through insurance. First amendment. The constitution. Rights of religious people to practice the treasured tenets of their faiths, the tenets that dictate that religious people get to tell everyone who is not of faith how they’re supposed to live, and the freedom to have that faith enforced by law. Freedom®.

Further, Lesko states, with a straight face, that this bill is necessary because “we live in America; we don’t live in the Soviet Union.”

Saving graces? Jezebel’s story was pretty funny. Also, even moderate Republican women agree that this witch hunt of women who use — what Jezebel hilariously referred to as “whore pills” — is nuts. Who are these people? Yikes!


Common Knowledge I Don’t Possess

When it comes to every day living, I get by.  I can read, cook as well as I feel the need to, clean at a remedial level, knit, transfer pictures and music to and from my computer, drive, swim, book a flight and hotel room, write a check and sign my kids up for swimming lessons.  I never find myself needing a math skill that I don’t already possess.  I have my faults, but I’m not floundering, either.  

But there are some thing I just don’t know.  How do people manage to grow only one kind of grass on their lawns?  How does one organize their home well enough so that things are stowed in cabinets in an orderly fashion, as opposed to settling for an earnest attempt to make sure the contents don’t topple onto their heads when they open them?  I understand that mascara exists to make your eyelashes look more desirable and your eyes bigger, and that the point of foundation is to turn your skin into as flawless a canvas as your skill level allows, but what exactly is the purpose of eye shadow?  Why does every woman on the planet know how to make a turban out of a towel except me?  Really, it looks like it would come in handy!  As far as I can tell, it’s not even humanly possible to neatly fold a fitted sheet.  

My daughter’s hair alludes me.  The trial-and-error learning process was long when it came to dealing with my own dry, curly mop.  I’m at a complete loss when it comes to styling her straight, sleek, shiny hair–clips and rubber bands just slip right out!  It will probably get oily when she’s a teenager, and then what will I tell her?!  My son’s hair, on the other hand, seems more like my own, coarse and relatively obedient, but since we’ve kept it short so far my lifetime of hair management is useless to him.  

I love Jezebel’s Beauty 101 and Dress Code, not because I find makeup and clothes to be riveting subjects, but because for the first time, someone is addressing the fact that I just might have missed that day.  There are a lot of things I need explained to me on a very basic level, and judging from the myriad questions and comments those threads receive, I’m not alone.  We all have a few missing pieces to the puzzle, things that we are right to believe that everyone else knows.  Luckily, it’s probably just as true that for every simple thing we missed, there are twenty that seem as obvious as breathing.  

My husband (a perfectly proficient cook, rendering it a somewhat baffling present), once received as a gift an “I can’t cook” cookbook, inspired by their author’s encounters with people who hadn’t learned to boil water, make coffee or mash potatoes.  These were intelligent people who weren’t fumbling with anything else, they just hadn’t learned even the most fundamental cooking skills.  And they felt crappy about it.  

Fortunately, the internet has solved most of these problems.  There is nothing so obvious that your computer won’t explain it to you.  But sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.  

So what are your missing pieces?  Unsure of how to balance your bank account, invest, do laundry, garden, tie your shoes, or, God help us all, drive properly?  Here’s your chance to confess and hopefully, with the help of a well-rounded community, learn.  


Dress Etiquette

Jessica Simpson has a new television show called Price of Beauty, where she travels to different parts of the world to learn what is considered beautiful within these different cultures. This week’s episode had Jessica travel to Morocco.

I don’t watch the show, but found an interesting post in Jezebel that I would like to share here. In fact, it was more than just the post that got me thinking – it was the differences in all the comments.

As it turns out, Jessica Simpson visited with veiled women and wore shorts for the meeting. One of the ladies present, named Layla, was more of a “modern” woman, who didn’t wear the veil. She was the one that voiced her disgust at Jessica’s audacity in showing her legs. Initially, watching this scene (Scene 4) bothered me. It bothered me because of the look of disgust in Layla’s face and it botherred me because she was so…judgmental. Then, I remembered when I went to Rome and visited the Vatican. You couldn’t walk in wearing shorts or spaghetti strap tops. You had to cover your legs and your shoulders. We respected the dress code. Hey, when in Rome…

When you go to church, you wear what is considered appropriate. When you go to school – same thing. Depending on where you work, you have to adhere to the dress codes there too. Going out clubbing, wear something a little more provocative. But if you’re in another country and you’re visiting with very traditional women – COVER IT UP!!

Then, I found myself agreeing with Jessica after she referenced how low cut Layla’s blouse was. Jessica went on to explain that she likes her legs and doesn’t find anything wrong with showing them off. I was all, “YEAH!!”

Until I read the comments…

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. Of all the African countries, Kenya is one of the better off ones as far as social progress goes. And still, it is considered highly inappropriate to show your legs. To the point that even jeans are pushing the line. The point was not even religious, but what was considered sexual in the culture. There, women tend to have large chests, the result of which is often unavoidable cleavage. Additionally, they frequently breastfeed in public, and in the more rural areas, run around topless. Breasts are not fetishized nearly as strongly as legs.

The biggest thing I want to emphasize about living in a culture like this is how the eye becomes trained to whatever the cultural norm is. When I moved to the states, the bare legs and even the tight jeans that showed clearly the curve of the butt and cleft between the thighs made me feel embarrassed and want to avert my eyes. I was distracted talking with those girls, because it was overwhelming how exposed they looked to me. My understanding is that here in the US, having and displaying monstrous cleavage gives a similar effect.

Wow. Never thought of it that way. Just because this country tends to sexualize the breasts doesn’t mean that other countries do. And just because this country thinks the leg is just a leg, doesn’t mean that other countries don’t view it as a road to a final destination.

Then I read this comment:

Look–if you want to be in American culture you stay in America. You want to go topless on beaches? Go to France. Want to wear fur with no shame? Go to Russia. But if you want to go to Morocco, please, please, please respect the local culture.

Couldn’t agree more.


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Hi all!

I am back from a trip to Chicago. My brother-in-law got married in a unique and beautiful ceremony. You can read all about it and see pictures here and here.

Now onto some parenting news…

Are you a yeller? You are not alone. We discussed a New York Times story about how yelling is the new spanking. A poll cited in the article stated that as many as 88 percent of parents have yelled at their children. But no studies have been conducted to show whether this is harmful to kids.

Our Erika highlighted this MSNBC story about kids getting braces younger and younger. How old were your children when they got braces?

I am sure similar diaries have been posted here, but I thought I would mention to you that the Courage Campaign is seeking a few good volunteers to help fight the anti-gay marriage initiatives in various states and cities.

In somewhat related news, one of our front-page posters, Katie, is wondering whether she should change her last name when she marries her partner Kelly. It sparked a long discussion about women changing their last names — if at all — hyphenated names and everything you can possibly think of when it comes to choosing a last name. Ayayay!

Yet, in other LGBT news: The Scholastic Book Fairs banned books with gay and lesbian relationships, according to our contributing writer Dana. She and other moms on our site, who signed a petition, received a less than satisfying response from the company.  

Our Gloria highlighted this brow-raising article in Jezebel about mothers in their late 30s or early 40s being jealous of their teenaged daughters’ good looks. I am not there yet and found this article surprising and disturbing. What do you all think? Are you jealous of your gorgeous teenagers?

Attention Patrick Swayze fans: I reviewed the book Time of My Life. What a satisfying and quick read!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Late-Night Liberty: Beloved Books of My Youth

A popular thread and one I am surprised we have not discussed. The Babysitters Club books definitely hooked me on reading. Thanks for posting, Erin! -Elisa

As a young girl growing up in the 1980s, I was a voracious reader .  I devoured too many to count, but always had a soft spot for the series.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beverley Cleary, Lois Lowry and V.C. Andrews were all favorites during different periods of my childhood.  Naturally I adored Judy Blume.  Other favorites included Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance C. Greene, and Daphne’s Book by Mary Downing Hahn.  I adored Betsy Cromer Byars’ The Pinballs, and ate up the racy (and fictional) Go Ask Alice.  

These days, I love Jezebel’s fine lines series, although it makes me crazy with jealousy that I didn’t think of it myself.  However, I am rarely satisfied with the discussions on Jezebel, so if you want to discuss any of these installations, there’s a 70% chance I’ve read the book, and close to 100% chance someone else here has.

On my mind this morning, however, are The Babysitters Club books.  When this series started, I was a few years younger than the babysitters themselves.  They had a few charges my age, which I resented, but it didn’t stop me from obsessing over the books.  I obtained and read each one promptly.  If I was the first to have the latest book, I lorded it over my friends.  If someone else was first, I was tormented, hungry and green with envy.  Naturally a late comer wouldn’t have to wait long–she would either get the book that same night ($2.50 at Waldenbooks), or her friend would have finished it and passed it along by the next day, making for a difficult day in school, where you could only read at designated times.  But that one or two day waiting period was hell.

More specific still, I am thinking of the babysitters themselves.  The original four (Kristy, Dawn, Mary Ann and Claudia), and Dawn, who joined early in the series.  Later there would be others, but by that time I had already moved on to Beloved Books of my Adolescence, which is another diary.

I related to each one at different times.  They were complex and changing people who stuck to their own personalities the majority of the time, but occasionally, like all of us, did something totally out of character.  Each one had become who she was by way of a detail mosaic of nature and life experience.  I might love a particular girl, but there would always be times when she displeased me.  I might be generally irritated by another, but I still understood where she was coming from.

Kristy pushed my buttons with her type-A bossiness, but I had to had it to her–without her, there would be no babysitter’s club.  A big deal was made out of Mary Anne’s sensitivity, but it seemed to me that she demanded a lot more sensitivity from others than she extended.  Still, you had to feel for her; a motherless only child living with a cold, strict father.  Stacey’s constant bragging about being from New York was annoying, but she was fun and I loved reading the detailed descriptions of of her clothing.  Besides, give the girl a break!  She had diabetes!  I liked Dawn’s balanced nature; she was responsible without being superior, sensitive without being neurotic.

In retrospect, though, my favorite was Claudia.  She was responsible enough to be a good babysitter, but she was messy, addicted to junk food and did poorly in school.  My friends poked fun at my Claudia spelling.  She didn’t want to be anything other than what she was, but she wanted that to be acceptable to her parents and others.  She was a strong person, but the fact that she didn’t measure up still hurt.  Still, her life was a cake walk compared to her brilliant but awkward sister Janine, who I realized now probably suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.  Claudia only rarely caught on to Janine’s deep loneliness, but of course she lacked Mary Anne’s perceptiveness.

What were some of your favorite childhood books?  Were you a babysitter’s club fan?  


Thursday Morning Open Thread

Lowly Females Pick Mediocre Mates. The title intrigued me, until I realized they were talking about birds. The study involved testing female zebra finches’ taste in males. The femals were trained to peck two keys, which played a male’s song. One playing the song of a “high-quality male” and the other playing the song of a “low-quality male”. According to the results, the “low-quality females” repeatedly pecked the keythat played a “low quality male’s” song and vice versa. You want to know what was identified as the “real interesting part of this study”? It was that the females were able to recognize what ‘category’ they were in.

I think that study was RUDE.

Have you seen he latest anti-obesity ads that have hit New York? They involve a glass of thick, yellow human fat, being poured into a glass thats marbled with blood vessels, with the tag line reading, “are you pouring on the pounds?” What do you think? Will it work?

According to a new study, driving a convertible car at speeds between 50-70 50-70mph exposes the ears to sound levels that can be harmful to your ears. Thank God I drive a Jeep.

A new Oklahoma law will require the details of every abortion to be posted on a public website. Proponents argue that this will “prevent abortion”.

From Jezebel:

The law (which you can look at here — it’s HR 1595) mandates that a 34-item questionnaire be filled out by abortion providers for each procedure. The questionnaire doesn’t include the woman’s name or “any information specifically identifying the patient,” but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother’s reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was “an infant born alive as a result of the abortion.”

The law is being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights on the grounds that it violates the Oklahoma Constitution because it “covers more than one subject”, which is how the previous Oklahoma Ultrasound Law was overturned.

What a dreadful law. What kind of people vote for this kind of shit?

Of course this is an open thread and you are free to discuss whatever you wish. What else is going on?


Late-Night Liberty: Weird Science Edition

I spotted this weird science story in Jezebel.

According to a study cited by Live Science, people who smiled often as children — as evident in their childhood photographs — were less likely to divorce later in life.

In one test, the researchers looked at people’s college yearbook photos, and rated their smile intensity from 1 to 10. None of the people who fell within the top 10 percent of smile strength had divorced, while within the bottom 10 percent of smilers, almost one in four had had a marriage that ended, the researchers say. (Scoring was based on the stretch in two muscles: one that pulls up on the mouth, and one that creates wrinkles around the eyes.)

In a second trial, the research team asked people over age 65 to provide photos from their childhood (the average age in the pictures was 10 years old). The researchers scored each person’s smile, and found that only 11 percent of the biggest smilers had been divorced, while 31 percent of the frowners had experienced a broken marriage.

Overall, the results indicate that people who frown in photos are five times more likely to get a divorce than people who smile.

As some readers in Jezebel pointed out, smiling often could simply be emblematic of an ability to “roll with the punches,” which is needed in a marriage. Or, it could be a fluke as sometimes these off-the-wall science stories seem to be. The Live Science story did say researchers “can’t conclude anything about the cause of the correlation.”

But that didn’t stop me from looking at me and DH’s childhood photos. For the most part, we were smiling — especially with other people — but at times I was serious like my 8th grade graduation photo above. Then again, I was smiling with my mom. (See on right.)

Go ahead and check out your photographs. What do you think?


Thursday Open Thread

UPDATE: This attached photo from shows Rihanna after the abuse she received from Chris Brown. Disturbing and disgusting. His career is over. Or, it should be. – Gloria

I don’t really listen to mainstream music. I don’t know much about the Jonas Brothers, except that they’re brothers with the last name “Jonas”. My taste in music is a bit edgier. I gravitate towards the Foo Fighters (who’s lead singer I lust after), Coldplay, and obscure 80’s bands like PiL.

But I know Rihanna. And, I know Chris Brown. Not for their music – no, instead I know them because of the recent reports of domestic violence.

In case you hadn’t heard, Chris Brown allegedly assaulted Rihanna the night before the Grammys. Rihanna was said to have visible bruising, bite marks and some open wounds. The police were called and Chris Brown was arrested. They are BOTH under 21.

There are so many things that continue to bother me about this specific case. The fact that there is history of abuse in this relationship. The fact that Chris Brown revealed a history of family abuse. Their ages. I mean, the list goes on and on. Then, I saw this via Jezebel, and felt sick to my stomach:

Who would wear these shirts? Who thinks this is funny? I sure don’t! In fact, I’m going to share some statistics with you.

•One in four women has experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.
•Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
•On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
•Studies suggest that between 3.3 – 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

These statistics are very troubling. Especially when you take into consideration that they were last updated a few years ago and don’t reference how bad it’s been since the economy went south.

Chris Brown and Rihanna are looked up to by millions of kids. But their “secret” is out. What if they reconcile? What if he offers the same excuse that millions of abused women have heard before, “I’m sorry. It will never happen again.”

Yeah, until the next time.

I’m afraid that if Rihanna “forgives” him she’ll be giving a message to all those kids that look up to her that what happened to her was “ok”. And, it’s not. I’m sickened by all of this. I don’t want my children to believe that violence is an option.

What about you? What are your thoughts? Have you weighed in on this disturbing bit of news?


Late-Night Liberty: Sexual Fetishes

There are over 6.5 BILLION people in the world and we’re all different. I try not to judge when it comes to sexual preferences – after all, variety is the spice of life…is it not? If its something that I don’t understand or that I’m not particularly in to, I just shrug my shoulders and say, “Different strokes for different folks”. I’ve heard of chubby chasers, toe suckers, and even barsexuals. I mean, I’ve been around the block (a few times), and thought that I had heard it all.  But I have NEVER heard of Objectum Sexuals.

Objectum Sexuals are people who fall in love with inanimate objects. And they have sex. They believe that their love with the objects are reciprocal and that they can telepathically communicate with them. This fetish is documented in a documentary called Strange Love: Married to the Eiffel Tower. You can see the full documentary here.

Via Jezebel, the documentary follows the story of Erika La Tour Eiffel.

Erika La Tour Eiffel married the Eiffel Tower and then took its name. But she doesn’t like referring to the structure as “it” because “calling something an ‘it’ instantly means it’s inanimate.” She gets “a sense” of an object’s gender. According to her, the Eiffel Tower is female.

After suffering abuse as a child, and bouncing between foster homes, she joined the US Air Force but during her training, was sexually assaulted, and defended herself with a Japanese sword, which was her lover at the time. She refused to part with the sword, and was discharged from the military for psychological reasons. She then fell in love with an archery bow — she became a US medal champion in archery — but her feelings for the bow waned after time and she moved on to bigger things, literally, as in: tourist attractions. On their one-year anniversary, Erika goes back to visit the Eiffel Tower to consummate their marriage. She lifts up her skirt, and straddles one of the beams with “no barrier” between them.

I don’t know about you, but I may never touch a banister, railing or beam again.


Thursday Open Thread

Well, it looks as if everyone is taking a hit with this shitty economy. Lately, all I’ve been reading are articles outlining the downfall of businesses and government. In fact, California has just announced that there will be a delay in receiving the state tax refund by 30 days!

The Post Office is even considering cutting their delivery days down from six to five.

Starbucks has announced that they will cut 6,700 jobs and close 300 stores.

Los Angeles favorite Pinkberry’s has begun to close some stores.

Target will be laying off 1,500 people.

Sprint has announced that they plan to eliminate 8,000 jobs.

Philips Electronics has announced that they will eliminate 6,000 jobs.

It is so depressing that the above headlines were all featured THIS PAST WEEK!

Times are tough. I really hope President Obama’s stimulus package provides the help we so desperately need.

Now, to lighten the mood just a little bit – I found this article at Jezebel; it’s a quiz and I thought it would be fun.


Are you a bad girl?:

Tyra never really gave an answer key, or told us how many “yeses” it took to be a “bad girl,” so we’re assuming that if you answer yes to any of the questions, you are, indeed bad.

So you heard it here ladies, if you answered ONE question with a “yes”, then you’re a bad girl…

Question #1: Have you ever bought anything from a sex shop?
My Answer: Duh! Who hasn’t?

Question #2: Have you ever kissed somebody of the same sex?
My Answer: Once. One of my best friends – on a dare. :)

Question #3: Have you hit on a friend’s boyfriend?
My Answer: Never.

Question #4: Did you ever call someone else’s name while making out?
My Answer: Yes. It was SO embarrassing…(and it wasn’t while making out!)

Question #5: Have you slept with over 40 men?
My Answer: No.

Ok – I guess I’m a bad girl. How did you do?