The Thievery of Depression

Depression isn’t always a tidal wave – sometimes it’s a stagnant pond or a thick blanket of fog. It’s a darkness so desolate that it makes the farthest regions of unchartered space look welcoming in comparison. Depression isn’t an ocean of tears or a desert of sorrow; it’s the abandonment of all hope. It’s the inability to live and relate to your surroundings. It’s repetition and tedium. It’s living for the expectation of others because you’ve lost sight of all sense of self.


I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember – and with anxiety for longer than that. When I was six and my mother worked night shifts at a correctional facility, I would drag a chair from the kitchen to the front foyer and fall asleep waiting for her to return home. When I was a bit older and my mother explained death to me, I was petrified. I would lie awake at night in bed, bathed in a fine sheen of cold sweat, and beg God to make an exception for my mother. I was absolutely horrified at the thought of losing her; a fear that as I grew older never really disappeared, but remained dormant in my mind like a subconscious swamp of panic. It was always there, in the back of my mind, waiting to drag me down should I tread on any memory that would trigger its existence.


As a child I was clingy, anxious and high strung. As a teenager, I was aloof, guarded and sullen. It became apparent in the final years of high school that something was very wrong with me. I refused to socialize. I didn’t want to date. My friends at school knew that calling me was pointless because I wouldn’t answer or I’d be unavailable. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere and it wasn’t because people weren’t trying to reach out to me, it was because I ignored their outstretched hands.


When people talk about depression, they usually confuse it with sadness. For me, depression was like a cocoon of apathy. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone. I just wanted to be left alone to sleep the days and nights away. I wanted to exist without feeling anything because the feelings I had were overwhelming and exhausting.


When I sought treatment initially, I was advised that my depression would pass. My doctor was hesitant to prescribe anything to me because of my age and the fact I was going off to college. So, I decided to do my own research. I was young and believed that I could treat my depression with vitamins, a healthy diet and exercise but after 5 years, 2 unsuccessful romantic relationships, a trail of broken friendships and one suicide attempt, I realized that the way I was treating my depression was ultimately ineffective.


There’s an incredibly strong stigma in the way that those suffering from mental illness are treated within the medical community – especially in regards to our competence when seeking treatment. Our concerns are often ignored, our judgment is often questioned and our motivations are always suspect. It took me seven years to ask for help again after a dangerous decade of self-medicating, self-harming and reckless behavior.  Seven entire years.


At my lowest point, right after my mother’s death, I remember sitting in my living room with a bottle of vodka, sleeping pills and pain killers while I tried to write a note that would explain why I decided to take my own life. Suicide notes are difficult to write, not only because you really only get one draft, but because you know you won’t be around to answer any questions for the people reading it. I tried to explain the whys to my sister, who was just recently in love and would assumingly be devastated upon learning about my decision. I tried to explain to my father, who would undoubtedly blame himself and our tattered relationship for my choice. I think my inability to articulate why I felt the way I did is partially responsible for my decision to just drink that evening. The responsibility I felt to others kept me safe, in a drunken stupor, from my own intentions.


Two years ago I sought treatment once again for my depression. I sat in a frigid, sterile room and explained to a total stranger that my life was falling apart. And instead of being told that this would pass, I was met with kindness, genuine concern and compassion. My doctor worked with me to create a treatment plan that included therapy and medication for my GAD and clinical depression. My entire life changed that day because for the first time, in so many years, I felt something that I hadn’t felt in almost a decade: hope.


When people ask me to explain what depression is, I tell them that it’s a thief. Depression steals everything it can from the person struggling with it. It steals your hobbies, your relationships, your self-worth, your joy, your hope. Depression steals everything it can from you until you have nothing left but the façade you wear to trick the world into thinking you’re fine. And it’s tremendously difficult to reach out for help when you’re fighting to keep your head above the water that threatens to drown you every waking minute.

Depression is a deeply personal illness but it’s an illness that can be managed with proper therapy, medication and support. If you’re struggling with depression, know that there are millions of us who fight the same battle every day. You’re not alone. You’re a solider in a vast army.


And we will not leave you behind.






It’s time to #GiveYourMoneyToWomen

As children, little girls are taught to share.

We’re taught to be generous with our possessions and our time. We’re taught to be tolerant of male violence and male objectification. We’re taught to comply with male demands and authority. All of these teachings create an environment in which women’s work and contributions to society are under appreciated and in some situations, even expected – free of charge. These teachings contribute to a society where women are taught to feel uncomfortable asserting their worth as productive human beings – it leads to women being less likely to negotiate wages and contributes to the devaluation of “female”-dominated professions such as social work, nursing and caretaking. Women are taught that our labor is exploitable and that our innate value as human beings is only worth as much as men deem it.

In fact, statistics show that women are working for free across the globe. In a recent study, Expert Market used a man’s salary as a 52 week baseline and calculated the date when American women were theoretically working for free in the same state. While the study demonstrates that the gap varies from location, the reality is that women demonstrably earn less than their male counterparts.



In Canada, women are likely to earn 8,000 dollars less than their male colleagues for doing the same job[1]. In the United States, white women earn .77 cents for every dollar a man earns – black women earn .66 cents for every dollar a man earns and Hispanic women earn just .58 cents for every dollar a man earns[2]. Women in Europe can expect to earn 16.4% less than men[3]. In Australia, the pay gap has rose to 18.2% – the average man making roughly $300.00 more than the average woman does every week[4].  In the ITUC’s report entitled “Frozen in Time: The Gender Pay Gap unchanged for 10 years”, they note that the disparity is greatest in Asia and that women are routinely subjected to a “child penalty” – whereas male parents are not[5].

In the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, across all 111 countries where data was recorded over a span of nine years, workplace equality for women has only seen a slight improvement – from 56% in 2006 to 60% in 2014[6].

All of this insurmountable evidence begs the question: Why do we, as a society, so adamantly devalue women’s labor?

Women are 66% of caregivers[7]. They provide invaluable support to spouses, parents, extended family, friends and community members. In fact, it’s estimated that women’s informal work is worth $188 billion dollars annually. And yet careers in caretaking fields are consistently devalued monetarily.

Which brings us to #GiveYourMoneyToWomen.

A few days ago Lauren Chief Elk (@ChiefElk) started a hashtag on Twitter to draw attention to the financial disparity that plagues women – especially women of color. The hashtag exploded with demands to acknowledge women’s unpaid labor, particularly in areas of community building and social justice activism. It highlighted how so many people and publications plagiarized the intellectual property of women of color. In fact, Vox Media is currently on blast for paying a white liberal man to wax poetic about issues women of color have been educating the public about for years. In particular, they published the writing of @bad_dominicana without her consent and they didn’t pay her a dime for her contributions. Why are her words worthy of publication yet unworthy of payment?

Throughout history men have claimed ownership of women’s words, ideas, contributions and bodies. All the while women have been chastised for demanding recognition. We’ve been called prideful and narcissistic. We’ve been told that women should embody humility and modesty, not arrogance.

We’ve been told to share.

But sharing indicates a reciprocal relationship and there’s nothing reciprocal about theft. Women are deserving of support and recognition. We’re deserving of payment for services rendered.

#GiveYourMoneyToWomen terrified misogynists not because women are “entitled bitches demanding money” but because women are starting to challenge the status quo. We’re tired of our contributions going unrecognized and unpaid. We’re no longer content to share our labor. We want what’s owed to us, and we’re going to take it.

And yes, misogynists, you should be scared.








How to refute popular Anti-Choice arguments

My mother was always a socially progressive person. She never shied away from sharing her views on stereotypically stigmatized subjects and she scoffed at anyone who dared to suggest that my sister and I were too young to comprehend contentious topics. Because of this, by the time we were ten, my sister and I had a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy, sexuality, pregnancy and abortion. What my mother never did, however, was force her opinions on us. So while my mother was unabashedly Pro-Choice throughout her entire life, I made the decision to become a Pro-life vegetarian in my later teens.

I was initially compelled by compassion. I didn’t eat animals because I couldn’t stand the thought of them being harmed so how could I abide the obvious horror embryos and fetuses endured during an abortion procedure? While my decision to become Pro-Life was instantaneous, I found that my progression to the Pro-Choice position was a slower journey. As I interacted with more Pro-Life people and did more research, I found that it was impossible to refute the Pro-Choice argument in regards to the right to bodily autonomy.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Many Anti-Choice people have tried and their efforts to deny people with uteri the right to bodily autonomy have been virulent but nevertheless fruitless. There are several memorable instances that dog-eared my Pro-Choice transition but I knew I was Pro-Choice when I was able to use the bodily autonomy argument to not only refute Anti-Choice posturing but to desecrate it.

I’ve wanted to write this entry for quite a while now because while my contributions to the Pro-Choice community are often limited to online activism and donations, I feel that we need some clarity without sloganeering.

And I think I can help.

In this blog entry, I’ve outlined the most commonly used Anti-Choice arguments, the logic behind them and how to refute them using only ONE position: The Right to Bodily Autonomy. There’s no need to discuss personhood, blobs of cells, rape, etc. It’s streamlined, consistent and bullet proof.

Anti-Choice Position 1: Embryos are babies therefore they have the right to life.

This is really three separate positions (Life Begins at Conception therefore Embryos are Babies and deserve rights/protections) but they’re heavily intertwined with each other so I included them together. The first position that “Embryos are babies” is intended to incite an emotional response from the Pro-choicer. It’s intended to challenge your perception of the word baby which is a colloquial term and can be used to describe anything from a newborn, a car or a significant other.

                  Anti-choice logic: If embryos are babies and babies are people then embryos are people and have all the rights that people have!

                  But the right to life doesn’t include the right to use another person’s body to survive.

Pro-Choice Response: Even if embryos were babies and had the right to life, they don’t have the right to life at the expense of the pregnant person’s body. No one has the right to use another person’s body to survive. The government doesn’t force healthy people to donate blood, marrow or organs to people who would otherwise die without these things, nor does the government compel parents to donate these items to their children. In fact, a parent can decide to sever all parental obligations (financial, emotional & otherwise) by placing their child up for adoption.

A parental bond doesn’t magically create an obligation to share one’s body as parenthood doesn’t eradicate personhood and bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right.

It’s important to recognize that we’re debating the use of governmental FORCE here. We’re not talking about moral obligations or social obligations which can vary. Anti-choicers advocate for PUNISHING people who abort because in their eyes, people who abort are murderers. It’s imperative that we make that distinction.

It has been empirically demonstrated within the guidelines set by civilized societies that the government should never be in a position to force people to share their bodies with others. Pregnancy is no different.

Note: While you CAN assert that embryos aren’t babies, I’ve found this avenue of discussion to be rather fruitless. No PERSON has the right to use another person’s body. Anti-abortion advocates wish to extend a “right” to embryos that no other person possesses.

Anti-Choice Position 2: Abortion is like Slavery/Abortion is like the Holocaust.

Anti-abortion advocates love exploiting the pain of others so this position – while genuinely offensive – should come as no surprise. Again, the initial intent of this argument is to incite an emotional response from the Pro-Choicer. Anti-abortion advocates use this shit to challenge your understanding of historical events and if you’re relatively educated this argument WILL piss you off.

Anti-choice logic: Black people weren’t treated like people. Jewish people weren’t treated like people. Embryos aren’t treated like people. Since we were wrong about Black people and Jewish people, we’re wrong about embryo people!

Pro-Choice Response: Embryo people? Right. While one of these things is CLEARLY not like the others, white people in particular need to remain on point. If you’re black and you want to take these clowns to task for analogizing UNLIKE things, I’m gonna stand in the cheering section holding balloons with your name on them but WHITE folks, stay on point. The Jewish people never violated the bodily autonomy of the Nazis and they never caused detriment to their bodies by just existing. Slaves never violated slavers’ rights by just existing, either. And more importantly, both groups of people were DENIED their right to bodily autonomy.

Embryos are incapable of having the right to bodily autonomy because without a uterus or being frozen, they die. And if Anti-abortion advocates – who have the audacity to compare themselves to abolitionists – were being intellectually honest, they’d be fighting for an embryo’s right to be REMOVED from the oppression of the uterus, not to be contained within it.

Anti-Choice Position 3: Gendercide: OMG U HATE GIRLS!!@!!

The latest propaganda in Anti-choice doublethink has certainly found traction amid some of the fence sitters. I mean, having an abortion because you don’t want a girl? Geez! This should be the bane of feminists everywhere! Except…No.

Anti-Choice Logic: Feminists support abortion because they claim its necessary for equal rights but how can they support the elimination of their own sex? Hypocrites! 

Pro-Choice Response: There’s nothing hypocritical in supporting a person’s right to abort regardless of the reason. This is something Anti-Abortion advocates often do; they intentionally conflate a person’s RIGHT to obtain an abortion with a person’s REASON for aborting. When we look at the issue of gendercide, we see the inevitable result of what happens when you constantly devalue people without penises. When a penis dictates what type of opportunities you’ll be awarded, why is it shocking when people decide that they too, want a child with a penis?

People with uteri have the right to bodily autonomy which entails the right to abortion. Their reasoning may be personal or conditional but that doesn’t change the fact that they have the RIGHT.

Anti-Choice Position 4: Abortion is detrimental to the health of pregnant people.

This has become a “go-to” position for many Anti-abortion activists. It includes just the right combination of fear, stigmatization, shame and martyrdom that they love. They cling to antiquated studies (NOTE: that have been debunked by respectable medical associations) in hope of either scaring people away from needed health care or shaming them into recruitment for their “I regret my abortion” campaign.

Anti-Choice Logic: If Abortion is detrimental to a pregnant person’s health, then pregnancy MUST be healthy!

                 Pro-Choice Response: Pregnancy is a medical condition that can cause lifelong disabilities, illnesses and yes, even death.  Listed below are the complications associated with Pregnancy.

Normal, frequent or expectable temporary side effects of pregnancy:

  • exhaustion (weariness common from first weeks)
  • altered appetite and senses of taste and smell
  • nausea and vomiting (50% of women, first trimester)
  • heartburn and indigestion
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • dizziness and light-headedness
  • bloating, swelling, fluid retention
  • hemmorhoids
  • abdominal cramps
  • yeast infections
  • congested, bloody nose
  • acne and mild skin disorders
  • skin discoloration (chloasma, face and abdomen)
  • mild to severe backache and strain
  • increased headaches
  • difficulty sleeping, and discomfort while sleeping
  • increased urination and incontinence
  • bleeding gums
  • pica
  • breast pain and discharge
  • swelling of joints, leg cramps, joint pain
  • difficulty sitting, standing in later pregnancy
  • inability to take regular medications
  • shortness of breath
  • higher blood pressure
  • hair loss
  • tendency to anemia
  • curtailment of ability to participate in some sports and activities
  • infection including from serious and potentially fatal disease
    (pregnant women are immune suppressed compared with non-pregnant women, and are more susceptible to fungal and certain other diseases)
  • extreme pain on delivery
  • hormonal mood changes, including normal post-partum depression
  • continued post-partum exhaustion and recovery period (exacerbated if a c-section — major surgery — is required, sometimes taking up to a full year to fully recover)

Normal, expectable, or frequent PERMANENT side effects of pregnancy:

  • stretch marks (worse in younger women)
  • loose skin
  • permanent weight gain or redistribution
  • abdominal and vaginal muscle weakness
  • pelvic floor disorder (occurring in as many as 35% of middle-aged former child-bearers and 50% of elderly former child-bearers, associated with urinary and rectal incontinence, discomfort and reduced quality of life — aka prolapsed utuerus, the malady sometimes badly fixed by the transvaginal mesh)
  • changes to breasts
  • varicose veins
  • scarring from episiotomy or c-section
  • other permanent aesthetic changes to the body (all of these are downplayed by women, because the culture values youth and beauty)
  • increased proclivity for hemmorhoids
  • loss of dental and bone calcium (cavities and osteoporosis)
  • higher lifetime risk of developing Altzheimer’s
  • newer research indicates microchimeric cells, other bi-directional exchanges of DNA, chromosomes, and other bodily material between fetus and mother (including with “unrelated” gestational surrogates)

Occasional complications and side effects:

  • complications of episiotomy
  • spousal/partner abuse
  • hyperemesis gravidarum
  • temporary and permanent injury to back
  • severe scarring requiring later surgery
    (especially after additional pregnancies)
  • dropped (prolapsed) uterus (especially after additional pregnancies, and other pelvic floor weaknesses — 11% of women, including cystocele, rectocele, and enterocele)
  • pre-eclampsia (edema and hypertension, the most common complication of pregnancy, associated with eclampsia, and affecting 7 – 10% of pregnancies)
  • eclampsia (convulsions, coma during pregnancy or labor, high risk of death)
  • gestational diabetes
  • placenta previa
  • anemia (which can be life-threatening)
  • thrombocytopenic purpura
  • severe cramping
  • embolism (blood clots)
  • medical disability requiring full bed rest (frequently ordered during part of many pregnancies varying from days to months for health of either mother or baby)
  • diastasis recti, also torn abdominal muscles
  • mitral valve stenosis (most common cardiac complication)
  • serious infection and disease (e.g. increased risk of tuberculosis)
  • hormonal imbalance
  • ectopic pregnancy (risk of death)
  • broken bones (ribcage, “tail bone”)
  • hemorrhage and
  • numerous other complications of delivery
  • refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • aggravation of pre-pregnancy diseases and conditions (e.g. epilepsy is present in .5% of pregnant women, and the pregnancy alters drug metabolism and treatment prospects all the while it increases the number and frequency of seizures)
  • severe post-partum depression and psychosis
  • research now indicates a possible link between ovarian cancer and female fertility treatments, including “egg harvesting” from infertile women and donors
  • research also now indicates correlations between lower breast cancer survival rates and proximity in time to onset of cancer of last pregnancy
  • research also indicates a correlation between having six or more pregnancies and a risk of coronary and cardiovascular disease

Less common (but serious) complications:

  • peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • cardiopulmonary arrest
  • magnesium toxicity
  • severe hypoxemia/acidosis
  • massive embolism
  • increased intracranial pressure, brainstem infarction
  • molar pregnancy, gestational trophoblastic disease
    (like a pregnancy-induced cancer)
  • malignant arrhythmia
  • circulatory collapse
  • placental abruption
  • obstetric fistula

More permanent side effects:

  • future infertility
  • permanent disability
  • death.

People with uteri have the right to make medical decisions concerning their bodies, which includes the decision to either continue or terminate a pregnancy. If someone decides to terminate their pregnancy because they don’t wish to endure the risks associated with it, that’s their right. And if someone wants to risk their life to continue a dangerous pregnancy, that’s their right. The right to bodily autonomy includes the decision to risk one’s health and life just as it includes the decision to mitigate those situations.

As a woman with a uterus, I find it increasingly frustrating that people view the Pro-Choice/Anti-Choice debate as something to philosophize over. That’s not what this blog entry is about. We need to be prepared to defend our rights from people who would happily take them from us. We need to be prepared to make an informative, intellectually sound and honest argument when our opponents rely so heavily upon fallacious appeals to emotion and religious hubris to make their case.

I hope this entry helps you, as a pro-choice advocate, to avoid the pitfalls of manipulative Anti-choice propaganda and eliminates any lingering self-doubt that you are anything but a person worthy of fundamental human rights.



I believe Dylan Farrow

I’ve never been fond of Woody Allen movies. My distaste for his work never derived from his actual craft (although I’ve only seen a few of his films, I assume people enjoy his depiction of the human condition which, in my humble opinion, is detailed far better by other directors) but by the sexual abuse allegations that have overshadowed any redeemable talents the man embodies. I was only a girl when the accusations made national headlines but I remember how distraught my mother was. I was too young to understand why she was upset, but decades later after a shocking admission the remaining pieces of a puzzle long unfinished painted a picture all too familiar for survivors of sexual abuse.

The New York Times released an open letter yesterday penned by Dylan Farrow in which she describes the horrific sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her adoptive father Woody Allen. In haunting detail, Farrow paints a picture of a little girl whose life was torn asunder by a man whose wealth and influence shielded him from the consequences of his actions. She was a mere child, completely traumatized by a man who betrayed her trust in the worst possible way and she was expected to face him in a court of law. Her mother ultimately decided that she needed to protect Dylan and refused to proceed with criminal charges (even though the state found sufficient evidence to proceed) because she couldn’t fathom dragging her emotionally fragile daughter through a highly publicized trial.

This decision in no way exonerated Woody Allen of any wrongdoing. This decision has been made millions of times throughout the course of human history and abusers like Allen depend on good parents to make it. Abusers depend on our desire to protect our children and shield them from the abysmal shithole that is the court of public opinion.

Dylan Farrow was assaulted by Woody Allen and now, as a survivor, she will undoubtedly be abused again by the court of public opinion. Sexual abuse is the only crime in which the victim needs to prove that an actual crime took place. We don’t ask mugging victims to prove that they were carrying a wallet. We don’t ask for alibies when someone reports that their home or car was broken into. But we have no problem dragging children in front of a jury of strangers and expecting them to recount the most horrific experience a person can endure and in front of the very person who did it.

We want to judge Dylan Farrow for the decisions her mother made. We want to judge Dylan Farrow for the amount of time she waited before breaking her silence. We want to judge Dylan Farrow because Woody Allen belongs to a club we commonfolk like to admire every once in a while.

My mother was 53 when she broke her silence. She was a child, like Dylan Farrow, who suffered abuse at the hands of someone she trusted. But unlike Dylan Farrow, my mother came from a poor, uninfluential family. Her experience was sadly unspectacular in its commonness and her reasons for keeping silent were even moreso. In a poor family, where my grandmother was the sole provider for six people, my mother knew her allegations against a family friend who occasionally brought over food or gifts would cause great pain. So she remained silent her entire life.

I believe Dylan Farrow because every survivor has a similar story. Her story resonates with truth because so many of us have witnessed and experienced her struggle and while we couldn’t protect her from the abuse she suffered, we can offer our support now. We have an obligation to offer our support now.

I won’t support any actor, writer, producer or director who continues to work with Woody Allen. I won’t watch any award shows where he or his work is honored. I will publicly speak against any production company that grants him a medium for his films. As a society, we need to ostracize these monsters – no matter their talents – and focus on rallying around the survivors of their abuse.

I believe Dylan Farrow and I wish her a long life of love, happiness and healing.

How the Anti-Choice community created a monster.

Kermit Gosnell is the inevitable result of Anti-choice legislation.

This was a man who exploited a system built to stigmatize poverty-stricken women seeking abortion. Anti-abortion laws have ensured that women who live in poverty receive no extra funding for abortions with the Hyde Amendment. They’ve supported mandatory waiting periods for abortion which ensures that women have to take days off of work which inevitably leads to income instability. It means travel expenses; not only gas should the woman be lucky enough to own a car, but bus fare and a hotel room. It means childcare expenses if they already have children. It means placing their employment at risk if they don’t have the necessary sick days or vacation time to cover the time away from work. It means additional expenses and burdens for a woman who is already selling her television to buy a carton of milk for her two year old.

In a country where women need to beg for money for a legal and constitutionally protected surgery, Gosnell was king. And Anti-choice legislators and lobbyists put him on the throne. After all, they created the perfect market for him to capitalize. They encouraged the radical fringe behavior of their supporters who then proceeded to harass, stalk and terrorize doctors not only at their places of employment but at their homes and at their children’s schools. They encouraged the picketing outside of safe clinics, where women seeking care were often forced to endure horrific abuse at the hands of “sidewalk counselors.” They encouraged the harmful rhetoric that suggested women were never safe; that their information was always available should an Anti-Choice terrorist decide to break and enter or illegally obtain private documentation. But that was the plan, wasn’t it? To intimidate doctors out of practicing, to force clinic closures if they didn’t have ample parking space,  to terrorize women into believing that abortion is dangerous and dirty and women who sought abortions deserved what they got.

So why are we  surprised that women consented to procedures at Gosnell’s clinic when Anti-abortion figureheads repeatedly brainwashed them to believe that not only should they expect this level of treatment, but that they deserved it?

The reality of the situation is that where abortion is heavily restricted, people like Kermit Gosnell will profit. We already know that legality has little to no impact on the number of abortions performed, so why are we trying to reduce abortion by criminalizing it? Had these women been able to rely on their health insurance or state insurance to cover their procedure, there would have been no spines for Gosnell to sever. These abortions would have been performed early and well before viability. Had these women been able to visit their local clinic without fearing the harassment of the Anti-Choice protestors, Gosnell would never have had clients to fund his horrific business.  If Anti-Choice legislators and lobbyists hate people like Kermit Gosnell so much, why do they keep facilitating laws that enable monsters like him?

Don’t like Kermit Gosnell? Stop supporting TRAP laws that mandate how many parking spaces a clinic can have or how high their grass is. And if you hate “elective” late term abortions, why not repeal Hyde and mandatory waiting periods? Why force women to wait longer for an “elective” abortion? Support sex education programs and encourage the use of birth control and condoms which are designed to prevent unintended pregnancies. And what of maternity leave, medical benefits and job security for women who decide to continue their pregnancies? Shouldn’t we all agree that women should be awarded paid time off to bond with their newborn children and recover from delivery? And lastly, don’t vilify women and abortion providers.  Pregnancy is an incredibly intimate and unique experience; some are without complication and some are complicated and the best people to make those determinations are in clinics not legislative buildings.

We can’t prevent future Gosnells by continuing to enforce legislation that created him in the first place. Regulate responsibly and without bias, eradicate stigma and support legislation that promotes equality and aides women living in poverty.  When women are able to enter a clinic without harassment and without worrying about the cost of a procedure, there will be no Kermit Gosnells.

We all owe Quvenzhané Wallis an apology.

Image                       Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild (Image courtesy of: (

                Why would anyone use a derogatory term– especially one that is typically reserved for what society would classify as the antithesis of all that is ‘ladylike’ – to describe a child? In what alternate reality would such a description be befitting of a child? The word in question, of course, is cunt. It’s a word that is highly sexualized with misogynistic intent and one of the only words in the English language that practically drips with invective. It’s a terrifyingly hateful expression; one reserved for those moments of trembling rage where the threat of physical violence hangs in the air like a lingering chill.

                And yet it was used by an online magazine to describe a nine year old child during an award ceremony where her groundbreaking performance was being recognized.



A perfect example of the media’s obsession with slutshaming actresses who dare to claim ownership of their own bodies. (Image courtesy of:

                With the continued success of social media ensuring that society has a constant connection with celebrities and celeb culture, one of our more primitive social beliefs is becoming more and more apparent. As young actresses are becoming more ‘accessible’, the misogynistic violence against them is rising. The belief that women are public property is one that permeates modern society; anti-abortion legislation, body shaming, slut shaming and rape apologetics are all prime examples of this culture and young women are on the receiving end of this unremitting stream of abuse.  In short, we feel entitled to pass judgement on women and this entitlement is amplified where female celebrities are concerned because fame has made them available 24/7 in every media avenue imaginable.

                Whether or not Kim K is pregnant or if an Olsen twin has an eating disorder is inconsequential to society as a whole but we’re of the mindset that women deserve to be judged. Men do so out of privilege and women do so out of the desire to see potential competition rendered inept. If we want to see significant change in how women are treated by the media, we need to reflect this desire socially. A woman’s body, her clothing, her career, her partners and her life are only substantial to her and to those she willingly includes in her life.

                The second issue is more nefarious because while it is intertwined with the first belief that women are public property, it has an empirical history that many who suffer from white man’s burden would be only too happy to forget.

                Quvenzhané Wallis is black.


                When Wallis took to the red carpet on Sunday, only too proud of her monumental achievement and probably looking forward to some well deserved recognition, she was greeted by reporters too indolent or too insensible to greet her properly. Instead of taking the five seconds it took to learn how to pronounce Wallis’ name, the reporters on the red carpet proceeded to call her Little Q.


                 This is the youngest Best Actress nominee in the history of the Academy awards and the media representatives present on the red carpet couldn’t be bothered to learn her name.


As a white feminist, I don’t feel it’s my place to comment on issues where my privilege may make me more likely to be recognized than a woman who isn’t as fortunate. So I’m going to link to some blogs that I feel did an exceptional job in highlighting why the word cunt is as racist as it is misogynistic.

We owe Quvenzhané Wallis and girls like her a better future than one marred by lessons of racism-fuelled misogyny. We owe girls and women a future without the knowledge that whatever contributions you make to society, they’re always second to whether or not a man finds you attractive. We owe girls and women a future where their bodies and sexuality belong only to them and they are never, ever commodified without consent. We owe girls and women a future without slut shaming, race-baiting and the terrifying hatred behind a word designed to shame women into silence.

The world will remember Savita.





               Savita Halappanavar didn’t have to die. Her death was entirely preventable in the majority of first world countries where doctors aren’t fearful of medical procedures and don’t prescribe superstition to treat common ailments. Instead, Savita’s death was a direct result of a country ruled by religious doctrine and the misconception that pregnancy is never dangerous to the health or life of a woman.

              Two months ago, a consortium of Irish doctors concluded that abortion was not medically necessary to save the life of pregnant women. Much to the dismay of the international human rights community, Ireland proudly marched on with its Anti-woman rhetoric even though it blatantly flew in the face of science.  Just over a year ago, Ireland was publicly lambasted by the UN Human Rights Council as six countries demanded that Ireland legislate abortion.  One of the pleas included a particular provision from Slovenia, asking that Ireland allow abortion “at least when pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the pregnant woman.” The Irish government rejected the UN’s requests.

                Ireland’s abortion laws are about as clear as mud. While the Supreme Court decided decades ago that women and girls must be allowed access to life-saving abortion, little has been done to clarify this position from a legislative perspective. The health of a woman and the life of a woman are two dramatically different things and that’s the problem. Should a woman be subjected to tortuous agony for days, while bleeding out in a hospital bed, begging for medical attention? What should her horrified family members do as they stand by helplessly and watch as their wife, sister or daughter pleads for her life?

            Who should we hold responsible for Savita’s death? The doctors for their inability to decipher Ireland’s murky pseudolaw? The Irish government for failing to legislate clearly? The Anti Choice movement for continuously asserting that abortion is the antithesis of medical care?

           The truth is, all of these factors both directly and indirectly contributed to Savita’s tragic death.  The Catholic Church’s archaic belief that womanhood and motherhood are synonymous is the main driving force behind the Anti Choice movement in Ireland. The Irish government’s willful refusal to acknowledge that abortion is a necessary part of women’s healthcare and the doctors who failed to respond –whether for fear of reprimand or due to personal belief- to Savita’s rapidly deteriorating condition.

            Praveen Halappanavar, Savita’s widower, has stated that when he and his wife inquired about a termination the doctor responded with, “This is a Catholic country.” These doctors and nurses allowed a woman with a treatable condition to worsen under their watch. They watched as she stumbled to the washroom, too weak to walk, and vomited. They watched as she slowly died an agonizing death as septicemia ravaged her body. And finally, when they were no longer able to detect a fetal heartbeat, they performed a procedure that so many religious zealots are willing to restrict in the name of their God.

            As long as the religious right is allowed to dictate the discourse of women’s health care, women will die. In countries where religion dictates what women can and cannot do with their bodies, women will die.

            While the nonchalant doctors and nurses patiently waited for the fetal heartbeat that ultimately determined Savita’s fate to stop beating, they ignored the fact that the beautiful, intelligent woman before them wasn’t just a location for a fetus but a real person who was dying. Savita was a person whose presence will be missed by her friends, family members and community; she was a person with dreams, ambitions –one of which was to become a mother- and goals; she was a person that was loved and who loved others.

            And now she’s gone.

            How many other heartbeats will be silenced by noisy Anti-Choice proclamations that women are unworthy of the same human rights awarded to men?


His Twilight Hours: The Swansong of Social Conservatism and the rise of Feminism.

Feminism has always been a contentious topic, but if discussed within earshot of a fervent evangelical, prepare yourself for a lively sermon on how women’s liberty is the cause of global warming, social and cultural decline and cats that shed excessively. These individuals pride themselves on maintaining traditional gender roles and a social order where women have considerably less opportunities than men and are considered little more than fetus havens. Their views are often dominated by religious dogma that dictates a myopic, misogynistic perspective with an iron fist. But as more socially regressive troglodytes take center stage, the rock that masks their true intentions is lifted a bit higher and society is confronted with the slimy, fetid underbelly that Darwinism long forgot. And much like the greasy, soggy remnants of a Happy Meal, very little remains salvageable.  

But while the battle for women’s equality has introspective shades of gray (such as the myth that only men work to prevent progress) the crux of our concern should be confronting the insidious PR campaign that has successfully brainwashed society into believing that the term “Feminist” is an epithet best worn by elderly, hairy-legged, man-hating women. And it’s a stereotype that is being slowly eradicated due the diligent networking of thousands of young feminists.

But let’s talk about that undignified description of feminists in the previous paragraph, shall we? There’s a reason this type of demeaning language is used against women seeking equal opportunities and rights and it has everything to do with how women are valued within a particular subdivision of society. This group of individuals (including the very women who are objectified) value women based on their ability to please men socially, aesthetically, sexually and traditionally; a woman’s importance – to these people – depends entirely upon a man’s opinion of her. Of course, society mimics this behavior by enforcing the myth that whatever a woman has accomplished, whatever her education, goals, ambitions or desires, comes second to her appearance. We can see examples of this in every major news syndicate, area of government, politics and in mainstream media.


               Hillary Clinton has been publicly chided for daring to appear without makeup at public events.



                 While Sarah Palin has been publicly praised for her sex appeal and style of dress.


This specific group doesn’t just discriminate based on appearance; a woman’s age (closely associated with her fertile years) is another area of deprivation. As a single woman ages, she becomes less likely to be sexually appealing to men, therefore her value depreciates with every year that passes. As a married woman ages, her worth as a homemaker, wife and mother becomes increasingly more vital. Society reinforces these asinine guidelines; teaching women that goals of unachievable eternal youth, beauty, fertility and absolute obedience are the foundation on which all womanly success resides.





But feminists reject these notions. We are adamant in our belief that the content of a woman’s character is vastly superior to her ability to apply eyeliner, iron or accentuate a man’s dinner jacket. We believe that equality is the foundation on which freedom is built and that gender doesn’t determine a person’s worth or destiny. Coincidentally, these beliefs are shared with the majority of Liberals while the antithesis of our ideology is embraced by social Conservatives.



Which brings us full circle:



A socially conservative woman is judged solely upon her ability to obtain a husband, raise a family and her willingness to sacrifice her ambitions and dreams for the aforementioned. Rick Santorum’s wife Karen is a perfect example of this as he constantly has reiterated that her place is in the home with their children – a belief Karen herself has echoed on numerous occasions. (Http://

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with personally believing that your contributions to society should be via family and home but there is much wrong with perpetuating an archaic belief system that places women’s opportunities and equality in peril. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann –self-proclaimed social conservatives – have both fallen victim to the brunt of this political creed.

 Michele Bachmann, during her presidential campaign, was met with backlash from ultra-conservative groups who stated that her being a woman was in fundamental opposition with the position of power she sought to obtain.

Sarah Palin’s busy schedule left many on the right questioning her abilities as a mother and her dedication as a wife – a favor never paid to her male counterparts.


Schlafly believes that motherhood is the best job option for women seeking career fulfillment, and that “it is ludicrous to suggest that [other jobs] are more self-fulfilling than the daily duties of a wife and mother in the home”.

One has to wonder why two ambitious women continue to perpetuate social constraints that have caused them such heartache in their own careers and lives. It’s the ‘Phyllis Schlafly’( paradox that so many liberals and feminists ultimately find so very confusing: How can someone, who believes their place as a wife and mother is paramount, aspire to ambitions that they believe should be restricted to others who share their dream?



In the past, society has embraced social conservatism as the benchmark for normality. The nuclear family was considered an ideal for both men and women because social conservatism demands that gender roles define our existence. But this changed – not only due to the sexual revolution but because women clearly declared they wanted futures free of marital dependence and restraint. What social conservatives fail to recognize in all of their indoctrination is that the concept of freedom is immune to social constructs; how can anyone truly be free if their ambitions are curtailed because of their gender?

And don’t give me that ‘separate but equal’ bullshit, either. If society reprimands women –directly or indirectly- for choosing a path that doesn’t include motherhood or marriage then she isn’t equally valued by society. Women earn 77 cents for each dollar that a man makes. Women pay more for health insurance, dry cleaning and personal grooming products. So not only do women make significantly less money than men, but we’re also charged more for goods and services. Gender pricing is just a symptom of an insidious doctrine that insinuates women should be punished for seeking fulfillment outside their ‘domestic duties’ as caretakers, wives and homemakers.

“We want a society in which the average man earns more than the average woman so that his earnings can fulfill his provider role in providing a home and support for his wife who is nurturing and mothering their children” – Phyllis Schlafly

These inequalities are the last remaining pillars of a socially conservative society. Sure, there are vocal proponents like Rick Santorum and his ilk, but they’re regarded in the same way pastel colored butterfly hairclips are: Fragmented pieces of a time long forgotten and never considered acceptable attire in any social environment.

Social Conservatism is a dinosaur in modernized society and feminists and liberals alike are the mass extinction waiting in the wings. The nuclear family is disappearing and in its absence many different families – all equal in dignity and integrity – grow to become the new social norm. As women move forward to eradicate gender inequality in all corners of the world, our voices create a unified, passionate hymn of solidarity. We will propel the world into the future, a future where gender, sexuality, age, creed and financial status fail to determine and define a person’s worth and ability.

And this is why we need feminism, because feminism challenges the preconceived notion that women are anything but people worthy of the same dignity wealthy white men have been awarded for centuries. Feminism challenges the preconceived notion that a woman is missing something essential to her existence if she decides to forgo marriage and childrearing. Feminism challenges the preconceived notion that women should feel threatened by other women. Feminism challenges the preconceived notion that women aren’t the sole caretakers of their own bodies. Feminism challenges ANY notion that seeks to insinuate or infer that women are not intelligent, capable, sentient beings.

Feminism isn’t only the belief that women are people, but the belief that all people –even those who would oppose our every word – are worthy of compassion, dignity and equal treatment under the law and that is why feminism is the final, piercing vibrato of Social Conservatism’s swansong.

The End is nEH! The War on Women comes to Canada

Over the past century, Humanity has indisputably made significant advancements in the areas of science, agriculture, urban development and social equality. So in a world where we’ve placed a man on the moon, cured diseases that would have carried a death sentence 80 years ago, cultivated desolate areas with irrigation systems and worked towards facilitating fundamental human rights for all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation and race, why are we so quick to challenge a woman’s right to bodily integrity?

Challenging abortion laws has become a frighteningly popular global trend over the past few years, one that is undoubtedly fueled by religious belief and misogynistic fanaticism.  Canada is seeing its own rebirth of this mentality with motion 312, a disingenuous attempt at challenging Canada’s lack of abortion laws, championed by CPC backbencher Stephen Woodworth. The motion itself cleverly masquerades as an effort to establish when an embryo or fetus becomes a human being thus determining when an embryo or fetus should be granted rights under Canadian law.  While Woodworth has feigned ignorance when asked about the legal implications of his crusade, his disapproval of abortion has been widely documented.

During the 2011 election, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper famously stated that the abortion debate would not be re-opened during his reign of terror yet he has failed to publicly rebuke not only Stephen Woodworth for his backhanded attempts at re-opening the debate, but also Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost who attacked Harper’s position earlier this year.

Why so silent, Mr. Harper?

While we could speculate on Harper’s motivations (Is this his way of informally challenging our lack of abortion laws? After all, asserting that a fetus is a human being worthy of rights and protections isn’t a DIRECT challenge to the 1988 decision) it’s probably more beneficial for us to concentrate our efforts at undermining Woodworth & Co’s deceitful suggestions that seek to eradicate a woman’s right to security of person and bodily integrity; the very foundation set forth by the Morgantaler decision.

Woodworth’s proposal will appoint seven Tories, four NDPs and one liberal to investigate the purposed “medical” evidence that exists to “demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth.”  The motion ironically shrouds itself as an appeal of justice while begging the question of one’s humanity while simultaneously threatening the humanity and dignity of established persons. Most importantly, if passed, this stomachturner presents more questions: Are politicians qualified to make determinations that doctors, philosophers and biologists widely disagree on? Are politicians qualified to determine when the government has the right to make medical decisions for one marginalized group? Are we, as Canadians, ready to engage in the same carpet-bombing tactics that our southern neighbors are currently fighting? Are we, as Canadians, ready to imprison women for seeking a medical procedure that ensures her liberty, health and life aren’t violated as a result of religious pandering?

If we really seek to re-open the abortion debate within Canada, we need to be prepared to answer these questions. In a world where women are still widely discriminated against in all avenues of life, does Canada really want to involve itself in the global race to the bottom of women’s rights?

It’s about Women, stupid.

A few weeks ago, two ethicists made the following conclusions:



“Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life.”


“This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons. Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”


“It is true that a particular moral status can be attached to a non-person by virtue of the value an actual person, e.g., the mother, attributes to it. In such a situation the moral status of the alleged non-persons would depend upon the “particular value” that someone else “projects on them” – and “such a projection is exactly what does not occur when a newborn becomes a burden to its family.”



While the proposal reads like a glimpse into a Swiftian charade, the crux of the issue lays within its insidious pretense that if a fetus at viability can be aborted then a newborn who shares similar qualities and characteristics must be considered in the same respect. Anyone familiar with false equivalence fallacies should probably be seeking medical attention to treat the aneurysm they’re undoubtedly fending off as this nugget of twuntery makes its way through their cerebral cortex. One could list numerous reasons as to how a fetus differs from a newborn; the most apparent being that a newborn is an independent being – one capable of living outside the body of another. But let’s forget about that for the time being; let’s focus on the real issue here: The exploitation of Prochoice talking points by fraudulent, backhanded douchecanoes.


Firstly, in my humble opinion, we need to chill out with the relentless clichés and bumper sticker philosophies. Advocating for a woman’s right to control her fertility and body is a noble cause, but justifying your position with catchphrases like “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?” only provides further ammunition to people who seek to neutralize us – which, incidentally – is exactly what provided the basis for this ridiculous article.


In response to the study in question, Italian neonatologist Dr. Carlo Bellieni said that, “It is only a quantitative extension of abortion, but not a qualitative change. At birth nothing substantial happens in the body or psyche of a baby to distinguish it from what abortion advocates call a mere fetus.” While Dr. Bellieni fails to acknowledge that several substantial changes do in fact occur during the birthing process (such as severing the physical connection with the mother, the first intake of oxygen, etc) he does make a point of challenging the Baby v. Fetus bullshit that so many Prochoice advocates seemingly get lost in. Being scientifically accurate is something we should all stride towards – especially in regards to a discussion concerning the legality of a medical procedure – but in the Abortion debate, terminology is used like a weapon and we need to disarm our opponents. There’s nothing wrong with clearly stating the scientific differences between an infant and a fetus, but it’s not what we want to focus on because ultimately, this isn’t about an embryo or fetus.


This fight is about a woman’s right to retain bodily integrity – even during pregnancy – and ensuring that she is always in complete control of her medical decisions. Why a woman makes a decision regarding her personal health is completely private and should only be discussed with the people she loves and her doctor. Whether poverty, a fetal anomaly, a health condition or something unrelated spurs this decision is irrelevant as it is HER decision and HER decision alone because ultimately it will be HER liberty, HER body, HER health, HER finances and HER life should something go terribly wrong.


Speculating on what type of life a fetus could have if given the chance to be born or the implications behind “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child” are just smokescreens that distract from the real issue at hand and pollute our movement with fruitless labors and white noise. Daydreaming about the possible plights of a homeless fetus that may or may not be one day schlepping it with a bad crowd doesn’t benefit anyone. Don’t allow the Antichoice movement to dissuade you from the real issue here: Women’s rights.


Secondly, and most importantly, none of the arguments presented by Frick and Frack apply to newborns as newborns don’t reside inside the body of another being. A newborn is a whole, separate and independent entity. A being in the purest sense of the term; a human being. When has the arbitrary ability of attributing any value to one’s own existence determined worthiness or a moral right to life? Surely we don’t consider killing vagrants, vagabonds or freegans, right? While a person’s right to life isn’t absolute in all circumstances, cognitive ability or willingness to attribute a subjective “value” to one’s own existence doesn’t disqualify someone from having a moral right to life. Suggesting this displays a clear and perhaps intentional motivation to undermine social progression. Or at least an attempt to partake in flagrant douchebaggery.


In article one of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is clearly stated that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Birth signifies the end of solitary physical dependence and the beginning of temporary social dependence. While society recognizes that enforcing a person to donate their body or bodily goods to another would be unethical and immoral, it doesn’t make the same considerations for those who require social assistance. This ideology preserves both our humanity and morality as it justly upholds one of the most fundamental human rights: The right to self-determination and to bodily integrity.


It’s also important to recognize that personhood isn’t typically regarded as a changeable status. Once granted, a sudden inability to perform tasks or decrease in cognitive ability can’t revoke the standing of which you were initially ascribed. And while the term person has many legal, social and ethical connotations, the notion that people are born is generally a globally accepted starting point for human beings. Why? Because the term BEING implies independence, and while a newborn may be socially dependent, it is certainly physically independent in the sense that its body is whole, unique and separate from another person.


So while this study makes a mockery of some of the more questionable Prochoice philosophies and will inevitably be used against us in the public arena of debate, it still fails to address the foundation from which every Prochoice argument stems: That women have an indisputable right to self-determination and bodily autonomy. And that, my friends, is the golden ticket.


Cheers, Beth