Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why I am Kermit Gosnell and So Are You

To begin with you may need to inform yourself on who Kermit Gosnell is if you are not already aware.  You can do that now by clicking here. Be warned there is nothing pretty in what you will read about
him.  So why am *I* him, and why on Earth might I suggest that you're him too?

Haha! You've bought into my clever plan, keep reading.

Gosnell is a product of our broken society.  To be clear, in suggesting that we are him I am in no way trying to downplay the vast amount of evil coursing through the whole scenario. People like Gosnell put to test my belief that we are all capable of equal amounts of good and evil.  I can't sit and read that article and actually think I would be capable of those actions, but I do think we as a society create a need for facilities like the one he operated. In that sense, I don't have to commit those acts to be guilty of them. I do believe his racist views were a representation of current realities, he knew he could behave that way with minority clients because, as it turns out, he could. Yeah, he got caught eventually, but "eventually" wasn't soon enough. The fact that he was able to operate like this for so long shows how reluctant we are to act. Why didn't people act sooner? Is a good question, though I need to point that finger back on myself and ask why don't I treat everyone equally? Why didn't I do something to prevent these women from feeling so desperate in the first place?

It is probably also relevant for the reader to know what pays my bills right now.  I work at a home for teen girls who are, for lack of a better term, in crisis.  They are usually homeless and with the current statistics for homeless youth we know that if they've been out of their home for 48 hours they have almost certainly been propositioned for sex.  Most of our clients have been sexually exploited or are at risk of it.  If a girl has a boyfriend we are always on alert that he is most likely a pimp. It should not be a surprise then that we do from time to time have a pregnant client. No staff is permitted to give an opinion on what a girl should do with her child.  There are two realities that have surfaced from my experience with the pregnant clients we see here

  1.  They all want to keep their baby, some even pick out names early on and so long as this is their choice we whole heartedly support them and work to find them resources.
  2.  All of them have eventually gotten abortions. 
To be fair, others who have worked at my agency may have had other experiences, this is what I've seen and I don't know if I've seen enough for it to be prescriptive.  On more than one occasion a girl has been told by her parent that she can come home if she gets an abortion.  What has happened is that these girls have been given an order masqueraded as a choice, keep the baby and have no help, no support, your family will disown you OR mom and/or dad will pay for your abortion and you'll be able to come home. If abortion were illegal I don't think these girls' parents would be making better decisions, they're already choosing against the life of their grandchild not to mention the emotional health of their own child, how much could her physical health be worth to them? In such cases better services and better education will save lives of both infants and mothers, though clearly not families.The thing is, If situations like this were the exception to the rule I wouldn't have a full-time job. I read stories like those of Gosnell or of the Newtown shooting (see my last post A Question I Did Not Answer) and I can't help but wonder What if those were my kids? the demographics of sexually exploited girls and the demographics of the women exploited and abused by Gosnell are likely quite similar.

The summer after my freshman year at Eastern Washington University a friend got pregnant after multiple forms of birth control and the morning after pill failed. Her family wanted her to abort it but she chose to give it up for adoption. I know a number of stories of my friends and family that look similar and everyone chooses a different ending. That same summer I read Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution and I still whole heartedly affirm his words "I must say that I am still passionately pro-life, I just have a much more holistic sense of what it means to be for life, knowing that life does not just begin at conception and end at birth, and that if I am going to discourage abortion, I had better be ready to adopt some babies and care for some mothers." Over the years I have come to feel the real weight of these words, I am not able to take in mothers and their children, or maybe I'm just not willing. This being the case, I am just as responsible for aborted children.  

The sad reality is that most "pro-life" candidates are only pro-life until the birth of that child and "pro-choice" candidates tend to support services that will nurture that life after birth. Whichever way I vote I won't be absolved of the responsibility to care for women and children but I do think I'll be able to sleep better at night knowing I try to do something to help, whether that involves my vote or not.  I know what choices I want others to make and what choices I'd like to say I'd make but I can't imagine myself in such a position now. We can't rightly know until it happens to us. It's all well and good for me to discuss what I think should happen but as a thoroughly confused product of conservative youth group culture I'm a commitment-phobic virgin on birth control (you know just in case, or maybe just for acne) I'm not exactly at risk of making this decision right now.

And just for fun I'll throw another controversial topic into the mix, I watch some of this guy's videos on YouTube. He's gay and he's into theology, his video "Why I'm A Sodomite" I think touches on similar themes of responsibility, it'll be at the end of this post (the reason might surprise you, and whatever you may think of Homosexuality as a sin or not his message ultimately has nothing to do with being gay, and hey you're a sinner too, right?). For the record though, in case anyone thinks I'm in anyway trying to appear pious... I am human and do cognitively consider myself morally superior and I think Kermit Gosnell is a disgusting excuse for a living being, I only wish he were younger so he could spend longer waisting away in jail getting the **** beat out of him. We all have our flaws.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Question I Didn't Answer

This is a poem of a sort, I just finished it tonight. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a poet and I have made no conscious decisions with regard to rhyme and meter. Suggestions and critique are welcome. I wasn't intending to use the name at the end, but it seemed to fit rhythmically to have one more beat and I couldn't find a different word to use.

 This poem is in response to a question I was asked during a one-on-one meeting with a facilitator for a counseling class I'm taking. The answer I actually gave was something like "I just tutored in the after school program."

A Question I Didn't Answer

I don't like them because they don't scare me
They're not hard to use and I'm damn good.
You asked what I did there, I told you the truth
But it was a question I did not answer

Not like the question on her face that day
Ms. Brown's was a question I could not answer
The thought that popped in may have been like Kayla's retort to teasing queries
"Miss Maggie, you're weird!"
But it was a question I did not answer

I did answer Mark's question
As he shoved chicken nuggets in his mouth
"Yep!" I told him, in the same nonchalance I was asked.
The answer I did not give you, feels the same

I told the truth but I did not answer
I could have said the thought that popped in
But the nonchalance I feel and even a little pride, would not be heard
So I did not answer

I don't like them because they don't scare me
They're not hard to use and I'm damn good.
So what did I do?

I waited for men attempting to intimidate me to get out of the road
I regularly had nails removed from my tires
And I ushered screaming children inside as if it were only raining water.
You asked what I did when I worked there.

It was a red truck, on a Monday, St. Patrick's day 2008
Ms Brown's face was in a panic
40 Children, Kayla among them
"Hey Miss Walla Walla! Your first drive by, huh?" was Mark's question

I'm a damn good shot. The thing is,
I don't like   guns,   because   guns   don't scare me.
You asked what I did when I worked there.

I got shot at, Dave.


Saturday, February 23, 2013


I have tried on and off for various periods to maintain a blog. I make no promises this time, because I've broken them in the past. By way of introduction to my blog I'll simply try to elaborate on the title:

--Eyeshadow in Emerald or Communion Wine?--
A Seminarian's Daydreams from a Gem of a City to the Gem of an Isle, Dabbles in Make-up Art, and Bickerings with the Divine.

If asked how "Communion Wine" would differ as a shade of eyeshadow from "wine" I'm gonna go with "It's holier, just deal with it." Any other explanation I came up with sounded either creepy or twighlighty so I let them go.

More to the point however, I currently live in Seattle Washington (the "Emerald City") and have long held an interest in Irish History and Culture (the "Emerald Isle") as well as interfaith activity around Peace and Reconciliation work in Northern Ireland and how it may, or may not, translate to other regions and cultures. Much of my research and writing toward my undergraduate degree looked at these questions as well as the role of women in religion.

Along the way this tomboy somehow developed a keen interest in make-up and make-up art. I am not, and never have been, the sort to wear make-up to cover my insecurities. Most days I go without because I just don't have time. When I do have time I like to go for the dramatic and iconic. I can do a subtle or casual look but generally, if I'm going to take the time to do my make-up at all I'm more interested in going all out, it's more fun. I'll admit there are some intricacies and skills to the subtle/casual looks that I have not yet developed, and may still explore those here. The sort of make-up I use meets a specific standard of natural that I plan to discuss at-length in a future post. The reasons for this range from my ethics to my allergies. Going natural is more expensive but it is easier to afford these kinds of products when I don't feel a particular pressure to wear them daily so I use them sparingly.

Discussion of the use of make-up as art flows well into issues of women in religion and I am currently pursuing the ordination process in my own denomination. Make-up, outside performance, is generally considered something women use to promote feminine features. Sometimes in the early history of women's ordination (and it's not necessarily unheard of today) women ministers, if allowed to be ordained at all, were asked to play down the feminine in their appearance so as to not distract male parishioners. The message being that God may have called them, but not as women. Throwing my interest in make-up art into the mix of women in religion then becomes highly relevant subject matter. The history of women in Ireland will also play a large role here, my reading on the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland eventually led to my research of women involved in prostitution generally and the history of sexually exploited women in which I began to learn of a woman from Liverpool, Josephine Butler, and her struggle for the repeal of the contagious diseases acts but also the right to have a legitimate voice within her faith practice. As I pursue the ordination process within my denomination I will undoubtedly have stories to share. Josey B (as I call her, cause we'd totally be BFFs if we ever met) is purported to have said "God and one woman make a majority." I hope you will join me as I endeavour to flesh out what such words mean to my faith journey.

(Image below is of writer on St. Patrick's Day 2012)