Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I Support Planned Parenthood

Really, I have to be honest, I feel that most of this should go without saying to anyone who knows anything about women's rights or the state of health care and sexual education in the United States.

Even without bringing a woman's right to sovereignty over her own body into this by arguing for the legality of abortion, there is no doubt in my mind that the Republican party is trying to whittle down women's rights with this legislation. Only a tiny fraction of what Planned Parenthood does is related to abortion, and the rest of it? Well, the rest of what they do just as clearly empowers women, but in much less controversial ways.

Planned Parenthood provides birth control. They provide STD testing. They provide general health care and test for problematic conditions. They help improve women's body image. They provide care to pregnant women, and promote healthy relationships, and educate women about their sexuality and how to have a safe sex life. They even provide services to men!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why We'll Never Reach Utopia

With all that is going on these days, from the protests in the Middle East to the bill passed by the House to pull funding from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to the resistance against prohibiting unions in Wisconsin (of course, the Social Problems course I'm taking now and the Morality & Justice course from last semester may have a bit to do with my thinking as well...), I really have to wonder what it would take for governments to actually do what I've always been told is their job: Protect the people of the nation through law and regulation.

The fact of the matter is, while this is a lovely utopian ideal, governments have never done this in a satisfactory manner. There is no government in the world that has ever been able to offer true equality of treatment. There has always been an unequal distribution of power, and those who possess that power are in no hurry to let go of any of it. Whether the imbalance is fiscal or political, it seems that the priority of equality and actually doing the job right has always taken a backseat to the priority of maintaining power.

But would it hurt to try to get it right on occasion?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Equal-Opportunity Sausage Fest

Alrighty. So last week, before I got swamped with all the things for which I needed to study, I attended my first Freethinkers at VT group meeting! I enjoyed it, but I can now sympathize with all the other lady-atheists out there: I was the only attendee standing in the way of the meeting being a full-on sausage fest.

As someone who has a plurality of male friends, this was only a little bit uncomfortable for me. Honestly, given that I hang out with an all-male-but-me group every Saturday night, and practice fencing with a mostly-male group, I would say that most of the discomfort was the general novel social situation nerves.

That said, I wish there were more fellow-females* who showed up to these things, because there are so many female-specific problems stemming from religion. Yes, as a society, we all pay the price for the widespread delusion that is religious thought, and guys have their own male-specific problems. But if only guys show up, it seems unlikely that the ladies' problems will ever be discussed. Come on, ladies, let's represent!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Propriety of Evangelism

It's no secret that I don't approve of religion. It is a system of lies that people tell themselves and others about the world, and these lies obscure their view of reality. Much as I would like to see religion eradicated, though, I know that in a free society, this is not likely to ever happen. This is because private beliefs are not something to be policed, and beyond my disapproval of religion, I disapprove far more of forcing belief (or disbelief) on the unwilling.

It is when one's private beliefs start to spill out into one's public actions that religion becomes a cause for real concern. Many religions require their adherents to evangelize and spread their religion. Is this a violation of the rights of those they accost? In the United States, we have the right to freedom of religion. But do we have the right to freedom from religion?

I would submit that we do, and that evangelism is sometimes in violation of this right to freedom of and from religion.

Basically, to quote a sentiment that has already been seen all over the internet, religion is like a penis.

Friday, February 04, 2011

An Undiscovered World

So, I read a lot of webcomics. I'm quite addicted to them, honestly, but as far as addictions go, it's one I'm okay with having. Instead of playing WoW or watching House, I sit in front of a monitor for thirty-five minutes or so a day and indulge in some visual stories.

One of my favorites (as evidenced by the fact that it's in my second queue of comics -- I save the best for last) is Subnormality, which, as best as I can describe, is bit of an outsider's perspective on humanity and life, particularly if the Sphinx is involved. It is an excellent (if wordy) comic, and I highly recommend it.

This week's strip made me think a great deal about the human experience and the way we live our lives. To summarize what I've understood of the much more eloquent Winston Rowntree, it deals with the way we create stories to make our lives more interesting. We are willing to believe fantastic things, just to make our world seem fresher; we are willing to look past what we know to believe that there are things left to be found.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why I Disbelieve

PZ Myers asked, and because I agree with the vast majority of what he ranted about and because it is something I have been working my way through lately, here it is. This is why I am an atheist.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. Most of my (very extensive) family is Catholic, and I can't think of a single one of my many aunts, uncles, and cousins who has admitted to being nonreligious. Certainly I am the only one in my immediate family. Because I grew up in a family that was so actively religious, I was very devout as a small child. I was certain that God loved me and had a plan for me.

It wasn't, I think, until I was about ten and was told by my mother that the reason women couldn't join the priesthood was that we were more easily corruptible and generally didn't have the necessary leadership skills that I started to question things.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Sexual Miseducation

So, I hear the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina is hosting a sex-ed film festival in Chapel Hill on February 19th. I wish that the sex-ed that I went through had been so enjoyable, as my friend assures me that "Saved!" is hilarious, and the other two films being shown don't look too terrible either (though perhaps not as amusing). It makes me wonder what kind of sex-ed the average American teenager gets.

For me, sex-ed brings to mind my experiences in high school (It was called "Family Life" of course; sex is a dirty word and heaven forbid we expose our teens to that kind of linguistic smut!), where the teachers informed girls in their classes that boys had no interest in lasting relationships and that any sexual escapades would follow the lines of "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" and then end in STDs and pregnancy. I hear the boys were told that, should they have sex, they would be infected with every STD ever and their penises would shrivel up and fall off. Condoms were never mentioned, nor was birth control. I didn't attend some little tiny high school in the middle of churchland; this was at the largest public high school in a large school district.