Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Here We Go

Photo of Gerri Santoro, who died in 1964 at 28 years old from an unsafe abortion

I was planning to write about something else today, but then Alito’s odious opinion overturning Roe leaked, and so I’ll have to get to that other thing later.

As Hecate wrote yesterday, NO ONE should be surprised by this. All the women who were completely freaking out November 9, 2016? This is (one reason) why.

Hecate and I have both written about this topic multiple times in the past 5 1/2 years, but now it’s serious. You have to get ready. Right now.

First and most importantly, IF YOU HAVE ALL THE KIDS YOU WANTED TO HAVE AND YOU’RE PRE-MENOPAUSE, GET YOUR TUBES TIED. NOW. DO NOT WAIT. NOT EVEN IF YOU’RE IN A BLUE STATE.

They’re coming for your birth control AND they’re coming for a nation-wide ban. Do you REALLY want to roll the dice that they won’t be successful? With the current makeup of the Supreme Court?

If you think you’ve had all the kids you want, but you’re not 100% and you can afford it, freeze some eggs and have your tubes tied. Do not freeze fertilized embryos – they’re also coming for IVF. Don’t believe me? The Louisiana legislature would like a word.

If you’re thinking you do want to have more kids, just not right now, get an IUD immediately, preferably copper, since they’re effective for up to ten years. Again, do not wait. Not even if you’re in a blue state.

If you’re insistent on shorter-term methods like Depo-Provera shots or the pill, make sure you have a backup method, aka condoms. One, you may want to belt-and-suspenders your birth control, and two, you may not have access to those next shots or prescription refills when you need them. Latex condoms – male or female – should be good for five years if you store them properly, which means somewhere cool, dark, and dry – so NOT in your wallet or your bathroom. Think: linen closet, with a small “immediate use” supply in your nightstand drawer.

Should you stockpile Plan B?

No, although you might want to get one for emergencies (and, stored next to your condoms in your linen closet, it has a shelf life of four years). But please don’t buy dozens.

One, there are women who need it NOW. Don’t pull a TP-and-flour-at-the-beginning-of-the-pandemic on them.

Two, it’s not effective if you weigh more than 155 pounds (although Ella is effective up to 195 pounds).

What else should you do to get ready?

There’s a bunch of information you should look up RIGHT NOW, print it out, and store it in a safe place:

  1. The laws regarding abortion in your own state.
  2. Whether your state has any trigger laws on the books for when Roe is overturned or never removed pre-Roe laws banning or restricting abortion that will go back into effect.
  3. The laws regarding abortion in neighboring states, and their trigger/pre-Roe laws. (The Guttmacher Institute is an excellent source for all of the above.)
  4. Information about abortion access funds, should you or someone you love need financial help leaving the state to get care.
  5. Information about how to communicate safely & privately. This is a good primer.
  6. Information about self-managed abortion.
  7. Information about how you can get medication abortion drugs online or out of the US (note: you can get these drugs OVER THE COUNTER, aka no prescription required, in Mexico).

A few other things to do:

  • Using a period tracker site or app? STOP RIGHT NOW and make sure you delete all your data from it.
  • Make sure your passport is up to date.
  • If you’re handy and dexterous, you may want to learn how to make a Del-Em.

What did I miss? Share it in the comments.

Image credit: Ms. Magazine.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Happy Earth Day!

Image of the aurora borealis taken from space

Although this would be the day for it, Hecate is a lot better at the poetical writing than I am, so I’ll stick to “just the facts, ma’am!”

With regards to the climate crisis, we find ourselves in the Nero fiddling while Rome burns situation. Other than the willfully obtuse and people who have a significant financial interest in pretending otherwise, we all know that climate change is a clear and present danger. Not to the Earth, mind you. She’ll continue on just fine, as She has for billions of years. And species will continue go extinct, with others arising to take advantage of the spaces their absence provides. Our species, humans, may be next. That’s the clear and present danger.

Meanwhile, we’re all encouraged to engage in individual action (Buy an electric car! Recycle! Compost! Join a CSA! Eat less meat! Install solar panels or a green roof! Resist fast fashion!) to try to fix what is a systemic problem. Not that those things are bad – you should, if you have the capacity, do all those things and more. But they are akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

So what will finally wake us, as a community, as a nation, as a planet, out of our torpor?

Greta Thunberg and her cadre of young activists with their climate strikes are trying.

Folks like the people who protested at Standing Rock and against the Keystone XL pipeline are trying.

Climate scientists are trying.

Novelists are trying.

I recently read The Ministry of the Future, one of President Obama’s top books of 2020. It’s about the climate crisis and the near future that’s almost upon us, and how we might, as a community, as a nation, as a planet, be able to claw our way back out.

It doesn’t happen without significant disaster and loss and sacrifice and even a little highly targeted terrorism. But it’s ultimately a hopeful book. And EVERY SINGLE POTENTIAL SOLUTION THAT IS TRIED ACTUALLY EXISTS, although perhaps in a more nascent form. There’s no miracle – technological or otherwise – that swoops in to save us. Scientists and government officials and activists and every day people work with what we already have, what we already know, to make the deep changes that are necessary to turn things around and preserve the ability of humans to continue to exist on this planet.

I’m not going to say any more, because you really should check it out and I don’t want to spoil it in case you do.

But the larger point is: All is not lost. And in fact, behaving as if it is, much like for the midterm elections, is seriously counter-productive, as excessive doom & gloom doesn’t, in fact, spur people to action. Quite the opposite. It results in apathy, as what’s the point of trying to do anything or fix anything if the worst possible outcome is a certainty regardless?

So that’s my message for you this Earth Day. The situation is serious, dire in fact, but persevere in hope. It’s the only way anyone has ever accomplished anything meaningful.

Image from NASA.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Panda-Monium

Xiao Qi Ji enjoying his first snowfall in DC, January 2022

Tomorrow marks 50 years of the panda program at the national zoo in Washington, DC.

Only Nixon could go to China, and the panda program was one of the most visible signifiers of a thawing relationship between the two countries.

Since the first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, was loaned to the US, four panda cubs have been born and survived, all to the current panda couple, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Xiao Qi Ji, their latest, was named “little miracle” because Mom and Dad are relatively elderly to be successfully still breeding.

The national zoo is run by the Smithsonian, so if you’re in DC, you can visit the pandas in person FOR FREE, or you can keep up with their delightful antics via the extremely popular “Panda Cam.”

(I’ll be back with something more substantial next week, but right now, I’m suffering from a very bad cold – not COVID, I’ve tested – and over the past two years, I’d forgotten how bad being just regular sick feels, particularly when there’s client work that has to be done regardless. Also, that saying that men are perpetually guests in their own homes? Yeah, that’s doubly true when you’re both sick – and Goddess knows, I have a good one, so I feel for those of you who don’t.)

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Happy KBJ Day, Y’all!

President Joe Biden and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson taking a selfie in front of her final Senate confirmation vote

(OK, confirmation was technically yesterday, so maybe it’s Ketanji Brown Jackson week? Only that doesn’t rhyme. Work with me here.)

Yesterday, the US Senate voted 53-47 to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, with Republican Senators Collins, Murkowsi, and Romney joining all 50 Democrats and Independents in approving her nomination. When she is sworn in this summer, she will be the FIRST Black woman (and only the sixth woman of any race/ethnicity) to serve on the Supreme Court.

During her confirmation hearing, Judge Jackson demonstrated that she is unequivocally qualified for the Supreme Court. She showed incredible grace under pressure, as she thoughtfully and thoroughly answered questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 20 hours, showcasing the depth and breadth of her experience. Some Republican committee members tried to mischaracterize her record and views and were combative in their questioning, but throughout, Judge Jackson consistently exhibited the poise and temperament required of a Supreme Court justice.

Republican attacks on Judge Jackson’s sentencing record were discredited by fact checkers from major news outlets including the Associated Press, the New York Times, and National Review.

Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing marked her fourth appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She had previously been confirmed three times with bipartisan support, most recently when she was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit Court last year. In preparation for her hearing, Judge Jackson met one-on-one with more than 50 senators, including every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judge Jackson’s nomination was supported by a wide range of individuals and groups, including the law enforcement community (the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police) and conservative and Republican legal and judicial voices (retired judges Thomas Griffith, Michael Luttig, and David Levi, who endorsed Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh). Her presentation in the hearing was also praised by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

President Biden fulfilled his campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Court, and Judge Jackson is an outstanding pick. She is a brilliant legal mind and will be an exceptional Supreme Court justice.

To quote GQ Grandpa Joe: “This is a big fucking deal.”

It’s also another #DemsDidThat win.

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#DemsDidThat

Joe Biden in the driver's seat of a yellow Corvette

It’s been another good week for the Democratic party.

President Joe “GQ Grandpa” Biden signed Rep. Bobby Rush’s Emmett Till Anti-Lynching bill into law.

Dems in the House passed a bill capping the out of pocket cost of insulin at $35, with almost no assistance from “pro-life” (my ass) Republicans. They’re now working on legalizing weed at the federal level.

Regardless of what any additional Senators decide, the Dems have the votes to confirm the Honorable Kentaji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman Justice.

Oh, and did you see that the roaring Biden-Harris economy added another 431K jobs in March and unemployment currently stands at 3.6%?

Meanwhile, President Joe continues to do a masterful job handling the complexities related to Russia’s ongoing (and failing) invasion of Ukraine and rebuilding the NATO alliance TrumPutin tried to destroy. (gee, I wonder why he wanted that? BLINK BLINK)

What else is going right for our party? Tweet it to the skies with the hashtag #DemsDidThat & let’s keep this party rolling!

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Consent Is NOT Enough

Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)

I recently read an opinion piece by Christine Emba in the Washington Post about the ethics of consent in sex (it seems likely that it’s drawn from her recently published book Rethinking Sex).

Emba reviews the fairly brief history of the concept of consent (well, at least in vanilla hetero relationships), pointing out that rape was, for the MAJORITY of human history, considered a property crime against whichever male held ownership of the woman in question (father, husband), that sexual violence and other types of physical abuse of women weren’t even really acknowledged until second-wave feminists forced the issue, that “no means no” was considered “radical” when it first surfaced in the 1990s (anyone else looking back with fondness on your “Take Back the Night” activism?), and that the concept of “affirmative consent” is less than ten years old (again, at least in the law as regards vanilla hetero relationships).

Emba then points out that while consent is probably a reasonable minimum standard for the law, it’s an insufficient ethic to inform most sexual encounters,  noting:

In our post-sexual-revolution culture, there seems to be wide agreement among young adults that sex is good and the more of it we have, the better. That assumption includes the idea that we don’t need to be tied to a relationship or marriage; that our proclivities are personal and that they are not to be judged by others — not even by participants. In this landscape, there is only one rule: Get consent from your partner beforehand.

But the outcome is a world in which young people are both liberated and miserable.

She interviews young women who describe a variety of experiences, from just general bad sex (which can happen even with enthusiastic consent by both/all parties – sex is complicated) through encounters that are basically assault, although grudging consent may have been wrung or guilted out of the women involved.

Here’s the thing, kids. The leather community has been doing this for decades. We’re experts in negotiating informed, explicit, detailed, HOT consent in situations FAR more complicated than most people, even regular porn consumers, have ever even imagined.

And we’re here to help.

Your town or city almost definitely has a local BDSM group that has a website full of useful information and puts on virtual or in person educational events. They pretty much all offer something like BDSM 101 that doesn’t involve direct exposure to any of our more outré practices (no, the educational events are NOT dungeon parties – well, unless it’s a hands-on workshop teaching a particular skill or technique) but does help you understand the basics of negotiating a scene, which is like negotiating sex, only more complicated. We’re friendly folk, welcoming to newcomers, and VERY accepting, so you don’t have to worry about looking dumb or being made fun of.

No local group? Go national, to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. One of their key program areas is Consent Counts, which provides best practice documents for both kink and non-monogamy, excellent information about the law on consent, and tons of other great resources (including fun and sexy graphics and signs you can use yourself).

Don’t want to go in person (even if “in person” ‘= “on Zoom”)? I just Googled “negotiating consent in BDSM” and turned up 870,000 hits. And EVERY link on the first several pages was solid.

Like books? Me, too! And there are some great ones out there, including classics like:

  • The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
  • The Topping Book by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
  • The Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy (can you tell I love these two?)
  • Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller and Molly Devon
  • SM 101 by Jay Wiseman

Oh, and confidential to “Kaitlin”: BREATH PLAY IS NOT FOR AMATEURS.

Many, many highly experienced kinksters won’t even consider it because it’s NEVER going to fit into their concept of RACK. Your neck is surprisingly delicate and a lot of really important stuff runs through there that can get damaged, causing problems like crushed windpipe, heart arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, and death.

Yes, breath play, even consensual breath play done by experienced players, CAN KILL YOU.

That dude you’re fucking who’s so addled he can’t tell the difference between porn and real life? Yeah, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say he’s 100% not qualified.

You, yes YOU, every YOU reading this has the Goddess-given right to a sexual partner who will talk to you, listen to you, negotiate in good faith, understand and respect your boundaries, and be willing to explore your fantasies with you. Don’t settle for anything less. Consent is NOT enough. 

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SPRING! SPRINGSPRINGSPRING!

photo of a kwanzan cherry tree in bloom

(In other words, part two of Hecate’s post from yesterday.)

I’ve been going at a gallop since I got back from my annual business planning retreat at the beginning of February.

My business has been insanely busy, and after 2020 and the first half of 2021, thank the Goddess, but I’ve churned out a STACK of deliverables while also putting together several large proposals for work that, fingers crossed, will come in for the *rest* of the year.

It’s a local election year here, and voting starts in less than 60 days, with many of our “big” seats up (mayor, city council chair) in addition to a council member race in my Ward, and several other big and small races city-wide, and this is my first year through it as chair of the Ward Democratic party, and WHEW LORDY has there been a lot to do. (We’re also starting to check out the national-level races we’ll be working on this year in hopes of keeping the House and Senate blue. Got recommendations? Share in the comments.)

The student I tutor and I have FINALLY gotten into a rhythm – it helps that we’ve had several weeks in a row with no COVID quarantining, no trips, and no school closures – and my board service with that same group has me hopping, too, as we enter the spring fundraising season.

I’m also starting the 2022 iteration of a major project I do every year as part of giving back to my professional community.

Plus everything else in life: boxing; starting to venture out for theater and live music, cautiously, a bit, while we’re in this hopefully more than momentary lull in infections; spring gardening; community meetings; oh, and, you know, MY SPOUSE. Who enjoys getting to see me and talk to me at least occasionally.

Anyway, a LOT has been going on.

BUT.

This weekend is going to be gorgeous.

My birthday is approaching.

I’m going to have dinner out. At a restaurant. With dear friends. Where someone who is NOT me will cook the food AND serve it AND bring me tasty drinks AND clean up after. And all I have to do is pay them!

I’m going to have other dear friends over. To my house. For an afternoon of cooking together and drinking some VERY good wine. Porch time will DEFINITELY be happening.

The daylight savings time schedule change has been kicking my butt, but OTOH, the sun’s not setting until after 7 pm.

My hellebores look glorious, and the buds are forming on my dogwood. Little green leaves are peeking out on my hydrangeas and lilac. The windows are cracked open, and not just at night to help quell my fun new friend, hot flashes. My felines are extra-frisky.

What signs of the season are springing up in your neck of the woods? What are you looking forward to as the days grow longer?

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

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Speaking of Hidden Figures…

It’s Women’s History Month, once again. SOOOOO much of women’s history is that of “hidden figures,” either because a woman did the work and a man took the credit (Rosalind Franklin), because a woman had to pose as a man to make her contribution in the first place (Deborah Sampson), because a woman’s contribution was compelled against her will (Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey among others), or because a woman was both the “wrong” gender and the “wrong” color (the original Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson).

So I wanted to start a little sharing circle, of “hidden figures” women we should all know.

I’ll go first, with Ada Lovelace.

Ada was an English mathematician who lived in the early 19th century. Although she did not *build* the first computing machine, she did the theoretical work to move the concept of the “analytical engine” from the realm of calculation (numbers) into computation (symbols and other data sources), and wrote the first computer program, describing “a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems.” (source)

Although Charles Babbage actually built the engine, his work would not have been possible without her. Since 2009, she is honored on second Tuesday in October, Ada Lovelace Day, an annual celebration of women in STEM, which was originated by Suw Charman-Anderson.

Who’s next, with a “hidden figure” of your own?

Image from the Computer History Museum.

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Hey, Venus

Very cool discovery about our beloved Venus of Willendorf figure.

Although she was found in Austria along the Danube River (which is how she got her name), researchers knew that she wasn’t originally from there, due to the material she was made out of, oolite, a type of limestone that is not present along the Danube in Austria.

Similar figurines made of different materials show up across Europe and across time.

But it turns out this particular Venus is almost definitely Italian, from the region around Lake Garda, which is about 80 miles east of Milan. And it may have taken years or even centuries for her to make the journey from where she was shaped to where she was found.

Che belleza!

You can learn more here, or read the original research paper here.

Image from the Smithsonian Institution.

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All She Does Is Be Right

I know I said no more Hillary posts, but…

ALL SHE DOES IS BE RIGHT.

That’s it.

That’s the post.

Also, Goddess guard Ukraine and all the brave Russians who are protesting Putin despite SIGNIFICANT personal risk.

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