About Sandra

She is a contributing editor and she is absolutely terrified of squirrels.

Cristina Yang, you will always be my person

I was on the phone with Jack (my person, if you will) when I got the news. To say we were in shock is a complete understatement. There were real, actual tears on both ends.

Sandra Oh is retiring from Grey’s Anatomy.

I can't go on!

I can’t go on!

If you’re going to ask impertinent questions like “Is that show even still on?” I’m going to have to stop you right there and ask you to read this Slate article that just brushes the surface of how Cristina Yang changed television.  Now while you haters are busy, the rest of us will go on with our mourning process together.

Somebody hold me.

Somebody hold me.

As a young Asian-American career-focused woman, I couldn’t have asked for a better role model than Dr. Cristina Yang, M.D/Ph.D.  She dreams big and won’t settle for anything less.

wonderwoman

…same for me! Except reproductive justice organizer.

She makes ambition look good.

great

Does perfect work? Because you are the most perfect person in the world.

Despite being the most badass cardio resident the world has ever seen, Cristina’s personal life is, well… messy.

Cristina has always made me feel better about my less-than-stellar cleaning routine.

Cristina has always made me feel better about my less-than-stellar cleaning routine.

Have a complicated relationship with your mother?  Cristina does, too.

Mmm... fat.

Mmm… fat.

But she has a decidedly uncomplicated relationship with food.

Best positive reinforcement ever.

Best positive reinforcement ever.

Girl's got her priorities in order.

Girl’s got her priorities in order.

And she’s unafraid to admit what many of us are thinking during a holiday gathering.

That moment when you're at  a dry family gathering...

That moment when you’re at a dry family event…

Cristina’s love life has always been intrinsically linked to her professional life; she is often the recipient of criticism from her partners that she cares more about surgery than them.  Personally, I think her priorities are just fine.

screwbeautiful

This. A thousand times this.

Okay, so besides her general obvious badassness, where’s the explicit RJ connection?  [Here comes the spoilery part y’all] One of Cristina’s central storylines in later seasons of Grey’s is her relationship with trauma surgeon and later Chief of Surgery, Dr. Owen Hunt (portray by actor Kevin McKidd). As with basically all relationships in Grey’s, Owen and Cristina face many twists and turns: Owen attacks Cristina during a PTSD flashback, Owen’s BFF/former love interest becomes Cristina’s mentor, Cristina develops PTSD after Owen and her best friend’s husband are shot and she has to perform surgery with a gun pointed at her head… you know, the usual.

What becomes the biggest obstacle in their relationship, however, is something much more real and relatable to normal everyday folks.  Cristina becomes pregnant unexpectedly.  Despite the fact that she has been open with basically anyone who will listen that she doesn’t want to become a parent from season one, Owen attempts to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term.

respectchildren

What child-free-by-choice person hasn’t had this conversation before?

After a lot of fighting (including Owen kicking Cristina out of their house when she schedules her abortion), Owen finally accepts Cristina’s choice.  Or so it would seem…

cristinaowenabortion

Yeah, that happened. Say it with me: Owen sucks.

They attempt to hash things out in couple’s therapy, but Owen refuses to accept that Cristina will never want children.

Get it.

Get it.

So how did they resolve it?  Well, they try to make it work.  He cheats on her. They get divorced. They get back together.  They’re currently broken up again.  With Sandra Oh leaving and Kevin McKidd likely staying, it is doubtful that they’ll ride off into the sunset together.  Creator Shonda Rimes also reassured us: “Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no.”

cereal

TAKE THAT, OWEN!

The question has been posed as to whether or not Grey’s can survive without Cristina, since many (including Rimes) say that the show is ultimately a love story between Cristina and her best friend, titular character Dr. Meredith Grey.

Anyone else reenacted this scene while listening to Ingrid Michaelson's Keep Breathing?  Anyone...? Er, me neither.

Anyone else reenacted this scene while listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s Keep Breathing? Anyone…? Er, me neither.

To be sure, Cristina is certainly an irreplaceable presence on the show.

The feels... THE FREAKING FEELS!

The feels… THE FREAKING FEELS!

And we’re hoping that she’ll at least show back up for the series finale when ABC finally pulls the plug on the show.

And there will be many.

And there will be many.

I realize that it’s probably unhealthy to be this emotionally invested in a character’s departure from a television show that’s been dragging itself out for almost a decade now.

Ugh, you just GET me, Cristina.

Ugh, you just GET me, Cristina.

In the meantime, I’ll be taking what is probably the best advice Cristina gave to a super whiny Meredith.

This actually works.  A brilliant surgeon AND life coach.

This actually works. A brilliant surgeon AND life coach.

And I’ll take comfort in my people, fictional and real.  Because people are what matter.

myperson

Sandra is already planning the OK4RJ Cristina Yang Farewell Party and buying stock in Kleenex. You can watch her slow downward spiral during the 10th season of Grey’s Anatomy on Twitter.

The Strategy We Need: Why We Can’t Keep Calm And Carry On

In Jon O’Brien’s piece on RH Reality Check, There is No Magic Word: Why We Must Remain ‘Pro-Choice’, another piece of the weird pro-choice versus reproductive justice drama that’s been unfolding for awhile, more specifically when Planned Parenthood announced it was dropping the label “pro-choice.” What bothered me most about this piece was not the way it not-so-subtly maligned the reproductive justice framework with straw man misrepresentations (my favorite being that the reproductive justice framework puts us too much in line with the Democratic Party. Cue spit take!), but how dismissive he was of reproductive justice as a practical strategy.

I feel like I have heard every argument under the sun from skeptical pro-choice folks about why the reproductive justice framework is not strategic. One that I hear frequently working in the places that I do is that reproductive justice is not a suitable strategy for red states.

When we say that reproductive justice is too radical for red states, we ignore the critical need for radical intervention in the denial of justice that is occurring in places like Oklahoma right now. We are talking the state with the highest number of abortion restrictions, incarcerates women at a higher rate than anywhere in the world, the number one healthcare reform hater, and a host of other problems.  Do we really think that writing to our legislators is the most appropriate response when things have gotten so bad?

Not that lobbying efforts are without merit, but if ultimately short-sighted letter-writing campaigns are really the major pillar in our long term strategy, then we are in some serious trouble.  If we think that more “business as usual” is the solution, then we are kidding ourselves.

Some sort of watered down reproductive justice definition won’t fly, either; this is more of the same “we’ll get to you later” that we’ve seen in the mainstream pro-choice movement time and time again. Isn’t a basic tenant of social justice that justice for some is not justice for all?   Is it really political suicide to tackle these “taboo” intersectional issues, when as it stands, we are already dead in the water?  Not only is it unethical to continue to put issues important to communities of color, queer and LGBT communities, immigrants, and poor people on the back burner, it is completely impractical to think that we can get real justice in Oklahoma without a coalition of those who are most persecuted by the right.  Reproductive justice is not about division, it’s about bringing together the groups of people that the right has divided and conquered.

To be fair, we simply don’t know that reproductive justice will work in places like Oklahoma. On the other hand, we know that the typical pro-choice strategy has by and large has failed in conservative areas. Why do we keep pushing an agenda that has only failed over and over again, by a framework that has more or less abandoned us as “hopeless” for decades? One of many reasons why we belong in the reproductive justice framework is because we have not been given a seat at the table of the national pro-choice movement for a long time and reproductive justice provides us with the framework to make a movement our own.

In places like Oklahoma, the need for coalition-building and serious long term local and statewide strategizing is greater than ever, even if engaging marginalized people is risky business. It’s not that we have nothing to lose, it’s that we can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. If we need to make some new mistakes, then we will have learned from them, but nobody learns anything by repeatedly making the same mistakes.  In essence, that’s what sticking with the mainstream national pro-choice strategy does. Instead of hashing out the same conversations with the same script that we’ve been using for decades, let’s invite everyone to the table and write a new future together.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret: we’re in for a long haul before we get there, so let’s start fighting (and planning) for real, meaningful access and reproductive justice right now.

Sandra hates business as usual.

Rodeo Round-up: Side Eye Edition

Hey y’all, I’m alive!  I’ve been awakened from my blog slumber!  I’ve emerged from my writer’s block cocoon and emerged a beautiful, side-eyeing butterfly!

tumblr_mbf495Qd2d1rfduvxo1_500

Too much? Too much. Fine.

Before we really get our side-eye on, let’s give some love to the side-eyeing that my fellow OK4RJers have brought to the table this week.  In When the Bitumen Comes Sweeping Down the Plains, Jen breaks down the immediate threats and resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Rios lays into Sheryl Sandberg’s bootstraps feminism in  The Corporate Mystique: Numbers-Game Equality and “Leaning In.”

Lean in, motherfuckers.

Lean in, motherfuckers.

In other badass OK4RJ news, the Take Root Save the Date has been circulating this week!  Make sure to mark your calendars for February 21-22, 2014.  From one RJ enthusiastic to another, I’ll let you in on a little secret: IT’S GONNA BE BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE!

Okay, celebrating’s over.  Now it’s time to be an asshole.  It’s a tough job, but with so many dumb things just pouring out of people’s mouths, someone’s gotta do it.  And I guess it must be me.  That is my cross to bear.

Side-eye Subject #1
Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas

This guy.  What a round-up gem.  He is the truly the gift that keeps on giving.  Many of you may have heard that he recently signed Kansas State House Bill 2253, a pretty ridiculous behemoth of an anti-abortion omnibus bill that brings new meaning to the phrase “incredibly fucking flagrant violations of the constitution.”  And that’s not even what I’m side-eyeing him for!  Apparently the esteemed governor doodled “JESUS + Mary” on his notes before signing the bill.

Um, I’m just gonna leave this here.

JESUS + Mary = ???  Da fuck, Brownback.  You nasty.

JESUS + Mary = ??? Da fuck, Brownback. You nasty.

 

Side-eye Subject #2
Matt Yglesias

Basically, an internet shitshow erupted (and rightfully so) when Matt Yglesias nonchalantly jerksplained to everyone that calls for higher safety standards for global workers were unnecessary on account of “shit happens” after a factory collapse in Bangladesh left over 250 dead and many still missing.  There was some weird rationalizing about “choice” in the article and even stranger references to jobs featured on TLC reality shows.  So many other folks did a great job at verbally eviscerating him, I won’t go too deep into it, but I would like to share this reply that I found while I was hate-creeping on him:

mattyglesiassucks

OMFG.  Dialectical materialism, really, Matt Yglesias?  Shhhhhh, Bangladeshi workers, slow your roll, the dialectic will unfold when it unfolds. Hey bro, a bunch of super dead old white dudes called and want their theory of social change back.

Hey Matt Yglesias, a bunch of super dead old white dudes called and want their theory of social change back.

Fuckword after fuckword after fuckword for you, Matt Yglesias

Side-Eye Subject #3
THE WHOLE FUCKING MEDIA

Yes, I know.  The media sucks every week (so do Matt Yglesias and Sam Brownback, heyoooooo), but you have to admit, they’ve been especially godawful in their fueling of xenophobia in the Boston bombing coverage.

michellesideeye

Oooh, Michelle, your side-eye to the media is giving me CHILLS

Yeah, let’s go ahead and throw some Whitney side-eye for good measure.

I could go on, but I’m afraid my face is gonna get stuck in permanent side-eye mode.  Let’s give our eyes a break and let our butts do the emoting because the Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu collaboration hit the internet this week and this about sums up my reaction:

too. many. feels.

too. many. feels.

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Sandra fell asleep in the bathtub last night.  She tweets a lot about being confronted by her own mortality and being an incredibly messy eater.

A New Southern Strategy: The Practicality of Doing the Right Thing

While there seemed to be a lot of cause to celebrate post-election on the national level (I’ve basically started referring to the 2012 election as the Swan Song of the GOP, sorry I’m not sorry, rape apologists, racists, and homophobes), Oklahoma, like many of our neighbor states, was left out of the celebration, both by our own set-backs in state and the usual mockery and disdain from the national media and people who have an inexplicable love for electoral college maps.  I pouted, I live-tweeted my rage, I cried while eating cheese and watching the Walking Dead… my usual stages of political grief.  But then I moved on to my final stage: what can we learn from this and how can we incorporate what we’ve learned into a larger organizing strategy?

I think that perhaps the one thing that most (if not all) Oklahomans working to promote left-leaning and/or progressive organizing and policy can agree on is that you don’t do things the same way you would in California, New York or some other state that traditionally goes blue in a presidential election.

Where opinions diverge is what exactly different should look like.

Obviously, here at OK4RJ, we are forever talking about how organizing is different in red states and blue states better recognize that and support us, etc etc and so on and so forth forever and ever AMEN.  What we rarely talk about is how red state organizers can get it wrong in identifying what is “different.”  (Eyes off you, Yankees… for now.)  I would like to clarify what we mean at OK4RJ when we’re talking about difference in red states.

 

What we mean when we say “different”:

-We have less money, resources and reliable infrastructure than organizations and progressive political entities on the coast; this means less jobs in the non-profit sector, less money going into political campaigns and lobbying, with very little oversight and attention to long-term planning and goals.

-We have minimal ability to block terrible legislation (let alone create positive policies!) because of an overwhelming extremist conservative domination of the legislative and executive branches (thank the Lorde for our state Supreme Court Justices, though!)

-Like any other state, our current political environment is born out of specific historical contexts and the material conditions that are a result of and continue to feed into that context.

-To bridge the disadvantages of these differences, we need to work on long-term strategic planning for politics, advocacy, organizing and service providing that takes into account our history, our current situation, and the changing demographics of our future.

-Our differences and lack of infrastructure offer some distinct advantages.  We are resilient, we are resourceful, and we get the rare and very special opportunity to start a movement almost from scratch that is as inclusive as possible of people who are traditionally excluded or invisible in political participation.

 

What we absolutely do NOT mean, under any circumstances by “different”:

-That we live in a “backwards” place full of ignorant people who deserve what they get.

-That because we live in a “backwards” place, we need to move our policy and organizing goals “backwards” by catering to the right.

-That Oklahoma is not ready for true reproductive justice advocacy.

-That a regional perspective of reproductive justice advocacy means erasing the history of reproductive justice and creating a “new” movement that does not honor the central project of honoring and elevating voices of color, queer folks, people of different abilities, immigration status, incarceration status, variant gender identities, etc.

-That we will get to the concerns of the most marginalized when we feel it will be politically advantageous (the timeline given is usually an ambiguous “later” that never comes into fruition).

What the national election this year taught us is the power of mobilizing the most marginalized and the failure of appealing to the increasingly irrelevant-and-super-pissed-about-it white male conservative base.  And while we may be different from a lot of the rest of the country, it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from their triumphs (all the energy and amazing organizing that went into election defense) and their mistakes (conservatives underestimating/trying to suppress marginalized voters instead of trying to win them). It shouldn’t have taken an election to learn this lesson, but we certainly hope that Oklahoma and other red state organizers take away a broader organizing principle from this election cycle:

The right thing to do and good strategy often go hand-in-hand.

Sandra thinks dismantling privilege can be hella pragmatic.

My First Time: On Community-Building, Activism, & Appetizers

The old saying goes, “everyone remembers their first time.”  My first time was when I was an undergrad at the University of Oklahoma.  I was in a windowless room, with some friends, some old, some new, and some complete strangers that I was about to get to know extremely well.

Yes, I vividly remember the first time I was in a room full of people and realized that I could talk about abortion louder than the usual discreet whispers.

Yes, I was talking about that.  Get your mind out of the gutter!  You feminists have one-track minds, jeez.

Maybe deep down inside, I am as sweet and precious as I am in this picture.

My first time was in the old Women’s and Gender Studies lounge, back before their relocation to the beautiful Robinson Hall (which features many windows, some of which you can even open).  I was co-facilitating the first meeting of our newly formed student group and we were plotting what would become my first foray into abortion activism: a week of events on campus about reproductive rights issues, ending with a rally at the state capitol to protest House Bill 1595 (one of many TRAP laws in Oklahoma that have been deemed unconstitutional).  This was long before I had even heard of reproductive justice or even considered that maybe legislative activism, while important, might not be my personal cup of tea.  I was kind of too busy being blown away by the fact that I had a community to scheme and dream, not to mention bitch and eat with.

When you peel back the layers, strip away important-sounding titles, numerous hours obsessing over the minutiae of social justice protocol, you might be surprised to find that young person looking for a way to make a difference, and finding a community for the first time to support that.  You’ll still find that young person standing hopefully on the brink of building a movement with her community.

So that’s why I want to invite you to join us at our OK4RJ Norman Meetup, whether it’s your first time, your thousandth time, or you just really like sweet potato fries.  We’ll be in a private room at Blu on Friday, September 28th from 6:30-9:30, talking about abortion, queer stuff, and other reproductive justice related topics (I may corner someone to talk about race and reproduction in the Hunger Games, be warned!).  We’ll also talk about ways you can get involved with OK4RJ programming like the Hotline & Support Network and the Take Root Conference, as well as what you want to see from us in the future.

We are only as strong as our community.  Let’s not wait for the next catastrophic piece of legislation or terrible news story to get together.  Communities stand together, for better or worse…

This time happens to be better, because there will be appetizers and $2 well drinks.

 

Sandra is the Executive Director of Oklahomans for Reproductive Justice, but don’t hold that against her.  You can follow her on Twitter to see that she’s a real flesh human with a serious Downton Abbey obsession.

Chickens 4 Colonel Sanders: Personhood Passes OK Senate

For those of you who haven’t heard, Senate Bill 1433, otherwise known as the Personhood Act, passed the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday, 34-8.  The Personhood Act seeks to define life at conception and extend the same rights to the “unborn” child as a… born child, I guess?

Apparently the rights extended to children don’t add up to much in Oklahoma, according to Democratic Senator Jim Wilson of Tahlequah, who pointed out that if a woman needed to take her uninsured child to an emergency room for an ear ache, she would need to shell out $600.  Often times, uninsured people end up paying exorbitant fees in the ER for illnesses that could be prevented with access to a primary care provider.  Take note: Oklahoma has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country.  So much for being the most “pro-life” state, huh?

Though the opposition to the bill was fairly meager in terms of numbers, there were other Democratic Senators that passionately spoke out against SB 1433 Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City recently gained international recognition with her amendment to SB 1433 that would .  During debate on the Senate floor Wednesday, she said that, while many found humor in her amendment, she was “as serious as a heart attack” about doling out equal responsibility between two parents.

It turns out Connie isn’t the only comedian in the Oklahoma Senate.  Senator Wilson proposed that Oklahoma State University create a Master’s of Uteri in their animal husbandry program and that Oklahoma implement a roadside IUD-check.  Senator Judy Easton McIntyre of Tulsa said that voting for these paternalist “father knows best” laws is like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.

Seriously, can we get Connie, Jim, and Judy their own comedy tour?  Because I think laughter’s the only way I”m going to make it through this legislative session, y’all.

The ever Onion-worthy Republican Senator Ralph “No Fetus in My Food” Shortey responded to accusations of being anti-woman with an anecdote about buying his wife Thai food for Valentine’s Day, so he obviously respects women, right?  He followed that up with a totally gag-worthy declaration that his love for her is even stronger because she would gladly give up her life for an unborn child.

Hey, Shortey.  Respecting women: you’re doing it wrong.

Personhood Amendments have been a major concern in the reproductive justice community for a while now.  Most recently, Mississippi defeated a state-wide referendum seeking to amend their state constitution by a margin of 16 points, thanks to the efforts of grassroots organizations, such as Parents Against Personhood.

While it is almost certain that SB 1433 will pass the House, it is also possible that the author of the bill, Senator Crain will reconsider the bill if its counterpart, HJR 1067 passes; this would put the Personhood Amendment up for popular vote in November, similar to what Mississippi faced in 2011.

So there”s our silver lining, Oklahoma: dealing with people, not politicians.  Let”s take a page out of the book of our friends in Mississippi and show the Republican legislators and Personhood USA that Oklahoma is not a pawn in their agenda or an easy win.

Sandra refuses to give up on Oklahoma and will probably yell at you if you tell her to do otherwise.  Catch her livetweets of the Comedy Hour at the Capitol aka the Senate Floor on  Twitter.

Let’s end the generational tidal waves

Generations are pitted against each other from the beginning of many people’s feminist education.  People are forever weighing the pros and cons of  the Second Wave (what we classically think of as feminist activism: hairy-pitted Gloria Steinem burning bras in the 70’s) versus the Third Wave (the Manifesta me-me-me generation).

I personally do not identify as a Third Wave feminist or an any wave feminist, really.  As a woman of color, the feminists who inspire me most, such as Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzaldúa escape the confines of the waves, as they were both actively a part of critiquing the white mainstream feminism that constructed the waves in the first place.  I would, however, like to address some misinformation that gets spread around about young activists.

“Young people are apathetic,” or “Young people just sit around on the internet and never take it to the streets.”

Seriously?  Our generation is the generation of Occupy.  It is the generation of Slutwalk.  Regardless of how you feel about either of these movements (I know I have mixed feelings sometimes), they are just two highly visible examples of the many ways of grassroots organizing that this generation has embarked upon.  This generation is more connected to each other than any other one previously and we are organizing in more efficient and innovative ways than ever thought possible.  We win at using the internet, and not just for cat videos and memes (although those are great, too).

We use the internet as a precursor for more effectively taking it to the streets.

 

“Young people are entitled.”

I’m not even really sure what this is supposed to mean when this criticism is launched.  Why fight for rights and social change if you don’t want people to be entitled to being treated like humans?

Well, I want to take back entitlement.

Yes, I feel entitled to a safe, legal, and affordable abortion if the situation should arise where I would need one.  I feel entitled to walk down the street holding another woman’s hand and feel safe from violence.  I feel entitled to get through an entire day where I don’t have to hear not-so-subtle, alienating racist comments in daily conversation from usually well-intentioned allies.

So yeah, I’ll give you this one.  I feel entitled and I am completely unapologetic about it.

 

“Young people don’t care about abortion because they don’t remember life before Roe.”

Um, hi?  I’m here… do you even see me?  Or my friends?  You know, the dozens of young organizers who eat, breathe, and sleep reproductive justice, all the while going to school, having families, and working?  We need support and encouragement, not disparagement.  We need education and resources, not dismissal.  We need the help of older folks, not the needless competition of who cares more.  I think it’s safe to say that all of us care.  A lot.

Having been born in the mid-1980’s, obviously I don’t remember what it was like when abortion was illegal, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared shitless of what will happen if we continue down this trajectory.  I wasn’t there, but I have read many accounts of what life for women was like before Roe and what life is like for women who don’t have access to legal abortions even now.  I listen eagerly whenever an older activist wants to share their story.  Abortion and other reproductive justice issues take up roughly 75% of my thoughts everyday.

The only way we’re going to win this is if we make listening a two-way street.  Young activists need to learn how to listen to the advice of older activists (why reinvent the wheel?), and older activists need to listen to the needs of younger people (we are inheriting this world, after all).  In a place like Oklahoma, generational cooperation is especially important; we are the home of the brain drain, of missing generations, and left-leaning diaspora.  Yes, we have generational differences, but in a world where we need to change the minds of everyone (old, young, and anyone in between), our differences can only make us stronger if we can work together.

 

Sandra’s number one goal is to help build an Oklahoma where young reproductive justice organizers can have their cake and eat it, too, because cake is seriously delicious (but pizza is way better).  For more on her thoughts on generational tension and/or pizza, you can follow her on Twitter.

Best of OK4RJ 2011

2011 has been a huge year for OK4RJ!  New management, new staff, new blog, new… well, pretty much everything.  We’ve had a great start for the new community organizing programming: the hotline‘s set to relaunch in early 2012, as is the Community Accountability Project.  Also, don’t forget about the Take Root Conference in Norman this February 24-25!

As director of OK4RJ, I want to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful writers who volunteer their time to contribute to our blog; we literally couldn’t go on with you.  This goes the same for all of our readers out there who offer us support and feedback, as well as share us with your friends.  Y’all keep us going, so thank you so much.  I’d like to also thank Judie and Jen, who do double-duty as awesome bloggers and as our volunteer hotline coordinators; the amount of time, effort, and energy that they put in astounds me.  Seriously, they make it look easy.  Also, our lovely round-up writer Molly gets her sass on every week.  I think she may be the only person with that much sass to spare to share with everyone.

Also, I want to take the time to recognize an unsung heroine of sorts around these parts, Mallory, our blog editor.  She does all the, for lack of a better word, icky work of setting deadlines and managing the blog, all while going to law school!  We’d be completely lost without her; she’s the heart and soul of this blog and deserves a big old sack of gold for all the work she does.  If I had said sack of gold, seriously, she’d get a big chunk of it.

So now that we’ve got this sappiness out of the way, I thought we’d start our wrap up of 2011 with our most popular posts at OK4RJ this year!

Judie had two smash hits with her tongue-in-cheek posts It’s Okay That You Said Something Racist and Halloween Costumes for White People.

Judie’s diplomatic, sassy ways inspired me to write So You Made a Rape Joke.  Again, thank you to everyone who responded to this piece (except for the trolls: seriously, get a life).  It was very nerve-wracking to post, as it was the first time I had written about my own rape.

Carly did an awesome job of critiquing the pro-life movement’s co-optation of the Holocaust in  Thinking about comparing abortion to genocide? Don’t.

Tired of whiny boys writing songs abortions?  So was Pearl!  Let’s hope people will take her advice from So You Want To Write A Song About Your Girlfriend’s Abortion.

Didn’t get enough?  That was just our top five.  I’d suggest checking out the entire site, because every blog is pretty much awesome.

Sandra thinks 2012 is gonna be even better than 2011, and not just because she’s a fan of Mayan calendar conspiracy theories.  Follow her on Twitter for more on both subjects.

Rodeo Round Up: Plan B…ah Humbug

Hey y’all, this is Sandra filling in for Molly while she’s on her whirlwind Midwestern holiday tour of Kansas and Missouri (and most importantly, Trader Joe’s).  Miss her too much?  Follow her sometimes gluten-free adventures on Twitter.

The controversial veto by the Obama administration that would make Plan B available over-the-counter and would ditch the age limit on purchase is still a-buzz in the news, especially after research was released this week that Plan B is regularly denied to woman of legal purchasing age (17 and over).  An astounding 19% of women posing as 17-year-olds were told they could not legally obtain Plan B because of their age; this was more likely to happen in low-income neighborhoods.  This puts a lot of weight behind reproductive justice and other sexual health advocates’ arguments that the current system is restricting access and creating unnecessary barriers for those who need the contraceptive most.  From what I’ve been able to gather from the commentsplosion that followed the decision, there seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about Plan B.  I’m used to the typical “it’s an abortion pill!” response, but I was really taken aback by some acquaintances of mine who, in one breath said that their opinion that Plan B is dangerous (false) and that young girls are too immature to take it (also false) mattered more because they worked in health care, and in the next, were talking about how it should remain accessible for 18-year-olds with a prescription.  As in, as health care professionals, they thought this was the law.

WHATtheWHAT?

Just to clarify once again, Plan B is available for everyone 17 and older, behind the counter at the pharmacy, no prescription required, regardless of what any shady person at the pharmacy may tell you.  If they deny you, go to a different pharmacy; they’re either lying or woefully misinformed.

The Obama administration’s opposition to Plan B access definitely has people questioning how pro-choice the President and many other Democrats really are.  AlterNet’s Sarah Jaffe wrote an excellent article questioning how dedicated Democrats to reproductive health issues.  Maybe I’m biased, but I found the parts where she celebrates reproductive justice grassroots organizing in the South and points out that national pro-choice organizations have a lot to learn from us, er, them [insert Lucille Bluth wink] to be especially intriguing.

This Land posted a round-up of findings from Oklahoma Policy InstituteSally’s List, and Rutger’s Center for American Women in Politics about how Oklahoma ranks on women’s issues.  Not surprisingly, the results were, uh, less than optimal (and by that, I mean, pretty horrifying).  We’ve got a lot of work to do, y’all.

In happier news, another blow to the bizarre fetal personhood campaigns was dealt by a Nevada judge this week, who ruled that the personhood amendment that the ever-so-icky Nevada Prolife Coalition is petitioning to add to the ballot this year is intentionally misleading, as it does not address the full legal impacts of granting personhood at conception.  And how!  If NPC wants to continue with their petition gathering, they must include the following language:

The initiative would protect a prenatal person regardless of whether or not the prenatal person would live, grow, or develop in the womb or survive birth; prevent all abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or serious threats to the woman’s health or life, or when a woman is suffering from a miscarriage, or as an emergency treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to utilize some forms of birth control, including the “pill;” and to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. The initiative will affect embryonic stem cell research, which offers potential for treating diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and others.

Of course, the pro-life organizations plan on contesting this decision.  In the meantime, I am joyfully snickering.  RJ-minded Oklahomans will need to keep this in mind, as we are likely due to face a similar battle as they are facing in Nevada and that Mississippi faced (and won!) in November.

I guess at some point in this round-up, I’m supposed to talk about something holiday-related, but I’ve honestly been blocking out all reminders that Christmas is around the corner due to the fact that I am stereotypically-activist-style-broke.  Also, I suck at crafts, unless they are really really crass Valentines.  I don’t think that XXX-mas cards would be super appropriate, so my family and friends will be given the greatest gift of all: MY WRITTEN WORDS.  I know I can’t be the only broke person out there this holiday season.  Anyone else cheaping out, er, going DIY this year?

Thankfully, Jay Smooth is defending my right to be as cranky as I want to this holiday season.

Oh, Jay.  Never stop being you.

Sandra better write some pretty heart-felt letters to her parents, considering they still haven’t used the Netflix subscription she bought them last year.  You can follow her Christmas family antics in the wilderness on Twitter, where she will be desperately texting 140 character witticisms to 40404 in the land that wifi has forgotten.

So You Want To Be An Activist: Cocktail Party Edition

Sometimes I’ll be at a party and someone will inevitably ask the small talk question to end all small talk questions: what do you do?  I hate this question for many reasons (I kind of want to troll and respond with “Y SO EXISTENTIAL?”), the most important of which being that my answer is NSFST (Not Safe For Small Talk).   I’m not an accountant or a teacher or an engineer.  My answer has to change depending on the situation.

Sometimes I’m evasive and tell people I do non-profit work.  Other times, I’ll get more specific (in a really vague, inaccurate way) and say “women’s rights stuff.”  If I’m feeling a little saucy, I might say “abortion shit.”  I always end up feeling somewhat disingenuous; these are all things I do, I suppose, but they are merely aspects of a much larger project.  Perhaps I should start carrying around hard copies of Jen’s Reproductive Justice 101: Oklahoma Edition to save myself some time and anxiety.

Here’s the thing I have to remind myself: I’m at a party, where allegedly I’m supposed to be having fun.  If ranting and raving about reproductive justice isn’t doing it for me on that night (this is rare, but it does happen!), then it’s okay to be evasive.  I don’t have to represent the cause everywhere I go.

When I came up with the idea for this post, I was hoping to give some constructive advice about what to do if you’re in this situation, but then I realized that I really don’t have any hard and fast rules for maneuvering the “what do you do?” conversation.  But I do have some really fun coping mechanisms!

 

  1. Have another drink! A cocktail!  A mocktail!  An energy drink!  Anything to distract you from the awkwardness!
  2. Make up a fake, preferably obscure profession: Cartographer! Snail Trailblazer!  Party Favor Connoisseur!
  3. Have two more drinks!
  4. Start an “ABORTION ON DEMAND!” chant! This actually works really, really well, though it did get me kicked out of a place once.  Just once, though.
  5. Don’t go to parties.
  6. Yell at them and then cry. (Note: from online casino personal experience, this is actually not particularly helpful)
  7. Have a calm, collected discussion about the kind of work you do. Steer clear from shots or anything that requires chugging.  Remember, you can opt out of this conversation at any point.  Or just say, “JK, I’m a cartographer!” and have another martini.
  8. Uh oh, someone doesn”t get the cartographer joke and is belligerently insisting on talking to you about it?  A nice diffuser is “Can we not talk about this right now?  I”d like to enjoy this party and you”re harshing my buzz,” or something in that vein.  Also, you can continue to insist that you are a cartographer.

All facetiousness aside, I think the point that I’m trying to express here is: relax! Do what makes you feel comfortable and what you think is the most fun.  If that includes any combination of my list, knock yourself out (that might literally happen if you’re a fan of #1 or #3; I think I should warn you, those often result in #6).

 

This is the first installment of Sandra”s “So You Want To Be An Activist” series, which is an actually a thinly-veiled attempt at processing her activist emotional baggage under the guise of giving advice.  For more bizarre emotional processing, you can follow her on Twitter.