Weekly News Round-Up: Burgers and Lies

As is often the case, this week was a mixed bag for Oklahoma. On one hand, Attorney General Scott Pruitt appealed the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision that the new law basically banning medication abortions was outright unconstitutional, but he was dismissed by the US Supreme Court. Heck yeah! Once again, the Oklahoma Supreme Court made the right call, and was reaffirmed at the federal level. Unfortunately, discussion is under way to, ahem, reform the way our judges are selected. So much for checks and balances, I guess.

Bad news if you’re broke: a recent investigation by the Tulsa World showed that Oklahomans are being jailed at an increasing rate for not paying fines. Despite the struggling economy, fines have continued to go up, as have district and municipal court fees. And so, already overflowing jails are being stuffed with people who simply didn’t have the means to pay off stuff like traffic tickets. Arrangements can be made to work out fines early on, but for those struggling with other obligations, it’s not an easy obstacle, and many just wait too long, hoping they’ll eventually have the money to pay everything off. It’s not debtor’s prison per se, but $160 traffic ticket is a much bigger burden on someone who earns minimum wage, and low-income people are disproportionately being taken into custody. How about we focus on reforming this system instead of the way our judges are selected, eh?

bitchpleaseAnd now to a very personal and disappointing bit of news from The Lost Ogle – it seems my once beloved Meers (of ridiculously big burger fame) has decided to display some unforgivable political hogwash on all of their tables. Here’s the thing- I used to looooooove Meers despite having never ordered one of the BIG burgers, and I was well aware that the owners’ political ideologies were a bit different from my own. A glance around at some of the stickers and license plates displayed would tell anyone that they’re a bit, oh, conservative. But this is just nonsense.

According to the new table decor, Bimbo’s, the former supplier of giant ass buns for Meers’ huge freaking burgers, had to reduce its labor force because of Obamacare, you know, despite being the largest bakery in the US (according to Meers), and therefore decided to stop churning out the huge buns. No citations or verifiable numbers (or proper grammar, for that matter), just lots of rambling about unions and Obama. They have opted to source their buns locally (ahem, jobs for Oklahomans and lower carbon footprint!) and admit the new buns taste better, but the process has  meant  new expenses. Scandal!

this bun ain't got time for your shit meers

this bun ain’t got time for your shit meers

Sorry Meers, but I’ll take my foodie love elsewhere, to people who believe in providing healthcare to factory and food service workers. I’ve been on the factory and food service side, and damnit, there’s no reason to not take care of your employees. Also, please hire someone to proofread next time.

And last but certainly not least, it was announced this week that the Capobiancos (the adoptive parents of Baby Veronica) are seeking over a million dollars from biological father Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation to pay their legal expenses, despite the fact that their lawyers worked pro bono. It will be rather interesting to see how the case proceeds from here. (I’d also like to know what the donations for the Save Veronica campaign went to, but maybe that’s just me. Are we blaming that on Obamacare too?

Bye for now, y’all. I’m hungry!

Erin is always on the lookout for new foods to try, preferably with a side of health insurance.

Oklahoma: Legislative Hipster

Hipster fetus

Hipster fetus, drawing by Alicia Smith

Hey, hipsters! You know when you’re out in public with other people, in real life? And they’re all excited about a thing you Totally Knew About And Did Already, Like, Years Ago, and you get that nice warm feeling of quiet superiority mixed with cold calculation as you deploy your finally-useful specialized knowledge like an assassin, killing everyone’s buzz in one sweet, deft swoop? Why not try a new approach, except instead of only-on-VHS films or math rock celebrities, it’s telemedicine bans and CPC funding, and instead of a human you’re a mostly-rural red state on the Great Plains? Oh, and instead of feeling warm and fuzzy, you feel sad and sick. Having a bad time is the new having a good time!

Starting about a year ago, I began to feel a certain measure of frustration with mainstream coverage of the so-called “War on Women,” a catch-all term for the new perceived surge in such legislative toilet paper as TRAP laws and mandatory ultrasound bills. Looking over the Guttmacher’s 2013 state-by-state breakdown of reproductive health legislation passed since January (what, you guys don’t scroll through spreadsheets for funsies?), I was finally able to put my finger on it. Medically unnecessary ultrasound requirements, private insurance requirements, gender-selective abortion bans – Oklahoma didn’t pass any of that stuff last year, or even the year before! Did our anti-choice legislators finally lose their edge? Never fear, readers – our brave representatives passed all of that stuff so long ago we can’t even get cool points for it anymore. Here’s a little timeline of how some of Oklahoma’s enacted anti-choice legislation relates to current trends in the so-called “War on Women.”

I’m going to focus on four major trends in reproductive health-related state-level legislation: ultrasound requirements for clinics, public funding for alternatives to abortion services (usually referred to as Crisis Pregnancy Centers or CPCs), restrictions on private insurance coverage, and sex-selective abortion bans.

Oklahoma is Ultra-OK

Back in 2006, the OK legislature made its first baby steps into a brave new world full of unnecessary medical procedures and fudged information by requiring abortion counseling to include both false information about fetal pain and an offer to undergo an ultrasound. The next year, Mississippi became the first state to enact legislation actually mandating ultrasounds prior to abortion care. Not to be outdone, OKLEG (with ALEC’s ever-helpful hand guiding them along, we’re sure) passed a bevy of new requirements and regulations the following year, in the form of TRAP and basic access-blocking bills. 2009 saw ultrasound legislation trending in most of the Plains states, and the trend has not let up, especially in state legislatures dominated by conservatives.


One of the more dangerous trends, in my opinion, is public subsidization of “alternatives to abortion” services, or CPCs (Crisis Pregnancy Centers, “clinics” that attempt to coerce pregnant persons into carrying unwanted pregnancies to term). This type of legislation seems innocuous on its surface, but at its core seeks to “replace” abortion care completely with “alternatives” – a thoroughly unrealistic and frankly scary goal. OKLEG began protecting these agencies around 2008 and as of the following year, SEVEN additional states had piled on. The trend continues to gain traction as CPCs become more wily, some even abandoning the trappings of religion to appear more objective, clinical, and entrepreneurial.

Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill the ACA

This next one is a bit wonkier, but stick with me – 4 years back, when the Affordable Care Act passed, we saw many fiscally conservative members of the OKLEG begin to introduce legislation that would undermine the ACA, eventually passing a full-on nullification bill earlier this year. Of special interest, obviously, was the birth control mandate eventually included in the law. Combine that with a whole lot of bad science leading legislators to believe that birth control is actually abortion and you get a bill passing in OK in 2011 restricting private health insurance coverage of abortion care. Weird, but so were those ultrasound laws in 2006 – and like clockwork, Guttmacher has highlighted these private insurance restrictions as a nationwide legislative trend in 2013.

Ban All The Things!

Last but not least, we’ve got the beastly sex-selective abortion ban. Sex-selective abortions don’t actually happen in the United States with enough frequency (or any at all) for even Oklahoma and Arizona’s LEGs to pass stuff about them but that doesn’t mean they didn’t give it a shot back in 2009 and succeed! This nonsense isn’t an officially-projected trend, but it’s certainly on the rise among all our comrades in the Plains and some in the South and Midwest.

Pearl would like to take this opportunity to propose marriage to the Guttmacher Institute, “would” being the operative word because marriage is a TOTAL SHAM, MAN

Why Polls Don’t Matter

I have several Google Alerts that I check regularly as part of my job.  One of those is for “abortion.”  This means that I get to see lots of headlines from anti-choice sites.  (Antis may be terrorists, but they have very good SEO optimization).  A while ago, they were all excited about a new poll that came out that they interpreted to mean that young people were increasingly “pro-life.”  About six months before that, pro-choice writers were all excited about a major poll that found the opposite.  The specific polls aren’t all that important.  Polls are like the Bible; if you know what you’re doing and you try hard enough, you can find a results or a verse to justify anything you want to say.

While understanding public opinion is very important in many ways, such as knowing how to craft a message to persuade donors to give money or people to vote for your candidate, I think paying too much attention to small samplings of public opinion is very damaging for organizers and advocates.  When we give too much credence to people’s responses to questions about other people’s rights, we are acting as if these are topics where the public’s opinions should matter.  If we believe that people have rights because they are people, then it doesn’t matter if others in a society don’t think they should have those rights.  Rights aren’t something you should be given because they are popular or have taken away when public opinion shifts; they are something you are entitled to because you are a person.  I know this isn’t the way the world works most of the time.  In red states, we learn at a very young age that most people around us don’t believe people deserve rights if they are not white, if they are not Christian, if they are not straight, if they are poor, or if they want to control their reproduction.

As reproductive justice advocates, we say that people deserve not only basic human rights but also lives filed with dignity and self-determination, regardless of their sexuality, their race, their ethnicity, their legal status, their beliefs, their gender identity, and their class.  This means that we can’t start quantifying the legitimacy of people’s rights with numbers and percentages.   For that matter, people’s rights (particularly people whose rights are routinely restricted due to kyriarchical oppression) don’t end where publicly elected legislators say they do.  Just because we live in a society where our neighbors and our legislators tell us it’s okay to restrict our reproductive rights, our voting rights, our rights to keep our families intact, our rights to love the people we choose, and our very rights to access medical care, food, shelter, and freedom of movement, doesn’t mean that we won’t keep fighting for them.

Katie saw a life-size horse carved out of butter last week.  Right now, she’s trying to catch up on shows (Grey’s, duh) in time for the new season.  You can follow her on twitter and tumblr

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.


…same for me! Except reproductive justice organizer.

She makes ambition look good.


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.


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.


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…


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.”



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.



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.


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 Devil You Say

fuzzy wigglersIf you were following the events at the Capitol in Texas last week, or just like to hang out on Twitter, you may have seen a strange phenomenon- the hashtag #HailSatan began trending. What started as a joke became yet another cheap accusation for the anti-choice side to level at pro-choice activists. While I’m not sure who first tweeted about it, I first became aware thanks to Abby “Embellish Like Crazy or Just Make Some Shit Up” Johnson. Initially, I laughed so hard that I almost dropped my phone in the bathtub. (Yeah, I followed Texas news all day, even in the tub. Like a boss.) Then I discovered that she wasn’t the only one making the claim.

It turns out that while some blue-shirt anti-choicers were singing “Amazing Grace,” members of the orange-shirt pro-choice crowd nearby were chanting, “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate.” After the singing wrapped up, a guy filming the sing-a-long turned the camera towards a teenage girl who sarcastically shouted, “Hail Satan.” Pretty funny in my opinion, but the blue shirts were not amused. The story began to morph. Word spread that a whole group had chanted “Hail Satan” to drown out the Godly singers. It went on all day! They even formed a human pentagram!

Throughout the day, anti-choicers tweeted about the pro-choice crowd finally showing their true colors. (Gee, I’m so glad we can finally share our love of His Royal Darkness, y’all.) Online “news” sites like Life News began picking up the story. Even though the video only showed ONE girl being cheeky, reports insisted it was an entire crowd. Conveniently, Life News produced a video a couple of days later where you can’t see any orange shirts but you can hear some muffled singing, posted as proof that “Of course, there were lots of Devil worshippers praising the Dark Lord that day!”

Given the current trend of comparing abortion to idolatrous child sacrifice, this couldn’t have been more convenient story for anti-choicers seeking to demonize their opposition. Thankfully, many reproductive health advocates have a good sense of humor. Despite the shit-storm happening across America with puritanical reproductive restrictions, several people happily took time out to poke fun at our new Satanic label for a day. (Cause you know, it’s not just one girl being cheeky or even a handful of people. It’s ALL pro-choice activists!) When a male member of the UK Church of Satan denounced the supposed group chanting, the anti-choice crowd latched on to spin a new story: You guys are worse than self-identified Lucifer enthusiasts!

traditional pro-choice meeting places


Still, while the whole thing is amusing, it shows how little things have changed since, you know, actual Puritans first showed up and began colonizing North America. Like their relatives in Europe, our Puritan friends were all too eager to assume that women who didn’t fit the mold of a proper, faithful lady – i.e. childless, independent, unmarried, opinionated – were up to no good and making deals with the Devil. Here we are hundreds of years later, and women seeking bodily autonomy are assumed to be evil.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that opponents of the measures in Texas are being mislabeled. Even more moderate supporters for the bill have been focusing disproportionately on the 20 week ban and framing critics of the abortion legislation as Pro-Late-Term-Abortion. #HailSatan tweets are still making rounds, and yet another nonsense hashtag has made its debut – #prochoiceviolence. Keep up that sense of humor, y’all. We’re always gonna need it.

Editor’s Note: Check out this song by friend of red state reprojustice John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) for references to growing up in northwest Texas and, obviously, the phrase “hail Satan” chanted over acoustic guitar strumming. 

Erin listened to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid while writing this.  It seemed fitting.

Rodeo Roundup: I Will Not Yield The Floor Edition

Oh, friends. FRIENDS. This has been a week. This week had been A Week by Tuesday morning, really.  But here we are, wondering how we made it through and whether Ciara’s new album has dropped yet (ugh, no) and how to Actually Feel about Yeezus (ugh, no).

At OK4RJ, before we all experienced soul-destroying filibuster livestream anxiety for hours and hours on end, Melissa reminded us of two things: 1) Janelle Monae exists and made “Q.U.E.E.N.” and 2) if we don’t take care of ourselves we won’t be strong for the fight. Truth, y’all.

So much RJ-related news happened this week that we’re just going to spend the roundup linking you to our favorite responses and analyses from around the World Wide Web (WWW). Cool? LET’S GO, HAMLET

watch the video for the tiny pigy noises Watch It

from an important internet video entitled “Hamlet the Mini-Pig Goes Down The Stairs” (gif links to video)

#redstaterage, Round 1: People’s Filibuster Weekend

Andrea Grimes of RH Reality Check spent most of the past seven days watching the Texas legislature roll out its latest abortion omnibus bill, witnessing a huge turnout of citizens over the weekend to participate in a people’s filibuster and responding to early hostility and indifference toward Texans. Our own Ricky created the #redstaterage tag, which we predict will come in VERY handy, not to be too pessimistic (really though, this is OK4RJ, pessimism’s sort of our bag – along with killing buzzes and Downering Debbies).

SCOTUS, Round 1: VRA and Baby Veronica

Although it appears before the Supreme Court, the Baby V case has been portrayed as a simple custody battle that happens to affect countless indigenous families. Aura Bogado explained the implications of the decision on tribal sovereignty in the U.S. In the wake of the VRA Section 5 decision, Think Progress tracked the uptick in voter suppression bills being pushed through state legislatures around the country – starting with Texas. Why do we care? This type of social control is directly related to bodily autonomy and self-determination as it disproportionately affects communities and populations already subject to marginalization and scrutiny, such as people of color, immigrants, and trans folks.

#redstaterage, Round 2: Wendy Davis and Two Thousand Texans Under The Dome

Let’s leave problematic images of Sen. Davis as Daenerys/Khaleesi and GHASTLY media coverage for another day. We would like to take this time to focus on how the rest of the country needs to get on Leticia van de Putte’s level as well as that of Jessica, Jen, and every other warrior who organized and showed up to pack the gallery and rotunda of the Texas capitol building. LETICIA, PEOPLE.


SCOTUS, Round 2: DOMA and Prop 8

Seth Wessler at Colorlines illustrated one of the many ways in which the decision to overturn DOMA has surprising and complex outcomes. Unfathomable amounts of perfect tweets such as this one by Black Girl Dangerous were composed and released into the wilds of the Internet:

Snapshot 2013-06-27 23-21-28

 M.I.A.’s new video dropped this week but I haven’t watched it so here’s this ostentatiously summery video she’s featured in. Would Rye Rye ever even CONSIDER yielding the floor? I think not.

Pearl is moving this weekend and is genuinely frightened by the alien landscape of an apartment that will possibly not have internet until NEXT WEEK

Let’s Rain On A Progress Parade: Doug Cox Edition

For starters, I’d like to commend Doug Cox for his op-ed of last week, in which he added a few barbs to his usual arguments against Republican efforts to curb access to reproductive healthcare. The op-ed even got a bit of play around the big progressive news sites and prompted its share of comments-section fights. Cox has been Oklahoma’s main Repro Repub for some time now, making exasperated faces at people and failing pretty miserably at getting anything done at all. He keeps getting re-elected too, which fact delights me and everyone else who likes to kill coastal elitists’ vibes.


Doug Cox is so tired of y’all

Here’s the thing, though: This op-ed, and Doug Cox’s brain, does not contain any arguments that would actually result in reproductive self-determination in the state of Oklahoma. Although encouraging, it is thoroughly conventional and I am not surprised that it wasn’t written up more widely – folks would rather stare at disaster porn from Moore than read timid, retro-choice libertarian opinions, even if it’s all some Oklahomans have to cling to:

What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?

You see, Doug Cox is a doctor. One thing that many reproductive justice advocates have known for a long time is that Roe v. Wade doesn’t protect “a woman’s right to choose” – it protects the rights of doctors to adminster whatever care they see fit to their patients. It is at heart a paternalistic ruling. And paternalism (including Sky Dad, for absolutely no reason) dwells at the heart of Cox’s op-ed, too. Small government arguments against barriers to access can be highly valuable, but only if we can ensure that these forms of control will not simply be privatized like so many other forms of social control have been in recent years.

Heartening as it is to associate certain platitudes with an “R-Grove” at the end of the letter, we have to understand that true reproductive justice in Oklahoma cannot be achieved through frameworks fundamentally ill-suited for the political and demographic realities of the state. The movement Oklahomans need rejects medical paternalism and the medical industrial complex, resists the temptation to restigmatize reproductive health bogeymen like poor families, young parents, and abortion care, and does not feel the need to balance advocacy for basic healthcare with a mental image of “800 babies”.


I don’t think Doug Cox meant for this image to pop into my mind upon reading “800 babies” but we all make mistakes

Dr. Cox has certainly provided a glimpse at the reality of reproductive healthcare access in Oklahoma, and we need perspectives like his. But to get an account of the full panorama we need much, much more. Now more than ever, it’s time to pull the blinds and look around at where we are, who we are, and what we need.

Pearl is about to be in Oklahoma and just cannot wait CANNOT WAIT

Rodeo Roundup: Bomb Girls and Electric Ladies

This week at OK4RJ, Jen broke down just who is going to be disproportionately affected by ID requirements for over-the-counter emergency contraception. Here’s a hint: It’s not privileged teenagers who forgot their learners’ permit at home. Mallory turned her grief at the cancellation of Bomb Girls into brilliant commentary on the experience of being queer and thriving in Oklahoma, and Matt brought us perspective and analysis on a new study surveying undocumented Latinos’ attitudes about a certain institution of state power. Serve and Protect, y’all.

In Oklahoma news this first full week of May, a group of Tulsans are asking their city council to begin the process of removing violent white supremacist Tate Brady’s name from prominent areas in the city. I don’t care if it’s “historic”, until the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot is plastered all over every Oklahoma history textbook (or, you know, mentioned a couple of times) y’all can keep the word “historic” out of your mouths and council rulings.

Down the turnpike at the Capitol, lawmakers continued to roll back access to abortion care in a manner I can only honestly describe as

Easy n Breezy Happy n Healthy !!!!

If you thought “Women Laughing Alone With Salad!” you might know that Edith Zimmerman is stepping down as editor of smart-snarky-feministish-people website The Hairpin next week. The site will go on under a new editor who I don’t have a big crush on, sorry New Editor Lady. This has been our new segment: Blog news no one cares about! Tune in never again.

Elsewhere in the news, the New York Times reported on the state of reproductive healthcare policy in Texas after legislators and officials threw a shit-fit about it last year and de-funded Planned Parenthood:

As a direct result, 117 Texas family-planning clinics stopped receiving state financing and 56 of those clinics closed, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin who are conducting a three-year study to evaluate the Legislature’s policy changes.

The researchers estimate that 144,000 fewer women received health services and 30,000 fewer unintended pregnancies were averted in 2012 than in 2010. The state’s savings from the programs dropped by an estimated $163 million.

Hey Rick Perry,


And finally, some vindication: As hearings regarding the current administration’s desire to deny people access to completely harmless medication because ICKY, presiding Judge Edward R. Korman threw out a word or two:

“You have absolutely no credibility,” he told F. Franklin Amanat, senior counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice. “This is a charade.”


Rounduppers, I’ll just leave you here to bask in that statement alongside Janelle Monae’s perfect new song and video, “Q.U.E.E.N.”

Pearl approves the way Janelle Monae is made and also is on board to help free Kansas City


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!


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:


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

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.


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.

Peace of Mind, Mental Health and Pregnancy

Mental health struggles affect every aspect of a person’s life. While there are a variety of conditions out there, I’m going to focus in this post on one of the most common, and one which I’m most familiar with – depression. While many people take mental well-being for granted, for some of us, life is often a balancing act to maintain control and stability throughout each day. I’ve always weighed the choice to have children either by giving birth or adopting someday against my depression. Will it get so bad that I can’t provide for my family? Will my children succumb to the same problems I and my other family members have succumbed to? Self-harm has been a very real threat multiple times in my past – am I safe now? Will that change?

My own father committed suicide nearly two years ago, and while I would say I feel more stable at this juncture than ever, that never leaves the forefront of my mind. His depression always came back, and so has mine. Every family member I grew up with struggles with the similar spectre of despair, and there is every reason to believe that it could affect my potential biological children. If there was any indicator that they would definitely suffer from the crippling levels of depression and addiction that my father and his siblings did, I would get sterilized. No question.

I can’t imagine losing the ability to plan and choose to have or not have children. And yet there are legislators that fight over and over in states like ours to make that a reality by taking away birth control access and access to abortion. That risk is always looming in red states like ours. What these legislators do not understand is that pregnancy does not suddenly heal a person. If a person requires psychiatric drugs to function every day, that does not disappear with the onset of pregnancy. Pregnancy does not protect against a future bout of extreme depression, either. You would think that those who desperately want people to stay pregnant would do everything in their power to help those who struggle with mental and physical complications, including addiction.

Shuai with her attorney, Linda Pence, upon being released on bail, image via WishTV.com

Shuai with her attorney, Linda Pence, upon being released on bail after over a year in prison awaiting trial, image via WishTV.com

And yet, what happens to a pregnant person who succumbs to debilitating depression and tries to inflict self-harm? In the case of Bei Bei Shuai, criminal charges. Possible imprisonment. Bei Bei Shuai ingested rat poison to end her own life. Rat poison. (Have you ever seen an animal that has ingested rodenticide? I hope you haven’t. You don’t want to.) This woman was in living hell, and now she awaits trial for losing her baby ten days after her suicide attempt. There is not a doubt in my mind that she experienced the kind of terror and despair that David Foster Wallace described. I’ve been there. It absolutely feels as though you are trying to protect yourself from something far, far worse than death. Even so, Bei Bei Shuai is treated as though she cruelly intended to harm her fetus. You don’t knowingly ingest rat poison if you do not intend to harm yourself.

If she is convicted, we all lose. Just as we all lose every time someone is punished for choosing how and when to deliver, or punished for continuing to battle addiction while pregnant (rather than being offered treatment), or punished for not wanting to be pregnant yet. If Bei Bei Shuai is convicted, it sends a message that those who are pregnant cannot have the same difficulties and pain that other people have. They must simply, magically heal, or bravely suffer through without choice. And that is true cruelty.

Erin will always have chihuahua fur on her shirts and garden dirt under her fingernails.