Why I love Miley Cyrus

 

First of all, you might be thinking, “How is this political? Miley Cyrus isn’t a political figure?”  But everyone seems to have an opinion about the 20-year-old songstress, and I still really like her.

My Miley love started about six years ago, after I graduated from college. I was working retail part-time before starting grad school, and Hanna Montana reruns aired right about the time I was waking up, and the show was hilarious! I even saw the Hanna Montana movie in theaters on opening night. Straight up.

She started Hannah Montana in 2006, the year she turned 14. Fourteen! She’s been on TV, in the public eye, for seven years. She’s 20 years old!

I love Miley Cyrus because she’s honest. She’s honest about who she is.

Disney is the name in family-friendly entertainment. So its stars have to fit into that.

Remember when she posted a vlog post and a neon bra strap happened to be showing and the world went crazy? Really?

Right now MC is trying to figure out who she is. She was known for having long brunette hair full of extensions, so she chopped it all of and bleached it out — complete 180. She was sweet and had to take the obligatory Disney virginity pledge, so she’s flexing her sexuality. The old hats weren’t working, so she’s trying on new ones.

Think about what you were like when you were 20. Were you a perfect saint? Or did you party, experiment with drugs and sex, and just generally get your wild youthfulness out of yourself in order to grow up?

I think that we think Miley is older than she is because she’s been in the public eye for so long.

I love Miley Cyrus because she’s unapologetic about who she is. I think we could all use a dose of that attitude from time to time.

#SlaneGirl

For those of you who need some updating, here’s what happened. A young girl, possibly a minor, performed fellatious acts on a gentleman dude or two at an Eminem concert in Ireland. Pictures were taken, circulated online and the Internet went wild.

If you look up #SlaneGirl on Twitter you will find a bunch of slut shaming, inappropriate photos and other things to make you enraged and sick.

One can debate the wisdom of performing oral sex on what I’m guessing are strangers in broad daylight and allowing it be filmed. But that should be between the girl, her partners, the authorities and, if she is a minor, her parents. It’s not really for all of the Twitterverse to have an opinion on.

People, especially young people, get to make horrible life decisions and bounce back from them. That’s part of the joy of being a young person.

This should be one of those fun stories this girl gets to tell her college friends about, and later her grandchildren when she’s trying to be a cool grandma. (You cannot tell me this hasn’t happened a million times before since the 1960s. There are probably 1,000s of grandmas out there who did this same thing at Woodstock and other outdoor concerts throughout the years) It should not be something that puts her in the hospital.

It really annoys me when men get all judgy about stuff like this. Dude, you know you’re only being judgy because you’re jealous. What Millennial guy wouldn’t want this, either from a stranger or his girlfriend/fiance/wife?

If guys are going to get judgy about oral sex, they should really stop wanting it. So would everyone just let #SlaneGirl make some bad life choices and learn the consequences without being blasted by people all over the world. The worst thing that should happen from this is a minor STD, not world outrage.

A few thoughts on Trayvon and George

I’m pretty sure most sane Americans will be happy if they never hear the names Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman ever again. The 24-hour news media will find a new sensation to latch onto soon enough. I just wanted to share a few (hopefully sane) thoughts that I’ve had since the verdict was release Saturday.

No matter which way you slice it, a young man was killed and an adult shot him. Under Florida law, the jurisdiction of the crime, the man was found not guilty. Plain and simple.

Did he kill someone? Yes. And he will have to live with that. While the state of Florida may not punish him, I would hope his conscience will be punishing him for the rest of his life. Don’t underestimate the power of the telltale heart.

People like to paint Trayvon one way or the other… he was a promising young man with good grades, he was an unruly youth experimenting with drugs. He was wearing a hoodie!

The truth is, he was 17. And while that’s almost adulthood, he’s still got a full deck. Nothing is set in stone when you’re 17. Could he have taken a turn for the worst and become a criminal? Sure, anything is possible. But could he have also lightly experimented with pot an alcohol like most American youth — regardless of color, mind you — been a little wild in college, got it out of his system and become a responsible adult. We just don’t know.

Race doesn’t determine everything. Do we not watch enough Honey Boo Boo or 16&Pregnant or Teen Mom to know that white people aren’t perfect. Nothing about the color of your skin prevents or determines your ability to make mistakes. That’s all on the inside, and on the inside we’re all a bunch of mushy organs.

We’re all human. Trayvon Martin was a human and most likely made mistakes. George Zimmerman was a human and also made mistakes, a giant one that killed a person.

George had his day in court. The state decided it didn’t need to punish him under the law. That doesn’t mean he won’t be punished, either by his own conscience or, failing that, when he meets his maker.

Women ROCK!

As the abortion debate rages on (don’t forget to ask the governor and lieutenant about every decision you have to make today #NYPND and #NeedYourPermission) I think we just need to take a minute to realize what amazing creatures we women are.

Going to basic biology, we are much more amazing than men. We grow whole human beings in our bodies and then create food for them, also with our bodies. Think about that for a second. After a small donation from the male of the species at just the right time of the month we grow a human for 40 weeks. After which the human leaves us and we make food for that little human. Seriously, that’s amazing.

But, for millennia because of this amazing trait the males thought they were more powerful. It’s not like we weren’t making sure the human race would survive or anything by raising and caring for the young.

Over the last 100 years, things have gotten better, at least on the surface. Women are allowed to do everything a man can and many are encouraged to do so. But we’re still expected to fulfill traditional female roles as well.

We bring in half the money but do all the work. It’s frustrating and tiresome. Men love the idea of splitting finances 50/50, but don’t want to contribute to the tasks of being part of a household. Men in bachelorhood may live in what we respectable folk call squalor, but they can’t expect us to do the same, let alone raise a family in it.

Maybe the next generation will be better, but my generation has it rough in terms of what’s expected of us. Not only are we supposed to study hard, get good grades so we can get in to a good school and then get a good job — all while working and paying our own way — we’re supposed to stay away from boys while simultaneously find a perfect husband and provide our parents with grandchildren, preferably before we hit 30, but if we’re on track by 30, that’s acceptable, too.

We’re supposed to keep our bodies firm, have a grasp on social issues but we still need to be able to talk Kardashians when we’re in the right crowd. We’re criticized if we use our brains too much and not enough. We need to be concerned about Edward Snowden AND our eyeliner. It’s exhausting!

So I hope young girls will feel less pressure as they grow. I hope mothers and fathers my age will teach their boys and girls to do chores equally, removing gender roles around the house. Stay-at-home mom will be replaced with stay-at-home parent, meaning mom or dad can make that choice. I hope society will make it easier to take extended periods of time off to raise children, and then jump back in the workforce when the kiddos are old enough.

We’re getting there. We’ve made progress. Let’s just keep going.

Of oil rigs and landmarks, of state and national parks

This weekend we took a little staycation and used some time off to discover some of western North Dakota’s treasures. After participating in The Dickinson Press float handing out water to the thirsty masses, we headed south to White Butte to climb North Dakota’s highest peak, which was an adventure in and of itself.

First of all, White Butte is on private land that the owners allow hikers onto, you drive down U.S. Highway 85, and then down a gravel road, and finally, if it’s open, down a grass road. It’s a little scary when you’re driving a sedan. The hike itself is not hard, but finding the trail proved a bit daunting.

North Dakota has all this money, why is it not using some of it to help preserve some of it’s natural treasures? I get that the owner probably doesn’t want to give up their land for a park, and the really needn’t, but I’m sure they wouldn’t scoff if the state offered to help with road and trail maintenance. I’m sure there’s some partnership that can be worked out to make this place more accessible to everyone, and not just those with four-wheel-drive trucks.

Sunday I got to visit the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park for the first time. After an amazing, 3-hour, 4-mile hike through Badlands and prairie, we decided to take the drive to the northwest corner of the park.

We were extremely disappointed to see an oil rig from inside the park. 

You can see this rig in all its glory from the road inside the park. It’s not at some awesome vantage point that you need rock climbing gear to get to, it’s visible for anyone who wants to drive through the park to see, right there on the prairie. We certainly have amazing government officials who let this one through.

I get that it’s on private land, but seriously, TRNP is supposed to be a place where we can experience the wilderness of North Dakota, not the greed and excess of our society. It’s supposed to take us back to a simpler time, give us a chance to admire the beauty in the world.

So now we get to see a pumping jack at the north side of the North Unit for the next 20 years… lucky us!

UGH!

Babies aren’t free

The New York Times posted a great piece about the cost of maternity care and delivery in America.

From diapers to cute little outfits they’ll grow out of in a minute, babies aren’t cheap. But over the last 20 years, the medical community has made it increasingly harder for parents to take home a baby debt free. Hospitals and clinics itemize each test, screening and treatment, rather than offering pregnancy and maternity “packages” and insurers can opt out of paying for prenatal and maternity care.

So, let me take a break to get this straight… insurance companies needed the Affordable Care Act to tell them to cover birth control and they can still opt out of paying for prenatal and maternity care. So if you don’t want to get pregnant you have to pay for it and if you do want to have children, you also have to pay way more for it? And this isn’t the cost of the child, this is just the cost of bringing that child into the world.

Even when insurers do cover prenatal and maternity care, the co-pays and out-of-pocket costs for expectant mothers are still astronomical, especially if her pregnancy isn’t perfect. Or, as NYT reports, even if it is perfect, hospitals will charge new mothers for things they didn’t even use, because it’s standard procedure.

Call me a liberal socialist hippy if you want to, but I believe that parents should get to worry about things like what color to paint the nursery and not, “Can we actually afford this baby? Will bringing this life into the world send us to the poorhouse? How long will we have to pay for this child? Can we have a second or third?”

We already live in a world where children are ridiculously expensive. Between advertisements and other kids at school and in the neighborhood, it costs a lot to be a “normal” kid — the kind that doesn’t get bullied and teased. Diapers aren’t cheap, and neither are other babyhood essentials.

It’s kind of frightening to think that one child will probably cost more than the house you live in, when you figure in prenatal and delivery costs, plus all of the money spent feeding, clothing, educating and caring for it.

And that’s for people who can conceive easily. Tack on the cost of fertility treatments, which are usually not covered by insurance, and that baby could cost you more than two houses.

And people wonder why covering birth control is important… another child could literally break a family financially.

If wanting a family is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, why is it so expensive?

Why Texas matters

While CNN was warning us about the calories in muffins — something anyone with eyes and basic knowledge of the English language can look at on a package — a woman named Wendy Davis, a state senator, was filibustering a strict abortion ban in Texas. Not only would it stop abortions after 20 weeks (14 weeks after North Dakota is trying to stop them) but it would also require abortion clinics to have full surgical setups, effectively closing all but five clinics in a very expansive state.

Davis stood up to the GOP “pro-life” bullies. She stood up to people who use slut shaming to silence women.

They say things like “slut” and “whore.” They tell women to keep their legs shut — that’s how to not get pregnant. They tell rape victims they were asking for it because of what they wore or because they had too many drinks. They call women who seek abortions baby killers, when many already have children. They say women on birth control are “open for business.”

It’s so easy to just shut down because those words sting and they’re hard to argue with, especially with the Christian right, because you’re a whore if you have sex before marriage (but when your Christian right boyfriend is pressuring you, you’re a prude) and you’re selfish if you don’t want children right away after you get married. That’s all they see. Everything is black and white to them, and we live in a world with 50 shades of gray.

Of course, that rape victim decides to raise her rape baby, but has to go on benefits to get by, she’s a drain on society, she’s a welfare queen.

That family with “too many” kids that take advantage of WIC, SNAP and child care assistance… drains on society even though both mom and dad work full time. Even though they love their children.

Asking insurance to cover birth control (insurance, that we pay for, and not the government) is asking too much, but then the state and federal government have to pick up the slack when women have motherhood thrust upon them.

I love when pro-lifers say “it’s a child, not a choice” because it is a choice. But children should be a choice long before someone is walking into an abortion clinic. Families are so easily planned, but because of abstinence-only sex education, slut shaming and cuts to programs like Title X, people aren’t given the information or resources to get themselves ahead.

Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned… HALF! We live in the country where the birth control pill was invented, and HALF of pregnancies are unplanned!

And then there’s the whole other side of the picture, how do you define abortion?

When you think of abortion as a woman terminating an otherwise viable pregnancy simply because she does not want to be pregnant, it sounds pretty bad. But when bans are placed on abortion, as in the termination of pregnancy, depending on how the bill is written, it could interfere with medical care.

Treating an eptopic pregnancy or a D and C when a miscarriage is inevitable may be considered abortion in poorly worded laws. They could tie the hands of medical professionals and harm women’s fertility.

Why can’t we agree that comprehensive sex education is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and therefore the type of abortion that pro-lifers are so against. It can even be comprehensive sex ed with an emphasis on abstinence as the best way to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It can teach natural family planning, which gives women a VERY good understanding of exactly how their bodies work, but it needs to include conventional birth control methods, both hormonal and barrier. And if a pregnancy must be terminated it should be a decision between a woman, her partner and her doctor, NOT her senator or representative.

How to end abortion

I would love to end abortion — at least the kind of abortion that everyone thinks of when they say “abortion.” You know, able-bodied woman conceives, probably from some torrid affair or in the back seat of a car, finds herself pregnant and doesn’t want to keep it. You know, abortion as a form of birth control.

Ending abortion doesn’t start with protests outside of clinics, it definitely doesn’t start with bombings, it doesn’t start with sappy TV commercials and billboards, it starts with education.

If you educate about sex and birth control and babies you lay a foundation of informed choices going forward.There is so much misinformation even now about sex and pregnancy.

A couple of things that drive me crazy off the top of my head:

Plan B: Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception DO NOT cause abortions.  What these pills do is send a giant dose of hormones to your body telling it not to ovulate. If you are already pregnant, it will not hurt the baby in the slightest. There is some question about the thickening of the uterine lining and not allowing fertilized eggs to implant, but this can happen naturally, without the use of hormones.

Conception: More or less all pro-lifers love to say that life begins at conception, which is great, but many people, even doctors, don’t know exactly when conception happens. This is because sperm can live in the uterus for up to a week, just swimming around, doing their thing. They’re waiting for an egg to drop, which remains viable for a day or two before dying. While we can track ejaculation and we can track ovulation, without implanting cameras in everyone’s uterus, it’s really hard to know exactly when the two meet. It’s not like, sex, bam! you’re pregnant!

Choose life, your mother did: I hate this saying! It’s assuming that no one wants babies, but they find themselves pregnant and just decide to keep it. It’s really cute, but totally trivializes the decision to become a parent. It assumes everyone who has ever gotten pregnant was sitting in an abortion clinic waiting room at one point and walked out of there still knocked up. Because nobody likes babies. Nope, not at all. It’s not like they’re cute and lovable and challenging and rewarding and amazing and a giant mess but totally worth it in the end. It’s not like motherhood has ever been the end-all be-all of womanhood or anything. Nope. No one has ever wanted to get pregnant ever. But they all chose life. Because their mother did.

Before we start judging, lets learn a thing or two about the female body, about pregnancy, and about babies. The more we know, the more we can prevent unwanted pregnancies and the more ready, willing and able parents we will have.

Let’s talk about sex

I’ve come to believe the North Dakota Legislature is afraid of sex.

Between blocking the NDSU grant and the myriad of abortion bills, it all boils down to sex. Intercourse. Coitus. Relations.

Having the sex talk can be awkward. It can make you blush, it can bring up questions you just don’t want to ask. But it needs to be had.

The biggest takeaways from the sex talk are don’t have sex until you’re married and sex=babies. That message hasn’t changed for the North Dakota Legislature.

No talk of birth control to be had. No recognition that the average woman got married at age 20 in 1960 and 50 years later she married at 26. No recognition that college takes time and money. No recognition that marriage is not the magic ceremony that turns children into adults the way it once was. No recognition that very few people are virgins when they’re 26.

So we got the sex and marriage thing out of the way… let’s talk sex and babies.

Obviously, we all know sex=babies. If you have sex, you’re probably going to have a baby, unless you use precautions, but that still only cuts down your chances. Other than sterilization and abstinence, no birth control is 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and only abstinence is 100 percent effective at preventing STDs. Those are facts that NEED to be stressed.

If you lay out all the facts about birth control to teens and let them know the BEST option for the their future is abstinence, rather than saying its the only acceptable choice, or else, most are going to make informed decisions for their future. The others were lost causes to begin with.

Okay, so we know sex=babies, and we know there are ways to make sex ? babies, or at least lower the chance substantially. Which brings me to this strange attitude toward sex and babies people have.

One of the funniest arguments against birth control I’ve read is that it makes sex have no consequences. That babies are just consequences of sex. That no one really wants a baby, but they want to have sex and babies are just a consequence of sex. If we could choose not to, humans would not procreate.

This is absurd! Everyone loves babies! Just because people don’t want babies “right now” doesn’t mean they won’t want babies later, when they’re making more money, when they own a house, when their student debt is at a manageable level.

We’re lucky to live in a world where if you get pregnant, the likelihood of raising a child who will grow up to be an adult is extremely high. That wasn’t always so. We know so much more about pregnancy and childbirth and child care now than we did even 50 years ago.

I don’t understand why there are some people who believe that pregnancy has to happen by mistake. If someone intentionally gets pregnant their child will have a much better shot than those who see pregnancy as an unintended consequence of sex.

People who plan pregnancy start taking prenatal vitamins, begin avoiding pregnancy no-nos like second-hand smoke and alcohol before conceiving. If people aren’t actively trying  to get pregnant and they conceive, there’s a six to eight week period where a woman will engage in behaviors they would mostly likely not if they knew they were carrying a child, including over imbibing, smoking or even eating too much mercury-laden fish.

The best time to start thinking about babies is BEFORE conception… not after, not at 20 weeks, not at birth.

So, let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sex early and often and then let’s talk about babies. Let’s talk about giving babies and children the best environment to grow in, even before they come into this world.

Shmashmortion

Shame on you, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, for thinking that women and doctors know less about their bodies than politicians. Shame on you for thinking we’re all just idiots and belong barefoot and pregnant. I wouldn’t be surprised if you made women’s shoes illegal by executive order next.

Shame on you.

Abortion as a form of birth control is stupid, irresponsible and anyone who uses this as their main form of birth control should be ashamed. There are so many ways to NOT get pregnant in the first place.

That being said, abortion should be legal.

I believe abortion as a medical procedure should be legal because making it illegal does not stop women from terminating their pregnancies. Making abortion illegal can change the course of treatment when a woman is miscarrying. Making abortion illegal makes women carry their rape babies.

We had illegal abortion for many years in the country and it didn’t work. Women died at the hands of back alley abortionists. Their fertility was forever ruined. It was a dark time that many alive don’t remember.

I’m very disappointed in Gov. Dalrymple right now. I can’t believe he thinks so little about the women in this state. North Dakota women are strong, independent and know what to do with our bodies.

So tell me, governor, where do I turn in my shoes?