Remember Linda Hamilton (playing Sarah Connor) and her guns in “Terminator 2″?
Summer always makes me a bit nostalgic for childhood. I remember fondly the excitement of being out of school, the long days with nothing to do but read and the cool refuge from the hot Texas sun provided by a matinee of a summer blockbuster at the local movie theater.
Originally posted at Bitch
This is a dark summer for geek girls. Though superhero and comic book-based films are all the rage these days, it’s male crime-fighters who get all the attention: there are no films starring female superheroes on the horizon.
Take the whip-smart spy Black Widow, for example. The Avengers member will co-star in Captain America: The Winter Soldier…
The reason the sky is bigger here is because there aren't any trees. The reason folks here eat grits is because they ain't got no taste. Cowboys mostly stink and it's hot, oh God, is it hot.... Texas is a mosaic of cultures, which overlap in several parts of the state, with the darker layers on the bottom. The cultures are black, Chicano, Southern, freak, suburban and shitkicker.
In the midst of a dark summer for geek girls (sorry USA Today, one lady per movie does not constitute a good summer for women), a ray of light has finally broken through. MGM has announced it plans to reboot The Tomb Raider film franchise, and they've hired a female screenwriter: none other than Marti Noxon of Buffy the Vampire…
I cannot pinpoint a first memory of my Aunt Bettie and Uncle Gene Campbell because they didn’t come into my life, they were always there. Bettie and Gene were my parents’ friends before I was born; in fact they were the only non-blood relations at my parents’ wedding. Mom and Dad chose to do something small, in the chapel of our church instead of the sanctuary, and only their parents and my dad’s brother’s family were invited. Bettie and Gene, it seems, would not be kept away and they crashed the ceremony. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t mind.
As a little girl, the nights that the Campbells came over to our house were always special. We got dressed up, we had hors d’oeuvres and special drinks, we ate in the fancy dining room. I got to drink sparkling apple juice out of a tiny wine glass. Gene and my Dad would drink Scotch, and to this day the smell of it reminds me of those nights. The women smelled wonderful, too–these were nights for perfume and fancy makeup and staying up late.
My parents traveled with the Campbells, so many of these nights consisted of after dinner slide shows, complete with portable screen and an old school carousel projector. Though I didn’t sit through the slideshows, I used the time when the lights were out and no one was looking to flit from room to room, absorbed in fantastical adventures inspired by the castles of Scotland on the screen.
Going to dinner at the Campbell’s house was even more magical. I think it was the gold flecks painted into the ceiling in their den that made the place sparkle in my little girl’s eyes. I remember at least once classical music playing on the stereo inspired me to dance from room to room, using the architecture of the sunken den to execute a number of fancy leaps, while the grownups sat and talked. The back room contained a number of treasures close to my heart and every visit involved a rediscovery of them: a music box that played “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” A wooden duck that could be pulled on a string. Book after book of Peanuts comics. Over successive visits I read them all.
When most of my Christmas and birthday presents were still toys, the Campbells started giving me books. The What Katy Did series filled my desire for more Little House books (eight is not enough!). They gave me Pride and Prejudice long before I knew who Jane Austen was. Bettie also has a knack for picking the perfect piece of jewelry for me. When I moved to New York they visited me there. When I started my own theater company, they donated to it. When I got married Bettie and Gene throw a brunch for the wedding party. When I got divorced they took me out for Mexican food. (What can I say, they know what I like.)
As I write these words, I realize these things sound so quotidian. But the smells, the light, and the words of those books take me back to those nights in body and spirit–in everything but actual time–in a way that assures me the memories are important. I think that because of Bettie and Gene, it is written on my brain that having friends with whom one shares an entire lifetime is a good thing, an important thing, a thing defined not so much by what you celebrate, but that you celebrate together. It’s a thing to get dressed up for. For lifetime friends, you get out the fancy glasses.
The wonderful family that survives my Uncle Gene is a testament to the fact that he lived a wonderful life. Today I call myself aunt to a number of children who are not my biological relatives. If I can ever be anything like as important to them as Bettie and Gene have been to me, I’d consider myself to have done alright.
Thanks so much Uncle Gene for all the books and all the magic and all the love.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood announced that it would stop using the term “pro-choice” to define their efforts towards creating and securing reproductive autonomy for women. Though this has led to lots of great discussion about how we should ourselves going forward, Planned Parenthood does not actually intend to replace the label with something else. Any label, they say, would discount the “complexity” of the issues.
As Ann Friedman points out at New York Magazine’s The Cut, the “pro-choice” label came into being in response to the use of “pro-life” by anti-choice activists: Somewhat ironically, it was not a word that the movement chose to define itself. Over time “choice” has, in the general parlance, come to be too closely associated solely with abortion, and therefore does not convey that we are advocating for more than the choice to have an abortion or not. We are advocating for total reproductive autonomy for women, from access to birth control to abortion, IVF, and treatment for STDs to coverage for these things under insurance. The whole shebang.
But we shouldn’t forget that to a certain extent, this widening of the movement was also a reactive move: As anti-s have become more honest about their desire to eliminate not just access to abortion but also to birth control, advocates for reproductive autonomy have had to engage in a conversation connecting the dots between those things in order to debunk specific anti-choice arguments. When Personhood advocates started claiming that the morning after pill is an “abortion pill,” our response was to explain that though in theory the morning after pill could prevent implantation, that’s no reason to outlaw it. It was months before somebody clarified that no, in fact, even in theory, it probably can’t. By then, no one was listening.
We now have the opportunity to define, in our own words and as specifically as possible, the terms of the debate and to improve our branding. Though general terms like “freedom” and “liberty” do broaden the debate to include more than abortion, I am wary of generalizing too much. As cultural catchwords, these broader terms already have connotations, and the right to own a gun or believe in God is very different from the right to bodily autonomy. The prospect of trying to shift people’s thinking enough to where they also identify these terms with reproduction seems to me like rolling the wrong stone up a very steep mountain.
We should instead choose language that expresses what it is that these myriad complex issues that the movement is advocating for have in common. Yes, we are advocating for the right to be free from government intrusion in our private lives, but it’s not intrusion into our property or our speech with which this particular movement concerns itself. We’re arguing against government intrusion into our bodies.
I am also wary of being too wonky and movement-specific. While I can happily spend an afternoon studying the implications of Personhood laws on access to in-vitro fertilization, we cannot expect to win the larger public debate solely by painstakingly delineating the complicated relationships between a broad variety of issues. Nobody signs up for a movement that says, “You’re gonna have to work really hard to make any of the things I’m talking about come true.” They sign up for “Yes, we can.”
Though it’s still a bit clunky for branding purists, being multi-syllabic, I like “pro-reproductive justice.” It both specifies which rights we’re talking about, and–as do labels like social justice and economic justice–includes reference to the fact that simply having rights in law does not always mean having rights in practice.
Then again, if we have to go broad and catchy, I’ve never quite understood why we don’t just retake the higher ground and call ourselves “pro-living.” I am pro- women who want to have children having them. I am pro- women having the freedom to live their lives without children if they don’t want them. I am pro- women living life without fear and being able to have sex without contracting a disease or getting pregnant when they don’t want to. I am pro- living women taking their own health into account before that of an unborn fetus. I am pro- children who are born having a chance at living. I am pro- vaccinations that prevent women from getting STDs that might lead to deadly diseases. I am pro- these things for all living women regardless of their ability to pay for them. I am pro- defining our understandings of pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing according to real life instead of antiquated, patriarchal social values. I am pro-living.