Paper Tigers


Words without action are the assassins of idealism – H. Hoover
* Love him, or hate him, Hoover had a damn good point.

The time for words and walks, as productive as they may have been, has come to an end. Marches, social outcry, and the media allow each of us to identify the social ideology, and identity, of those around us. In a time wherein we are often geographically, economically, or emotionally distant from our loved ones, the identification of like-minded individuals is important.

Further, the spoken, and written, word passionately emboldens and unites us, and it is for this reason that words are important.

However, there comes a time wherein words are little more. Nothing is more fatal to a movement than words without action.

If action does not fall swift upon the heels of our discontent, then we are little more than cowards (and less than sincere).

Comradery has its place, but commonality without a common movement is self-flattery and academic masturbation.

On paper, we are lions, tigers seeking justice, calling out racism and inequality. When will we put those words to action?

When does an ideology become more than just a weekend march, and become a life’s work? When do we risk offending those around us to seek what we know to be right?

Fear holds us to inaction. Let us not bury our conscience, and rather let’s address our fears.

I am afraid of a life in prison.
I am afraid of pain.
I am afraid of poverty.

I will stand with my ‘illegal’ brothers and sisters.
I will guard with my body those needing my protection.
I will donate support to those I cannot guard with my body.

Fear will not rule me.

Do not let fear bastardize your words, and your conscience. Your words have been there, waiting, for you to give them movement. Do not make yourself a tomb of ideology.

Give your words life.

You are not a Paper Tiger.

Note: If you do not know how to aid, please contact us and we will invite you to a workshop, or put you in touch with one near you.

Nice Guys Finish Last

Nice Guys Finish Last

I looked at him, his eyes wrapped in trust, and he said some of the words I hate to hear the most: nice guys finish last.

What does that mean? I am instantly annoyed.

I have a theory. Stay with me, you’re not going to like it at first, but just hang tight.

Nice guys finish last…because they should.

Yep. I’m going to own that. Before you crucify me, let’s break down what it means to be a “nice guy” and what it means to “finish”.

Who’s a nice guy and what defines him as such?

I am a strong, smart, and funny woman, but do I define myself as ‘a good guy’ in the common sense of the word? No, no I do not.

I am a complex, and sometimes deeply flawed, human being. I’ve never shied away from that admission. I ask my friend what it means to be a good man. He says, chest swelling with pride that he has never cheated on a girlfriend that he doesn’t lie, and that when he commits he does so fully.

I have heard this line many times, if I took it at face value there would be only one cheater on the planet: me. Yes, I have cheated. I have, in fact, also been faithful. The outcome was the same. I don’t feel morally superior for having been honest and faithful. Similarly, I do not feel guilty for the transgressions of my youth.

I have also lied. Cheating necessitates lying; that said, relationships (even good ones) necessitate lying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lovingly looked into a partner’s eyes and assured them that everything would be okay…when I wasn’t certain it would be. Not all lies are malicious, and not all infidelity is performed out of cruelty.

Let’s put that aside for a second, and make the very large assumption that the person asserting that they are a ‘good guy’ has, in fact, never lied and never cheated. Now let’s ask ourselves: what does it mean to ‘finish last’.

I understand the metaphor involves a foot race. However, were love a footrace the goal would never be to come in first or last; it would be to run it along side a partner.

If we are talking about sex, and to be fair most men saying this are angling for sex, then finishing takes on a literal translation. I have ‘finished’ with many, yes many, ‘good’ men. They never identified themselves as ‘good’ and they certainly never used that line, but they met my criteria for ‘good’. Truly good men don’t need to publically identify as such.

If we are talking a relationship, I have also had many relationships with good men and good women. I have two kids with a good man. Is that finishing? Or, is finishing a life long commitment (a life partner). In such a case, there has been no winner. The good, the bad, and (unfortunately, due to a night of tequila overindulgence) the ugly have all fallen short. There is no ‘finish’.

Further, I am not a finish line.

I contend that ‘good’ should be the baseline, and that ‘finish’ doesn’t exist.

This is where I believe men diverge, half the men that say this are trying to get laid, and the other half are bemoaning their lack of love.

Throw out the creepers from this conversation; nobody likes those guys. What you are left with are men who have failed at love or life. A man that has never lied has never really tried at life. Sorry, love is messy and you are clearly playing it safe. You are waiting, and consigning your lack of success not to your own lethargy, but to fate and the personalities of those not ‘wise’ enough to complete your life for you.

This brings me back to my friend’s statement: I have never cheated, I don’t lie, and when I commit I do so completely.

I do not commit completely. I am complete.

I am not waiting for Prince Charming. I am in the world, engaged in it. I can commit, but I cannot commit for, or to, someone else completely. I am not waiting to be completed, subsumed, into someone else’s life. I have my own.

To say, “nice guys finish last” is reinforcing a fatalistic stance while wrapping yourself in self-congratulation. You have fated your love life, blamed it on someone else, and congratulated yourself for being a decent human being within the narrow definition of not having made mistakes.

Further, you have taken self-reflection out of the equation. You are, I’m sorry to say, on some level not offering something that is inherently necessary for the survival of a healthy relationship (and you are actively ignoring that fact).

My guess is that you need completing. You are waiting while your life passes you by; you are waiting for someone to live it for you. You, sir, are waiting for Princess Charming.

I look at my friend, his eyes locked on mine, and say none of this. I smile, and take him to bed. Maybe I’ll never have to listen to him say that again…but I’m not betting on it. I’m a ‘bad’ woman after all, and good men can’t keep bad women for long.

Gender Roles and Gaming Culture – by Leah Rosenberg

Gender roles and gender identity have an integral part in the way our species functions. I suspect that this is because they are at the very center of how we survive. Women must carry children, men must… well as far as I can tell they’re necessary for the whole reproduction and genetic diversity thing. But women, women are really the key to the whole puzzle, and whether or not you are a woman and then how you choose to live as a woman, that seems to be really crucial to the survival of our species.

There are many social constructs that we all fall victim to, and which are extremely difficult to break out of. Those individuals who have tried to change who they are within their social constructs are almost always faced with resistance. If you want to relocate, change careers, or even cut your hair people’s views of you are bound to shift. People begin to feel unsteady in relation to you, and they fight it. They say things like “but you’re so GOOD at being a lawyer, why would you quit?” or “But you look so pretty with long hair, why do you want to be ugly?”

Recently, those of us at have been thinking a lot about gender roles and the constraints we place upon ourselves as well as those that are placed upon us. Nicole has taken up radicalism, and I have taken up … gaming. An odd reaction to having gender roles shoved down my throat you might say? Perhaps not. Allow me to explain.

I recently befriended the IT guy at work. He is pretty much exactly what you would expect of an IT guy: Heavy set, smarter than the whole lot of us combined, socially awkward and very introverted. He also likes Star Wars and all things sci-fi, which is how my friendship with him started. But the more we talked, the more I realized that he had a lot of other great qualities: he is honest, thoughtful, incredibly open minded, has a great sense of humor, and is willing to talk about very personal subject matter in an honest and informative way.

One day I was sitting around with the IT guy discussing my plight as a stereotyped Jewish lawyer. We were making fun of ourselves for fitting so well into societal expectations, and discussing how limiting it could be when people expected us to be only those things and nothing else, when he said something rather enlightening. He said “That’s why I game”. Suddenly I realized that there is a whole interactive world of people who are definitely not what they pretend to be. There is a huge need that people have to be something more or other than what they are. These people create characters for themselves, wizards and warriors and princesses, characters that allow them to step aside from the societal constraints they experience on a daily basis.

The IT guy and many like him are using the role playing (RP) world to explore aspects of their personality that they are not otherwise free to experiment with. A passive person can assume the role of an aggressive character, someone who spends their entire day bossing people around may instead assume an RP character of say, a healer. People who are social outcasts can be rulers. I think this is extremely healthy, and I’m a bit sad that I never realized till now what a neat thing was happening secretly on the internet.

I’ve gamed before, but only in a half-assed sort of way. I used to play Kingdoms of Camelot but was forced to stop when it started taking up too much of my time and interfering with my job. But even then, I used the name “LadyLeahOfRose” which is basically exactly what my real name is. I cared about how people in my alliance felt, I tried to maintain social order while steadily advancing myself socially and accumulating more wealth. I only attacked people who I felt had done something bad to deserve it. I was more or less exactly who I really am. Essentially, I seem to have completely missed the point.

Like most people, there are many personality traits that get suppressed or are entirely absent from my personality. I’m not anyone’s hero. I’m rarely ever mean. But instead of exploring these in a free environment, and even when I had the freedom to be and do and say anything, I shrunk back into myself. But the IT guy, those nerds you see in the line at Comicon, they’re far more brave than I. To most people I suppose it appears as though they are running away from life, hiding in an alternate reality because they haven’t the strength of character to function within the real world. I confess to often believing this myself till I realized that they are actually going out and exploring themselves in ways most people never will.

I asked my friend what aspects of their personalities people most often changed. He stated that far and wide, most everyone chose to participate in RP through a character of a different gender. Most RPers are male I am told, and most RP characters are female. I found this very interesting, as I would have assumed that a typically overweight and pale group of men would choose to be extremely buff men with dashing dark good looks. But alas, the first thing they choose to do is explore aspects of their personality that are the most forbidden, that are the most antithetical to what society wants them to be: These men are using female characters to help them explore their masculine qualities. I find this incredibly interesting!

I asked why this would happen with such frequency, and he analogized it to loosing one’s religion. He said that taking such a far step back from who you are gave you the necessary distance and separation to be able to do such a psychologically stressful thing as stepping out publicly and saying “I am not what you want me to be”.

I have always had an incredible, overwhelming respect for people who were willing to step out publicly and refuse to be what people wanted them to be. Partially, this is because I have always felt relatively crippled by my own desire to be exactly what people want me to be. This desire never stopped me from doing anything weird, going crazy places or participating in unpopular conversations, but it always drained me and made me feel oddly guilty, like I had disappointed someone somewhere. Obviously, I still don’t do these things easily and opt to put myself right back into the box I always exist in, even in such an open RP format.

A few years ago I started dating a trans-gendered guy. It didn’t go very well for a variety of reasons and we aren’t together any more, but there were some pretty hilarious stories that came out of the whole thing, and I learned a lot from the experience. The most significant thing about dating him was that I was suddenly thrust into the center of someone else’s very significant struggle to establish and change identity. The amount of personal strength it requires to stand in front of your family and everyone you have ever known and say “I will be what I want to be, no matter the cost, no matter the loss, no matter the consequence” is just about the single bravest thing I’ve ever witnessed a person do. I continue to admire the hell out of the guy for ever having had the strength of character to do that. I watched this man struggle with simple things like restrooms, I had the conversations with him about the reproductive consequences, family acceptance, and employment problems. This man, more than anyone I had ever met, was forced to assert an identity antithetical to what it was “supposed” to be on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. The strength of character involved in that is simply astounding.

And then there was me, afraid to even be mean in a computer game.

Ever since this experience, gender identity issues have been weighing heavily on my mind. After my last round of conversations with the IT guy, I decided I need to start exploring the issue in an active way. So although I may never be as brave as my formerly female ex boyfriend, or as brave as my sister who actively applies for jobs as a man, I’ve decided to be at least as brave as my IT guy. I have decided to join in on the gender-bending fun and actively break the social constructs that I have surrounded myself with. I have decided to be more than a Jewish lawyer with big curly hair and a fondness for animal prints.

I think I’m going to build a very sexy, muscle ridden ass-hole of a character to RP with. Just a real prick. I am going to address my gender role issues in the most nerdy way possible.

Do you plan to explore gender identities? If so, how?


Originally published August 27, 2013

Break the Law – by Nicole Marie Rosenberg Marshall

I would like to start this blog by saying that the opinions expressed within are my own and do not reflect my sisters’ (they, unlike me, have real jobs).

Let me start you off with French social theory…stay with me, it won’t be as painful as you think. In my second semester of graduate school I was introduced to Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu wrote one of the most obfuscating sentences known to humanity; no really, it’s a bitch.

“The structures of the structure are structuring”

I walked around for weeks repeating this in a horribly bad French accent. The only thing seemingly more ridiculous than this sentence was my accent, which resembled the sound of a cat being beaten to death with a French baguette.

Well, there I was, deep in my second semester, sitting idly in a class when it became totally clear.

What Bourdieu meant was simply this: the social structures we are born into shape how we view and interact with the world. Therefore, we knowingly and unknowingly create and recreate these social structures. It really is just that simple. It’s habit and that’s why he called his theory Habitus.

AH, now I’d have to stop using the bad accent.

I dove headlong into Bourdieu.

He went on to explain social recreation and conflict. His work discusses how even when people find themselves in conflict with society, they recreate the social structures they rally against. He argued that as someone fights against the structures of their own society they do so with reference to that society.

This, in my mind, is where feminism intersects with French social theory…and just when you thought a topic couldn’t get any dryer.

I work hard, I study hard, and I play hard. I am the embodiment of the American work ethic. I work till my joints hurt, I study till my eyes go cross, and I fuck like a champ. I am a good Goddamn ‘Merican.

I do everything right. Why then can’t I get ahead?

Enter institutionalized sexism.

In an attempt to get ahead and to escape the gender roles put upon me, I have sought an education (this too is an approach advocated by my culture). After completing my graduate degree with excellent grades I went looking for a job. After a year of applying I was offered a job for 12-18k a year (no chance of a raise or healthcare). This was a serious offer and I considered it. Then I remembered I my old friend: French social theorist.

I am smart enough to know that as a woman the odds are, indeed, stacked against me (this is true even in academia). However, I seriously considered taking this job because I know that I am a rock star. I can work in conditions that would shock you. I can work till long after my face has gone numb from exhaustion and I can function on two hours of sleep for months on end. No, I’m not kidding.

I have also been trained to take the low paying job and work my way up.

NO. Just no.

I am functioning within a paradigm that is unique to my culture. As I rally against the discrimination I face on a daily basis I do so with reference to my culture. I recreate the structures of my own oppression. I believe, as many others do, that the harder I work the more I will be rewarded. This is not true. No one, I repeat no one, will see your value if you do not. Further, if your value is seen it will be abused. Simply working harder will not work.

You must function outside the paradigm of the American/Protestant work ethic and think beyond the cycle that enslaves you.

It was within this spirit that several months ago I began applying for work as a man ( What I discovered was that I had unconsciously been applying for work commonly thought of as women’s work: low paying adjunct teaching positions ( I was aware that I would not be hired for anything other than these jobs, and I erroneously thought a good work ethic would allow me to move up (this is both a recognition of my culture’s mores and biases, and a recreation of them). I was both consciously and unconsciously recreating the structures of institutionalized sexism and the Protestant work ethic. Once I removed myself from my identity as a woman, I was able to function outside the roles assigned to that identity. I also had to be careful not to naturally step into the stereotyped roles assigned to men.

Given this experience, I am going to advocate something very libertarian (and I, for various reasons, am NOT a libertarian): break the rules. Hell, break the law.

Find ways to step beyond the roles given to you and recreated by you, and try to function outside the structure that defines you for you, and therefore oppresses you. Do not allow yourself to be shaped, and to form, the structures of your own oppression. Do not fight within the system. If you know that women are unlikely to get a job in the higher echelons of academia, then apply as a man. Hell, be a man. If you know that working hard will not get you ahead, then don’t do it. Function outside the norm, take up ghost writing, buy encryption software, become someone else, and sell yourself on the black. Do something. Be radical. Risk it. Because if you are like me, you are working hard and not getting ahead; and, like me, you have nothing to lose but the identity and the social constructs that keep you back.

Break the rules before they break you. Break the fucking law.


Originally published August 19, 2013


Rape Laws – by Leah Rosenberg

This is a topic I’ve spent a significant amount of time rolling around in my head. I wasn’t completely ready to write this article yet, but in light of some recent events, I don’t think I can put it off any longer.

The group Anonymous recently released a disgusting video of a bunch of high school boys laughing about “raping a girl dead”. The video itself made me so sick I couldn’t even watch it. The carelessness with which these men were degrading and dehumanizing some poor young woman was so disgusting I couldn’t even stomach it without getting incredibly angry. Essentially, they were discussing a horrible rape that they and/or their friends had just committed on this young girl, laughing at her, calling her names, degrading her, etc. The kind of behavior one would expect from some heroined-out Taliban leader. It was vile and terrible, and the sad fact of the matter is that it happens all the time.

There is a basic problem that exists in our culture, and which is strongly evidenced in this video. At the very core of the thing, men don’t seem to have an understanding that a woman’s body belongs to her. This seems a basic, easy to agree with statement, but it is far from such. I cannot count the amount of times someone has grabbed my genitals, grabbed my breasts, pulled down my shirt, copped a feel, etc. This isn’t something someone does out of innate respect for my body being mine, this is done by someone who doesn’t give a fuck how I feel about it because they want to touch a boob.

I honestly don’t know where the breakdown is. I don’t think those men grabbing me inappropriately or even those guys in that video were raised specifically to disrespect women. I think there are multiple factors involved. I think they have mothers who may not respect themselves, who possibly didn’t raise their daughters to value themselves and didn’t raise their sons to value other people. I think that likely their fathers were much the same as their mothers. I think that somewhere along the line when teaching kids to do their math homework, not steal other kid’s toys, and not to pull their sister’s hair, no one is actually saying to anyone “Respect other people. No one belongs to you besides you.”

But being raped is bad enough, what happens afterwards is a huge tragedy, and can be an even bigger injustice than the rape itself. In college, one of my friends was raped at a bar. He roofied her drink and dragged her up to the hotel room and raped her. The next day she went to the doctor and did the rape-kit. This was in Las Vegas, and they were not shy about telling her that she shouldn’t prosecute. They had plenty of cameras all over the casinos, but according to the authorities, it would just look like one more drunk girl going to a room with some guy in Vegas. She would have to prove she didn’t want it and they didn’t think it was worth it. They told her it wasn’t worth it to prosecute her rapist.

That was the first time I seriously considered our rape laws. The second time, I was in Law School. We were in my criminal defense class and the professor was trying to very carefully navigate this topic. There was a case we had to read in which the woman had been systematically abused both physically and psychologically. Her boyfriend raped her, and she left him, but due to a lot of promising and threatening on his part, she decided to have coffee with him the next day. While discussing the case a guy in my class who we’re going to call DB (for douche bag) said that it clearly wasn’t rape, she wanted it otherwise she wouldn’t have coffee with him the next day. After making mental note to never leave my drink uncovered near him, I decided to seriously consider his comment. The sad truth of it is that the entire case was about whether she wanted it.

If someone accuses a man of raping her, his only real defense is “it wasn’t rape, she consented”. This is called burden shifting and it forces the woman to go on a defensive and prove that she didn’t want it. There are several things you can use to prove this. The court will look at whether there is skin under your nails, whether you have bruises or tearing. But let’s say you did have bruising and skin under your nails, then the guy’s defense attorney says something along the lines of “she likes it rough”. – Essentially, as a rape victim you get to take the stand and have every aspect of your sexuality systematically examined. You are prosecuted instead of the man. You get to be called a slut and told you’re easy, in legal jargon of course because everyone has to try to sugar coat what they’re doing. And that’s if you even have enough balls to prosecute after the hospital and the police tell you that it’s not worth it to prosecute or simply don’t believe you. It’s horrible and it’s tragic, and it really pisses me off!

But what about the men? I knew a girl once who cheated on her boyfriend and didn’t use protection. She thought she might have been pregnant and freaked out so she told her boyfriend the guy raped her. To me, this is despicable. Not only does lying about something like that make it harder for women who actually have been raped because no one believes them, but it has the potential to completely ruin that man’s life. Now, I have no idea what kind of sex stuff that girl was into, but let’s say for argument’s sake she really did “like it rough” and had skin under her nails and some bruising. That man’s life could have been ruined. And for what? Because he made a bad decision about who to have sex with?

I do not know how to legally redefine rape. I have been thinking about this for many years and I honestly don’t know that I can come up with a better system, but there has got to be something I’m overlooking. It is simply unacceptable to essentially accuse all raped women of having wanted it, while the men get to sit there like DB from law school and frat boy chuckle “she wanted it”.

But redefining rape laws won’t solve the problems of the actual rapes. At some point, men need to be taught that raping is in fact wrong. Not a little wrong, a lot wrong. Simply put, I don’t think men understand that women are more than bodies. We are an entire complex set of emotions, values, experiences, etc. that exist entirely separate from men. We are in fact sentient human beings. It is as though they somehow don’t understand that we are more than vaginas and boobs who say nice things and smell good.

As a feminist, I am convinced that the reason for this is because of the female sexual subjugation. How many of us were raised believing that sex was something we did for our husband? From birth we have been taught that our sexuality is not ours. We have been taught to cover it, hide it, and protect it from men that may want it who aren’t our husbands or future husbands. How many of us have been called sluts or whores by other women or worse, our own mothers, when we broke the carefully programmed pattern and refused to do this? When we said loud and proud “I’m going to give this guy I met at a bar a blowjob because I want to!” was it not the other women scoffing at us and calling us whores? Why would men stop degrading us for our sexuality when we continue to do it to other women? No doubt there is something very wrong with men, but there is also something very wrong with us.

Many people (especially my dad) think my “slut” shirts are vulgar and unnecessary. I obviously disagree entirely. I think they are necessary. I think that if I am going to take a stand for female sexuality and say that victims shouldn’t be placed on the stand and made to defend why they got raped, if I’m going to say that women need to accept sexuality as being something that exists for them and not just for a man, then I need to accept the same thing on a personal level. At the end of the day my shirts tell the world that at least as far as I am concerned, you cannot subjugate my sexuality. You cannot call me a whore or a slut, you cannot make me feel bad about being sexually active, and to hell with you for trying. I think my “slut” shirts are very necessary, and I also just like them. I sincerely hope that you do too.


Originally published January 29, 2013

Reproductive Rights and Mental Health – by Leah Rosenberg

I’m a lawyer. Sometimes I have to write about the law. I can’t help it. I’ll try to spice it up for you guys by adding some mild profanity and some colorful examples. I’m actually pretty excited about this topic, I once did a presentation on it in law school, went over my time, and was docked a bit for being a little passionate. Well, now I get to write it for you and not for some stuffy judge or pretentious law school professor. Hell, I’m even going to write it in the first person, and directly talk to my audience instead of pretending like I’m writing for the benefit of the cosmos. I’m such an academic rebel.

Historically, reproduction has been a really big deal. I get it, it’s kind of what keeps our entire species around. This is obviously centered around women. Men of course spend about 2-60 minutes contributing to this, and then us ladies get the next 10 months. Not to downplay their generous sharing of genetics, but we do all the work. In order for our species to continue, it is REALLY important that we be allowed to do this. It is natural that we be expected to do this, and it is logical for people to experience an odd primal panic when they hear that we have chosen not to do this.

I’m going to skip the whole abortion and access to birth control debate that centers around our choice not to reproduce. That’s a topic for another day. Today is about how the law deals with our choice to reproduce. And for the most part, the law (in the US) is totally on board with our right to reproduce. This is a seriously protected right. In order to tell a woman she can’t reproduce, she has to be mentally ill, with pretty much no hope of ever getting better.

You wouldn’t believe the steps you have to go through to sterilize a woman. There are guardians, court dates, experts, mental evaluations, psychologists, testimony from family, doctors, it’s a huge process. It takes years. The case law on this where women have been sterilized all centers around mentally retarded women who have the sexual drive of a grown woman and an entirely non existent mental capacity for understanding how reproduction works or what is happening to their bodies. Essentially, unless your mental age is below about 10, you get to reproduce. Even if it is below the age of 10, there are all those previously mentioned doctors, court dates, legal guardians, etc. that you have to go through before they sterilize you. Not only that, but there has to be absolutely no hope that you will ever get better. None. There also has to be some sort of demonstrated history of your desire and ability to interact with sperm in a way that could get you pregnant. If you’re mentally 3 and live in a woman’s home, you’re not getting sterilized.

I like my rights to reproduce, and I think they’re seriously important. To this point, I am completely on board with the law. I like it, it makes sense, and it protects the single most important part of our remaining a species, our ability to reproduce. This being a feminist blog, I obviously take issue with something, and that thing I take an issue with is how easily a mother can be deemed unfit to actually raise her child once she has birthed it.

Let’s go over some history of the reasons women have gotten their kids taken away from them. Back in the day (not very long ago at all) a woman could have her kids taken away because she was now dating a black guy, and that obviously made her unfit to be a mom because she was subjecting her children to an obviously immoral and damaging situation. The same goes for women who took lesbian lovers, women who decided their careers were important, and women with mental health issues. The law has evolved, thankfully, and now in order to have your kids taken away it has to be proven that you’re seriously fucked in the head, or have some sort of serious drug problem. Superficially, this makes sense. My issue is with what kind of mental illness can qualify as a deal breaker in your rights to raise your children.

I’ll give you some background here. My family has some history of serious mental issues. Mostly severe depression, with a plethora of personality disorders thrown in to spice it up a bit. Depression gets dull, you know? Growing up with this was obviously quite traumatic, and like every good Jew out there, I spent years in therapy overcoming some of the obstacles this placed in front of me. Was it fun growing up with my mother? No. I don’t even talk to her anymore. That being said, I have sadly inherited many of her issues. I go through periods of severe depression, and have been forced to develop coping skills. That sucked, and was really hard work. But would I have been better off having never been subject to her crazy?

The answer for me is that I don’t know. Many of the more severe mental health issues appear to be inherited. That means once a crazy woman reproduces (I remind you of how seriously protected this right is) her offspring are likely to deal with many if not all of those exact same issues. Frankly, I’m not convinced that putting children in a setting with which they have no context to understand their own issues is really the thing to do.

This seems to be where I take issue with modern parenting. Most approach it as though they need to make life good for their kids. Well color my cynical, but life aint always good. For me (admittedly not a parent so I have no idea what I’m talking about, but this isn’t going to stop me) the most important part of parenting is preparing your kids for the sometimes really bad world that awaits them. Giving them the tools and perspective they will need to navigate everything that lies ahead of them and remain healthy, happy, productive people.

So what the law allows us to do is to take a kid destined for mental health issues, and put them in a “healthier” environment which provides them with none of the context needed to understand these issues. This can’t be good. At the same time, I’m the last person to say that a kid should be living in a crack den, so where do we draw the line?

Legally, the line is typically drawn where a woman demonstrates a continued and affirmative desire to abandon her child. This can be done in any number of ways, but usually can be done by showing a continued pattern and little hope of her changing. Enter aforementioned doctors, representatives, etc. There are a lot of us always getting involved. But this is just a permanent cutting off of parental rights. The road to temporarily taking away custody is much shorter. Depending on the state, this can be done quite easily. Not to leave men out of this, it is actually an even bigger problem for them as the law does typically lean towards women keeping kids. That 2 minute contribution to the genetic code carries lifelong implications for the offspring, so I don’t want to discount them here either.

The point, however, is that depending on the skill level of the lawyers and the applicable state law, a woman can still get her kids taken away for raising them in a way the state deems to not be in the “best interest” of the child. The best interest is an across the board legal standard, with the differences being in how a state decides what that child’s best interests are. That’s right. The state, the government, decides whether you’re a good mom. This means that someone whose views differ from the people in their surroundings can easily have their kids removed, because after all, its not in that kids best interest to see their mom date other women, or black men. Thank you to the south for most of that case law.

So what all this law tells us is that it is super important that we women make babies, but that we don’t get to raise them unless we keep ourselves totally in line with how people think the kids should be raised. So it might be okay to spank your kids if you live on a farm, but if you’re an upper east side new Yorker, well that is simply not going to fly. Say hello to child protective services and goodbye to your kids. On the same note, if you live on that farm and are busy shacking up with all the other ladies on the neighboring farms like a good Yankee liberal, well you better be sure that someone has a pretty good shot of convincing a judge somewhere that you’re seriously destroying your child’s mental health.

What the law tells us as women is that our most important right is to keep the species going by creating those babies. Once that’s done however, you can be deemed mentally ill and a liability to your kids. My argument is that even if you are, you still have a right to raise your children. The state’s job in all this, if any, should be to keep that kid alive. Beyond that, well let’s just hope for the best.

Putting such a high value on reproduction is counter-intuitive to putting such a low one on parental rights. Logical inconsistencies bother the hell out of me, and frankly I take great issue with the fact that the state sees my uterus as being more important than my brain. But this is, after all, a fundamental feminist issue, is it not?

As an extremely neurotic woman who is likely to severely damage my future children’s mental health as soon as their old enough to discover my blog, this is a big issue for me. Yes, I’m going to traumatize the hell out of them eventually, and I’m going to pass on those fun genetics that are going to force them to deal with crippling depression. Lucky them. But isn’t that my right? Hell, if we want to be logically consistent here, and reproducing is my duty, well them raising them in whatever way I want is also my duty, and one I fully intend to protect. So my vote is for letting crazy women keep their kids. Where do you stand on this issue? Comment below.


NOTE: At the time I wrote this blog, I didn’t have kids. I now have one and another on the way, and still stand by what I said.


Originally published September 13, 2012

Pregnancy, the Republican Way – by Leah Rosenberg

I’ve avoided just about everything about Obama Care. I’ve deleted all the emails, walked out on my Dad when he refused to stop complaining about it, and all around have refused to participate in any of the madness. Recently, however, I was forced to finally look it all up.

You see, I’ve decided to have a baby. More specifically, my uterus is holding my sanity hostage and is refusing to let me have it back till I get a hold of my boyfriend’s sperm. However you look at it, I’m in the midst of trying to plan a pregnancy. You’re going to need a little bit of background info on my demographics here. I’m unmarried, 28, and my income is such that I can’t afford 300 dollars a month on insurance, but enough that if I tried hard enough, I could probably get it done with 100 or even 150. No way could I do 300 though.

So, like the super responsible adult that I am (read: my boyfriend thinks it’s a bad idea to have kids before we can afford them), I researched how much a pregnancy would cost before going and getting pregnant. Turns out, it’s insanely expensive. I’m looking at 20-30 thousand dollars to get me through the birth and what not, and that’s assuming everything is mostly smooth sailing. The next logical step of course was to look for insurance. As it turns out, the only insurance I could possibly get runs about 300-350 a month. So nothing I can afford. The thing about this too is that you have to have that insurance for at least a year before you get pregnant, so even if we decided to have a kid in a year when things start looking better financially, we’re still screwed because we have to wait a year.

I then seriously considered government assistance. Medicaid and what not. Now, I have heard many a moral objection to such things. I’ve listened to the long and endless rants about the government stealing your money and giving it to poor lazy people who don’t want jobs, but the way I see I’ve been paying taxes for about 13 years and I haven’t asked for a dime of it back. So I have absolutely no problem using that money now, if I needed it to get me through a pregnancy. It was mine to start with, right? All of this moral and political rambling doesn’t actually get us anywhere though because as it turns out, I make too much money to qualify for it! Aint that swell!

So, I’m wedged nicely in a bracket of women who make too much to afford government assistance, but not enough to actually afford insurance. So the answer for now, although completely unacceptable, would be to wait to get pregnant. But let’s play pretend here and say I got pregnant on accident. Basically, I’m completely fucked. Fair warning, I am going to have to call out the Republicans here. The republicans hate planned parenthood, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, etc. They do however support marriages with no homo, believe that a woman has no right to her own body, and think that people should worry about money and be financially responsible above all else. Except I’m a little confused as to whether they think it’s more important that I be financially responsible, or that I not be allowed to act like a whore? I digress. Now yes, I am being a bit dramatic about the republicans here, but I’m making a point damn it! Hear me out.

So let’s go back to the scenario in which I find myself an unwed pregnant woman without insurance. Doesn’t matter if I can afford it because I can’t have it. This could have been prevented by birth control of course, but I shouldn’t have cheap access to that because god is trying to teach me not to be a whore and that’s why he gave me the baby. Got it. I can’t have an abortion of course, because I don’t have any rights to my own body. I can’t mooch off of the government because I am not broke enough, and morally they say I shouldn’t be doing that anyway. So what’s left to me? Well, I go to the hospital anyway and have a baby, and get sent to collections for twenty thousand dollars. It is then perfectly legal for the hospital or it’s agent to stalk the holy hell out of me and refuse to let me pay anything back in portions, because their policies state that they need a lump sum payment once I’m more than 60 days late. So, I’m being stalked by creditors, they’re garnishing my wages, I’m many thousands of dollars in debt, and there is literally no way out other than bankruptcy. But NO! That’s not responsible! People should take care of their own obligations! I am up a creek without a paddle.

Assuming my boyfriend has insurance, my only option then is to get married. Which I would argue constitutes insurance fraud, but that doesn’t matter. Like a good woman, I am now my husband’s responsibility. I have clearly learned my place, and my lesson about trying to make it through the world without a man and without being considered property. Oh but wait! Maybe I’m that extra special kind of evil the republicans like to call a homosexual!!!! Let’s say for argument’s sake here that my boyfriend is actually my girlfriend. I got knocked up because the condom broke when we brought home a guy for a threesome, or from when I had a momentary and short lived enlightenment which cause me to desire men again, if only for a short period of time. Or hell, maybe I just got raped. According to some republicans I still shouldn’t have an abortion, so we’re in the same spot, only now I can’t get married because the government doesn’t allow sinful homos like me to get married!!!

In case you can’t tell from my tone, I’m about a thousand different kinds of pissed off about this. The Republicans would have it set up in such a way that it would literally be impossible for me to have a baby within the next 3 years unless I forced myself into their mold of what a woman should be. Well fuck them!! I’m not going for it!

Conveniently for me, Obamacare has provisions that say this sort of discrimination is no longer ok. As of 2014 pregnancy isn’t a pre-existing condition, and they can’t charge me 3 times the amount of coverage for having a uterus. Now, I’m not speaking to ANY of the other provisions of Obama care as this is literally the only aspect of it I have researched, but suffice it to say I’m thrilled about it! Believe it or not I agree with so much of what the Republicans have to say, but setting up a system wherein I am literally forced to be the exact kind of person they want me to be is fundamentally unacceptable. I can not and I will not mold myself to the republican image of who I should be. Instead, I will be more than happy to pay for the cost of my insurance, and I will gladly become insured. And when I use that Obama care protection to have a baby, I fully intend to raise it to be just as liberal, homo loving, pro-choice, and independent as I am!


Note: Since I wrote this, I was able to obtain insurance and have a kid. They billed my insurance over 60 thousand dollars for the birth! Insane!!! The good news is, they’ve updated some of those no homo laws, so yay!


Originally published November 8, 2012