A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But, the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.
Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:
Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively), became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.
It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:
Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”
Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.
“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.
In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.
Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.
One of the more extraordinary experiences of my medical career was injecting rural African women with a long-term contraceptive in a Catholic mission hospital under a portrait of Pope Paul VI. The contraceptive was handed to me by an aged Swiss nun who was otherwise deeply orthodox, but who recognized that worn-out women who had already had ten children were in danger of their lives if they had any more. I refrained from remarking on the paradox: I had already learned that there is more to life than intellectual consistency.
In the west, of course, the problem of unwanted pregnancy is different: it arises mainly among teenagers of what used to be called the lower classes. Pregnancy rates among the latter in the United States are among the highest in the western world. According to a paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, such pregnancies cost the United States $10 billion a year: to me a suspiciously round figure, especially as it includes the cost of education foregone by the pregnant girls. Perhaps I am a cynic, but I am not altogether so sanguine about the economic value of modern education. Be that as it may, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set a goal of reducing teenage pregnancy by 20 percent between 2009 and 2015.
An experiment conducted in St Louis provided 1404 girls aged between 14 and 19 with free contraceptive advice and free long-acting contraceptive devices to see whether such provision would reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancy among them. The comparison group was that of similar girls in the rest of the United States who were not included in the experiment.
Being an enthusiastic natural birth proponent, I’m a member of a good number of Facebook groups for moms interested in natural birth. In one of the home birth groups I’m a member of, women began to discuss having an “unassisted birth” also known as a “freebirth.” My interest piqued by craziness on the Internet, I did a quick Google search (don’t look at the Wikipedia page if you’re at work or around wandering eyes). An unassisted birth is just what it sounds like: a birth, usually at home, alone or with one’s partner, not attended by a professional midwife or doctor. If you’re thinking “Boy, that sounds dangerous!” you’re right. A leading blogger of the “Freebirth” movement in Australia, Janet Fraser, buried her stillborn baby girl in 2009. The baby in all likelihood would have been born totally healthy had she had a home birth attended by a licensed midwife or in a hospital with a doctor and nurses present. The death spurred an inquest in which the coroner concluded “the child had died because the only people she had elected to be present at the birth – her partner and her best friend – could not deal with the complications of a cord entanglement.” That birth story, which happened in March 2009, has never appeared on the Joyous Birth website, still run by Fraser.
This case is an extreme example of members of this movement of women who, for any number of reasons, plan to have their children without the assistance of medical professionals. Being an super professional journalist absolute voyeur, I joined every Facebook group I could find on Unassisted Birth to give you insight into these women and their motivations. Here are some things I learned, in list form, of course:
1. Money is a factor.
Not surprisingly, many women in the group explain that they are having an unassisted birth because they cannot afford to have a midwife attendant at their home birth. Most home birth midwives’ services aren’t covered by insurance and none are covered by Medicaid, leaving women with the choice of a hospital birth or an unattended one. Others state that they have no medical insurance, which would make an out -of-pocket hospital birth astronomically expensive for even a middle class family. The United States is the most costly place to give place in the world, with the average vaginal birth clocking in at $30,000 and the average c-section costing $50,000.
As I sit here, 3 days shy of the due date of my third child, I have had time to reflect on all that really annoys me about this last stage of pregnancy. Chief among them is the stupid things people say. Yes, some of you people are people I love, but I’m allowed to be grouchy. Someone is literally sitting on my last nerve causing my right leg to be numb most of the time. There are lots of things you don’t say to pregnant women like “Hey, you’re not really eating for two!” or “You look tired,” but nothing rankles more than when in the last days of pregnancy people seem to lose their sensitivity controls. The following are things I’ve heard in the last week that make me want to high five someone… in the face.
7. “Enjoy this time. You’re going to miss it.”
I did enjoy this pregnancy and that ended about one month ago. The belly was fun, the cute maternity shirts were fun (back when they fit me). I enjoyed walking back then, I sort of remember what that was like to get out and stroll about without pain and constant fear of a jab to the cervix at an inopportune time that almost sends me to my knees weeping. But at about 8 months along all of that became a distant memory. There’s absolutely nothing I’m going to miss about being 40 weeks pregnant. Every fetal movement is painful and most of the time it’s excruciating; strangers look at me with their finger on the 911 button because I’ve just cried out in public and grabbed my extended belly and they think I’m in labor. Nope, not labor, just a future martial-arts expert kicking the crap out of my spleen.
But thanks for the concern.
I’m not going to miss having to pull myself into the car in three deliberate maneuvers trying not to aggravate the round ligament pain flare-ups. (If you don’t know what that is, just thank God and move on.) I will not miss the searing heartburn and acid reflux that no amount of antacid will quench and that wake me up literally gagging for air every hour every night. I will not miss the constant trips to the bathroom only to find out there’s nothing in my bladder, just someone on it. I will not miss dropping things I care about on the ground and leaving them there to avoid having to bend over to fetch them. Goodbye iPhone. That’s what insurance is for. I will not miss crying for no reason while chopping vegetables and having to explain to my children why Mommy is sobbing. “I DON’T KNOW, OK?? You people cry whenever you want, why can’t I?”
Please stop telling me I am going to miss this time. It makes me want to throw things at your head.
10. Americans are all obese.
From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.
The CW is planning to add Jane the Virgin to its fall lineup. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, Jane the Virgin is about an intentionally virginal girl who is “accidentally artificially inseminated” by her OB-GYN:
Jane stars Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown) as a hard-working, devout Latina who is kind of hoping her boyfriend proposes — though she’s a little worried he’ll get down on one knee so she’ll finally agree to do the deed. When a mix-up at the OB-GYN leads to that artificial insemination plot line, Jane must choose whether to keep the baby — and whether to let the handsome father into her life.
Aside from containing a number of Spanish stereotypes, including the paranoid grandmother putting the fear of God into her pre-teen daughter (“Once you lose your virginity, you can never go back!“) to a cast of overtly sexualized Latinas, the show appears to be a platform for some long overdue, serious conversation regarding abortion. However, the show sounds eerily like one of the most famously influential and revered plot lines in the West’s repertoire, leaving one to wonder how a primarily Protestant audience might handle a story that’s been a hit in a Catholic country.
When it comes to the primarily pathetic representation of Latinas on television (does Sofia Vergara have to do it all?) at least Jane the Virgin appears to lack the typical trashiness of Devious Maids.
This past Sunday, American audiences finally had their chance to wave goodbye to Nurse Jenny Lee, the lead character in the famed Masterpiece series Call the Midwife. However sad it may be, the departure of the show’s Hollywood-bound lead actress Jessica Raine was, ironically, in no way a traumatic one.
Most American shows die when their lead actor disappears. Dan Stevens’ untimely departure from Downton Abbey still enrages fans over a year later. Yet, while Nurse Jenny Lee will be a much missed character, fans are far from outraged at her departure. Perhaps this is because Call the Midwife was never just about Jennifer (Lee) Worth, but about the many lives she encountered and a profession that is finally being given the credit it so sorely deserves. But there is more to the massive success of what began as a 6-episode BBC show about nursing in mid-century London’s bombed-out East End than giving credit where credit is due.
In an era of roughshod marketing tactics and semiotic overload, Call the Midwife, with its pure, heartfelt approach to the vicissitudes of life, is therapeutic television. We are a desensitized audience: No one cries when a pregnant mother is stabbed to death on Game of Thrones. Yet, everyone, including the burly guys on set, shed a tear at every birth on Call the Midwife. We are treated to an East End rife with chamber pots, not sexy chamber maids, and yet audiences are drawn to the show in droves. We love the midwives, even when they are dressed in habits and wimples; they are the ideal face of medicine, mother, and God in an era when we’ve been taught to doubt all three. Like a nurse checking our pulse, Call the Midwife reminds us that we are human after all, and perhaps not as sick as we’ve been led to believe.
And yet, while TV execs struggle with sex and violence in the name of Tweet power, they remain blind to Call the Midwife’s axiom for success: There is powerful endurance in simple truth. Call the Midwife will survive without the character of Jenny Lee because the show has embraced Jennifer Worth’s own mystical sense of timelessness. It is the stuff that fueled her memoirs of both London’s East End and her time as a nurse caring for the dying. Brilliantly captured in the season finale, this sense of the eternal in both life and death is what makes Call the Midwife a healing balm of a show and transcendental television in its finest form. Forget bloody battles and wild, nameless sex. Call the Midwife empowers its audience with the strength to face, not escape, life’s pressures, and the faith to believe that while “weeping may happen for a night, joy breaks forth in the morning.”
Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.
David, in your last response in our ongoing dialogue about Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous, you cited another disturbing passage from the book (shown above) and paired it with some of your own relationship experiences:
Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.
Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. …The main takeaway that I’ve gotten from Paglia, supplemented by additional reading from books like A History of Sexual Customs and James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0, is that throughout human history the Judeo-Christian conception of monogamous marriage is actually the “deviant,” unnatural way to live. History shows that the more “normal” way for both men and women to treat each other is the same way animals do in the wild — as disposable meat. Humans’ default setting is not to love just one person forever. When we do we are rising above our nature; do I go too far that Love itself is not natural?
David, I must congratulate you on your epiphany. You have discovered a truth that many in the mainstream Bible-believing sphere have tried to avoid for years: Those who put their faith in the Bible are the cultural deviants. How hilarious is it that a self-proclaimed atheist can state this so clearly? Then again, one of the reasons Paglia has been blacklisted by liberals is that she is so willing to discuss the difference between pagan and Godly behaviors. Liberals, especially the Marxists in the bunch, long ago learned that it’s much easier to behave badly when you do it under the guise of being Godly. In this case, Paglia’s too honest for her own good.
There is a nearly 1,200-mile-wide desert of abortion providers stretching from the western border of Idaho to the eastern borders of North and South Dakota. Across this five-state expanse, the total number of cities that offer any form of abortion access can be counted on just two hands. Montana used to be an oasis in that abortion desert, with four clinics in four different cities offering both surgical and medication abortion options, but not anymore.
Montana has gone from four surgical abortion centers in the last year to two in the wake of dedicated abortion provider Dr. Susan Wicklund’s recent retirement.
Even more troubling to the Daily Beast:
Between 2010 and 2013, one in 10 clinics closed across the country—and that was before Texas’s HB 2 began to go into effect, which will close another 20.
Emily Likins, communications director at the Blue Mountain Clinic in Billings, Montana (one of the state’s two remaining abortion providers) said, “We are busy here, and so overbooked. We are short on equipment, short on space, short on providers and short on nurses.”
Well that sounds really safe, doesn’t it? Are the butcheries having that much difficulty finding people to work for them?
She said they have to tell women, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t get you in this week, and you’re only 9 weeks so we can wait until you are 10.’ We hate doing that,” Likins said. “We don’t want to force people to walk around pregnant when they don’t want to be.”
Not for one extra minute! (But really, what difference does it make? They can charge more for the late-term jobs.)
The article notes that more than 100 bills limiting access to abortion have passed in multiple states since 2011. Many of these laws have been aimed at increasing the safety of abortion clinics in the wake of the horrific conditions discovered at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia.
Despite the legislative victories for those who support the sanctity of life, the Daily Beast warns that they may be short-lived. “For states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, the only thing standing between losing most or all of their clinics are court orders blocking bills from being enforced.”
Because finding a sympathetic judge is way easier than winning legislative battles.
If that fails, maybe Michelle Obama can make adopting abortion deserts her new project for President Obama’s second term. Roadside stands anyone?
Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.
In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”
Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.
Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.
Look. Just go ahead and ban all the things. Except the things that we used to call evil and sins and that were obviously pretty harmful. Keep them. Ban the rest.
It’s a pretty bold move to blast Girl Scout cookies, those precious sugary treats whose limited run from late winter to early spring is just about over for the year.
But a few brave voices argue it’s no longer all that delightful to see little girls peddling packaged cookies, or to buy them in the name of supporting the community. (And no, this is not an April Fools’ joke.)
To some doctors and parents, the tradition increasingly feels out of step with the uncomfortable public health realities of our day.
“The problem is that selling high-fat sugar-laden cookies to an increasingly calorie-addicted populace is no longer congruent with [the Girl Scouts' aim to make the world a better place].” That’s what John Mandrola, a heart doctor in Louisville, Ky., on his blog in March. (He also blogs for Medscape/Cardiology.)
The sentiment was echoed by Diane Hartman, a writer and editor in Denver, who penned an indignant in the Denver Post, “Why are we letting Girl Scouts sell these fattening cookies?”
Exactly. Preach it, sister. Why are we allowing some people to do things that we personally disapprove, except those things that used to be taboo, which are a-ok now? Just ban all the things. Flip the script. Bring the hammer of gubmint down on them all.
Because, concern, and feelings, and all that crap.
See these two girls? They’re minions of evil, er, if we still believed in evil. Which hardly anyone does anymore.
Seems to me, one thing evil would do if it existed would be to divide people and distract them over stupid little stuff with no moral content, while really big issues carrying vast implications just slip past with no moral discussion whatsoever.
That would be a clever strategy.
Jamelle Bouie argued in Slate recently that “Conservative evangelicals didn’t always care much about abortion or contraception.” Bouie’s article relies largely on the memoir of Jonathan Dudley, who claimed that evangelicals were mostly pro-choice from the 1960s until the rise of the religious right in politics in the 1980s:
It took the organizational might of Falwell and his “Moral Majority”—as well as evangelical anti-abortion figures such as Francis Schaeffer—to galvanize evangelicals around other “culture war” issues such as feminism, homosexuality, and school prayer. This in turn led to alliances with largely Catholic organizations like the National Right to Life Committee.
At First Things Dale M. Coulter concedes that there was a shift in Christian thought on the issues of abortion and contraception beginning in the 1960s but disagrees with the conclusion that Christians were historically absent from debates about the morality of abortion throughout history and in the decades leading up to the 1980s. Coulter cites the concerns over severe birth defects during the time that thalidomide was administered to expectant mothers, concerns over population control and the perception that these were “Catholic” issues as reasons for some of the lax views on abortion during that time, but gives numerous examples of Christians who were vocal opponents. ”This lax view,” Coulter says, “was not universally held even at the time.”
Coulter says Dudley does not take into account contextual factors in history or the history of Christian thought on the issues. “To say Evangelicals were latecomers to opposing abortion represents a selective reading of history, and a false one,” Coulter argues.
He does, however, agree with Bouie that Schaeffer’s 1983 book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (written with Dr. C. Everett Koop) was a “catalyst for a return to a staunchly pro-life position” in evangelical Christian thought.
Schaeffer, a philosopher, theologian, and pastor, helped to lead Christian thought back to the traditional view that life is sacred. He made his case through spiritual, legal, and intellectual arguments, framing the issue of abortion within the context of human rights, and contrasting the naturalistic worldview to a theistic view that affirmed the dignity of the unborn and their right to life. Schaeffer wrote,
“If man is not made in the image of God, nothing, then, stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened.”
In a video series based on the book, Schaeffer makes the case for the rights of the unborn and their connection to the larger human community:
Abortion is not only a religious issue, it is a human issue. The fate of the unborn is the fate of the human race. We are all one human family and thus, when the rights of any part of that human family are denied it’s of concern to all of us. What is involved here is the very essence of what true freedom and true rights are all about. Life is sacred — the first, and most precious gift that God gives us…the term ‘abortion on demand’ is a euphemism for man playing God.
Warning: graphic descriptions below.
Most of us shared a collective gasp last week when news broke that aborted babies in the UK were incinerated and, in some cases, used to heat hospitals. Mike McNally wrote,
It’s emerged that several National Health Service (NHS) trusts in the UK have been routinely burning the bodies of aborted babies as “clinical waste,” and that in at least two cases the remains were used to heat hospitals – an example of ruthless efficiency if ever there was one. This is what happens when the progressive left’s culture of death meets the heartless bureaucracy of socialized healthcare.
This, of course, has led many to wonder what happens to American babies after they’re aborted. Is the way they are treated upon their demise in the United States any less gruesome than the way they are disposed of across the pond?
Sadly, in our country, aborted babies are treated like trash—medical waste—and they are commonly incinerated. In some cases, the remains are dumped in landfills with other “solid waste” or ground up and dumped into sanitary sewers.
Laws vary by state. California requires that “pathology waste,” which includes recognizable anatomical parts or human tissue specimens, “must be treated by incineration.” New Mexico requires either incineration or interment. In Ohio the law simply says that “products of conception…shall be disposed of in a humane manner,” whatever that means, since “humane” is not defined in the statute.
Texas offers several options for disposal of “tissues or fetuses” (not for the squeamish):
1 Incineration followed by deposition of the residue in a sanitary landfill;
2. Grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system;
4. Steam disinfection followed by interment;
5. Moist heat disinfection followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill;
6. Chlorine disinfection/maceration followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill; or
7. An approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.
Dear God, what kind of country have we become? Surely we have lost our national soul when our laws can speak in such sanitary and pragmatic terms about the bodies of tiny human beings using words like “grinding,” “maceration” and rendering them “unrecognizable” so they can be deposited into a “sanitary landfill.”
If there’s one refreshing thing to be said of the season finale of Girls, it’s that Lena Dunham is not a stereotypical feminist after all.
The series finale of Girls opens with Hannah bumping into Adam’s looney sister who is now living with her equally nutty downstairs neighbor, Laird. Newly returned from a hippie commune, the pair are expecting their first child. Hannah asks and is granted permission to touch Caroline’s womb, which she does so with an expression of both doubt and awe. In the next scene, Hannah walks into her own apartment and she touches her own womb in absent-minded contemplation. She is then quickly distracted by an acceptance letter to graduate school in Iowa.
In her typical selfish fashion, Hannah presents her grad school acceptance to Adam minutes before his Broadway premiere. If it wasn’t so sweetly presented you’d think it was a vengeful move. Consequently, Adam feels that his performance has been thrown off. As a result, their relationship goes into full meltdown at the stage door after the show. Adam is outraged that Hannah presented her success to him before he went live: “Why can’t anything ever be easy with you?” he questions angrily.
The well played plot point mirrored Shoshanna’s own struggle at Ray’s rejection. “If memory serves, you’re the one who jettisoned me a while ago,” Ray comments before Shoshanna interjects, ”I want you back,” explaining, “I made a mistake…this entire year of freedom was just f-ing stupid…you make me want to be the best version of myself, and I just want to pretend that I was never not your girlfriend before.” “You pushed me forward in a lot of ways and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Ray explains before finishing with, “but right now, we’re in two different places with very, very, very different goals.”
In the post-episode commentary, Dunham focused on the idea that “relationships aren’t easy,” but the full impact is smarter than that: The episode that begins with the announcement of a pregnancy ends with Hannah’s excited expectations for what Iowa may bring. Embracing second wave feminist legacy, Dunham’s pregnancy metaphor introduces the next battle in the Children versus Career war, questioning the point of male/female sexual relationships.
Rupert Holmes once penned a beautiful line regarding two characters parting in the series Remember WENN: “This is what happens to love when people are in love.” Love is more than a sexual high, a status symbol, or a comfort zone. Love is required work, firstly on the part of one’s self. In their me-driven environment, second wave feminists created the idea that a romantic relationship, not unlike a commune, is nothing more than the temporal cohabitation of two individuals with shared interests. That ideology gave birth to the “Selfie Generation” of which Hannah Horvath is Queen.
Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”
Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.
What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.
Here is your one and only warning: I am going to discuss some House of Cards plot points from season two. But don’t write and say I spoiled the show for you. The writers did that.
While the first season of House of Cards was hardly realistic, the plotting–especially the moves of its main character, Congressman Frank Underwood–was adroit and fascinating.
But in season two Frank Underwood has gone from being an amoral scheming man of unquenchable ambition to a monster with fewer human feelings than Tony Soprano—much fewer. Unlike Breaking Bad, where we saw a man’s gradual slide from compromising with evil to embracing it, House of Cards lurched into full-blown sociopathy with jarring fashion.
So if you tuned back in to House of Cards this season looking for moments of sheer brilliance like Frank Underwood’s eulogy at the funeral of the girl who drove off the road while texting about the giant-peach water tower—with its mix of pathos, compassion and, yes, self-interest–you will be severely disappointed.
Instead, we are treated to an impenetrable plot about Chinese trade negotiations and illegal campaign finance, and the way Frank is going to use it to undermine the president since he is next in line. But nearly everything about this plot is not how it would, or could, happen in real life—and is weirdly confusing and obvious at the same time.
Worst of all, the House of Cards’ ideological slip is showing, with a complete nonsensical portrait of a “Tea Party” senator who votes “no” on the biggest entitlement reform since entitlements were invented because… well, just because he’s an idiot.
This is in sharp contrast to the CBS legal/political drama The Good Wife. Most of the campaign events and media kerfuffles make sense—as does the public’s reaction to them. You can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys (or the smart guys from the stupid guys) by their ideology (although extreme leftists like a global warming obsessed federal judge are generally the kookiest characters).
But best of all, good people can do less than admirable things they shouldn’t in the heat of the moment, while antagonists are not always evil or stupid, they are just on the other side of the issue. Though sometimes they are evil or stupid.
Kind of like life outside the political bubble.
Oh yeah, and here’s how every Eliot Spitzer/Anthony Weiner/Mark Sanford press conference should end:
People with Down syndrome can live a happy life.
That’s the message of the inspiring video created by CoorDown, an Italian organization that advocates for children with Down syndrome.
The video says that CoorDown received an email in February:
I’m expecting a baby. I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?
Fifteen children with Down syndrome from around the world reassure this scared mom unequivocally: People with Down syndrome can live a happy life!
Sadly, many of these frightened mothers will choose abortion — studies say up to 90% of children with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated before they take their first breath.
The beautiful children in this video admit that life with a disabled child can be challenging:
Sometimes it will be difficult. Very difficult. Almost impossible. But isn’t it like that for all mothers?
But oh, the hugs! And the smiles of these children!
Dear Future Mom: Your child can be happy. Just like I am. And you’ll be happy too!
What a great message for World Down Syndrome Day today!
Has Steven Ertelt left LifeNews and started blogging for the gossip site TMZ? A story posted early this morning about the tragic death of a celebrity couple’s unborn son at 20 weeks gestation is a surprising example of a celebration of the sanctity of life in the mainstream media.
Shayne Lamas and her husband Nik Richie went through every parent’s worst nightmare last week: the death of a child. Lamas went into severe distress and lost the 20-week old baby she had been carrying. TMZ reported on the death using words not normally utilized for the unborn. He, not it, was described not as a fetus, but instead was accurately called what he was: a beautiful little boy whose life was cut tragically short.
Shayne Lamas and husband Nik Richie not only tragically lost their 20-week-old unborn baby last week … Nik was put through one of the most heart-wrenching moments a father can bear — having to name and hold the baby after it died.
TMZ broke the story … Shayne suffered a rare pregnancy complication last week and underwent an emergency hysterectomy to save her life and stop the massive bleeding. In the process, she lost her baby.
Nik tells TMZ … a few days after the baby died, a social worker from the hospital, along with someone involved in the religion affiliated with the hospital, came to him and asked if he wanted to know the gender of his baby. He said yes, and they told him the baby was “a beautiful boy.”
But then Nik says, he was asked if he wanted to view his son to get closure. Nik says he nervously obliged and was taken to a room where his son lay. Nik says they asked him to hold the baby while they prayed.
A sad story, and an interesting one considering the glowing press coverage of Wendy Davis’s fight to ensure the demise of babies of a similar and even older gestational age.
How is it that the loss of Lamas and Richie’s son is a tragedy, and the fight to stop the heartbeats of other babies his age remains a moral obligation for those on the Left?
To describe babies up to 24 weeks (6 months) as “just a bunch of cells” while at the same time reporting that Richie was asked to fill out a birth certificate for his deceased son is an exercise in mental gymnastics that only the Left is capable of pulling off. One cannot mourn the loss of a 20-week old baby while at the same time cheering a woman who advocates for his destruction. Somehow, the Left pulls off this hypocrisy, time and again.
The late Andrew Breitbart knew that the battle for America’s soul is waged as much in pop culture as it is anywhere else. Stories like this about the tragic death of this young soul should be widely disseminated by those on the Right, and rightfully mourned. The more those of us in the pro-life community can put a human face on the unborn, the better. The battle for life isn’t just in courtrooms, doctor’s offices and Capitol rotundas; it’s taking place every day on sites like TMZ.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in March of 2013. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…
Planned Parenthood certainly blusters a lot about helping women in need, but the truth is they make an awful lot of money off the grisly business of abortions. Their most recent annual report shows nearly $1 billion in assets and $997 million in revenues distributed to their local affiliates, plus another $177 million in revenues to the national office. By conservative estimates, abortions constitute 37% of Planned Parenthood’s revenues. Fair enough, I suppose, but isn’t it a little disturbing to think they have a business model (and a profit motive) that requires getting women onto the abortion tables with their feet in the stirrups?
With all the vitriol surrounding the abortion debate, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that every day mothers with unplanned pregnancies make life-altering decisions about their unborn babies. While politicians and activists battle over the legislative issues, compassionate counselors at non-profit pregnancy resource centers (and their donors) quietly make a monumental difference in the lives of mothers, fathers, and babies every hour of every day across the United States. They literally save the lives of babies.
It’s no wonder Planned Parenthood warns women to avoid these non-profit pregnancy centers which, let’s be honest, hurt their bottom line.
Here are some things you may not know — 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers:
So, I’m pregnant again. Surprise!
And as excited as I want to be, all I can do is fight through each day trying not to vomit in my purse or fall asleep while driving. It’s great. Most people wait until the second trimester to tell people, but in my case there’s no waiting because I can’t make up countless lies about why I can’t get out of bed, why I quit singing at church, why I dropped out of kickboxing, and why I have been basically out of life for the last month and a half. I’m one of those unfortunate people that gets ill and stays ill for about six out of the nine months of pregnancy. Everyone has heard “eat small meals more often” and “keep crackers nearby,” but what happens when those don’t work? If you’re anything like me, you need some tips that you might not have heard elsewhere.
1. Fruit is your friend
There are a two reasons for this:
- It’s sweet and tastes refreshing and citrus fruit especially has a scent that is not noxious to your new bloodhound nose.
- It feels okay coming back up.
Unfortunately, with most things I eat I have to ask myself, “what is this going to feel like on the way back up?” I learned that the hard way during pregnancy number 1 when I ate something heavy and it hadn’t digested before it came racing back up on me. The last thing you want when you have your head in a toilet is to also injure your throat in the process. Think soft fruit, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, grapes, fruit yogurt… it’s gross to think about but this is now my life (and I’m sure some of you are having the same problem.) Fruit is also high in nutrients that are good for you and the baby and it’s easy to eat with no preparation time.
2. Healthy shmealthy
All the pregnancy magazines and advice columns go on and on about getting the proper nutrients. Well, that would be great if I could choke them down without projectile vomiting! Thanks for that totally useless advice! We all know moms suffer from guilt naturally so when you’re pregnant you’re terrified you’re going to ingest the wrong thing or not enough of the right thing and…right on cue… there the media is to make you feel like crap!
My baby is going to have three heads because I couldn’t eat spinach! Forget that.
Don’t even read those magazines. Nutrition is important and you can focus on it after you get out of the “morning sickness” stage (which is really all-day-long sickness.) During first trimester Hell, simply eat what tastes good, if you can find anything. Even if it’s boxed macaroni and cheese or chocolate shakes for breakfast. Whatever you can keep down is great, not to mention a great excuse to blow that diet and eat whatever the heck you want for a few weeks. If you can’t do it when you’re sick as a dog and miserable, when can you? I’ve been making banana shakes in the morning with frozen bananas, milk and chocolate powder. They’re awesome. Try it.
Second wave feminism, popularized in the 1960′s, is a rich white girl’s game. Just ask Betty Friedan, or better yet, Wendy Davis.
PBS’s 1964 featured commentary on the then-nascent women’s movement that would become known as Second Wave Feminism. The segment contains clips of commercials advertising household products marketed to women to make their lives easier in the home juxtaposed by Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan’s response to these technological innovations: Women were increasingly bored.
Clips from a Friedan interview (what a miserable looking hag) reveal a perspective fueled by stereotypical thinking. Describing “the problem that has no name” she explains, “it’s not being anybody in themselves, really…” detailing that these women lack role models; even the women on TV are nothing more than ”mindless little drudge[s]…whose greatest thrill is to get that kitchen sink pure white…”. Embracing Freudian psychology, Friedan dismissed the roles of wife and mother as useless, even detrimental in light of the now-disputed Alfred Kinsey’s quack theory that “parasitical mother-love” made men gay.
The stereotypes upon which Friedan based her claim revels in the kind of ignorance common among upper middle class white women who could afford to be bored at home. Women composed over 1/3 of the workforce in 1960; contrary to Friedan’s audience, 19 million women were active in the labor force in 1964. When commenting on why black women by and large never read Friedan’s book, Michelle Bernard observed that most black women “…believed that Friedan’s work spoke only to a privileged class of white women who had nothing better to do than whine about how difficult life was as a stay at home mother.”
It becomes obvious reading The Feminine Mystique that Friedan never intended to market to an audience of working women who would’ve appreciated the technological innovations entering the home. Friedan loaded her book with (now disputed) academic citations that would only have been recognizable by her fellow Smith College graduates and their educated, upper-class compatriots. This nomeklatura-style intellectualism comes as no surprise when Friedan’s communist past and Marxist agenda is taken into account:
“…under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of “The Feminist Mystique” launched the modern women’s movement.
…Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America’s suburban family household as “a comfortable concentration camp” in “The Feminine Mystique” therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America than with any of her actual experience as a housewife or mother. (Her husband, Carl, also a leftist, once complained that his wife “was in the world during the whole marriage,” had a full-time maid and “seldom was a wife and a mother”).”
The other day I was texting with a brand-new mother friend and she told me “This is hard. I’m pretty freaked out.”
Most pregnant women spend months reading about childbirth: what it feels like, how to deal with the pain, how long it might take, and everything in between. What the recovery is like post-partum is often treated like an afterthought; they treat the childbirth experience like the war when in fact, it’s only just the opening salvo. Childbirth lasts at most a day or two, but the most difficult of the post-partum recovery time lasts days and weeks.
These are the top ten things nobody tells you about your recovery after you have a baby.
1. Breast-feeding isn’t easy at first, and it certainly isn’t magical.
If you stick with it, breast feeding is the ideal way to feed your child in almost all circumstances: it’s free, readily available, nutritious and as an added bonus, nursing helps speed along weight loss. Unfortunately, the majority of women give up within a few weeks, and for good reason. It’s hard. I gave birth naturally, and despite that I have to say that the first two weeks of breast feeding were more painful than childbirth. I screamed, I cried, I dreaded nursing.
Unfortunately, I was doing so up to every other hour, so I dreaded basically every waking moment until I called a lactation consultant to help deal with the pain that I was experiencing every time I nursed. My number one piece of advice since that experience that I give to expecting mothers is to pick out a lactation consultant before you give birth and before you may need her services. You don’t want to be Googling on your phone after five days of no sleep through your and your baby’s tears.
2. You Will Bleed. A lot. For a long time.
The hospital sends you home with pads so thick you may as well be wearing adult diapers. You will take more than you think you need and then end up buying more when that hospital stockpile runs out. You will find yourself on Google searching “hemorrhage post-partum” and “how long will I bleed after childbirth?” several dozen times.
You will call your doctor or midwife and insist that this isn’t normal, that there must be something wrong. In all likelihood there isn’t (that shouldn’t stop you from calling, though), you just really weren’t expecting to lose what feels like all of the blood in your body in the weeks after giving birth.
My colleague Leslie Loftis makes some excellent points in her latest response in our ongoing dialogue about revamping the feminist movement in America. Regarding the Lean In wing of the movement, Leslie is humorously spot on in her comment, “We ape men and then claim that we do it better.” However, I do take some issue with a few of Leslie’s conclusions: ”That’s what reproductive control absolutism is about, negating biology so we can live like men,” and “ there is nothing that we on the Right can do about this culture war bullhorn problem.”
Leslie’s observations are illustrative of the Right’s ability to focus on the battles within the culture war (or, as Whittaker Chambers so aptly referred to them, symptoms of our cultural crisis) while completely losing focus on the war itself. My position is simple: We must focus, loudly, on the war itself and use the battles within to promote the facts bolstering the truth. To illustrate, I’ll begin by addressing Leslie’s comment, “So in Susan’s “brains, not boobs” terms, I submit a more inclusive and realistic, brains and boobs.”
The greatest challenge we face is the fact that American women, by virtue of the “War on Women” battle, believe themselves to be stuck in their gender. They can’t see themselves as anything but an on-screen goddess or, as Leslie pointed out in her original argument, a real-life slave to a corporation, to a marriage, to children, or to all of the above. Which is why I question her use of the fact that Mary Wollstonecraft died in childbirth. In this case I’m not exactly sure how that relates to rebuilding feminism as much as it plays into the left’s ideology of the ills of womanhood. Embrace your endocrinology for all it is worth, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that your body is a prison cell for which death is the only escape.
This is where the Right must acknowledge that the nomenklatura of cultural Marxists have done an amazing job of framing of the body as a human being’s only object of worth. We must also reason that truthfully, when you have no God and reject the concept of a soul and eternal life, you have nothing else to fall back on but the body. This demoralization has led to a variety of ideological misnomers, including the ultimate lie of the War on Women: the framing of the female body as a prison to be manipulated, abused, and ultimately destroyed.
Haven’t yet caught an episode of the BBC/PBS smash hit series Call the Midwife? Here are three reasons from writer/producer Heidi Thomas why you need to watch this groundbreaking feminist masterpiece:
3. Call the Midwife provides female role models who embrace professionalism, not porn.
“I remember an RAF Careers Officer coming to my school and telling us about the wonderful work we could do in the RAF… as catering assistants! We were furious to hear we would never be allowed to be pilots. Now every profession a girl would wish to consider is open to her.
But I think the Spice Girl, Girl Power thing veered a lot of young women off course, because it was about investing your self-worth in your physical persona, sexuality and “attitude”. I love the idea that we have put the notion of professional women right up there in front of a new generation of TV watchers.”
2. Call the Midwife is the antidote to bad girl TV.
“One of the things they enjoy the most is playing women who are actually nice to each other. Because as young attractive actresses, they are often only offered parts where women are in opposition to one another, where they are catty, or bitchy or quarrelling over the same man.
“They love the idea of women living together in a supportive community dedicated to their professions and to the service of other women, which brings us back round to your thesis about Call The Midwife as a feminist piece.”
1. Even the boys in your house will become addicted to this show about midwives, nuns and babies.
“One interesting thing we learnt, from a breakdown of our audience figures, is that numerically, more men were watching Call The Midwife than Top Gear…”.