Arts, Activism, Awakening in Mind, Body, & Spirit

OpEd

OpEd: #SavingChase Court Case Comes to a Bad End as the Mother Signs Consent to Forced Circumcision


The topic of non-consensual cSaving Chase - Mother Consents to Son's Unnecessary Court-Ordered Circumcisionircumcision has routinely made the nightly news as the fate of a four-year-old boy and his intact penis have been the center of attention of news coverage in America and beyond.

As you know, I am a staunch body integrity activist, and in the situation of circumcision, we activists who fight to protect boys and girls from non-consensual circumcision are called intactivists. I have written about circumcision several times on this blog, and I’ve written about this case once before. I’ve even done a radio episode on the topic of male circumcision, and I’ve answered a reader’s question via my YouTube channel regarding the effects of male circumcision on women. But I was waiting to write more about this court case in the hopes that the final verdict would recognize the boy’s right to body autonomy and self-determination. Unfortunately, the result of this case is heartbreaking.

The case involves Chase, a boy caught in the middle of a battle between his two parents, Heather Hironimus and Dennis Nebus. The parents both originally agreed to the circumcision when Chase was an infant, but the mother, Hironimus, changed her mind. Fast forward past a long court battle and skipping town to avoid having the procedure done on Chase, Hironimus has finally given her consent to the unnecessary body mutilation of her son, which shocked and saddened intactivists around the world.

Heather Hironimus has been a heroine to intactivists who have been following the case, nicknamed in social media as #SavingChase. Her motherly instincts to protect her child in full alert, she fled with Chase, staying on the run to prevent her son from undergoing a cosmetic medical procedure to amputate a perfectly normal, healthy, and functionally important part of his penis. There is absolutely no reason for this (or any) circumcision to be performed. Hironimus turned herself in and was jailed May 14, 2015.

Today, she signed the “consent” form to have Chase circumcised, and by “consent”, I mean the court-coerced agreement to have her son’s sexual anatomy harmed in exchange for her freedom. If a woman had “sex” with a man because the alternative was bodily harm to her child, that is not actual “consent” — we would still call that rape. The justice system has ordered the sexual assault on a four-year-old boy, who has actually verbalized his terror at having the procedure done to his body. That means, the owner of the penis has said, “No.” Yet the court has ordered him raped anyway.

Even though Hironimus signed the “consent” to have her son mutilated, The Sun Sentinel reports Hironimus’ legal battles are not over:

Now, she’s facing a criminal charge that carries a maximum punishment of five years in state prison if convicted…. She is charged with interference of custody, a third-degree felony, from her months of hiding with the boy in a Broward County domestic violence shelter.

There is absolutely no reason to violate any baby boy’s (or girl’s) right to body autonomy and self-determination. Every child has a basic human right to decide what happens to his or her body. The lies about circumcision being better or safer are perpetuated here in the United States by medical companies and organizations that profit financially from the sale of foreskins to cosmetic companies and biotech labs.

Female circumcision is now illegal in the United States, and the same lies about removing a boy’s foreskin being safer, healthier, and looking better were all used in the propaganda to justify female genital mutilation in days gone by. In fact, the male foreskin has at least 16 known functions to protect the penis and urinary tract, and it contains cells that prevent bacterial infections and the spread of viruses. But actual science does not seem to matter when a societal and cultural “tradition” is determined to have its way.

And if you want to get into the religious argument, this boy is an American citizen, which means he has a First Amendment right to freedom from religion. Chase and his body have been used in a tug-of-war between two parents who couldn’t get their act together — I am not even sure why the father has gone to this length to have his son mutilated. At least the mother was trying to save the boy an unnecessary medical procedure that no one should be able to order except Chase himself. And Chase HAS verbalized that he does NOT want part of his penis amputated. What about the doctor who is to perform the abhorrent procedure? The Hippocratic Oath instructs to “first do no harm”. Will the doctor heed that oath when Chase is brought in kicking and screaming, “NO!”, to the procedure to which he has not consented?

As any feminist knows, body integrity and the right to choose what happens to your body is a basic human right. If you want your penile or clitoral foreskin removed, you should have the choice to do that when you are 18+. No one should have the authority to force you to have unnecessary, medically unfounded, cosmetic surgical changes to your body that will have lasting effects physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. Your body. Your choice.

In my opinion, the father, this judge, and the doctor will all be guilty of sexually assaulting a minor. And they should go to prison, not the mother.

trish

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TV Show “Perception” Canceled Because Mental Health Issues and Good Writing Aren’t Appreciated on TV


PerceptionBecause I’m a nerd and not up on many things in popular culture (quite gladly, actually), I just found out that the TV show “Perception” was canceled. WHAT THE HELL?

The premise of the show centered around a brilliant neuroscientist Daniel Pierce, who splits his time between his duties as a college professor and as an FBI consultant, while straddling the fragile line between reality and his own battle with paranoid schizophrenia.

Another important aspect of the show was the lead female character, FBI agent Kate Moretti, who preferred advancing her career to getting married and did not want to have children. She also was a lapsed Catholic who was not enthused about getting reacquainted with the narrow-minded rules of the church. Aside from the adamantly atheist Temperance Brennan on “Bones”, not enough characters — much less, female characters — question the institutionalized misogyny and patriarchy of religion.

Which brings me to another reason the Daniel Pierce character was such a refreshing persona — he was never afraid to call “Bullshit!” on any social, cultural, political, governmental, or religious roadblock thrown in his way during an investigation.

Where “Perception” truly shined was in its portrayal of mental illness when Daniel would experience hallucinations of past loves or family members or even random people that helped him solve cases. The spot-on writing combined with the wonderful acting of Eric McCormack humanized the misunderstood condition of schizophrenia. In fact, the opener for Season 3 was one of the best-written episodes on television that I have seen IN YEARS. It was an incredible example of suspenseful and meaningful storytelling while further exploring the often-stigmatized issues of mental health.

For me personally, I appreciated that “Perception” was a mostly intellectual show that left the grisly aspect of murders to other shows that sensationalize gore and violence for ratings. And there’s the rub — I bet “Perception” was not hitting the numbers of the ratings game, and so, a great show got the axe.

As a nerd, I grew up watching the arts, literature, and science programming of channels such as A&E, TLC, Discovery, et al., which have now mostly sold-out to reality show drivel. Now, the cancellation of TNT’s “Perception” is another death knell for quality programming that stimulates the mind. There really isn’t enough mind candy on television anymore.

trish

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OpEd: Woman’s photo of menstrual blood removed from Instagram. Twice. 


Rupi Kaur - menstrual blood photos for visual rhetoric course removed from InstagramRupi Kaur has taken on social media and won. Photos from her series focusing on the natural process of being on her period were removed from Instagram, even though there was no nudity or pornographic aspect to the pictures. It was, in fact, the menstrual blood itself that led to the photos being removed by Instagram. Twice.

Instagram has since apologized for removing the photos, but I, for one, don’t believe the social media site is sorry at all. After all, Facebook is notorious for similar removal of photos that show women in the natural act of breastfeeding their babies. However, because women’s natural breasts being used for their natural purpose of nourishing infants is too icky for the patriarchal institutions of social media, breastfeeding and NIP pictures are verboten. And yet, women can always be shown in skimpy lingerie, barely-there bikinis, or sexualized in some other context, and that’s perfectly fine.

Anyone who is shocked or disgusted by Rupi Kaur’s photos is actually shocked or disgusted by the very process that continues this species. Menstruating girls and women are ridiculed on a regular basis by young males, older males, boyfriends, husbands, films, comedic TV shows, and anyone else who doesn’t understand or appreciate what we put up with for decades of our lifetimes.

Our periods begin when we are around 10 years old and happen every month until we are around 50 or 55 — or older. Twelve periods per year, multiplied by 40 to 45 years of menstruation, equals 480 to 540 periods. At an average of one week each, that means women spend 480 to 540 weeks — that is, 9.2 to 10.4 YEARS actively bleeding. Not to mention the spotting before, the spotting after, the cramps before, during, and after a period, the headaches, even nausea, the chaos and uncertainty of peri-menopause, and other side effects men never have to experience directly.

Men also never have to experience the embarrassment of bleeding through their clothes in public; always keeping a restroom within eyesight in case of a flooding emergency; sitting for a time only to stand and see a biohazard stain on the chair; or skipping going out in public all together except for necessities such as work; bleeding through the sheets at nighttime; having to spot-clean the mattress in the middle of the night when you’re half-asleep, then sleep to the side of the bed so you don’t have to sleep on a cold, wet spot; or toddling to the bathroom with your thighs clenched together because you’re afraid of a big, bloody clot sliding out of your vagina and landing on the carpet; having to clean the bathroom floor, even spot-clean the bathmat, clean the toilet seat every time you go, even clean the wall if the weight of a blood-soaked tampon garnered too much velocity when being pulled out, flinging blood outward; feeling the sticky blood stuck in your ass crack; using miles of toilet paper to make sure there’s no sign your blood was ever there. Because we wouldn’t want anyone to know that women’s bodies have a purpose other than being ogled or used by men.

Women are ridiculed for this very basic act called menstruation when it should be celebrated. Without our periods — without our uteruses, humanity would end.

Women put up with a lot just being female. Societal ridicule and male-dominated institutions do not need to add to the shame already heaped on women just for being women. So I congratulate Rupi Kaur for standing up for herself and for all girls and women. See more of her pictures and read her story on her website.

trish

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OpEd: Pagan Yule Ritual for Winter Solstice 2014


Yule log fire for Winter Solstice 2014 by Trish CauseySunday, December 21, 2014, I attended my first group pagan/witch ritual in 10 years — 10 years exactly, in fact!  The last group ritual I attended I actually hosted in my home for Yule 2004.  It was a group of eclectic solitaries then, and now, I’ve had the pleasure and honor to participate in an equally eclectic, non-hierarchical, non-ego-driven ritual with a bunch of great people. I AM SO HAPPY to have met them!  I will definitely be attending more rituals with these awesome pagan peeps.

Yule, a.k.a. Winter Solstice, is a time to be thankful and reflective.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word jol and Old Anglo-Saxon jiuli (or giuli), which referred to a two-month season of celebrations during the wintertime.  The Old French word “solstice” comes from two Latin words: sol, which means “sun”, and sistere, which means “to stand still”.  The implication is that people once thought the sun stood still on the solstice(s) and/or that the spiritual advisors thought this was a time for the people to be still, to be reflective on such an auspicious heavenly event.  As I observe Christians running around crazy and stressed out during this highly commercialized time of year, I sit back and laugh.  I choose stillness and calm.

From the European pagan traditions, Yule/Winter Solstice is the time when the goddess (the earth) gives birth to the son (sun) — sound familiar?  And with this return of the light to the world, the days become longer.  As the sun god grows, he warms the earth goddess, who will birth the harvest and nourish the animals that will in turn nourish us.  In the Spring, the son/sun god will be sacrificed and resurrected for the earth and the people.  (Still sounding familiar?)

Also mixed in the traditions is the legend of the Holly King and the Oak King as they duke it out to see who will rule the next six months.  The Oak King and the Holly King are male earth deities and represent a duality that governs the light half and the dark half of the year, respectively.  For the Winter Solstice, the Oak King wins the battle as the days get longer because it will be the sacred oak trees (and other plants) coming back to life in the Spring.  At Summer Solstice, the Holly King wins and reigns as the days get shorter through the harvest time of Autumn and into the cold months of winter.

Still other traditions have a fatherly winter spirit (adult male earth spirit) who helps the poor and gives gifts to children.  Remember, back in the day, there was no grocery store or mall — whatever you had, you grew it or made it.  Winter in northwestern Europe was difficult; both animals and people would die from the cold or lack of food, if not enough supplies had been prepared before the extreme cold set it.

This wintertime fatherly earth spirit of northwestern European paganism is rooted in pre-Christian British lore of the Holly King as well as the Norse god Odin/Wotan, who rode an eight-legged horse, and the Norse god Thor, who is associated with oak trees and flies through the sky on a chariot pulled by two goats (not eight reindeer … sorry, Rudolf).  Other festivus influencers may be the Greek god Cronos, and even the pre-Christian Russian folkloric do-gooder Grandfather Frost.  The church took the good deeds of the real St. Nicholas and combined them with the iconic Holly King/Odin/Grandfather Frost to create the “St. Nick” we now know as Santa Claus.

But Yuletide wasn’t all about men or kids.  Pagans LOVE women and respect women.  The Anglo-Saxon/Germanic celebration of Mōdraniht, “Mothers’ Night”, specifically honors mothers as well as any female ancestors who have crossed over.  This takes place on what is now December 24th, according to the 8th-century historian Bede.  After all, without woman, there is no human life.  Without caring for the earth, there is no food, no clean water, no clean air.  We must honor and take care of earth/goddess.  It is all connected.  We are all connected.

The photo above is the Yule fire from Sunday’s ritual.  The log in the center is the official Yule log that was blessed on the altar, beautifully decorated and holding 3 candles.  The warmth of the fire and the camaraderie of the fellow goddess/god-oriented pagan friends was simply perfect.  I just wish I’d brought the fixin’s for s’mores.

I LOVE meeting with others and building our community, each sharing what we do and respecting that we’re different.  I can’t wait for the next sun ritual — and maybe some Full Moon work, as well.

All hail the real reason for the season: nature-based pagan heathenry! :-)

trish

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OpEd: Prudes Shocked as Madonna Dates Younger Man/Opera Singer Jonas Kaufmann


Copyright 2014 by Trish Causey.

Madonna and opera star Jonas KaufmannMadonna is shamed in the media as both an “older woman” and as a sexual person.

I saw a short “article” (i.e., post on a gossip rag) about Madonna possibly dating a famous opera tenor.  It mentioned that she has had several “toyboy” relationships since separating from her husband, and it made a big deal of the fact that Madonna is older than Kaufmann.

The article is sexist and misogynistic. But what else is new….

How many real-life relationships and Hollywood films have featured a male star who is much older than the female co-star?  Think of any film in the past 30 years starring men such as Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, even George Clooney, and you’ll notice that an older man being with a younger woman is perfectly accepted by the public.  But when it is the woman who’s older, she’s judged in the media as if she’s robbing the proverbial cradle.  And why is it that when a famous “older woman” dates a younger man, it makes news?  (“Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson….”)

Perhaps the prudes in our society should know that in the Middle Ages, it was commonplace for an adult man to be engaged to a female child and wed her when she was 15 in order to build socio-economic and/or socio-political alliances.  In fact, a man could marry (in a church, by a priest) a girl who was younger than 15 as long as the man promised not to “touch her” until she was 15 — as 15 was the magic age condoned by the church.  Glad to know a pinky-swear was protecting young girls from being ravished by their much-senior husbands.  (Not.)  There are even instances recorded of men being engaged to infant girls — all for the wealth and security of rich folks invested in patriarchal society.  (“Jesus loves you more than you will know….”)

The other part of the “article” that annoyed me was the “toyboy” comment about Madonna, referring to her various lovers since the end of her marriage.  First, who cares that she’s had several lovers?  Or any?  That people with no lives actually care about Madonna’s sex life is ridiculous.  Secondly, shaming a woman for taking lovers is misogynistic, and yet, it is nothing new.  If she is following her heart (or her body) with her relationships, that is her business.

Do we really need to go over how men are lauded for taking lots of lovers?  A man who dates (sleeps with) lots of women is called a “lady’s man”, a “playboy”, a “player”.  His cred goes up.  But when a woman dates (sleeps with) lots of men, she’s considered a “slut”, a “whore”, a piece of trash.  When a woman follows her sexual passions, she’s characterized as a carnivorous pariah.  Because good girls don’t behave that way — “bad” girls do.  Because good girls go to heaven, while “bad” girls go everywhere.  (“Heaven holds a place for those who pray….”)

It’s the 21st century.  We should be able to talk honestly and respectfully about women over age 40 having sex — or about women having as many lovers as they want — without judgment.

It’s nearly 2015.  The Middle Ages were a thousand years ago.  Women should not have to justify having sex.  At all.

trish

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