Catching up to the end of the year… sort of
I’ve been effectively running at a frantic pace for the past three or four months, in order to keep up with all the things happening in my life. Several things went by the wayside as I tried to be sure I completed all the reading, thinking, and writing required for my doctoral program. Keeping up communications with friends was one of those things, and for that I sincerely apologize. I’ll do my best to try and catch up personally in the near future… while I’m also trying to clean up this incredibly messy house I live in. I swear, my desk has geological layers of relevance underneath the precariously balanced lava-flows of paper!
Another few things which went by the wayside were all my creative efforts (writing for pleasure or the intended novel, sewing, painting, crafting, etc.), and regular exercise (including an exercise class, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, and dancing — darn it!). This clearly must stop, as my brain is filling up with fascinating projects and interesting but half-thought-out ideas — all of which want to come out now, of course. Further, at this point I’m half-afraid to get on my bicycle again, let alone the bathroom scale.
My main project for the next year will be better scheduling, so I can cram in all the outside projects I want to create, and places I want to visit, around the required schoolwork which is effectively my current job. For now I’m going to indulge myself with a bit of writing for fun, to air out some troublesome subjects which I’ve been pondering. I want to write more here this year, as well, concerning some interesting things which have been happening recently.
Government & insurance — blarg!
So. A random issue which has recently deeply annoyed me: my sweetie and I are registered in California as domestic partners, so we can (among other things) share his insurance benefits. We’d assumed that included his Flexspend account — the chunk of money he sets aside from his paycheck through the year that can be used to pay for medical procedures which his regular insurance refuses to cover (insurance for profit through the pain of others — there’s another can of worms I don’t want to get started on).
We’ve just recently found out, however, that thanks to DOMA (the ridiculous federal law which is supposedly “defending” marriage) the Flexspend account will cover only him — not me — because we are not married. This is the case despite his clearly stated objections. As he noted, it’s his money — why shouldn’t he be able to spend it on whomever he wishes?
I find this ruling to be startlingly invasive. Who is the government to legislate the definition of a family, or to tell us how we may or may not care for our loved ones? This is why we’re members of the Alternatives to Marriage Project — so that people know we do indeed have choices in how we construct our families, and so there is legislature in place to allow us to make our own choices without governmental pressure. It was the work of members of the AtMP who helped secure hospital visitation rights for supposedly “nontraditional” families. They’ve additionally helped lead action campaigns to speak out against discrimination, such as the eviction of an unmarried family in Blackjack, MO.
We’ve just made a donation to AtMP again, despite it being a frugal year for us, because we feel strongly that DOMA should be struck down as unconstitutional. The United States of America was founded on the premise of freedom of personal choice, and freedom from government big-brotherism — and that includes how we choose to form our families. If you too believe the government shouldn’t have the right to tell you how you may live, I encourage you to donate as well.
Another random but less encompassing personal issue: one of my upcoming classes is titled “Womanist-Feminist Perspectives.” While collecting together the books required for the class, I realize I’m somewhat concerned. As I noted to a friend, there are a few feminist authors who are so angry about patriarchy and social oppressions (or, perhaps more to the point, the sometimes-unwitting, sometimes-deliberate collusion by other women with these injustices) that I have trouble reading the writings where they outline the injustices they are suffering or seeing.
Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but I find I’m not willing to be contemptuous of all people within a category just because some of them are unjust and oppressive. I happen to know men who do their best to embody feminist beliefs, as well as women who are nastily racist and classist. Further, I have trouble blaming equally those who are thoughtlessly cruel with those who are deliberately vicious. To me, the former can learn healthier and fairer ways of behaving and living (and I count myself perennially among them); in comparison, the latter are choosing to be emotionally sick. Most importantly, I strongly believe telling someone how much they suck is NOT the way to change their mind. I get the feeling, however, that some of these particular authors do not wish to change minds so much as they apparently need just to tell you how much you suck.
I’m not trying to say these social injustices do not exist; tragically, they are emphatically quite real and present. I’m simply noting the anger of these authors is sometimes such that I don’t want to have to battle through their anger in order to attempt to work with them. I find anger a turn-off, especially since it is all too often a quick path to thoughtless irrationality — regardless of whether it is aimed at, say, deliberately viciously racist white males, or at mocking those who cannot speak up for themselves. I’d far rather find someone combating the same injustices, but who applies a more constructive and reasoned/reasonable approach. I can’t help but wonder, though: is this middle-class privilege speaking? I don’t know how to tell.