Saturday, September 02, 2006
Let's get to the core of the problem, folks!
WOMYN is the best-known one of a number of alternate spellings which some feminists promote as a way to degender the English word women and as female empowerment. Other variants include wimmin (plural), wom!n, womban and womon (singular), while femal (from female) and humyn (human) apply the principle elsewhere. All are pronounced the
same as the conventional terms.
Feminists who prefer to use these words feel that the terms "woman/women" relate to the historical and ongoing social subordination of women, since the word "man" is seen as the default for human, implying that women are a subset of men, or deviation from the norm. Those who argue in favour of the terms "womon/womyn" contend that they have the right to choose how a term referring to them is spelled, rather than be compelled to use words that evolved in a patriarchal society. Others further argue that "womyn" is based on a medieval spelling of the word, and that returning to the old model of waeman and wyfman meaning man and woman, respectively, would be more egalitarian. Under this taxonomy "man" would revert to meaning "human".
Some see the adjustments as an example of excessive political correctness. Others feel it to be anti-male gender bias.
Still others who consider themselves feminists see the issue as a distraction from what they consider more important feminist goals.
Feminists in favor of the reform argue that language is a powerful tool that shapes the way people perceive their surroundings, and even how they understand gender and gender roles. They also feel that the current form of the words do not value women. Therefore, some feminists see these changes as part of a movement to correct what they consider inherent biases in language.
The above is from Wikipedia
I do not use words that offend anyone. I am also a feminist. I actually even used the womyn spelling in an article or two in the 70's or 80's...
BUT, it's pretty obvious that changing one word, or its spelling, does absolutely nothing to change the lives of women in any way, and may have wasted some people's time and energy to focus on this instead of on the real issues of the oppression of women. I don't think, for instance, that a woman would get paid a higher salary because she spelled the word woman "womyn"...nor do I think Africans will stop cutting the clitorises of young women because American women decide to all spell woman "womin."
The word "birthmother" is very upsetting to some. We have been described collectively to have Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome similar to veterans of war. I think this is a very valid diagnosis. And I do not think that all war vets are "triggered" by the same things. Some are triggered by loud sounds, others by babies' crying. I do not think they would argue amongst one another over who's trigger is real and who has a "right" to be upset or not.
The argument is made that the "b" word reduces a mother to a "birther" or "breeder" and leads to her exploitation. Although it doesn't personally bother me, I follow that argument. It contributes to the dehumanization of mothers as handmaidens, or like paid surrogates a “rent-a-womb”, and makes it easier to make false promises of openness, lie to her and toss her aside. This is all perfectly logical.
It contributes to the exploitation of women for the babies. It does not however cause it and changing will not change the current situation.
Enemies are always dehumanized and words are PART of how that is done. It is part of creating a we/they divide. One's enemies are "savages" or "vermin" or "evil" of "Godless"...
While it is true that labeling is part of the dehumanization process, the reverse is not true. Attitudes are not changed by changing words. The Holocaust was not stopped by deciding that Jews were not vermin. Slavery was not stopped by calling Negroes Blacks or African Americans.
Adoption is racist and classist. Always has been, and is more so today than ever. Today the divide between the haves and have nots is wider than ever. Racial and social class discrimination has never been resolved by changing what people are called, or people’s attitudes toward those perceived as "other.” It has taken anti-discrimination legislation.
Only when people are faced with fines do they give up parking spaces to people with disabilities. Schools were not integrated until the law said they had to be.
It will take major changes in the way adoption is practiced – perhaps it’s total reconstruction or abolition – to change the current attitudes of poor mothers being vessels for the babies of the wealthy, who can be lied to, made false promises and too often discarded.
In guardianship, mothers are still mothers (and fathers are still fathers). Their children are no longer issued falsified birth certificates.
We need to see the big picture and join efforts and change what is wrong in adoption TODAY. If we could all focus our combined energy and anger on abolishing falsified birth certificates, it could help adoptees and al mothers.
When the state issues a falsified birth certificate, the state is legalizing our nothingness in relationship to our child. That my dear friends is the core of the issue. In order to retain our status as mothers of our children we need to get that practice to stop – not argue among ourselves over what we should be called. We ARE our children’s mothers! Not one of us, disagrees with that! So let’s stop this pettiness and in-fighting and focus on the root of the problem.
The problem is not what we are called or how we were treated in the 50’s 60’s and 70‘s – the problem is that is still being done TODAY! We already know the shame-based pressure that caused the majority of babies to be surrendered post WWII. It’s been documented by Solinger and now again by Fessler. Enough already. That was THEN!
We need to focus our anger on the LEGAL system that takes away our name: the falsified birth certificate. It’s not the word that has taken our motherhood – it is that false, fraudulent document. It makes it authentic that our kids were BORN TO their adoptive parents and we are NOTHING! Doesn’t that anger you?
I would dare say that anger me this does...but anger is just another one of those emotions that a "birthmother" is not supposed to feel.
Some are healthy and constructive choices: they help empower us and take us from victim to survivor.
Other choices are self-destructive and counterproductive.
We can choose to miserable or not.
If you understand the concept of BN taking the name BASTARD - it is just that! It's the same as gays who say "We're here, we're queer. Get used to it!"
I've been a stand-up... in-your-face-BIRTHMOTHER for 30 years! I never let that word make me feel dehumanized.
Like Blacks who call one another the "N" word!
You do NOT get to decide that these are the only options we have as to what we should do with our anger!!! I'm glad you are now using the term I taught you "righteous indignation" but nevertheless, it is not your place to decide that your way of dealing with our experience is the only way.
I no longer turn my anger inward as depression - I've done too much work and had too much therapy to do that. I do not remain in denial like some individuals who insist they know best merely because they have been around for years. My take is that they are so filled with seething rage that it's impossible for them to accept that others are doing valuable things to make change.
I do not lash out at anyone - not you or anyone, because I feel comfortable with having integrated my horrific experience of the loss of my child to adoption into who I am today to the point that I have become empowered and compassionate and can reach out in a shaman like fashion to other women who suffer. I do this without belittling anyone's beliefs about their own experience because to do otherwise would be arrogant, IMO.
However, here's where I think you're just don't get itnot getting it. After many years of working to change laws toward open records, I have experienced some of the rudest people I've ever met in the form of a few adopted people and adoptive parents. I am not collectively categorizing all adoptees, but I'm sick and tired of being put down because I finally now wish to deal with my own issues. I don't have the energy or inclination anymore to go out of my way to constantly have it pointed out that they suffered or suffer more than me. Therefore, I'm really not interested in doing much in the legal arena right now. That may or may not change, but I am not a weak link because I now see it this way. I do not have my whole life to devote to adoption reform, so I get to pick and choose what feels right for me to do. Does that make sense?
If you attack me for this opinion, it will again appear to be perceived as if you are looking to convince us we're wrong. This is what I feel and a feeling just is, remember? It's neither right nor wrong.
If I can help other single pregnant women or young mothers, I do so as well as being involved with the wiser crones I have met amongst my first mother friends. I am more interested in healing and will not apologize for that.
I happen to be a member of OUSA as well as other groups, But, it totally bewilders me that you attribute anything any of us say as a belief or overall dictum or mandated viewpoint of the entire organization! You are constanting cutting and pasting things that individuals have posted on the Exiled Mothers and OUSA site and insisting that they are everyone's exact POV. It implies that we are lemmings marching,marching...
Instead, just like in other adoption organizations, individuals have the choice to do anything they feel they want to contribute. Some are not offended particularly with the term "birthmother" and some are. However, as thinking women, we all respect and honor that some of the members find it triggering and we honor their feelings I no longer have interest in changing laws and I do not like being told that I am not contributing or that I am in denial or fighting, or whatever else you keep insisting is wrong if we don't jump on your bandwagon.
You are entitled to write your books and do whatever you care to do to change laws. And I say "kudos to you". But, I have other things now that I do for folks that helps me stay focused and centered instead of angry like the mothers who keep pointing fingers at us as if OUSA is some kind of a cult.
Please try to stop giving advice to an entire organization as if you know better than the individuals or are a part of it as to what they should believe or be doing. Even the founders of OUSA don't dictate to any of us what we can say or do - that inference is insulting and why several people that come here just give up. You're painting everything with a broad brush, Mirah.
I am choosing to be anonymous on this blog because I have had rude posters call me out by name because they didn't agree with something I said. Life's too short for petty cat fights.
ps. have you considered that OZ is Australia? You need to stop jumping to conclusions.
I think that is exactly my point and what I said! Rightous Indignation is a term I have used for nearly 30 years. We have every right to be DAMN angry at lossing our kids and beign lied to etc. And it is our CHOICE how we deal with our anger. That is what I said.
So, once again, I am at a loss to understand the level of anger directed at me...when I have said the very same thing you have. But that's the whole point here: misdirected anger.
We each have a choice...but each choice has a result. You don't have to be legislatively active if that is your choice.
All people everywhere have the right to chose apathy. But people who don't vote, don't get to complain about who the winnign candidate is. It's a choice. You can either be part of the solution or not.
And that's not a put-down. Each of us makes difefrent choices at different points in our lives. As you yourself pointed out. I myself took a ten year hiatus from all adotion-related work to heal after my daughter and my parents' deaths - all within 8 months in 1995....while I was in the midst of a very contentous divorce and custody battle for the 3 kids I raised.
I have also recently made the CHOICE to decline being VP of CUB, because I feel I can make more positive changes in other ways.
I do not dictate what anyone else should or should not do. I dislike the "should" word.
Once again, I merely said that we each have a CHOICE - and you said the same. Can we agree on something without anger?
This is why it's so frustrating to post here, Mirah. Not only am I NOT angry at you like you keep insisting, but again I need to say that it's still seeming that you say one thing and then deny that thing. I quoted you again above. You bolded that we have to focus on the LAWS or else our only alternatives are the other options you listed. That is your statement above. Not mine.
Perhaps you didn't mean it that way but that's how it sounds when you insist on asking everyone how avoiding the use of the word "birthmother" or some another philosophy that perhaps an individual has will change things?
I was only trying say and it sounds like perhaps you're understanding, that there are others things to contribute than working on changing the laws. If you go back and read your responses you'll see that you seem to be recommending only one course of action. OUSA doesn't recommend only one course of action, so why should you or any of us?
Please stop telling me I'm angry. Maryanne's post on another topic on this list is angry. I think you're intrepreting disagreement or POV's as anger and that's why your topics keep dissolving.
WE includes me!
"you insist on asking everyone how avoiding the use of the word "birthmother" or some another philosophy that perhaps an individual has will change things?"
I do not undersdtand this sentence. But I have never insisted anyone do anything. I have ASKED how it is felt that not using the "b" word would help stop current adoption practices? ASKED. That's all.
Mirah, the problem with that attitude is that history has proven time and again that if you dont go back and address the past you are bound to repeat it.
Mothers in Oz (Australia) demanded and got a Pariamentary inquiry into past adoption practices. After two long years of testimonials and submissions to the inquiry, the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Report estabilshed that those past adoption practices were both unethical and illegal.
The new Adoption Act 2000 which has now replaced the old Adoption Act 1965 has ensured that history will never be repeated.
1) That's NSW right? In the US there are 50 states with 50 difefrent adoption laws.
2) Adoptions in Australia had drasticlaly reduced PRIOR to the inquirey.
3) Adoption practices of the past already do not exist. In the past - in the 50s - 70's most of us here in the US dealt with agencies run by ststes and religious organziations, like Catholic Charities. A very small number adoptions then were private. Now they all are. (Except for older and special needs kids from foster care.)
Now all infant adoptions are run by private business, so with or without any apology for the past - the businesses need to be stopped. The US is FAR FAR more capitalistic than Australia.
Sorry I wasn't clear with this sentence. My point was that whenever anyone seems to respond to your repeated question about the use or non-use of the term "birthmother" by explaining that it's just plain offensive to some and that in itself is why most of us don't use it; you respond with the same question "how does that change anything in the past?".
Just so you know, I am not the same "anonymous" from Oz, but I was attempting here to make a similar point. I believe calling myself just a Mother as opposed to using a prefix to describe what kind of mother heightens awareness when I share my story. This in itself just might help to make change albeit on a smaller scale, but similar to the Parliamentary Inquiry down under did.
But more importantly, it is done our of RESPECT. Surely everything you do in your life isn't intended to change things?
I don't know about you, but I mostly just like to peacefully co-exist in the world with like minded people. In order to do that it is necessary and just kinder to be respectful.
Does that make sense to you?
I am respectful of anyone who does not want to use the "b" word and do not use it myself so as nto to offend.
I wonder why some of those who posted here were unable to be kind back to me regarding my senstitivity to the word loss because of my daughter's death?
"you respond with the same question "how does that change anything in the past?".
No, I've asking how it change things NOW.
No, I've asking how it change things NOW
I've just said in every single way I now how to. I am sorry for caps but I DON'T CARE ONE DAMN BIT HOW IT CHANGES ANYTHING NOW.
When you keep answering questions with a question or again go back to accusing people of being unkind to you, it doesn't make sense to even try to participate here.
You were unkind to people here, too. You cannot seem to stick to your own topic which I believe is "Let's get to the core of the problem folks". Instead you've again dredged up some past perceived slight like you asked us not to. Whether you intend it to be so, it just feels like you're looking to quibble rather than understand.
I'm moving on, Mirah. I just find it too frustrating.
Best of luck to you with your newest book.
Lest you think I'm being flippant, I am serious about wishing you well. I'd love to see it get as much postive promotion as Fessler's book.
You said: Adoptions in Australia had drasticlaly reduced PRIOR to the inquirey.
Yes it has . But it has reduced in all countries around the world since the early 1970's when knowledge of the sole parents benefit was made available to many but certainly not all women in need of such assistance.
Still, unnecessary adoptions were frequently occuring with the introduction of the 'open adoption' lure. Until the inquiry, mothers were not being warned of the known psychological and psychiatric injury that is inherent in separating from ones own child. They were not being discouraged from harming their babies and themselves when falling for the adoption promoted rhetoric that swindled them out of their babies. Adoption agencies were still putting pressure on them to surrender their child on the basis of open adoptions that conned them into beleiving they could have their cake and eat it too. Adoption agents were still finding ways to procures newborns for their paying clients -the adopters. Adoption agents were not being made accountable for acting fraudulently by encouraging and promoting a service that was known to destroy lives. Now they are.
You said: Adoption practices of the past already do not exist. In the past - in the 50s - 70's most of us here in the US dealt with agencies run by ststes and religious organziations, like Catholic Charities. A very small number adoptions then were private. Now they all are. (Except for older and special needs kids from foster care.)
So in essence nothing has changed in the US but the face of the predator?
What actually has been achieved by way of adoption reform in the past 30 years?
It has taken them that long to get 4 states to open the records. Everything here has to be done state by state. There you only have seven total - here we have 50! If you start an inqury here, where do you start? The national gvt has nothing to do with adoption.
What you said is basically true. Adoption here has moved from state and religious agencies to privatized big business and no one has done a damn thing about it! My forthcoming book will be the first to address the issue.
"But it has reduced in all countries around the world since the early 1970's when knowledge of the sole parents benefit was made available to many but certainly not all women in need of such assistance."
I think you meant all over Australia? We have no such benefit here. We have welfare and food stamps and WIC. Sorta that same. But it has done nothing to reduce adoptions. Adoption of infants reduced in the 70's because of increased acces to birth control (namely "the pill"), abortion, and a lessening of the stigma on single parenthood. But I'm sure you know that.
The other problem with this being a very capitalistic country is that because moey rules -- anyone with money can basically buy a baby. And those that money on selling them lobby congress to keep the laws easy for them to do so!
It's very classist. If you are rich - even if you are single - it's OK to be a mother or to even adiot. If you are poor, you do not dersrve to be a mother and should give your baby to someone wealthy...because the kid will be "better off."
As far as facts about the suffering of mothers there have been study after stusy published about the harm done to mother: PTSD, depression, secondary infertility. It's all been documented for YEARS and YEARS.
And also the harm done to adoptees.
No one gives a crap! The NCFA id a very strong lobby - I guess there's nothing comparable to that in AU. We have very strong and powerful enemies here that want to maintain the status quo. Money and religion rule in the US! Increased abotion is used as a lie to keep the records sealed and keep everything chugging along...
We are a grassroots movement fighting big money. People often find who they are searching for an drop out of sight. Many simply do not care about being legislatively active, as Illegit recently posted here. Some are still in denial.
Here's a link to an article that's not about adoption, but it is about the class divide: http://tinyurl.com/pnqwh
the "b" word is far form the only pejorative term we have in this country...poor people are called "white trash" "trailer park trash"
AND capitalism here also breeds feelings of ENTITLEMENT. If you work hard, you "deserve" a big house, a big car, and a KID!
Every contested adoption - all the sympathy is always for the adopters...the mothers are made out to be real loosers in the press and get no public sympathy whatsoever.
This is a very screwed up country. Our largest federal budget is spent on WAR! Our young men and women are DYING so fat cats get richer! They don't care about mothers any more than they care about that. As long as the rich get richer.
How about instituting a policy on this blog that no anonymous comments will be posted? That would certainly cut down on the annoyance factor.
To the owner of this blog: The only annoyance factor I see is this hostile, angry person maryanne who cannot even make objective comments without spewing her disdain for anyone who has a different thought.
This lady has become an embarrassment and a thorn in the side of just about everyone who knows her because of her bitterness at what she refers to as anti-adoptionists and intolerance.
Is it possible that she's not even savvy enough to know that blogs encourage posting anyonymously if need be, to hear different ideas and thought?
This will probably not get posted but Mirah if you ever hope to be taken seriously, you've got to rid yourself of the perception that you two are a duo.
Why am I posting anonymously here this morning? It because of a small handful of people like her who are now so vindictive that they will resort to any cheap tactic to discredit someone they disagree with. Maryanne is the worst spokesperson in the world for any kind of adoption reform efforts. It would be sad except for the fact that she is so evil.
If this was my blog, I would ban her.
I have asked that this blog NOT be a place that criticizes individuals, but rather dicusses issues.
Mary Anne and I are most definately two different individuals. We agree on some things and disagree on MANY.
If you have been reading this blog, I disagreed with her recent comment here, as I do with many of her opinions. And her latest suggestion to not post anonymous comments was simply ignored. Obviously this is my blog, and I felt no need to say that. That's just two comments from MaryAnne - I would hardly consider the annoynace factor on thos blog.
And, I will state again. NO PERSONAL SLAMMING here. I DO moderate comments and this is my last warning. Anyone who persist in this behavior will NOT be posted! Do not bring your personal grievances from elsewhere here, either.
This blog is to dicuss ISSUES in a CIVIL manner!
And, in answer to your question: yes, MaryAnne is not much of a computer person and is very unfamiliar with blogging.
I also suggest you read my post dated Thursday, August 31, 2006
regarding Anonymity. Whatever else MaryAnne is or isn't and whatever I agree or disagree with her about...at least she says what she feels and does not hide behind a cloak of anonymity.
Finallt, no one can "discredit" anyone for their OPINIONS. OPINIONS are just that. The only thing that can be discredited are incorrect FACTS.
It would sure make it easier if you gave yourself code names though so I could keep track of which anonymous said what. As I suggested before: Anon1; anaon2...Anon from OZ...something..