Causes: those aspects of your world that move you to make your opinion count. It can be via protest, rhetoric, money, oh…any number of ways. Like everyone, I have causes. Some are weightier than others, but they inform the people around me (that would be all y’all) about who I am when I’m not being a smart-ass. How public I am about them varies, so some may not be as well known as others. It doesn’t mean they are less.
If there has been any one consistent, large umbrella of a cause I’ve had through most of my life, it’s been about women’s rights. As a child, I was surrounded by a matriarchy led by my maternal grandmother. Oh sure, there were husbands, fathers, and other sundry related males around, but there was no doubt which of the genders was in charge. Adding to that my becoming aware in the late 60s and coming of age in the 70s, and the ingredients were there to become a feminist — which I’ve been for about as long as I can remember.
It seems that all my adult life I’ve been a proponent of women and have pushed against the myriad inequities that are irrational and downright offensive. Whether abuse or restraint of women is mental, societal, or physical; regardless whether the source is from an employer, a government, religion, or a relationship; I’ve tried to help where I can. Sometimes it’s providing protective shelter. Sometimes it’s letters to politicos (or celebrities with access to politicos or public opinion). Sometimes it’s contributions. Sometimes it’s just being a good friend.
By extension, I’ve been a strong supporter of Title IX… not only in athletics but in the larger playing field of our society — the actual intended scope of this amazing legislation. Don’t get me wrong, the athletic opportunities for women because of Title IX have been great and wonderful, but so too has it’s ability to give women a legal foundation for equal treatment in the workplace (under the right conditions). Most people may not thank Nixon for a lot, but I thank him for signing this into law.
What sickens me is that we now seem to be taking a step backward. A vocal and politically significant segment of the nation is waging a war on women and their full rights as individuals. There is a lot of misogynistic, patronizing legislation that is nothing more than telling women that they shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about rights and independence; just let the men take care of it…and push out a few more babies and have dinner ready on time. This isn’t righteous, it’s enslavement.
I’m not a parent. I’ve never planned on being a parent. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid being a parent. Even so, I’ve spent a lot of time, written a lot of pages, and shelled out a fair number of ducats sticking up for the rights of kids. I’ve always felt that there is a social contract that we make with every child once they are born. It’s about health, learning, and giving them their shot. I’m not talking about a level playing field, just a fair one.
Education is huge to me. I try to guide my representatives at all levels to provide that fair playing field. I believe a national education policy is mandatory for that. Too many states set the bar too low and are too beholden to education-opponents. Yes, I’m pointing my finger at the legion of well-funded theocrats more than eager to supplant truth with myth. Whether is via their honest conviction or cynical manipulation, I can’t say; the end result is the same: it takes away that fair chance from the children. I also blame the idealists who think participation equals excellence. It does not…not every one excels at everything, and not everyone should be rewarded for just showing up.
Health and safety, too, are triggers for me. The granddaughter of a good friend of mine is the victim of shaken baby syndrome (SBS). That little girl, once perfectly healthy, managed to survive with numerous permanent maladies and is facing a life completely different than the one that was in front of her before a non-family care-giver’s moment of frustration changed everything. That the law has been slow to act is being generous. That this isn’t all that uncommon is just sickening.
Free Speech + Intellectual Property Laws
This should come as no surprise. It’s actually part of a more general push for fundamental rights, but in my circumstance these specific issues are major parts of my adult life. As an artist, photographer, programmer, writer, blogger, and whatever else…I’ve had to wade in the Venn diagram of these two forces.
I’m not a big fan of copyright law as it currently exists. I feel that it has little to do with the creators of work and more to do with the profiteers of those works. It’s no secret that I’d like to see things rolled back to a slightly modified pre-1976 level.
Beyond IP concerns, I think that speech needs protection — especially the speech of protest. And lest you wonder: yes, that includes burning of a flag. While I find it distasteful, I’d allow it. (I’d probably also arrest the burners on various fire/arson charges.) One of the most difficult aspects of free speech is allowing others whom you vehemently disagree with to also have free speech. There are times that I loathe that part. Still, standing up for free speech is pretty much an all-in endeavor.
Yeah, I know it seems silly and frivolous to some, and maybe a little bit self-serving as it’s my neologism, but it seems important. In a way, it also ties into women’s rights. For centuries, we have had the masculine form of pronouns being the default. As a result, consideration of women has been lessened, if not outright eliminated, from a lot of discussion. Since the 70s women’s movement, there has been some change. Sometimes to “s/he”, or “he/she”, or some other hoop-jump; sometimes to the plural “they” (ugh); and sometimes to switching between the two…sometimes within the same paragraph.
While I came up with ey, em, and eir (it’s they, them, their, with the “th” chopped off) for a novel, its utility is obvious. Generic legal documents. Non-sexist textbook examples. Talking about a person you might not know the gender of. You’ll notice that I use this not only in that novel, but also here in the blog as well as other socnets. American English doesn’t have official language police…it’s up to the people to change it for themselves. This is something I really do believe in.
Use them. It costs nothing and could change the world…or at least how we perceive it.
I also support many other causes: the fight against leukemia, finding solutions for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the environment, zealotry, animal rights, political rights and freedoms, LGBT rights, and so forth. The fact of the matter is that there is only just so much time in a life, and there are more than enough causes for several lifetimes. Out of necessity, we pick and chose the battles we are the most willing to fight…even (or perhaps especially) if a winning outcome is not assured.
On the other hand, I also have some “anti-causes”. Perhaps the biggest among them is the unhealthily skewed distribution of wealth combined with the smug puppeteering of those wanting that divergence to be widened. But that’s probably better saved as the topic of a future post.