Tag Archives: advocacy

“It Was Just Like Her To Take A Cause Too Far”

The above quote is from “A Short History of Women” by Kate Walbert

What can I say about the incredible and honest discussion that has gone on in the comments of The Pain Olympics post? I have a greater understanding now for why they happen. More to come.

Today I read a post that was eerily familiar, by Courtney. Check it out.

I’ve had several discussions with Darcy about his utter bewilderment with my involvement in the ALI community. “When are we going to stop discussing infertility?” he wondered recently.

I try to steer clear of talking about my blog with him, which is funny because Darcy is in the blog business and it is he who first suggested I start one. He had no idea it would turn into the world of its own that it has.

And as I have stated repeatedly, I don’t want to blog solely about ALI. The truth is, I don’t. But my passion for advocacy remains. I do see writing as an advocacy tool. I am a writer, I have always written in my career and in my volunteer efforts. It makes sense that I would write to advocate for better public awareness of the disease I suffer from.

But I have to stop and always remember the long term. What am I doing? Has Faces of ALI done good work? Has it made a dent in how the general public sees infertility?

Eh. I’d say the verdict is still out. Those profiles do go (relatively) viral and get viewed thousands of times on Facebook and that can only be a good thing. But has it led to any of my subjects (or really ANYONE awesome in our community) being featured in the newspaper of record in an honest, accurate piece? Or on The Today Show or Good Morning America where the greatest visibility still exists? No. That is still the end game, in my mind.

(I will say that Pinterest is pretty great tool for advocacy I’m finding: tons of views of Faces of ALI come from there. So if you want to share any of the tales, please feel free to pin away! :))


Extreme Advocacy

Here’s where I worry that advocacy takes away from the here and now. I agonized over stepping away from the Bitter Infertiles podcast as a regular panelist, but the truth was I could not sacrifice the time. The podcast needed several hours over the weekend and my family needed that time from me, too. I feel sad sometimes that I no longer get to discuss such relevant topics with those brillant, funny women.

In my comment to Courtney’s post, I noted that if I was alive in 1910, I would be working to try to get women the right to vote. In 2013, I work to try to open the public’s eyes to what infertility is.

Have you read “A Short History of Women?” It’s about the legacy of a woman who performs the ultimate sacrifice for her cause: she starves to death for the right for women to vote. Something that has many ripples in the subsequent generations of women, both within her family and at large. (Women DID get the right to vote, and you could argue that the “Iron-Jawed Angels” did play a significant role in obtaining that right.)

I do have a hard-earned family (arguably A goal of my cause, although not THE goal) and I do not want to lose sight of that in any way shape or form. So balancing my passion for changing people’s minds with just living a “normal” life needs to happen.

Do you find that you tip over the edge into too much advocacy? Do family members express bewilderment over your blogging?

8 Comments

Filed under Blogging

What Are Blogs For?

Darcy had a chat today with one of the big thinkers in the blogosphere about what blogging is and where it is going.

This guru said it is two things:

1. It’s a way of connecting with a like-minded community.
2. It’s a way to become an advocate or influencer about a topic you are passionate about.

I got the shivers when he told me this, as obviously the second point is one I have been pondering in depth.

But let me begin with the first point. In my boring, conformist suburban life, it’s doubtful I would have ever “met”:

1. A cool girl from Maine, who rocks the romantic look so hard, Rachel Zoe should be taking notes.  Girl is seriously stylish.
2. A yoga model, whose crow pose in the snow is crazy amazing.  Vote for her!
3. A children’s writer and illustrator, whose goal to not buy anything new for a year (except for necessities) rivals projects like “No Impact Man”.
4. A woman who in the last few months has met the President of the United States and published a best-selling book.
5. A local-food enthusiast who lives her activism by supporting local CSA farms and cooking drool-worthy healthy chow.
6. A stylish and clever SoCal lady who can walk in 5-inch heels on the hilly streets of San Francisco and writes like nobody’s business.
7. An acerbic, funny Canadian whose tart take on infertility should land her a book deal.
8. An Israeli filmmaker and writer of hilarious criticisms on the endless remakes in Hollywood.
9. A modern-day heroine taking on the Goliaths of infertility on our behalf: public ignorance, unfair insurance policies and the local and federal laws which don’t support us.
10. An advocate for children and champion of the bullied.
11. An Indian woman whose lofty career led her to meet top dignitaries in her country.

And then there’s Calliope, who I haven’t “met” but I just found out that she was in the music video for one of my favorite songs.

How cool are all of you? (And that list is cursory: everyone I’ve met seems to have an important and unique story.)

But beyond the “cool” factor, y’all GET IT. Like no one in my real life did.

So, deep, deep breath, it’s time to address the second reason people blog: advocacy and influence. I’m not a fighter like Keiko or an influential politico like Mel. I’m just little mousy me. Like so many people, I love the Harry Potter books. My favorite character is actually Neville Longbottom. J. K. Rowling makes a big, anvil-shaped point about the importance of bravery in the series. But Neville is a shy, awkward boy with none of the skills of Harry, brains of Hermione or guts of Ron.

Yet, spoiler alert, Neville too makes a significant contribution to knocking off Lord Voldemort.

I don’t mean to be grandiose, and I certainly respect those who don’t want to or can’t give their voices to the NIAW campaign (I agree with Mel: those who don’t speak are to be just as respected as those who do.) I am in a place many are not: I have children, thanks to infertility treatments. I finally feel up to facing those who don’t understand the pain and suffering the ALI community endure.

Darcy and I had a long discussion tonight: why do I care so much about infertility? Why am I not off bonding with the “mommy bloggers”? Why do I connect so much to the ALI community? The honest answer is “I don’t know.” But I do. So I’ve decided to lend my voice to the Resolve “Bust a Myth” campaign. I really hope not to get the “don’t repopulate the earth, you barren misfit, adoption-shunning jerk” comments. They will hurt, a lot. But if I do, I do. I’ll try to think of Neville, when he heard the Death Eaters belittling his poor parents, who were driven mad by their evil. But mostly of the brave, strong women and men who are unable to lend their unique voices, who are enduring hell on earth.

I’ll do it, because this community is so important to me. And we can fight and win. And so I’ll help, as best as I can.

Do you agree with the guru about what blogs are for? Why do you write your blog? Is the advocacy angle necessary to blogging?

Dang, THAT’S Neville?  He aged well.

8 Comments

Filed under Infertility, Parenting After IF

My Adventurous Spirit: Channeling it into Advocacy

I haven’t posted in a while because I felt drained from the last one.   The comments!  They were all so insightful, and thoughtful and philosophical.   I am honored by your words, your deepness of mind and spirit.  I’m still contemplating how I want to take my advocacy efforts forward.  But I have decided that I will, in some fashion.  Because of something Fertility Challenged in Florida said.

Basically, we both agree that the confidence and swagger of our youth have deserted us.  In my case, part of that is maturity, the responsibilities of being a parent, being knocked down enough by life, infertility, relatives.  What used to give me confidence and swagger was adventure.

I was trying to remember back to when I first felt the thirst of adventure.   It really started with watching the “Indiana Jones” movies.   I was studying high school geography, and the places we studied: India, Africa, Egypt!  I imagined flying from Mumbai to Shanghai, following the dotted lines over the map, like in the movies.  I probably watched “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” every weekend. (I had no dates, I was a late bloomer.)   I bought the cherry red lipstick and nail polish that Kate Capshaw wore in that movie. (And yes, Karen Allen was a much better heroine. Marion Ravenwood kicked ass. Kate was just a bit more glamorous, fashion-wise.)  School was so confining, and I dreamt of meeting a man like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe a bit less sweaty.

I finally travelled Europe for two months with a friend after college, and boy did that trip make me feel alive. There were no Egyptian asps, but we did get trapped in all-male bar during the Running of the Bulls, and I literally had to punch my way out of the place, or else we would have suffered an evil fate.   We dodged thieves to keep our treasures (over-priced coats and scarves bought in the marketplace in Florence), tried to translate Spanish, German, Greek, Dutch, and of course, there was my nemesis: my ex-boyfriend who was traveling the same circuit as us. He was to be avoided, out-foxed and out-maneuvered at every treacherous pass, as he was out to steal something as valuable to me as the Ark: my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I finally met my Darcy, he was even more adventurous than I: in 1994, he traveled to Croatia and Albania by himself to see what the conflict looked like first hand.  He walked down streets with land mines.  He was almost shanghai’d into a nefarious group of smugglers in Morocco.  He was my very own Indiana Jones.

 

 

 

 

Together, we lived in London and travelled extensively.   He did investigative journalism and ferreted out similar scandals detailed in “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.  For our honeymoon, we stayed in a tent where during the midnight hour, a leopard decided to eat its dinner right next to our zipper. I’ll never forget those noises.

You can argue that those adventures could continue after marriage and kids, but if you look at Hemingway, Fitzgerald or any of the famous ex-pats, their marriages were less than stable and their kids, traumatized.

So how do you keep adventure alive when you have kids, but are not dead?  A thirst for adventure is necessary to keep feeling alive.

Back to Indiana Jones, his adventures were about fighting the good fight: mostly trying to prevent the Nazis from gaining unspeakable power.

I think that if I pursue the right type of advocacy, it may spark my adventure for life.  Which is something I want to pass on to my children.  We grew up knowing that my father was almost murdered by Jim Jones, that he had to take a stealth journey to visit Salman Rushdie complete with Fatwa spies trailing his moves.  And he barely made it out of his interview with Barbara Streisand alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I will be visiting/revisiting the advocacy debate, attempting to find the best way for me to fight the good fight.  With adventure, and maybe even a bull-whip.

1 Comment

Filed under Infertility

Did I Rage Against the Wrong Machine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two people I really admire singled me out this week, both within the context of my protest of the PETA fiasco.   As most of you know, the protests worked, and PETA took down the offensive language linking NIAW to their “win a vasectomy” campaign.

If you were to ask someone in my real life what I was like, they would say things like: quiet, shy, sweet and mousy.   Lately though, the main emotion I display is anger.  I’m angry about things out of my control.  And it feels as if many things are out of my control.   A lack of support from family, pre-school problems, the economy, physical exhaustion, the isolation from adults in my day-to-day life, infertility, the observation that my swagger and confidence of my twenties has completely deserted me.  I feel alone and like I am spinning away from happiness.

Except in my bloggy world.   I have a lovely niche of kindly, smart people whose blogs I read and comment on, who often share rich, well-earned nuggets of knowledge with me.  I read on BlogHer that most women bloggers think of their online friends as their “real friends.”  I agree with that.  And we are comrades-in-arms against the world of “just relax, just adopt.”   In other words, the real world.  I am a sensitive person. I don’t like confrontation and the throw-away comments that people say, like “You’re just not tough enough to handle the twins,” and, worse, the comments about my children’s behavior, are eating away at me like a cancer.

It alarms me that I am reacting to this by becoming acrimonious.  My mother said, “I miss my happy daughter.”  I was once so sunshiny.   Now, I’m just pissed.  All the time.

So when the whole PETA controversy erupted, I jumped into the fray.  Finally, a useful outlet for my rage!  PETA acted as wrongly as a villain could act.   It was so black and white, how wrong what they said was.  I tweeted, emailed, signed petitions and COUNTERACTED.  In solidarity with a lot of other folks. It seemed a good fight.  And we won!  Infertility makes me feel powerless.  It was a change to feel powerful.

Esperanza, a thoughtful wise soul whose words always make me weigh my own actions, wrote an article called “To Rage or Not to Rage” and included me in a list of those who acted against PETA.  She ultimately concluded that the fight was fair, and protest was valid.

Stirrup Queens had a different view of PETA.   She was much better informed than I about PETA’s long history of vicious stunts, and had chosen the high road.  She thinks that PETA pick and choose quarrels with groups who will publicize their anger, thus bringing PETA into the spotlight.

She quoted one of my comments as a counterargument (I said our fight against PETA showed that the infertility community could be organized and powerful), but ultimately she concluded that PETA was a bully and she was pretty sure that any victory against them would be hollow.

Advocacy is so complicated.  I read a compelling, and yet totally depressing book called “A Short History of Women” and it followed the path of the descendants of a suffragette who starved herself to death to try to protest the fact that women couldn’t vote.  Her reasons for doing this were not entirely noble, and sort of flighty, and somewhat selfish.  She left two young children behind, and their lives were pretty grim because of her choice.  But she makes a huge DIFFERENCE in the lives of all future women.

Our reasons for protest and fighting “good fights” are complicated and in my case versus PETA, I was channeling a rage I felt not entirely related to their comments.  But it felt pure and strong.

There are many other causes I believe in and could support full force.   But the path to protest is complicated, filled with conflict, ambivalence and would/ may take me away from being the mother I need to be, which seems to require most of my time: teaching my children to respect others, to show others kindness not rudeness, realizing the overriding importance of education, learning that there are rules in the world.  And making sure they have a routine to make them feel safe.

Yet, the PETA event has taught me that I have a voice.  When can I best use it?   When can I use it and not sacrifice myself to a cause to the detriment of my kids?   And not “starve”?

Please tell me your thoughts: Where is the middle ground between being a suffragette martyr and a do nothing?   How are you able to balance activism with your own life activities and not lose yourself?  Or is losing yourself necessary to being committed to a cause?

11 Comments

Filed under Family, Infertility, Parenting After IF