Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day

This morning I listened to a talk on the power of fatherhood.

I won't lie, it was hard to hear what the speaker was saying without feeling a bit defensive.

He began by citing statistics for children who are raised in homes without fathers and how they face higher rates of depression, drug use, incarceration, and academic failure.

Check, check, almost, and check.

He went on to say that adolescent females raised without fathers are more likely to fall into promiscuous lifestyles, and subsequent unplanned pregnancies.

Check, and check.

He was describing me.

A self-proclaimed feminist. A feminist who was raised by an amazing, strong, hard-working mother... but no matter how hard she tried, she could never be my father.

And this might not be anyone else's experience, but it is mine.
I'm strong like my mother. I'm opinionated, and stubborn. But there's a part of me - and there probably always will be - that's broken because I never knew my real dad.

My mother took me to see him just once, thinking it might cause him to change his mind. I was two weeks old. He commented on how long my eyelashes were, then he never laid eyes on me again.
I wasn't enough... or maybe he wasn't enough. I really don't know. But for years I tried to reach out to him; my letters and phone calls always going unanswered.

So I looked for validation in others. Mostly guys. I told myself that this behavior was empowering. They wanted me.... someone wanted me, at least for a little while... and that felt powerful.
I would leave them before they could leave me, because that's what badass chicks did. Then I'd bask in how liberated and cool I was.

"Look at me, I don't need them... maybe I'm more like my dad than I realized..."

But at the end of the day it was my lack of self-worth, not empowerment, that led to those actions. And before I knew it, I was repeating my mother's life. Pregnant, single... having to be even stronger now that someone else would be depending on me, like I depended on her. So much of our strength came from their weakness.

I am a man-made feminist. And I hate that.

I hate that my strength often feels inauthentic because would I even be who I am today if so many men along the way hadn't failed me?
Perhaps I'll never know. But I do think this is what makes my mission with New Wave Feminists a bit different. I know that bad guys exist, but I haven't lost faith in the good ones. I understand the power of fatherhood because I've experienced the pain of its absence.

I've often said that when women are better, men are better. That is why NWF will never be about trashing males. It'll never be about embracing the toxic elements of radical feminism that tell us we don't need them, or that our power comes through controlling men with our sexuality. Because I've lived both of those lies, and I know better.

Fathers are irreplaceable. Period. Full stop.

So to all the good guys, to all the men who are making this world and the women in it better through their love and support, Happy Father's Day.

What you are doing matters so much more than you know and the ripples of your impact on our lives will affect more generations than you will probably live to see.


*************************

As a side note, I found out two years ago that my biological father passed away. And while I'm sad that I never got to know him, he was the one who missed out. My children, his grandchildren, would've filled his life with so much joy.

So, if you're reading this and you have a son or daughter out there that you're afraid to reach out to because you're just not sure how they'll react, please don't let that fear stop you. I wish I could've told my father that. If you still have air in your lungs, it's not too late...




Post by Destiny

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Real Wonder Woman


It’s a Tuesday late in April and Melissa Gormley sits in a recliner, cherishing the bumps and kicks from her baby, growing inside her womb.
As minutes crawl into hours, the sign of life is a welcomed distraction from the taxol and carboplatin streaming through her veins.
Melissa, 31, is not alone, surrounded by other patients in a room full of recliners and IVs, as she sits through her first chemotherapy session. The cancerous tumor on her cervix threatens to deny her a full motherhood experience, and even though her first pregnancy was not planned nor expected, Gormley’s motherly instincts are already sharpened and she is prepared to fight.
“There are definitely times where I break down crying,” Melissa said. “It’s scary thinking about all the what ifs. Like, what if it doesn’t work? What if something happens during delivery? All of those thoughts go through your head. She’s moving a lot now, so every time we have that I just think, we’re doing all this so she’s healthy, so I’m healthy, so I can be there for her. That kind of helps me get through it.”
Melissa Gormley met Dave Good 13 months ago, while training for their serving jobs at World of Beer in Exton, PA. 

An unassuming beginning led to a spontaneous six-hour first date which led to a relationship. “She was so shy and she had this nervous laugh,” Dave recalls. 
Just after New Year’s, the couple received the most life-changing of all surprises: Melissa was pregnant.
“We were both kind of like, ‘what?!,’” she said. Shock transformed into excitement, and at 14 weeks the pair found out they’d be having a girl.
That same night, Melissa experienced some light bleeding, which prompted a trip to the doctor, and eventually a biopsy.
Every day that passed, every time the phone rang, tension and urgency built, magnified by the little life inside.
“We were so excited and were finally over the shock of ‘we’re pregnant,’” David said. “We were starting to be like, ‘This is awesome, we’re going to be able to start our life together’ and then we get this news and we wondered, what does that mean for our new life? Did it mean it couldn’t happen anymore? Can we still have the baby? Is Melissa going to be OK?”
When Melissa finally got a voicemail from their doctor's personal cell phone, she didn’t want to call back. There was little that could soften the blow of the news: cervical cancer.
“I was in shock at that point,” Melissa said. “I kind of mentally prepared myself that I might not get the news I wanted, but it was still very hard hearing that.”
The process to recovery began, but Gormley’s case was not only rare, but a bit more challenging, timeline-wise. 
Had Melissa been early into her pregnancy, terminating it may have been a recommended route. Discovery in the third trimester could have allowed for some wiggle room on the start of treatment.
Melissa was smack-dab in the middle of her pregnancy, leaving her with really only one choice.
“Ending the pregnancy was not an option for me,” she said. “I knew that right from the beginning. Even if they were like ‘we can’t do anything for you,’ I would’ve waited. I was really just concerned for her.”
Friends and family searched for the right response in an avalanche of unknown.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Sharon Good, Dave’s mother. “To go from such a high of knowing I was going to be a grandmother to hearing she has cancer, it broke my heart. Whoever thought a pregnant woman could have chemo, but when I heard that I said, ‘OK, we’re gonna fight this.’ There’s nothing else to do.”
With more and more information out there, chemotherapy while pregnant is a viable option. Melissa will have her second chemo session Tuesday and another three weeks after. Following that, she’ll undergo another MRI to check the progress. If the tumor has been reduced, Gormley will go for a fourth session. If progress is minimal, the plan is to deliver the baby through caesarean section around 30 weeks and then surgically remove the tumor.
Needless to say, when baby Olivia makes her arrival to the world, she will be a beacon of joy and of hope and of gratefulness.

“Dave kept saying 'I don’t ever want to call her princess, I want to call her our superhero.'
Like mother, like daughter.

Here at NWF we've been blown away by Melissa, Dave, and baby Olivia's story of strength. If you'd like to help them cover some of their unexpected medical expenses, 
here are the following ways to donate:
PayPal: davemelissaOMG@gmail.com
Venmo: Mike-Strawbridge

Or message us at NewWaveFeminists@gmail.com 
for their home address if you'd like to send a check.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Do What I Want




First of all, challenge accepted, Perez. 

Second, eff this guy. 

And third, democrats are such bleeding heart hippies. This shit is totally their jam! I mean, aren't they supposed to be all about helping the weak and oppressed?! How they are not already pro-life, blows my mind. At no point in our lives are we more vulnerable and marginalized than when we are in the womb.

That said, in my opinion, the most dangerous thing we ever did was make abortion a partisan issue - and thereby "political." This is about violence against another human being. Opposing rape and murder are not "conservative" or "liberal" platforms. Abortion shouldn't be either. It's violence. 

Yet somehow it's now a party platform. 

So what ends up happening is we have a lot of conservatives working overtime to make sure their republican candidates are prolife "enough." Meanwhile, democrats are trying to radicalize their own base into becoming insanely "up to the moment of birth" pro-choice. 

Most Americans don't even agree with that extreme stance. They view it as a necessary evil, and would like to still see it rare. But why? Because somewhere deep down they know it's a human being. That's nuts that they're still okay with abortion, but I see that as something we can work with. And guys like Perez know this, so they want to keep prolifers far far away from their precious. 

Bottom line, you don't make abortion unthinkable with just one political party. You don't make abortion unthinkable with just one religious faith. You make abortion unthinkable by shifting the entire cultures consciousness so they can see that yet again we've taken one part of the human family - the weakest and most vulnerable within it - and said they are not quite human. They are not quite worthy of life. They can be viewed as property and disposed of however we see fit. 

Throughout history, anytime we've dehumanized an entire population of people, it's always been viewed by future generations as a horrific travesty and massive human rights violation. 

So, in conclusion, Tom Perez just made me one million percent more motivated to turn every democrat I know prolife. Because again, this cause was freaking made for their filthy little bleeding hippie hearts. They just don't know it yet. 

Signed, A Fellow Bleeding Heart (With A Brain)

**********************************************************************************************************

*Originally posted in a Facebook messenger conversation.
**Then after some light to medium editing, in which all of the awesome sarcasm and swear words were removed, it was published on Independent Journal Review.
***Now, for posterity I'm running the original here WITH the sarcasm and swears in all their glory. ;)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interdimensional Compassion



Ben’s the baby of the family, but don’t try calling him that. Even with a limited vocabulary he still knows how to clap back. “BIG DUDE” he’ll insist, referring to himself. Then the follow-up under his breath: “POO,” -a curse word ‘round these parts - which we usually humor with a dramatic gasp. He loves it. Of course, the effect is more impactful if everyone in the room stops what they’re doing to be collectively offended.

Having someone with Down syndrome in your life is like having stepped through an interdimensional gateway. Things are different here. Before I arrived, I
was aware that people with special needs were “out there” but they were probably being cared for by someone infinitely more benevolent than myself -- like angels or something, the kind with fluffy wings and halos. They lived in a separate place that I could only imagine. I always just thought, “Good for them!”


But now everything has shifted. I’ve been allowed to crossover into this dimension. Ben’s dimension.


In this separate place the world is brimming with hurt, healing, and more purpose than I know how to handle. I didn’t know I could feel this much and I didn’t know there were so many people who needed me - who I also needed. Benjamin was my family’s little “interdimensional gateway,” and since we stepped through things have never been the same.


When Ben gets up in the morning he's a zombie, which makes getting him ready for school an adventure for my mom. He'll fall asleep while eating breakfast or flop back in bed right before the bus arrives. (Lots of fun. My mom loves that...) Yesterday, three and a half minutes before the bus was going to pull up my mom was running around the house calling his name and panicking. That's never a good thing to hear with little siblings. I jumped out of bed and flew down the stairs to ask if she’d found him. He was downstairs in our basement, showing our pet snake his homework. My dad is a science teacher. We like weird pets. Ben had his little "Letter S" print off from the day before up against the glass. "SNAKE," he instructed. Now when we don't know where he is, we check the basement.


One time someone told my mom aborting a child because they had Down syndrome was totally justified. Ben just happened to be sitting there on her lap at the moment. I was floored. I had never been so baffled. Instinctively, I needed to get my brother as far away from that person as possible. Mom cried. I cried. We drove to a park and Ben scratched away with chalk on the Buffalo city sidewalk next to my siblings.


He’s ours. Ben is ours.” I told mom, because seeing her cry is never a good thing. “He could have been someone else’s, someone who wouldn’t want him. But he’s all ours. We get to love him.” She hugged me.


Ben is small but his world -- this dimension we’ve found ourselves in -- is growing.

To say that people with special needs don’t deserve a shot at life is to say that Ben has no value. And nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do we need to protect people like Ben, but we need to celebrate every moment they’re here with us.


Mom and Dad told us when he was born that things were going to be... different. How different? None of us knew.


We were scared. Mom cried -- and like I said, when mom cries it’s weird. The apocalypse could be vacuuming the final vestiges of habitability from the planet and my mom would be sitting there in the fruit cellar handing out freeze-dried ice cream and canned beans while maintaining some semblance of “cool” and assuring everyone that it was gonna be okay.


It might as well have been the apocalypse with how we carried on.


How long would he live? Would he be... happy? We googled furiously for answers, as if an extra chromosome could possibly affect how much love we were willing to offer. We were experiencing the shift – taking those first few steps into Ben’s dimension.

Now, on the other side, we’ve emerged with a better understanding of what it means to love.


I call it empathy but my sister calls it Down syndrome radar…. (It actively takes every cell in her being not to pounce on special needs classmates and cover them in hugs and kisses.) Our compassion vocabulary is expanding rapidly. And there’s a mischievous wink we get to share with special needs families. “You’ve made it here too, huh? Good news, we understand you! And guess what? We’re here for you.”


And it doesn’t stop there. Our world is bigger. There is a burden for those who hurt, for those who cannot speak for themselves. We wouldn’t give that up for anything.


We are privileged. We are so very privileged. Not everyone has the chance to step through this little gateway. In fact, most actively deny that journey. They slam the portal shut and lock it tight. They tell people like Ben that since there’s a chance what he has to offer isn’t “good enough,” they won’t have any part of it.


“You won’t have a quality life. You’re going to be different. We’re probably both going to suffer, so let’s just not."


Pre-birth screenings are the reason that most Down syndrome children will never have the chance to take their mothers by the hand and guide them through that gateway. Our capacity to show others unconditional love is being traded for a false sense of emotional safety. Does showing compassion hurt? Hell yes. In fact, I think now that I’m living in this other “dimension,” where special needs kids are no longer invisible, life aches more. That ache is what drives me to love them harder. They need it. They want it. And they deserve it.


I get to witness their potential firsthand -- through Ben. And sometimes I see that potential snuffed out. And it hurts, but I have purpose now - learning how to love deeper.


This world needs to heal. But who will heal us and who will teach us how to heal others if we are eliminating every opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones? We don’t need more locks on our interdimensional gates. We need more Bens to let us know that we are strong enough to give our time and our blood and guts to those who desperately need unconditional love.


One last story… Ben went through a phase where he would, well, randomly kiss things when he was in a good mood. We’re still trying to figure out where this came from. I guess if he got comfortable enough with his environment some rogue synapse in his little head would fire more rapidly than usual and induce a desire to show affection by giving whoever (or whatever) was closest, a peck. It was actually really cute. But we found out this habit wasn’t limited to just kisses on the face -- the target had to be eye level for him. At 8, he’s a bit short for his age, around 3 and a half feet tall.


So one day we were out shopping and Ben was walking alongside mom, helping out because he’s a big boy. Suddenly, he started to pucker up. The nearest target: a complete stranger’s... um, posterior. He was gentle and brief, like powdering a macaroon. Mom would have been mortified if the unassuming victim of Ben’s affections hadn’t seen the humor in the situation. I’d like to say we learned a lesson that day, or that we taught Ben something, but we figured it was best to just leave it alone. There’s not really any use in telling someone that they’re showing too much love.


I’ve found that is something that rings true in both dimensions.

******************************************************************


Post by Jake Romano

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pro-Choices

Had the pleasure of speaking at a 40 Days rally this morning and as I was leaving this gentleman stopped me. He said a few years ago he heard me speak at an event about my teen pregnancy. I mentioned how no one could've made me feel any worse than I already felt for putting myself (and now an innocent child) into that predicament at 16.
If I would've been met with shame or anger, I would've welcomed it oddly enough, because it's what I felt I deserved. I hated me. And I thought everyone else should hate me too.
But to my surprise, no one did. They loved me. They supported me. They offered me options. They cut through my self-loathing with love. They helped me eliminate the crisis, not the pregnancy.
I know how lucky I was to have had that. Not a day goes by that I take it for granted. ALL WOMEN deserve that kind of support.
He said my story impacted his activism, and that's when I read his sign. Then suddenly realized how bad my allergies had gotten and excused myself.

This is the Prolife movement, y'all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I just read a quote that gave me chills...


"'Mother' is the name for god on the lips and hearts of children."

What an incredible thought. Take a moment not to be offended, but instead soak that sentiment in.
To a child that knows nothing more, this is the power a mother holds. We are everything. Their giver of life, their protector, their nurturer, their shelter, their food source... everything.
When did we stop embracing that power?
When did we stop celebrating it?
When did it become something to destroy?
When did we become at odds with those that depend on us for everything?
We control their entire universe yet feel "empowered" when we destroy it. How? And why?
Just because we can?
Because we are bigger and stronger and have the power to do so? As a feminist that sounds awfully familiar.
The power to create and destroy. The power to give life and take it.... I guess that does make us gods, huh? But isn't that everything people hate about God? How He allows evil, and destruction, and death. After every natural disaster, after every school shooting, after every act of terrorism people are always asking where "God" was and why he didn't stop the violence.
Yet, when the violence is suddenly a "woman's right to choose" we are silent in the face of human oppression.
Our ability to destroy another human being simply because they are powerless against our aggression, and can't say no... that will never be a human "right." Because that is the very definition of oppression.
We have so much power.
But how will we use it? For good or evil? To give life or take it?
Violence against human beings - no matter how vulnerable, weak, or unwanted they are - that can never be something that we champion as feminists, or people.
We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
And because of that, abortion is the human rights violation of our lifetime.