This has NOTHING to do with gender


Every time I think sweet day of beauty, today I will sit down and compose something cheering on my blog, something to make up for the glooming achiness of recent ramblings

I swear, every time—

“Obamacare, RAWR!”

I stop by Facebook and find something like this in my feed. Palm to face, people. You know how poorly I tolerate this stuff in general. And now not even remotely.

I mean…

I just…


It was a former youth pastor this time, venting about how Obama is out to destroy religious freedom by forcing Catholics to violate their conscience and offer birth control coverage in their healthcare plans for female employees.

How dare!

My general feeling is that people post things like this looking for a bunch of thumbs up from their like-minded friends (I mean, who doesn’t want a bunch of thumbs up? I love a good thumbs up), but my other general feeling is that when a whole bunch of people get together to encourage each other in being all riled up about half-truths, there’s nothing wrong with offering a little counterpoint to the conversation.

Naturally, I decided to be that counterpoint.

“I will speak up for the truth!”

Or, perhaps possibly:

“I will punch him in the face…”

Sometimes it’s best not to look too closely at personal motivations. I mean, which is worse: being motivated by irritation or completely deluding yourself that you’re acting on the best of intentions, thereby dulling your self-awareness for future outings? Let’s keep it real, people. This stuff ticks me off.

But we managed to have a nice, civil little back and forth about healthcare, and I offered a lot of reasons why, in my opinion, what’s really going on is that the government’s ruling that when the religious freedom of large (business) organizations conflict with the rights and freedoms of individuals, the individuals win. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. (Remember: churches are still allowed an exemption for conscience, this is about Catholic-run businesses like hospitals, and did you know that 18-20% of all hospital beds in the US are under Catholic management? So we’re talking about a very significant number of jobs for healthcare professionals across the country).

But, more specifically, the way the argument is framed is frustrating to me as a Christian and a woman, because the double-standard of the “let God be in control of your womb” thing is just not working for me anymore. Because what they really mean is that you should let God be in control a) if you’re healthy, and b) if you’re female.

How do I know that?

Because Catholics have no problem covering Viagra for their male employees.

I’m not sure why Viagra is more moral than birth control. You can use it to maintain a good sex life with your wife of 30 years or you can use it for wild sex orgies. Really, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure. Kind of like the 1.5 million American women who use birth control for purely medical purposes.

And you are SO LUCKY that I’m not drawing pictures to illustrate this male/female divide, because I almost did. And then I remembered that my mom sometimes reads this blog. And since she’s planning to come and cook lasagna for me for a week after the baby is born, I’m willing to let the decision handed down in wild sex orgies v. lasagna stand.

(You can thank her in the comments.)

All this to say: Either you’re leaving it completely in God’s hands, or you aren’t. If you believe God specifically opens the womb for each pregnancy, then he must also close it every time a woman can’t conceive.

For some reason religious leaders are very comfortable with this kind of language, yet I’ve never heard a pastor talk about how God’s hand is evident in sperm count and erectile dysfunction. Really, it’s all very simple: we want God to have control of female reproductive organs, but we’re not so sure we trust God to get it right for men.

Fascinating, right?

My pastor friend didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

This has nothing to do with gender, he said. And, for him, it didn’t. End of the road. End of the discussion.

Well, then.

It must be nice to be a pastor, I thought to myself.

It must be nice to wake up one morning and say, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GENDER, and just like that it doesn’t. I mean, I spent a lot of time in between our postings reading up on Catholic websites and the new healthcare laws and looking for statistics (some of which didn’t particularly help my cause, by the way. Apparently women in the US are fairly divided over the question of whether birth control has made women’s lives better. Only 8% think it’s made it worse, but only a slight majority (54%, if I remember correctly) think it’s a definite improvement). Anyway, when you’re a peon like me, it’s kind of important to do some homework and be very calm and rational and polite in times like these.

It must be nice to be a pastor and just decide that things like this have nothing to do with gender and preach week after week to an entire church full of people—at least half of whom will be female—and feel no need to address gender in issues like these because, after all, none of these things have anything to do with gender.

It must be nice.

And for a minute, it really seemed like the obvious answer:

 “I will be a pastor!”

But, no. I looked around my table at the pile of Carl’s birthday presents that need to be wrapped for tomorrow, at the bag of diapers my sister-in-law dropped off, the baby clothes that need to be washed, the pile of tax forms that say we’re on our way to getting a more reliable car, the drift of notes from writing and work, and allowed myself a small, happy little groove because Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome” just came on and you have to be happy about a song that talks about the greens of summers and Nikon cameras.

And, I thought…


I care, but let’s not kid ourselves. I don’t care that much.

Pretty sure I know what I’m going to be:

“I will be myself!”

Because it’s way more fun that way.


14 thoughts on “This has NOTHING to do with gender

  1. I love the sketches. They have serious flair.

    Also, I think the answer is to become a deviant theologian. Time to get to that manifesto, dear.

  2. Fabulous pictures! I’m impressed. There’s no way I could get that much emotion in. And here’s that shout out to your Mama: Thank you for making good lasagne!

  3. The pictures really made me laugh! They are great! I did think of writing arguments saying why I think a Christian can (and sometimes should) practise birth control if he or she wants to, but decided not to, as most people have have made up their minds on that issue already and it’s a waste of time to give opinions when they are not wanted. I really admire women who have a lot of children, but I know that my four children were the limit of what God and I could cope with together. Even today although they are all grown up, I thank him for his help and grace. I continually prayed that he would give my children what I couldn’t and I know he has answered my prayers!

  4. The girl has talent, professor! I’m so protective of private institutions (like churches and schools too) being allowed to maintain their own convictions within their organizations that I would loathe the government forcing catholics to provide something that they believe is wrong. (I think you know I used birth control for a couple of years when Dad and I were first married, so birth control per se isn’t the issue…but it’s the principle. Would they next force catholic hospitals to perform abortions??? At some point, even your father would be out of a job…) But, I am always glad you stand up for women, and I love your illustrations!!!

    • Thanks! I think it’s important to keep the actual issue in mind—this law isn’t about abortion (and abortion is NOT covered by the healthcare plans in discussion). I think for me what it really boils down to is that a person’s benefits package isn’t a GIFT from their employers, it’s part of his/her PAY. To me, this is like an employer saying he won’t pay his female staff what the law requires him to because he’s convinced they won’t spend it responsibly. That’s a problem.

      • Sigh…I don’t want to get in a fight with my own daughter, so I won’t keep bothering you, but don’t you think that the “paycheck” is your wage…and can be spent however you want, whereas the “benefit package” are added “extras” that the employer chooses to give as an extra incentive. The real point I was trying to make is that I don’t want the government to have the right to force a private company to provide services that they do not believe are morally correct…be it free contraceptives, massage therapy, laser surgery, aspirin, Viagra, or a yearly cruise. The government controls too much already! Let private individuals and organizations have the freedom to choose what they provide. If you don’t like that school or company or church or hospital…look for one where you have more natural agreement with their policies, but don’t ask the government to step in and force private companies to endorse your particular agenda…or someday you may find yourself exterminated because you’re a Christian or have English blood.

      • According to the IRS: “A fringe benefit is a form of pay for the performance of services.” It’s a secondary form of compensation for the work done. It’s pay.

        About half of the states right now ALREADY HAVE legislation that requires religious businesses to provide birth control options in their health care packages, so this isn’t a new rule that the Catholics just found out about. Yet there was no orchestrated shriek of “religious persecution” when those laws took effect.

        Sadly, I think this has more to do with money, politics, and galvanizing the anti-Obama vote than it does with religion…

  5. LOVE love love the illustrations. What fun! You’re a hidden comic artist! Who knew?!?! Would you consider an occasional strip/post as a rotating feature? I would tune in!

  6. Viagara as a choose your own adventure. Love it. And I appreciate you pointing out some of the important details about what this plan entails and what it does not as I do not spend a great deal of time reading those details and had a different understanding. The fact that the Catholic church is fine with Viagara but not birth control is enough to get me riled up.

    Love, love, love the illustrations.

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