a few quick notes about no wedding, no womb

i wrote it on tumblr, but for those of you who don’t read me there, i thought it’d be a good idea to share my beliefs on this quote-unquote movement here. (google the whole thing, i’m not giving them any linkage)

because i tweeted it but didn’t blog it:

the whole quote-unquote movement is gender essentialist. point blank. period.

the finger wagging and shaming aside, this initiative seeks to push all MAAB (male assigned at birth) and FAAB (female assigned at birth) persons to marry one another, regardless of being self-identified as trans, or being gay or lesbian self-identified.

because of the illegality, in most states, of what’s called same-sex marriage, this initiative cannot include cisgender gay, lesbian, or bisexual (or pan or omnisexual) ppl or any trans-identified people. by its own definition, no less.

monogamy is not the default setting for all humans. it is a choice. compulsory monogamy and heterosexuality encroach on the rights of an individual to do what they wish with their bodies.

furthermore, there has been little to no discussion by the NWNW folks regarding causations of single parenthood & correlations between single motherhood & the catastrophic outcomes they seem to think are rampant in the black community.

encouraging anyone to marry for the sake of a child is dangerous. ask any one of my friends who has lived through a domestic violence situation, either as the scarred child or as the abused spouse.

& if i say shit else about this, it’ll be because someone on team finger wag has come at my neck w/ some bullshit.

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baby makes me.

i got this from the lovely tiona via facebook. check it:

PLEASE POST ON YOUR BLOGS, SITES, LISTS etc. Help us reach the folks we need.

Many of you have already heard about our film, Baby Makes me. For you, this is an update. But for the folks who have not heard Tiona and I are making a documentary together.

For years, I have wanted to become a mother. But the timing has never been quite right. Either my partners weren’t ready, or I was scared, or I couldn’t find a donor or something. There was always something. By the time I rolled into 35, I was tired of being afraid, tired of waiting for the right woman with whom it would be the right time, tired of watching every Christmas roll over another Birthday, tired of watching my peers get knocked up and months later appear with the most amazing little bundle of potential—I was tired of waiting and ready to make the leap, and I was ready to make it alone.

I began the research with great heart—only to discover that there were little no resources for women who either wanted to, or had to embark on the journey of motherhood in the solo. There were one or two essays and a few books on artificial insemination, and some were even directed at lesbians—but most, if not all assumed that the mother would be operating from inside of a partnership, be that partnership heterosexual or homosexual.

The idea for the film came out of a conversation with Tiona to film the pregnancy/labor, assuming that there would be one—because no one, least of all me, knows if my body will cooperate in doing such a thing as conceiving. I envisioned Tiona asking a couple of heartfelt questions and spinning the light to create a high-end home-movie I could show my child at eighteen. She agreed and we began to flesh out some ideas. That conversation, coupled with the lack of resource material out there spurred the project now known as Baby Makes Me.

Baby Makes Me, a feature-length documentary, will explore the challenges and triumphs of Single Motherhood, particularly in the lives of women of color, lesbians and women who make a conscious choice to be mothers in the absence of intimate/romantic partnerships with men.

The film will use as its narrative skeleton, the journey of activist/writer/performer, Staceyann Chin, as she navigates her personal choices with reference to motherhood. Author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, Chin now brings her talents to the medium of film as writer and Executive Producer.

The Director, Tiona McClodden, is a champion of promoting positive images of women in media. Her last film, “Black./womyn.:conversations…”, garnered much respect in both accolades and awards. She now brings her attention to the issue of women and motherhood.

It is our intent to interview a series of women from all the demographic cross-sections. Issues of financial, ethical, medical, cultural, and political relevance will be fore-grounded. We hope that clinics, hospitals, families, children of Black lesbians, straight Black women who want children, mothers of gay women who lament the loss of grandchildren when they discover their daughters are gay, and anybody who seeks to have a clearer picture of the family that includes gay women will see that our lives go on, that women who are single, be they lesbian, or Black or poor, can and do have babies, and that we are simply another group of people who live and laugh and grow. We hope to paint the subjects in the film as human and likable characters who, though they are dealing with slightly different challenges than the women we traditionally see as mothers, are not very different from any other group of people considering parenthood.

We are going to need all the help we can get. We need help in reaching out to folks who would like to be interviewed; other single mothers, women who have been inseminated, women who are thinking about it, women who work in the medical field, women who work in the administrative world of policy etc. We are on the hunt for the all the voices that could represent our story in the film.

We have recently been awarded a grant from ASTREA Lesbian Foundation for Justice and are set to move forward. We write to you now, in the hope that you will want to be involved in this groundbreaking project in whatever capacity you choose: we need space to host fundraisers and screening and other events connected to the film. We need people to fundraise, to promote the film, to host community talks, to suggest topics for discussion in the film—we need to secure additional investors, we need the help of people who are experts in the business of making films, and we need the counter-perspective of people who have never made a film. We are hoping to make this a community effort; from start to finish we want the ideas to be representative of the various factions in our diverse village of the women who mother our children. If you are sure you are unable to do any of the above, we only ask that you make room for our fliers, questionnaires, invitations, and other promotional materials for the film.

We would be honored if you would join us as we attempt to break more ceilings, level more walls to make room those of us who are too frequently left out of the history and imagination of the world we live in. We look forward to a spirited journey with you, from the opening shot to the ending credits—complete with your name listed among the most stalwart of our supporters.

Thanks again to the women who have already offered assistance. We look forward to your being a part of our process.

Staceyann Chin
Executive Producer/Writer, “Baby Makes Me”
Tiona McClodden
Director/Producer, “Baby Makes Me”

Please send all inquiries and requests to: babymakesme@gmail.com

full moon gratitude.

new beginnings
silence
willful isolation
sundresses
florida water
abundant change
random phonecalls
cumin
onion powder
babies
chosen family
pink dresses
libraries
vinegar
bloggity goodness
raspberry sorbet
cheap wine
pink eye shadow

continually, i sit at the seat of bliss.

full moon gratitude.

family
sunshine
hoodies
limeade
pink nail polish
herstories
old laughs
new jokes
rose soap
good stockings
friends
cat naps
foremothers
cheap buys
babies

giving words to the unspoken: intimate partner violence.

i am thankful every day that i’ve never dated someone who has or would hit me.  that is a terror i’ve never known, and pray that i never will.  i do know what intimate partner violence can do. the losses of asia, latoyia, and san-dee serve as reminders to us all that women die because of intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence, or domestic abuse). the very idea of the typical domestic abuse victim is seared into the consciousness of many people in the united states: she’s timid, she’s probably very pretty, she is attacked without having provoked her mate, and she always goes back.  the attacker is always someone who’s been emasculated to some degree — maybe his education level isn’t what hers is (or anyone else’s, like being a 10th grade dropout when everyone else is at least a high school grad), or he’s dyslexic, or whatever.  it’s mister from the color purple concentrated, it’s laurence fishburn as ike turner, it’s every lifetime movie shitbag boyfriend joined together like voltron.  
it’s never the sparkling smile of chris brown that spits threats or curse words, bites you or calls you names.  it’s never rihanna’s pretty face that is pummeled with fists. it’s always some nameless or faceless couple on “cops.” it’s always someone whose name has been changed to protect her because he’s stalking her. (and it’s always a hetero couple, but that’s another issue for another time.)  and this seems to be the root of the problem to me: celebrity, or fame, and the perception of “our” stars as anything other than human.  they are not necessarily regarded as human, even in times of tragedy (see: the losses jennifer hudson’s, bill cosby’s, and the late marlon brando’s close family members).  they are still these perfectly unreal creations — half of “their” public’s imagination, and half illusion borne of spin doctors.  celebrity is a tricky thing.  it’s fleeting, but so demanding. what does this pressure cooker life do to someone who’s barely a maturing child when they enter it, and is simply fortunate to be a functioning adult if/ when they leave it?
i ask this question because i don’t believe for one minute that this is a black and white situation (meaning chris, the aggressor, bears all the fault or that rihanna, the victim, instigated her own ass kicking).  i take into account that chris witnessed domestic abuse for as many as 6 years of his life (that’s 1/3 of his time on earth, roughly).  i understand that the highly invasive reports that are being shared pretty much confirm that rihanna was upset over a potential (or continued) infidelity on chris’s part. i understand that it’s likely that brown no longer wished to be in a relationship with her — but check this out: you can end a relationship with someone without hitting them.  you can make your point clear without fists and bitemarks.  
my concerns are for the privacy and safety of both of these young people. there are threats being made against both of them, there’s a lot of hearsay and conjecture. there are terrible jokes being made. it is now a verb to chris brown someone — to beat their ass.  unacceptable.  the facts are known only by the persons who were present for the incident that was reported to the police.  that’s not for any of us to learn about or gossip about. this is deeper than whether someone gave someone herpes, or whether someone’s cheating on someone else.
it is indicative of the fact that we all have work to do: work to heal, work to grow, work to end cycles. violence is never okay in a relationship, regardless of who throws the first punch.  intimate partner violence exists when women hit men, when men hit each other, and when women hit women.  intimate partner violence exists when we are unable or unwilling to talk about what hurts or bothers us, and when we don’t understand that it’s never okay to strike someone you love.  unless it’s self defense, it is wrong. always wrong.
this interview that jay smooth did with elizabeth mendez berry speaks much to why it doesn’t matter specifically that it’s a celebrity dealing with intimate partner violence. 

i am sean bell.

i got this video from jo, via a post at dawson’s ink. i give thanks for stacey muhammad’s project. i’m really quite speechless. teach the babies. save them. save us. & please share this video. peace.

so i’ve been writing . . .

i left a comment over @ womanist musings responding to a post about physical punishment. it’s pretty much a rant. but i figured i should post it here, too.

something that’s become apparent to me while reading this post and the related comments: each person who’s commented here has a particular amount of privilege that even allows them to be here talking about this. we all have access to the internet, whether at work, home, the library, a friend’s house, whatever. maybe there are socioeconomic issues that play into physical punishment being used as discipline. as the blog owner and another sista mentioned, they’re the products of fresh-off-colonialism parents from the caribbean. i definitely understand that.
for me, i see a lot of mothers and fathers (or other caregivers, like siblings) who lack one major thing: patience. they may have zero understanding of the way children (small children especially) function. when katt williams gave his thoughts on black folks publicly beating their kids, he wasn’t really wrong. he said, “your child is three years old; he’s supposed to like skittles!”
there’s a lot of misunderstanding. some of us are treating our kids like really unfortunate consequences of sex. others of us think that love is compulsory in parent-child relationships regardless of a connection between the two. how many of us (urbanites especially) have seen someone who appears to be barely 2 decades older than the child of whom they are in charge? & how does that manifest itself? slamming the child into a chair, yelling, being disengaged from the child when something big-person-specific is going on, etc. smacking the child, beating the child really seems to be the easiest way to release that pressure. the pressure of being exclusively responsible for a little person who is fully and totally dependent upon you. that’s a lot if you don’t even feel like you have your own life together.
that may not be the case with our parents’ generations, but it’s glaringly obvious with these younger parents in our communities. the same systematic lack of education, the systematic removal or lessening of resources, the cyclical violence & other ills, in my opinion, help create a toxic environment. add to that the violent society in the united states (this whole country was built on the backs of ppl controlled by violence AND land stolen from folks with epidemics and slaughter) and i think you pretty much have a prime environ for the “kick ass first ask questions later” approach to parenting i’ve become accustomed to seeing.
this is NOT to say that there aren’t exceptions.
this is NOT to say that we can’t teach each other differently, especially by relating to what exhausts caregivers.
& real rap, it’s not anyone’s place to determine what another person’s experience was or was not. renee, i could tell from the very tone of your writing in this post that you were exposed to something that in pretty much every circle would be considered abuse. levels of punishment, explanations for punishment, etc. are always a good idea no matter what your disciplinary approach is. there is no way to determine how punishments will affect your child.
but the bottom line is this:
the master’s tools will not destroy the master’s house. those of us who are the descendants of slaves are likely aware of the way that public humiliation & usage of weapons (whips, flip flops, shoes, ping pong paddles) tie directly into what happened to many of our ancestors. it’s not a coincidence. this system did not belong to our ancestors; it belonged to those who were in charge in the days of chattel slavery. period. & i think if more of us are able to think of it that way (not just those of us who have the luxury, like myself, of talking about it on the web), we may be able to change some things.

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