Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Singularity….Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me?

Is it just me, or do most people believe it sucks to be single if you are a woman? Especially women.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Is being single and childfree like having an infectious disease which must be eradicated? Kind of like small pox.

Does single/childfree = disease; and therefore cure = marriage?


First Class

In my experience, women who are married with children are heralded as ‘real’ women. It is assumed all women everywhere want two things: to be married and to have children. The women who succeed in this ‘biological objective’ of attaining marriage and subsequently produce offspring within the marriage, despite the motives for either the marriage or having children, are considered ‘winners’.

Reasons for marriage vary from person to person and couple to couple and range from love and unplanned pregnancy to fear of being alone, the inability to live independently, or the mistaken belief that marriage will magically solve existing relationship problems. Likewise, the reason for having children range from the child being a living breathing expression of the deep love and commitment between two people and/or religious reasons to immaturity, selfishness, and the mistaken belief that having a child will magically solve existing problems in the marriage.

Whatever the reasons for the marriage, society enforces the belief that women who marry enjoy first class status in the female hierarchy.


Second Class

Women who are married without children or have children without marriage, are considered a ‘real’ woman though, clearly, you have issues. Women, who are married and do not have or want children, are considered selfish, myopic, and vain. Women who have children out of wedlock are promiscuous, immoral, etc. The various and sundry reasons for marriage and/or childbearing apply here also. On top of which are the value judgments regarding women who are married without children or have had children outside of marriage.

Still, such women demonstrate some level of acceptance of societal dictates and fall into the second tier of the female hierarchy.


You Are Not a 'Real' Woman

I have encountered the following belief:

If you are not married, you are less of a woman. If your choice is to be childfree, then something is wrong with you. What ‘real’ woman doesn’t want to have children?

Aaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!

A Thought Experiment:
Suppose the vast majority of women on the planet, let’s say 90 percent, wish to be married (this presupposes a population with 100 percent heterosexuality), that leaves 10 percent of women worldwide who do not wish to be married. Consequently, it cannot be asserted all women wish to be married. The majority yes, but a significant minority does not. Of the 90 percent of women around the world who desire marriage, is it reasonable to believe all of those women will marry? No.

If we imagine half the population of the world is male then we can expect 10 percent of the males will not wish to marry. We know a significant number of the 90 percent of men who wish to marry; let’s be conservative and say an additional 6 percent of the total population of men; will be unavailable for marriage due to mental/psychological issues, incarceration, drug abuse, etc. This means 16 percent of the female population will not marry.
End Experiment

My point in the above is: should a single/childfree woman be harangued and marginalized and stigmatized and demeaned for her choice? Should a woman who desires marriage but is not yet married for any number of reasons be relegated to third class status? Is being single and childfree, whether by choice or circumstance, a problem to be solved?


I am no longer comfortable with the way singlehood (is that a word?) is framed. There isn’t anything wrong with a person deciding, all things being equal, to pursue life without partnering.

‘You must be doing something wrong’, is a common perception. A common misperception and a common negative frame placed on single people. I cannot wait to see what the next US Census reveals about the state of singlehood in America.

Hey, yeah, CNN could do a special report on being single, just like they did Black in America…… Pauses…. Ponders….

Oh. Yeah. Never mind.

Peace

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ignorance Is Not Bliss….Part 1: Breast Cancer


The Ignorance

“What you don’t know can’t hurt you.”

“If I don’t go to the doctor, he/she can’t find anything wrong.”

Ladies, ignorance is not a good look, ghetto fantasies and hood foolishness aside.


The Information

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!!

Ladies (and the Gentlemen-Who-Love-You) if you are not informed about breast health, then this article is for you. First things first, get thee to the following websites for more in-depth information regarding breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Komen)
ww5.komen.org

American Cancer Society (ACS)
www.cancer.org

US Department of Health and Human Services
www.womenshealth.gov

AA women have a lower incidence of cancer by population, meaning fewer AA women get breast cancer than white women (the incidence is higher for AA women under 40!!!!). Alarmingly, AA women die from breast cancer more often than any other population of women. Studies suggest issues such as access to screening; inadequate to non-existent medical follow-up of abnormal mammography results; lack of awareness of breast cancer screening in the AA population; as well as the biology of the cancer (i.e. more aggressive tumors and detection at later stage) contributes to the disturbing fact that AA women die more often from breast cancer.

A couple of years ago I watched a television documentary called Crazy Sexy Cancer. It is on Discovery Health Channel and I believe it is on multiple times in October. Crazy Sexy Cancer is a documentary about being diagnosed with cancer, going through the trauma and fear of the diagnosis, treatment, and survival from the point of view of woman who was diagnosed. A must see.

I also recently happened to catch Breast Cancer Examined: An African American Perspective on TVOne. I rarely watch TVOne, but this one hour documentary is worth watching!! The documentary focused on AA women and their distinct issues relating to breast cancer. Again AA women tend to have more aggressive types of cancer like HER2 and Triple Negative breast Cancer. Another must see program.


The Strategy

Breast Self-exam

A self-examination is performed by you on a monthly basis! You are the first responder when it comes to your health. It is important for you to know what is normal for you. Most women have some degree of density change in the breast tissue on a monthly cycle. Get to know your own breasts so you can more easily identify changes needing additional evaluation by a health care provider. Early detection produces the best results. Please visit the Komen website for detailed information (video) regarding how to conduct the exam.


Clinical Breast Exam

A clinical breast examination is performed by doctors, nurse practitioners, or other trained medical staff. Komen and ACS recommend a clinical breast examination once every three years for women between the ages of 20–39. The recommended frequency changes to once a year when a woman reaches the age of 40.


Mammography

Mammograms are a screening tool using X-rays to create a visual image of the breast and is used to find signs of breast cancer such as tumors, small clusters of calcium deposits, and abnormal skins changes. A mammogram takes about 15 minutes. Komen and the ACS recommend annual mammograms for women starting at the age of 40.

I know what you’re going to say. Mammograms hurt. I have had a mammogram annually for the past 5 years or so, and any discomfort I have is minimal. Having my blood drawn is more ‘painful’ than having a mammogram. Be aware your breasts are more likely to be tender during the week before your period, so it is suggested not to schedule an exam at this time.

Ahem, breast implants are not a reason to skip annual mammograms.

Now, if you don’t conduct monthly self-examinations or you are not having mammography done on a regular basis (see above); then here are some
warning signs of breast cancer:

Lump or hard knot or thickening
Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimpling or puckering of the skin
Itchy, scaly, soreness or rash on the nipple
Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
New pain in one spot that does not go away

If you have any of these symptoms you must see your health care provider immediately. If you don’t have a health care provider, visit the emergency room.

I am completely serious.


Detected early, breast cancer responds amazingly well to treatment. Currently AA women’s five-year breast cancer survival rate is 77 percent. For white women the survival rate is 90 percent. Only Native American women fare worse than AA women. We (AA women) can and must do better with regard to screening and early detection.

Ignorance = Death

We need to discuss breast cancer and other health issues openly and honestly. Stigma, shame, fears are all excuses we use to stay in denial. Denial can kill you.

Facing the reality of early diagnosis and early intervention means your chances of survival increase dramatically and you will live as a cancer survivor!

Staying in denial means that when you are diagnosed what you fear most, death, will be an all too real prognosis.

Peace

Monday, October 5, 2009

Friends, Romans, Acquaintances

Friends

I have (and have had) friends of many different cultures, backgrounds colors, AfAmer, East Asian, Chinese, Latino, Continental African, Arabic, White. What bonds/bonded us was common values. I am not going all ‘family values’ on you, what I mean is we seem to value the some of the same things, like positive energy, diversity, the willingness to move beyond comfort zones and labels, and curiosity.

I have a great group of friends in my life right now. Mostly female, but I am working on acquiring a male friend or two. While all of us don’t have the same race, country of origin, or even generational background; what we share is a similar spirit. Or perhaps it’s a similar perspective.

Notice how I used the word similar, not same.

Same is defined as identical.

Similar is defined as nearly, but not exactly the same.

Most of my friends live in the same geographical area as I do. One or two live in other states. I have even made the acquaintance of/possible friendship with at least one person while blogging.

Friends are a great to have but true friendship, like great wine, takes time. (I don’t drink, so I am relying on marketing here.)


Romans

I have discovered having the same ‘race’ or skin color means absolutely nothing has far as friendship is concerned.

Previously I labored under the assumption most black people were…you know… about the same thing, getting an education (or training) so one would have greater opportunities in relation to jobs, housing, and what not. My immediate family does not have an abundance (or any for that matter) people who are trying to ‘get over’. My people go to work and work hard for what the get.

I notice my friends (color notwithstanding) are the same way (unless someone is deep undercover). They work. Nobody scams or grifts or whatever other term used for beating people out of their money. So no mortgage loan officers, home refinance officers, congresspersons, or lobbyists. Okay one lobbyist….but he’s more of an acquaintance.

Betrayal of trust is a hard pill to swallow. Harder still when the betrayal comes from someone you thought you could trust. Trust is not something you should extended without contemplation and observation. You must determine, prior to accepting someone as a friend, what this person brings to your life. Is it positivity or negativity? Is it mutual growth or foolishness and mayhem? Is it steadfast friendship or a constant diet of ‘Confessions of a Drama Queen’?

Remember: Brutus was a Roman citizen too.


Acquaintances

These are people you kind-of-know. You would speak to them if you saw them at a restaurant, but you might not ask them to hang out with you at the restaurant. Nothing negative mind you, you just are not friends.

Oh, and the random strangers you 'friend' on the various and sundry social networks…..are not your friends. I’m not completely excluding blogs, though that situation can be different, especially if you communicate outside of the blog. What I’m talking about are the people you have never met and don’t communicate with regularly in any form, that you accept as a 'friend' on a social network. This person is not a friend. It’s someone you acknowledged on a social network!!

Acquaintances are not people you share person information with. Can an acquaintance become a friend? Certainly, given time and energy by the both of you.


Peace