processes, pulpits and cookies

My posting has been sparse recently because my focus has been almost exclusively divided between two things: my wedding and the conservative Christian/political attack on women and girls. With regard to my wedding, I've been consumed with budgeting and spreadsheet making, accounting for every possible conceivable detail and figuring out the most frugal yet fulfilling way to decorate our shindig. It has highlighted a few things for me:
  • I have trouble making decisions when I have the slightest suspicion that other people will feel it is within their right to question my choices. Please see: my ring and my dress.
  • Wedding dresses are EXORBITANTLY priced. Good god.
  • The suggestion that the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) makes regarding DIY not always being the cheapest option is kind of a lie. When you have months to plan and you're a crafty person, taking on these DIY tasks is kind of a no-brainer. I'm not going to charge myself labor, so spending my weekends sewing bunting or making garden stake flower holders is A-OK with me.
  • Basically everyone in your life will freely share their thoughts, expectations, and opinions with you, solicited or otherwise. You don't have to listen to them. (Do you hear that self? You don't have to listen to them!)
  • When some people hear "non-traditional" they think a lot of unsavory things. No, my wedding will not be weird.
  • I kind of understand Bridezillas more. No, I'm not going to become one, but yes, I do have that place in me that I have to regularly quiet and soothe. Some people just can put a lid on that itty bitty bubbling pot of frustration and control.
All of that isn't to say that I don't like this process, or that I haven't been able to carve out the joy in it. It is an interesting thing to plan the "biggest party of your life" with carte blanche to make it all about you. Despite the fact that Em and I have different tastes in most every aspect of life, we still need to figure out what a unified version of us looks like. And on top of that, I have to quiet every instinct within me to make sure that everyone who attends is happy. Will they like passed/heavy hors d'oeuvres? Will that count? Will my brother hate me if I don't serve gin at the bar? What if we decide to abstain from legal-only-in-certain-places marriage and wait for federally-recognized gay marriage? Will people feel like they're only getting half the show? Why don't people ask to see the marriage license/certificate at straight weddings? There are just truckloads and truckloads of feelings to sift through. And I'm okay with that, I just never thought these sorts of things would come up. Perhaps I should've read more wedding magazines as a teenager.

The reference to the conservative Christian attack on women and girls will be familiar to most people, I think. The lovely Commonwealth I was born in and call home has decided to make every effort to remove a woman's right to control her own body. Between transvaginal ultrasound threats, personhood amendments, and restricting access to abortion in almost every way possible, Virginia has made it clear that they hate women. We already knew they hated gay people, but apparently the only safe people are white dudes. Naturally, this makes me irate.

Now, the likelihood of me needing an abortion is pretty slim. Statistically speaking, I would probably only need to consider one if I were sexually assaulted. But the interesting thing about being a woman is that you are Every Woman. That's your birthright. It is incumbent upon you to make decisions that keep women everywhere healthy, safe and secure, including yourself. When you're born, like me, a few years before women even had the right to be autonomous managers of their own finances, it kind of gives you pause. When you learn about the suffrage movement and realize it happened shortly before your grandmother was born, it makes you think. Women have only had rights handed to them in this country, they've never been simply ours on account of our humanity. So it's reasonable for women nationwide/worldwide to start quaking with rage at the thought of men taking our rights away, and then assaulting us without our consent in the process. Just because abortion is legal doesn't mean you have to get one. A secular state permits freedom of religion. You are permitted to practice your religion freely. If you don't believe you should have an abortion, don't get one! If you don't believe in birth control, don't use it**! See what I did there?

The other component of my frustration with the religious right is the attack on Girl Scouts that has apparently become some kind of Christian/political sport of late. I was a Girl Scout for eight years, and I will be singing my heart out at the 100 year anniversary of the GSUSA this summer in Washington DC. The school that banned the presence of Girl Scouts and their uniforms on school grounds is actually my alma mater; I was a Girl Scout there for three years. Additionally, the woman who founded the American Heritage Girls, Patti Garibay, was my old Girl Scout Troop leader through 8th grade. I'm overwhelmed with all of the feelings that my proximity to these ill-informed and controversial groups has generated.

The American Heritage Girls not only contend that the GSUSA is a conduit for a liberal, lesbian, trans-inclusive, God-hating agenda, but they include in their Statement of Faith, under purity, "An AHG member is called to live a life of holiness, being pure of heart, mind, word and deed, reserving sexual activity for the sanctity of marriage; marriage being a lifelong commitment before God between a man and a woman." LGBTQ people are regularly attacked, directly and indirectly through organizations like GSUSA, for promoting a gay lifestyle to children who are innocent, vulnerable, and impressionable. For AHG to flaunt in their Statement of Faith their intentions for every girl who considers themselves a member that they will one day have to marry a man creates a culture of hostility to any girl who might not feel like that is an appropriate option for them. For girls like me, specifically. This is where bullying begins. Bullying is not exclusive to interactions between children, as we have learned. If adults are pushing this "conservative heterosexual agenda" to young, impressionable girls, I question the right of these adults to supervise children at all.

Hilariously, under Patti Garibay's leadership, I thrived academically and socially. I felt confident and secure, I grew to understand myself and had a clearer idea of my place in the world than I had ever had before. To learn that she founded a group that seeks to disenfranchise me and all of my GLBTQ brethren is a slap in the face, not only to my adult self but to the 8th grade girl inside my soul who struggled with feeling different. The culture she perpetuates by not addressing the benefits of GSUSA, in the face of the current attempts to slam the GSUSA's image, is to actively hurt girls. The arrogance of a Christian organization thinking they are the only/best alternative to the secular GSUSA is completely counter to anything I ever learned about Christianity in this country. Garibay, and the AHG, is complicit in every assault, verbal or otherwise, made against young girls who are doing things like selling cookies outside the grocery store so long as she refuses to publicly state that GSUSA is a great option for girls looking for a secular service organization. And in general, fundamentalist Christianity is to blame for creating this culture of hostility. With politicians like Santorum as the face of conservative/fundamentalist Christian ideology, we are well on our way to creating our own version of the same Sharia Law-motivated theocracies right wing politicians like to condemn. Refusing to acknowledge that our forefathers created a secular state, and that they had every intention of keeping it that way, is reckless.

So. What's up with you?

ETA - some reading materials
Girl Scouts - The Culture Wars' Tiniest Soldiers : Jezebel
Queeries - How to Fight With a Cookie Monster : Huffington Post
Robert McCartney - Don't fall for smears against the Girl Scouts : The Washington Post
Girl Scouts' Critics : Too Extreme to Succeed : The Washington Post


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** Even though 99% of ALL American women do, including Christians.
Photo: Lesbian Cookie Feast, by me, via Instagram

4 comments:

  1. If there is anything I learned from planning my own wedding is this: do what makes you happy! The wedding is about you and your intended, not your guests. I found out who really had my best interests at heart this way. Unfortunately, I found out that it wasn't very many :P lol

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  2. Yes, people can be judge-y and it makes wedding decisions take on a whole new level of difficulty. Polite people will refrain from judging out loud, and you can always try reminding yourself than anyone impolite enough to judge your decisions to your face probably isn't worth worrying about (easier said than done, true).

    You want your guests to be comfortable (made aware of what to expect so they can dress/eat/etc appropriately, fed, watered, not freezing or getting heat stroke) but you don't need them to want to move in to your wedding permanently. Meaning, they will be fine if the food isn't their first choice or if you aren't stocking their brand of alcohol or if you don't play their favorite song. Again, telling you not to worry is easier said than done.

    I don't know if I'm seriously out of the loop, but I was shocked by the American Heritage Girls issue. I had no idea this was going on and it's so maddening. I wasn't a very good girl scout (just loved the camping + the hanging out and never really got any badges to speak of) but this makes me so sad.

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  3. Hi Meaghan, wanted to drop by and say hello! Thanks for your comment over at APW. And not to make my initial comment negative but I've been in a fury over Georgia's recent passage of HB 954 (waiting on Governor's signature which will likely happen) which bans all abortions after 20 weeks--with no exceptions. It's being called the "women as livestock" bill. (Here)

    Also, you can bet there will be Girl Scout cookies will be at our wedding. :)

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  4. I'm glad I stumbled on this blog post. I just took over my daughter's GS troop this year (daisies and brownies) and although I am a liberal, not all moms in our group are but none of the "GS is a liberal cesspool" stuff has ever come up. I guess I have googled too much but it really makes me sad that so many crazy people have decided that learning things like 'be a sister to every girl scout' and 'be kind to the environment' is suddenly OMGLIBERALAGENDA. I've only been doing this a couple of months and already I try to stay away from online GS message boards because of all the people whining about the supposed liberal agenda of teaching girls to be who they were born to be and to not exclude others for differences.

    I have been reading up on the AHG program because some of their badge requirements are more hands on and less "talk about our feelings" than the current GSUSA program. But the fact that they basically ripped off GS completely and just added a few bigoted views is sickening.

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.