Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dear Evansville: Ignorance and disinformation don't stop abortions.

Women in Evansville have it pretty rough where affordable family planning is concerned. It's probably fine if you have insurance and/or can afford to go get checkups at a general practitioner, so long as you don't wind up with a douche who will only prescribe you BC if you're married. Or a Catholic douche who won't prescribe you BC at all. This is, though, if you can afford the skyrocketing prices of mainstream health care.

However, Evansville's economic makeup is such that those who cannot afford healthcare probably outnumber those who can. What's out there for people like this? We do have ONE Planned Parenthood clinic on the East Side, on Weinbach near UE. There desperately needs to be one on the West Side somewhere. Tri-Cap does birth control and women's health services too, but they're also on the East Side. East Side/Newburgh is where the rich live. The financially disadvantaged are scattered all over the urban-sprawl nightmare known our city, thoroughly out of reach if you don't have a car or a few dollars for the bus (Dollar a ride, usually a transfer or two involved, quite unreliable to boot.)

I know a lot of USI students who live on campus, don't have a car, and would have a HELL of a time getting to the East Side. Ditto for West Side and downtown-ish area folks who just plain can't afford to own cars.

But I'm already digressing from the actual point of my post.

Even the damn PHONE BOOK company is biased against us being able to have control over our bodily functions.

I was looking up something in the Yellow Pages for my boss and came across an advertisement for the annoying Pregnancy Resource Center over on Pearl Drive. (Yep, USI has near access to a CPC, but not affordable birth control except through the student health center which is pretty quiet about the fact it offers BC.)

I got curious. So I tried to look up Family Planning. Nothing. It goes straight from "Fairs and Festivals" to "Fans Industrial and Commercial."

So then I tried Birth Control and got only one result, under "Birth Control Information & Services." Wanna venture a guess whether Tri-Cap or Planned Parenthood were listed here?

No. The information box was bigger than the entire listing. Said info box reads thusly: "Advertisers listed at this heading provide information and/or services for the prevention of pregnancy, such as, contraceptives, male and female sterilization, etc. They also provide information and counseling in family planning, such as planned pregnancies (or the term "Parenting" in place of "Pregnancies), adoption centers, teen awareness."

But Holy Family Center for Life is! Pretty sure the last time I checked, Catholic groups don't take kindly to family planning any further than "Please God don't let me be pregnant."

So then, what the hey, I looked up Abortion.

Abortion Alternatives, 7 listings. Adoption attorneys, Birthright, Catholic Charities, some adoption agencies and attorneys, Pregnancy Resource Center (somehow without the Holy Family part added on.), and Vanderburgh County Right to Life. There are also 3 ads for Right to Life, Pregnancy Resource Center, and Birthright.

No idea if PP just doesn't have the budget to advertise, if the phone book won't advertise them, or what. I do remember that when I was in like middle school, Planned Parenthood had radio ads here, but I haven't heard one of those in a long time.

Back to my search. Abortion Services, 5 listings. And, again, no mention of the Planned Parenthood over on Weinbach in the Evansville city limits. Which I'm sure gives referrals.

Let's see, we've got Indianapolis Women's Center, Affiliated Women's Services also 4 hours away in Indy, Hope Clinic for Women in GRANITE CITY, ILLINOIS, Family Planning Associates SEVEN HOURS AWAY in Chicago, and Planned Parenthood of Indiana in Bloomington, which is about 3 hours from here.

Methinks either AT&T Yellowpages is a damn stupid company, or they're caving to some pressure from the zillion rabid conservative Catholics around here to provide absolutely no useful information.

What is our recourse when the damn phone company itself is actively withholding the information we need to make informed choices?

When, for all appearances from the book, birth-control resources DON'T EXIST? And the nearest abortion clinic, for when the ignorance-campaign inevitably sticks women with an unwanted pregnancy, is THREE HOURS AWAY?

In which I dream of a world where men didn't have the power to scare the fuck out of me

The subject of this post started out innocently enough. I got home from work and, since I need to get more exercise, decided to go for a walk.

In the 3 miles or so it takes to walk down the road to 86th and back, I got 3 honks, 2 whistles, one catcall, and countless leers. Nothing I haven't had to handle on a daily basis anyway, simply by virtue of being female.

And this is the part where dudely assholery went from being irritating to downright terrifying.

I was finally in the home stretch, right around a quarter-mile from home, when two guys in a beat-up blue van stopped next to me and one of them hung his head out the window.

Him: How you doin', pretty?
Me: (breaking a speed record in bolting off the sidewalk into a yard to put as much space as possible between me and the van) Keep driving.
Him: What, baby?
Me: (with patented Glare of Death) I. said. keep. driving.

In the second and a half or so it took for them to drive away, I noted how much bigger than me the two guys were, the fact that there was nothing nearby which I could use as a weapon if necessary, the fact that I'd forgotten my cell phone, the fact that I could run away in either direction and reach an occupied home within a couple of seconds, and the fact that my heart felt like it was about to jackhammer its way out of my chest.

I watched them drive off down the road and kept walking. Still at least 10 feet from the road. A couple of minutes later, they came back in the opposite direction and the other guy popped his head out his window and said something I couldn't really make out. I couldn't muster a word or action, so I stared him down untll the van started moving again, then continued walking.

The van went down the road a couple of driveways and then started to turn around, back toward me.

By this time I was at the turnoff for a housing development that's within a couple hundred yards of my house. I could have run back home, but I didn't want them to see where I live, so I took off as fast as I could, down the side street, until I met up with another woman who was walking, told her about the creepy fuckers that were following me, and walked with her down the road which was safely crowded on both sides with men and women mowing lawns and walking their pets.

I kept walking with her until several minutes after I saw the van take slowly roll back down the road I'd been on. I got home by trespassing in neighbors' yards, keeping trees and fences and whatever I could between me and the road, and checking the road behind and ahead of me obsessively when there were no trees to hide behind.

And this is one of the parts of Indianapolis where people are supposed to feel safe. I just bought a bicycle yesterday and I want to go play on it, and I was going to start biking to work because it's silly to drive such a short distance, but then I'd probably be perceived as "asking for it." Unless I either have a guy with me, or magically become one.

I could say a lot of things. Like, who the hell do these fuckerly beings of the world think they are, believing they have any right to make women live in fear like this? When is the violence, and the entitled gazing, and the unsolicited touching and taking, and so on, when the hell is it all going to stop? When am I going to be able to work up the guts again, to venture out on my bicycle and enjoy the sunny day without wondering if those creeps are going to come back and find me, or if some different creep will show up and not back down so easily? What the FUCK did women ever do to deserve to have to live like this?

Wasn't it a hell of a time?

So, through an awesome and random last-minute turn of events (a new friend's friend bailed at the last minute), I wound up getting to go to the Indy 500 yesterday. And, although it was long and sometimes wet, the experience was definitely one for the memory books. Wow, the terrific noise! The excitement, the roar of the crowds! The sights, the smells, the epicness of the mullet-hunting expedition! Our seats were incredibly decent. High up enough to see a big section of track, and just a very short distance from turn 1 and the exit from pit road. I had a clear view of all but one crash, and more smoothly-executed passes than I could count.

I know, my southern-Indiana redneck roots are showing. But watching the race on TV has been a family tradition my whole life, and this year was especially exciting because I had three incredible women, the husband of an actress I adore, and one hellaciously talented young dude to cheer for.

The rain, I guess, is what everyone's talking about. Steve and I were really close to leaving Speedway entirely; we would have if my stepdad hadn't advised me not to over the phone. A rain-out would have been an amazing finish for Andretti Green, but nobody wanted a rain-out victory. We wanted the sport of a full race. Everyone in that stadium (Except for Tony Kanaan, I suppose) was visibly disappointed.

Any spirits lost were quickly regained at the first sight of a track-dryer. Secure in the knowledge that it was just a matter of time before the action got going again, we milled around, chatted with other race fans, ate, drank and were generally merry. Almost fully half of the spectators left after that first rain-out, many leaving behind rented seat cushions. Which means that, free of charge, Steve and I watched the rest of the race in cushy comfort.

The air was almost literally crackling with excitement when the race resumed two hours later. I screamed myself hoarse every time Marco or Danica passed someone. And I almost cried when Marco crashed out.

I'm so proud that two of the biggest names in Indy car racing right now are basically a couple of kids my age. It's good, too, since at 20 and 23, they have plenty of years to make an even bigger mark. I suppose that yes, I am a bit disappointed because I wanted Danica to place first and Marco in second. And the rain-out was so anticlimactic. But still, I got to be there. I can cross that one off my to-do list.

Cheers for all the drivers, crew, and safety workers. And a big congratulations to Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd. Just look at her face in that picture and tell me that yesterday was anything less than a beautiful day. And, even though my favorite drivers didn't take the victory, my favorite team still did.

Redneck stereotypes notwithstanding, I would like to go back next year. After all, I want to be there when Danica wins.

(Pics from AP)

Indy needs to friggin' get real.

I've been kicking this recent occurrence around in my head for a while, and even a week after the fact it still makes me mad-ish. No, make that downright angry. But somehow, still laughing just because it is so damn absurd.

I'd gone to a Marsh store on 86th, and I got turned around because there seems to be no rhyme or reason to their shelves. Happened to notice the condoms, all along the wall in a locked cabinet. A. locked. cabinet.

What the hell is this, 1960??

And then I went to Wal-Mart, where it's the same story. Condoms all locked up. I called my friend Sam who lives in Greenwood, a good 40 minutes or so south of here. He said it's the same story down there.

But what did I see upon approaching check-out? A huge supply of booze, right on the impulse rack! So getting trashed is fine and dandy, and the supplies for that are readily available with no hassle or embarrassment. But if you get in the mood for a little action, and don't have the time or maybe the fortitude to ask a clerk to unlock the condoms for you... not to mention the possibility of a clerk denying the sale to someone who needs 'em based on age or lack of married status... well, that really isn't a whole lot of incentive to be safe, now, is it? Alcohol is abundant. There's a liquor store on every corner, even without the convenience of it being right by the check-out at your local Wallyworld. You can even get drunk *and* screw if you want, but not with readily available protection.

Nothing wrong with a few drinks done responsibly. And nobody's going to breathe down your neck if you *don't* drink responsibly, unless you hurt someone. However, apparently we mustn't let a vital help for sexual health and safety out from under lock and key. Good friggin' lord. I never imagined that Evansville would be more progressive than Indianapolis on something this basic.

Fortunately it'll be easy if I decide I want a drink to get rid of the bad taste this leaves in my mouth.

Indy regulars, I'm just a transplant and I haven't gotten around that much. Is it like this all over? This bears further investigation. Would you be willing to write to an Indy health officer, Planned Parenthood's action-alert people, or whoever it takes to see if we can effect some much-needed change?

(pic by Phnk via Creative Commons)

edit: Bil has informed me that the prophylactic lock-up isn't really a product of store-owners' douchebaggery, but of thievin' varmints' asshattery. Apparently every condom that isn't "nailed to the floor" mysteriously disappears. Which, of course, is no less super-maddening.

I really, really wish I could be surprised by this.

Those pretty little "In God We Trust" plates have cost the Indiana highway fund over $1.5 million so far, according to the Terre Haute Tribune-Star.

From the article:

A new state law that passed overwhelmingly in the Indiana General Assembly last year called on the BMV to issue the new plates beginning this year and to make them available to passenger vehicles, trucks with a gross weight of 11,000 pounds or less and recreational vehicles.

The law, authored by Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, also requires that the "In God we trust" plates be offered to Hoosier motorists at no additional charge compared with the standard Indiana plate.

In fact, the BMV is absorbing a cost of $3.69 for each plate ordered, according to a report in the Gary Post-Tribune.

"It's more of an alternative standard plate," [BMV communications director Greg] Cook said.

I couldn't say it better than Thomas did in Blue Indiana:

...Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana all offer their own version of this same design, but with statewide charities benefiting from the fee usually associated with such programs. Now let me ask you: If given a choice between a plate that isn't necessary and is costing the taxpayers nearly $4 bucks a pop, and a process that would allow those inclined in the state to affirm their trust in God while benefiting some social program in Indiana, which do you think they would choose? This was a perfectly legitimate opportunity to raise money for some worthy cause, and instead, it will instead go down as just another example of politicians who were happy to privilege an act of political pandering over the good of the people.

And I re-iterate my comment. Our roads must be entirely perfect, right down to the county level, because for the state to be able to get by with this hogwash, there must be a surplus of funds. That explains why my home county (Pike) barely even has pavement on the main highways, and half the county roads are impassable in the spring unless you have 4-wheel drive. Psh. What do the godbags intend to *drive* on once that money's been milked away?

I'm hesitant to put the "religion" tag on this crap, because God had absolutely nothing to do with the peddling of these plates. Christ would either weep, rage, or laugh his heavenly butt off.