proactive, NOT reactive

August 30, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Ad for a wonderful crisis pregnancy center in Maryland. Thank you for your service!

I am still working on Part 2 to “New Feminists”, but I had a thought that I wanted to share sooner than later. So please be patient me with and let me jump topics for a bit here. I promise I will come back to tell you all about what New Feminists look like! And that is worth waiting for. :)

I hesitate as I begin this new post because I want to make sure that readers will understand that I am NOT opposed to crisis pregnancy centers. Quite the contrary actually. I think crisis pregnancy centers can be wonderful sources of support and comfort to young women in situations that feel scary and overwhelming. The people that run these centers work for little or no reimbursement to save women from making a decision that could potentially harm her and be something she would regret for the rest of her life. Crisis pregnancy centers do wonderful work. I have seen several of them in action and have witnessed first-hand the compassion and care that is shown to all women, no matter what their circumstance.

My issue is not with crisis pregnancy centers. My issue is with the pro-life movement thinking that crisis pregnancy centers are our best attempt at preventing abortions.

By their very nature, crisis pregnancy centers are REACTIVE to a situation that is already in “crisis”.  Women do not come to them before a crisis to learn how to prevent a crisis (they go elsewhere for that information). Crisis pregnancy centers are specialized in knowing how to meet the needs of a very specific group of women; those in crisis pregnancies, and for the most part, they do it very well. With most centers striving to provide ultrasound services and the latest in scientific knowledge of life in the womb, they help a woman to understand she is not the only one feeling endangered by the current situation.  They introduce a mother to her child and help her to embrace the greatest ally she will ever have in her current durress; her beautiful child.

As great as crisis pregnancy centers are though, they are NOT a PROACTIVE solution to what is happening all around us in our culture.  Our world is beginning to view humanity as a burden. To combat that we need centers that are comprehensively providing services (along with pregnancy support) to change our societies perception of pregnancy, fertility, childbearing, family life, & LIFE in general.  We need to have a place that is frequented throughout life for things other than crisis situations. A place that is comfortable and homey, a place where we can trust to be treated with respect, no matter why we are there.

In order to be PROACTIVE we need to be looking at the root causes of societal attitudes and work to change them in future generations. Guiding Star Centers will strive to be relevent to the youth and will encourage them to hang out in our facilities. They will be able to grab a smoothie in the organic coffee shop and check out the shops and other businesses there, with or without visiting their family practice doctor or going into any of the other organizations in the Center. And while they are there, hopefully they will realize that being pro-life is about more than opposing abortion and euthanasia. They will see joyful people who do not see others as inconvenient. They will see that caring for the environment, for their own bodies, for one another, and for their soul are all essential pro-life activities. And with the next generation of our youth being raised in an atmosphere of authentic appreciation for humanity, I think we stand a very good chance of them knowing they deserve better than the solutions currently offerred to them in our society.

Hopefully someday, an unplanned pregnancy will not even be seen as a crisis, but as simply an opportunity for unplanned joy; a thought that is almost absurd in today’s world! Until that day, thank you to all the crisis pregnancy centers for faithfully serving our world; but let us not lose sight that we can and must reach back further and address root causes in order to create a true Culture of Life.

What is a “New Feminist”?

August 26, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, Uncategorized

First Wave Feminists/Suffragists

I just finished reading the book“The Flipside of Feminism”by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly.  I highly recommend reading this book; it is a quick read with so much great information.

My mind is simply swimming with the assertions made and the no-nonsense approach of these two wonderfully candid authors. While I really appreciated and agreed with many of the messages the book espoused (such as the need to build up the roles of men as protectors & that women are not inherently born victims by our gender), I could not get over one of the  lines in the introductory note from the authors.  It read, “Some have even tried to rehabilitate feminism by claiming conservative women belong to something called the “new feminism”, or even ”pro-life feminism (Sarah Palin comes to mind) -as if there were such a thing.”

The book never goes into an explanation why such a thing as “new feminism” or “pro-life feminism” is an impossibility; but nonetheless, it set me to thinking and caused me to want to define what a New Feminist looks like. I think for the sake of length, I will do this in two short posts; the first giving you a brief history in order to understand how we ended up in this mess, and the second to explain how we can spark a new movement of women called New Feminists to set right the wrongs of previous movements.

In Feminist “herstory” (cute, I know) the commonly accepted genealogy of feminism begins with the First Wave Feminists, or Suffragists as they were called during their lifetimes.  This First Wave began roughly around the time of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 and lasted until the Nineteenth Constitutional Amendment legalized voting rights for women (the primary goal of the movement) in 1920.

A "liberated" Second Wave Feminist

The Second Wave of Feminism doesn’t have quite as clear of a start date, but many of the ideas and foundational building blocks were already being promoted in society as early as the 1910s-20s.  Margaret Sanger was already hard at work bringing birth control to our country; although interestingly, she was never allied with the work of the suffragists even though they were working at the same time. Their missions never overlapped and as far as I can tell, there were no friendships or even working relationships between Sanger and the Suffragists. In fact, the main Suffragist magazine, The Revolution even prohibited advertisements for abortifacients and other birth control methods. This point, along with dramatic ideological differences, has led me to believe that the “Waves” theory of Feminism is flawed and that what actually emerged as “Second Wave Feminism” had really little or nothing to do with the work of “First Wave of Feminism”.

By defining Feminism in waves, it assumes that each subsequent movement grew out a previous movement with the same basic goals or ideas. I do not think that what Second Wave Feminism promoted (and what “The Flipside of Feminism” refers to exclusively in their book as the whole of Feminism) was at all in keeping with the intentions of the The First Wave. To say that these completely different groups of women, with completely different sets of standards are as closely related as “waves” or ripples from the same stone is a leap at best, and in reality was a complete hijacking of the success of a previous movement of women.

First Wave Feminists were largely family oriented. They were often Prohibitionists as they saw alcohol the downfall of many good family men. They explained their family planning decisions as “voluntary motherhood”, meaning they accepted that fertility and children were part of the vocation they signed up with in getting married. They did not speak of their children, or the children of poor women as millstones around their necks, but rather individual people who deserved love and respect and good families to bring them up. Their principles called for responsibility and patriotism…..all things that Second Wave Feminists abhorred and fought with all their strength against.

Second Wave Feminism is almost synonymous with the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s-1970s. Foundational principles to this movement include access to birth control and abortion, promotion of women in the workforce, the notion of “equality” between the sexes, and the liberation of women from marriage and motherhood. All of these ideas were central to the groundbreaking Feminist book, “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Frieden, which is often credited with sparking the Second Wave of Feminism.

In this book Frieden points back to the Suffragists movement and said that the women of her day, the 1950s,  needed to do something similar in demanding new “rights” for themselves. They must create an escape from the “comfortable concentration camps” of their families and homes. They must demand the right to live as their husbands did and be free to work outside the home, have their own money, place their children in daycare, or not have any children at all.  Right there is where the entire ideology from First to Second Wave Feminism breaks apart. First Wave Feminists recognized that men and women were different by nature. They were not threatened by the roles of their husbands and brothers, but rather saw them as complimentary to what they were doing with thier lives. They saw men as partners, not competitors. New Feminists also hold this complimentary view of men…..and we’ll continue this conversation in the next post as we talk more about what New Feminists believe and how we differ from all previous waves (there is also a Third Wave that we’re supposedly in now, but it seems to basically be Second Wave Feminism allied with other social movements such as LGBT).

What other differences do you see existing from First to Second Wave Feminists? Do you feel like New Feminists should even use the name “feminist” as it did not come into popular use until the 1960s? I’m interested to hear what your thoughts are at this point.

 

When the music changes…..

August 16, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Danielle Rose

There is an old African proverb that says, “ When the music changes, so does the dance.” 

I believe that this is true, and that it extends beyond just music and dancing. When the heart of a culture is changed, so are the actions that follow.

Because of this, it is with great joy that I share the news that The Guiding Star Project is working to help a beautiful musician named Danielle Rose raise the funds to produce her next cd! A cd focused on the many issues within the spectrum of a Culture of Life; a voice of hope and love for our world.

More information to come soon, but MARK YOUR CALENDARS for an OCTOBER 28TH CONCERT/DINNER FUNDRAISER  in the Brainerd MN Area!

Danielle is a friend from my days in campus ministry in Duluth, MN. We came to know one another at a time in our lives when we both were facing deep personal struggles in our efforts to create a better world and follow God’s will. I was newly pregnant with my second child (and very ill with hyperemesis) and Danielle had lost her voice with no idea of when, or if, she would ever sing again.

In our weaknesses and low-points, we were able to offer comfort and companionship as sisters in this world, with hope for the next world. Danielle will be forever dear to my heart.

So I am very excited about the opportunity to help Danielle in securing funding for her next great adventure of bringing music to our world that promotes a Culture of Life!

The Guiding Star Project recognizes that good music is a universal language that can unite even those who are fiercely opposed to one another. Sometimes when we just stop talking and let music touch our souls, we can see our “opponents” as the wounded people that they are and find compassion and love for others. That is truly being pro-life and we support anyone who is committed to doing this through their own gifts and talents.

We hope to see you in October!

To learn more about Danielle Rose and her previous music, go to http://www.daniellerose.com/home

A little ditty about breastfeeding….

August 2, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Naturally Nourished

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, I thought I would devote a little time to singing the praises of nursing our babies.

Like I mentioned in an earlier posting about the many different issues that make up a truly pro-life (not just anti-abortion) position, breastfeeding DOES fall within the bigger picture of recognizing how amazing our bodies are made and affirming them. Breastfeeding not only provides amazing food for our babies’ bodies, but it is amazing food for a mother’s soul.

As a lactation counselor (working toward my certification as an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant), I get the opportunity to talk and work with newly breastfeeding mothers on a regular basis.  It is such a privilege for me to share their first experiences of nursing their child. I get to watch new mothers’ eyes open wide in amazement the first time their newborn latches on successfully. Their first loving gazes at one another are about the most beautiful picture anyone could ever imagine. Both full of wonder that another needs and loves them so completely.

Of course the breastfeeding picture isn’t always so rosy, if it were I wouldn’t have a career! But in those instances of struggle, I also am able to witness acts of great determination and growth on the part of women who didn’t know how strong they could be.

Take for instance the mother whose baby refused to latch on one side. She did not give up after several frustrating weeks of trying to teach him to latch on, but continued nursing on the one breast and  pumped the other breast to prevent engorgement and mastitis. She pumped for several months and after awhile had so much milk that she could selflessly donate the extra milk to a donor milk bank to be used for critically ill newborns in NICUs.  The pride in her eyes as she shipped off the extra milk, holding her chubby baby on her hip was a priceless image of satisfaction and confidence in her body’s abilities. Prior to giving birth she had worried about whether or not her small breasts could ever sustain a baby. Never again will she look at her body as insufficient or incapable.

Breastfeeding can provide an experience for women to grow in trust of their bodies and an opportunity to grow a strong relationship with their child. The health benefits for both mom and baby are seemingly endless. Look almost anywhere and you’ll be overwhelmed with the sheer evidence in support of breastfeeding.

Affirm and encourage a woman in your life who has made the decision to breastfeed her baby. It’s the pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life thing to do.