Grow A Vagina And Get Back To Me

The link I wanted my girlfriends to see…the one that led me to yoga

Today I did something I don’t often do. I posted to my Facebook page a link to something that is a politically charged issue. I usually avoid any sort of post that might in any way be construed as inflammatory. I usually do this because I’m not a big fan of conflict, and I don’t necessarily like to splatter my political, religious, or other personal views all over Facebook for the universe to see. Today, though, I got a wild hair and thought some of my girlfriends would appreciate a link to a web page that interested me. The page offered a petition called The Bill of Reproductive Rights. Created by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the bill’s mission is to let lawmakers in Washington, DC, know that women want safe, affordable, and readily accessible reproductive health care. Call me crazy, but as a woman, I care about this issue. Deeply. So, I posted the link intending to share it with my girlfriends who might also care deeply. The can opener turned. Wouldn’t you know it? Worms. Everywhere.

Within fifteen minutes, I had received a post on my link from a friend I knew from college my freshman and sophomore year. The minute I saw his name, I knew his comment would be contentious. You see, this fellow and I are about as far opposite each other on the political spectrum as you can get. Sure enough. He had seen my post and had something to say. I was already regretting my decision. I read his post and took a deep breath. Against my better judgment, I decided to reply to his comment. My comment was short and sweet. I told him that if he didn’t appreciate my right to my own opinion, he was welcome to hide my posts or block me from his Facebook world entirely. I thought that would end the argument. I mean, how could he possibly take it any further, right? Wrong. He took my comment as an invitation, apparently, to enlighten me about how clueless I am. Cheese and Rice. Are you kidding me? His next comment was 158 words long. Yes. I checked. 158 words to elucidate how clearly misguided I am as to what is important with regard to this election…at least for him. Here’s an exact quote:

This whole war on women is a straw man, a distraction that is used to draw attention away from our economy and ALL people’s freedoms being radically eroded.

Well, I can understand why he would see things that way. There are a lot of issues about which to be concerned this election, just as in any election. But for me, this “war on women” will never be just a “straw man” because I have a vagina. It matters a great deal to me what legislators think is okay for me to do with and for my lady parts. Some people want the government to keep their hands out of business. I want them to keep their hands out of my business, my lady business. I did not, contrary to the beliefs of some, post my link to foster a debate. I was simply sharing information. I was not looking for an argument or asking for input. In fact, after I read my friend’s 158-word post, I did what any good feminist, hippie, liberal would do. I took a deep breath and went to yoga to seek the enlightenment my friend was trying to give me.

This election is close. We all have a lot at stake, but that doesn’t mean we have to get in each others’ faces about it. I see political posts by friends every single day that run counter to my own beliefs. But, I don’t hop onto their personal Facebook pages and vomit my opposition all over the place because I respect their right to their opinions and beliefs. I choose to agree to disagree. I’m comfortable with my beliefs and no one, no matter how emphatic their comments are, will change my mind until it’s ready to be changed. End of story. And, yes, friend…I am receptive to honest, intellectual give and take on the subject of women’s reproductive rights. And, the minute you grow a vagina so you have a legitimate stake in this issue, let me know and I’ll take you up on that offer. I’m not unreasonable. I just think you should know a bit about the subject before you discuss it.

Don’t Eat Something That Doesn’t Agree With You…Befriend It

Somewhere lost in our pit of a house, probably stuck in between pages in a book on a bookshelf, is a copy of one of my favorite comic strips ever. I cut it from our college newspaper way back when. The cartoon depicts two alligators, one shoved into the other’s mouth. A banner hangs above their heads that reads “Alligator Debate.” The caption reads, “Al suddenly realized he’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with him.” It cracks me up every time I think about it.

As I watched the presidential debate tonight, I simultaneously followed my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Don’t ask me why I would do this. Clearly, this being the first election in which I had access to such a broad spectrum of individuals via social media, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While hoping, I suppose, to get a more well-rounded view of what other Americans thought of the debate, all I succeeded in doing was giving myself an even bigger headache than I already had. At one point during the debate, I told my husband that my favorite part of the debate is when it’s over. At least then the fact checkers get the opportunity to dissect what has been said and let us know what was legitimate and what was bunk. At that point I’m ready to start considering what I’ve heard, but I never start the process until I know what’s fact and what’s fiction. Unfortunately, I don’t think (based on what I saw on social media tonight) that very many people take the time to reserve judgment or to consider the other side.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” I haven’t either, which is why I love this quote. Most of my Facebook friends fall far from me on the ideological scale. If I were to unfriend those with whom I have a serious a difference of opinion in politics, religion, or philosophy, I’d be cleaning out the vast majority of the 311 folks on my list. While I won’t deny that I get great satisfaction from my conversations with the friends who see life through a similar lens, I learn an awful lot from those who disagree with me. So, even as those friends are making comments that make my eyes roll, I wouldn’t withdraw my friendship. Their ideas, beliefs, and opinions, only inform and enhance mine. Although, on nights like tonight when I am bombarded by opinions 180-degrees from my own, I have to dig really deep to hold true to Jefferson’s quote. I have to remember how important difference of opinion is to intellectual growth. And, yes. I have to remind myself not to want to eat the friends who disagree with me.

(If I manage to find that comic, I will post it here. I’m still smiling thinking about it.)