The Wage Health Rights Gender Gap

…with liberty and justice.. for all?

Staying comfortably alive is, unfortunately, much harder as a woman than you’d think. Collateral damage of war, terrible domestic violence, and a surprisingly insidious gap in medical care — and rights. Most medical knowledge we have is based on research on male bodies. Knowledge and effective treatments for women’s health conditions and diseases are shockingly in short supply. Women are regarded as more “emotional” than men, dismissed as “hormonal” when concerned about alarming physical symptoms, and are often dismissed in a way that makes the “hysteria” diagnoses of bygone days seem not that far away after all. Black women and other women of color are disproportionately affected. Heavier women are told to lose weight as a catch all solution to every ill. Pregnancies are more dangerous in the U.S. than any first world country has a right to be. And a whole host of reproductive health concerns have been made violently worse by the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. Abortion access is imperiled in much of the country. Safe and easy medical treatments for other reproductive issues will be harder to receive due to the ban of practices deemed to close to those used for abortion. In short, women’s health care in the United States is a travesty. It is an environment that is negligent at best — and malevolently hostile at worst — towards female bodies.

A smattering of recent news:

According to the 2021 Global Women’s Health Index, not only did women’s health get worse worldwide in 2021, the United States was ranked 23rd in the world. Twenty third. We are one of the richest countries in the world, but we don’t even crack the top 20 for women’s healthcare.

Recent reporting in the New York Times brought to the forefront how very little we actually know about an organ possessed by approximately half the world’s population: the clitoris. Virtually no one is studying it. Most medical literature ignores it completely. Surgeries and procedures regarded as routine and straightforward have documented injuries to the organ as a result of anatomical ignorance. And even though regular examinations are recommended, most providers “neither know how to examine nor feel comfortable examining the clitoris.”

Abortion bans in the 100 days since Roe V. Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court have resulted in incredible harm to women’s healthcare, including but also well beyond abortion procedures themselves. “Abortion bans have impacted healthcare beyond reproductive care, keeping Americans in some states from obtaining treatments for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and even cancer because the medications can be used to induce a miscarriage.”1 Women in the middle of life-threatening medical emergencies are sitting and waiting until legal teams, not doctors, decide if their lives are threatened “enough” to provide care.2 Other very basic, safe medical procedures that utilize similar methodologies or medications as abortions are in serious jeopardy due to the potential legal ramifications for the providers. A miscarriage has become a prosecutable crime. As Jia Tolentino pointedly explains, “We’re not going back to the time before Roe. We’re going somewhere worse.”

What can we do?

PlannedParenthood.org remains a steadfast resource for women’s healthcare, including issues related to menstruation, endometriosis, UTIs, PCOS, pregnancy, contraception, and more.

Abortionfunds.org lists abortion funds in every state if you’d like to donate, as well as links to resources to help find a clinic near you or get more information about safe, effective abortion pills.

California Black Women’s Health Project provides a variety of resources for Black women and girls, including mental health, aging, and sexual empowerment.

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center advocates for policies, offers resources, and holds events and trainings in support of the mental and physical health of indigenous women in the US, extending even to housing instability and gender-based violence.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has excellent advice to keep your digital privacy safe, whether you are seeking an abortion or a provider of abortion or healthcare support. What was benign data can now potentially be used as criminal evidence, so know your digital rights and protect yourself accordingly.

We are in this together. Let’s do all we can to close the gap in our rights to healthcare and bodily autonomy. Women’s rights are human rights.

A Door Behind A Door

To get to Hell,’ he says in a low voice, ‘they take you through America. There is a door behind a door.’

My partner and I read the dreamiest, most evocative experimental novel recently, A Door Behind A Door. Yelena Moskovich has created perhaps the ideal read for this bizarre moment in time: a loose-yet-considered dreamscape that pulls together the 1991 Soviet diaspora, Jewishness and identity, queer desires, a murder mystery, romantic and familial love, and micro- and macro-level power dynamics, with a sprinkling of incarceration politics thrown in for good measure. It is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring – Moskovitch has delivered us a compact, fragmented fever dream that is just as much a novel as it is extended poem and expansive allegorical metaphor. Gradually you will feel increasingly unmoored from reality while simultaneously honing in on every word and sentence, so deftly does she utilize nuance and precision of language. A Door Behind a Door is utterly unlike anything I have ever read. Haunting, sexy, violent, and thought-provoking, pick up this novel and buckle up for the post (post?) pandemic read you didn’t know you needed.

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The gift

“… burn this candle to embrace your entire spectrum of identity and bloom like never before.” — Boy Smells

Just before my birthday last summer I was out shopping and eating with friends in LA, and I stumbled upon a candle in a little shop that I kept coming back to. The vessel was a bright, shiny gold, with an artful label of all text. The scent was deep and woody, and the name? “Polyamberous.” The quip made me smile, as I always love a good wordplay. It took me a bit to decide between it and another candle I liked as a little gift for myself — I was apprehensive about making it mine, to be honest, in more ways that one. I finally said “yes” to it in my head, and as soon as it found a home on my nightstand, I felt seen. Yes, I was – I am – polyamorous. I wasn’t out to anyone but myself, and I wasn’t seeing anyone yet. But I felt like I had finally embraced this part of me.

The smell of amber and tonka bean is heady and rich, much like my life these days. I’m grateful and scared and learning and growing every day. What I am not doing every day, though, is asking myself, “what’s wrong with me?” Not anymore. And that, more than anything, is the true gift — a gift to myself that was long overdue.

Touching spines

Last night
I read a book
that I could have written.
Lyric and melancholy,
musing, yearning, seeking —
philosophical, if you will.

Today’s book,
the pages are full of you,
have you all over them.
A novel of tight, clipped prose.
Simple. Deceptively so.
Something new for me to touch
that feels all too familiar.

Maybe somewhere these books are on a shelf,
touching in ways that we cannot seem to
no matter how much I ache.

–Charla M. DelaCuadra

Wish list 2021

Welcome to December, land of colder weather, warmer sweaters, and visions of sugarplums. Here is my wish list for this year – lovely items to give that special someone on your list, or maybe even yourself! After all, YOU are definitely a special someone.

Coach”s new Studio bag in green is everything I’ve been craving – an evergreen shade that takes me right back to the 90s (in the best way) paired with a sleek shape and classic brass hardware. Love love love.

Speaking of love, Pamela Love’s designs hit just the right sweet spot between edgy and classic, with an undertone of mythos I adore. My favorites are these pomegranate studs and heart-in-hand huggies, each sold singly. They’d be the perfect additions to my earring mix right now, plus they are made from recycled (and recyclable) materials. Style AND substance!

And speaking of the 90s, I am fully on board with the the chunky loafer resurgence. These are well-priced, beautiful, and this Alpine green shade would go with just about anything.

If you have someone in your life you’d like to spoil with incredible sleep, may I suggest one of these gorgeous velvet weighted blankets from Bearaby? Their eco-velvet is 100% upcycled, GRS-, STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and Fairtrade International certified, perfectly cozy, and oh-so-soothing to sleep under. Trust.

I couldn’t possibly do a December gift post without including my favorite winter candle of all time. This gilded white ceramic iteration of my beloved Frasier Fir candle is calling my name.

At the top of my list are gifts that do good, and you can’t go wrong with any of the gift items featured in the ACLU’s shop. My personal picks are this excellent civil rights calendar and this minty soft reproduction rights tee. Every purchase made supports the ACLU and allows the fight for our civil liberties to continue.

For the beauty lover in your life, a clean beauty set like this one from Ilia is oh-so-nice. I can’t get enough of their Balmy Tint hydrating lip balm these days, and this pretty set will have your mom or bestie looking glowy and holiday-festive in a flash.

Ideal as a stocking stuffer, cool-aunt gift for a teen (hello!), or hostess gift, these super-stylish bubble candles are scented with grapefruit – if you can bear to light them.

And finally, for the chocoholic in your life, this tasting set from San Francisco small-batch maker Dandelion Chocolate is everything. They visit each origin, work closely with their cocoa producers, and use only ethically sourced beans and organic cane sugar to make their confections. Indulgent deliciousness, beautifully packaged and ready for gifting.

little affirmations

Today, how about you give yourself a little boost?  Cell phone affirmations, anyone?  I saw this idea on Instagram several weeks ago and thought I would give it a whirl.  In the screenshot I saw, the basic folder names on their home screen had been replaced with affirmations — so instead of “Finance,” my money apps folder now reads, “I am rich.”  Gone is the “Games” label — now it says “I can play.”  Health and medical-type apps proclaim, “I am healthy,” while social apps remind me that “I am connected.”  House and home apps remind me, “I am sheltered.”


I’ve been thinking about these little phrases off and on over the last few weeks, curious to see if I noticed any changes to my outlook, and after a month or so, I think I can confirm a change for the better.  More and more lately I have been feeling the collective societal clapback against “screen time” and media influence, to the point that Instagram can feel like too-guilty a pleasure, or playing a game on my phone to unwind feels like time I should use to do other things.  While there are definite issues with too much time spent online, guilt for me was sometimes pushing the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Reminding myself that “I am connected” when I go to open Instagram now reminds me that I am able to connect with a bigger world of inspiration and ideas, people and places.  “I can play,” reminds me to approach games with that spirit – not as mind-numbing time wasters, but small opportunities for play amidst a busy day.  And even though “I am rich” can feel a little wry when ye olde bank balance is low, it is also a great reminder that I AM rich, regardless of that balance — rich in love, in friends, in joy, and in opportunities.


As far as remembering to do affirmations or other such gratitude practices, this one seemed low-lift and easy.  I didn’t have to remind myself to make time for something extra: I swipe my phone open all throughout my day, and there they are waiting.  Maybe give it a try, even if it feels a little cheesy?  You might just make yourself smile a bit more this week.

Let’s talk about sex… and feminism!

Sex.  It’s personal in the most intense of ways.  It’s beautiful and exhilarating and deeply unique to all of us.  And it can be a theoretical minefield for those of us striving to be “good feminists.”  With that in mind, I submit to you a pair of articles to ponder.

“This contrast—of women raring to assert their agency in one context, then willing, even eager, to relinquish it another—captured my interest.”

Sarah Resnick explores the push-pull of control and women’s desires in the context of Miranda Popkey’s début novel, “Topics of Conversation.”  She asks us about the liminal space between the simplicity of embracing another’s authority, and assembling one’s own story as a means of control and therefore, power.  Modern feminists are supposed to be in control, to know what they want, to not be afraid to ask for it, or to take it for themselves.  But what if we want, sometimes, to give up control?  What if, sometimes,  that prospect is sexier than anything?  Is that bad?  Are we bad feminists?  Resnick visits Amia Srinivasan’s essay, “Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?” from 2018, asking whether feminism should have anything to say about desire at all, testing the lines between creating more binds for the people it means to liberate, and excusing patterns of desire that replicate broader patterns of oppression and exclusion. If a woman enjoys sexual submission, who are we to say she shouldn’t?

A year and a half later, Alexandra Schwartz tackles Srinivasan directly, examining her new collection of essays “The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century” in conversation with Katherine Angel’s new book, “Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again.

“This is an ancient belief: that our most ardent desires dwell fully formed within us, only waiting to emerge… Has the time come to reconsider?”

This conversation broadens beyond control and desire and asks the question of where and how our desires — often perceived to be innate and even perhaps immutable — are actually shaped to a certain extent by social conditioning. How much is our gravitation towards a certain “type” simply our own preference, for example, and how much is subconsciously ingrained racism? From perceptions of beauty and attractiveness to reevaluating our values, Schwartz takes us on a thoughtful journey that circles down to the idea that “maybe we shouldn’t worry too much about how to shift what we want but instead… recognize that we may be wrong about what we think we want, and embrace the possibility of wanting something different.” And then we loop back again to control: “Vulnerability entails risk… and sex is never free from the dynamics of power. That is what makes it scary, and also, sometimes, wonderful.”

As scary as it can be to probe and question our own desires and wants, clearly it can also be wonderful. From a place of discomfort or the kind of ambivalence Srinivasan encourages us to dwell in, perhaps we can find a more expansive version of pleasure — and of ourselves. And isn’t that the kind of liberation we want from feminism in the first place?

Read, ponder, and enjoy. I hope you find these selections as thought-provoking as I did.

On a less theoretical note, tomorrow October 2nd is a chance to mobilize and defend reproductive rights and a woman’s right to choose. Visit https://womensmarch.com/mobilize to find events near you.

seasons

Pomegranate, La Jolla, August 2021


some fruits wither and fall away
so that others can flourish
and ripen
and burst open
when it is their season

do not mourn the harvest that could have been
when a bounty of sweetness
was/is/will be
exploding on your tongue
even now
in this very moment
alive with every possibility



–Charla M. DelaCuadra

Vintage inspiration

Lately I’ve gotten sucked into the addictive black hole that is Facebook Marketplace. There is a LOT of random stuff people have for sale! It’s like thrifting, with the ease of search terms and the comfort of your own couch. Sometimes you’ll find a gem, sometimes you’ll find something quirky that appeals, and sometimes… well, you never know what you’ll find!

Last week I drove down to La Jolla to acquire a set of Postmodern Italian white lacquer dining chairs for my mom’s apartment, a find that she said “gave her all the feels!” They are beautiful and look great in her space. I (unfortunately?) have no need for new dining chairs. What I do need is about 5 extra rooms in my own house to satisfy all the designing and decorating I’d like to do. Not exactly an option at present, so instead I’ll do it virtually here with you.

I had to fight myself for days to keep from buying this pair of leopard print chairs. I. Have. No. More. Room. I debated what I could move or get rid of. I strategized. I planned and moved furniture around. I conceptualized. Then I sighed with regret and a little relief once I saw they had sold. Goodbye, beautiful chairs. We would have been good together.

This floral armchair is being sold as a pair, and while the print might seem a little dated, how cute and fresh would it be paired with a modern checkered pillow? And that funky table and chairs gave me pause as a set (and not in a good way), but how gorgeous would the table be painted glossy white? Major Kara Mann for CB2 vibes. It would make for a beautiful desk.

I also stumbled upon an L.A. listing for ten (!) William Morris dining chairs. At first glance, the cobalt and yellow with the ornate two-tone wood seemed like a lot of look, if you know what I mean. But if I had a big, stately dining room (and infinite money)? Green lacquered walls, a graphic Jonathan Adler rug, a modern/glam chandelier paired with a Milo Baughman burlwood table, and some abstract floral art with a sleek Danish vase? Now we are talking! This combination makes for a striking, bold, and eclectic dining room setup I’m swooning over.

art chandelier xl vase vintage table rug

It just goes to show you that a little imagination and a little bit of digging can yield some beautifully unique pieces for your home. Happy hunting/thrifting/digging/shopping, friends, and good luck!