Friday, June 30, 2006

My Monday/Wednesday/Friday Qualm

This is a followup to yesterday's Qualm of the Day (QOTD).

My MWF qualm raises its ugly head every time I get in the car and go to my Curves workout. Should an elder stateswoman who is pro-choice be going to Curves? I even checked for the opinion of Randy Cohen, famed ethicist who gets money for his opinions via some syndicated columnists' agency. Mr. Cohen said that if we valued our political opinions more than we valued our appearance, we shouldn't go to Curves because of the founders' (Gary and Diane Heavin) contributions to the pro-life cause.

Wait a minute, I said, wait a minute, MISTER Cohen. What if I'm not doing this for my appearance but for my health? My cholesterol, my blood sugar, my physical strength, my aching back, my sore feet? I am past the Sex Kitten stage in life and on into my Sophia era. What's more, I am desperate for enough exercise. The local coed gym is too fancy and high priced for me; I'd rather work out with other Sophias, anyhow. And walking every day just doesn't do it for me; I'm not that great at walking in the Pacific Northwest's rain.

Mr. Cohen didn't bother to respond, so I'm on my own, once again: Ms. Kitty, resident ethicist. Rats! If you don't like the bigshot ethicist's answer, if it doesn't fit your situation, is it really okay to devise your own? Well, I guess that's what we Unitarian Universalists have been doing for a long time anyhow---------using reason and experience to figure out better answers than the orthodox answers.

I have at least one congregant who has a bumper sticker on her car which says something like "Pro-Choice? Don't Go to Curves". Yikes, I think, what would I say to this dear woman if she saw my car in the Curves parking lot? How would I explain without just sounding like I'm rationalizing?

This is on my mind every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. as I sign in at the Curves desk and take my place on the hamster wheel, excuse me, the circuit track. I chew on it all the way over and all the way back. Now, my congregant may not see my car there, but I think I need to be ready with an answer if the subject ever comes up.

I've thought of wearing a tee shirt or getting a bumpersticker with a slogan I picked up somewhere: "Abortion: Safe. Legal. Rare." But I haven't done it. I've thought of writing to the Heavins and telling them what I think about their politics. But I haven't done it. I've quit Curves on occasion, but re-enrolled when I just couldn't get enough exercise on my own. And I'm not much for confrontation; I'd rather look for the commonalities I have with someone who disagrees with me.

What would that look like? Actually, I think most people, whether pro-choice or pro-life, think abortion is not a good birth control method. I don't know anyone who would love to get an abortion. Women make this choice out of desperation, not to have a good time. As a counselor with adolescents years ago, I knew many girls who got abortions, either on their own or with their parents' permission; I transported girls to clinics for pregnancy checks and counseled them about their choices. I never encouraged nor discouraged abortion; I knew that an abortion, even a safe, legal one, had ramifications that would affect many lives, not just that of the pregnant woman.

Resident ethicist Ms. Kitty's decision: Health is the issue here. My health. Women's health, physical, mental, spiritual. Babies' health. We have to make informed choices about health and sometimes those choices are very hard and controversial indeed. I trust myself and other women and men to make the best decisions we can about our health, whether it's about disease or life supports or smoking or any other health issue. And only we can make those decisions; others cannot make them for us.

Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.


Chalicechick said...

I really like you, Miss Kitty.


ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Chalice Chick. I'm honored by your regard.

Anonymous said...

I understand your qualms and yet I also have qualms about boycotting those whose opinions I dislike if those opinions have nothing to do with the product itself. What UU could be in business if all the people who disliked our opinions wouldn't do business with us?

ms. kitty said...

Good point, anonymous.

Here's another take on it. My congregation is building their own home and recently asked a local electrician to give them a bid for installing power in the new building.

The electrician and the general contractor had an appointment to go over the plans but the electrician called and cancelled the appointment, saying that he had investigated Unitarian Universalism and refused to work with a group which did not share his view of the world. Interesting, huh?

Judy said...

Hi, me again, two comments in a row (I'm reading back issues).

I went through the same ethical dilemma regarding Curves when the original story broke about two years ago. Exact same issues as you, dear Miz Kitty, including the fact that I worked for Planned Parenthood for years and am strongly pro-choice.

But I NEED the exercise! Here's what I did. I found out how many members there were in my franchise and how much the franchise owner paid monthly to Gary Havins. (I think it turned out to be about $5 a year. YMMV.) I decided to give much more than that annually to a pro-choice organization that I didn't already support. I chose the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Also whenever possible, I wear pro-choice T-shirts when I work out. Soon I will wear Freedom to Marry and pro-LGBT T-shirts. They will produce an occasional glare, but no one has ever said anything, and I feel like I don't NEED to say anything. My T-shirt says it all.

As for your bumper sticker woman, if she should question you, tell her to MYOB. We're PRO-CHOICE, right? All kinds of choices...

Ms. T said...

I tried doing Curves a couple times. I also quit a couple times. It had nothing to do with political views, though, or beliefs. I was just too lazy to get off my butt and get over there. Would I go again? No, but that's just because I know it doesn't work for me.

Here's something to think about. If we lived our lives completely based on our political/religious views, can you imagine how lonely the world would be? Now I have a few issues that I don't back down from (smoking and drugs are wrong, pro-choice, gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, and maybe a few others), but just because I may have a friend or family member that doesn't agree, does not mean that I won't associate with them. I've learned that there's a time to fight for what you believe in, and a time when other issues take presidence and it's time to agree to disagree. Your health is certainly one of those issues.

I could go on forever about this topic, but then I think I'd be the one needing a blog! lol In the end I'm just going to say that sometimes we're not given the options that we like and we have to make do with what we've got. After all, trying to frequent free trade coffee shops is much easier than finding an alternative to Curves. Working for the phone book I can honestly say that they are positively everywhere!
Love ya!

ms. kitty said...

Well, gentle readers, you have been a positive influence on my life. This morning I went to Curves without a single qualm and it's because of your very helpful input. Who said writing a blog was just for fun and games?