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More Acronyms: HHS – OWH (Office of Women’s Health)

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There is a lot of talk about Responsible Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage, and the Administration for Children and Families.

These are all valid nouns.  But where is the missing gender?

Fathers, Marriages, Children, and Families. Great causes – but did you notice who ain’t there?  Where is the word “mother”?

I know where the word “woman” is (see this department), but what about mothers?

Think about it — children come in boys, or girls.  Occasionally there is a switch in that.  Marriages — except in (where is it, Vermont, Iowa?) can be two men or two women, but generally speaking, women are in there somewhere.

I’ve been poking around the operational divisions of the HHS also, Now, I realize that “TANF” (welfare) represents mothers where and when, as of divorce (or separation in a relationship), the children are with the mothers.  But, the word has lost its presence.  It’s as though we don’t exist, as such.  We are compartmentalized into heads of households, or noncustodial/custodial, or parental alienators, or  — good grief, it IS possible to be both a woman and a mother, or a professional something and a mother.  Or a wife and a mother.  One would think.  


Pause to Squawk About This a Bit . . . .

Apart from cloning, or any other version of fabricating a Cyperperson, when it comes to PEOPLE, at last count, does this not still requires (1) an egg and (2) at least one sperm? 

Whether that egg comes from an egg donor, or is removed, fertilized and replaced, or fertilized and then put in a surrogate mother  (put ingredients in pot, add heat, simmer til done) coming up with a family entails making children, requires a woman. Therefore becoming a responsible or irresponsible father STILL requires a woman’s participation (willing or unwilling) somewhere along the way.  Part of her, even if only and egg, has to contribute, and in order for part of her to contribute, SOMETHING has to go into, and then come out of her body.  Willingly or unwillingly, as we know (willingly being the best, of course).  And as to those little squigglers, it’s simpler and less invasive to get them out than it is to get an egg out.  Even when the destination is cold storage, generally speaking, I don’t think words like “extraction” or tools designed to do this are required.     Also, timewise, it takes less to start a baby than gestate one.  Women Count.  Women who provide eggs, or incubate them, are at least minimally “mothers” whether or not the procedures preceding this were.  So how come we can’t spend a few seconds, or have some HHS hyperlinks — which we know relates to public funding, policies and grants — pronouncing this word:

                                                  ~ ~Mother ~ ~

If we are going to allocate millions, hundreds of millions or in the case of Head Start (for children, right), Billions, to study and improve all these things, let’s get real at least about the cast, script, characters involved.  They aren’t Moms, they are “teen pregnancies.”   In the courts, also, it’s a “parenting” plan.  Trace the etymology of that word.  Similarloy, we (Moms, custodial or noncustodial) are so often not “mothers” but either “females” or “parents.”   We are “women” (and it’s true), but many of us — and every one of the children in the families, marriages, and households, etc., came out of someone’s womb.  That is the biological, at least anatomical, definition of “mother.”  

So, as a woman whose pregnancies were full-term, intended, and births that produced very healthy children, although the family, which had violence in it, was by that definition, NOT, I still was there and present.  For the majority of the “rigid gender role” marriage, I was often called by my functional name in front of others, not my given name (not including the other, less flattering ones).  Then I divorced, and became a “single parent” (not mother) at which the advice-givers and policy-makers moved in, as though as by filing something in court, and then beginning the clean-up, rebuild, repair process, I somehow became a child again and directionless.  In my 40s..

This vocabulary shift was something I didn’t envision in my 20s, in college, or in my 30s, in a variety of work and cities (and college again), or 40s (in marriage).  Why didn’t I know? that if my marriage didn’t pan out, my children would become public property and my life would become a free-for-all for family members with time on their hands or government policies with funded professionals and endowments.  Whoa, baby!  And the experience is common, I eventually found out.  

So, where is the word “MOTHER” when it comes to grants, fundings, centers for research, and government intentions about healthy families?  You don’t GET to family without mother.  We should at least make a passing mention, other than in documentation about how the major health crisis of our time is “fatherlessness” (in effect, Moms are again taking the rap, but don’t get a mention).

Seriously, one hallmark of the times is the absence of the word MOTHERS when it comes to these major grants. WOMEN occurs frequently.  Sometimes I feel the pools of discussion around this are muddied by lumping mothers in with the mix.  

Now that I have that off my chest, I do get email on Women’s Healthy Policies.  Today, I decided to poke around and see what was up regarding the issue of Violence, and if there was anything that addressed this problem in the family courts, custody switching, and putting kids in the hands of abusers, or child-stealing by either such abusers, or such parents to avoid abuse (male or female).

This only fair, because I am about to make a serious fuss about the “Fatherhood” funding and publicize (from publically available websites) just WHAT is being funded.

Why:  Policymakers engage Funding engages Research (helping to perpetuate the funding) which promotes Policies.

This may affect whether a child in a “fatherless” family gets a support check this month.  Pursuing the support check, on the behalf of the custodial MOTHERs has been proven dangerous to her, and/or her children’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  It may result ina  custody switch.  It may result in a weekend snatch, or may result in a family wipe out.  Or it may NOT result in any of the above, but the fear of them may color the waking week, and curtail options, when there has been a pattern of either violence or retaliation.  Challenging authority is dangerous.  

Asking the government to fund studies of this is similar to asking scientists to do studies on their peers, and to do it consistently, thoroughly, and honestly.  I’m NOT sure it’s going to happen.

BUT, today, I felt that we should look at this office too, and its funding (if possible), and whether it addresses these issues.  My hypothesis is that failure to talk about mothers is a failure to realize the aspects of being one when it comes to research priorities, at least these days.  

OWH was founded in 1991.  Congratulations, United States of America, you recognized that women are anatomically different then men, which may affect our health issues.

O W H Logo






OWH Mission

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) was established in 1991 within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Its Vision is to ensure that “All Women and Girls are Healthier and Have a Better Sense of Well Being.” Its mission is to “provide leadership to promote health equity for women and girls through sex/gender-specific approaches.” The strategy OWH uses to achieve its mission and vision is through the (A) development of innovative programs, (B) by educating health professionals, and (C) motivating behavior change in consumers through the dissemination of health information. 

{{There’s that pesky “behavioral change-ism.”  As I have been saying, “government” is basically, behavioral modification, at this point.  That’s why I posted about the Age of Spiritual Machines.  We have a bit of role confusion here, I think.}}

{{Establishment in 1991.  That event will have an interesting history, I am sure.  No, placing this department within the US DHHS is interesting, because some of these other DHHS programs are most definitely contrary to the “women’s health,” in practice.}}  

{{ensuring that ALL women & girls are healthier and have a better sense of well being”  sounds very noble; it is grand in scope.  I am touched to find out that an organization I did not know existed for many many years (my DV within marriage began n 1992, and no real consistent internet access til about 1996, and that at work).  In this context, not getting assaulted, battered, isolated, degraded, and such things would’ve done quite well for my “sense of well being,” and what’s more, to know and ensure that the children I brought into this world (yes, with participatory help of a man) wouldn’t be either.

In that regard, the aspects of the HHS programs which, in an equally well-intentioned (for theory we can presume this) intent to make responsible fathers and healthy children (ACTUALLY, the intent was to enforce child support, and reduce embarrassing deficits in that regard) in helping increase access for fathers in HOPES that this would persuade them to pay up, OR, in EXCHANGE for reduced child support obligations and arrears — that does NOT increase the sense of well being of children when it comes to their understanding they are not cash cows.  

In general, I don’t think that this department or any other should be assuming godlike functions, but place an inhibitory restraint on the, if I may be flippant, the more devilish ones, such as hitting, stealing, stalking, killing, threatening, or general irresonsible behavior.

I have been thinking these thoughts in the “down time” I had (under-employment, case stalled, children absent) and in desire to utilize the next decade of life a little more wisely than the last.  I have noticed the proliferation of human behavioral studies across the land, and it frightens me. I have also come to understand, locally, better, WHY some of these institutions were inappropriate for battered mothers with children to approach at all.  I wish to find out if there is an alternative for the next generations.

Humanity is dynamic, interactive, sensitive and responsive to its environments.  Some of the thrills and delights of human achievement include mastering danger, averting crises or surviving them, and creating.  Contributing.  And among these are raising healthy children.

NOT among these is delegating the raising of these children to corporations, institutions, or governmental policy and then, in one’s “spare” time (between jobs) attempting to be heard by those institutions, corporations, or governments.  

Many of us (mothers) it seems have passions and callings that relate to our professions, but many, many professions are NOT incompatible with child-rearing.  Mine wasn’t — I taught, self-employed, and at a higher wage than secretarial.  But if I was going to engage in ANYthing governmental, that was going to be the mindset.  that was the mindset even of my own family, who ought to have known better, given their college training.  In fact, the family members that gave me the most difficult had come through this same governmental process, absent, I suppose other softening or sensitizing exposures.  Who knows?  

I had a joy in my work and in relationships with the children, and not a smother-type one either.  

That is less measurable, and will create fewer research centers at universities, therefore, it was going to be an either/or.  If I was to get governmental help, I WAS going to have a standardized lifestyle, or be punished for it.  

The word “interdisciplinary” has to apply to all of us, not just to experts studying how to do something they wish done.

It is not any office’s sense to give me a Sense of well-being.  It is their responsibility to stay out of my way in the process of my obtaining it, by legal means, creatively, and non-violently.  Once the violence, intereference, and illegal behavior has occurred, then there are institutions supposed to do something about THAT.  ALL of these institutions are to be monitored by citizens, populations.  If we are too busy in traffic jams, or waiting in line at a fast food restaurant, OR longer lines at the General Assistance, Child Support Enforcement, or other bureaurcracies, we cannot do this.

Boxing up people’s schedules also affects their thinking.  We must learn to think OUTSIDE the boxes, and take a look at the ways our own lives got so boxed out.  I write this in a GORGEOUS spring day, just under 10 years after I filed a domestic violence restraining order with kickout, a procdure, though frightening, I recall had also a sense of peace to it.  As the marriage ceremony publicized a (supposed) mutual commitment to pursue a private love, and relationship, and probably family, so this legal action to me publically acknowledged the truth of what this had become over time:  that violence was present, and that restraint and kickout was needed because SAFETY was an issue.  

There is always a certain peace to truth, even uncomfortable ones.  It is the lies and presumptions, acted on, that hurt the most.   When it comes to things entailing millions of dollars and the rights to decide how these are spent, it is important that the concepts be realistic, and relevant, and that we get to look into the verbal boxes.  Boxes are not bad, per se, but as anyone who has moved before knows, there are times to rearrange the furniture, look into storage, and sometimes to repack the stuff.  In the repacking and reshuffling (demographically, etc.) of the last few decades of the 20th century, and the first of this one, the word “mother” has become something of a dirty word, when acted on in a different way than our government determines to be in “everyone’s” best interests . Such is the nature of largeness.

I am glad to hear of this department of the HHS  — in dealing with DV, I had mostly looked to the justice arm of things, and sought nonprofit help.  So this should be interesting, to see how it operates.  Thank God someone figured out that HRT increased cancer risks, and that progesterone exists.  Hysterectomies (in generally, women get medicated and cut too often, I mean within the institutions, not in their homes here), that perhaps relates to the general “hysteria,” and I don’t mean by the women.  But perhaps progress is being made.}}

History of OWH

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was established in 1991 to improve the health of American women by advancing and coordinating a comprehensive women’s health agenda throughout the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address health care prevention and service delivery, research, public and health care professional education, and career advancement for women in the health professions and in scientific careers. The Office also works with numerous government agencies, non-profit organizations, consumer groups, and associations of health care professionals. During the early part of this decade, the OWH focused on developing women’s health as a specialized issue for government action and attention. With women’s health now firmly rooted in the national health landscape, the OWH is focusing on women’s health priorities to meet the sweeping demographic trends of the next century and to focus on the millions of underserved women in America.

Functions of OWH

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the government’s champion and focal point for women’s health issues. OWH works to redress inequities in research, health care services, and education that have historically placed the health of women at risk. The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) promotes women’s health through its four basic functions.

  1. Coordinating and Promoting Collaborations among DHHS Agencies and Offices: OWH serves as the coordinating office for women’s health initiatives across the agencies of HHS, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other agencies and offices.
  2. Providing Information on Research, Prevention and Services to Assist Decision-Makers: OWH convenes and consults with federal departments, the scientific community, professional organizations, and consumer groups to support and advance women’s health.
  3. Identifying, Developing and Supporting Model Programs and Innovations in Women’s Health: OWH promotes the development and implementation of model initiatives in academic centers and communities all over the United States to address the health needs of women across different ages, cultures, races, and ethnic groups, including delivery of care to women and education of health care practitioners about women’s health.
  4. Educating Health and Wellness Professionals and Consumers: OWH promotes comprehensive health services for women across their lifespan. OWH also supports the development and use of culturally appropriate practices in medical education and research, so all individuals and communities benefit. Through its efforts, OWH brings reliable information on hundreds of health topics to women in every region of America. It also helps consumers, associations, and organizations voice their ideas about the federal government’s policies on women’s health.


The next steps are to look at this TAGGS system and find out what’s going on, to investigate whether this department is aware of the crises in the family courts, and whether any institutions are continuing to acknowledge, health-wise, what at least one major CDC/Kaiser study did a LONG time ago, in the “Adverse Childhood Events” study:


My friends, the study was done in 1985.  This newsletter dates to 2003.  It is substantial, and groundbreaking.

Please read.  

Stemming from closer inquiry into an obesity study, it was found that OBESITY (now acknowledged to be a national problem) in many people is an unconscious defense against unwanted sexual activity or physical attack.  This also relates to substance abuse.  WHAT do you think people are, often, trying to dull themselves against, eh?

I should make it an entire post.  Its conclusions are not hard to understand, just hard to accept.

“… That is to say, although obesity had conventionally been perceived as the problem, it was often found to be the unconscious solution to other, far more concealed problems.  The prevalence and severity of these problems was totally unexpected.  Many [of these other, far more concealed problems…], like childhood sexual abuse or suicidality, were shielded by social taboos against discussing these freely, even in medical settings.

Are these comfortable topics to discuss?  No, of course not.  They fry the brain.  However, fact is, these things happen, and they DO fry the brains.  

If I were then concerned about national obesity, and mental health, and setting policy, I would focus FIRST on the sources and causes of these repetitive traumas.  “fatherlessness” as a trauma does not equate with father-abuse of mother, or of sons or daughters, Or in institutional settings either.  

Unfortunately, this would force many professions to find a new one.  They can do it.  Where there’s a will, there’s generally a way.  And if funding dries up in one stream, one has to move on.  I have had to, and more than once….

Rather than pronouncing, proclaiming and more and more (privately made, publically funded and universally enforced) procedures to address the supposed causes of these troublesome things (criminal behavior, sickness, drain on the workforce, etc.), why not try to develop more of a culture and national standard of mutual listening, rather than conduit-style pronouncing?

In that matter, we need more, not less, arts and creativity, and less “measure, evaluate, grade, separate” of packs of people.

But public education would be a separate, though overlapping in symptomology, blog, eh?

Please read.

Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

April 14, 2009 at 6:58 am

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