Becoming an angry feminist

Angry FeministI’ve considered myself a feminist for a long time . . . . . but I was never one of those feminists. You know the ones I’m talking about . . . . the classic trope . . . . butch haircut, perpetual scowl, black tank tops and combat boots. I didn’t hate men. And I needed men to know that. I needed men to know that I wasn’t one of them.

Because I was young and naïve and the world had been subliminally (and sometimes not-so-subliminally) telling me from birth that my primary objective was to make sure boys liked me.

When I was 10 years and a little overweight, my mother assured me that I’d grow up and thin out, and someday the boys would be knocking down my door. I took comfort in that. Until I didn’t “thin out” and the boys never came knocking. I spent my childhood wishing to be a beautiful teenager and my teen years wishing to be a beautiful woman, never appreciating myself for who I was.

And then I had a daughter. This incredible little person grew inside of me for 9 months, and when I looked in her eyes for the first time, I felt a love deeper than anything I could have ever imagined.

The programming began almost immediately. “Wow! Such beautiful eyes! I hope they stay that blue!” “You should look into modeling for her. She’s perfect.” Ya know, as long as she kept those bright blue eyes.

My daughter was and is beautiful. She was beautiful when she smiled at me for the first time and when she began nursing after two months of bottled breastmilk and when she learned to roll across the room just to plop herself in my lap and when she’d walk through the apartment with me, barely grasping my pinky, then fall to the floor the second I slipped it away.

And my daughter was and is so much more than beautiful, so many more important things than pretty.

It wasn’t too long before I became that angry feminist I swore I never was . . . . when I realized it had nothing to do with hating men and everything to do with valuing myself and my daughter as female and not objects of someone else’s stare.

I’m angry because I’ve already had to teach my daughter that she should not excuse a boy’s harassing behavior because “it probably means he likes you.”

I’m angry because I’ve already had to work to undo the damage of other people telling my daughter what she will and will not be able to do with her body when she grows up. Joke or not, just fucking no.

I’m angry because my daughter has already witnessed me being harassed by strange men on the street, and I don’t always know how to talk to her about it . . . . . and it terrifies me and pisses me off that it won’t be much longer before she’s experiencing it herself. From boys at school to men old enough to be her grandfather.

I’m angry because I don’t want to teach my daughter to be afraid, but that’s so difficult to do when I’m so afraid. Do I teach her to stand up for herself? To just tell those strangers to back off and that she’s not interested? Do I do that and run the risk of one of them attacking her? Do I teach her to always wear headphones when walking down the street by herself, like I do? Do I teach her to always make sure to mention a boyfriend early on, whether she has one or not, like I do? Do I teach her to smile when she doesn’t want to . . . . even if her dog just died or her best friend is moving away or she’s on her way to visit a sick relative . . . . because it’s easier to just smile than risk the potential assault when you don’t?

I watch my daughter as she grows up, watch her become this absolutely amazing person – clever and creative, silly and geeky, compassionate and thoughtful . . . . and yes, beautiful. Do I tell her that it doesn’t matter how attractive she is? That whether she’s thin or chubby, has crooked teeth or straight, pimples or a clear face, is dressed in the tightest outfit she owns or in a sweat suit head to toe, wears make-up or puts her hair in a bun and doesn’t bother . . . . . she will still be harassed? Her body will become the focus of commentary wherever she goes. How do I teach her to block them out? How do I teach her that her worth is not determined by the sum of catcalls hurled in her direction? How do I teach her to value herself while reminding her that a “Hey! Nice ass!” from the douchebag driving by is NOT a compliment?

So yeah. I’m an angry feminist. No, I’m fucking livid. Because I would much rather sit back and enjoy an episode of Doctor Who with my daughter or a round of Phase 10 without constantly wondering if it’s a good time to slip in a conversation about bodily autonomy and how to respond to those who don’t think she has any.

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Sometimes miracles need a little help

InfertilityWhen I was in preschool, my teachers asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to have a little girl with long hair so that I could brush it. The next year, my teachers asked the same thing. This time I said I wanted to be a mom-mom so that I could be my granddaughter pink soap with a little girl on it (my mom-mom had just bought me a pink soap with a little girl on it). This mindset never changed for me. All of my life, the one constant, the one thing I knew was meant to be in my future, was that I would be a mom.

It was never taught to me. I didn’t grow up in a misogynistic “women are meant to have kids” kind of household. My mom and my grandmother were both extremely independent women. Education was heavily emphasized. Family was important, but so were my personal endeavors. I think I was just born wired to be a mom. I think that’s the way with some of us.

Sharon and ChadI have no doubt that is the way with a dear friend of mine. Her name is Sharon, and I met her through the blogging world 4 years ago. (You can find her The Real Sharon.) While we have never met in real life (I’m in Pennsylvania and she’s in Texas), she has become an important part of my life. We’ve shared private parts of ourselves. We’ve become real friends, distance be damned. And more than anything, she wants to grow her family with her husband. More than anything, she wants to be a mom.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy a journey for her as it was for me. My daughter was semi-unplanned (we tried unsuccessfully for 3 months . . . . then decided to wait . . . . then I got pregnant the next month). Sharon and her husband have been trying for over a year, and now it’s clear that they’ll need fertility treatments . . . . which, of course, do not come cheap.

I haven’t interacted much with Sharon’s husband, but from what I know of him, he’s a great guy who will make a wonderful dad. Sharon I know . . . . Sharon will be an amazing mother . . . . I have no doubts! And so I am doing whatever I can to help them make their dreams come true!

Sharon and Chad are raising month through Fill Their Arms. It’s a non-profit, so all donations are tax-deductible, but all of the money also goes DIRECTLY to them for their fertility treatments and related costs! Please consider making a donation on their Featured Family page!

I’m also holding a Jamberry fundraiser. Between 10% AND 30% of sales under the fundraiser will go to Sharon and Chad’s Fill Their Arms campaign. All you have to do is order from my site and select “Sharon & Chad’s Fertility Fundraiser” as your party! All orders will receive a free gift from me 🙂 I also created special Infertility Awareness wraps. $2.00 from the sale of each sheet will go to the Fill Their Arms campaign. These have to be ordered a little differently, so check out the order form for instructions and message me if you have any questions!

Infertility Awareness

Please consider doing what you can. I promise you that you are helping a wonderful couple who fully deserve to hold their own little one in their arms!

To bisexuals, trisexuals . . . piesexuals?: A conversation with my daughter

Pride FlagsMy 10-year-old daughter started singing lines from Rent at dinner last night. I reminded her to not sing the parts of La Vie Boheme that she doesn’t understand in front of other people until she asks me what they mean (if you’ve heard the song, you know what I mean).

She said, “okay,” and proceeded to sing, “to bisexuals, trisexuals, homo sapiens . . .”

And then followed up with, “You know there’s also piesexual.”

Me: “Do you mean pansexual?”

Kiddo: “Oh yeah, that’s it. Do you know which one I am?”

Me: “No. Only you know that.”

Kiddo: “I’m not sure.”

Me: “And that’s totally okay. You don’t have to know.”

Kiddo: “And you know it has nothing to do with gender, right?”

This is how the 30-minute conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity started. I am consistently floored by the dually existing maturity and vulnerability in my child. We spoke about the spectrum of sexuality, about the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality, about labels by definition and preferred labels, about gender identity, about asexuality. And she participated with interest and composure. She also showed uncertainty, a bit of insecurity in not knowing how to identify herself. And she smiled when I told her that there are tons of people still figuring that out . . . even at my age.

This how the conversation ended:

Kiddo: “If I had to say one right now, I’d say I’m straight.”

Me: “That’s totally okay. And it’s okay if it stays that way forever, and it’s okay if it doesn’t. You are loved and accepted as you are. If you only ever like boys . . . . if you realize later you like girls too, to whatever degree . . . . all that matters to the people who love you and care about you is that you are happy.”

And again, she smiled.

***I understand that as my daughter gets older, she both needs and desires more privacy. Any conversations with, photos of, or stories about her are only shared with her explicit permission.***