Friday, November 14, 2014

Who Shoots up Schools? Boys and Men.

Sit tight--this isn't meant to lash out at half of the population-it's meant to call out society as a whole. Amid all of the talk about gun control laws, any news article I've seen has failed to mention one key point-boys and men are shooting up schools.

Why is it that we don't have gals with guns flipping the fuck out?

It's because of how society teaches boys to be men--angry men with no meaningful outlet.
I've gone on in great length in past blogs about why it sucks to be a woman, but it sure as hell would suck to be a man too. We both get screwed over but in different ways.

From a young age, many parents and peers tell little boys to stop crying. Eventually, many of them do, and it makes them miserable. I can't imagine what it would be like to go years without crying, how nuts that alone would make me.

Combine that with super violent video games, and American culture as a whole that praises "manning up" and taking stupid risks. The results are that:

Many men don't seek treatment for mental health issues when they should, far less so than women do
They take dangerous risks with their lives--from doing hard drugs, to driving insanely fast, to skipping annual doctors visits. Some of these may just seem like a part of growing up, but the sum total of all of these behaviors takes years off of men's lives
Men shoot up other men--by the mere fact of being female, you are way less likely to become a victim of homicide
Most of the people in prison are men

Sure, maybe a small fraction of this is chemical (testosterone) and yes, individuals do make poor choices, some people are fundamentally mentally unstable and one's family situation matters a great deal, but so much of the everyday lives of men reinforces the need to be aggressive, fearless, and reckless. It hurts all of us-

women get the shit beat out of them and raped
children get molested
and people get shot
and so many men are ridiculously fucking miserable

I can't think of the article I read that said "manning up" was the worst thing you could ever say to your son-and I'd have to agree. We focus so much on protecting our daughters-let's protect our sons too and teach them how to fight back against dangerous messages in society of telling them how to be "men".



Sunday, July 27, 2014

A VHS Tape??!!!

For the first time ever, I watched "The Ring" this weekend. Lame of me for not seeing it 10 years or so ago! The most striking feature of this film, however, is that it is centered around a VHS tape and land line phone calls.

You know, like the kind with actual film that has to be re-winded or is it rewound? I don't even know what the right verb and ending is because I'm talking about such ancient technology.

"No fucking way!" You say.

"Yes, way!" I insist.

In terms of life expectancy for an American female, I know that I am surely considered "young". However, as my 10 year high school reunion is looming closer and closer and 30 isn't so far away, I'm not longer the "youngest". It's a startling realization. What world did I grow up in?

Well, let's start with this-I always remember a world with computers, but as I grew up, they played an even greater role in my every day life.

I had all the phone numbers of my friends and family members memorized because I didn't have a cell phone until junior year of high school..and...drum roll....I had more than one phone book in which I hand wrote phone numbers down. Fun fact-I've had the same cell phone number since I was 16. If you are feeling nostalgic, pull out your yearbook high school friends and give me a buzz.

Calling people on a land line...what an adventure! You never knew who was going to answer--my friend, their sibling, their parent, or...the answering machine! If it was a boy I liked, the pressure was on. Those heart pounding moments as the phone rang and I wondered what would be the outcome:

They answer (best case scenario)
Their parent answers (unfortunate, but ok because parents tend to be reliable message givers)
Their sibling (surely a toss up if my latest crush would ever know I called)
The answering machine (should I leave I message? Oh crap, try to act as normal and casual as possible. What if I don't leave a message, and try to call back later? But...they might have caller ID, and I'll be completely up shit creek if said cute boy knows I called his house 5 times one summer afternoon and I run the risk of becoming an epic creeper.)

Other fun phone scenarios:
Exceptionally lucky kids had their very OWN phone line. This made you extra cool and added some security and minimized awkwardness when cute members of the opposite sex dialed you.

Three Way calling! Oh the number of hours I spent on the phone with not one, but two, or three of my favorite gal pals when we were under 16. The seriousness of the topic didn't matter, it was the fact that we could all dial in and talk and listen at the same time. A dream scenario for chatty 14 yr old girls.

The busy signal due to dial up internet. An unfortunate interruption in land line calls. You wanted to talk to your best bud for at least 30 more minutes, and her sibling or parent had to use AOL. Dammit!

Having to ask to use the phone at public places if you didn't have change for a pay phone. Being a child of the 90s and earlier was about being resourceful!

Having to call or write letters for summer break updates. There was no Facebook news feed, so picking up that land line was the only way to find out the latest on your school buds.

Other fun technology scenarios: some kids did have access to Napster. I did not, so whenever a fave song came on the radio, I'd tape it on my 3-in-1 radio/cd player/tape player boom box. The result was that I could rewind and listen to this great song over and over again instead of having to wait for it to come on. Somewhere in my child hood bedroom, there is a great mix tape of Michelle Branch, Train, U2, and Blink 182.

Going to the video store to pick a movie. My family's go-to was Video Tyme, a Henderson, NV classic. Nothing like browsing those aisles or calling (on the land line of course), to see if a copy is finally free of the latest release you've just got to see. And the sticker on every tape that reminded us all "be kind, please rewind".

Finally getting a cell phone, that was just for calling. In 2003, there was no internet on my phone. There was no texting....I literally would just dial and leave people messages and they would do the same.

Scheduling life around TV. How bizarre to think I used to be home at a certain time to watch a TV show...or that I would watch commercials. Nuts!!

I'll leave you with my technological timeline for funsies:

1992: I use a computer at school for the first time to write short stories
1995: AOL commercials galore
1995-1997: The rad mac years at school. Playing The Oregon trail, coloring on Kid Pix, and doing assignments on Clarisworks.
1997: I got an email address and used the internet for the first time ever. It's a special pilot program at my elementary school. My classmates and I can also do group chat in the computer lab.
1998: My family got a computer so I could type up school assignments
2001: My mom got a cell phone
2001: I got a portable CD player for the first time
2003: My brother and I get cell phones
2004: I get a permanent personal email address for the first time ever via Yahoo.
2004: My family gets the internet--yeah...we were WAY late here, but at least we skipped over dial up and got cable internet from the get go
2004: I submit college applications partially via the internet. Things like transcripts and recommendation letters are sent via snail mail
2004: I get a text message from a friend for the first time ever.
2005: Aol instant messenger becomes my after school hobby. I also got my own computer with internet to use in my bedroom. I send friends lots of emails, and learn how to send emails with attachments.
2005: I got a lap top
2006: First I-Pod. 5,000 songs on one little device!!!
2007: Acquaintances start to get smart phones
2007: I send the first text message of my life
2009: I get really into WIFI and facebook as a way of life, I uninstall AOL instant messenger, because with Facebook, what's the point?
Jan 2012: I finally get a smart phone (yeah...late to this party too!)







Saturday, July 19, 2014

People Who Get Abortions

Abortion continues to be one of the most contentious issues in American politics, but I find it fascinating how it is always described in such an abstract or scientific way "pro-life" "privacy rights" "murder" "implantation" "conception". Little attention is actually given to the stories of individuals who have had an abortion, and it makes sense, who would want to publicly admit that? Let alone publicly, how about privately? Many of our mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and friends have had abortions, but we may never know because those are the kinds of big secrets we hold very close to ourselves.

So a few facts from the Guttmacher Institute:
3 in 10 women have an abortion by age 45 (based on 2008 abortion rates)
61% of women who get an abortion already have children
37% identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic

So what does this mean?

Well, to start, a lot of women we personally know and love have had abortions. Before we go and make a sweeping proclamation about our views on the issue (regardless of what they are), keep in mind that a sizeable portion of our audience has made that choice. Right off the top of my head, I can think of 5 women I know who have had an abortion-they are friends, coworkers, and family, women of different ages, religions, education levels, and races. Out of this handful, none of them regret the choice they made to have an abortion, though of course, they regret having ended up in the situation where they had to make such a decision. The ones I have talked to at greater length about their experience admit they made mistakes to end up in the situation they did. Another woman almost had an abortion, but when the day came, she cried in the parking lot and couldn't go into the clinic, and ended up having the child and is so grateful she did.

Next, many women who have abortions are already or eventually end up becoming mothers. This really further complicates the picture of women choosing life or ending the life of children, because these women have made both choices depending on the circumstances and timing.

Religion identification doesn't appear to matter all that much. Majority of Americans consider themselves some kind of Christian, which is the case with the majority of women who have abortions. I'm sure more in depth studies about weekly church attendance rates would yield different results, but my point is that women getting abortions have the same religious identities as the rest of Americans.

Every woman has asked herself, "if I was in the situation, what would I do?"
When I was younger, I had a much more confident answer, but like so many things, as we get older, we realize life is ridiculously complicated. So what would I personally do? Despite being in the "pro-choice" camp, I just don't know. The woman crying in the parking lot of the clinic hits me hard. While I am pro-choice, I am a firm believer in responsibility and taking precautions to prevent accidental pregnancy. Much of it would have to do with the relationship I had with to the father and my current financial situation. I think though despite whatever religious beliefs or personal/political principles any of us hold, when faced with such a situation, it would be a really fucking hard one to make. The decisions we make surprise us when we are actually "in it".

Moreover, the choices we make depend so much on circumstance. Given I am 27, adoption is really not an option. Yes, of course, it is an option, but I think, what if I as a 27 year old college educated woman I wanted to carry the baby to term but not raise it, what would the world think of me? I would be abandoning my child and rejecting motherhood, and I think I would get SO many more bullets of judgement for doing that rather than having an abortion. Whereas, at 17, society at large would have understood and commended me for putting the baby up for adoption.

Two things I do know for sure: I hope to never have to make this decision to have or not have an abortion, and will do everything I can to prevent myself from ending up in that situation. I hope that if/when I do become pregnant one day, that it is a joyous discovery and I wish for the same for all women and couples.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Becoming More Granola: Ditching Tampons and Going for the Cup

Obligatory warning: This is a post about periods. If that grosses you out, stop reading.

From the onset of womanhood, I was determined to not let mother nature get me down and scoffed at any bullshit warnings about what I shouldn't do during this special time. I attended every pool party, ran many miles, and proceeded as normal with life thanks to tampons. Little did I know, there was something BETTER.

I had heard of menstrual cups in college, but I didn't actually know anyone who used one...until I found a cup belonging to my temporary roommate (that was clean BTW). At first, I was thoroughly disgusted by the notion of dumping out this icky stuff into the toilet, washing the cup in a sink, and re-inserting. It just seemed like such a dirty hippy way too enviro lifestyle choice for me, like on par with that natural deodorant without aluminum that doesn't work and leaves you smelling homeless/feral etc. However, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to research this uber granola product further.

Yes, of course, one of the advertised features is that it is green as you are not trashing the earth and filling up land fills with 25 years of girl garbage. As a transplant from a place that just buries their trash in the desert, I'll admit it, my notions of environmentalism are still very much evolving, so this was not a selling feature for me. I read on and saw that you could wear it safely for up to 12 hours, it isn't possible to get toxic shock syndrome, and you could use the same reusable cup for 5+ years. At very best, tampons have an 8 hr lifespan, and that is under ideal circumstances. In reality, it's more like 4 hours, so you have to change them several times a day and keep replenishing your stash. It was then I realized that this hippy cup could further my mission of having periods interfere with my life as little as absolutely necessary.

I bought a "Diva Cup" (one of several available cup brands) from a natural foods store for ~$40. Like the product reviews I had read online advised, there was a learning curve to using one. It doesn't have an applicator, so you have to fold it in half and slide it up until it is correctly positioned. There is a short stem at the end of the cup that you use to remove it, but it is level with your lady bits and doesn't hang out like a tampon string. Suffice to say, inserting and removing involves a bit of deep sea exploration, and if not correctly in, you feel uncomfortable pressure and it can leak. However, I quickly enough learned how to use it and realized that it was a highly valuable purchase. I'm glad I got over my aversion to this granola/hippy product for SO many reasons:

It only has to be removed, cleaned, and re-inserted twice a day. The convenience has made traveling, outdoor activities, and everyday life have so many less hassles
Very very minimal leakage (no more need for pantiliners)
Stays in place the whole 12 hrs
More available space in suitcases, backpacks, and purses
No more drug store pit stops
Can be comfortably worn on light days--none of that uncomfortable dry feeling like with tampons
As it's safe to leave in for 12 hrs, if you are anticipating your period coming, you can insert it ahead of time and also leave it in on those awkward days when your period is starting and stopping at random intervals
Over time, the $40 cost well pays for itself
Surprisingly not messier or grosser than tampons/pads
Okay, it is good that I'm helping to preserve the earth and green forests of Western Washington
No icky trash as contents are flushed away

So dear readers, I highly recommend giving this product a try, or suggesting it to a lady in your life you care about who you'd like everyday life to be a little less cumbersome for.







Saturday, April 19, 2014

19-21

Sometimes, I just couldn't stop crying. I'd lie there on my side, and sob and shake. Eventually, it would stop. I was exhausted and forced into a near meditative state. Dammit! Why couldn't I just sleep more? But in reality, I knew I slept way too much. Twelve hours was nothing. A drop in the bucket of dreamless sleep. I'd wake up in haze. For two hours, I'd go in and out of consciousness. Sitting and standing up was a pathetically grand accomplishment. To being the day of daze of being just so tired no matter what, all the time. At least I could still think and concentrate when necessary, for a long time. It was a saving grace to be able to open a book and read and write and analyze and summarize. Besides the sleep, it was the only escape I had. Thank God, I still had my mind and could work. But I still hurt. I could try to point it out. The best I could manage was an estimation--somewhere in between my chest and gut....there somewhere.

"Take me to an operating room and slice me open! Pull out the contents of my chest to get down in there were it hurts, I swear, I swear to God it's there, I feel it all the time. It never goes away, not even a single day, a single hour."

"Crazy crazy girl, we see nothing! Stop wasting our time with this shit! We don't see a damn thing."

Emptiness hurts like a bitch. How could nothing be so awful? Absence is a nasty abscess that chips away at you every day. A flurry of activity tricks you into thinking the void isn't still there, but at night, the truth always comes out, back to haunt you. Why bother to talk about it? Nothing has changed in a long time...no change of status, nothing of note. There's no point in wasting someone else's fucking time, yet again to share the same things. Sympathy has its limits. When you know you've depleted most of their concern, it's best to shut up. Learn to live with the perpetual longing knowing full well, it's probably going to kill you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Frank Discussions about Sex among Friends in Bars

Woman: Okay, just answer the question, don't think about it. I want to test my theory. Do you like going down on women?


Man 1: Yes, I enjoy all manner of sex, why?


Man 2: I definitely will, but I'm not super into it. Does that disappoint women?


Woman: It just seems like guys are either really into it or really not. No middle ground. I couldn't date someone that wasn't really into to. It's not even about getting off. It just makes me feel really wanted when a guy is into it.


Man 2: Don't some women not like it?


Woman: This is true. But usually has to do with self-esteem issues. Like, they are uncomfortable with their body.


Man 1: yeah, some women say that is my intimate than having sex as you're in the center of the action.


Man 2: If I go down on a woman, then I know were having sex.


Man 1: But I've never used that as a means to an end, but you're right, that usually happens.


Man 2: What do you do when a woman really isn't taking care of herself down there?

Man 1: I don't stay there long...


Man 2: Yeah, kissing them right after so they can taste it themselves.


Man 1: I've done that too. They've made some pretty bad faces.


Woman: Well, my suggestion is, if a woman ever asks you if you like giving oral, just quickly say yes if you are okay with it so she doesn't think you are selfish. And that's gross...I'd think it would be common sense to take a shower daily.

...

Man 1: What do you do when a girl gives bad head? I mean, really, what recourse do you have as a guy? It's not like you can really tell her.


Woman: You should be honest with her, but be tactful about it.


Man 2: No, I wouldn't say anything.


Man 1: Says the married guy and then the single girl!

Man 3: I'd just try to keep it positive, like say I really like it when you _______, to reinforce good behavior.


Woman: I'd want someone to tell me the truth. I'd want to do better. I give guys simple directions when they are going down on me. I don't expect them to read my mind, especially someone new. Like, lower, faster, harder... But if you do tell her, don't do it while your naked. It has to be a situation where your clothes are on. That way she'll think of it as having a good discussion as a couple versus being embarrassed.


Man 2: That's good advice.


Woman: But sometimes it doesn't work. Some people are just not sexually compatible.

Man 2: This is true.

...

Woman 1: You know what sucks, having a great afternoon masturbating, but not being able to tell anyone about it. Especially as a girl, you can't go around telling anyone how you had a great time getting off alone. When people ask how your Saturday was, you just have to say you enjoyed relaxing.


Woman 2: Oh, I totally tell my roommate, but she's cool like that.


Woman 1: You know what really did it for me? That scene in Disclosure.


Man 1: Wait, seriously? That one where Michael Douglas is getting blown?


Woman 1: Um, yes.


Man 1: But it's Michael Douglas!


Woman 1: He's a hot older guy, especially back in like 1993.


Man 1: You've got to be kidding me!


Woman 1: If you don't believe me, google "hot movie sex scenes". I'm not the only one that thinks that's a hot scene.


Woman 2: okay, I'll google "Disclosure hot sex scene"


Man 1: No, you can't put the movie title. Just google something like "hot movie sex scenes". It needs to show up on a top 10 list to count.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thank You BBC for Having Black People on TV

Yes, I am well aware that there are African Americans on US television, but rarely are they portraying the lead character in a show where a theme isn't racism or a period piece. American TV has had plenty of black friends, neighbors, and colleagues, but the principal character is hardly ever black. A friend introduced me to the dark detective show "Luther", and I was so surprised to see a black lead character, and moreover, one that was highly intelligent whose obstacles had nothing to do with the color of his skin. As I type this, I feel like an idiot for being taken aback. And yet, it's entirely logical--if you are honest with yourself--how many TV shows have you seen like this? Or movies for that matter? The closest TV comparison I can think of is Grey's Anatomy. It featured several black women and men as supporting characters who were highly intelligent doctors. I never watched all seasons, but in the 2-3 seasons I saw, the issue of race never came up with regards to their profession or who they were dating. Let's be honest, we all go to google for reassurance. I googled "issue of race and "luther" show to see if anyone else found this show remarkable. Indeed, the show's creator Neil Cross was asked in an interview how the character of Luther was written, and Cross said "Luther" wasn't written as a black or white character, and he said: “It was cast as a character, purely and simply, which is one of the aspects that attracted Idris to the role. I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a black man in modern Britain. It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write – and you have to try to imagine the quote marks around the words – a black character because I don’t know what a black character is and we would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character, which would have been an embarrassment for everybody concerned. I suspect that there’s a dearth of decent roles for black actors because most writers are white and they try to write their idea of black and it’s an embarrassment.” As the viewer, I quickly became engrossed into the world of "Luther" and watched all 3 seasons within a week and a half, and I forgot that Deputy Chief Inspector John Luther was a black guy. He was just one hell of a fantastic male lead character, and I was on his side through and through. After I finished the show last night, I once again returned to how unique of a show it is and wondered why can't US media get their shit together and create equally fascinating and complex lead characters that feature actors of all racial backgrounds? How great would it be for our children and society to see how meaningful stories of all kinds of people can be and that their experiences are worthy of being front and center? Moreover, that it can be a movie or show that doesn't deal with slavery, segregation, or racial injustice as themes? There surely is racism in the UK, but it's never been as nasty as it is in the US. I think history does matter and the ugly sin of the past--some 200 years of chattel slavery in the American south has and continues to shape so many aspects of our society. If you think I'm making something out of nothing, all you have to do is turn on your TV and observe. I can assure you, pretty much any mattress commercial will feature a white woman and man or a black woman and man. Pretty much any black character you will see (or any character that isn't white for that matter) will be in supporting roles, often to provide comic relief. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad to be funny and make people laugh, but it's doing many minority actors a disservice to be limited to a sprinkling of clever one liners. My hope is that I look back at this blog entry 10 years from now and what I see is much different.