Saturday, September 8, 2007

Taking a Step Back

At times we pass through life with a skewed perspective. The other day, I was in a shoppe and the calendar on the wall displayed a photograph of a man scaling a cliff, a photograph I took little notice of. What caught my eye was the caption: Pestilence.

"How true," I thought to myself. Then blinking I considered that it was an odd caption for a calendar.

I blinked, and looked again. In fact it said "Persistence." I had walked into the shoppe in a foul mood that had been pervasive for several days. My mood had coloured my ability to read. I saw the P and the "ence" on the end. My mind on autopilot filled in the rest.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On Empowerment

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I've been watching America's Got Talent against my better judgement. I should have signed off when Boy-Shakira made the cut to the top 20, and the Redneck Tenors who were actually decently talented were cut. The judges are apparently more interested in having an entertaining show than they are showcasing the most talented acts.

One such case is The Glamazons a group of overweight women who sing (off-key) while dancing around the stage in lingerie. When interviewed, the women talk about how empowering it is to allow themselves to be sexy in public. I have the impression the judges are thinking "good for you for making a statement to society that you are OK," and vote them through despite grating vocals and mediocre dancing.

I have no problem with overweight women feeling sexy, dancing, or singing. However, I think that to choose this venue to publicly insist you are sexy is degrading to all women, not empowering. People who truly feel sexy don't need to prove it, and these women claim empowerment by demanding approval & recognition from others. Needing others to remind you how great you are is not empowerment, its enslavement and social prostitution.

The other night, The Colbert Report parodied the trend toward women taking pole-dancing classes and defining it as feminism because "its empowering." While Colbert made the point that these women are subscribing to cultural misogyny in a hilarious fashion, the program was interviewing real women straight-facedly claiming that by catering to male sexual fantasies for approval they were being empowered.

Sorry ladies, taking classes so you can compete with strippers in order to prove to society that you can be as sexy as a college student who works nights at the Gentlemen's Club is begging for outside approval. It's degrading, and it hurts the efforts of those of us who want to be taken seriously as human beings instead of as sex objects. Empowerment comes from within, not from the consensus, and while feminism has fought for public acceptance of what is female, public acceptance in & of itself is not the same thing as feminism, especially when public acceptance is bought by sexualizing yourself.

This is certainly not to say that if you want to install a pole in your bedroom that you are degrading women, because it isn't as long as your behavior is safe & mutally satisfying for both you & your partner. What is degrading is the women who take their pole dancing public to insist on being seen & heard as a "feminist" as defined by crossing the line between normal person & sex-kitten. In the case of the Glamazons, why the lingerie? You can sing or you can't. You can dance, or you can't. The world renowned dance teams I've seen have yet to perform in lingerie, even on the sexy songs, because its in poor taste. If you are trying to overcome fears about your own personal sexuality, dance in lingerie in group therapy, but on a talent show please have your costume be relevant to your talent or get off the stage because you are taking the rest of womankind with you on your stupidity ride.

Actual feminists say "I can do anything & be great" and aspire to benefit society by being free to cure cancer. We are women who want to make the same amount of money as males in our professions. Then Miss-The-Boat shows up in her skanky lingerie claiming "I can do anything & be great" and aspires to dance around naked for men to notice and say "Damn, she's hot!" Since when have women ever been oppressed from dancing naked in a male dominated society? They've been encouraging that all along, its certainly not empowering to be allowed to do what the guys have been begging you to do since pre-pubescence and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

The feminist movement has been earmarked by chauvanistic men telling women to get back in the bedroom & the kitchen--and now we are aspiring to pole dance & wear lingerie on stage? Men certainly aren't going to compete with us there! In my health class my freshman year in college, the guys refused to even do pelvic tilts in the ab routine because they saw it as too sexual & publically degrading. Picture Donald Trump, the worldwide symbol of male empowerment as one of the "Honey Bees" dancers on the new game show, The Singing Bee. Not gonna happen, because its not empowering, its degrading. But now, its what women aspire to, and define as feminism. What next, women begging to give blow jobs, followed up by serving a homemade hero sandwich while saying, "yeah, I'm a feminist, I can do whatever I set out to do!" Guys raised on a misogynistic media-diet of MTV and the Man Show are going to loooove that version of feminism.

MommyK blogged about Carmen Electra's recently published a book on how to be sexy, purporting that confidence and personality are rooted in a sexy figure, great hair, & makeup. Certainly we may feel better about ourselves when we put our best foot forward, but seeking attention by basing your personality on sexual impressions does not feed self-confidence. Rather, it places control of how we feel in the hands of people who would judge us based on how we look. You want people to take you seriously, take some responsibility for yourself and stop putting your control in the hands of others with questionable motives! Empowerment is giving birth, creativing art for its own sake, and believing there is more to us than our appearance & the sexual favors we can do for people. So why are we clamoring to pass out sexual favors for attention? Ladies, please!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hit Me

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Getting your hair cut, specifically getting your hair cut short, is like doing crack. The first time is magical, seeing your long, split ends fall to the ground and an elegant cut that highlights your bone structure takes shape before you. You are addicted after one hit. You go back, again and again, but never quite experience the same nirvana--now its too short on top, too flippy at the sideburns and a bit longer on the left than the right. Maybe if you go back again, they can fix it? But now it's too short all over. You resign yourself to quit, missing your life before short hair, and start to regrow your tresses. There is nothing worse than the growing-out look, particularly growing out a bad cut, so the craving starts. You argue trying to persuade yourself to stay on the wagon:

You: I want to get my hair cut.

You: Hang in there, its only been 7 weeks, you can do this.

You: I really want to get my hair cut.

You: Remember how bad the last cut was? Don't do this to yourself. It will never be like the first time.

You: I need to get my hair cut.

You: No! You'll never get your hair back to long if you cave...

You: Hi, Shari? Can I get in today? I've got to get a haircut today or I may die...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Going Green-The Smart Way

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The other day while watching a HGTV special about how to "Go Green" with home decor I was struck again with feelings bordering on disgust. What appears on the surface to be a plea to save the environment by making wise choices is in fact, nothing more than a sales pitch to buy earth friendly, but expensive and often unecessary "green" accessories for your home.

Before I am tarred and feathered for speaking out against ecologically friendly choices, consider--since granite is a nonrenewable resource is it better for the earth to rip out your granite countertops to install new ones made of renewable hemp as the programme suggests? Your existing granite countertops will last into the next eon, to be excavated by archeaologists of the future. Or, you could chuck them in the landfill and get some "green" ones made of hemp. Don't sweat the money you will spend (or the money you wasted on granite), after all hemp ones are renewable and manufactured with clean energy.

Tell me I am not the only person seeing the irony here? If you are building a new home, or refurbishing one that is beyond repair, making earth-friendly choices is smart and conservative. If you are simply remixing your home for the fun of redecorating, replacing useful and timeless accessories and fixtures is wasteful and pollutes the environment; even if you replace them with something ecologically friendly.

The woman whose home was featured on the programme was thrilled to demonstrate the chairs that were "leftover" from her previous home's design, and how they were "recycled" by replacing their covers that were manufactured detrimentally to the earth, to ones with fabrics created with little environmental impact. The chairs were clearly relatively new, sturdy pieces. It's hardly recycling to recover a chair that was built within ten years for the sake of good "green" taste.

At the end of the show, was the prompt, "For more ways to make your home green, go to..." with the implication that the responsible thing to do is to convert our homes to "green" ones. This is something advertisers can truly value, consumers being pushed to revamp their entire homes for no reason other than to make them Earth conscious. They see the money rolling in with entire homes being converted from long-wearing plastic, metal, stone and vinyl to expensive and less durable seagrasses and Brazilian drift wood. I see the landfills piling up with still useful things, replaced to jump on the trend bandwagon.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Unless of course you can immediately replace it with the more environmentally sound counterpart. Then you are doing your duty to make the world a greener place.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Witch Hunts

We have found a witch...may we burn her?
(burn her burn her burn her)

How do you know she is a witch?

She looks like one
(yeah, yeah, yeah)

bring her forward

i'm not a witch, im NOT a witch

but you are dressed as one

THEY dressed me up like this
(bah, no we didnt, no we didnt)

this isnt my nose, its a false one


well, we did do the nose

the nose?

and the hat...but SHE'S A WITCH
(yeah, burn her, burn her)

did you dress her up like this?

NO, NO, No, yes, yes, a bit...she has got a wart

what makes you think she is a witch

whuh, she turned me into a newt

a newt?

(pause) i got better

quiet, quiet, QUIET...there are ways of telling if she is a witch...

are there? what are they? tell us, tell us

tell me, what do you do with witches?


and what do you burn apart from witches?


Wood. so, why do witches burn?

(long, lengthy pause) uh...because they're made of wood how do we tell if she is made of wood?

build a bridge out of her!!

ahhh...but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

oh yeah, yeah sure

does wood sink in water?

no, no, no, it floats, it floats!! throw her into the pond!!

what also floats in water?

bread. apples. very small rocks. cider. great gravy. cherries. mud. churches. lead...




if she...weighs the a duck...she's made of wood.

and therefore?

(pause..) A WITCH!!!!

-Monty Python & the Holy Grail

The other day as I was visiting with a friend and she mentioned to me that she'd made a tincture of juniper from her yard combined with vodka for the purpose of banishing mold from her home, it struck me: a few hundred years ago most of my friends and I would very well be considered witches. Except of course, that none of us weighs the same as a duck.

The word witch has the same linguistic roots as the words "wisdom" "wit" "wise" etc. Originally, a witch was a wise woman. This was considered a threat to the security of the Vatican and male dominated offshoot religions that had subjugated women as seductresses & sinners who inherited their evil nature from Mother Eve. (As opposed to primitive Christianity which revered Mother Eve and her choice to embrace mortality as a purposeful and wise choice.) So, along with slavery and various other movements to oppress that have enforced their control by enforced ignorance, women were strongly encouraged (under penalty of death) to be submissive, silent, and less-than intelligent.

As a disclaimer this is not intended to be inflammatory toward the Catholic or Protestant sects, certainly no one would argue that the Vatican has not always been under the control of righteous men and there were mistakes and misconceptions made throughout the history of churches in the middle ages-this being one of them; without doubt hundreds of innocent women were slaughtered in the name of religion.

Fast forward to today. I am surrounded by animals as my familiars. My home smells of "potions" or as I call them essential oils diffused into the air for their healing properties. I practice kinesiology to diagnose and treat my family's ailments. I'm starting to consider my houseplants as beings with personality and as part of my devout faith in God, I sense a deep spiritual and physical connection to the earth, the moon and its cycles, and I can sometimes sense when things are going to happen. I don't consider myself psychic. I certainly don't practice Wicca or define myself as a witch. Most certainly though 300-600 years ago I would have been considered one.

With all my peculiarities and my beliefs in Karma (which I define as something controlled by God with traditional scriptural references to back up my belief), I can walk down the street or even talk about these things without the bat of a passerby's eye. Nearly everyone has experimented with alternative medicines, accupuncture, homeopathy, midwifery to some degree, its not unusual. I have friends who have studied under Reiki masters to learn energy healing. They talk about it openly and its not shocking or shunned as Eastern ideas about energy and health become more widespread.

I see this as an indicator that we as women are on the right track. Yes things often seem far-gone, with the American Psychological Association issuing a severe warning about the over-sexualization of girls in our culture and the harmful effects, we certainly still have work to do. But, that feminine concepts such as intangible energies are being widely accepted is a sign that things are getting better. So, while I continue to explore the power of God, (or nature, or energy--whatever you choose to call it) I hope my explorations will lead to more empowerment and greater freedom to birth our ideas from within rather than from the framework of a male-oriented power model. After all, our true power is the power we hold within ourselves: an inheritance if you will.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Body I Earned

Mom-O-Matic blogged a month or so ago about shame & blame and how she knows she will not drop the extra pounds until she comes to term with being shamed publicly.

Then last night I found myself scrutinizing pictures of "Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong" on the covers of various tabloids. I watched a piece on Discovery channel about airbrushing, photography, and how none of the celebs and models look like that in person.

We have a cultural dichotomy between what is real and what is not in terms of bodies. Thousands of men and women nationwide are fighting the shame and blame games from both embarrassing past experiences and just the flat fact that they are fat in a society that worships thinness.

Having grown up in close promixity to professional dancers, and spending the better part of my teenage years watching them rehearse in studio (and wishing I had a body like that) I learned young that 500 situps a day does not give an already uuber-fit person the tummy texture we call six-pack abs--surgery does. A close friend growing up ditched a career as a professional gymnast because she refused to eat the required maximum lunch of half an apple, and the required maximum breakfast of a piece of toast and a tsp of jelly. I've seen dancers lose jobs over 8 ounces of extra weight, and not get auditions because of their weight on their printed resume be listed as 2 lbs above the cut-regardless of bone structure, or talent. They are told to skip more meals and come back when they aren't so fat. Jobs in chorus lines are given to girls who match down to height, weight, bone structure, and lipstick color. Once they match your physique, only then do they consider your talent.

I am not fat by any means. I weigh 2 pounds more than I did when my oldest child was conceived and 10 lbs more than my all-time-low adult weight. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want. I've retired from feeling that my goodness and wholeness as a person is contingent on being a size 2. I can tell you truthfully that in the dance world I would be considered a good 30 lbs overweight and my arms are too short, my torso too long, and my shapely legs are way too white to parade on stage.

Yesterday I saw a woman that in earlier months I would have compared myself to and felt the burn of shame at my body. I would have envied her long, tanned legs, tiny waist, large breasts and small circumference of her rib cage. But I don't envy her at all. From spending time around extremely thin and fit people as a teenager who worship their bodies and what they can do, I know she isn't real. She bought her body-her breasts, her rippled abs, hair extensions, and even her suntan.

I earned my shapely breasts that remained buxom after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sure they aren't as perky as they could be with a little silicone, but they are beautiful and a hospital nurse deemed them "perfectly shaped" for latching on a hungry infant. My torso is textured, not with liposuction induced ripples with but zebra like stretch marks where my daughter liked to poke out her bottom, and the place where my son's feet liked to press-my stomach markings are badges of honor. Her arms are long and very thin, my biceps are large and strong from hoisting toddlers and grocery bags. I doubt she could drag a 400 lb dresser to the other side of the room without assistance like I did yesterday. I can't wear high heels, and this woman wears nothing but; however, I have a college degree and a promising career track-one that regards my looks with a grain of salt but considers the aptitude of my mind and abilities foremost.

She probably turns heads with her shape and heavy eyeliner. I'm sure she has a lot of sexual attention from men. I know her well enough to know that that is what she's all about. With or without a man in my life I know I would be OK, I'm not so sure she would. So no, I'm not ashamed of the body I earned, I'm proud of it.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Woman To Woman

If you have never stood, holding a razor blade to your wrist begging yourself to slice, if you have never considered pulling the wheel too hard around the bend in the hopes your car would slide, if you have never honestly wondered if your children would be better off without you in their lives--then you have never felt the incredible absence of feeling that is Depression.

If you have never been so empty that tears will no longer come, if you have never been so alone that it doesn't matter if you rise from your bed, if you have never known you are even below the very rock at the bottom--then you have never entered the abyss that is Depression.

If you have never awoken more exhausted than when you lay down, if your bones have never have hurt without your being injured, if your very skin has never writhed away in pain from loving human touch--then you have never endured the tearing sensitivity that is Depression.

If you have never turned from the ant-like, superficial lives of those around you with cynicism, if you have never known the gnawing circle of disgust in your center, if you have never endured apprehension of impending doom...and pained more that it doesn't come--then you have never seen through the twisted eyes that are Depression.

If you have never looked into another person's eyes and started at the recognition of seeing their grief, if you have never held another body wracked with sobs and known no comments are adequate, if you have never wept for her tears that would not flow--then you have never been humbled to know you have survived Depression.

Depression Facts and Stats

Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

Everyone, will at some time in their life be affected by depression -- their own or someone else's.

Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers -- over a million -- are clinically depressed.

The rate of increase of depression among children is an astounding 23% p.a.

54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness.

41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.

80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.

15% of depressed people will commit suicide.

Depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease by 2020 -- and studies show depression is a contributory factor to fatal coronary disease.

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