Because Feminism

A conversation from today —

Sister: So Aaron says “ready Betty” instead of ready Freddy and I think you should adopt it too because feminism

Me: A girl could be named freddy because feminism

Sister: A boy could be named Betty because feminism

Me: Yeah

Sister: Are we arguing or agreeing, I’m confused

Me: I’m winning

Sister: Okay

…In other news, I am going to make a very solid effort at reading only books written by women this year, outside of required school reading.

Because when somebody says, “Name a great American author,” you say, “Hemmingway” or “Fitzgerald” or “Steinbeck” or about five other names before you say “O’Connor” or “Morrison” or “Oates” or “Cisneros” or “Plath” or “Cather” or “Angelou” or “Allison.”

Because we have voices.

Because feminism.

S-E-X

Let’s talk about sex.  Here’s a story from a woman at work that I heard during our holiday party yesterday:

My kids aren’t allowed to say “sex” or “sexy” or any of that.  But they’ll find it in games — I don’t know why, it’s always the games — and they’ll come running, “Mommy! Mommy! This game has a bad word in it!  Should we take the card out?” […]  And then [child] the other day was like, “Mom, what does S-E-X mean?” and I was like Oh, crap! “It means like whether you’re a boy or a girl.”  [Co-worker asks how old child is.]  He’s 8.  Seems a little young to know about all of that.

It is not my place to tell you what to teach your child and when to do it, but you’d better believe I am going to judge.  This poor child is going to be sexually mature within the next decade, and he will have spent at least the first decade of his life thinking that “sex” and all things associated with it are bad and forbidden like other (actually) bad words.  Talk about baggage.  In some part of his mind, that’s going to stick with him for decades.

There are definitely things you are slowly initiated into over time, like your knowledge of sex.  My family was one in which your questions were answered.  Anatomically, with hand-drawn diagrams of various organs that could take over the dinner table, food half-forgotten.  I really appreciate that in retrospect.  Sex was what brought about babies.  I could understand that.  I could understand the body parts I had and the body parts male bodies had and how they worked together, which at least made sense logically, although it did seem a little sketchy where motivation was concerned.

I do remember, though, one Christmas when one of my cousins was in town and she was telling a story and stopped suddenly and was like, “Wait, do your kids know about sex?” to my mom.  And my mom answered, “Yes, but they think we’ve only done it three times.”

My mind was blown.

The idea that people would have sex to have sex and not for babies was confusing.  And I had previously believed all sex lead to a baby, so I was not sure why I only had two siblings if my parents had had sex more than three times.

I remember the “Joy of Sex” books on one of our bookcases, although I’m not sure I ever pulled them out.  I remember trying to look up “oral sex” in the dictionary with a friend because I had a puberty/sex book that mentioned but did not explain it.  I remember totally wanting to avoid the topic completely for most of my teens because I knew I wasn’t thinking about sex in the same way as everything had informed me I would (spoiler alert: totally gay).

Everyone has a different journey growing up and learning about sex.  But I really feel for that 8-year-old, who either doesn’t know how to pronounce S-E-X as a word or feels so much shame around it that it must be spelled.  Puberty is going to hit that kid hard.

Why Allegiant Ruined the Divergent Series

There is such a thing as voice.  In the literary sense.  People have them (in the reality sense).  Characters have them (in the literary sense, again).

You know who doesn’t have a voice?  Tobias in Allegiant, when Veronica Roth suddenly switches to a dual narratorship.  Turns out, Four’s voice is the exact same as Tris’s.  So much so, that you actually have to go back to the beginning of a chapter some times to figure out who is narrating.

You know who else doesn’t have a voice?  Natalie.  Less air time as Tobias, but same story.

I am all for getting young people to read and think and I think this whole YA dystopian fad is pretty legit on this front.  I’m just more for good writing.

(rant over)

But seriously, get this book from the library or borrow it or buy it used, because it is so not worth it otherwise.

(rant really over)

#Acceptance

The other day I went shopping for Mother’s Day cards (yes, y’all, that’s right around the corner, so you need to get on that sh*t).  I got what I needed, and I also found this:

Oh hey, Just hanging out in the Wife section

Oh hey, Just hanging out in the Wife section

And this:

Two Great Moms

Front

Back

The times — they are a-changin’.  If Hallmark is getting on the bus, the bus is getting pretty full.  And okay, yeah, there was only one partner card and one two moms card, but there was also only one card For Mom from Preteen Daughter.

I would also like to point out that the two moms card was actually For Two Great Moms.  The card I got for my mom was just For Mom.  No great (even though she is).  But this two mom thing: this isn’t Heather Has Two Mommies; this is Heather Has Two Great Mommies.  Damn right, she does!

On a somewhat related note, I am now fully embracing all “Hallmark Holidays.”

 

Luck It Friday

As in, this Friday, you get a luck-of-the-draw, whatever-I-want blog post.  And a pun.

There is a new favorite cat toy —

Ok, an aside:  People keep trying to convince me to get a third cat.  This is not really a problem, as I cannot have a third cat where I currently live (and don’t want a third cat, because three is the legal limit in my city, and if I end up in a serious relationship, there’s a good chance that relationship person will be a cat person and will likely have a cat, bringing the total number of cats between us to three.  This makes perfect sense to me, just like how I’m growing my hair out now so it will be long in 5+ years when I could possibly actually get married maybe.).  But I think people are trying to convince me on account of the fact that I talk about my cats ALL. THE. TIME.  What they don’t seem to realize is that if I had a third cat, I would talk about my cats approximately 150% compared to how much I currently don’t shut up.  Point here: Yes, I’m talking about my cats again in this post.

— in our house.  It is a santa hat.  Ruby especially loves it.  She will pounce on it and groom it and kick the crap out of it.  It is part bed, part small furry animals, part NUMBER ONE ENEMY to her.  Here is a picture of her burying her face in it:

It is blurry because she never holds still while interacting with this thing.

It is blurry because she never holds still while interacting with this thing.

I was trying to come up with something to say about this, and somewhere in my mind crazed by finals, the ant invasion, and the discovery that the occasional itchy red spots I get on my fingers are probably hives (#hypochondria?orscrewed?), I decided to rewrite the lyrics to Must Be Santa, with the new theme of my cats.

Here we go:

Who’s got two fangs and loves to bite?
Simon’s got two fangs and loves to bite

Who likes to cuddle but only at night?
Ruby likes to cuddle but only at night

Cuddle at night, loves to bite

Must be Simon
Must be Ruby
Must be Simon and Ruby

Which fat cat has a name of red?
Ruby fat cat has a name of red

Who has a lot of snot in his head?
Simon has a lot of snot in his head

Snot in head, name of red
Cuddle at night, loves to bite

Must be Simon
Must be Ruby
Must be Simon and Ruby

Who’s got lots of claws on her toes?
Ruby’s got lots of claws on her toes

Who cries this way: MROWWOOOOO
Simon cries this way: MROWWOOOOO

MROWWOOOOO, claws on toes
snot in head, name of red
Cuddle at night, loves to bite

Must be Simon
Must be Ruby
Must be Simon and Ruby

Who is a pretty shade of gray?
Simon is a pretty shade of gray

Who must always get her way?
Ruby must always get her way

Get her way, shade of gray
MROWWOOOOO, claws on toes
Snot in head, name of red
Cuddle at night, loves to bite

Must be Simon
Must be Ruby
Must be Simon and Ruby

I know this is mostly only funny if you know my cats, but you’re welcome.

Being One of a Kind

Today, walking back from the bathroom at work, some guy started talking to me about an email I had sent twenty minutes earlier, and I was mentally like, “How the hell do you know me?” I knew the email he was talking about, and I quickly figured out who he probably was. But this happens to me all the time — there are a thousand guys all named Brian or John or Mike that all wear basically the same thing that are very easy to confuse. But if you’re talking to a girl under 35 from my department, it’s Kelsey. Because I’m the only girl under 35 from our support team, on a whole half of this floor.

(Also, for the record, if you’re talking to a girl from my department in general, and you have three guesses, you’ll likely get it right. If you have five guesses, you’ll definitely get it right.)

I hate being singled out for being different. And I’m trying to learn from this.

My class this summer centers around social justice. I have white privilege. And actual like monetary class-oriented privilege. And I’m able-bodied, cis-gendered, and in my twenties.

And I’m grateful for these things, except when I resent them. Because the invisible nature of privilege and the reluctance power-holders have towards giving up some of their power make privilege such a pervasive aspect of our lives, no matter which side of the fence we’re on.

I hate, like anybody, being on the oppressed, kept-out side of the fence. And as an increasingly conscientious person, I resent being on the side with the power. But nothing changes until that fence is torn down.

Which is a great argument for activism, by the way. We often harp on awareness, because the side with the power can have an awfully hard time seeing the fence. We even try to teach young children that there isn’t a fence — this is a misconstruction of what we need to be teaching, which is that there shouldn’t be a fence. But a substantial part of understanding that there shouldn’t be a fence is understanding that that line definitely exists and has consequences.

So awareness matters.

But seeing the fence is not enough. This is a magical fence that does not deteriorate with age. It has to be actively destroyed; standing by, no matter how much you watch it (ie, are aware of the line), does nothing to change things. Arguably, it actually strengthens the fence. That’s right: knowing that there is a fence actually empowers the fence if all we do is say, “Huh, that’s interesting” and then stand back and ponder without doing anything.

I wish this entitled me to be a jerk to all the people who act like they know me when we’ve never met.
Here is something I was thinking about earlier:

Sara Bareille’s recent single, Brave, has a clear empowering message (one review actually referred to it as a “pep talk”).

The videos for this single are very interesting.

The lyric video features a handful of young girls. I like the notion of empowering young girls, especially to “be brave” and “say what [they] want to say.” But check out the video: They are almost entirely white. They are pretty in a traditionally feminine manner. They have privilege.

 

The official music video features a larger range of people, including people obviously just on the street and not hand selected to be in a video. There is, visually, obviously more diversity here.

 

What does it say when we hold our stereotypes so closely and so tightly that we are afraid to associate different and differences with children? How can we teach to change the world if we teach with this fear, which admittedly we often don’t even recognize, held so closely?

P.S. Tonight, I am buying a polo shirt, and tomorrow, I am going to work in the guy uniform: polo (white or gray undershirt), khakis, belt, generic leather shoes. I might even bind. It’s not full out drag, because work would freak out and seriously I love my hair. But even though I haven’t figured out exactly what it is, I feel like I’m doing this to make some kind of statement. At least for myself. I partly want to fit in and I partly want to stir things up and I partly want to mock the notion that the guys wear the same thing every single day and I partly want to go to work in what is the closest to jeans and t-shirt I am allowed to get. ANYWAY — I am psyched!