Category Archives: Feminism

Can’t Wait for Wink!

I’ve blogged once or twice about this awesome non-hormonal birth control method called the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), and I’ve also highly recommended the amazing app called Kindara, which helps me out with charting a ton (and is really the only app out there that is really, REALLY using FAM and not just a period/ovulation predicting app, WHICH ARE TOTALLY NOT RELIABLE FOR EFFECTIVE BIRTH CONTROL, FYI!!).

I’ve also been using a run-of-the-mill BBT thermometer for the last 6 months. I have this one. It’s been alright! It beeps sort of loudly, which wakes up my light-sleeper husband, and makes it hard to discreetly use on family vacations in the little camper. But it’s fairly quick and has always seemed really accurate. It’s worked really well for me, but it got lost in the mail once when I left it in Connecticut. When I lost it, I stubbornly ordered a cheaper thermometer, figuring, “Oh, what’s the difference.”

Oh man. Let me tell you.

This thing was the worst. It doesn’t beep, leaving you with no idea whether or not it’s actually working. So, in the FIVE WHOLE MINUTES it takes to find your temperature, you occasionally take it OUT of your mouth thinking, “Am I sure I turned it on?” and completely screwing up your reading. Plus, it has no memory feature. So, you have to grab your chart and write down your temperature right then and there. My bad for not reading the details on Amazon, and for paying way less money for a thermometer. A few times I woke up at 7AM to take my temperature, and ended up wanting to snap the thing in half. So much for quickly recording and sleeping in on a Saturday. We didn’t have any unprotected sex during the time I had the thermometer, because I really didn’t trust a single reading. And the Golden Rule of FAM: When in doubt, DON’T! Lesson learned…

So, I bit the bullet and ordered the first Nexcare thermometer again, and have been happily charting again ever since. In the meantime, though, I pre-ordered Kindara’s amazing new development: Wink! I am so stinkin’ excited for this product to come out. This thermometer will send your temperatures straight to your smart phone’s Kindara app, virtually charting FOR YOU. It also doesn’t beep, but instead it winks at you when it’s done! How clever and charming… and quietly discreet. It is supposed to be fast and incredibly accurate, and basically looks like mascara. While I’m not super stoked about the whole “make sure you hide your feminine products” phenomenon, the thermometer is aesthetically pleasing, and that’s always a plus.

So, whether you’re already charting, or have been charting for a while, let me strongly recommend you download Kindara (if you haven’t already), and pre-order Wink. If you use my referral link here, Kindara will give you $10 off your order, and send me a check for $10, too.

Win-win-win-Wink.

Bill Cosby Broke My Heart

If you’ve known me for more than a year, you’re probably aware of my deep, weird love for Bill Cosby. I’ve been the proud recipient, on more than one occasion, of various pieces of Cosby paraphernalia. Once, my friend gave me a vinyl of a lesser-known 36-minute stand-up bit from the beginning of his career called 200 MPH where he talks about how much he loves his money and his motorcycle. Another time, my dad got me a DVD set of the short-lived Bill Cosby Show, which predates The Cosby Show we all know and love. Part of why I married my husband is due to the birthday gift my he gave me last year: the entire box set of The Cosby Show. I listened to Himself on cassette when I was in kindergarten to put myself to sleep. I can do the “push ‘em out, shove ‘em out, wayyyyyy out!” bit verbatim, with the crazy Lamaze breathing and everything. I read his tattered books that were put carefully away in the middle of the bookshelf at Grandmamum and Grandad’s house, and the one that was occasionally put beside the toilet. His books, another of which I was given last Christmas that I placed and used on the toilet, are about being a dad, a grandad, a guy who came from the projects of Philadelphia and had amusing and charming memories of his own parents and grandparents.

At dinner parties, my Grandad recited Cosby’s “I want you to build an arc!!!” routine so well, some of his friends dubbed him Noah.

I haven’t read any of the articles until today. I knew, or had heard at some point, that there were sexual allegations made a long time ago against Bill Cosby, but I knew they never could have been true. I put them out of my mind and when I sat on the couch in college watching another TV Land marathon, someone’s boyfriend (who clearly didn’t know me or the depths of my obsession) would snarkily say, “You know he’s a rapist, right?” and I’d immediately decide I didn’t like that new boyfriend because he was a know-it-all cynic type and my roommate could do better. As this beloved character’s face flicked in and out of every newsfeed on every site I regularly visit over the last few weeks, I vowed not to read anything until it was all settled. They’ll learn the truth, I told myself, none of it is true. It’s just women making crazy accusations to try and get money.

I’m all too aware there is an epidemic of victim-shaming in this country, and I want no part in it. Those kids in Stuebenville were excused by members of their community because they were athletes, young kids whose lives were now going to fall apart, an unjust consequence for rape. (Note: I’m being sarcastic here. In case you were worried.) Girls are told they need to watch what they wear, be careful, don’t get raped, it’ll be your fault. As a country, we are finally seeing how women are unheard and untrusted when they claim to have been sexually assaulted. Robert R. Jennings, president of Lincoln University, is completely and utterly unjustified in undermining those claims made by the very students who he has been hired and entrusted to protect. I’ll never, ever change my mind on this matter. It is never okay to blame the victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. Never.

And yet, I haven’t read a single article about Bill Cosby this month. I’ve read an article about Hayden Panetierre’s baby bump. I’ve clicked on a link showing Miley Cyrus making out with someone at a club, and I’ve seen an Instagram photo of the Kardashian sisters’ kids. (I’m proud to report, I never looked at the bare-butt “Break the Internet” photo. Ha-ha!!!). But I have refused to “believe the speculation” around Bill Cosby’s rape allegations. I have pitted his accusers as vicious women out to destroy the integrity of a man I’ve viewed with a great amount of reverence. What kind of feminist can stand in solidarity with girls carrying their mattresses around campus, but tell a friend asking what’s going on with Bill Cosby, “Oh, this happens all the time with celebrities. Women just lie about rape because they want money”?

I’m part of the problem here.

Fine. Nothing’s been proven yet. But it’s incredibly difficult to ignore that now more than a dozen women have come out and claimed separately they all were victims of the exact same crime. Many of them have described identical scenarios of which they were taken advantage of by a man they believed to be their mentor. It’s difficult to ignore that Cosby won’t comment, and that many of his shows and appearances have been cancelled. It’s difficult to ignore the obvious emotion coming through these womens’ eerily similar and horrifying stories, and it’s equally hard to ignore the fact that Bill Cosby’s lawyers, who are brushing off the claims as ridiculous, are probably very well-payed. While no allegations have been proven in court, some have been settled out-of-court, making the truth even more muddled and hard to stomach.

I ignored it for a while, but I don’t think I can anymore. Whether or not Cosby is guilty is irrelevant. All of these women feel they have been silenced for years, some for decades, and that is not only hard to ignore, but wrong to ignore. I have victim-ignored, victim-blamed, and I don’t think I can stand firmly against that kind of damaging behavior and continue to write off the women accusing him of these crimes.

When I was 16, my Grandad was diagnosed and dead in the matter of four months, and they were the funniest, hardest, deepest, most faith-filled and discouraging months I have to write about. One day, I’ll give that time the pages it really deserves. In those months while our family was experiencing a strong sense of closeness, some of Grandad’s past resurfaced. He had been married before he met my Grandmum, and for reasons that were never really explained to me, his daughter from that marriage was unwilling to come visit him as he died. While it was only a blip in the story of Grandad’s great escape into his next life, I guess it stuck with me. I wonder why she didn’t come. What version of this remarkable man had she known? Or rather, didn’t know, because they had no relationship? The hundreds of stories flooding in from around the world about Grandad’s great life and how deeply he impacted those he met drowned out the disappointing reality that he must’ve let this woman down greatly in her life. We forgot about it as we watched him die, and we memorialized the amazing, kind, gentle, and funny Grandad we knew and loved, as he completely deserved.

I think it was more of a subconscious adoption, but Bill Cosby gave me a great sense of comfort after he was gone, and he became a bit of a surrogate Grandad. I could hear Grandad’s dry sense of humor all over again when I showed Eric Himself on YouTube. I knew we, his kids and grandkids, drove him lovingly crazy the way those bits described. I could feel myself bouncing on Grandad’s knee as I watched Rudy go flying around Dr. Huxtable’s. I’ve always said I know I’ll sob when Bill Cosby dies, and watching him age has been harder than it probably should be for me. And now, I’m losing my adopted Grandad faster than he or I intended. He’s dying much quicker than the natural process would allow. This image of him as the loving, gentle and honest Grandad are slowly being devoured by a darker version of the human who is Bill Cosby; with the same swiftness of the brain tumor that made our six-foot-one South Carolinian disappear from view.

There is this horrible day when we realize our Dads and Grandads are just people, like us. There is that day when we see our superheroes are just human. There comes that day when we just have to read the articles, we just have to face the lost daughters from the past. We have to understand these women were hurt in the wake of a hurting man who did his best and really did touch the lives of many. They can’t be silenced or ignored or blamed for their hurt. And we have to take the good with the bad in our Dads, our Grandads, Bill Cosby, and everyone around us. Just because they’ve made mistakes, or even done truly horrible things, doesn’t change that they’ve done amazing things as well. And just because they’ve done amazing things doesn’t mean we can ignore the hurt they’ve caused. If we deny one or the other, we are denying the reality of the world we live in. The reality that we are broken and we are evil, but we are healed and we are loved. There is a Dad, a Grandad, a Comedian, a Creator, an Arc-Commissioner who won’t betray, hurt or abandon us (or Bill Cosby), and in Him lies our hope.

As for today, I am grieving the loss of a man who could make a room erupt with laughter, who winked at me through a fog of radiation and intense memory-loss. I miss him all the time, and I wish he and my quiet husband could have sat together and loved each other the way I love both of them so. I am sad for his daughter and for the man she didn’t get to know. I am deeply grieving for the women who have claimed such a horrifying crime has been committed to them by America’s Surrogate Dad or Grandad. I am deeply saddened to have to face the sins of a man who I viewed as blameless. But that is life, and that is sin. It has to be unveiled in order to be dealt with. It has to be grieved, accepted and brought to light in order for life to move forward. I’m immensely grateful for the time I’ve spent with two great men who made me laugh time after time, whose stories live on through our TVs and through my own family’s stories. But I know, as well as anyone, that it can’t always be laughter, us humans can’t always be all good. We all have a darker side, even our heroes who we wish didn’t. Even myself, who I certainly wish didn’t. But I do, you do, they do. Nobody’s a hero, nobody’s a saint, nobody’s a perfect Grandad.

A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’

Everything about this is yes, yes, yes. We need Feminism. Would you like to argue that God is patriarchal? Well, this is what patriarchy really looks like, and no, my loving God will not stand for it.

iwantedwings

Imagine this:

The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.

Your world is full of freedom and possibility.

Then you…

View original post 1,400 more words

The One Thing Missing From The #LikeAGirl Campaign

The feminine product company, Always, put out a heartwarming commercial in June, explaining why and how to break down the “like a girl” stereotype. We see young women asked to perpetuate and explain the stereotype of running, hitting and throwing “like a girl.” Then some young girls, maybe unaware of the stereotype, show off their version of doing things “like a girl.” We see the discrepancy, and can all agree that putting girls down by categorizing femininity with weakness and physical inability is a disappointing part of growing up. We, of course, should encourage young girls and women to be themselves, run however they want, be strong, and make up their own minds about what it means to embrace femininity for themselves. I don’t disagree with this commercial, and I don’t think it’s bad or wrong in any way. Yes! Let’s empower women! I’m with you, Always!

maxresdefaultAt least on this commercial, I’m with you. (And after some research, I think Always is actually advertising to women quite well. They are selling period starter kits for young girls to get prepared for their cycle and releasing some charming ads to boot.) Always is, as you know, a feminine product company. Companies offering menstrual “clean-up”, not excluding Always, have not always advertised well to women. Always is not exempt from the list of advertisers that tend to misrepresent the monthly cycle; although, they are producing better ads than most other companies. In some of their other ads, like in most feminine product ads, Always is still representing menstrual bleeding with blue liquid. As every woman can attest, uterine lining isn’t blue. It’s bloody, for Pete’s sake! It ranges from bright red to dark brown throughout the 3-8 days of bleeding. It also doesn’t spill smoothly onto a flattened pad from a clear glass. Every single woman has a pair (or a few) of stained undies from the effects of the heavy day that no tampon or pad on the market could defend. Most commercials for feminine products is still telling a big lie that with the right product, periods can be masked and secret. Always goes by the name of Whisper in Southeast Asia. There is still a message sent to women that your period should be a secret.

Harry Finley, the curator of the Museum of Menstruation, claims feminine product advertising started as early as the 1800s. The ads, since then, have sung the same tune. “The companies (usually run by men) take advantage of the secrecy surrounding menstruation. They’ve always been about covering up any sign of menstruation, sight or odor. The worse women feel about menstruation the more vulnerable they are and companies make money from that.” he explains.

The marketing executives of Always are on the right track with their campaigning.They are well aware there is a movement of feminist advertising they can’t ignore. There is a growing market of well-educated women, looking to take care of their bodies and choosing wisely where to spend their money. We are growing less and less ignorant of the subliminal sexism and hyper-sexual material in most advertising, thanks to projects like Miss Representation. Always knows they won’t make money producing advertisements that claim your husband won’t want to spend time with you if you have your period. Other companies aren’t necessarily behind this trend yet, and are unfortunately still banking on the lie that your menstrual bleeding and natural functioning should be something to be ashamed of. There are still commercials for tampons that can be discreetly hidden, ads showing confident women wearing all white and proudly walking up to their man, proud that he’ll never know their big secret. Advertisers are still feeding into the idea that women should be ashamed of their bodies, and selling products with perfume and harmful chemicals that we all know we aren’t supposed to be putting in our vaginas.

At least advertisers don't claim Lysol is a helpful tool for saving your marriage anymore!
At least advertisers don’t claim Lysol is a helpful tool for saving your marriage anymore!

So, Always, a company dealing with our periods head-on, is asking us to embrace doing life “like a girl.” Then let me finish the ad with my own twist. Hey, Always! I want to get my period “like a girl”!!

Periods are not super fun, but they are just part of doing life like a girl, and I think we should all think a little bit about how we can open up to that fact. “Yes, I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl,” says a young woman toward the end of the commercial. Let me add, I also get my period like a girl. Because I am a girl.

You Don’t Call Customer Service To Get Girls

Dear Customer,

Upon hearing your well-spoken English over the phone and discussing your basic understanding of the Performing Arts venue where I work, I imagine you’ve been a part of our consumerist society for some time. I’m surprised that I’d have to write this letter, but I believe you’ve misinterpreted what exactly your role as consumer entails. You called me so that you could buy an item. Physical tickets to an upcoming concert. That item will reward you with an experience for a certain amount of money. I am the individual who will take your payment information and, in turn, send you a few pieces of paper that will grant you admission to an entertainment experience. As a consumer, I will inform you (perhaps to your surprise), you do not have any right to consume me or my body in any way. I suppose we didn’t explain that clearly enough in our Frequently Asked Questions online.

With the confidence in which you chose to say what you said in the place of “Thank you, have a nice day,” I have a feeling you were never told that ending a conversation with, “You sound gorgeous, oh my god” over the phone while I’m here at work, trying to sell you tickets, isn’t actually the proper way to say goodbye to your sales associate. Since you obviously didn’t know this, I’m assuming neither do your sons, neither do your brothers. And it’s important for us as a society to become aware of, like I said, exactly what our role as Paying Customer actually involves.

As your sales representative, I do not work for a service in which I’m selling you the experience to imagine what I might look like. I am not answering this phone so that you can compliment me on the basis of anything beyond what I am answering the phone for. “You are so friendly!” would be an appropriate and respectable response to the service I just provided. My job here is to be kind and helpful, and to guide you toward having a nice consumer experience. If your idea of having a nice consumer experience includes the opportunity to purchase tickets and to purchase a woman, I think you’ve been mislead. I am not actually for sale. Again, I’ll make sure Human Resources knows that this was not included in our Terms and Regulations online. I’ll inform them of that mistake, and I’m sure they’ll get on it immediately.

As you said so eloquently, you do not have any actual knowledge of what I look like. In your head, a young, kind female voice conjures up images of something that is “gorgeous”. I wonder if you could even come close to imagining what I actually look like. Seeing as the 8 billion humans in this world all look slightly different, I’d say you have, at best, a 1 in 10 million chance to even guess my height. A lucky 1 in 7 billion of guessing how wide my nose is. My guesses are as good as yours when I wonder about what you were wondering. But. If you’re imagining something close to what our culture tells us, from 99% of billboards, advertisements, and magazine covers, is “gorgeous,” then I’m probably some collage of a 5’7”, 125 pound, leggy, sultry eyed, thin nosed, busty, single, straight, young female who is perfectly interested in you. If that’s what you were imagining, then let me be perfectly offended. Since I’m basically none of those things. Surprised?

Please save your “Oh my God”s for the great wonders of life, the ones worthy of God’s hallowed name. After spending hours in an empty restaurant getting to know your future wife, I hope you think about these words you threw to me, a voice with no body or soul attached to it. The soon-to-be wife of a man who whispers the same words with tears in his eyes, “You are so gorgeous,” after listening to my dreams, worries, hopes, and fears for days on end. When you hold your baby daughter for the first time, I pray you utter the exact words to her that you so lightly said to me, someone else’s daughter. The daughter of a man whose fought with and fought for the beauty of his two little girls. If you never get any of these chances, please stare at the Grand Canyon, listen to a perfect moment of silence, or experience the love of a friend, and pray, “Oh, God. Oh, my God. Your world, Your people, Your love. It is so gorgeous.”

You don’t call me, Dear Consumer, to waste your praise on a voice over the phone. I don’t want to waste my time listening to it. It is fake and shallow, and I know all you wanted was for me to fill your ego and respond, “Hehe! Oh thanks!” Please, in the future, call me (and all other sales associates) to waste your money something else that will fill your soul; a concert, a great night with that future wife or daughter, a meal with friends. I’ll be happy to sell you something that is worth the “Oh my God” your soul so desires. But you can’t have me.

No, not yours,

Ash.

What does God Have To Do With Cleaning The House?

I was sent this article today on how to be a “Biblical Wife”. Now, I’m trying my hardest to write my opinions with peace in my heart, and not fire in my veins. I am certainly a reactionary person, defensive and convicted in my “liberal”, “feminist” ways, if that’s what you want to call it. So, I’ll try to appear level-headed here. (It might be clear, though, that I’m not necessarily).

I won’t get into one of my biggest issues with this article, because it’s an entire post of its own (or non-fiction/opinion/memoir mega-book). But I’ll quickly state that I’m thoroughly fed up with Christian vernacular. I consider myself a “Christian” because I’m part of a “Jesus-centered community” since, unfortunately, my little human brain can’t handle the chaos of not being a part of something. I need to know where I fit in, and for some reason a small church in Worcester with a pastor who had dreadlocks seemed to be my place, and so I’ve been there for 5 years. Just because I’ve chosen to do life with a community of somewhat like-minded people, I don’t typically think that I fit in particularly well in the widespread Christian community. Without getting too deep into this issue, I’ll briefly just say; I don’t think Jesus came to Earth to start a fan club. All too often, Christians run around writing articles and waving signs explaining that there are obvious lines drawn between the group of us that can be considered “Godly people” and those of us who cannot. You fit in because you do A, and you do not because you do B. Jesus actually never condoned that behavior. Jesus didn’t actually found that Church.

Anyway.

This all loosely relates to my feelings on an article telling me how to be a “Godly” wife.

Can I be frank and maybe, to some, a little controversial?

I’ve never actually felt that my primary role as a wife is to clean the house. (This is taken from a direct quote in the article that, indeed, our primary [see: number one] role as wife is in the home).

Believe it or not.

You don’t have to believe it.

You can if you want.

But hear me out. (Or don’t if you don’t want to.)

I feel like my primary role as “wife” is a little less clear-cut than that. (Just as my role as Christian is far more complex [in some ways, actually simpler] than to follow all the rules just so).

Listen, ladies (well. Men, too), marriage isn’t what it once was. We are no longer legally covered by our husbands like we were in Medieval days. We actually do have the right to be a partner in this arrangement. We actually do have the right to decide what our role is in this partnership. Believe it or not. (And again, you certainly don’t have to believe me. Make up your own mind. You can ‘x’ out of this post now if you feel like it. I won’t be offended, I promise.)

When I get married in September, I will agree to be a partner in a lifetime arrangement. I will have a say in how I want to lead our life. No, I will not be selfish, and I will no longer be able to live life on my terms alone. I’ll never argue for that. That is a poor formula for marriage as well. When I get married this summer, I will agree to see my husband with God’s eyes to the best of my ability, to lead him into a relationship with his Maker as often as I can, to discover with him what God had in mind for each of our lives, and how to join forces and get the best God has for us together. I believe firmly that our efforts are much better together than alone (see: Genesis 2:18 & Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 for my personal idea of what God is pitching as “Biblical partnership”). When we get married in September, we will decide together exactly what it will look like to create a home, as partners. I will certainly not always clean, he will certainly not always work. I would like to become a better cook, but he makes a darn good curry. In certain areas of life, I will serve him better than he can serve me, and the opposite will be true. I will learn the ways in which he’d love me to serve him, I will find (quickly) the parts of me that are selfish and unwilling to sacrifice, and I will die to them and give more than I thought I could. I believe Jesus will give me the strength to do this, but I also believe that feeling lazy and selfish and ugly and mean and not cleaning the house is not enough to make me “un-Godly.”

In fact, I don’t think any my failures as a wife, woman or human being is enough to make me “un-Godly” or “un-Biblical”. Why do we make God so small? Why do we think, again and again, that He loves us the way we love each other, with a list of conditions we must adhere to?

My bottom line? God will not leave you (or your marriage) if you don’t clean the house.

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