Tag 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.

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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.

My Introduction to Charting & the Fertility Awareness Method

In the big debacle over the Supreme Court’s recent decision on providing birth control health coverage (which, I’ve discovered I can’t really start talking about without entering a frantic “but I just…. but…. I…. AHHHHH!!!!-hair-pulling-esque hysteria), I was in the process of writing up this post. I’m on my own interesting journey with contraception, so I wanted to chime in.

Quick disclaimer, just by the by. I don’t, personally, have any religious opinion about the Pill, or any birth control for that matter. Everything in this post is altogether personal, it was just semi-relevant timing with the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling happening recently. I’m never really of the stance that we should tell anyone how to live life in the name of God, but I especially have no spiritual stance on this issue. I do, however, have a pretty strong personal stance.

I was on the Pill for years to combat terrible cramps, heavy flows, and an altogether bitterness toward the monthly “joys” of womanhood. For the time I was on the Pill, I really didn’t experience cycles of any sort. The cramps were gone, and pretty much any sign of life inside my womb was gone. Numb, and unknowing. Fine, just fine. Floating through life with 2 day spotting that I’d call a “period.” Life was good.

However, in an ongoing rebellion to many mindless choices that I made in the name of it’s-just-what-you-do-ness, one morning I decided to not take the next pill. And I never went back to the pharmacy for the next pack. And truthfully, I didn’t exactly know why.

It was in part thanks to Netflix. I’d been watching documentaries on natural birth. I’d seen documentaries on the shittiness of advertising, the farming industries, fast food, GMOs, you name it. All that hippie-dippie crap most of us wish we’d just skipped past and kept on bingeing Breaking Bad episodes. Unfortunately, the reality of what chemicals and hormones and it’s-just-what-you-do-ness of our society was all starting to seep into my subconscious. And suddenly, I decided pretty sporadically that I didn’t want to put a dose of hormones into my system every morning.

Another disclaimer: Randomly deciding to stop taking the Pill is not necessarily something I’d recommend to someone who’s sexually active and not looking for an unwanted pregnancy. I happened to not be active at the time, but if I was, I think I would’ve done a lot more research before simply stepping away so quickly from a highly successful form of birth control.

In the nine months to follow, I embraced nine full cycles of mood-swings, terrible cramps, and heavy flows. The joys. All of ‘em. I crumpled up on the bathroom floor, screamed, “I’M GOING BACK ON THE PILL!,” spent full days in bed, tried a menstrual cup, found a good pain-killer regimen, ate more bananas, got more exercise and ultimately, survived womanhood. In fact, I even began to enjoy it. I can’t necessarily explain why, but something about feeling the life of a healthy, working uterus was thrilling.

And then this March, Eric proposed. It was time to start talking about what to do if, in fact, I wanted to prevent pregnancy in September, once I’m sexually active and not at all interested in having a baby anytime remotely soon. [Personal note: We are waiting until marriage to have sex, so we won’t be actively using this method as birth control until then. The topic of “abstinence” is one I’ll write more on later.] My fiancee is a man of high value. Particular, holistic, and not afraid to do things that take a lot of work if it means getting the best possible outcome. And to him, getting to keep his wife all to himself for the first few years of marriage is absolutely the best possible outcome. No babies.

“I hate the idea of your hormones being affected so unnaturally.”
“Yeah. I think that’s why I stopped initially. I don’t want to go back on the Pill.”
We agreed.
So, no Pill, either.

So, where did that leave us? Condoms work. But what about when they don’t? The pull-out method works. But what about when it doesn’t? Latex and self-control seem to be fallible things. I’d heard some rumors that if you simply don’t have sex exactly two weeks after the first day of your period, then you’ll never get pregnant. Seemed good enough for me. But what about the fact that my period never actually seems to come on the same day every month? What’s up with the spotting that happens seemingly at random? What about the day before the two weeks exactly after the first day of my period? What about the day after? What about all this weird stuff that comes out of me kinda heavily 3 weeks after my period? Does that have anything to do with this?

In talking to more au-natural friends, wives, moms, and one Eric, I thought maybe some research would do. I heard about Natural Family Planning and the Fertility Awareness Method through a friend who has used a form of one effectively and happily throughout her marriage. No hormones. No (unplanned) babies. And an added bonus: You get to have unprotected sex sometimes. No pull-out method. No condoms. Au-natural, bay-bay.

The catch? This method actually takes some work.

Kindara is a free app developed by husband & wife team, William Sacks and Katherine Bicknell.
Kindara is a free app developed by husband & wife team, William Sacks and Katherine Bicknell.

The short of it: you observe and record (Every. Single. Day.) your temperature first thing in the morning, and your cervical fluid throughout your cycle. At first, it’s confusing, time-consuming and totally weird. But for those of us who don’t want to get pregnant, and who actually enjoy learning about our bodies and functions in a way we never thought possible, it’s totally 100% worth it. For those of you who do want to get pregnant, it’s also 100% worth it. No ovulation tests, no invasive doctor’s appointments necessary. If you try this method, your knowledge about fertility increases and so do your chances of conception. And if you do have a fertility problem, you’ll notice quickly and will be more informed when you visit a specialist.

This blog post is really just an intro to my journey with the Fertility Awareness Method. So far, it’s been a lovely ride. I’m incredibly aware (amazing, the name actually suggests it does what it says) of my body, my cycle, my health, myself. FAM is called a “cooperative method”. You and your partner have to communicate thoroughly. For birth control, this method is truly for monogamous, long-term, committed relationships. However, as a means of understanding and deepening your relationship with your natural functions, it is wonderful for absolutely everyone.

For resources and ways you can learn more about charting & FAM, click here!

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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