Life Isn’t the Same After #WonderWoman

Posted on June 5, 2017

Saturday afternoon I used my phone to buy seven tickets for a Sunday matinee of Wonder Woman. It was, quite honestly, a pain in the ass because the Regal app was persnickety and I didn’t have my wallet so I had to borrow a card from Sean. Sometimes this sort of thing would annoy me and send me into a “Well, I guess it isn’t meant to be” defeat. Not this time. It was too important that my contribution to the first weekend of the movie be recorded.

Talk with your wallet. Stand up for things that matter. It was the same thing with backing Rebecca Woolf’s Kickstarter campaign for Pans. I want movies made with girls in mind as more than arm candy, victims of violence, hollow foils, and set dressing.

“Don’t politicize it.”

“Can’t it just be a movie?”

“What do your politics or your gender have to do with a movie?”

“Everything,” I say at first in a quiet voice.

Silence.

“They mean everything. It is all connected,” I spit.

 

 

 

 

“Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

 

Every non-essential sexual assault used to prove a female character deserves help.

Every female character who gets stripped down and left to bleed with her breasts exposed.

Every magazine cover with a female star in underwear & her male costar in a suit.

Every homely sidekick female.

Every twenty-something playing the love interest of a septuagenarian.

Every Piers Morgan who says we can’t show our cleavage after it stops turning him on.

Every film critic who says women can’t sell movies.

Every director who tells a woman to lose weight.

Every bad action flick made without a second thought given to women.

Every girl who has to wear a pink version of a superhero costume.

Every time we are asked,”What were you wearing?”

Every President who grabs us by the pussy.

It is all so connected.

 

I will politicize the hell out of this. Because my politics are relevant, my body is mine, and my reality is impacted by the politics and apathy of others. I won’t ask anyone to forgive me for being shrill and I will not tolerate anyone telling me this movie didn’t matter. Legislators tell us what we can and can’t do with our bodies, schools tell us what our daughters have to wear so that they male students and teachers aren’t distracted, conferences still have booth babes.

 

 

 

I did my best to get along with the one female action figure of my youth, vying to have Princess Leia, but sharing her with my neighbor and accepting the need to use Hans Solo or Lando Calrissian when it has her turn to have the sole female. There should have been more than one chick. It’s true that this shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it is.

Diana was not created for men. She wasn’t there to make a man look virile, she wasn’t there to be without flaws. She was human well, superhuman. But she made mistakes, blended humor and gravitas, emotion and hope. The panoramic shots of the Amazons in the early part of the movie were not overtly sexualized. Yes, their costumes were fierce, yes, their bodies were glorious. The scenes were not mash ups off writhing, oil-slicked bodies with faces blurred. It was shot after shot of strong, capable women.

There was a part of me that wanted it to start to feel normal, to not sit in complete, speechless awe of it all. I wanted it to feel less significant, but I kept thinking, “I put my hundred dollars in. I want to watch it again, want to reinforce that I am here for this.” Attending this movie felt like an act of resistance and a declaration of existence.

I am here.

We are here.

My throat tightened and my nose stung and I let the tears come as I watched a movie that I was proud of surrounded by my family.

Robin Wright kicked ass.

Connie Neilsen was fierce.

Patty Jenkins did it!

Chris Pine was different. <— that may not seem like praise, but it is.

This movie was different and yet it was still able to be a seat-of-the-chair movie.

“I don’t want to be a supermodel; I want to be a role model.”
Queen Latifah

 

My girls have searched for costumes that weren’t mini-skirt versions of heroes. They’ve been mocked for their choices. A Black Widow, a Maleficent, and an Elsa. Tell me they aren’t all craving strong female role models. Yet the stores don’t carry Black Widow dolls, we made the Maleficent costume and because I can’t sew a mini-dress was the only option.

 

“I feel that I’ve got the opportunity to set a great role model for girls to look up to a strong, active, compassionate, loving, positive woman and I think it’s so important,” Gadot told the magazine. “It’s about time that somebody will do that and I’m very privileged and honored to be the one.”

 

Boys and men don’t have the market cornered on the desire to be strong or capable. I’m not sure where we were when it was decided that the benchmark for men would be related to success and strength and for women, it would be beauty and how little space we take up.

I want to be as loud and as powerful as the surf and to have my daughters do the same.

 

 

“I hear many young women say they can’t find well-known feminists with whom they identify. That can be disheartening, but I say, let us (try to) become the feminists we would like to see moving through the world.”
Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

 

Go see Wonder Woman. Go write a story. Go change the world.

 

 

A Quarter Turn to Beat the Rut

Posted on June 2, 2017

Most mornings I make my way over to the woodstove room. I tuck my legs up beside me in one of the chairs and sip my coffee. It isn’t particularly restful or restorative, more a comfortable routine. The other morning I went into our living room to fold up a blanket that had been left behind after watching Anne of Green Gables with the girls. It was still in the mold from the night before—a hollow space where shoulders and knees had been.

I set the blanket on the back of the couch and then instead of leaving I sat down. The morning light touched my face. I leaned into it and exhaled. When I opened my eyes I looked back toward where I usually sit. That side of the house looked dark. I turned back to the window and then caught my shadow to the right. The sunlight through the leaves made the light move like water and the kinks and points of my bedhead looked more Midsummer Night’s Dream than Nightmare on Elm Street.

Funny that one tiny decision and I’m smiling instead of floating through the motions. I began to consider how my routine can sometimes perpetuate the very thoughts I try to unseat. It makes perfect sense that a small change could influence my attitude. Thinking about all the ways it might work beyond my morning coffee—where I park, the sites I visit online, the words I use.

Yesterday, completely without any sort of, “Let’s see if I can make someone’s day a little brighter” I was passing a woman in the bathroom in our office building. Her dress was impossibly cheerful, white with bright flowers that moved up from the hem toward the waist and were echoed by a row along the neckline. I was about to close the stall door when I blurted, “Fun dress!”

I think we were both surprised. There is a kind of unwritten rule of no conversation in the bathroom. She giggled, she does not look like someone who I’d call a giggler. I smiled and then she launched into a cheerful exclaim about how if the weather wasn’t going to feel like spring, at least her clothes could.

I did it again in the stairwell later in the day with another woman I don’t know. “Gorgeous dress,” I said as I raced down the stairs. “Thank you so much,” she called back with a laugh. I heard that laugh and the giggles from earlier over and over again throughout the afternoon,

The thing I am learning is that we cannot have it all. I don’t say this as an exclusively female thing or solely related to work life balance, I really mean that there is always something we could do better or that saddens us. Our best hope is to keep turning our focus, a little bit here, a little bit there. Even the most valiant warriors or devoted students must rest.

Smile at someone, maybe even yourself. Sit in a different chair, turn into the sun, or into yourself. It might be the easiest way out of a rut and onto a place with a new perspective.

 

A World Without Planned Parenthood is a World in Pain

Posted on June 1, 2017

The first time I went to Planned Parenthood I was about 17. I didn’t think that I knew everything, but I thought I knew exactly what I was ready to handle. They continued to be my primary resource for health care until I was 30. When I look back on that 13-year stretch of my life there are many memories that make me cringe.

 

How did I survive?

What the hell was I thinking?

Was I even thinking?

 

The thing I never considered before this last year of political improbability was what if Planned Parenthood hadn’t been there for me. I certainly think about what will happen if my daughters don’t have it as a resource. The time it took for toddler Amanda to grow to a mom of tweens happened faster than I ever imagined.

 

 

I remember going in for an annual exam. I was barely twenty. It had been several years since I was sexually assaulted, but I still couldn’t make it through an exam without silently weeping, tears pooling in my ears.

“Are you ok?” the doctor asked me.

I nodded, my nose stinging.

“Are you in pain?” She said gently.

“No. I just hate this.”

She worked swiftly and quietly when she was done she patted the side of my calf. “You’re all done.”

I sat up awkwardly.

“No one likes these exams, but it’s so important that you do them,” she said. I nodded and tried to stifle my sniffles. “Were you assaulted?”

“Yes.”

“You are brave and strong. Don’t forget that. I’ll let you get dressed now,” and she slipped out the door.

I needed to hear those words, but she didn’t need to say them. Those words helped me, and I don’t just mean that they made me feel ok about myself. What that doctor said was literally the difference between bailing on all manner of professional health care and having a place where I felt safe and worthy to be seen.

Planned Parenthood cared for me and protected me and my future in ways I didn’t yet know how to do for myself. It’s why I am using this space to speak out against the AHCA and the “defunding” of Planned Parenthood. We need voices for women and the LGBTQ community, specifically their health and well-being.

But what if…

What if Planned Parenthood weren’t here, not for some person in the middle of a place you don’t know, but for me, someone whose story you have come here to read. Would it matter? Is there a George Bailey side to this?

I’ve been reading a lot about “stealthing” and while we may not have had a term for it twenty years ago, it did exist.

Wrangling my girls each morning, counting lunch boxes, checking bags, my heart skips a beat when I think of what might have happened, where I’d be without PP.

I would still meet up with the boyfriend who penetrated me without my consent and shushed into it being ok, “We were going to get there eventually. It’s no big deal.”He disregarded my insistence on a condom, bullied me into things I didn’t want to do. Without Planned Parenthood I would not be with these girls. I would not be their mom, or Sean’s wife, or maybe even here.

I would have been tricked into pregnancy in my twenties. I would not have found people who would treat me without question or judgment, but more than that, I would have gone too long without seeing someone or being seen. I would have written it (me!) off as not being something that I could manage—too hard, too expensive, too complicated, too intimidating.

I was a smart girl from a good home, but it can be easy to fall through the cracks, particularly with elected officials who aren’t advocating for you, who in fact are pretending as if you don’t exist or matter. Really none of that should matter, we should all have the care, counsel, and guidance that we need to make informed choices about our health.

 

It’s why when Planned Parenthood calls I answer, I fight for a world with Planned Parenthood.

 

 

I was not one of the most vulnerable, but as I stand today, a mom to three daughters, a survivor, and a resolute believer in the importance of Planned Parenthood, I #StandWithPP for those most threatened by the potential loss of Planned Parenthood.

 

 

 

Please call your Senator, speak to your neighbors, your children, your partner, and even yourself. This isn’t a little thing, Planned Parenthood can be the single greatest safety net for women and their health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Health Care Act is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. Cherry picking just one way in which the bill hurts women:

Reduces women’s access to no-copay birth control. While the bill does not specifically repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, the fact that millions of women will lose coverage means they will no longer have access to no-copay birth control. Under the ACA, more than 55 million women gained access to no-copay birth control in the private insurance market, and approximately 16.7 million women benefit from Medicaid coverage, which also covers birth control at no cost. Paying out-of-pocket for birth control pills can cost a woman up to $600 per year, which is simply unaffordable for many young women and people with low incomes. A recent poll found that 33 percent of women could not afford to pay more than $10 for birth control.

Here are things you can do!

This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own.

Ariana Grande and Growing Up

Posted on May 24, 2017

Sean is the playlist guy around here, followed quickly by Briar and then Ave. I enjoy the detail that I wouldn’t manage on my own, except it has started to hit me that music makes things more enjoyable. When I start the coffee pot I say to Alexa, “Alexa, play music for us,” more often than not she responds with, “Here’s a station you might like: Ariana Grande.” The first time she did it I laughed out loud. The girls weren’t with me and it seemed preposterous that she would be my music of choice, except the thing is I enjoy it. When the girls came down they start snaking between the counter and me to grab things, dancing along the way. They sing along and mornings became a lot more fun.

I read the news about the concert in real time on twitter just before bed, the next morning I wasn’t really thinking about it as I raced to get things done. Briar turned to me stricken, “Mom, what happened? Everyone is putting Ariana Grande things on Musical.ly. Did she die?” The light from the screen shone on the right side of her face and morning light streaming in the window to her right bathed the other side of her face.

“No, she is fine, but people—kids were killed at her concert,” I said simply. The death of children isn’t new to her.

“22, it says 22 people, mom. And 50 are injured,” she read and then turned to me, “Why? Why all of this death everywhere? And even just at a concert?”

I had no answers and the collision of fury and defeat inside me were deafening. “I think that people want to show their hate and the more innocent the people, the stronger they think their message gets.” She considered that, blinked, and went inward as she murmured, “Why…”

Yesterday she and I were driving home from the optometrist with her new glasses. I was asking her about an article I’d shared with her on Twitter, showing ways to talk to kids about crowds, separation, and communication.

“Did you read it?” I asked. She nodded and said, “No, but I hearted it.” I smiled, this is our new way, navigating communication through social media and understanding how each of us uses it. “I just saw it at lunch and was like, heart,” she smiled at me.

“Ok, well it talks about things to do to make sure you are safe,”

“I still can’t believe those kids were just killed at a concert.”

“Me either, sweets. I do want to talk about the article though, it talks about the idea of writing a phone number down in sharpie on your arm. If my phone died I wouldn’t know your number or Ave’s, and, in situations like the concert, if you were hurt, people would know who to call.”

She thought about what I’d said. I think this is where some of the disconnect between how I, as an adult not raised in a time of lock-down drills, and Briar, just weeks of a bomb threat at school see the world. “We have to think about things like keeping your phone charged so you can contact us. What would happen if it died at school and you needed me?”

She turned to me and said matter of factly, “Oh, that totally wouldn’t matter. We aren’t allowed to call or text during a lockdown.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, no contact outside of the school, because what if parents just showed up and we couldn’t get out? Also, if you guys knew and you came, more than just us students and the teachers would be killed. It could be parents and sisters too. Have to follow the rules so the least amount of people will die,” she looked unbothered.

I felt like I was going to be sick. I rolled down the window and made a sound I hoped sounded like “Uh huh.”

“Ok, well I think it still makes sense to think about battery charges,” which as I said it sounded so insignificant and futile. She looked at me, “Ok.” She looked like she was 18 months old and 18 years old in the same minute. Bubbles of hysteria made my arms start to prickle. How do we even get to 18 years? No movies? No concerts? Homeschool? No travel? One month from today she flies to Paris.

I am not in control.

I cannot fix everything.

Time doesn’t stop.

Me: “I love you.”

Her: “I love you too. Can we do face masks?”

Me: “That sounds perfect.”

Then it was home and on to voice lessons. Finley was singing My Favorite Things and the normalcy of it all broke me. We have to keep going. Loving, nuzzling puppies, and allowing childhood to happen with all its warts and wonder.

 

I Could Be Folding—Discovering ‘Nothing’ is a Legitimate Activity

Posted on May 21, 2017

I got home from Mom2.0 a week ago. Sean said, “You need to move quickly. Don’t let your Iris win fall to the wayside. Allow it to catapult you into whatever it is you want to do.”I nodded dutifully. I wasn’t going to rest on my laurels, I was going to charge ahead and let myself build upon the idea that my words have an impact and a purpose. I really was going to, but then the realities of the laundry situation hit home, the continued aftershocks of some things that happened at work, school concerts, texts about the dog, “Having a huge disgusting tick where his eyebrows would be if he had eyebrows,” and the whole feeding a family, and managing the rampant cases of poison ivy that three of us are suffering from in ways that are not diminishing.

 

I have posts dancing in my head, emails that I want to write, and mileage that I want to achieve through the catharsis that I find in writing. No matter how many lists I make, incentives I create for myself, or other tricks, the end of the day feels like it’s kissing my tail before I’ve even finished my lunch. I am grateful that I haven’t retreated into my place of panic, where I lash out and take on an attitude of hopelessness. Because it’s a rut I know well, a forwarding address even, but no, I kept it at bay.

Actually, this whole post is to share with you a moment that I had. I was in my bedroom, a place that I have slowly done things to to make it feel more like an oasis, but is still very much a work in progress (<—-gentle disclaimer, but also read the subtext: no one has it all together.) Anyway, I had a bona fide Oprah–level, aha moment and I wanted to share it with you.

When you watch this video you might think, “Is she whispering? Is she drunk?” The answer would be yes and kind of. I was whispering, and that is because I genuinely believed if I said any of this stuff out loud I would get some sort of zap from the universe for sitting on my duff. As far as being drunk. I think that the sensation of doing nothing was legitimately intoxicating. Also, I think sometimes when you actually slow down you become aware of just how exhausted you really are. In any case, if I can do one thing for those other people out there trying to do more than they would ever believe another person could do, it’s to have you hear me say, “Doing nothing is important.”

 

 

 

Do you do nothing? Where is your favorite place to do nothing? If you have never done nothing, promise me right now you will do nothing and you will come back and tell me all about how amazing it was?

 

Deal?

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