Category:

Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

first period, tween mom, the first period, how to explain menstruation

Today it happened. My little caterpillar began her official metamorphosis into a butterfly. We knew it was coming. We’ve talked about menstruation. She knew what to expect. We’ve been given different expectancies from different pediatricians but if we were going on genetics, she was right on the money.

We’ve been talking about the joys of womanhood a lot lately because I have been experiencing more than my fair share thanks to my cervical biopsy back in October. I’ve been the queen of TMI mostly because I can’t even believe this first disappearing and now, never stopping menstruation of mine. You’d think it was the last one that I’m ever having for all my life. It’s a freaking mass exodus. 3 months worth of uterine lining is.the.worst!

While I’m slipping headlong into the end of my days as a butterfly, my girl is slowly evolving into the most majestic butterfly that ever did live. Recently, I’ve begun to notice the roundness of her baby Buddha has given way to a more svelte outline. Her hair which was once stick straight has begun to wave. Mine did the same thing in middle school. And her once childlike figure is slowly fading out and in its place, a young woman is emerging.

All of these things, I expected. I prepared myself and the girls for. I didn’t want this time in their life to be traumatic like it was for me. Puberty was sort of thrust upon me one summer’s day in the middle of a McDonald’s bathroom. I immediately felt like I looked different and everyone must be able to tell. The same thing happened the first time I had sex. I didn’t want that to be the experience for my girls. I didn’t want them to feel like a freak and want to run away and hide. I wanted them to see it as something beautiful. Nothing to be ashamed of but to celebrate. No, I’m not talking a party for your period, that’s a bit much for me but the cake would be divine but who the heck wants to put on something cute when you’re bloated? Not me.

I want them to embrace their femininity with both hands and be as fierce and simultaneously as soft as they want to be. I want them to love being a woman. I want being a woman to not be so hard. I want them to be strong but able to be weak when need be. I want them to be who they are unapologetically.

So today, I picked up my little girl from school and she got in the car and said, excitedly, “Guess what?” She had a little smirk on her face. “What?” I asked. I thought maybe she had some juicy 7th grade gossip or won some kind of an award. She was in a good mood.

“Mom, I got my period.”

Just like that. As blunt as anything that has ever come out of my mouth. She said it with just the faintest blush and a big smile and a tinge of pride as if she had just joined me in my secret women’s club. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really expecting it but I wasn’t not either. I just wasn’t expecting it today.

I asked how she was feeling. She said fine. In true tween fashion she “didn’t see the big deal.” Then I asked if she felt sick in her stomach or crampy and she said no, just tired. Then, I told her this was exciting and we should celebrate because it’s not every day you begin your journey into young womanhood. She smiled, then looked at me like I was slightly deranged and we all went for ice cream in December. For the record, no one looked at me like I was deranged while they were eating their blizzards.

I long ago stocked the girls’ bathroom with sanitary napkins and liners. They know about heating pads and ibuprofen for cramps, no caffeine because they exacerbate cramps, extra water to help reduce bloating and I’m installing an app on her phone tonight so she can chart her period. I used to hate surprise periods in those first few years.

She’s sleeping now. It’s 7 p.m. I told her she can ask me anything. I’m an open book. I know she knows that but I like to say it every once in awhile just to remind her. I couldn’t help kissing her on her forehead as my sweet young lady lay there in bed clutching her Fifi that she’s slept with every night since she was born. I want to freeze this moment and make it last forever but I know I can’t.

I’m happy for her, this is a milestone in a young woman’s life, and I am scared for her because I know what lies ahead. It’s hard being a woman. I want to hug her tight and hold her in my arms like a baby once more and at the same time I want to give her freedom to become who she will be.

For now, we take it day by day. We read together at night snuggled in my bed. We talk about everything and occasionally, she rolls her eyes at me but now, we share this special new bond. I am her mother and she is my daughter and now, we are both women and its one of the most beautiful moments of motherhood so far. I never expected it. We are growing closer as the baby and mother divide closes.

When we give birth, we are everything to our children and they are everything to us. We complete one another. We need one another, like air. But this new phase on our journey as mother and daughter, we grow closer as soon she will no longer need me but instead want me in her life and the choice of her choosing me, as I chose her, is truly the most beautiful thing I’ve yet experienced.

I’m going to stop writing now because as I said, I am on day 14 of my neverending period so I may be a tad bit overly emotional plus, my baby just became a woman so there’s that.

P.S. I asked my daughters permission before posting this, she said, “Hey, you’re the one who should be embarrassed talking about your bleed out. Not me. I don’t care.” So, there’s that. Like mother like daughter.

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rape culture, girl mom, school uniforms, body image, self esteem

In light of the Matt Lauer (Russel Simmons, Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the seemingly endless list) allegations, I’m truly astounded by people’s reactions, especially of shock. I was not shocked. Not because any of these men seem outwardly particularly creepy but because, as a woman, I live the reality.

 

It has nothing to do with what a woman wears or how she looks. It has nothing do with her character or lack thereof. It has nothing do with any of that. It doesn’t even have to do with the man being a scummy sort, a delinquent or particularly chauvinistic or even just the little bit rapey. It has everything to do with the way we condition our children to move through the world from the time they are babies.

 

We teach little girls to be good, behave and learn to protect themselves. Little girls are taught to dole out kisses to any relative, however strange or scary, from the beginning. We use adjectives like pretty, cute and beautiful to praise our daughters. We teach them to sit right, act right and be pleasant and congenial.

 

Nobody seems to like a strong willed little girl. They label her bossy, stubborn and difficult and it is all said with a negative connotation that seethes with everything that you don’t want to be.

 

But our little boys on the other hand, we call them strong, stubborn and smart and all of those labels are said as praise. For some reason, we teach our boys that it is good to be these things when you are a boy but inconvenient when you are a girl.

 

This isn’t just parents and it’s not even willful; it’s a bad habit and we all have it. I am the feminist mom of two girls and I have to remember to change up my adjectives because I want them to know they are more than just what lies between their legs. I value everything between their ears, as well.

 

When little girls misbehave, we scold them. We tell them that is not very lady like. We ask them to tone down the natural fierceness that is them. It is not all at once. It starts on the day they are born and by the time they go to college, they have been broken. But, when boys misbehave we dismiss their bad behavior with a simple, “boys will be boys.” We hold our girls to a higher standard and give our boys more credit for doing much less. This is the society we live in. This is our reality and it has been forever.

 

I thought things had changed. We almost had a female president. But, I see now that it’s just wishful thinking. The reality is that we live in a misogynistic world and those who are not, are the minority…not the moral majority that we would like to believe.

 

For example, earlier this year at school, the seventh grade girls were sent home a special note about their uniforms. The boys did not receive this note.

 

The note was to remind us that the girls’ shirts needed to be baggy, not be worn fitted. Pants should also be baggy, not fitted. There is to be no nail polish or make up. No hair color other than their natural color. No jewelry. No adornments.

 

I can go on record and say that I hated the dress code before this note because I feel it gives the girls no room to show their personality and I tried to fight it but found that female board members are to be seen and not heard. But when I got the note, “the reminder”, I was livid because, you see, the point was not to remind all the children to adhere to the dress code it was a subtle way to remind the girls to hide their bodies.

 

Maybe you think I am reading too much into it; making fire where this no smoke. Nope. A girl wore a dress on picture day. A tween, going through puberty, developing normally and one of the older female teachers forced her to lean forward in an effort to conduct some ridiculous “taste test” to see the the dress’ neckline was too revealing when she bent over. The teacher then pulled it back and pinned it because it was “too distracting to the boys.” Take that shit in for a moment.

 

On warm dress down days, the children are allowed to wear shorts. The length of the boys’ shorts is not measured or considered. The length of the girls’ short is another story. My daughter has really long legs. I buy her modest shorts but, as anyone with long legs can attest, when your legs are long everything looks shorter. My daughter has not made it passed the office one time since starting middle school because even when the shorts are to her fingertips, that is still the center of her thigh and “too distracting”. The message is that she is being punished for being distracting. She is being punished for becoming a woman.

The worst part is that a lot of the times, its other women who are propagating this bullshit. Don’t wear that. That’s too short. That’s too plunging. That’s too revealing. It’s all done so boys don’t look and men don’t notice. Why don’t we just teach the boys and men of the world to control themselves? Why is it the responsibility of the girls?

 

You see, my response was what every mother and father of a daughter should be…outrage. Don’t tell my daughter to hide herself away, to slump her shoulders, hide her natural curves and to be ashamed that she is becoming a woman. There is nothing shameful about being a woman. We are the bringers of life. We are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Tell your sons to control their urges. Behave respectfully. It is not my daughter’s, nor any other daughters, responsibility to control the environment so that your son doesn’t get an erection. Tell him to learn to deal with his own body. Tell little boys that little girls are just like them, human.

 

I buy my daughters’ clothes to fit their female bodies. Clothes that fit appropriately. I refuse to buy them clothes that are too big and ill fitting. I refuse to be part of this problem that plagues our girls and our women. We objectify women and you can choose to embrace your body and be labeled a whore or hide it away and be labeled a prude.

 

If you are thinking to yourself, “Thank God I am a grown woman and don’t have to worry about that any longer!” Are you being honest with yourself. As women, we are always objectified. Maybe there’s no sister sending you home for your shorts being too distracting or a crazy teacher pinning your dress closed at the neckline but make no mistake, you are being seen and not heard.

 

These men in the news sexually harassing co-workers, friends, and women at large they are a symptom of the problem. Their bad behavior has been tolerated for so long that they think we are the crazy ones, the witch hunters, the wolf criers who are making mountains out of molehills. Even now, in light of all the allegations, society is crying out on behalf of the men. Where is their due process? How can we ruin their lives and careers over such a small indiscretion? Victims have to prove how victimized they were, as if one degree is valid than the other. Women are even coming to the defense of men over the victims because they think they “know a guy” better than the victim who experienced the assault.

 

I’m not saying every guy that appears to be normal is running around assaulting and harassing women but I can say with confidence that every man who has ever harassed or sexually assaulted a woman is not running around acting particularly like a rapist; so obviously most of them are walking around looking like normal, “good guys” until they aren’t.

 

I guess my point to this piece is that I don’t feel sorry for the allegations. I believe every single one of them until they are proven otherwise because I’ve lived quite a few years and I know these things happen on a regular basis first hand.

 

It’s not a witch hunt and I don’t feel sorry for men who are all “Woe’s me, I guess I can’t speak to women anymore because I’ll get accused of harassment.” In fact, to tell you the truth, I think most of us women would prefer it if most of you would keep your comments, hisses and mouthed dirty motions to yourself. We don’t welcome them and they make us feel threatened.

 

Women are finally feeling empowered enough to tell their truths; to shine a light on the horrendous treatment that women have been subject to for all their lives. How it effects your male ego is not our concern. We’re not trying to accuse innocent men of wrong doings; we are simply trying to out our assailants. If you’re not one of them, you have nothing to worry about.

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I’ve come to that point in parenting where my daughter looks at me like I don’t know anything.  In one way, I feel insulted because…hey, I know things. I have documentation and degrees that prove it so. But in other ways, I am in complete agreement with her.

Some of the stuff kids face today, I don’t know anything about (there was no Internet when I was their age…. thank God) but mostly it’s the same shit, different decade.

Hey, little girl, I’ve been where you are. It’s been awhile but some things you don’t forget. The tween and teen years are like bad shoes, they leave a scar and you don’t soon forget the trauma they’ve caused and if you do, just take a look at that scar.

And so we’ve come to this point in parenting where, I’m not sure I much like other people’s children.

Oh, no, I’m not talking about your child. I’m sure that your child is (all caps) AMAZE-BALLS (wait does anyone even say that anymore? Probably not. Scratch that.) Your kid’s probably awesome. But the rest of these kids, I’m going to be honest, they are straight up assholes 97% of the time. I know this because I did a study. I’ve been researching for the past 12 years and yep, kids are dicks.

My girls have always been pretty friendly but, even if they hate to admit it, their best friend is each other. This is exactly as I was raised and exactly as I planned. Brothers and sisters are the first friends that you can never get rid of. No matter what stupid shit they do, you have to have one another’s backs. #builtInBestie

The thing is it’s been that way for as long as they’ve been alive. They’ve had friends at school but even when their clique was small, no matter, they had one another. I saw this happening and tried to redirect the direction but I watched them segregate themselves with their inside jokes and shared experiences from their classmates. It wasn’t a bad thing but I felt maybe some variety might not be terrible. After all, there is just the 2 of them.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed them making more friends outside of the friends they share and themselves. Honestly, I’ve taught them to take in the broken-winged birds because I feel like they are lucky to have one another so if you see someone who is alone, go be nice to them. I also teach them, and if you are a long time reader of The TRUTH you already know this, you can’t control how people react to what you do. You can only control how you behave and what you put into the world so put good out there. But that’s it. You can’t make someone appreciative or make someone care. You can just do good, do you and the rest is between them and God. That’s also where I insert the reason why we don’t judge. Not our business. Let people be happy.

But not everyone is like that. My girls are perfectly content with each other on most days but they have made these other friendships. It’s hard to make the jump from a sister to a friend. You expect that same loyalty and love and it is not a given. Not ever.

I see my daughters placing trust in others and it’s like watching your toddler walking towards a cliff. You want to stop them. You can see the train wreck coming from a mile away but you won’t always be there to save them so you have to let them learn. You can try to guide them with your wisdom*ahem* but I can tell you from recent experience, it doesn’t always take. It almost never does.

This happens all through parenting and it always shocks me and I find myself wanting to push other people’s kids down flights of stairs because, you toucha my kid (even metaphorically) I breaka yo face. (Remember those stupid signs from childhood road trips? I’m sure they are somehow not PC. No? Get off my grass.)

Anyways, Houston we have a situation. First let me start by pointing out the fact that tween girls love nothing more than the sound of their own voice, except for drama and attention from other tween girls. Everything is so BIG!

I feel like it’s my job to teach my daughters some of life’s greatest clichés like “Beauty is pain” (been drilling that in since birth) and “rise above”, “Kill ‘em with kindness.” But all that shit is easier said than done, especially when your tween is crying because some “friend” is “being mean.”

Remember when I said earlier that I do know some shit? I do. Because I’ve been the kid who got her feelings hurt and I’ve definitely been the bully (to my little brothers and sisters for sure) and I may have even had my moments as a mean girl in college. The point is that I.HAVE.BEEN.THERE! Right where they are.

This kid, my daughter’s “friend”, this is her third strike and like baseball, when you strike out three times in my eyes…fail me thrice and b*tch, you are out. This kid loves drama, she thrives in it and if it doesn’t exist, she will create it via 3-way calls, text sharing and good old-fashioned lying behind people’s backs. She’s pretty good at it but girl, I’ve got your number.

She broke my daughter’s heart for the first time, last spring, then again this summer and now, again yesterday. It’s like a damn ballet blister that tries to heal but she keeps picking at it and pulling at it until it bleeds. Well, I’m done watching my kid bleed. F*ck that cliff. Mama’s about to be a parachute and we are going to jump off that cliff. Make that cliff our bitch.

This kid likes to talk a lot of shit about everyone. She gets some kind of weird pleasure from dangling people on strings. Snip.Snip. NOPE.

My kid got hurt and if you think mama bears are just for toddlers, you were sadly mistaken. I won’t go all into the details but let’s just say that if you can’t trust your friends, what’s the point? If your friends don’t have your back and they enjoy hurting you, why bother? A friend is someone who loves, supports and cares for you and in return, you do the same. As my daughters were taught in preschool, to have a good friend you’ve got to be a good friend. I believe this. Of course, if my kid’s being a good friend and you are being an asshole, you are a waste of time and vice versa. All friendships are not meant to last forever. You move on not drag it out and try to punish the other person for caring about you.

I’m trying to teach my daughter that the best reaction to an attention and drama seeking bully is to ignore her. Of course, when you are a kid your first natural instinct is to cry and try to hurt them as much as they hurt you. The thing is you can’t fight fire with fire when you’re fighting with the devil.

My daughter was so annoyed because how dare I tell her not to respond when she was so clearly insulted and attacked. So, I told her to give it a couple of days. This angered her even more. She insists that I am trying to protect the other child when in fact, I am trying to protect her. We’ve all been there when our emotions have gotten the better of us and we say things we wish we hadn’t said and we let the other person get the upper hand by seeing us distraught and crying. Then they know….they won.  I’m looking at you every ex-boyfriend ever.

I insisted that she ignore her for a couple days. That drives attention seekers insane. And then in a couple days, if you want to end the friendship, by all means tell her you don’t want to be her friend.

The thing is I don’t care about this other kid. She’s not my problem. She is a hair away from being pushed down a flight of stairs if she hurts my kid again. Just kidding, I don’t advocate violence against children. I just want my kid to keep her composure when she is bringing down the hammer. Shatter her. She’s earned it. But don’t let her see you sweat. Smile and pretend it doesn’t matter to you at all.

What would you tell your daughter in this situation? I’m new to this age and these situations. I know I can’t be there to protect her forever but I feel like I need to be there to support her and keep her from getting completely destroyed if I can guide her in any way.

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an apology to men, sexual harassment, me too, #Metoo, sexual assault

Dear Men,

In light of the recent Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey situations, and so many others I am realizing that these men are not the exception. That’s not to say all men are bad. In fact, some men are amazing partners, brothers, fathers and role models but something is really wrong and I never realized it until all the #METOO stories began to flood my feeds. Fundamentally, as a society, we are collectively dropping the ball.

Honestly, that part wasn’t even completely surprising to me. I’m a woman and have been living with my vagina for my entire life. I’ve always suspected that all women have been victimized to one degree or another but I never realized that part of the problem is that men don’t have a clue of how their behavior affects women.

The misconception is that if we have not been dragged into some dark alley and been violently raped by a stranger, we are lucky. We have not been victimized. But that’s not true. Many of us have been victimized and brutalized over and over again for decades.

We’ve just learned that there is an acceptable amount of assault. We’ve learned to live with it. Don’t get me wrong, we are terrified. It has left us scarred. It has left us trembling and cowering. It has robbed us of trust and safety.

We walk fast to our cars at night. We will never be afforded the luxury of a slow stroll under the stars alone to think; not without a cost of safety. We run past large groups of men. We cringe when a man pushes into us on public transportation. Cat calls give us anxiety. We avert our eyes when strange men expose themselves to us. At the end of every date, we pray that we escape without being forced against our will to perform some sexual act that men seem to feel is owed to them as payment for eating dinner with us. We don’t leave our drinks unattended. We travel in packs for protection. But you know none of this because you don’t feel any of this. I never realized it until now. I’m sorry that men have no clue how hard it is to function in the world as a woman.

The Big Guy, my husband, the man I have been with for almost half of my life is a good man. By all accounts, he is a great man, husband, father, and partner. Just ask my mom. You see, he lives his life based on the simple act of being a good person; treating others as he would like to be treated and it works. He is a kind, giving, loving man but he doesn’t understand the female condition. He’s tried but our experiences walking around in the world are so vastly different that it’s like a caterpillar and an elephant trying to understand what the other one’s life is like. It is impossible. How did I find this out? We had a conversation.

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about what’s going on in the world at dinner a lot lately. I respect my husband’s opinion and he’s very intelligent so we can have reasonable debates about most things. But painfully, I’ve realized having an honest conversation with a middle-class white man about the female condition is like talking politics with a monkey. It’s not their fault, it’s just so out of their frame of reference. What a luxury it must be.

I’ve always known that men and women are different but fundamentally, we are all human beings. We are the same species and for whatever prejudices men have about the abilities of women or their place in society, they had to concede that we are all human beings, right? I was wrong.

They know we are human beings but they can’t relate to our experience because it is so fundamentally different from their own. I was talking to a group of men who normally agree with my beliefs and politics. These are educated, feminist men and still, I was surprised at how the conversation went.

We were talking about Weinstein, who we all agree is a monster. Then, we moved on to Spacey who I feel is a definite predator; a pedophile. The group I was speaking with did more listening and less speaking. I could feel myself losing them. Then, the Charlie Sheen third-party accusations came about. We weren’t there. We have no idea what happened because the alleged victim is dead, his mother says the accusations are false and the accused denies any of it happened. Then, a new accusation about Roman Polanski that is 50 years old came up.

This is when the men took it upon themselves to circle back to Weinstein. Then it came, “Why did these women all wait so long to come forward?” I could see doubt poking its ugly head in. I could see them taking offense to the audacity of these women. I could feel myself, the lone vagina owner having to go on the defensive and have a real talk about the female condition with them.

I assured them that I believed wholeheartedly that every single woman who says she has been assaulted and shared her #MeToo story is telling the truth. I do. Maybe it feels like women are all coming forward now and maybe they are but not because it’s popular. It’s because there is safety in numbers. There is the Internet and you can tell the world without having to be given the hairy eyeball by some man who doubts you and questions your part in all of it. What were you wearing? Were you drinking? Did you lead him on in any way?

But how do you know it’s not just for attention? Why all jump on the bandwagon now!

I could feel my head about to explode.  You see all of these seemingly educated, intelligent feminist men don’t know shit about living as a woman. But then again, how could they? I don’t know much about walking around in the world with a penis.

I explained to them that we women learn at a very early age that men have the power. It starts with our father; the head of the family. The provider and protector. And if you were raised in a macho Latino family like mine, you know early on that boys are prized above girls. Little girls are taught to be subservient to boys and boys are taught to take care of women, but they are also taught that they know what is best for girls. They don’t.

Then I explained that what they don’t understand is to women, the penis is a weapon, that can be used to hurt us. To defile us. To take from us. To humble us. To punish us. That’s why unsolicited dick pics from random men not only don’t excite us, they frighten us. It’s a threat.

I’m not saying women hate penises. In the right situation, when wanted, between two consenting adults, it can be magical and beautiful. It is the coming together of two as one, perfectly. It gives pleasure and life, literally.

The guys still look unconvinced. These women were grown adult women. They were strong enough to walk away. Especially in the case of Louis C.K. Why didn’t the women run screaming from the room? Why did they ever agree when asked?

I don’t know all the details but I think all women have been in some situation with a man where he has asked of her something so unbelievable that she is like, “Sure, whatever.” (because if she were to flee from the room at the thought of something so ridiculous she’d be labeled a hysterical woman who took everything entirely too seriously.) So, you say, “whatever” never expecting what follows next. I know if I was a fan or colleague of Louis C.K. and he asked if he could get naked and masturbate, I wouldn’t have taken him seriously. I would have thought it was a bit.

The men I was talking to still did not seem convinced. But I could see them rethinking some things so, I told them. I told them some of my truth. This was uncomfortable for me because these men included my husband and two of my brothers but if we don’t talk about it, it never changes. Even though we women have no part in our assaults, we feel shame that we were victimized. We feel like we should have known better because we are raised to not get raped, not get harassed and not get assaulted. Can’t we just teach our boys not to rape, harass and assault?

I told them of the time in college when I woke up in the middle of the night frozen in place to the horror of a guy I’d met earlier that night, a friend of a friend, on top of me kissing me and touching me while I slept. No, we had not gone to bed together. We happened to be staying with people in the same apartment. I pushed him off but I felt violated and I feel that I narrowly escaped being raped but in all honesty, I have no idea what he did before I woke up.

I saw my brothers cringe. They asked why didn’t I tell them. Well, one of them was 11 at the time and the other was 1-years-old. By 19, I had had men push themselves on me more times than I could count. The protocol was to escape the situation as unscathed as possible and be thankful things didn’t go worse.

Then, I told them about the time I was a teenager working at a department store and the loss prevention guys locked me in their soundproof office at the end of the night with the two of them. Then they proceeded to tell me how they enjoyed watching me on the cameras and laughed as they matter of factly told me that they could do whatever they wanted to me in that office and no one would ever hear me.

My husband asked why didn’t I report them. I was 18. They were who I was supposed to report these things to. One was an off-duty cop. Who was going to help me? I just had to stay clear and avoid them.

There are so many instances from little-nuanced things to full-on date rape antics that I have experienced, that most women experience, that our mothers had to survive, that our daughters will have to survive all because men don’t understand. This is not an excuse. This is a fact.

Yes, men know rape is rape but all the rest is murky for them. Between the forgiveness they are afforded because of the boys will be boys clause and the lack of respect they are taught for women and the lack of reverence for the female condition, we women have to appear as irrational, hysterical females jumping on bandwagons just to get the world to pay attention and reevaluate the whole damn system.

I’m sorry that you weren’t raised to truly understand how vulnerable it is to be a woman. I’m sorry we never realized that you didn’t know until now. But the jig is up. I’m putting it out here. MOMS and DADS the onus is on you. Starting with your newborn sons, teach them to do better and to be better to our girls.

How about this: no means no! No touching unless invited to do so and keep your creepy comments and dick pics to yourself. No shoulder massaging. No ass grabbing. No pushing your penises up against us when you’re standing behind us or rubbing it on us when the opportunity arises.No brushing your hands against our breasts. No disgusting comments about our mouths or what you’d like to do with our bodies. No drugging us. No having sex with us when we’re drinking or sleeping or incapacitated in any way that doesn’t allow us to give consent. How about treating us the way you’d like to be treated, with some dignity and respect?

Men, I am sorry that you feel like all the hysterical women of the Internet are on a witch hunt for sexual predators and you are uncomfortable and afraid that some woman from your past might accuse you of some wrongdoing but ask yourself, why are you worried? Why are you dismissive? Have you behaved questionably? Ask yourselves next time, would this be okay if it were happening to my mom, my sister, my girlfriend, my wife, or heaven forbid, your little girl? If the answer is no, then don’t do it.

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Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

How important do you think it really is to teach your kids about the history? Do you actively teach your children about their past, the past of the world so they can live accordingly or do you place your focus on the future? Eyes on the prize and all that.

I had a secondary focus on History in university so I learned early on that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. It’s the first thing they teach you and it’s true. It’s like my tween trying to school me on how cool “The Smiths” are. Girl, I was there in the beginning. I know how cool they are. You are only cool enough to understand how cool they are because I made you so.

I make sure that my children know what the world was like before they came into it because if you don’t know the struggle, it’s hard to appreciate that it no longer exists or how far we’ve come to get where we are. Otherwise, we all become complacent and stop growing in any meaningful way. In this way, I think it’s my responsibility to teach my girls.

Not all kids love history unless it is relatable to them in some way. When you are a kid, you are the center of the universe and seeing it any other way is almost impossible. This is one of the reasons I love the BeForever series at American Girl. It has helped me make history palatable for girls no matter the age.

For example, American Girl’s newest BeForever character, Nanea Mitchell, a Hawaiian girl growing up on the island of Oahu in 1941 helps me to explain WWII to my girls.

Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

Nanea’s story explores what life was like for islanders in the weeks leading up to and the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the U.S.’s entry into World War Two. In bringing this significant period in history to life for girls today, Nanea’s story illuminates how the courage, patriotism, and aloha spirit of the Hawaiian people inspired a nation at war and shows how one girl can make a meaningful difference in the face of big change.

“The BeForever line is about building a bridge of understanding, helping girls today see the interconnectedness—the feelings, experiences, hopes, and dreams—that exists between themselves and girls from long ago,” says Katy Dickson, president of American Girl.

The hope is that Nanea’s powerful story of resilience, responsibility to others, and contributing for the common good—or kokua, as it’s known in Hawaii—will resonate with girls and show them they have the power within to face the obstacles that come their way.

Written by Newbery Honor Award-winning author Kirby Larson, the Nanea series introduces readers to 9-year- old Nanea Mitchell. Nanea loves her close-knit extended family, dancing the hula, fishing with her father, and playing with her dog, Mele. Nanea is also eager to “dip her paddle in” to be useful at home and at her grandparents’ store.

When Pearl Harbor—the naval base where her father works—is attacked by Japan, the peaceful existence the Mitchells and their neighbors enjoy is replaced with martial law, and rumors of additional attacks and frequent air-raid drills have everyone on edge.

Amid the chaos and uncertainty, Nanea embraces her spirit of aloha and deeply held belief in kokua—doing good deeds and giving selflessly—to do her part for the war effort and help restore peace to her beloved Hawaiian home.

Nanea Mitchell, American Girl, WWII, Pearl Harbor

 

In addition to the stories, the Nanea collection features a beautiful 18-inch doll featuring an all-new face mold, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair, plus several 1940s-era, Hawaiian-inspired doll outfits and Nanea-inspired apparel for girls. Numerous authentic-to- the-era accessories round out the play experience, including Nanea’s Hula Outfit and Hula Implements and Nanea’s Family Market, with 90 pieces, including a wooden store with a movable counter, food, supplies, displays, and more.

To help ensure the historical accuracy and cultural authenticity of Nanea’s story and products, American Girl worked closely with a five-member advisory board who provided their expertise in Hawaiian culture, language, and history to inform all aspects of Nanea’s development—including the doll, books, outfits, and accessories.

To support Nanea’s inspiring message, from August 21 until the end of 2017, American Girl will be collecting donations for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program to help provide comfort and care to the members of the military, veterans, and their families.

American Girl will match every dollar donation made at americangirl.com or at any American Girl store in the U.S. up to a maximum total donation of $75,000. American Girl is also giving $575,000 worth of its signature 18-inch dolls to the American Red Cross to provide a bit of cheer to children in times of crisis.

Through the generosity of American Girl Dolls, I am giving away a Nanea Mitchell doll to one lucky reader to give to the little girl in her life, just in time for the holidays too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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about, the truth about motherhood, motherhood, parenting, Deborah Cruz, the truth, how to help parents get through a child's health crisis, RMHC, McDonald's, keeping families together, Ronald McDonald House Charities

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McDonald’s, all opinions of how to help parents get through a child’s health crisis are my own.

Imagine being at the beach on vacation with your family or just spending a fall afternoon on a family bike ride. If you really think about it, you can almost feel the warm contentment that comes with being safe, happy and together in those moments with the people you love. There are so many moments in life like these that we take for granted. We all do until something terrible happens and then we don’t.

Imagine then, as horrible and unthinkable as it may be, that something tragic happens to your child. In that moment, the only thing that you want to focus on is taking care of your baby and making sure they get well. The last thing that should be on your mind is figuring out how to afford it all. RMHC helps alleviate the cost of travel for care and provides support, resources and the comforts of home to families and sick children when they are away from home for medical care.

I’ve seen it happen. The complete fog that takes over when you are thrown headlong into a medical crisis. My nephew Alex was diagnosed with leukemia when he was a toddler and it flipped our entire world upside down. You can’t even imagine how irrelevant everything else in your life becomes. You become micro-focused on the sick child because that is what the heart dictates. The head is overruled and rational thought goes out the window.

It is a moment of such desperation in a family’s history that nothing else matters; even if it should. One crisis at a time. You have to hold it together for your baby. No breaking allowed.

I watched from the peripheral as my brother and his wife went through this. It was a dark time for our entire family but it was the worst moment in my brother and his wife’s life. Their baby was sick and all they could do was pray, be there for him and get the best help they could for him. It was their sole purpose for existence in those days.

Lifesaving treatment is incredibly expensive but it’s not an option. You have to do, you will do, whatever it takes to save your child’s life. The thing is the world goes on, even while yours is falling apart. Bills start coming. You start to drown in them but you can’t focus on that, you have to keep your everything focused on getting your child to the other side of this alive and nothing else matters.

In a perfect world, lifesaving treatments wouldn’t cost so much and parents wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than caring for and being there for their child. But the reality is that life doesn’t stop when our children get sick. RMHC helps families find a way to stay close to their child when they need them the most.

On top of trying to figure out how to be there physically and emotionally for your child, you have to be able to figure out childcare, accommodations, and food. Some illnesses necessitate long and repeat stays in the hospital and usually, that’s not at your local hospital. It’s usually the nearest children’s hospital that specializes in treating your child’s illness because that’s the prize; your child’s life.

But hotels, travel, childcare for other children and food all take effort and cost money. It’s hard to try to figure it all out and stay focused on your sick child. While it may seem like an insurmountable challenge to your family, the world goes on. Your child is sick and they need you and that is all that should matter. To the family of a sick child, it’s the worst, most vulnerable moment of their lives but it doesn’t have that same profound effect on the rest of the world. Thankfully, there are places like Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and McDonald’s who do understand.

RMHC helps families stay together through three core programs:

1.RMHC provides comfort, support, and resources for families with sick children just steps away from the hospital.

2. The Ronald McDonald Family Room® provides moms and dads a place to recharge mere steps away from their child’s hospital bedside. It allows them a place where they can eat, shower, rest and recharge so they can be strong for their children.

3. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® brings medical, dental and healthcare resources directly to children near their home or school.

In 2016, alone, RMHC provided 2.4 million overnight stays to families through the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs. That is an amazing gift to the families of sick children at a time when they need it the most.

McDonald’s believes that families are better together, that’s why they support RMHC. Their commitment is to keep families together when a child needs medical care and that is why from 11/7-11/19, you can donate $1, $3 or $5 at the register or at the drive-thru at your local McDonald’s to help RMHC keep families with sick children together when treatment takes them far from home.

A $1, $3 or $5 donation may not seem like much to give, less than a cup of coffee in some cases, but to an RMHC family it means the world. If you like, you can donate today at any McDonald’s. If you can’t afford to donate money but you still want to help, you can support RMHC by sharing the fundraiser with friends and family or volunteering at your local RMHC. Either way, we can all do something to help.

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Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Licefreee and #WeAllGrow Latina Network all opinions of how to easily treat a lice infestation are my own.

Ever dealt with a head lice outbreak at school? Isn’t it the worst? The first thing to come to mind is to do all the research on how to treat a lice infestation effectively because no one wants to do that more than once. That horrible letter/email that informs you that someone in the class has been found to have lice feels like punishment. If you have children of school age, you know the terror it strikes in a parent’s heart when it happens because OMG, so much work to get rid of lice.

My girls have been rocking tea tree oil covered braids since they’ve been in school. I am of the school of thought that safe is better than sorry. I try really hard to avoid the girls getting lice. I’ve thoroughly drilled it into my daughters’ heads that they should not share hats, coats or brushes so much so that once, my 5-year-old screamed at the top of her lungs at a classmate whose head had accidentally touched hers, “Get back! I don’t want your lice!!” Honestly, we were lucky she didn’t push her down and run away.

You can imagine how freaked out I was last Nutcracker season when there was a lice scare backstage. All it takes is one person to come to the production with lice and everyone is fair game. Lice do not discriminate; all they need is a warm host with hair. And it doesn’t matter how clean you are, getting lice has nothing to do with being dirty.

In a big production with a cast of over 150 people in tight quarters; there is a lot of sharing and inevitable cross-contamination. Cast members share costumes and headpieces. Jackets, scarves, and sweaters are strewn upon one another as dancers rush to do costume changes. It really is the perfect breeding ground for the spread of lice; almost as bad as your local elementary school.

I’m not going to lie, when I got the email, I went a little crazy. All I could think of was all of that long blonde hair that I was going to have to go through. All of those clean clothes stacked all over the place and stuffed animals now in need of suffocation and hot water. All.of.that.work!

Aside from the prospect of repeating all of that work, I wasn’t excited to put harsh chemicals on my daughters’ young scalps to kill bugs that might or might not even be there. The smell alone of the pesticides are enough to kill anything it came in contact with.

Of course, it had to be done. I wasn’t taking any chances that the girls had caught lice. I wasn’t that keen on power scouring my entire house again so, I womaned up and did what all mom’s do; I took care of it.

After several hours of combing through all of that long, thick, blonde hair, times two, I shampooed their little heads. I shampooed my husband and myself and I scoured every inch of my house. Mind you, we found nothing but we had just hosted a ballerina sleepover and I wasn’t willing to take any chances.

Unfortunately, I haven’t the first idea where to take my girls to get their hair checked for lice. I know there are lots of salons that offer these services but they are costly and not available in all areas. I also didn’t have the financial freedom to hire a hazmat crew to bleach my house or burn the sucker down.

While I can’t give you a quick and painless fix on how to get rid of lice, because it’s a lot of work, I’ve recently learned about Licefreee! It was created by parents, for parents. After dealing with a case of head lice with her own children, a member of the R&D team developed Licefreee, a safe alternative to traditional chemical pesticide remedies for lice that works.

There is no reason that you have to continue using traditional remedies for head lice that contain chemical pesticides such as permethrin or pyrethrum to treat head lice infestation on your children.

Affordable, over-the-counter Licefreee! brand non-toxic head lice treatments use the naturally occurring mineral, sodium chloride, to effectively kill head lice and nits. It’s easy to use so you can get back to your normal life quickly and lice free!

Licefreee, lice, how to easily treat a lice infestation, treating lice, how to treat lice

Why choose Licefreee over other brands of head lice treatments?

First and foremost, it kills head lice and nits. Secondly, and very importantly, it’s a non-toxic, homeopathic head lice treatment that’s safe and gentle enough for children 6 months and older but strong enough for adults too!
Licefreee is the non-toxic choice of school nurses and pediatricians and works on all hair types including thick, curly hair like mine. Last but not least, it is 100% Guaranteed. I don’t know about you but if I’m going to have to go through a lice scare and all of that hard work, I at least want to know that it’s guaranteed to work.

Have you ever had a lice scare? What are your best tips for dealing with a scare or just to avoid it all together?

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clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action. All opinions are, of course, my own.

It’s clear that the world has gone crazy. With the advancements in technology, you’d think it would give us more access to information to help make more informed and factual based decisions but it seems that is not the case. Technology means a penchant for instant gratification and as a side effect, rash decisions and willful denial of science for some. Case in point, global warming. It’s real and it exists.

My parents raised us in a place of high pollution with one basic concept in mind, be kind to the earth and the people of it and it will be kind to you or, at the very least, better. I do the same with my girls.

Since growing up in the Chicagoland area, a place where emission testing had to become a requirement when I was a small child because of all the pollution from local foundries and high traffic pollution it made me a more aware person. I have known for a long time that the harm we do to the planet is not without ramifications. We are expending our resources at an alarming rate. We are contributing to the massacre of our own race by refusing to contain our carbon footprint.

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

Since having children, I have become an active and vocal advocate for a better world for my children. I want a place where they can live long, healthy and happy lives. Therefore, I am 100% against government throwing up roadblocks at every turn that make it easier for our children to live in an unhealthy world. As a mom, it is my job to keep my kids healthy and if that means fighting for better laws or against bad laws to protect our children, I will.

But it goes beyond just teaching my kids to behave responsibly with their own carbon footprint. While that’s definitely a start in the right direction. I don’t have the luxury of just teaching my children to conserve electricity and water or to recycle, though we do all of those things and more.

The damage is so far gone that I have to be aggressive in my plight to protect my children from the willfully ignorant, who refuse to believe that such things as global warming even exist even though the signs are all there; even when glaciers are melting faster than ever in history, coral is bleaching and natural weather disasters are at an all-time record high.

Maybe you’re thinking, I’m a mom. I’m super busy chasing babies and driving ungrateful little people all over God’s green earth. Yes, we all are. But, I know you want to do something. You don’t want to just sit around and wait for the planet to disappear before your very eyes. I can’t live with the thought that maybe my great grandkids don’t get to live on this earth. I have a responsibility to do something while I’m here. I want to leave a positive legacy for my children.

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

We rely on our government to ensure so much is safe: The food we eat. The air we breathe. The toys our children play with—and so much more. But right now, legislation is moving through Congress that guts the crucial federal safety protections we rely on to ensure that what surrounds us isn’t putting us in danger or making us sick leaving us and our children vulnerable.

Two pieces of legislation, in particular, the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act—are direct and radical threats to public health that have broad, overreaching consequences. They will render agencies incapable of implementing and enforcing commonsense safety laws that have broad public support taking away the little safety net we have in place.

The REINS Act would require Congressional approval of rules, effectively giving either branch of Congress or powerful lobbying groups, a “pocket veto” on safeguards. Meaning the person with the most power makes all the rules. It may not necessarily have anything to do with what’s right, fair or best for our planet or our children.

The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would create hurdles to rulemaking similar to the one that kept America from banning asbestos. These dangerous bills have either already passed the House (RAA) or were placed on Senate Legislative Calendar in just recent weeks (REINS).

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

Why You Should Care

It’s not political, it’s a matter of safety – these “reforms” will have a broad impact in hampering regulations in a number of areas, all of which pose a danger to our families. For example:

Halloween: Do you know what kind of toxins and chemicals are lurking in Halloween makeup and costumes? Do you know what’s in your kid’s candy?  Is it scary to think that any safety regulations that currently exist may be gone?

Food safety: The RAA would make it difficult or impossible to enforce standards and keep the food in our kids’ lunch boxes safe. Efforts that have been put into place to label for allergens, reduce sodium, eliminate trans fats, remove arsenic and lead from baby food/juice, label GMOs, etc. are all on the chopping block.

Product safety: These bills would undermine product safety for nearly every item our children interact with by stalling or killing future protections

School safety: From asbestos in classrooms to lead in drinking water and even the safety of the school buses, the RAA and REINs Act would make it harder to keep our kids safe in school. Protections to safeguard our children from toxic chemicals would be difficult if impossible to implement under these bills.

Asbestos: “Asbestos, an issue that many of us thought to be resolved, continues to plague schools and pose a health threat in classrooms throughout the country.” If the school was built before 1980, it likely contains some. Do you know if your school has it? https://www.momscleanairforce.org/asbestos-schools/ 

Dirty air and water: The rise of asthma and other respiratory diseases are drastically increased by air pollution. These bills would make it harder to keep our air and water clean.

Asthma: One in 10 US children has asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Have air pollutants triggered an asthma attack for you or your child?

In fact, everyone in my family has seasonal allergies so it made me start to wonder if maybe something inside the house is off. Maybe they’re not seasonal, maybe there is something in our home making us all sick too.

Did you know that indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander and molds are actually a cause for concern because not only do they affect allergy and asthma symptoms, they are present all year long in your own home and they only get worse when we are stuck indoors during the winter months?

With this in mind, anyone that’s allergy prone should be monitoring their indoor air quality year-round to make sure they can breathe easier. We’ve started using the Awair Air Quality Monitor. It’s the perfect solution, it allows us to keep track of dust, VOC levels and other toxins and chemicals in the air via the companion app, enabling us to make changes to our air quality and reduce indoor allergens. Think of it as a Fitbit for your air quality. It’s a small thing but it helps me to help my family in our own home.

Car safety: Would you know what to do if locked in the trunk of a car? Thanks to one survivor there is a glow in the dark safety pull inside trunks now, but this lifesaving consumer protection is now in jeopardy.

Toy/product safety: What would it mean if there were no protections in place making the toys, products like pacifiers and sippy cups, or furniture you buy for your family safe?

All of these things and more could be at risk of no longer being required and that would put our children in serious danger.

How We Can Stop It

Here’s how you and me and you (and you too, over there acting all shy in the corner) can make a difference. Mobilize to take action against the RAA & REINS Act by emailing your members of Congress via the click-to-email tool on cleanairmomsaction.org . That’s it. It takes a few minutes, even a busy mom can spare that for something so important.

For more information on how you can help protect your children, you can visit the Clean Air Moms website, Facebook page, Twitter page,  Instagram and YouTube page.

*The Awair Air Quality Monitor is not being recommended by CAMA it’s just a product I love.

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the problem with little boys, misogynist, Harvey Weinstein, George Bush, little boys, rape culture

The problem with little boys is that society grooms them to grow up to be misogynistic men or rather we don’t do anything to prevent it from happening. We’re so busy teaching girls to protect themselves while living in a rape culture world that we totally (for the most part…not everybody…not you) take it for granted that boys will just know to respect girls, wait for consent and be decent. Not tell dirty jokes, grab women or use their power and leverage to, literally and figuratively, have their way with women.

Can you believe that I heard the radio DJ this morning saying, “He’s old. It was probably harmless. He comes from a different generation.”

WTF? NOPE! Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, no exceptions. Why do we always err on the side of men when they do something stupid? Why do we always choose to believe that they didn’t mean it?

The problems with little boys might just be us…wait, I did it again.#ViciousCycle

The thing is we’ve hit that strange period in parenting where boys are noticing my girls. Wait! What? Yes, apparently, my girl had her first boy “ask her out”. I know this because I heard it as she mentioned it matter a factly when she told me what she had for lunch that day.

Wait! I gotta get the baby book. Right? I mean, this is a milestone. It’s not a tooth or a first word but I think it’s a pretty important first. It was last Thursday (10/19/17)…that was for me, not you (baby book b*tches). Tawanda!

Suddenly, I find myself approaching the conversation like she is a puppy off its leash and if I speak too loudly she might run off into oncoming traffic and SQUISH! But I want to know more. I want to know everything but she can’t know I want to know everything or…you got it…SQUISH!

It takes me 3 random, nonchalant conversations to figure out what “asked me out” means to a 12-year-old these days. Turns out, it’s what we used to call flirting. Remember “Notes”? Basically, if a 12-year-old boy asks a 12-year-old girl “out” he’s letting her know officially that he likes her and maybe he wants to text her or communicate via a barrage of Music.ly messages. It’s a tween boy letting you know he’s interested and wants to get to know you better for one reason or another. But we are not quite there yet.

I ask my daughter what she said when he “asked her out”. Her exact response was, *Laugh in shock as if he just asked her if she still wore diapers (that’s my impression of what she showed me) and then she said, “Uh…NO!” Pretty much as if he asked her if she’d like to share a shit sandwich for lunch.

Now, I’ve always taught my girls to not be cruel to other children. I’ve even asked the girls to please not be mean to boys who like them. Let them down easy. Say things like, “Thank you but no” or, “I’m flattered but I’m not interested in you in that way.”

WAIT! What the fuck did I just say? Worst f*cking feminist ever*

Holy shit! I’m part of the problem with little boys!

Why do I give a flying flip about some boy’s feelings? Boys who don’t learn what consent is and think raping girls who are drunk or ruffie-ing co-eds is okay. I don’t.

I don’t care about their fragile egos. Not one bit. Because believe you me, if it’s between some strange boy’s feeling and my daughter’s safety…I don’t give a damn about your son.

See, I thought I was doing something good. I was thinking of all little boys and men as the Big Guy but they’re not. The thought of some mean girl laughing in the Big Guy’s face when he was going through his 12-inch growth spurts and looking like some kind of praying mantis creature in his tweens broke my heart. But I’m not his mama. I am my daughters’ mom in a world that treats women like they are disposable. There are a lot of creepers and misogynists out there and I don’t care about them or their imaginary right to every woman’s body.

I’ve spent the last few years consciously uncoupling with the word “SORRY”. My parents raised kind, thoughtful, well-mannered children. We were taught to say Please, Thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry.

F*ck “I’m sorry.” Sorry is appropriate when someone dies. Sorry is appropriate when you make a mistake and want forgiveness. Sorry is not for when you have to ask someone to pay you what they owe you (money and respect) or when you aren’t interested in someone in “that way.”  That causes confusion and leaves them with a glimmer of hope. Nope, sorry about your feelings boy I don’t know but I want my daughter to be strong, solid and uncompromising in her NO to you. I don’t want her to be unnecessarily cruel but NO is not cruel, it is honest and no is no! SQUISH!

I really thought that if I taught my girls to be kind with their rejections, it would save some other mom’s daughter from getting the guy who had his heart broken and his ego smashed. We’ve all dated the guy who dated some crazy broad before us and it’s not fun but it’s not my daughter’s responsibility to protect your son from ever feeling bad about himself. Make better choices. She’s not the world boy feelings police and neither am I.

So while boys are on the approaching horizon sooner than later, politeness needs to be thrown out the window. I want my girls to say, “NO” loud and proud like they mean it. I want it to ring out and register like a rape whistle. Maybe that way, these little boys will get the meaning that no means no, in no uncertain terms.

Polite, demureness will get you raped and killed in a world where boys are taught that consent is a moving target. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no, boys.

See the real problem is not little boys at all but the misogynistic men they are allowed to grow into in a world where men are king and women are expendable collateral damage.

Let’ start by teaching our little boys to respect our little girls and then go from there. The opportunity for change is now, as grown women we can fight back against the oppression that we have lived in. We can name our assailants and call them out for their crimes. I encourage it. Every damn transgression, if you can. If you want to.

But more importantly, let’s try to stop that from being our daughter’s reality. Maybe she won’t have to fight for her right to exist as a woman, a real live human being who deserves equality and respect and is more than the sum total of her female parts.

 

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Me Too, Women's Rights, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Me too

As I raise my hand to claim “me too”,  I’m faced with a society asking who is to blame for the Weinstein situation? Obviously, Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit and is to blame for his own actions but what about the society we live in that feels it’s okay to objectify little girls and rape women with no ramifications? How do we expect our girls to be safe when we let our boys get away with sexual harassment simply because someone in history said “boys will be boys” and that means girls need to live on the defensive while boys just get to live. When do women get to be people too?  Are you angry and done with this attitude?

Me too!

Last night, there was a call for women to set their statuses to #MeToo if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t set her status to Me Too! It made me sad. It made me mad and it made me feel not alone but utterly shattered that I am not the minority because what does that mean for my girls? Who is protecting our girls?

Sexual harassment is a disease and we apparently all have it. It’s like the moment you were born with a vagina, you were assured that you were going to be assaulted. Thankfully, they don’t tell you that or many of us would have looked for a way out a long time ago or our mothers would have mercifully drowned us at birth.

We live in a society that grooms women to be victims. We don’t intentionally let these horrific things happen to us. Women live a society that has completely failed us. We are taught that creepy guys are just misunderstood but harmless. We give them the benefit of the doubt because it was only a dick pic, it wasn’t his actual dick in my face. But wasn’t it? Weren’t you just as violated? The only thing missing was the imminent fear that his dick would be in y our body.

We live in a world where we are taught from a very young age to live on the defensive. It’s our job not to get raped or be abused by a sexual predator. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves hidden away and safe from men and their “natural” urges. We are taught to walk a little faster, cover up, not enjoy sex and steer clear of any situation that might put us in danger which boils down to our sheer existence.

It’s not all men though. My husband was appalled when I talked to him about this situation. But he also has no understanding of what it is like to be a woman. How lucky he is. How nice it is to be able to live a life where you can walk down the streets and never worry about someone attacking you from behind, pulling you behind the bushes and raping you.

What a utopia it must be to live in a world where no one will ever corner you in a room and threaten to have his way with you. No one will ever break into your apartment while you sleep and take what is not his.

The first time I can remember being assaulted, I was 4-years-old, a little boy in my kindergarten class wanted to steal a kiss under the parachute during gym class. It may sound innocent and sweet but I didn’t want it. He took what was mine without asking. I cried. I was mad. I told on him. The gym teacher laughed, “Awww, Debbie he likes you. Boys will be boys.” Nothing was said to him. The onus fell on me. That was it. It was my problem. Get over it. That began a lifetime of knowing that the responsibility fell on me to protect myself and if something bad happened to me, then I must not have done a good enough job.

A few of my Me Too Moments

When I was 7-years-old, a teenaged boy (a family friend) repeatedly groped me at a family party and told me if I ever told anyone they would blame me for being such a “slut”.

In 4th grade, Andre pushed himself against me and kissed me hard, just as everyone was walking into the classroom after recess. Everyone saw, so not only did he take what he wasn’t given permission to take, he embarrassed me in front of the entire class. The teacher and all the students laughed. What could I do?

In 6th school, my art teacher used to come over when I was working on a project and take his hand and massage my neck while telling me how “spectacular” my artwork was. He was a grown man and his hands always found their way to my breast buds. I pulled forward to escape his grip, he grabbed me harder. This was done almost every art class for 3 years.

In 7th grade, walking home through a field, a high school boy exposed himself to my friend and I. We were in shock. We were terrified. He thought it was hilarious. I never wanted to walk home again.

When I was 18, working at a retail chain and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

Once, I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible because earlier that night I had smiled when he sang a song to me. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Or the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (and I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

Or the time I broke up with a boyfriend, I hadn’t had sex with because I was still a virgin. He had spent the entire time we were dating dry humping me, slowly trying to expose himself. I felt like he was a child that I had to keep telling no. He was much bigger than me. I always felt threatened. He saw me out after we broke up and said he wanted to talk to me in private and apologize for being a jerk when we broke up. I was naïve, I went to his car with him. He exposed himself to me and said, “Try it. You’ll like it.” If I wouldn’t have pulled my knee up and hit him in the groin, he would have raped me and he thought he was doing me a favor. As I got out of the car and ran, he screamed after me, “Slut! Cock tease!”

I am sad angry and even in recounting these events (and there are so many more and so many worse that I can’t bring myself to share with you yet) I feel helpless, ashamed and on the verge of having a full out sob fest, right here in fucking Starbucks and that makes me unbelievably mad.

I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men hall passes for rape, attempted rape, pressing up against women on the train, grabbing their breasts in a club, forcing themselves in so many ways big and small and society acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another but I can’t because I’d probably go on forever.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime. It’s the reality of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my daughters to feel this shame and vulnerability or fear of living in a world where women are treated like inanimate holes put on this earth solely for men’s pleasure. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster.

That’s what society does, it makes men feel like they are entitled to everything and makes women feel like they are of no more value than garbage. I stand with all other women, in saying ME TOO! Over and over again. I knew it was wrong. I said no. I told people but still, the assailant prevailed because he had a penis and I was only armed with a vagina. In society, that makes me the one at fault.

Well, now I’m saying NO MORE! Every woman should say no more. No more fucking excuses. No more touching without asking. No more boys will be boys. No more taking what’s not yours.  And no more looking the other way. If you see something, say something. We have to protect one another because if we don’t we all fall victim. It’s happened to all of us. Do we want it to happen to our daughters?

Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Let’s teach that instead of Boys will be boys.

What was your Me Too moment?

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