Tag Archives: woman

The Fear of What Comes Next

18 Aug

Recently, there was a Times article entitled ‘Having It All Without Having Children.’ I haven’t read the entire piece, but my impression is that it generally discusses views on having children and why that is or is not a good idea for various couples and how attitudes are changing about the “selfishness” of child-free couples.

Now, since I haven’t actually read the entire article I can’t guarantee this, but I got the feeling that it probably didn’t cover a few of the reasons that women I’ve known have had for being hesitant to have children. Reasons that will cause most people to just shut their mouths and nod.

But I also thought of the women I’ve known who could have had those same reasons and went ahead and had children anyway. And honestly, I think those women are incredibly brave. To decide to take the risk and have another kid after a couple already has one child born with autism or blindness or leukemia… To decide to try again, and again and again and again, after the trauma of miscarrying… To decide to invest a piece of what made your soul and your biology in another person when you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder or bulimia… I’m not sure I could make those decisions.

And so this is a poem for all those women who have stared in the face of the fear of what comes next, and had a child anyway. And this is a poem, too, for all those who have known that fear and quietly, determinedly said no, I will not.

empty swing

The Fear of What Comes Next

You look at me and wonder –
what if it would turn out just like you?
You think about the nights you have lost,
rocking me in a cradle, colicky and cold
beyond any warmth the touch of your fingers would give.
You think about the moments upon moments of delusion,
when you hoped that this was just a phase,
and the little face looking back at you would smile some day,
and call you mama.
You wonder if the next one, like me, would never, not once,
be able to say that word.
You decided you will not give nature and chance
any more cruel opportunity.

You look at me and wonder –
what if it would turn out just like you?
You think about the nights you have lost,
staring bleary-eyed at that reflection in the mirror,
across the sink, over the pill bottles your shaky hand fingers.
You think about the moments upon moments of delusion,
when you hoped that this was just a phase,
and the nakedness looking back at you would smile some day,
and call you unbroken.
You wonder if the next one, like me, would never, not once,
be able to say that word.
You decided you will not give nature and chance
any more cruel opportunity.

And so they turn away from him, with that damn hopeful look in his eyes,
and say it’s late. Perhaps in the morning.

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Why This Is Still Not Okay

9 Aug

I’ve gotten on my soap box about eating disorders and beauty and feminism and whatnot before. I’ve ranted about today’s standard of skinny, raged about how for women, apparently beauty is now inversely correlated with the number of inches in your waistline. That spiel is nothing new.

Then today I found this:

Or more completely, I found a whole website: http://www.functionalps.com/blog/2013/04/20/women-vintage-weight-gain-ads/

Now, my split-second reaction to this was to think “Wow, I thought we were supposed to have progressed since the 50’s. If only we could go back to the good ol’ days when a women’s body was actually appreciated!”

Then my brain kicked in.

Screeeeeech! Hang on a second. Let’s back up here. This advertising scheme – it’s not really any different from the infestation of diet commercials and “slimming secret” ads that we’re bombarded with nowadays. Sure, the ads may be touting a body form that’s closer to average, but the message behind these weight-gain ads is exactly the same as today’s weight-loss ones.

“Don’t look like this? Then you are not good enough. You are less desirable. If you use this product then it will fix you.”

Hell, these weight-gain ads are even more aggressive in their body-shaming than most of today’s propaganda. Take the ad I pictured above. Let’s tease out some of its messages:

1. If you are skinny, then you have no sex appeal.

2. Apparently it’s okay to use two stereotypically-bodied males demeaning a female passerby as a marketing technique. And according to the ad, it’s the woman’s fault for being “too skinny,” not the males’ faults for being a couple of assholes who talk out of their dicks and reverse cat-call at women who haven’t asked for their opinion.

3. Woman-to-woman support comes in the form of woman A telling woman B how to “fix” herself in order to conform better to society’s body ideal, rather than reaffirming woman B’s intrinsic worthy and beauty or – better yet – going out and punching our two assholes for treating a woman as nothing more than a sex object.

Ugh. And those are just the top three things I noticed right away.

And while that particular advertisements features a couple of empty-headed Romeos in its cast, guys weren’t safe from this pounds-equal-pleasure campaign either:

Poor guys. Seems they’ve had to deal with the biggerbetterstronger deluge for even longer than a lot of us realized. More brawn! More biceps! More abs!

Are you hitting your head against the desk yet? I have the urge to do so. Repeatedly.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that all these advertisements happen within a heterosexual paradigm. The ads are all about making women desirable to men and men desirable to women. Forget any of the other flavors of sexual attraction. I mean, I guess this was the 50’s after all. I’m not sure their dictionaries even included the word “lesbian” yet.

So, some of you may now be shaking your heads at me in bemusement wondering, “between thin-shaming and fat-shaming, is there any way to win with you? What do you want us to look like then?”

But that’s the point. I don’t want you or them or her to look like anything in particular. Nobody need give a damn about what my ascetic preferences are, and I frankly am the only one whose opinion of how I look matters. Well, I might give my boyfriend’s opinion some sway, but that’s a freely given concession, and in the end, I am the one who has the final say.

Between thin-shaming and fat-shaming… can we just cut out the shame? Can we stop with product-pushing that tells us that no matter what we look like, our bodies are not good enough? No matter what we do, there will always be another pound to lose or pound to gain, another wrinkle to smooth, another lash to make luscious, another patch of cellulite to laser away. No matter how close to “good” you are, there will always be something more.

Because guess what? Our bodies weren’t fucking supposed to look like they got mind-jizzed out of photoshop! Wrinkles and cellulite and fatterness and skinnierness have always been there! Nature or God or whomever you assign creative power apparently didn’t think it was a problem. Seeing how, you know, through years of evolution and biological selection and wraths of God it’s all still here.

Society, usually the patriarchal sector, was the one that decided all these things were apparently a “problem.”

Yeah. Turns out that’s all bullshit. They’re not.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate beauty. But molding our economy around a sales line of pandemic insufficiency is NOT in any way a celebration of beauty. Prettiness and handsomeness and sexiness and ugliness are subjective. They change with the decade and with the person. If you see something you like in someone – and this goes beyond their assets at the dermal layer – then please, go ahead and tell them. But make sure you are praising someone for what is there, instead of criticizing them for what is not.

The Unseen Strength of Women

14 Feb

unseen strength of woman

The unseen strength of woman,

A child on her hips and a husband on her mind,

With dinner to cook

And a PTA meeting to organize,

It doesn’t even cross her mind,

Those words, “thank you.”

 

The unseen strength of woman,

Five-inch-heels so sharp

They should really be called a spike,

Matching step for step

The confident stride of

The tailored pant legs around her.

Stumbling is not an option.

 

The unseen strength of woman,

Bearing the slow insult

Of one gray hair,

Knowing that soon she’ll have to add

Dye to the collection

Of tint and color and paint,

Because the men stop paying

Once youth checks out.

 

The unseen strength of woman,

With an eye for cloth swaths

And a penchant for fabric

And hands that know another language

Stitched silently across the hem line.

The unspoken sacrifice.

 

The unseen strength of woman,

Buried beneath a waistline of toil

Or the perfection scraped by

In a perfectly plucked eyebrow;

They pass each other in the street and

One nods to the other,

And both vow

Never to betray the other –

Weary.

Suits

5 Jan

sexy business woman

Okay, every woman deserves at least one feminist diatribe.

And I’ve got some ranting to do. You see, I was just contacted about doing my first book signing (I know, major score, right? Right.), and I realized – oh heart be not faint – I have nothing to wear.

Now, this state of wardrobe paucity is the natural product of having been in treatment for the past three months. Style around treatment centers comes in the form of old t-shirts and baggy pants. Great if you’re spending the day talking about your feelings, but not so great if you’re planning to meet up with the director of a bookstore. It’s just a tad too unprofessional to really meet the guidelines of “business casual.”

So, having been indoctrinated in the way of the female, my head’s first solution to this problem was to immediately think “Target shopping trip!” Then, thinking it over some more, I realized that I have this nice, reasonably trendy black flowy skirt that I could pair with some starchy blouse or other.

Then, oddly enough, my head objected. “Skirts aren’t high-powered enough for a business meeting,” it frowned. “Suits are more likely to get the job done.”

Bring on the 180. Immediately, my mind flipped around and started demanding, “well why the Sam Hill are skirts not high-powered enough? Why do I have to wear more masculine-style clothes to be perceived as a competent woman? So what if I like being a little flirty in my business dress?”

It made me think, really, about how much women and their clothing are still given a perception rating out in the world. Skirt? Sorry, too soft, no job for you. Pants and a suit jacket? Welcome aboard.

Hmm. The feminist in me is disgruntled.

Because we’re still assigning messages about what clothes “mean” to the women who wear them. And excuse me, but I’d rather my impression not be reduced down to a belt and handbag. I’d prefer to be sized up according to how proudly I carry myself, how well I deliver my words, how firmly I shake your hand. Please, do not strip my capability down to a piece of fabric.