Thursday, December 17, 2015

When the Dog Bites in the Form of Your Coffee Pot

Sometimes you have one of those mornings you know? The kind of mornings where you think you should just go back to bed.

Today I made coffee and somehow forgot to put our filter in it. You can only imagine the type of explosive coffee that was happening. Coffee grounds everywhere. Thick, mirky coffee slipping into all our drawers underneath the coffee pot. It ran into my pen and notepad/sticky note drawer. (which as you know, I ADORE my sticky notes) and then it ran into our kitchen towel drawer and then down into our tubberware drawer.

About this time, Scott offered to make the second round of coffee. As it's the last week of school for my clients I'm trying to be all pro-active by being on time and getting out of bed. (all very difficult things). The second round of coffee ended up looking like dirt water. Somehow Scott forgot to put the water distributor in the coffee maker.

I decided not to go too deep down the "shame rabbit hole" and just chalk it up to:

I clearly can't make coffee before I've had coffee.


I merrily skipped off to Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. After my sob story the barista said the coffee was on her. It made my day. It's crazy how one act of kindess can literally turn your mess of a morning around.

Once I finally arrived at my school, I remembered fondly how my office is a freezing ice box because only the air conditioning works. Since we've had lows of 39 I have really felt this chill as I sit in my office in my coat trying to cut out Christmas trees with scissors and numb fingers. My poor clients have been so cold!

So today I decided to see if I could at least do paperwork in the library at least for the morning till the chill wears off. I introduced myself to the librarian and she was so warm and kind. (and dare I say, almost happy to have me?!) She had Christmas music on and offered me bottled water and orange juice almost like I was at a cafe. I can't imagine a better place to do paperwork. Elementary school libraries are the CUTEST. There's a stuffed Dr. Seuss hanging out, Christmas books on every table, a stuffed Clifford Dog and tiny little chairs and a large blue and red mat on the floor.

It's made me think about The Sound of Music and thinking about my favorite things... when the bee stings, when the dog bites, when I'm feeling bad....I'll simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad!

Today my favorites things include, hot coffee, children's books, kind people, and the heater.

What are your favorite things? What helps you when "the dog bites"?

Friday, December 11, 2015

What Feminism Looks Like To Me

Advocating for women’s right politically, socially and economically is feminism to me. ALL WOMEN. A feminist scholoar named Bell Hooks  writes that it is “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” and I thought that was a pretty good way to describe it. 
In the Middle East and Africa women are treated without dignity and without respect. About 27.2 million women are genitally mutilated in Egypt.
The world needs more feminists.
According to Dressember, the average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12-14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who are sexually abused as children. Many of these girls are orphans and forster care runaways whom no one is looking for.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's 2011 report, 83% of victims confirmed in sex-trafficking incidents in the United States where identified as U.S. citizens.
The U.S. needs more feminists.
One in five college students experience sexual assault during their college careers.
The schools need more feminists.
Eating disorders are a daily struggle for 10 million females in the United States.
Our bodies need more feminists
In Debbi Pearl’s popular book, Created To Be His Helpmeet, Pearl advocates a system in which godly wives live in complete subordinates to their husbands, with no “equal rights.” She went so far as to encourage a young mother whose husband routinely beat her and threaten to kill her with a kitchen knife to stop ‘blabbering about his sins’ and win him back by showing him more respect. (Rachel Held Evans)

Those who claim Christianity clearly need more feminists.

There are STILL churches who don't let women speak or teach men.

The church needs more feminists.
Conclusion: We all need more feminism in our lives.
Now that you can clearly see there IS A HUGE NEED FOR FEMINISTS I would like to share what feminism is to me and what it is not. I would also like to note that I realize there are many different kinds and variations of feminism. I am not here to argue but would like to share what feminism means to me. I’m still working it all out and I certainly don’t have it all figured out.

I would also like to note and admit that my context, privilege, and affiliations does affect my view on feminism. I still have blind spots.

Pursuing gender equality 
Gender equality to me is equal pay for equal work. It's being able to vote and speak our voice politically, socially and culturally. Women’s suffrage was a great accomplishment in 1920 but we still seem to be dragging behind on some concepts. We might teach girls in the classrom that they are smart and capable and brave. But at home, we role model that they are not as intellectual or physcially competent as boys. We continue to foster dumb sterotypes that women are poor drives, women are bad at managing money, and women have to use their bodies to be accepted. We continue to use phrases about girls as insults:
 You hit like a girl. 
Don’t be a little girl
You run like a girl. 
Scream like a girl
Culturally we don’t pay as much attention to women’s sports as men’s sports (for example, the United States Women’s National Team for Soccer won the world cup but culturally we paid far more attention to the Men's team and they did not even make it to the quarter-finals).
Seeing women as humans with inherent dignity and worth
I really REALLY am sick of women being over-sexualized. It's ridiculdous you know. Our bodies have the ablity to nourish and to nurture, to think and to feel. We can memorize facts and crunch numbers and run marathons. We have 90-100 billion neurons and 650 skeletol muscles in our bodies, yet as a culture we have focused whether or not women are sexy or not. Our sexuality has been based off of some very narrow concepts as well just as the size of our butts, boobs and waiste to mention a few. We are judged for how we look and not how we think, what we do, or how we feel. It's getting old. Women have inherent dignity and value because we are human. This is feminism. This has also caused me to look at the ways women have sexualized men (while it is not as extreme or as frequent) can still be detrimental. We are SO much more than our sex appeal. 
Gender equality in my marriage
 In my marriage to Scott we both lead and follow. We don’t have set gender roles. We do things out of competence and preference. Some of these fall under stereotypes for genders and some do not. For example, Scott does most of the cooking because I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it. Scott finds a creative outlet in cooking. When women ask me about recipes, I always feel a bit sheepish as I refer them to Scott because I really don’t have an answer to their question. On the other hand, I really enjoy decorating our home and this is probably considered a more stereotypical feminine thing. But I’m not going to not decorate simply because of rigid gender roles. I like it and I’m good at it.

No longer shopping at Victoria Secret
This is a very personal one to me and by no means would I try to impose this conviction on someone else. For years I shopped here because, yes, their bras are amazing and comfy.  And their dressing rooms are glamorous and posh. BUT, about a year ago I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth is. I can’t support an organization that so clearly demeans, exploits and degrades women not to mention how many lawsuits they have had revolving around breaking labor laws. About a year ago I started working at a treatment center for adolescents dealing with severe eating disorders where I saw how much the media and modeling industry has impacted young girls and women. It only took a little bit of research to find that models (and Victoria Secret models in particular) were passing out on stage due to malnutrition and starvation. If anyone actually thinks this is sexy, then they need to get their head out of their ass. Obviously there are MANY clothing stores that unfortunately are not very inclusive. Victoria Secret is just one of them and they are very loud about it. Their images have shown us over and over again how you need to be tall, thin, young, have a certain color hair or skin tone in order to be truly sexy. This is also called racism, sexism, and ageism. A few years ago I about died seeing a 13 year old girl in the store being exposed to such degrading images as she hustled for all the lingerie lining the store. We can blab on and on about “all sizes and all colors” but if that’s not what we’re selling, I don’t buy it. (Literally).
Dismantling toxic patriarchies
A family, a church, or an organization that runs like a patriarchial monarchy where the male is king and what he says goes, is toxic. A church that has only male pastors is harmful to both men and women alike. We need each other. In the same way, a marriage where the male is in charge and calls all the shots is also toxic. We belong to each other, not in a competitive, whose in charge, I'll lead and you follow, way, but a we're in this together, way. Patriarchy does not empower women to be who they are. Toxic masculinity hurts men too as it comes from a socially constructed attitude that tells them to be agressive, be sex obsessed and yet emotionally constipated. This isn't good for anyone. The other day, a Christian pastor on a podcast I was listening to said to his female co-host, "women cry for the strangest reasons!" Right there I wanted to barf at his sexist remark. Males cry. Females cry. We all have feelings. These should be respected, not made into a sexist joke. 

Freeing the nipple
I agree with them on empowering women and gender equality. They are trying to work towards ending the sexualization of the female's upper half.   However I can't get behind "decriminalizing female nudity". I think in a different time in history, in a different place, with a different culture perhaps nudity would not be such a stigma but we live here in the present. Today if you run around naked you are now a registered sex offended. There are a host of other things I want to "free" besides my own nipple. That being said, I have not seen the film, so my views are subject to could change.
Telling Scott to breastfeed our children
Someday I really hope that there is better birth control options for men. I think men and women both need to take responisblity for procreation. I want involved dads and involved moms. I think stay-at-home dads are awesome and I think we need to work towards having better maternity and paternity leave for parents. HOWEVER, I do not expect Scott to breastfeed our children. While this might be physically impossible I also don't have a strong innate desire for him to do so. I'm more about him changing diapers. That's a higher priority for me. 
Man Hating and Not letting Men Open Doors for Me
I really don't hate men AT ALL. In fact, I like them and so I married one. I went to small, private Christian college where a couple people coined me as a "femi-nazi" because of my desire to have a career and not cook all day in the kitchen. This was a pretty extreme label to be given for just wanting some equality. One of the first feminists I ever met was a professor at my school and he got a lot of flack for it. He was not the "picture" you get of a feminist, being he was a white male in his 60's. He taught my Intercultural Studies class and my Human Sexuality Class and he had traveled all over the world and was passionate about advocating for social justice. He was gentle and quiet and ordered flavored frapachinos and at my college, (which was considered a "girly drink") and people would make fun of him. This was a great way for him to discuss the affects of sexism on our culture and I just loved him for it. 
Feminism gets a littel fuzzy when you start talking about chivalry and opening car doors and such. I like when men open doors for me. I liked when Scott paid for our first date and picked me up at my house in his car. This might be considered "traditional" but I LIKED it. That's the thing about equality, it takes into consideration preferences. However, I have evolved over the years as far as my dating concept goes. I used to think I would ONLY let a guy ask me out, pursue me and call me first. Now however I have found value in reciprical pursual. I was the one to give Scott my number in our relationship and I made it pretty obvious I was into him. I am not so naieve as to believe that men are fine doing all the pursuing. Men also have a desire to be wanted, to belong, to feel pursued. It's human nature. However, as women have, unfortunately, been treated as lesser, demeaned and objectified simply because of their gender, I am okay with a little extra respect being shown (aka doors being held open, walking me to my car at night, paying for dinner etc.).
Never going to the spa, wearing pink or getting a pedicure.
I am 90% girly in the stereo-typical way. I love manicures and pedicures. I adore eating chocolate and watching a cheesy Hallmark movie. I want my massages and bright pink nailpolish and my masscrea. I wear make-up and do my hair. I like to take bubble baths with lavender. I played with Barbies growing up. I like everything to be asthetically pleasing. I also wear every day this month actually. Just because I am a feminist DOES NOT mean I have to shave my head, become a football loving fan, love war movies and become a gym rat. But I can if I want to. I don't have to become like a stereo-typical male or stereo-typical female. I can be me. I can be Heather. And Heather likes her nail polish. A LOT. 
Thinking I’m superior.
For me, being a feminist does not mean I think I'm better than men and that one day I hope that women will rule the world. I hope we can all get over the whole "ruling the world" thing and start working together to get shit done. Cause there's a lot that needs to be done! I don't think I'm superior or more valuable or worthy. I think both genders of all sizes, colors and orientations are valulable. 
Taking off your clothes on screen.
I’m sorry and I don’t want to be offensive but this just isn’t feminism. This is getting naked. There is a difference. Sometimes getting naked on screen doesn't have negative consequences. But sometimes taking your clothes off on screen leads to supporting the pornography industry and that is the complete opposite of feminism to me. And the pornography industry has shown to be linked to violence against women which supports the sex trafficking industry. We have to think about people over pixels. We don't need to watch anyone get naked on screen to value all bodies. My body is worthy and valuable and important. But it’s also mine and not for everyone in the world to see.
So this is what feminism looks like to me as I see it today. I really want to advocate for equality between the genders without having to take my clothes off. Please feel free to comment. This is a conversation I definately want to have and I have so much to learn in this area still. What does feminism look like to you? 
And if you feel so inclined please suport me and my gals as we advocate for human rights this December. #dressember


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tis the season for Dressember!

Every year as the holidays approach I try to figure out how I can create more space and time because invariably time is very limited. There are gift exchanges, work Christmas parties, Christmas concerts, Christmas lists and a million other very FUN activities I really want to do. Personally I feel like even if I started scheduling and planning for Christmas in the summer I still wouldn’t be able to get it all done. Yesterday I found myself so stressed over the freaking Christmas picture! I don’t want to edit it or try to pick through a million different kinds of Christmas cards. I just want it done. I want my letters stamped and addressed already. Tis the season to be jolly and I am apparently already a grump.
My whole over-achiever self has made the holidays very exciting but not quite so calm. All is calm and bright isn’t exactly something that happens to real life people like me. So in order to figure out a way to create a little more space I decided to do the impossible: 
Be done with Christmas shopping by December 1st. (not including Scotty #bestilllast)
I love Christmas shopping. I love how the malls bustle with anticipation. I love hot chocolate and the massive Christmas tree up in the center of it all, with Santa’s house a few feet away. But let’s be real, San Diego starts to get a little crazy around ANY MALL come November so I decided in order to reduce stress I would get all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st. Scott and I achieved my glorious goal this week and we officially have my family and his family all taken care of. That would be approxiamtely 17 people. So this December I’m spending my “extra” time by hopefully BEING calm and somewhat bright by advocating for #dressember. Basically I am wearing a dress every day in December to help raise money for women who have been exploited for their femininity. The money goes towards A21 and International Justice Mission that works to end trafficking and slavery globally. They are both amazing organizations and I am so excited to be part of. I am joining up with an amazing team of gals who are all so passionate about justice and pursing the inherent dignity of females. Our funding page is here is you are interested in our progress or want to support us.
This month I’m hoping to have conversations about justices and equality and what does it really mean to me to be a feminist. I want to talk about Christmas and Jesus. I want to talk about light and love winning. 

“The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”

I adore those words in Isaiah. Light has come for all of us. We are all in. There’s enough room at the table. And there’s enough light to push back the darkness.
AND hopefully I'm also adding to the "calm" by only having a few options to wear each morning as I don't have a ton of dresses. (as most of you know, I LIVE in yoga pants or leggings). If you catch me at the mall shopping for a dress well...then...I guess I've been caught. Please just give me a hug. I'll feel sheepish enough as it is.