Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What's wrong with this picture?

It's in my crazy nature to try and address the counter arguments of my own argument beforehand. Yes, it's both a flaw and an asset, but be that as it may, It's who I am and so having said that let me point out three things: 

1. Yes I know this is a character, fictional, from a very fictional television series.
2. I do believe that fiction is very relevant and revealing of our cultures view on many "real" issues facing us today. It both informs and reflects us. Society.
3. I don't buy the "it's just a joke" explanation for promoting this very oppressive and sexist viewpoint. Underneath the surface of this "joke" lurks a huge problem in our society regarding women, sex, and even rape.

For those of you who do not follow the series The Walking Dead and have no idea who this character is let me give you a little back story. Her name is Andrea. Before the world ended via a Zombie Apocalypse, her character was a Human (Civil) Rights attorney. Probably not a gig for an unintelligent slouch. Post apocalypse, her character serves first, as the raw nerve. She was filled with despair and hopelessness after the death of her sister, motivating her to contemplate and then attempt suicide. Later she was filled with anger and resentment when her attempts at suicide were thwarted by a fellow apocalypse survivor.  She has made some very questionable decisions, decisions I have theorized were made out of anger or a need to prove herself. Two of those decisions were having sex with men who  have questionable to downright bad characteristics respectively. She slept with these men on separate occasions. One was a causal tryst based on human sexual desire and probably a momentary kinship, the other man she developed feelings for. These incidences happened with over a year dividing them and yet somehow that makes her a slut.  In addition to sleeping with one of these men out of purely sexual desire, she also decides that her function and role in the surviving group should be one of a less domesticated variety and that makes her a woman who "thinks like a man". Shame on her right? I will be the first to admit that I really disliked the character of Andrea for the better part of the series. I felt she was written as being a woman who acted out of negative emotions and that she was far too smart to make some of the choices she made. However I have a thing against characters written to react out of fear, anger, or despair all the time. But, although she may at times have been weakly written, as a time went on she's proven to be not a weak character but a human one. 

So there you have it. A woman in a zombie apocalypse who sleeps with two different men in one year and learns to shoot, fight, forge, and protect herself and her loved ones is a slut who is pretending to me a man.  I call sexist bullshit on the meme in a public forum and I'm accused of "not having a sense of humor", "over thinking it" and even being a "slut apologist". Yeah, slut apologist people. What the fuck would be the appropriate response.  

So again, I admit. It's just a show, not a real person, etc, etc. But really? Do you not see a larger problem with this brand of thinking? Do you not see a problem with this picture?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I define my sexuality! To hell with your labels.

 Fair warning: This blog post is about sex and I have a shitload of opinions and thoughts on the matter. I may rant. I may bather. I may even use a few colorful words. If you can stay with me to the end I thank you. Your thoughts on the matter, even if they contradict my own,  will also be greatly appreciated as long as they are intelligently articulated. With or without ranting and colorful words ;-)

Freak, slut, promiscuous,whore, nypmh, prude, chaste, pure, dirty, frigid, and tease. What do these seemingly different words have in common? They are all bullshit labels that I have very little use for. I'm a human being. I'm a woman. I'm black. I'm a mother. I'm a partner. I'm a citizen. I'm a sexual person. I have sex and I alone define my sexuality. I do not let the bible, men, society, or any other women dictate ANYTHING I do with my body, let alone how I choose to express myself sexually. Nor does my being a feminist preclude me from both expressing my sexuality or being a sexual person.

There is a myth going around, that being a feminist means you hate men and loathe sex. Or if you did have sex you only did it with other women. The horror! The kicker is, if you do like sex, hetero or otherwise, and choose to engage in it outside the prescribed feminine limits, you are a blah, blah, blah, see the top of this post and fill in the blahs. Obviously I reject that notion and any other socially engineered construct that dictates how I'm suppose to behave as a woman. I especially reject any bullshit double standards. You know, like ones that celebrates a man for an action that a woman would be vilified for. Sex before marriage? Go fourth sowing thy wild oats young man! Sex before marriage? Woman thy art loosed!!! Don't forget to fill in those blahs! Oh and side note: I've often wondered about the status of the women helping these young men sow their frigging wild oats? Whores you say? Or is it chaste unsuspecting virgins? Shit, either way no props for that huh? 

We can chalk up these labels up to our shitty roots as a society. These are the roots that tell us woe to any woman that opens her legs for anything but pleasing her husband and birthing his seed. Oh for good measure let's not forget that any woman who has her legs forcibly opened more than likely had it coming. Again, fill in the blahs. Enjoying sex outside of marriage and sadly for some, within marriage, is expressly forbidden. This bullshit sometimes trickles down to the seemingly strongest of women who slut shame others because of her job (stripper), because of her sexual status (multiple partners), or because of her dress (fill in the fucking blahs).  This pains me the most. I can't believe in this day and age we still use these labels as women to describe one another. I can't believe that in this day and age we use these labels to describe ourselves. It's bad enough we have to fight men on this, but each other. Nooooo!

So, not that it's any persons business, but I am inclined to share;  I like sex. Currently, I'm liking it with one man. The man I've been with for nearly 9yrs. Unmarried with children. Before him I liked sex too. With many people. Before that I liked sex with my ex-husband and at the time only with him. I imagine I'll like sex until I'm dead or just too old to do it anymore.  What exactly does all this make me? Well, it's not really up to you to say. I define my sexuality. To hell with your labels. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breastfeeding in public is a feminist issue!

"Don't see the need for this sorry. It's just vulgar show boating:I have a BABY, look! Aren't I worthy! Well, news flash, we have toilets and not so public areas where you can still do what is natural, please use them! And by the way, I am very much a feminist."

That was a response to picture that I made into a meme. This one:

 Before I really dive into this I want to say that I posted this picture freely onto a Feminist page on facebook. The administrator of the page mentioned a desire to post a breastfeeding picture, but was hesitant because of the way facebook has handled photos like this in the past. I felt comfortable enough with the group of men and women on that page to share this and by far the response was overwhelmingly positive. I would say in that large community of wonderful feminist women and men, the idea that breastfeeding is a feminist issue is widely accepted.  However, a thread of contempt within the feminist community and debate on whether or not this is acceptable remains.

The idea that breastfeeding or reproductive rights beyond abortion, has no place in the public discourse of feminism and equality boggles my mind. I know that there is an idea that breastfeeding is anti-feminist and that too boggles my mind.

So let's start with the belief that this is vulgar. In our vernacular there are various definitions of vulgar. Given the context of the picture and the comment made I assume she meant either of the basic definitions, those being: lewdly or profanely indecent or morally crude, undeveloped, or unregenerate : gross.

Having nursed four babies in my life time I've known and dealt with many people who strongly believe that breastfeeding is vulgar. There are those who proclaim breastfeeding is  "just fine with we me as long as I don't have to see it", but once it's done in public, it again becomes lewd and vulgar. The question then is what makes the act of feeding your child in public profane, indecent, and morally crude? Is the fact that the child has his or her mouth attached to the breast? Is it the fact that a part of the breast is exposed? A strong argument could be made that the mere idea of using the word vulgar as a description of public breastfeeding is itself rooted not in feminism but misogyny. After all, the issue time and time again goes back to the belief that breasts are sexual organs. There is also the point that our Puritan roots as a culture dictated that not only women should be covered from neck to ankle, but that it's the woman's responsibility how a man reacts to seeing her skin. Not his. These are the beliefs from our cultural roots that controlled our bodies, took away our choices, and dictated our worth. Today it rears it's ugly head again by telling women they are morally bankrupt for daring to show skin while feeding their child as nature intended and as our wonderful bodies allow us to. We are again being told to cover our bodies and that the shame of our bodies is a virtue rather than a socially constructed hindrance. Keep in mind hindrance is putting it nicely. 

Now how about this sentiment:  "It's just vulgar show boating:I have a BABY, look! Aren't I worthy!"? Of course I already addressed the "vulgar" part, but I have to say the "show boating" really got me thinking. I laughed at it first, but that is usually my reaction to something I find utterly ridiculous. Then it got me to thinking. What does she mean? Is she inferring that I'm showing off and think I'm special because I had a baby and I breastfed it? Does she not understand the overall purpose of the The Big Latch on? The event I was participating in when this picture was taken?  I will admit, there are many moments when I look back on my pregnancies, labors, and births and feel pretty fucking proud of myself for doing it not only once but four times.  But I don't expect anyone else to understand that or value it in the very personal and spiritual way I do. I certainly don't breastfed in public because of those reasons.  I breastfed in public because my child is hungry, fussy, or tired and because I'll be damned if someone tells me I can't. Simple as that.

So, I read that sentence a few times and I was reminded of something a woman who claimed to be feminist said to me. She was very adamant that "breeders give feminism a bad name". Especially those like me who act like "having the ability to get knocked up and suffer through pregnancy and natural birth makes you special."  Remembering that frightful conversation help me to come to the conclusion that maybe that sentence was a jab at my worth and my ability to call myself a feminist. To that I say breastfeeding is very much a feminist issue. If I choose to feed my child with milk my body produces for him or her and I choose to do this by allowing that child to nurse from my breast, how does it not become a feminist issue when someone says I can't or shouldn't do it because of how it makes them feel, or because their own set of morals. How is that any different from telling a woman how she should dress, speak, act, or think? How is that different from telling a woman who she should vote for (or if she even has the right to vote at all), or when she can have sex and with who?  How is it different than forcing her to keep an unwanted pregnancy, be violated medically, or dictating what her overall worth is in this world? How does limiting bodily choices for a breastfeeding mother differ from limited the bodily choices for a woman without child? All because of some other persons prescribed set of moral standards and expectations?

In closing, I'd like to hear from others. How can a person call themselves a feminist and have such a negative attitude, no not just negative, judgmental attitude towards public breastfeeding? How does that work?  How can you believe that public breastfeeding and feminism are mutually exclusive?  Or what is your argument to say that it isn't? What do you think? 

 PS - I know I didn't address the toilet comment, but only because it's been said and addressed ad nauseam and because it's unbelievably ignorant. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Does my menstrual cycle embarrass you?

So a certain someone told me that I was doing my sons (I have 3 of them) a great disservice by discussing my menstrual cycle with them. I am, and I quote: "Telling them shit they don't need to know about".  I really had to let that one digest a little bit. Actually, no I didn't. I refrained from retorting because I couldn't think of anything to say right then and there that didn't include a shitload of insults and tons of profanity. Let's forget, for a moment, that this person presumed to tell me how I should raise my children and focus on the underlying issues regarding that time of the month. Shame.

So what is the deal with all the shame, secrecy, and embarrassment surrounding a woman's menstrual cycle?  I'm sure we've all have experienced it in some way, either what we project or what is projected onto us. The apprehension about buying pads or tampons. The crippling fear a girl will go through about someone at school will find out she's on her period. The mortifying accidents you've had in college when you foolishly wore white on the wrong day. The feminist in me knows this is all some left over misogynistic bullshit. Something along the lines of it being an "unclean" time that fed more old wives tales and myths.

I guess now the question would be how do we overcome it? And so that question brings us back to me and my sons, and daughter, when she is older. I don't hide my period from them or many other biological imperatives. My 16year old knew the basic frame work of the birds and bees by the time he was 8yrs old because he asked me in a frantic state why his testicles moved in the shower. I know, it's a long story and I will probably blog about it one day when someone pisses me off about how open I am to my children on the subject of sex. But I digress. This whole subject came up when my 4yr old busted in on me while on the toilet and wanted to know why I was bleeding and had a band aid in my panties. I decided to explain to him and his brothers what my cycle was and how it works. As a side note, I must admit being happy he didn't bust in for the tampon removal!

Personally, I think my household is a happier place with my sons getting information about my cycle, it's hormonal factors and how they affect mama. With regards to my teenager, I think it's just the kind of information a young man needs and I like to think in some small way I'm doing my part to do away with all the shame and secrecy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I don't sugarcoat! Therefore it's okay I'm an asshole on the internet.

Do you tell it like is, refuse to sugar coat things, keep it real, and take pride in being blunt? Well congratulations! You  just may qualify to get your free-to-be-an-asshole card! Now to be fair, not everyone who meets these qualifications are assholes. Just those who either by ignorance or arrogance fail to realize the difference between being honest and direct and being malignant, loud, and hurtful. You know, those card carrying assholes who use words as weapons, just because they can.  Bonus points to those who only do it over the Internet where anonymity (or so the ignorant ones think) will always shield them from repercussions.

Now you know who you are. You are the ones who like to argue. You frequent the facebook pages and groups that are drama filled or create the drama in the otherwise peaceful groups. But even you aren't the worst offenders.  The worst are the ones with a cause. Usually a very good cause like promoting breastfeeding, exposing gender inequality, bringing awareness about the pros regarding homeschooling, and etc. You are the ones who everybody else with similar values wishes wouldn't speak. The ones so rabid in their beliefs that speaking truth gets lost in a heap of self-righteous, fevered bullshit. You qualify your opinion like it's fact. You hit people over the heads with facts mixed with hate. Okay, you are probably trying to wrap your head around that one so here is an example: "Breastfeeding is giving your baby the best. There is no other good alternative. So women who know ahead of time that they actually can't breastfeed for medical reasons, shouldn't have babies."  See what I mean? There is some fact in there, but it's so overshadowed by ugliness. Who the hell is that woman that she can tell another woman she doesn't deserve the procreate because she can't lactate? And what was that woman's defense of her statements? She doesn't sugarcoat things. 

So make sure you carry your card proud. You've decided to ignore tact and common courtesy and answer to that higher calling of "truth telling". Like it is! Or at least, the way you see it. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Let's consummate this bitch!

The title? Well, I heard a bride say that at the of her wedding reception and I've been dying to work into something. Seeing how this is my first blog post, I figured this will do. It will be either the way new readers think fondly on my new blog or my first transgression. I can guarantee it will not be the last of the latter, but I sincerely hope you'll stick with me anyway!

Welcome to my blog. The title, Streaming Consciousness, conveys my intended content; my thoughts, coherent or not, on the things that speak to me most. I plan to share my experiences as I navigate though this life and hope that you will not mind sharing back. Together, perhaps we can all learn and grow.

I hope you enjoy sharing in my journey from time to time.