Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"This New Year #IResolveToGain Rather Than Lose" Featured on Hashtag Feminism!

Check out my post on rethinking New Years resolutions on the brand new Hashtag Feminism website! Super excited to be a part of their important work! Join in the Twitter conversation #IResolveToGain !

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Check out my latest post on About-Face.org!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at About-Face for publishing another one of my pieces on their blog. 


Have you seen the latest Special K ad? What's your take?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I taught my first Women's Studies class & I think I passed!

A few months ago I wrote about my excitement for teaching my very first Women's Studies class this semester. I taught the last class this past week and am waiting for them to hand in their tests (yes I gave them a take-home). I have to say this was the most-rewarding thing I've done in a long time. I read the book as the students did and would go in to class energized and excited to talk about what we had read. I was able to give them a few examples from my own experience which is fun/easy for me and from what I have heard, entertaining/educational for them. I made a point to encourage them to share their experiences with the class or at least in their reading reflections if they were too shy to speak up in class about something personal.

I am proud to say that as a result of my class, one of my students signed up to major in Women's Studies and two others will be signing up to minor in it. How awesome is that?! I remember that moment when I decided to switch my major from Photography to Women's Studies. I had dreamed of being a photographer for a while but was disillusioned with the lack of classes that were offered in that program at my school. Not long after I took my first few classes of a Women's Studies course I was hooked. I can tell that many of my students had their "a ha" moments in my class. Now, I don't take all the credit, of course. The book I used, recommended by my WMST colleagues, was pretty awesome. It had some great feminist classics and also some recent pieces. I appreciated that they included the year each piece was written next to the title so the students could put them in to context.

Not long into the semester some of my students started emailing me interesting articles and videos they had found online related to women's issues. They didn't get any extra credit for this, they were just so inspired they wanted to share it with me. That for me was evidence enough that I was doing a good job because they were starting to open their eyes. My favorite quote from Gloria Steinem about feminism is "at first it will piss you off" because it is so true. Once you open your eyes and start analyzing how gender is portrayed and used to limit women and men, you get really pissed off. And then once you have the tools to express yourself you learn to pick your battles and be strategic about how you fight that oppression. I mentioned this in class several times and I think by the end of the semester they finally realized what that meant.

I told my students about how my friends reacted to/treated me when they heard I was taking Women's Studies classes and then majoring in it. My best friends were cool about it and we'd have interesting talks. Other friends who I wasn't as close with would refer to me as "The" feminist and bring up issues and challenge me on them whenever we were together at a party. It got real old but I kept up with them. They, like many others, had heard only negative stereotypes about feminism. Or, some of them being white males, felt threatened by the word "feminist" because they assumed it meant I was out to take something away from them. They weren't hostile, they were just passive aggressive. I get it. I'd like to think I handled myself ok. Poor Bill got to hear what I really thought after we left each "challenge". He was learning along with me and of course was/is so supportive. I mostly tried to use humor and "tease" those friends who would challenge me because I knew where they were coming from. Hopefully I helped them to look at the world a little differently.

The friends that I spend most of my time with now are feminists (or feminist enough) that they identify sexism if they see it when we're together or come tell me about something sexist so I don't even have to point it out anymore. It's AWESOME! I love that there are more people in my life that GET IT. It's not so lonely any more. I have to say I was SUPER lonely in my feminist bubble in the beginning. It was HARD basically getting picked on every time we were at a party. "Oh Gretchen, The Feminist is here. Everybody brace yourself!" It's not like I would even bring anything, or only a few things up. Sigh. BUT, I made it through and, like I said, I'd like to think I got through to them at least a little bit.

There was this one guy. Oh, I loved going back and forth with him. He was the "Alpha male". A "man's man" who worked out a LOT, drank protein shakes, and dreamed of going in to the military (he eventually did and I appreciate his service). I could always get a rise out of him but it was fun because he was so animated. This guy is a great story-teller. I remember laughing til I cried just listening to him tell a story about trying to take his dog to the vet and getting delayed in various ridiculous ways. I knew he was a good guy so I felt safe pushing his buttons. It was all in good fun. At least, I think so. I'm not sure if I made a difference in the way he sees the world. I doubt he'll let either one of his three sons wear anything pink but maybe he'll teach them that "no means no and drunk means no" or some other very important lesson as a result.

I had 4 guys in my class this semester. One definitely liked to challenge things we brought up in class. BUT, he also got it. I could tell from his work that he is supportive of feminist values. One of their questions in their take-home test was "Do you identify as feminist, why or why not?" I'm not going to fail them if they don't, I just want them to be able to show their critical thinking skills and that they understood what we went over in class. I'm curious to see how many say they are feminist. At the beginning of the semester only 4 or 5 raised their hands when I asked the question in class. On the last day I had about half the class raise their hands. I'd call that a success.

The sad thing about my class ending is I don't know that I'll see any of them again. I know I'll see a few for sure because they've signed up to volunteer with my office or I knew them already. I want to know their stories and see where they go in life. I want to be a fly on the wall when one of their friends or someone they meet realizes they are a feminist and challenges them on some issue. I want to see how they handle it and be there to cheer them on. I'll just have to settle for them hopefully remembering something we talked about in class and using that as an example to win an argument.

Most of all, I hope that what they learned in class gives them the courage to have confidence in themselves, call out injustice in all its forms and to go out and change the world. Maybe they'll find me on Facebook and let me know how things go. I can't wait to meet my students next semester. It will be interesting to see how that group differs from this one. A new group of eyes to open! :-)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Messed Up Music Monday: "Stay" by Florida Georgia Line

I used to be a big fan of country music. I grew up in the country so it went hand in hand with my environment. I loved me some Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, and Garth Brooks. But I eventually grew out of that as I was introduced to different genres of music. I still have a country station on my Pandora and when I flip through the radio I'll occasionally stop on the local country station to see what's new. Recently I discovered this new band called Florida Georgia Line. I had heard them mentioned on TV a few times so curiosity got me and I checked them out.

I just watched their video for "Stay" and was basically disappointed. I didn't really listen to their musical abilities, I was mostly focused on the story in the video and the lyrics. The first lines made me immediately uncomfortable. First, to the lyrics.

"I'd sell my soul just to see your face. 
And I'd break my bones just to heal your pain." 
Neither one of those things would happen or do any good for anyone. Also, committing violence against yourself is not a good way to make someone want to be with you. If you can't get someone to like you in your happy non-broken-bones-with-soul-intact state, how the heck are these two "solutions" supposed to make you any more appealing? What would be more enticing (for me anyway) would be something like "I'd check my masculine privilege at the door to get a chance to tell you how I really feel. I'd break all the stereotypes about being a 'real man' and genuinely listen to your hopes and dreams." But I'm no song writer.

"But if I told you I loved you, would it make you want to stay?
I'm sorry for the way I hurt you and making you walk away.
(I should have took the time to tell you)"
Yes, you should have taken the time to tell her you loved her on a regular basis. Everybody needs to hear that they're loved. But what would make someone want to stay is not just words, but actions. And hurting her, however that occurred, is not going to be fixed just by saying "I love you". (BTW, the song is speaking in generalities so I will do the same.) Did you cheat on her? Then no, "I love you" is not going to fix that. Did you steal money from her? Again, ILY is not going to work. Did you put her down and tell her she's worthless and then switch around to the honeymoon phase and write this song (hello red flag!)? Then again, those three little words aren't enough. The fact that you hurt someone enough to make them want to leave and they actually get in the car and go (see video), you can bet your ass ILY is not going to do the trick. Healthy communication and NOT doing things you know will hurt the one you love is the way to keep that person in your life. 

"My heart's on my sleeve, but it's turning black.
(I guess I know what it feels like it to be alone)
Without your touch I'm not gonna last.
(I know you know that I need ya just to carry on)
It feels like my walls are caving in.
(You'd always hold me before I left you hanging on)
And I'll do anything to have you here again...
There's gotta be a way, 'cause going on without you is killing me everyday."
Ok, RED FLAG, RED FLAG, RED FLAG! This is not healthy communication people. Telling someone that your life is over without them is passive aggressive and is not meant to make them feel special. It's meant to guilt them in to staying with you. And, by saying her leaving is "killing" you, you're making this her fault. Yeah, it SUCKS when someone you love leaves you. But when that happens it's time to do some self-reflection and figure out where things went wrong so you won't make the same mistake again. It's not the time to lay a guilt-trip and tell them you'll basically die without them. Not healthy, or fair for that matter. Do you want someone to be with you just because you want them to be and not because they want to be? No, not if you're a sane person. 

Let's learn some healthy relationship behaviors like communication (tell them how you feel, when things upset you, when they make you happy, and yes, that you love them if that be the case), trust (it's a two way street buddy), and support (listen to their hopes and dreams and encourage, not push, them to pursue them). Also, learn how to be independent and allow them the space to be independent as well. Your life should not depend on whether or not their in it.

Now to the video. Please watch the video here so we can be on the same page. I could point out all kinds of wrong things with this video, but I'll stick to my main points for brevity's sake: unhealthy relationship behaviors and unhealthy masculinity. He's hurt her in some kind of way that makes her want to leave him. She leaves and he texts her over and over again (kinda stalker-y) saying he can't live without her. Instead of giving her time to process and have some space to herself and to stay gone if that's what she wants, he torches his trailer, his phone and a picture of them happy together. It's sad that I have to point this out, but burning down the house is not a healthy way to express your hurt feelings. If you're feeling that bad that you want to break and burn stuff, I think it's time you sought some counseling. 

Also, she changed her mind and came back (and depending on the non-hypothetical situation could be either a good or bad thing) and he missed out because he was acting a fool. It was probably all for the best that they did not end up together in the end because he obviously has some serious emotional issues he is not dealing with. It's sad that men aren't taught that yes they have feelings and how to express those in a healthy way. This is one of the things I focus on with my two boys. I don't scold them when they cry. I hug them and tell them it's okay and ask them why they're crying and talk them through it. I validate their feelings, not shun them. It's hard to unlearn something you've been taught from day one so I don't want to teach them not to express or deal with those emotions. I want to give them the tools they need to live a healthy emotional life and have healthy relationships, romantic and otherwise. 

So, now you know why I'm disappointed with this song. The guys in Florida Georgia Line are popular right now and they're just teaching their fans, male and female, how guys should deal with a break-up. It's more of the same and it's about time we had some examples of how to handle it that don't end up with property destruction or violence for that matter. I was hoping for better and I'll continue that hope until I see it happen. 

What do you think of this song/video? Do you know of any songs that deal with a breakup in a healthy way? If so, please do share. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jackson & His Princess Friends

Ever since Jackson watched Shrek the Third he has been curious about princesses. There's a scene in the movie where Fiona bands together with Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty to escape from the jail they were put in by Prince Charming (subliminal feminist message, yes?). They proceed to try to rescue Shrek by breaking in to the castle. Snow White distracts the guards by singing a soothing song while all the forest animals gather around her. Once she has lulled them into a trance, she quickly changes her tune to Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song" and instructs the forest animals to attack the tree guards. The other princesses proceeds to use their stereotypical femininity to break into the castle. Cinderella uses her glass slipper (which has never been a slipper but is a high heel) as a boomerang, Sleeping Beauty pretends to fall asleep in front of some of the guards and trips them, and even the "Ugly Stepsister" joins in by showing off her legs to distract more guards before she punches them. As a feminist these scenes made me giddy. I was like "YES! Finally some images of strong capable girls/women". Unfortunately, this portrayal of princesses is one of a kind.

This movie encouraged Jackson's interest in Disney Princesses and as you can guess, the other videos of Disney Princesses showed the stereotypes we've grown to know and I dread. He's even asked me to get him a princess toy for Christmas. Lately he's fixated on Princess Jasmine. He asked to speak to her so he could ask her why she wears a shirt that shows her belly button. I came up with the idea to get my best friend Lisa to pretend to be Jasmine on the phone. She came up with the brilliant dodge that the reason she doesn't cover her belly button is because she has an itchy belly button and needs to air it out. Here's to awesome best friends who understand you and are there to pitch in when needed. (On a side note, he also asked her what toys she played with as a little girl, what she liked to eat and drink, and who here favorite Sesame Street character was.)

So here is my dilemma. I want to encourage Jackson's interest in female characters, but all the ones he's finding are filled with traditional gender roles and stereotypes. I heard him singing one of the songs from Sophia the First when he was playing yesterday including the line "I want to be the most beautiful girl and walk in the sun". Right there he's learned that women's value is in their beauty. So where can I find more examples of positive female characters? I've told him that not all girls are "princesses" but I need visuals to show him what that means. He likes Dora and Olivia but now that we got rid of cable he doesn't get to see them often. We watched Doc McStuffins on YouTube a few times after he discovered her in the store but he hasn't quite gotten in to that show yet. Thank goodness for A Mighty Girl for gathering and creating positive images of girls for my boys (and all other kids) to see.

Geena Davis has said that "You can't be what you don't see" and created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media to work toward showing more and positive girls in the media. Giving our children different, more positive portrayals of girls will not only teach girls that they can be whoever they want to be and don't have to fit in to a tiny pink box, but it will also teach boys not to expect girls to fit that stereotype which limits their potential. The whole "Princess Culture", a term I recently learned about at the National Women's Studies Association Conference (check out pictures from my trip here), makes little girls want everything handed to them without responsibility, teaching them to be dependent on a man to come and save the day and take care of them instead of how to go out and get what they need themselves. It also teaches boys that they should be the knight in shining armor that slays the dragon and wins the princess who he must then protect like a child.

Jackson has already, unfortunately, been exposed to the negative and stereotypical gender roles aimed at boys because of the toys that are marketed to him. You know what I'm talking about, the "tough guise"/"machismo" stereotypes that tell boys and men they have to be tough, use violence to solve problems and conquer the world. I'm quite aware that part of the way to prevent him from learning those negative, limiting gender roles is to control what he sees and is exposed to. It is an ongoing struggle to keep the negative influences away from him. It feels like I'm in the middle of a field standing over him and we're surrounded by archers from all sides with limitless arrows shooting them at us and all I have is a teeny tiny shield to protect him. It's not just the marketers that I have to shield him from, its also his peers at schools who know nothing else but the stereotypes they've been taught and everyone in his family who don't think certain things are "that bad" because that's what they or boys they knew played with as a child. When you're the only one in your family who has unlearned all these gender roles and stereotypes and knows how to identify them, you sort of become the villain when you don't want to buy your son Transformers and Batman because "they're just toys". It is very awkward for me when loved ones very thoughtfully bring him clothes that he needs and then discover that they have aggressive messages, characters or animals on them. How do you explain that to someone who hasn't studied gender roles and stereotypes the way that I have. I try my best to explain it but most of the time I feel like they just think I'm being overprotective and ridiculous. Just once I would love for my family to think "hey, this has a negative stereotype so maybe I should get him something else". I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it is my responsibility (and also my husband's) to ensure that Jackson and Myles grow up to be good men who make a positive contribution to society and treat everyone with respect.

So this holiday season I will be starting early (although not as early as some...seriously, the day after Halloween?) and doing my research for toys to get him (while not buying him way too much and spoiling him) that promote positive/healthy masculinity and femininity. I'll let you know what I find along the way. I know I'm not the only one considering this issue. A recent post on Buzzfeed featured a very clever political cartoonist who showed us what it would look like if some of our most famous strong women throughout history were portrayed as princesses to show how ridiculous and limiting the whole princess culture is.

Is anyone else experiencing something like this? Have any of you found positive toys for both girls and boys?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Feminist Fun at NWSA 2013!

Had an awesome time at the National Women's Studies Association Conference this year! #nwsawcc #nwsa2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday Post: I am 32 flavors, and then some

It's officially my birthday and it's only fitting that I write this post. As Ani DiFranco says, "I am 32 flavors and then some". As my friends know, I tend to celebrate all month long because, well, why not! So, to celebrate my 32 flavors/years, I've decided to tell you 32 things about me, or just random things I think of. Enjoy!

1. I am addicted to sweet tea. I am aware of this and claim it proudly. If I had to move above the "sweet tea line" (somewhere around Richmond) I would be seriously annoyed but probably save lots of money from making my own tea.

2. I am thankful everyday that Bill moved to my part of the world in high school because otherwise I wouldn't have the most amazing husband in the world. He knows me and all my little/big quirks and loves me anyway and mostly thinks those things are cute. I can live with cute. Also, he's a fantastic dad to our two little fellas, a great cook, has the most perfect arms that wrap around me perfectly for lots of hugs, and he's funny. I love that he makes me laugh. Oh, and did I mention he's super smart? I love him. :-)

3. The first of my two boys, Jackson Shane, is my sweetpea. He is very loving, snuggly, inquisitive, kind, smart, friendly, adventurous, hilarious, and a great dancer. He has brought me so much joy and I am excited to see him grow in to the wonderful man I know he will be.

4. The second of my two boys, Myles William, is my little darlin'. He is very loving, outgoing, snuggly, smart, funny, sweet, and a little bit sneaky. It has been wonderful to watch him grow after jut having watch Jackson do all the same things and see how he does them his own way. He's also going to be a wonderful man and possibly a weight lifter.

5. I am just like my mother, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. She has inspired me from day one. She has alway told and shown me that I can do anything I put my mind to. She has taught me to be independent and to take care of myself. She has taught me to always question everything. She taught me how to love and care about others. She encouraged me when I played softball and field hockey, spent all my time taking pictures at a farm near our house and then wanted to pursue a career in photography, and was super excited when I discovered Women's Studies. She always tells me how proud of me she is and I know how important that is to do the same for my kids. Love you Momma!

6. I get my creativity from my Daddy. He can make probably anything. Whether it's cooking or crafting, he's my go to guide. When I had science fair projects he helped me make them. When I had to do a research paper in elementary school on a lighthouse in Egypt, he drew a picture to go on the cover. He's crafted with stained glass, cross-stitch, flags, jewelry, and most recently crochet. He's a wiz at puzzles and taught me a love of games. He went to all my ball and field hockey games yelling "Come on Baby Cakes!" (Yep) He shows me that he loves me through food and doing things for me. I love my Daddy!

7. I have a sister who is pretty much my complete opposite, but we're bonded by our happy memories growing up. We can usually talk about random stuff and always know what the other one is talking about. However, most recently I realized that I need to brush up on this. Must have been all those pregnancy hormones over the last few years working on my brain. We quote movies and thanks to Mom, always know a song for everything. I love her and want her to always be happy.

8. I get my love (and slight obsession) with office supplies from my Aunt Linda. She took me to work with her a few times and let me help her with Women's Club projects and I was hooked. Also, her office and craft space in her house is super organized. She organized my linen closet when we moved in our house and I have never been able to recreate what she was able to do. I should have taken a picture it was so impressive. Somehow, all those towels and sheets fit in there when she did it, but refuse to fit for me. She used to let me ride with her on the "peanut route" stocking local peanuts in stores near the North Carolina/Virginia border and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I miss our time together that we had on those trips. She's a feminist by definition and practice but would never admit it. She stands up for what she believes in and helps others. As we say in our family "she's just a christian martyr!". Sorry, inside joke.

9. I have lost a lot of loved ones in my life that I cherish and think of often. I lost my friend Betty when we were 13 because she needed a new heart and lungs. She was such a sweet person. I lost my Grandaddy Paul who I spent a LOT of time with that same year. He took me fishing and bought me cheeseburgers, Sundrop, and lottery tickets and spoiled me like grandparents should do. He drove as slow as hell and when he said he's be somewhere "predney" (which I later learned is a southern pronunciation of "presently") it would take him at least 30 minutes to drive a mile. I lost my Uncle Leon, Linda's husband, when I was making a cross country trip with Bill. We had hoped he'd make it until we at least got back from California, but we only made it to Fort Worth, Texas when we got the call that he had passed. He and I were pretty competitive when it came to playing cards. He called me "Pidgen" and I loved it. I tried keeping it as a nickname but it just wasn't the same. I now think of that as my name for who I was when I was growing up in the country. Haven't had a nickname since then and I'm ok with that. I lost my cousin Shane (Linda and Leon's son) who I loved dearly just a few years ago. This one hit me hard because he (supposedly) committed suicide. I will never believe it, but he lived a whole other life that I rarely got to see except when I went to visit. He was the closest thing I had to a brother and I miss him terribly. It still hurts to think about. Not long after Jackson was born we lost Bill's dad Billy. He was a very sweet man who loved to tell jokes. He loved calling us on Sunday morning and asking us trivia questions. He was very proud on those days when Bill knew the answer and I drew a blank. I see a lot of his wonderful qualities in Bill. These losses have had huge impacts on me but I try to keep their happy memories with me at all times and remember that instead of focusing on them not being here anymore. When I love, I love big and strong so that's probably why it hurts so much when I lose someone.

10. I try to see the best in everyone. When the guy hanging outside of the Walgreens asks me for $2 to catch the bus, I like to think he's actually going to use it to catch the bus and go somewhere good and give him the $2 if I have it. I make it my policy to help anyone if I can and not just for good karma, but because it's the right thing to do. Sure, I may be "taken" a few times, but those are fewer and farther between. I'd like to think people would do me the same kindness and see the best in me. We're not all perfect.

11. I'm an optimist. I believe things will always work out the way they're supposed to. When things don't go as planned, sure I get a little grumpy, but that's temporary. You gotta go with the flow and remember that everything happens for a reason.

12. I am in love with this writing thing. I never would have thought I would have had pieces I had written published on line here, and here, or here. Shameless plug. LOL I am having a lot of fun with this blog to. Thank you for reading!

13. My girlfriends keep me sane. I am lucky to have so many wonderful girlfriends in my life. I treasure each and every one of them. They each provide me a different source of empowerment and joy. I hope they would say the same about me. It is very important to me to be a great friend because I know how much I value them and their friendship. We may not always be able to hang out all the time, but it's nice to know that they love me and care about me and will be there if I need them. Plus, they're all hilarious. That's something they all have in common. They make me laugh/smile. Friends are one of my favorite parts of life.

14. I will always be a country girl at heart. Even though I spend most of my day inside, I would much rather be outside running through the woods taking pictures with my puppy dog at my side like I did growing up. I love the smell of peanuts and cotton being harvested by the tractors that eventually cause "country traffic jams". It makes me feel at home. There's also something wonderful about being able to see all the stars at night without a bunch of street lights and signs dimming them. If you haven't been to the country, you should make the trip.

15. Brownies and Oreos are a weakness of mine, but not always. I do have some self-control. Otherwise I would turn in to one.

16. I pick a new purse every year and my only standards are they have to have lots of pockets. Please refer to item #8 for explanation.

17. I believe in equal rights for all.

18. I AM A FEMINIST. The real definition of that is nicely put by Webster: the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. This does not mean I hate men (even if I didn't have a husband and two male children). This simply means that I question everything that says that women are or deserve less than men. I believe in not standing in the way of someone being who they are or loving who they love. It means that I value everyone and their experience and work for social justice for all.

19. I don't claim to know everything. I am a life-long learner. I enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people.

20. You may think I have a Southern accent now, but just wait til I get around my Daddy. Something about talking to him makes my accent thicker. I called him from France once and Bill watched in amazement as I transformed into the little country girl right before his eyes. I am aware that many people, especially my friends to the North, sometimes assume a Southern accent equals stupidity or just general unintelligence. This, my friends, is not true. I have a Masters degree to prove it.

21. I'm a friendly person. That's how I was raised and that's who I am. However, sometimes when I'm off in la-la land pondering gender stereotypes or something thought provoking, I have a very serious look on my face. This does not mean that I'm upset or angry, this just means I'm not paying attention to my face. A teacher in elementary school once told my parents that I had a problem with daydreaming. I disagree, I just like to ponder the big questions in life, or sometimes I've created a movie scene in my mind and am watching it play out. I'm creative like that. Maybe I'll work in movies in my next life. Cinematographer maybe? Or maybe the person who chooses the songs for the soundtrack? Anyway, once you get my attention you will see the smile return to my face.

22. I used to be shy, but I've grown out of most of that. However, who isn't a little nervous when meeting new people. You're not sure how to act, and for me, you don't always know how they stand on certain very important moral, social and political issues. It really could go either way.

23. I like hanging out at Starbucks (or another public place with free wifi) and writing. This is what I've been doing for the first part of my birthday and that makes me happy. Tomorrow I will be getting a massage and hanging out with friends so don't you worry about me. I find a variety of activities fun and relaxing.

24. I LOVE taking pictures, but I get annoyed when people tell me I should take a picture of something. It's not so much fun when it's your idea. You take the picture. And I don't mean annoyed as in we can't be friends anymore, I just mean I'll smile and take the picture and delete it later when you're not around.

25. I believe someone needs to invent a sarcasm font ASAP. Too many nuances get lost in translation when you're communicating online. Also, someone needs to fix auto-correct. I've never heard of half the word they suggest I must be meaning to type.

26. I like a variety of music and I could spend all day listening to it. For example, here are just a few of my Pandora stations: David Bowie, 90's R&B, Bikini Kill, Otis Redding, Relaxation, Alabama Shakes, Tune-Yards, 90's Alternative, Beyonce, Tom Waits, India Arie, Black Keys, The Breeders, Reba Mc Entire, Bruce Springsteen, Susan Tedeschi, and yes, I have a Birthday station. I like anything that makes you feel or want to get up and dance. In my next life i'd like to be able to sing. Things aren't looking up for that to happen in this lifetime, but I do sing in my car and to my kids.

27. I'm terrible and cleaning house, but I can organize it all day long. I'm thankful that Bill and I worked out an agreement that he will do the dishes and I will do the laundry. Jackson does like I did when I was little and tries to change the subject or distracts you if you ask him to clean his room. Why make your bed when you can crawl right back in to it just how you left it. ;-)

28. I "LOL" and use smiley faces WAY too much and I don't care. My cousin Katie pointed this out to me a few years ago and I still can't stop. I'm a happy person! Oh, and I use "!" too much too. (shrugs)

29. I worry way too much. But I'm working on that

30. I miss going to lots of concerts with Bill. We had some fun with those. My favorite concert I actually went to without him was The Breeders at the Orange Peel in Asheville. Although, seeing The Legwarmers at the Norva is a close second.

31. It makes me sad if I know someone doesn't like me. I'm not talking about internet trolls, they don't matter. I mean people I have to interact with on a regular basis. I'm only aware of one or two, but it bothers me to no end and I always feel I need to reach out and try to fix it instead of just thinking "to hell with them". You can't make everybody happy. So I just try not to think about it and continue trying to be a good person.

32. I am really surprised I came up with 32 things about me! I hope they were interesting. There's that worrying again.

One for good luck: I would appreciate it if people left comments on my blog posts. I haven't had one yet, but if someone posts something mean I will delete it. I don't like meanies.

Blah, blah, blah, Batman...Where's Wonder Woman?

People are either all excited or in a snit about Ben Affleck being announced as the latest actor to play Batman. How many Batman movies have there been? 10? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed a few of those movies. What I want to know is where is the announcement about the a Wonder Woman movie? Unlike Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Ironman there haven't been millions (billions?) of dollars spent to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. I'm talking blockbuster level people! (And here's one suggestion on how to do that.)

Why does it matter you ask? Well, it matters because little girls (and all the rest of us) need to see strong positive female characters that helps us see that we can be strong, independent, awesome, creative, and save the frickin' day! Otherwise all we see are characters that tell us to change ourselves completely to get a man to make us happy (Ariel), love a beast until he becomes the man we want him to be (Belle, and hello unhealthy relationship messages!), wait for a prince to come rescue us from a family we don't like and magically know our shoe size (Cinderella), waist our time taking a nap until a prince slays a dragon for us (Sleeping Beauty), etc... We need some positive role models for our daughters and ourselves. We also need boys and men to see girls and women in a positive light and not just as trophies or playthings here for their pleasure. We got stuff to do! We can change the world! We don't have time to wait around for a prince to rescue us or even want a prince (hello heterosexism). We are perfectly capable of rescuing ourselves!

Recently my son and I watched Shrek 3. There's a few scenes in there where the princesses and the queen band together to save the day. Jackson loved this part. He asked me to play it over and over again. He especially liked it that they played Heart's Barracuda in the background. However, he also asked me why they burned their bra. Thanks Disney for trivializing feminism to "bra burning". That only happened like once in real life. I just told him they didn't like wearing them and that they tore off their sleeves and the hem of their dresses because they were too tight and constricting. Yesterday Jackson told my mom that his princesses were coming to save him. That was definitely a proud momma moment.

Anyway, back to Wonder Woman. We need to be particular about who plays this inspirational character. It could go very wrong if left in the hands of the wrong people. Hollywood would probably hire someone like Megan Fox and try to sex it up. That's been done and overdone. We need more female characters that aren't sexually objectified. The movie should also pass the Bechdel Test. And we don't need it to be a commentary on "women can't do/have it all" showing Wonder Woman trying to balance work and family life. Just give us a superhero and let us figure out what we can and can't do/have.

Recently The Heat was successful as a female version of the buddy cop comedy so a female superhero movie could be done just as well. I'm thinking Joss Whedon would do it justice, but there should also be some feminist women leading the project too. After all, it is Wonder Woman.

Who do you think should play Wonder Woman?
Who do you think should write, direct and/or produce this movie?
What other female superheroes would you like to see?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Women's Studies - Changing the World!

This semester I will be teaching my first college course: Introduction to Women's Studies, at the very university where I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees in that subject. When I got to Old Dominion University in 1999, I never dreamed that I would one day be teaching my own class. First of all, I came to ODU to study Photography. I grew up taking pictures of the beautiful countryside that surrounded me and my tiny town (Population 600) and had this dream that I'd one day be a photographer for National Geographic. I also thought I'd be a goalie for the U.S. Women's Olympic Field Hockey Team, but that's another story.

I enjoyed my photography classes, especially when I got to hand-develop my own photos. But when I stumbled on my first Women's Studies class when picking out a social science elective, my life took a drastic turn. I had no idea of the life-changing decision I had made when I chose that course. I had never heard of Women's Studies. My mom had raised me to be a feminist without ever telling me or even using that word. She taught me that I was brave, strong, smart and could be whatever I wanted to be. She never once said "hey, you should be a feminist". That's not how it works. I've learned that this tactic works well with raising my kids too. But I digress...

I have to admit I was super nervous the first class when we had to arrange our desks in a circle. Did I mention I was from a very tiny town and also super shy. I mean, the thought of all the other students facing me when I was encouraged to talk about what I thought/felt about the assigned readings? Gasp! I was used to never having to talk in class. Sure, I knew the answers and raised my hand to answer a few times, but I was hardly ever called on. Mostly the boys who were the intelligent class clown types or a few the super-duper smart girls did most of the talking. I was smart but sorta got lost in the shuffle. I could hide and get by. This wouldn't fly in Women's Studies. They wanted to know what I thought/felt and I both hated it and loved it at the same time.

This class taught me lots of things, but the most powerful thing I learned in Women's Studies was that my thoughts and opinions mattered and I have a voice that I could be using to enact change. What a concept! It still took me a little while to find a way to use my voice in a way that spoke to others. It wasn't until I wrote my first blog about my pregnancy experiences that I realized that my voice could help others. I had an ectopic pregnancy my first time around and through writing about that I not only helped myself to process the emotions, but found out that several of my friends had too experience similar losses and it helped them to see they weren't the only ones. In fact, I realized just how common miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are. Women had been made to feel that talking about those experiences were taboo so they kept it to themselves and suffered in silence. I made it my policy to always talk openly out my experiences so that others won't feel alone.

Another positive side-effect of majoring in Women's Studies (yes, I quickly switched majors) was that the people around me began to question society's gender rules just because they knew I probably would. For example, I became "the feminist" of my group and all the people in that group would tell me about what they saw or experience that they knew I would be pissed off by. That gave me the chance to explain to them why it was wrong or what I might have done in certain situations. In a sense, they were doing my work for me. LOL That was almost 10 years ago. Lately I've been in the book club with friends who are also my colleagues at work. I am amazed that I don't even have to point out sexism in the books we read. I can sit back and watch them discuss it. Now, granted, I they know I work in a women's center and several of these women would probably identify as feminist, but it's amazing to be in a group where feminism is not a dirty word and they all get what I get about sexism in our society. We don't always agree on everything, but we do on the big picture issues and the discussion is amazing.

Flashback to today and I just announced on Facebook (you know, that makes things official) about teaching my first Women's Studies college course. In an hour I've had 30 of my friends "like" my post and send me well wishes. This tells me two things, that I have awesome friends, and the direction I'm going is the right one. I've come a long way from that shy country girl and I'm excited to embark on this new adventure with teaching. I'm sure I'll have lots to talk about based on my experiences in the classroom (keeping confidentiality of course), so here's to getting back on track with this blog! I'm ready to open some eyes and minds and help my students learn to value their voice and find a way to change the world for the better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy First Birthday Myles!

A year ago today my sweet baby Myles was born. After 12 extra days of incubation, a pregnancy which seemed not to have an end in sight, Myles decided he'd join the world since we obviously were anxious to meet him (pitocin). He's awesome and we love him!
Happy Birthday Myles!!

Such a happy baby!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Breastfeeding Guilt Trips for New Moms

Recently a good friend of mine told me about her friend who is a new mom and is having trouble breastfeeding. Her son is not latching on and this young woman who did her research and read all the right books is feeling like a failure. This is not the first time I have heard of a new mother beating herself up because breastfeeding is supposed to be this easy, natural, best-for-your-baby thing and she can't make it work. On top of all the hormones raging through her body, being deprived of sleep, and recovering physically from just having given birth, first time moms are being made to feel guilty by our society because they for whatever reason can't breastfeed. Not to mention there are moms who choose to use formula from the get go who are looked down upon by all the "experts".

I experienced this myself with my first child. I was all about breast-feeding and read everything I could get my hands on. I also knew that the hospital where I planned to give birth provided a free lactation coach. I was all set and ready to roll. I got this. Then my precious son arrived and he had other plans. He refused to latch no matter which way I held him, how many specialty pillows I used or how hungry he was. I even let the lactation coach try to force my boob in his mouth because I obviously wasn't doing it right. I kept trying and trying and he wasn't having it. It just wasn't for him.

It didn't take long for the guilt to set in. I thought there was something wrong with me. Every other mother ever had been able to do this so why couldn't I? I must be a terrible mom already. Not true, but that's how I felt. My husband was very supportive through it all and trusted me to make the right decisions for feeding our son. After a lot of trying we worried that he wasn't getting what he needed. I remembered a conversation I had with a co-worker of mine who said not to feel guilty about asking the nurses to feed the baby with formula. She was the first person to tell me that breastfeeding didn't just happen easily. Up to that point all I had ever heard or read was that basically the baby will know what to do and to let nature take its course. WRONG. I tried everything I could think of and so did the lactation coach (all 3 of them). Thank goodness for my friend's advice because it gave me the courage to ask for the help I needed that had nothing to do with my obviously malfunctioning boobs (Again, not true, but that's how I felt).

When I asked the nurses to please get my baby some formula so he could have the nutrients he needed while I figured out this breastfeeding thing, they didn't bat an eye. Thank goodness they were supportive. I don't think I could have taken another person telling me I just needed to try harder. I know those lactation coaches were just trying to help but they need some training on bedside manner and to lose the guilt trips. It's not just them though. Sometimes its your mother or mother-in-law in which case it is ok to say nicely "thank you for your advice, I love you, but I'm running this show". It's also all the books and websites and "experts" that say formula fed babies are inferior and if you don't breastfeed you are doing your child a diservice. There are even groups trying to get formula pulled from hospitals so mothers can't rely on it to feed their babies. They'd rather starve babies than allow anything but breastfeeding. Those people are horrible and should be educated on how their actions negatively affect women and their babies. Because, you know what, they're wrong. My two sons were both formula fed and they are not only super smart, but also healthy. So, just try to weed through those negative ned's and nancy's and listen to your instincts about what's best for your baby.

Sure, I would have liked to have been able to breastfeed both of them; formula is expensive! I am super happy for those moms who choose to and are able to breastfeed. High five to them! And, on a side note, they should not be made to feel guilty for feeding their child in public. But I don't regret listening not only to my gut but also my babies. I was causing them more distress trying different ways to get them to latch than just giving them the formula that had everything they needed. And don't listen to that bull crap about bonding. You can feed your child from a bottle and still bond with them (that's how my husband did it). I have great relationships with both of my kids. They like to snuggle and miss me when I'm gone, but they are also perfectly happy playing independently. They're well adjusted little gentlemen and that had nothing to do with being breastfed. Don't you see, both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding work to feed babies, you just have to figure out what works best for your baby and not give a damn about what the talking-heads say you should do.

Most of my friends who are moms struggled with breastfeeding their first child (and sometimes their second if they gave it another go). It isn't always that the babies have trouble latching, although that is common. Sometimes it's that your boobs don't producing enough milk as was the case with my second child. I got him to latch but my milk dried up after about 10 days. No matter the reason, all my momma friends who had trouble felt the guilt and that's unfortunate. And that is why I am writing this, because no new mom should be made to feel she is a failure if her baby and her boobs just aren't compatible. It's not always a perfect match as we are made to believe. So many women experience this and feel ashamed so they keep it to themselves. Speaking out about our experiences helps not only ourselves, but also others who realize they're not alone.

If you're a new mom, reach out to your friends who are also new moms and talk honestly about your struggles with breastfeeding. Don't keep it bottled up. You are a great mother because you care enough to feed your baby whether that's with a bottle or a breast. Try channeling all that energy you're putting into feeling guilty into teaching them all you can about the world and how to be a good person and pursue their dreams.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How are women in the military being affected by all the news coverage of sexual assault?

I live in an area highly populated with military personnel and see a lot of them in my local coffee shop on a regular basis. With all the news on sexual assault in the military, I have started to wonder how all this attention is affecting all women in the military on a regular basis. Is it making it better? Are their male colleagues, those in lower ranks and leaders paying more attention to their own behaviors that could be or border on sexual harassment? Have the incidents of rape decreased because everyone is on high alert and have been told rape is wrong (sad that it has to be pointed out)?

Or have things gotten worse for them? Are they hearing snide comments from their peers about how all the attention is affecting/changing the military. Are they now being micro-managed more so than their male counterparts? What are they experiencing now? I don't have the answer, I'm just wondering if anyone is checking in with them. You know that saying that things get worse before they get better? Is it getting worse for women in this transition?

Being my mother's (who once got a whole train of folks she didn't know to sing "You Are My Sunshine") daughter, I have to make myself not go and strike up a conversation about this with women in uniform when I see them. My concern is that I would make them uncomfortable not just if they happen to be victims/survivors but if they are made to feel like they are speaking for all women in the military and maybe they want to distance themselves from the conversation for fear of retaliation. This must be a very tricky (to put it mildly) time to be a woman in the military and my heart goes out to them. Has their working environment become (more) hostile?

I've always tried to avoid qualifying a professional by their gender (like woman police officer, female judge, female soldier, etc...). I don't want to make them feel like they're an afterthought or an "other", like they're just visitors in a male-dominated field. It is their job and their gender should not matter. They're soldiers who protect our country just like all the other soldiers. They don't deserve to be harassed or assaulted (no one does).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't be talking about this issue in the news and drawing attention to it. If we don't talk about it then nothing will happen to change it. I just think there also needs to be attention on how women are being treated during this process. Also, I should point out that not all men in the military harass or assault women. I know some wonderful military men who I know would not (and even have not) stood for such violence.

As I said, I don't have the answers to my questions and I don't particularly want to bombard other coffee shop patrons with personal questions. Do you have any insights?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Red Flags in Relationships

This week I was participating in a professional development workshop focused on presentation skills. We had to give a 5 minute presentation and use at least one visual. When I found out about the assignment you know my mind was racing with ideas. This was a golden opportunity to talk about all my favorite feminist topics and open some eyes. 

I knew damn well this group of fine folks had never thought about how women are portrayed in the media or healthy masculinity. That's alright, if you've never learned about it, how are you supposed to know? I started writing down ideas in class the week before and was all like "this is going to blow their minds!". 

Then the unexpected thing happened. In the practice sessions one of my workshop-mates told a story about a woman who was basically stalking him and almost ran over him with her car because he refused her booty call. The class was laughing because they probably thought he was making it up, that it couldn't possibly have happened that way. If this had been a woman talking about a man doing these things, the room would have been dead silent.

Right then I realized this group (and most people for that matter) needed a little education on healthy vs. unhealthy relationship behaviors. So, I did my 5 minute presentation on red flags for unhealthy relationships and what constitutes healthy behaviors. Luckily I had given many presentations on this topic before so I was comfortable with the material and things went smoothly. 

Courtesy of www.theredflagcampaign.org

You could see it sinking in for most of them and I got a lot of head nods and "mmm hmm"'s. I gave them all a handout (meeting my visual requirement but also putting the info in their hands if needed for themselves or a friend). After I finished they all had to say something I did well and something I needed to work on (re: my presentation skills). Most of them said it was really enlightening and great info that we all could relate to. 

One guy said the subject was too dark. With respect, yes, it is a "dark" subject, but if we don't talk about it then it will continue and never get better. If we don't learn to recognize these behaviors how will we ever get out of abusive relationships or quit being the abuser (in the case of red flags that we don't realize are unhealthy, like jealousy)?

The guy who had told his story was in his room and responded when it was his turn to evaluate my presentation. He said it was great information that we could all use and that I needed to work on my "um"'s. So, even if he didn't say, "hey, thanks!" I at least know he got the info and hopefully it will help him. 

The majority of relationship abuse is committed by men against women, however, that doesn't mean women can't/don't exhibit these behaviors in their relationships too. This also can occur in same-sex couples. No matter who your partner is, this information is good for those being abused and those doing the abusing. It's more obvious if someone is physically abusing their partner. It's the more subtle red flags that people may tend to brush off with "gosh they must really love me to want me to spend all my time with them" type thoughts.

Courtesy of www.theredflagcampaign.org

Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Most Popular Guys On YouTube" Are Cavemen

Yesterday I got an email from Youtube with the subject line "10 million people know the most popular guys on YouTube. Do you?". Well, no, I don't. This tugged at my curiosity (which I know was the purpose of the email). I gotta know who the most popular guys are (and also what kind of masculinity they're selling). I was hopeful it would be something awesomely positive (hey, I'm an optimist) but I was sorely mistaken. They're all just a bunch of cavemen, literally. See for yourself...

"What Guys Are Really Thinking"

In the first scene, a group are buddies are egging on one of their friends to go get a woman's number who's doing yoga in the park. He tells her is that his friends put him up to it and he promises her that he's not a creep. Then they replay the scene where the guy turns in to a caveman to illustrate "what he's really thinking". He just wants "bam bam", he's definitely creepy and of course she's clueless.

Basically the message is that guys pretend to act nice, but all they really want is sex and they'll tell you what they think you want to hear to get it. Great, guys have been reduced (again) to pathological liars and sex addicts who are incapable of genuine emotion and healthy relationships. Oh, but I bet it's just a joke guys, right? Right. I know they're capable of more so this is disappointing.

They go on to show you how they're not really listening to us when we (obviously only) talk about going shopping (stereotype), losing weight (stereotype), and fashion (stereotype). They'd rather stare at our boobs than listen to what we have to say, because, as they're insinuating, anything we have to say couldn't possibly be interesting.

When the date is over and she says she "has to do homework" but she'll "see (him) around" the caveman inside of him throws a temper tantrum saying it was a "waste of time" because he didn't get "bam bam". So, here we are again with yet another example of a male stereotype that no matter what they do, the ultimate goal is sex.

On the flip side, they show the female characters turning into cavewomen who say "You no try hard for bam bam, you no get bam bam" sending the message that women really want guys to pursue them even if they say no (Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!):  FYI, "no" means "no" and "yes" means "yes", let's not get that confused. Too many guys have fallen for this myth that if they just keep harassing a girl long enough she'll cave in and give them sex. Just to clear that up, here are a few definitions everyone should learn: sexual harassmentsexual assault, rape. (BTW, plying someone with alcohol so you can have sex with them is rape.)

The "most popular guys on YouTube" couldn't help themselves but to wrap up their video with a few more stereotypes. "This girl want bam bam...and chocolate, and bubble baths, and shopping, and watch romantic movie with man-hunk Ryan Gosling". Hey guys, you've really got us pegged...he he, he he...NOT. I'm sure you don't all want to be categorized as a bunch of douchebag assholes so I'd appreciate it if you didn't stereotype us into a bunch of airhead shoe-crazy over-consumers. I do appreciate their acknowledgement that women like sex too. We can do without the stereotype that its something only guys want.

I'm sure the makers of this video probably thought they were just being funny, and maybe if we lived in a world where rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment wasn't a problem then maybe...no, not even then would this be funny. What this "humor" and "boys will be boys" attitude really does is tell guys their just a bunch of sex-crazed idiots who are incapable of anything other than harassing women (so why even try to be anything but). There are lots of Good Men out there. Sure, there are guys whose main focus is when and where their next booty call is going to come from (mostly their the ones who've fallen for the stereotype) and there are guys who force themselves onto women (criminals). However, even though most rapists are guys, not all guys are rapists. Men are perfectly capable of having genuine human interactions/relationships that don't involve the pursuit of sex. These stereotypes are just holding those guys back from evolving with the rest of us.

To help our two sons avoid the pitfalls of this limiting/dangerous stereotype, my husband (an example of an awesomely good man) and I will teach them about healthy masculinity and how to identify and avoid those negative stereotypes of what it means to be a real man.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Even peaceful John Lennon sang about violence against women, but not in the way we'd hope.

Sitting in traffic on the way in to work recently, my husband and I randomly started talking about creepy lyrics in popular songs. He brought up "Run For Your Life" by The Beatles. I have to admit I've never heard the song. I know a LOT of Beatles songs but for some reason I missed that one. The lyrics are not only creepy but talk about straight up murdering a woman if she is caught cheating on him (in this case John Lennon who wrote the song). See for yourself:

The Beatles - Run For Your Life

Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end, little girl

Well you know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end, little girl

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

This was obviously written in a different time (1965) and the way in which we spoke about (or didn't speak about) violence against women was different. That doesn't make it right. Promoting or glorifying violence against women in any time, form or fashion is wrong. It is interesting to look back at this example (and I'm sure plenty others) from the perspective of where we are now in the movement for gender equality and ending violence against women and girls. The movement is by no means complete. There is still plenty to be done (just check out these stats and these too). However, now thanks to social media, we're able to call out sexism more publicly when we see it (Check out Hollaback's campaign to end street harassment) and get some positive results (Check out the #FBrape campaign that was a success). We at least have a more public avenue now for addressing this issue.

Like I said, there's still plenty to be done.  There's that whole Rick Ross thing where he got called out for his lyrics that bragged about drugging and having sex with an unconscious woman (that's rape dude). By the way, alcohol is the number one date rape drug and is used in about 90% of cases of rape, so "molly" is not the only thing "guys" (I refuse to refer to rapists as "men" because real men don't rape.) are using to assault women. So when women are told to keep an eye on their drink (you know, because it's our responsibility to not be raped instead of guys being taught "Yo, don't rape."), while that's good advice in some cases, we should also be educating (well everyone) on the effects of alcohol. These "guys" are twisting our desire to have a good time ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!" Hello?!) into an opportunity to exert their power and control over our bodies. That's right folks, rape is about power and control. Sex is just the weapon. Don't buy that bullshit that guys just can't control their sexual desires.

The discussion about violence against women in music often talks about rap or hip hop. While it's true that there are examples in this genre of women being referred to as "bitches and hoes", sexually objectified or threatened with violence, there are examples in pop music too. Have you heard the latest Train song? Basically they'd rather say their girlfriend died in some horrible way than admit that she broke up with them. See for yourself:

Train - 50 Ways to Say Goodbye

My heart is paralyzed
My head was oversized
I'll take the high road like I should
You said it's meant to be
That it's not you, it's me
You're leaving now for my own good

That's cool, but if my friends ask where you are I'm gonna say

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

She was caught in a mudslide
Eaten by a lion
Got run over by a crappy purple Scion
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She dried up in the desert
Drowned in a hot tub
Danced to death at an east side night club
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

Why this didn't catch national attention I'm not sure, especially given that the video shows the different ways she supposedly died. They even show her head (they at least used a dummy) getting knocked off by a car and then kicked around at a soccer game. Hello?!

So, I suggest we have an open discussion about music lyrics past, present and future and what messages they're sending about men, women and violence. I'm raising two boys and I worry about the outside influences that say violence against women is cool and just something "guys" do (you know, "boys will be boys"...barf) being louder than their Momma's voice telling them to be good men (Check out The Good Men Project for inspiration). I know that means I'll have to be ever more and vigilant about addressing things when they come up. I can't hide or protect them from all the negative media that comes their way, but I can talk with them about what it means. We LOVE music in our house which so there will be lots of opportunities for discussion I'm sure.

Jackson, my oldest who just turned 4, is already used to me "explaining" things to him. Just yesterday I told him not to put his loud duck toy right up to my ear and play the quack quack sound. He got all huffy and puffy and ran to his room. On his way there I asked him if he wanted me to explain to him why I asked him not to do that. He came running back in the living room all excited saying "Yes, please explain why." I was soo happy to have him react this way. That was the first time I had seen my efforts to explain things to him actually work. And once I told him how ears worked he understood and was happy again. He even showed me how he could hold it further away and play the funny noise for Momma without hurting her ears. Score one for Momma!