Monday, January 29, 2018

Glamorous to the Grave? #bodyshaming

Do we have to be glamorous to the grave? Do we have to carry with us all the societal beauty standards and internal fat-shaming and other BS, even when we are terminally ill?

To clarify, I am not terminally ill (any more than anyone else is - the sand in all our personal hourglasses will run out someday).

But I am ranting mad, because a friend of mine recently posted this, in part, about someone she loved, who just passed: "She fought cancer so valiantly. She was so beautiful. She looked like a fitness model til the end. She was a role model for cancer survivors. I will miss her so much."

I didn't want to go off on my friend about this, because cancer sucks, as I can testify, and losing friends sucks. I just told her I was sorry for her loss.

But I am inwardly raging about the words that poured out of her, because this is the message we receive and internalize as women, ALL THE TIME. That being beautiful, fit-looking, somehow makes a death more tragic.  Are fat ugly people the ones who "should" be dying of cancer? Is this why the news media was all over the murder of young, blonde, lovely (and white) Nicole Brown Simpson, yet the murders of black transwomen are barely a blip on the radar?

What does it say about our society that conventional attractiveness seems to impact the expression of how/why we mourn someone?

And how can we unpack this?

I think it's a sore spot for me because my mother worked really hard to lose weight, and she succeeded!! But in her final months, the metastasizing cancer bloated her liver and other internal organs, giving her a big belly. She felt so humiliated and ashamed; it was like a final indignity, cancer kicking her in the 'nads while she was already down.

Another dear friend, my first writing mentor, experienced the same abdominal bloating and terrible embarrassment and shame about it. And I've heard of similar stories from other cancer victims, or heart disease victims, on and on and on. It makes me infuriated, that there is so much societal judgment about being fat that far too many women actually feel guilty about not looking slim when they are dying of #fuckingcancer. Ridiculous!

You can buy this great print of Carrie & Gary by
Lindsay VanEk here.
And we know, we KNOW!! that yo-yo dieting is especially hard on women, and their hearts. Especially older women. Yes, Carrie had done a fair amount of drugs in her youth, and she had sleep apnea, but many wonder if her death was in part related to the huge weight loss she gamely took on, to make the final Star Wars movies. Because, as she quipped, they only wanted to hire 3/4 of her.

Why did her weight even matter? Why couldn't we have had a stocky or fat General Leia? I still would've watched the shit out of that.

As a group, women (and some men) are literally dying to be thin. Why are we are sending the message that nothing, not even death, is worse than being fat?

Must we be glamorous till the fucking grave? I want to join with the spirit of Carrie Fisher and flip off anyone who wants me to be Size Whatever.

And still, I admit, I want to be pretty. To have my loves see me as attractive, and sexy. My boudoir pictures, before and after my surgery, were and continue to be an important piece in reclaiming my life, and my power.

I am still struggling with foot pain issues, and while I'm still not getting on the scale, I know I've gained weight over the last year. It's a vicious cycle - because being active is a problem, more weight is gained, putting more pressure/damage on my feet, which then hurt more...

I hope the physical therapy I'm about to start will help. I don't have the time or patience to be hurting all the time. (Though perhaps it's something the Universe wants me to learn something from?)

I also hope that when I die, a long time from now, people remember me as more than some fat chick (who deserved to die, because, fat). Perhaps, if I'm lucky, I'll be remembered as someone with great boobs who rocked a tiara and made people laugh.

What kinds of body-shaming trigger you?
Your thoughts?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Man-hate, or Human-Love? #MeToo #TimesUp #Feminism

Sometimes I hear people ask, "Why all the hating on men?"

Which puzzles me, until I figure out what they're talking about. And it's true, sometimes I've used the shortcut, "Ugh, men!" to express frustration with some men's behaviors.

So let me clarify.

When I say:

I don't like being raped =/= I hate men.
I hate being pressured to have sex =/= I hate men.
I hate being pressured for certain kinds of sex after I've said no or not tonight =/= I hate men.
I don't like being hit on by my creepy boss or clients =/= I hate men.
I don't like earning less money for the same work as my male counterparts =/= I hate men.
I don't like being expected to do more housework and/or childcare than my male partner =/= I hate men.
I don't like being catcalled =/= I hate men.
I don't want to be spooged on by strangers on social media = /= I hate men.
I don't want to see your dick or dick pic, unless you ask first and I say yes =/= I hate men.
I don't want to be groped by strangers on a train, in a club, or at a party =/= I hate men.

Are you following where I am going with this?

When I say, "Ugh, men," I am expressing my frustration with those behaviors, and those who would normalize them.

But here's the thing. Criticizing the BEHAVIORS I don't like, criticizing the entitlement attitude that leads men to voice their delight at being able to "grab 'em by the pussy" doesn't mean I hate MEN. Many people, including me, understand that many cultural norms have guided men (note, #NotAllMen™) along these paths, and that changing them is a lot of work.

From the Women's March, Jan 2017
Asking men to do the work is not being a man-hater.

Asking them to understand that they are not ENTITLED to: sex, relationships, money, or any other thing, doesn't mean we don't want them to have the thing. It means we are beginning to say, "Not by hurting another human, can you have the thing."

Feminists like me LOVE men. We believe they are not mindless automatons, driven to harmful behaviors simply because they are men. We believe they are capable of being, and often ARE, mindful, tender, thoughtful, considerate, sexy, kind, gentle, protective, loving, respectful. And so much more.

I've been so blessed to love and know many fabulous men. I've also known some who were terrific most of the time, and occasionally did some shitty things. I've met some damaged souls who might have meant well, but were dangerous to my well being.  And known a few sociopaths.

If we want to help men - what's the current trendy catchphrase? Find their best selves, we have to stop justifying the shitty things they do, stop with the "Boys will be boys" nonsense, and help them to see that the entitlement train has left the station. And that #TimesUp for them to deal with it.

Social change is scary, but #TimesUp and past for women to be treated with dignity and respect.

Do you love men?

Do you hate the entitlement attitude?

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Still Racist on MLK Day #racism

On MLK day (and every day), we white people can get all sentimental about what a wonderful man Dr. King was, weep heartfelt tears about his assassination, and then go back to being oblivious to our own racism.

Can we try something different? If we live in a Western country, especially in the USA under the "leadership" of President Shithole, there is plenty of work we can and should do.

From Kevin Shird at the Baltimore Sun on 15 Sept 2017
In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.”
That’s as true today as it was then. The silence of white moderates who won’t speak up when faced with extreme racism exacerbates the problems we have today. White moderates have become comfortable with their lives and don’t want to “rock the boat” or make too much noise. To white moderates, I say that your silence is aiding and abetting their agenda and your moral leadership is needed now more than ever.

by Martie Sirois on Gender Creative Life:
Racism has been so meticulously sculpted and embedded into every aspect of American life that we refer to it as systemic. In other words, we have a historically-based system already well-established, in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural  representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequityWe see systemic racism through discrimination in educationbanking & financemortgages & home lendingemployment and unemployment, and so much more. Look no further than our prisons to see the racialized power imbalance in our justice system; there’s a reason why mass incarceration is called “the new Jim Crow.”
Systemic racism also confers that in America, white is not only the dominant race, but also the default race. This is why when you turn on your TV, look at billboards along the highway, pick a magazine off the rack, or watch the news, you see people of your own race widely represented, and usually, speaking as authority figures. Systemic racism is the reason why when you go almost anywhere, whether it’s to see a new film, or to the store to purchase books, cards, shoes, dolls, bras, or panty hose, for example, you can be guaranteed that they will match (or come close enough to) your own skin color if you want them to.
I get it; I have been working hard to understand and unpack my racism for years. It is discouraging and exhausting to think I will never reach the finish line, that this must be my lifelong practice. And most of the hurt, marginalized people I am trying to help aren't going to pat me on the head and give me a cookie for my work.

Maybe because they are busy trying not to get shot by cops, wrongly incarcerated, or killed via ignorant medical care, or any of the many ways our societies treat POC as lesser.
I hear some white people bitching on the regular about the lack of appreciation they feel. Because they did, like, this one decent, non-racist thing (usually, years ago), and therefore that should earn them eternal gratitude by POC who are still oppressed. "How dare POC and other white people say, "You need to be doing more!" 
We white people need to stop demanding eternal gratitude and cookies for occasionally doing the right thing. Why should the oppressed and marginalized have to go out of their way to be supernice to people with more power, more freedom, when they are STILL oppressed? 
And yet, some of them do anyway. Which is fucking superhuman of them, honestly.

So, on to doing better. With or without cookies.

We can follow and appreciate POC. And not just Oprah, you know?
Politically - follow and support THEIR organizations.
Read their stuff: Awesomely Luvvie, Ijeoma Oluo. Really listen to what they have to say.
Buy their art: TotsyMae.
Support their work in sex ed and other areas.

Just do better, white people (and I include myself in that call).
Because it's the right thing to do.
Your thoughts?
Got a link for someone we should be following or supporting?