Category Archives: Women’s issues

International Women’s Day Thought Download

I spent the day doing what I always do (recently, anyway): I got up when the baby did, fed him, thanked my husband for making oatmeal for me before he had to head to campus, got caught up on FB while the baby dumped ALL of his toys onto the floor, then tortured the baby with continued inattention while I readied myself to teach. I drove us to campus, handed baby duties off to my husband so I could talk about the importance of communication to a room full of speech students: some who want to learn, some who just want to get through the class so they can crawl back to bed. I fed the baby a peanut butter sandwhich, wiped peanut butter off his face while he yelled at me, then ate my sandwhich while he toddled down the hall, my husband close behind him. I bounced and breast fed my son in my hsuband’s darkened office, hoping that he would go to sleep before my next class started. He didn’t, so had to leave him, half-asleep and wailing, so that I could go downstairs and teach my advanced acting class, again with the knowledge that some of my students genuinely want to learn, and some of them just want to crawl back to bed. I then tiptoed back into my husband’s office so he could teach his class, and got a little grading done while my son slept. When he woke up, I packed up all his stuff, all my stuff, and brought us back home so we could take a walk, eat, and play with all the toys on the floor. When he finally went to sleep for the night, I spent 2 hours grading, emailing students, and sloppily shoveling some food into my face.

I did not go on strike.

I did not attend a rally (there weren’t any rallies in this small town to attend.)

I did not change the world.

But I thought about the world, about my place in it, and about how complicated the fight for equal rights is.

I read a lot social media discussions that went something like this:

Statement: Women’s rights are human rights!
Response: You already have those!

Or:

Statement: Equal pay for equal work!
Response: Stop whining!

Or:

Statement: I don’t see what the fuss is about. I’m a woman, and no one is oppressing me!
Response: Where to begin…

And I felt the crushing wave of overwhelm bearing down on me again.

I’m tired. I’ve had some truly exhausting moments in my life, but I never felt the kind of soul crushing exhaustion that I feel in my bones now that I have a baby calling the shots. Part of this is because – in wanting to be more than just a wife and mother, I’m trying to juggle too much. Part of this is because our nation doesn’t particularly value women beyond their abiity to incubate life and mother, and it kind of wants them to do all that baby-having stuff on their own without help.

I’ve been working adjunct and freelance positions for the past several years – I don’t have job security, health benefits, a retirement plan, or maternity leave. When I found out I would be delivering Finn a month into the Spring semester, I began to sweat because it meant I’d have to take the semester off. Without pay. And I hardly make enough pay to do anything with anyway.

And now, here we are, my husband with a full-time tenure-track professorship that requires he also direct at least 3 of the 4 annual college productions – I’m still just adjunct. We’re quite a bit in debt, meaning even if I was alright with pushing pause on my career, we can’t afford for me to stop work anyway.

So…

I’m teaching 3 classes, raising a baby without day care or babysitters, and running a new play festival while my husband works full time and directs. Sure, I could ditch the new play fest – but it’s something I believe in and it is an important part of my growing body of work as an artist… something that really matters if I hope to ever get out of the adjunct pool and into a permanent teaching position somewhere.

Which I do. I don’t want to be a stay at home mom – never have. I’m not built that way. So I am happy that I am able to continue working, even though the schedule is brutal. And I am happy that I am able to continue coordinating and facilitating theatrical opportunities because it’s important to my artistic self.

Even though all of it feels like too, too, too much.

And most of the time I feel like I’m not doing enough.

And so, now that my baby is finally in bed, and I’m left with a few moments to put his toys away (so that they are available to dump out again in the morning), I’m thinking again about International Woman’s Day and how I spent the day trapped between all the hopes for what it should mean to be a woman today, and all the realities.

Statement: Women work hard, but we have to make choices about our lives that men never have to do. We have to decide whether or not to have children (if we’re lucky) and we have to chose whether or not to put our careers on hold if we do. There are societal judgments attached to all of this. And meanwhile, we continue to be judged on our looks, our temperment, and our emotions in ways that men aren’t. We are expected to do all of this with less job security and lower pay. We are expected to pay higher insurance premiums because the awesome power of our baby-making parts terrifies insurers. We are expected to be polite, attractive, and appreciative in ways that men never are. And so, on International Women’s Day, I don’t think it’s asking too much to say I’m tired of defending my fight for women.
Response: Stop whining.
Statement: Fuck off.

And that’s about all I have the time, or energy, to say right now.

I am a white American woman. I have a lot of privileges that a lot of women in this country and elsewhere do not. I am thankful – so very thankful – for the freedoms I do have, for the people in my life who never tell me to be “polite”, and for all the female role models in my life who fight for what they want/believe in/and love, who live their lives the way they see fit, and who continue to stand up for my right to do the same.

I hear you. I see you. I appreciate you.

But we have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to keep fighting.  That’s what women do.

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Bathing like a little old Korean Lady

I love the Korean Day Spa in LA – it’s affordable, relaxing, totally-nude fun!  I especially love the unabashed nakedness because it forces you to just get over yourself already, and walk amidst a myriad of other less-than-perfect bodies of other less-than-dressed women without any place to possibly hide your “I just know I’m the only woman in the world who has hideous fill-in-the-blank(s)” anxieties… Instead, you are forced to accept the many boobs and thighs and asses in your proximity as living proof that women are not all designed to look like super models –  not even in LA, where the Korean Day Spa attracts oodles and boodles of aspiring etceteras  on a daily basis.

No, here all women are the same: flesh to be pummeled into a relaxed state of bliss by tough Korean masseurs wearing just their own bras and panties.

bathBut beyond general enthusiasm for the “All of us are in this together” vibe and self-image-liberating experience this spa provides, I’ve recently found myself haunted by images of the spa standard: Elder Korean women sitting at the spa’s water trough, scrubbing down even the most delicate areas of themselves with nary a thought to the fact that there are no signs posted anywhere that read “Customers MUST scrub the hell out of their vaginas at the trough”.

I’ve been thinking about these women of NO fear because for the last 8 days, our new apartment has been sans a functioning shower head and I’ve found myself hunkered down in the as-yet-un-resurfaced tub, splashing and scrubbing away at my armpits and sensitive spots just like one of those little old Korean woman at the spa.

I’m really really starting to wonder if it will ever get fixed.

Not that I mind splashy baths – I have, of course, by now scrubbed that tub so hard that there’s naught but ceramic and my own sweat and tears left to cradle my naked ass, therefore affording me full bath privileges above and beyond the sit and squat method I had to employ before we were FINALLY able to locate and unpack the cleaning supplies two days after move-in.

But baths have become treats to be doled out after long strenuous days.  They come with wine and candles and that old (but oh-so-relaxing) Enya cd that you’ve been listening to in the tub for over a decade.

A hurried bath in the morning before you head out into the world just isn’t as refreshing or soothing as a real shower or bath should be.

Plus it’s harder to rinse all that shampoo and stuff out of your hair with a plastic cup from Harkins Theatre.

Definitely not as relaxing as the Korean Day Spa.  Not even close.

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“Oops, I have to feed my vagina”

Huffington Post ran an article today that made me want to poke my eye out.   Titled, “Oops, I slept with your boyfriend“, it was filled with the same vacuous, inane drivel a teenager might offer to a disapproving parent after getting caught sexting her 11th grade English Professor: “I knew it was wrong, but It just felt so right.”

Which is pretty much the crux of her argument.  While the author (and dating coach!?), Charlie, goes on and on about her ‘rules’ for her infidelity hook-ups – sober cheating only, please, and let’s make sure we both know what we’re going to be doing so that I can tell myself we’re being grownups about it… oh, and I probably won’t sleep with my girlfriend’s boyfriends… unless, you know, I want to – what she’s really reiterating with every word is that she’s a slave to her whims, a victim of her own vagina, a puppet to the wonton desires that drive our primordial brains to just fuck, fuck, fuck our way into a new generation of hunters, gatherers, and future fuckers.

Charlie is just doing her job as a good ape.

Gooooood ape, Charlie. Here’s a banana for you to suck on.

Unfortunately, Charlie seems to think her behavior places her in some sexually enlightened zone of “pleasure for pleasure’s sake”, when it reality it makes her a whirling sexual dervish of emotional destruction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going out looking to f*ck guys who have girlfriends. And when someone tells me they have a girlfriend, I never pressure them to sleep with me. I don’t even disregard their relationship with some sort of “I don’t care if you don’t care,” or “she’ll never know.” Usually I ask them what her name is and how they met. Sometimes they show me pictures.

The few times I’ve found myself the mistress, we have had deep, real, meaningful conversations about their relationships and their commitments, their heart and their body. I encourage them to honor their commitments if that feels good to them. And sometimes it does. And sometimes it doesn’t.

Wow.  I mean, the psycho-analysis here is amazing – sometimes it feels good to honor your committments, and sometimes it doesnt?  WHERE HAS THIS GENIUS BEEN HIDING?  Oh, right – behind a penis.

Well, let me tell you something Charlie – you ain’t unveiling the unknown with that.  It IS hard to honor your commitments.  Whether to a lover, the military, a store you walked into short on cash, or a million other engagements – our lives are full of various commitments.  Commitments we decide each and every day to follow, or not.  But honoring our commitments is what lifts us out of Ape-Ville and secures us a place in Grown-Up-Land, and that’s something to actually be proud of.

But not Charlie… no, she’d rather feed her vagina at any cost – even if it makes her little more than a breakup toy:

My lovers have been in complicated relationships that are basically over but they can’t break up, and they are exhausted and need the kind of nurturing that you can only get when you are getting ridden hard and kissed passionately. I’ve had lovers with agreements that are unclear and undefined, with no way to clarify before one of us left town. I’ve had lovers who were very newly and casually trying out monogamy with someone and found that our long term friendship carried more strength, connection, healing and passion than their new quasi-relationship did. More than once I’ve had lovers who were separated, but not divorced, and we kept things under wraps for legal, or emotional purposes.

See, here’s the thing – I don’t care why Charlie loathes monogamy.  I don’t care what battles her Ego and Id are having on a daily basis.  I can’t see her nightmares, her heartbreak, her pains, or her joys (well, I guess we can see the sexual ones, since she’s put some of them on display).  She’s just a reckless chick who threw up a blog post celebrating her ego (and rubbing said ego in every other woman’s face).

What I do care about is that this woman has woven such an impressive web of bullshit around herself that she’s convinced it’s alright to summarily dismiss the rest of us V-card holders as idiots.  She’s the cockroach crawling all over Human Weakness, but it ain’t her fault, really – because her logic is “The penis does what the penis wants to do.”

Gag.

See, what Charlie seems unable to recognize is that the world is not just some penis-filled buffet table for lucky ladies to gorge themselves on.  I mean, well, it kind of is…  But slapping your vagina on every penis in the place ain’t the way to lasting personal fulfillment, respect, or – you know – having any female friends to help hold your hair back when you find yourself vomiting up all that oh-so-yummy man-seed.

Because that’s the problem with buffets… they inspire gluttony.

And telling all us women of the world that our men are probably on your menu is nothing if not gluttonous.

So how about this for some advice:  Shut up.  Grow up.  Be a better human being.

Tell your vagina to look for attention from dudes who aren’t already suffering through one of those “commitments” you seem to despise.

Because the thing about monogomy is that is is hard.  It is a challenge.   But it’s a challenge not just because our naughty bits get frisky when they catch the sent of “other” naughty bits.  No – that’s so damn close to the surface that it’s almost laughable.

Monogamy is a challenge because when you’re in a relationship, you traverse two paths instead of one.  His potholes become mine, and my detours become his… We negotiate two battles instead of one, and if we don’t do it well, we might not remember take our gloves off when the foe is gone – financial worries can haunt a couple like ghosts,  sparring emotional/sexual inequalities between husband and wife might linger, and the exhaustion that children cause could salt every meal.

Your vagina, bobbing around there at the top of the pothole is just a shiny distraction that serves to help pull him out of deep and complicated waters… for a while.

But you’re just surface, baby.

And I’m deep.

Which is why I’ll accept the challenges of monogamy every day and twice on the weekends, if it means we come out the other side of those potholes together, as a stronger team and better people.

That’s much more satisfying than feeding on potholes.

You see, I’d much rather feed my vagina a fucking stallion than a whole platter of pussywillows.

Nom, nom, nom.