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An Ode to Younger Women

women circle

Let me clarify. This is not a perverted rant from an saggy-testicled male poet. This is a rant from one woman to another.

This afternoon on my way to a photoshoot to update my online identity, I made a quick phone call.

This essentially makes me vintage. As in; I prefer a phone call to a text or any other kind of message.

I called a young lady with whom I work, and consider a pal. She’s younger than me, educated, capable, and way more in touch with how the world works. I am that friend to my older friends, and so it goes.

At one time, I was the younger-more-in-touch-with-reality-and-technology friends. I considered myself fortunate to be present with these ladies. I was deeply grateful to them for sharing their experience and their well-intentioned advice. I learned about becoming the woman I always wanted to be; professional, funny, sensual, and confident. Thanks to these older women I learned to live my life intentionally.

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I still need women in my life who have been-there-done-that, and know how to order a proper cocktail in order to tell their story effectively.  I also find myself now admiring the  younger women in my circles for their enthusiasm, unrestrained hopes and dreams and even their naivety.

To all of the young women out there who are now just exploring their identity as grown-up, professional, artist, or mother, we need you. We need your voice, your ideas, and your participation in all parts of life. You are valuable and loved. You’re part of a community of women, ever-evolving, ever-aging, and always, always, always in need of one another.

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Change the Pronoun – Change the Outcome

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. He was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent his entire childhood, growing into a young man wounded so deeply that he would bear the scars the rest of his life.

As an adult he could no longer stand the guilt of thinking that other children would suffer the same horror.  He spoke up. It was emotional, he felt ashamed for something he did not provoke, and at the end of it all, because he was believed, he began the real work of healing.

Does anyone remember the Penn State sexual abuse scandal? If not, refresh your memory.  Young men came forward reporting  sexual abuse, resulting in the prosecution of the perpetrator.

You’d have to have had your head buried in the sand if you haven’t heard of the reports of child abuse (overwhelmingly of boys)  reported in the Catholic Church and the  incredibly powerful conspiracy to cover that up. Overwhelmingly these young men came forward because they trusted that they would be believed.

Now read my first paragraph again with a different pronoun;

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. She was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent her entire childhood, growing into a young woman wounded so deeply that she would bear the scars the rest of her life. 

I was one of those girls. When I wanted to come forward (years later after much counselling and thought), to help other children who were exposed to this man’s reign of terror, I was told (by professional lawyers and psychologists) that despite my record of years of counselling ,  that it would be my word against his. Without any real physical proof (all those years later), he would not be prosecuted. Not only would he walk away without any repercussion for being a rapist and abuser, getting away with it would only reinforce his perversion.

I was told that should I break my silence in order to help the other kids at risk,  he would become bolder and continue to abuse and rape. This is the kind of support women of my generation had; none.  Not likely what those Penn State men were told.

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The ‘Me Too’ movement has exposed the dirty underbelly of western misogyny. It has highlighted the history of fear-mongering and abuse of power. The frustrating and sad reality of it all is that because these victims are women, they are being poo-pooed, and condescended to by the very systems and people in power who have orchestrated silence of the vulnerable for centuries.

The common opposition about coming forward after years and years, and false accusations are non-arguments. Coming forward years later often happens after much difficult and heart-wrenching work, and with the hope of stopping the horror.

As for false accusations, I take that seriously. After all, I’m the mother of a son. It would break my heart to see his name dragged through the mud if he did not hurt someone.

Most women that you know have been sexually abused and raped. It’s a fact of life that we all know, yet our global culture shrugs it off. As North American women we set a standard for the rest of the women in the world.

In my own sphere, men often shrug it off by saying, I don’t know. It never happened to me. Well, lads, imagine being sexually assaulted and raped and then emotionally abused into being humiliated and shamed by the man or woman who did it. Would you think that they were capable of doing it again to someone else?

Remember that women (and men) report not out of vindictiveness, they report because they want to stop the cycle of abuse.

The problem is that society rallies behind sexually abused men and boys, while, by silence, apathy and blatant denial of the female voice, condoning the continued abuse of women and girls.

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Finally our voices are uniting, and are becoming stronger and louder than the din of the historical patriarchy.

 

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Are You There God? It’s Me. Where’s Margaret?

itsmemargaretFinding your father’s copy of Playboy. Playing two-minutes-in-the-closet. Wearing a bra for the first time. Buying your first maxi-pads.

Those were all of the things that made 11 year old Margaret Simon’s  character so relatabel in Judy Blume’s  ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.

I can’t remember who lent me the book, but I do remember hiding it from my parents and older sister.  Although the book was a decade behind (those girls had to wear belts with their pads),  it was as a staple in my generation’s pre-teen reading diet.  It was our porn.

Wanting to know about my changing body and emotions wasn’t easy. I was shy, a bookworm and a tomboy who was raised in a body-shaming-Baptist family.  Ballsy Margaret who crushed on Phillip and bought her own pads  from a boy cashier, was my hero.

How things have changed.

After having spent my adult years fully loaded up on contraception, today was the day that I would have my Mirena removed. This morning I stood in the drugstore looking at a wall of pads, tampons, and Diva Cups wondering just what the hell I was going to need. I would have loved to have had Margaret’s advice.

croneI no longer need birth control. What I need is to return to my feminine body. To experience the shift from motherhood to new-cronehood with some modicum of respect for the awesome female form that I inhabit.

I am from a generation of women who have been convinced that our natural cycles should be stunted. We are being convinced that unless we want to get pregnant, we need to saddle up on hormones and keep a constant, obedient level of functioning that does not include paying attention to the natural rhythm of our bodies to stop, rest, rage, weep and rejoice. We have been twisted into she-men.

If I could do it all over again, I would do it like a woman, and not try to be the she-man that our you-can-have-it-all-girl-boss-culture would like me to buy into. I would get pregnant again and rejoice in my body. I would revel in my sexuality. I would do so many things differently with regard to my divine feminine.

Much like young Margaret’s character, I’m wondering about what will happen next. Except I’m in my mid-forties.

I’m noticing changes in my body; less firm, more round, a greater comfort with my own self when I look in the mirror after I slip out of my clothes and into the hot bathwater.

I wonder what happened to ballsy, Margaret when she hit forty? I’d sure like to hear from her now.

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Body Image Issues; It’s not Me – It’s You, Pig.

oglingAbout a month or so ago, I had a really interesting conversation with my Mumster. She’s a wonderful woman, and someone whom I admire for her insight and brilliant sense of humour.

We were having side-by-side pedi’s and talking about the men in our life. You know, the oblivious sex. Particularly the middle-aged, if not beyond that demographic.

We were talking about how our confidence is much higher when we’re on our own, either completely out of the relationship, or at least not in the same room with them. I talked about this with other women as well, just to get a feel for it, and it seems to be generally true; women are most confident when not with their partners.

We feel capable and sexy when we don’t have someone around passively suggesting that we need to fix something about ourselves.

My oblivious man  is famous for patting me on my ample ass and asking if I’m going to the gym, or oggling another woman while we’re out together. Yes, it’s that obvious, and no, we don’t have to ignore it. Have some respect. You know what I’m talking about ladies, the general disrespect that has been deemed socially acceptable forever. Just last night it was, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but have you ever thought of having a breast reduction?” To which I thought, why yes darling, just last month when I was ready to dump your ass you ignorant tit.

Here’s a shocking newsflash; we live in our bodies. We know them, and we are keenly aware of their beauty and how they don’t measure up to society’s standards. And you know what, we love our luscious bodies anyway, because they are amazing works of art.

If you have a woman in your life who is vibrant, sexual and intelligent, you should appreciate and respect her.  Crawling out of the cave is a good start, it’s the twenty-first century after all.

If a man wants to be considered a gentleman, all of the high-priced grooming products in the world will not disguise his behavior as a douche bag.

 

sexy old man

Do I appreciate the physique of an anatomically-extremely-correct man? Absofreakinglutely. Do I rub it in my partner’s face that he bears no resemblance whatsoever to Channing Tatum or Dwayne Johnson by giving him a not-so-subtle smack on his ass and the condescending, “Are you going to the gym today baby. It’ll make you feel better?” No, I do not, but I think it may be time to start.

As a mother, it’s the last thing I want my son to have to worry about; looking like the cover of a Men’s Health magazine.

As a death care worker, I’m struck by the awesome beauty of healthy bodies every day, and I think we need to rejoice in that simple joy every day.

When your daughters, sisters and partners  struggle with mental health issues spurred on by body image (as most women do) your having the Swimsuit edition floating around your house doesn’t really help her. What it might do is fuel your fantasies of being a better lover than you really are, and makes every woman think you’re a pig. Oh yah, and that they never, ever want to get naked in front of you.

So don’t expect us to cower in our chubby bodies and be anxious about spending our days punishing ourselves with diets. We’re confident on our own. We love our bodies and quite frankly, if you want to act like you’re living in the mysogynist 60’s all over again; have at it, and while you’re there stud, get used to masturbating, because there isn’t a woman around who’s going to put up with your shit.

There are gentlemen out there who do respect their partners, and we have figured that out.

Confidence is not the issue; respect is the issue.

When it comes to humour, the only thing that’s still acceptable is woman bashing by men. We’ve all agreed that gender identity and race are not a joke, but somehow, being a woman still is.

Confidence is not the issue, men acting like pigs is.

 

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A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

I thought that this was important enough to share. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words. In this case, it speaks more loudly than words ever could. The article can be read at Post Internazionale.

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Why Sex-Ed Belongs in Our Schools

knowledge-is-power-quote-22It’s true.

Religion has always been at best, a path on the road to spiritual awakening which encourages empathy, ethical living, and love. At it’s worst, it’s a bastardized tool wielded by the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Spirituality belongs in school because we are all spiritual beings in human bodies. Religion belongs at home because of the long history of being used to gain power and dominate other human beings. It continues to be a  mess of misunderstood translation, twisted  cultural laws, and most importantly, something that you have the freedom to teach your children or not. At home.

Last night on the news two protestors on the sex-doesn’t-belong in school-side spoke to a reporter about their religious rights, and that it’s a parent’s job to teach kids about sex at home. First of all, if you wish to live by religious law, move. That’s right, go to a country that honours religious law unlike Canada’s secular law. It is because Canada enforces secular law that everyone is, on the surface, offered equal rights.

No? You don’t want to move to a country filled with fanatics willing to slit your throat in the street?  You don’t want to be a woman covered and bound as property to her father or husband? Then sit down and have a good think darling.

You see, sex education from a woman’s point of view is healthy. I must agree that  despite teaching about biology and the mechanics of it all, institutional education  lacks the more subtle, but just as important aspects of emotional intelligence, sexual ethics, and personal morals and values. Those things are indeed a parent’s job to discuss.

What I find very sad for both men and women is that culture within religion often perpetuates myths that can cause physical harm and psychological trauma. Most people who adhere to fundamentalist translation of holy scripture in any religious tradition value a woman’s virginity. What they don’t preach well to those young girls are the risks, health concerns and precautions to take when their protective male counterparts convince them that blow jobs and anal sex aren’t really sex. What they don’t preach well to boys  are the same things. They don’t have the knowledge to seek help when they are raped, molested or infected.

Consent? What is that when one gender is the property of another? And ‘God’ forbid there may be more than two genders. Gasp!

Regardless of gender and religion, every person in this country is entitled to knowledge and resources when it comes to a whole picture of health. That includes sexual health. Chances are you’ll have more experience with sexuality than with  calculus during your years of mature adulthood.

Chances are the irate, red-faced fathers on the news would go into convulsions explaining the transgressions of the flesh that their children face. The same goes for their mothers. Memory is a slippery trickster, remember, it was less than a hundred years ago that women were considered persons and successfully fought for the right to vote right here in the true north strong and free.

God does not belong in school. Spirituality does. Education does. If you are God-fearing, religious, or otherwise follow a moral code, it is your duty to help your children experience the beauty of spiritual living, including the real meaning of sexual desire, intimacy and relationships.

If you really care, may I suggest adjusting your priorities instead of talking smack. Instead of bowing down to the almighty dollar, be home to share a meal around the table. Spend time with your kids and get to know their friends. Teach your sons and daughters about personal respect, compassion and leadership.

Knowledge is power, especially for young women who still live in a world where rape and the onus for birth control weighs solely on their shoulders. Now, could that be the reason that men of certain religious and cultural traditions poo-poo public education, because it gives women power? Why yes, I think we have the winning answer right there darlings.

Knowing the risks and reality of sex does not take away from religious life. It never has and it never will. It only takes away power from power-hungry leaders and the weak.

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Surrogacy: An Outsider’s POV

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My friend asked me to write a post on Surrogacy from an outsiders perspective, so here goes.

It’s screwed up. It’s against nature, and in all ethical debates I favour the natural; Refer to Margaret Somerville’s: The Ethical Imagination.

I am unashamedly Pro-Choice. In other words, I’m a hypocrite. I always favour nature unless…any number of emotional arguments whose colour runs through every strand of the fabric of human life.

The Universal-Collective-We favours logic over emotion. That, my darlings, is unnatural.

We have the capacity to love, hate and feel a broad spectrum of emotions combined with intricate expressive language. When we started to prize logic over emotion, we lost out on the rich beauty of intuition and true love. I’m not saying I’m a braless free-loving hippie. I am saying the value we place on logic versus emotion is the reason psychotherapy is on the rise.

So what does this have to do with surrogacy? Well, everything.

I have chosen not to be a surrogate mother, for many reasons, but they are my own, and not yours.

Both of my very best friends have been surrogates. When the first pal o’mine whom I’ve known since I was 12 told me about her decision, I thought she was crazy and I told her so. I finished up my three sentence blessing with, “Whatever you do, I’ll support you and love you.” You know why? Because I love her.

When my second pal decided to do the same thing, I gave the same speech. You know why? Because I love her.

What are the chances my two best friends decided to do something that wouldn’t even register as a possibility on my radar? Well, because I have my own life, my own experiences, and my own opinion. They have theirs.

Argue gay-rights, Christian rights, women’s rights, or whatever rights get your pink and whites sweaty, I really don’t give a rat’s ass. What I care about is people caring about one another.  I was raised in a heterosexual-nightmare of a household, and frankly, some wolves would be far better parents than a lot of people out there who bumble through life, giving birth like I give out bags of potato chips on Hallowe’en.

I know many heterosexual-childless couples by choice, and I know a lot of homosexual couples who would be amazing parents.

Money changes hands over more insidious things than bringing human babies into the world, so who am I to judge?  Surrogacy is a priceless gift, which is why the money makes it seem dirty. Our version of survival of the fittest now includes survival of the most financially and class-status elite. Face it, poor people don’t have surrogate babies. Ever.

No one shakes a condescending finger at people taking chemo (against nature), birth control, oral fertility medication, erection enhancers, or diet pills – all against nature. We don’t picket the Red Cross because accepting donor blood is against nature, and we sure as hell don’t tell our flaccid-penised mates to pass on the little blue pills that make us go giddy in the bedroom.

The reality of the surrogacy issue is that it is tangled up in a web far too complex for human beings to comprehend and therefore too complex to mess with. Euthanasia, assisted Suicide, invitro-Procedures, organ transplants, tissue donation, even global warming. The list goes on and on and on….

Human beings think they have a handle on medicine and science, but we are mere infants in a universe more infinite and magical than we can ever comprehend. Every time we tamper with it, we damage it even more. We are emotional creatures, and we are loving creatures. We are far, far away from being ruled by logic when it comes to reproduction, our evolutionary drives, mortality and sex.

What is important is acting from a place of love, while we flounder with the deceptively simple logic of right and wrong.