Fat and Not Afraid

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In Defense of Feminism

June 21, 2014

Have I ever mentioned I don't like change? I hate it, and when I say hate I'm not being hyperbolic. I hate it. It is hard for me to change my mind even in the face of good data, but I *will* do so eventually. For example, the other night I was complaining about nuclear power and how the fall-out from Fukushima is giving Japanese kids thyroid cancer and can we PLEASE JUST STOP WITH THE NUCLEAR POWER NOW?! A friend pointed out that, pound for pound, nuclear power is cleaner than oil, gas or coal when it comes to producing energy. My counter-arguement was that nuclear's supposed cleanliness meant next to nothing when we have a melt-down. We're both right, but there's a bigger picture. The nuclear power industry is like the airline industry, an apt comparison Ryan came up with; when things go bad, they go very bad and a lot of people die, but most of the time it's going along just fine and is very very safe. Over the years there have been only four major nuclear accidents. How many major oil spills have there been? Gas leaks? Mountains leveled for coal? Pits dug for crude? It's disgusting. So my perspective has changed somewhat on nuclear power.

This brings me to the last month and some, and some big changes that happened around me. Very long story short, a dear friend got tired of close friends and family not calling themselves feminist and threw down the gauntlet; either wear the name proudly or GTFO. It wasn't just about the label though, it was about not being all in, not being 100% on the same team, years of little things adding up until she'd finally had enough. It got very very messy, a lot of things were said, and in the end she has a lot fewer friends but I think she's happier. As one of the few people deeply involved who does call herself a feminist, this has left me in an awkward spot socially, and dealing with some cognitive dissonance mentally. It's the latter I'm working through by writing today.

During the ensuing conversations, arguments, debates on semantics and such, a common point kept coming from the not-feminists; they don't want to associate with a movement that doesn't like them, or is downright hostile to them. Feminism began as a white, straight, middle-class woman's movement and hasn't moved very far from there in the last hundred years or so.  Supposedly there's room in feminism for everyone, but actions speak louder than definition and there are a number of groups that just really don't feel comfortable inside feminism; women of colour, trans*folk and men. I'm sure I've missed some but that's just a few examples that came up because of the gauntlet. If a group of people told you that as a man, every time you had sex with a woman it was rape, would you want to be a part of that group? If a group of people took your stories and told them for you would you want to be a member? If a group of people shit on your choice to be a stay at home mom or changed your name when you got married, you'd probably avoid those people.

On the other hand, I am proud to call myself a feminist. I'm a feminist because I recognize that every form of oppression and violence on earth affects women disporportionately, from hurricanes to rape, murder and war. Fully half the human race is at a disadvantage, and then you can add in the extra oppression of not being straight, white, cisgendered and Christian. Feminism at it's core is about equality. This is why feminism as a label is important, as opposed to humanism or equalism. Those two terms erase the reality of what being a woman on planet Earth is like, and if we can't look that simple truth in the face we can't begin to change it.

A few bad apples screaming about how they hate X Y or Z shouldn't define a movement that's done so much good. The people who say that all sex is rape, are judgemental assholes of women's choices, and appropriate other people's culture and stories in order to 'help' them, aren't helping.

I really enjoy having the ability to vote and own property, and not geting looked at sideways (often) for not changing my name when I got married. It's awesome that I can drive a car or go to work in any profession I choose, and I have feminists of the past to thank for that. Not equalists or humanists but feminists. The terms just don't carry the same weight for me. However, being a feminist doesn't mean I get to tell other people what labels they're obligated to wear. If you walk the walk and talk the talk I don't care what label you choose for yourself. This is where me and my friend differ; she's disowned anyone who wont wear it and while I don't necessarily *like* humanist or equalist or whatever, I respect the decision to keep the term away if feminism has treated you badly.

People who reject the label based off of Pat Robertson's stereotypes up there are just ignorant, and ignorance can be fixed. (The willfully ignorant, on the other hand...) I have no problem with people who reject the label because of shitty experiences with feminism. Hell, I get why some men may not want to use the term because they're not women, and don't want to overpower women's spaces with their privilege. That's cool if misguided. The movement needs MORE voices, more diversity, not less.

Honestly I think the word needs claiming; the 'yes, feminism is really about equality for EVERYONE' people, like me, need to be a lot louder. Feminism has never had a good name in the larger culture, there's always been pushback against something so woman-centered. But I can't make people claim something they don't want. I can't make people care about something in the way I care about it. All I can do is all I can do and hope it makes some change. Would it be cool if someday all my friends could wear "This is what a feminist looks like!" shirts? Yes, that would make my whole year. But it's not going to happen, and I'm ok with that.

First of May

May 1, 2014

Happy Beltane to one and all! May your day be full of whatever brings you the most joy! Celebrate the beauty and passion of the season in whatever way is most fulfilling to you and your loves. Revel in the long days and starry nights, the gentle rains and caress of the breeze across bare skin. Spring is here!

Well, there's still some snow here in the shaded places, and it's been cooly raining for a few days, but I don't care. It's time for me to shake off this incredibly long winter and embrace Spring wholeheartedly. Too bad Ryan is going to work all day...

Out of Gas

April 15, 2014

Out of mental spoons. Out of fucks to give. That's me right now. All of my energy is currently focused on getting through the day by day of my life. It's the uncertainty of what might come next that's bothering me the most, making me waver between frustration and hoplessness with a terrible blankness inbetween. All I want to do is sleep. Or scream. Or cry. I do none of these things. Instead I gave an interview to my local online paper about what it's like to be working and living on minimum wage with two kids and being homeless at my inlaws. (Stay out of the comments unless you've got a lot of sanity watchers points). There are pieces missing, about how I was out west for two years and had a good job and lost it, but that past doesn't change my present, how far we've fallen and how quickly it happened.

The current hopelessness troubles me, the knowing that fixing this problem is out of our hands unless we earn more money or spend the next year or two or five saving for a house. Ryan recently got a new job, one he doesn't hate and that I hope will treat him well, but it's still just part-time. He's been promised full time in the future, but we've heard that before. Being hopeless, not being able to help myself, is literally depressing me. I can't DO anything but keep putting one foot infront of the other and get through the day and apply for jobs.

Ryan suggested last night on our way home from my mom's that we use our return tickets for a little trip for ourselves, go back to the Island and visit Tigh Na Mara spa for our wedding anniversary in June since we didn't make it last year. I admit I felt a leap of excitment, but I quickly squashed it. Hope it a firefly I can't afford because I'm so damn tired of being let down and disappointed, and we have so many other things we should spend our money on instead, like getting our things out of storage or saving up to either get a house or move. Instead of jumping in with ideas or planning, like Jen of last year would have done, I said "If you want us to do it, it's up to you to plan it. I just don't have it in me to hope something that wonderful could happen."

Say Nay Nay! Goodbye to John Pinette

April 7, 2014

After my weekly tune-in to Cosmos I was shocked to read online that comedian John Pinette had died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism on Saturday. John was one of very few comedians I actually enjoyed, a man who could make me laugh almost to the point of tears. His routine "I'm Starving", especially the France and Italy skit, is my absolute favourite. My hometown has a strong Italian influence  so yeah, I can relate. What I really loved about John was his ability to laugh at himself, but not at others. Yes, he was a fat comedian and he often poked fun at himself, his weight, and his eating and exercise habits, but he didn't make fun of others. He was sensitive and kind and I'm really going to miss him.

Anything less than stellar about John has been left out because I don't know about it, not because I'm trying to gloss over it.

Fighting Frumpy

April 1, 2014

Generally I prefer to think of myself as casual, leaning towards business casual depending on the situation. TeeFury shirts make up a large chunk of my wardrobe, along with jeans and plain longsleeve shirts that are great for layering since Spring hasn't really gotten here yet. (I will note, however, that it's been above freezing and raining the last 24 hours, so at least the snow is melting!) While I don't really give a damn about what other people think about how I look, I do *try* at least to look put together when I leave the house; matching accessories to my outfit, clothes that look and feel nice, hair done (which amounts to brushed and up, bangs done), teeth brushed and maybe some coloured lip gloss.

The one place I find where I fall decidedly from casual to frumpy is the pajama department.  Most of my pjs are just old t-shirts of Ryan's, with the recent addition of two pajama sets that are painfully frumpy. One set is, I kid you not, zebra striped with bright pink buttons down the front, and the other is all pink fleece with heart patterened pants. They're super comfy and perfect for kicking around the house, but they cross the line, even for me.

There's something about the word frumpy that I hate, and when it's applied to what I'm wearing, it makes me feel like I need to try harder. Frumpy is old, ugly, unkempt, unacceptable.
That anyone would say I look frumpy (I'm looking at you, husband!) makes me want to go on a shopping spree. I would love to have nice kicking around the house after a long day clothes, things that match but aren't made of flannel or have cute animals on them.

What is the frumpiest thing you own, if anything? Do you love it or hate it?


Cosmos Is Back

March 17, 2014

I was watching the clock like a hawk watches a plump rabbit; at 8:30 it was bedtime for my son, Gabe, but my daughter Kat was still fighting it. At 8:51 we laid her down *again* with the hopes that she would finally fall asleep. We waited. She seemed to be down, so I scampered upstairs, snagged a snack and a drink, hit the bathroom and leapt back onto my seat just in time for the opening credits to finish rolling on my new favourite show, Cosmos.

From Wikipedia: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is an American science documentary television series.[1] It is presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson and is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan. .. The series premiered on March 9, 2014,[4] simultaneously in the US across ten 21st Century Fox networks."

The first episode was riveting and I loved every second of it. Science and exploration are one of the things I get really excited and passionate about and Cosmos didn't disappoint. I learned about the Local Group of galaxies, to which our own Milky Way belongs, and the Virgo Supercluster, to which that group of galaxies belongs. There are MILLIONS of superclusters out there that we know about! Imagine all the stuff we DON'T know about! The Universe IS SO BIG it blows my mind. Literally, I cannot comprehend how large it is. But that's ok, I have Cosmos to help me come to grips with all the awesome.

Thanks to a healthy interest in this stuff for a long time, and a decent education in the same, Cosmos doesn't have a lot of surprises for me so far, but I imagine for a lot of folks it's very educational and informative. Also, I love how it factually but gently destroys the fundamentalist Christian worldview of God creating the world and everything else in 6 days, the world only being so many thousands of  years old, etc etc. It doesn't argue, it just lays out the evidence and moves on with the science. Much like during the Bill Nye 'debate' of a couple of weeks ago, it's obvious to anyone with an education of any kind, anyone who's NOT drinking the fundamentalist Kool-Aid, that particular worldview needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Don't get me wrong; I am a person of faith.  I have deep respect for (most) people of faith, and (most) faiths. My faith, however, was formed and is based in science (for the most part). Watching a show like Cosmos, for me, is almost a religious experience. Learning about how the Universe works, our place in it, the origins of life and evolution, natural selection and the Big Bang, are I imagine what listening to the stories of Moses, Mohammed and Jesus, Buddah and Krishna are, to people who feel and believe very strongly in those various faiths. The modern world, however, has no place for people who believe that the Bible or any other set of ancient rules needs to be followed to the letter. It has no place for those who willfully and hatefully ignore science.

Cosmos could be a real gamechanger for people, an introduction to deep concepts and interesting topics that maybe they've never thought about before. We need science, not fundamentalism. We need to remember and return to our close relationship with nature, to be a part OF it, not try to continue living as if we are a part FROM it.


I Hate Princesses

March 12, 2014

Or more specifically, I hate princess culture. I'm an anti-monarchist, despite living in a constitutional monarchy. The idea that a family is somehow special, and therefore more powerful, rich and well regarded than any other, is classism at it's strongest. Royalty, the idea of 'blue blood', is bullshit. Personally I think that princess culture for little girls is toxic, teaching them that somehow they're better than everyone else and deserve special treatment. It's not just the Disney Princesses either, though they deserve a lot of credit for the current phenomenon. There are SO MANY products out there that encourage parents to treat their little girls like princesses, to dress them up, to play pretend, to give them shirts that say "Princess" or some other drivel.

Sorry sweetie, you're not a princess. And you should be glad you're not because then you'll never be a pawn in someone else's political game. You're free to make your own choices, to live your own life, with no special expectations other than what all other women in the patriarchy live with. You wont have to worry about the paparazzi taking your photo night and day, marrying the 'wrong' person (though if you end up being queer that could still be a problem for some folks), or accidentally starting a war because you said or did the wrong thing. Be GLAD you're not a princess because it leaves you free to be anything else, more than a pretty dress and an empty smile.

There *have been* some amazing princesses and queens in history so if you want to embrace the princess craze AND teach some history while empowering your daughter, look into Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Boudicca, and a bunch of other astounding women via A Mighty Girl.com.  As one of their shirts says, "Why be a princess when you could be president?"  Indeed!

Jog On

March 5, 2014

This time last year we were living in a cute but tiny apartment in Colwood and I began running. At first I just jogged along until I couldn't, took a walk, then jogged some more, and so on. Then I downloaded the Couch to 5k program for my mp3 player and got serious, signing up for the Victoria Goddess Run. Three months later I participated in my first race, ending solidly in the middle for the 5k group, an achievement I'm still proud of today.

 Currently it's -16C and there's enough snow and ice out there to stop but all the most serious joggers. As I am definitely NOT the most serious, I'm waiting for the weather to warm up some and at least the roads to clear, nevermind the sidewalks. Waiting is hard though. I want to be out there plodding along, enjoying the season switching over from Winter to Spring, listening to my breath and the crunch of my shoes on the gravel, escaping into my own thoughts for an hour here and there. I'm leaning towards this Spring like a sunflower towards the sun; I feel like change is coming once the snow melts. By the Equinox I'll have been back here for six months, through two seasons, through all the darkness the world can throw at me. I want to jog on.

My 5 Steps to Nice Skin

March 3, 2014

Since leaving puberty far behind I've been blessed with nice skin. This is, at least in part, because of genetics. Most of the women in my family have good skin so I can only guess that's part of the reason. Here are the things I do to boost nature's gift to me:

  1. Wash with plain water. Seriously; I don't use anything on my face to clean it. No cleansers, no soaps, nothing. When I'm in the shower in the morning I just rinse it and later pat dry. For someone with oily skin, however, this may not work as well. A mild cleanser might be a good route.
  2. Moisturize daily. After my shower I always moisturize my cheeks and T zone (forehead and nose) with whatever I've got handy. For Christmas I recieved a couple of really nice moisturizers and am using them, but when they run out I'll probably just grab some on sale from the pharmacy. With how dry it is in the winter, however, I'm moisturizing more often.
  3. Exfoliate weekly. Again, I got some nice stuff for Christmas I'm using, so I make sure at least once a week, sometimes twice, I'm using a gentle exfoliant to get rid of rough patches and flaky dry skin. It really makes a difference; my skin feels soft and smooth, and looks it too!
  4. Drink plenty of water. I find when I'm dehydrated it almost immediately shows in my lips and on my face, making everything look patchy and cracked. When I remember to have a few glasses of water and not just coffee or iced tea all day, my skin regains its healthy glow.
  5. Minimal Make-up. Because my skin is clear I don't have to wear a lot of make up. I never really 'got' cover up or what's that other one called? Toner? I don't know. I think, in part, my skin is clear because I'm not constantly clogging my pores with blush or anything else. Once in a while I'll throw some on but I avoid it except for special occasions.

What did I miss? What do you do to keep your skin happy and healthy? Do you have dry skin? Oily? Acne? Tell me about it in the comments!



Bottom of the Well

February 27, 2014

Spring is technically right around the corner but we're experiencing (hopefully our last) deep freeze here in Northern Ontario. The wind has been blowing forcefully for days, the temperatures dipping down into -30C or worse at night. I feel like the cold has entered my bones, entered my soul. The passion I felt for things is gone, a faded and fading candle where there was once a bonfire raged. In my inbox I recieve a dozen or more newsletters a day, calls for action from causes I once cared deeply about, but now I usually delete them. I could be applying for a new part time job as the ones I have don't pay enough to get us out of my inlaw's basement, but I spend my time on FB or at a couple of blogs I enjoy, or Pinterest.  not my actual feet

In a couple of months I'll be turning 30 and this is not how I expected it to start. A year ago we were moving from our small apartment in Nanaimo to a smaller apartment in Colwood, outside of Victoria. Ryan was moving up into a management position after 2 years in the same company, clawing his way from a delivery driver and through several stores. It was a calculated risk-I left my job at FedEx and we were pretty sure I'd find a new, well paying one in Victoria because it's the capitol of the province and much bigger than Nanaimo. I did, too, but I didn't get to keep it. That was the month I spent at Alpine, and for most of that month there was light at the end of our tunnel. I didn't fit in there at all, and I know that's partially why I got fired, but gods did I TRY.

The only way things could get worse for us right now is if one of us, or someone near and dear, became horribly ill or injured, or died. I'm homeless with no prospects of that changing unless we suddenly find more money (hence the job searching I should be doing). We *could be* be saving up our money to *maybe* find a house to afford in a couple of months, scrape together a down payment and cross our fingers someone in the family will co-sign, but I don't know to what end. It all just looks so bleak from where I'm sitting here at the rock bottom of my life. Ever since last July when I got fired things have been terrible. And it keeps coming back to 'it's all my fault'. I got fired, and we lost everything.

Two nights ago we had a long, loud conversation with my beloved mom in law about what the heck our plans are. Going over the last two and a half year's history of decisions, tracing the path that led us to this place, only showed me so clearly how far we've fallen in the last six months. It hurt. It still hurts. There's no answer to what our plans are because we don't have any. We're trapped here until we can save the money to move out, but to where we don't know. I'd like to stay in the Sault. Ryan can't wait to get the hell out. We're welcome to stay here as long as we need to, but being here hurts. It's not mine. My daughter sleeps in our room in a playpen instead of a bed. There is nowhere in the world right now to call my own, and it hurts.

I'm feeling broken right now, all rough edges but worn down at the same time. I'm an egg dropped on the floor and still wiping up the mess. Actually, I'm looking at the mess and thinking 'fuck it'.

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Every once in a very great while there may be a post which contains a link to a product or service for which I've been paid to promote or have recieved for review purposes. I Blog With Integrity so you'll know which is which.