Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Me too, Mom

I was talking to my mother on the phone last night, my mother who is 82 years old, a great-grandmother, brain-damaged and crippled from a devastating stroke in 2007.

"I'm a cougar," she informed me. "Do you know what a cougar is?"

"Umm, yeah," I said.

"I like young men in tight blue jeans," she said, "I don't have any use for old men in baggy pants."

Sometimes my mom just rocks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Rape by Any Other Name

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
Recently my daughter overheard some junior high kids talking. One boy asked another, "If you have sex with a prostitute without her consent, is it rape, or is it shoplifting?"

Snicker snicker snicker.

It's supposed to be funny, right? Maybe I just don't have a sense of humor, but as a person of the female persuasion, and the mother of three daughters, I rarely find jokes about rape funny. Particularly when they come out of the mouths of 14 year old boys and my 14 year old daughter seems to think the boys are being clever. Maybe I should lighten up, because in a way, the word play is clever.

But then I heard a segment on NPR about date rape. A young woman went drinking with some friends and during the evening, when she was fairly well drunk, another drunken friend, a young man, raped her. Troubled about this encounter, she confided in her female friends, and her friends,
her friends!, laughed at her. For the next year she became the butt of their jokes. When they drank together, they warned her, "better watch out, if you get drunk you might assault yourself again." The meaning being that if you're drunk, you deserve whatever happens to you. If you're drunk, you can't really get raped, especially not by a friend who is also drunk. Right? But if it's not rape what is it? A mistake? A confusion of communication? So the guy gets his jollies, and the girl gets the pain, but that's okay, because she was drunk?
Unfortunately for this circle of friends, another young woman was raped under the same circumstances. This time it didn't seem so funny to any of them, and they reported it to the police. Let's hope the police officers were more enlightened.

We've come a long way baby - all the way back to the beginning of the struggle.

So let me say it now: Sex without consent is rape.

Doesn't matter if the woman is a prostitute (or the boy or the man is a prostitute). Even if you pay the prostitute first, if she changes her mind and says, "No" and you proceed anyway, it's rape.

Sex with a person who is too drunk, or drugged, to give consent is rape.

Sex without consent with a person who is your otherwise sexy, flirtatious girlfriend or wife is rape.

Sex with a child, even if the child gives consent, is rape.

If you are part of a culture that allows slavery, sex with your slave is rape, even if your slave gives consent.

Rape. It's an ugly word for an ugly act. Rape by any other name, a drunken mistake, a misunderstanding, a service paid for, a marital right, an owner's prerogative, an "I couldn't help myself," is still ugly, still traumatic, still painful, still heartbreaking and still rape.

I have three daughters, and I also have two sons. I hope, I hope, I hope that I have taught all my children about respect for themselves and for others. I hope I have educated all of them to understand when to say "no" and when to respect someone else's "no". I hope they know how to protect themselves and how to protect others. And I hope that none of them ever thinks that rape is something to laugh about.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Feminine Mistake

Common mistakes that women make:

Mistaking romance for love.

Choosing romance over love.

Choosing current boyfriend over long time girlfriends.

Doing all the housework herself.

Hating her body, or certain parts of her body.

Letting a man manage her money.

Letting a man support her.

Not trying on clothes before buying them.

Especially not trying on bras before buying them.

Allowing herself to be guilted into situations (read: committees) for which she has no time, energy or enthusiasm.

Forgetting to remove tampon before intimate relations.

Wearing white pants during her fertile years.

Believing any claims about tampons or pads (or diapers!) being leak proof.

Not making sure that
all of the sticky side of the pad is firmly secured to her panty and facing away from her tender nether regions.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Give me a head with hair

Okay, so I'm not quite finished with Twilight.There is just one more teeny hurtin' thing that bugs me. The hair. The big poufy hair.

I watched Twilight with my daughters, the 13 year old who loves it, and the 19 year old who calls it "Toilet". About a third of the way through the movie, I had to say it out loud: "I hate his hair." Nineteen year old daughter, said, " I know!"

Just what bright hair stylist decided that Edward's hair was supposed to look like Little Iodine??


My thirteen year old daughter has become enthralled with Twilight, the novel by Stephenie Meyers. She adores the movie, too, and thinks Robert Pattinson in the character of Edward the hunky vampire, is a dish. (She wouldn't use or understand that word, but I like it).

So... in the interest of understanding my darling daughter's infatuation with the series of novels and the movie and the character, I read Twilight, and watched the movie with her. I recently finished the second book in the series, New Moon, and am on the waiting list at the library for the third book. So I didn't hate it, or think it was stupid or ridiculous.

(Please note that if I had hated the book, or was bored by it, I would not have finished it, and certainly wouldn't have read the sequel.) I did find it engaging. I understand why young girls find it so appealing. I would have loved it when I was a teenager. The writing is not great, but the story is rich with romance and danger and heroism and melodrama.

The most interesting thing to me about the story, is the portrayal of Edward. Okay, so he's a vampire - this is not an new idea, there are plenty of novels featuring vampires. But Edward is a vampire with a romantic heart. (Huge sigh.)
He is immensely concerned about not hurting this fragile human girl, Bella. (Huge sigh.) He loves her, but he can't have his cake and eat her too. (If he eats her, he will kill her.) What to do , what to do....

So Edward is torn. He is a tender, loving, adoring, protective, beautiful (Meyer makes sure we understand how beautiful Edward is by having Bella point this out to the reader about a bazillion times), dangerous, mysterious, communicative, silent vampire. And the most believable part of that description is: vampire.

Girlfriends, I wasted a lot of my life and hurt a lot of people, including some perfectly nice men, with my foolish desires to fall in love with a man who was tender, loving, adoring, protective, beautiful, dangerous, mysterious, communicative, and silent all at the same time.
And like, Bella, I wanted to be entirely consumed by the love of this man. Heck, why not expect him to be a bloodsucking Superman too?

I don't know at what point I got fantasy confused with reality in my little head.
It took me until the "twilight" of my own life, or late afternoon at least, to learn the difference. I want my daughter to enjoy her fantasy novels, but I hope she knows that they are just fantasies, and while fantasy is fun, it can't compare to the joy of real life and real love with a real person.

Here's a joke:
Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and good- looking?

They already have boyfriends.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What kind of god is that?

I must have blocked this from my mind at the time it happened. Some things are too horrific to think about, especially when there is nothing you can do about them. But today on the radio someone mentioned it again. I was driving at the time and nearly had to pull over to vomit. As it was, a huge wave of grief rose up inside me and poured out of me in violent sobs.

A 13 year old girl is raped. Gang-raped. Hurt. Terrified. Bullied. Beat up. Injured. Violated. Treated like meat.

Somebody's precious daughter, somebody's beloved child.

And instead of being helped, cared for, and comforted, she is accused of adultery, dragged out to an arena, buried up to her neck, then stoned to death by 50 MEN, while she begged for mercy.

"Please, please, don't kill me!"

Somebody's precious daughter, somebody's beloved child.

Who are these men? Why are they so vicious, so cowardly, so power-hungry? Didn't God create little girls? Doesn't God love what God created? What kind of God wants little girls to be brutally murdered by crowds of men? What kind of god is that? What kind of god needs to be protected from little girls by a gang of bloodthirsty thugs? What kind of god is that? That is a man-made god, created in man's image to excuse man's vile acts.

Tonight I am going home and taking my 13 year old daughter in my arms, and I'm never letting her go.

Somebody's precious daughter, somebody's beloved child.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wrong Thong

This is the generation gap: my 13 year old comes to me and idly says, "I don't see why people say that thongs are uncomfortable."

I say, "oh, I don't think they're uncomfortable. I wore thongs everyday when I was a child."

Daughter stares at me. "You did?"

"Sure," I say, "remember I grew up in warm climates. We either wore thongs or nothing at all."

Daughter stares at me, eyes wide. "Wha-a-a-t?"

"Well, except for school," I say, "we had to wear good shoes for school. We couldn't wear our flip flops for school, only for play."

Daughter laughs with great, hilarious relief. "Flip flops! I was talking about thong underwear!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If I were a lesbian

Sometimes I play a game with myself: If I were a lesbian..what would I find attractive in a woman?
(Not trying to offend anyone here, straight or gay, it's just a quirky mental exercise.)

The way this game came about is a little weird: I was attempting to write a romance novel and I just couldn't get the female characters down. The men were easy - I know what I like about men, I know what's attractive about men. But women - what do men like about women? What's attractive in a woman's style, attitude, face, figure, voice? I mean, I know what I see on TV shows and movies: big boobs, long legs, blonde hair, big eyes, pouty lips, voice maybe a little husky. But most women don't fit that description, and most of us find romance just the same. So no matter what Hollywood thinks is a man's ideal woman, it ain't necessarily accurate. And I didn't want all my female characters to be busty, long-legged, blonde sex sirens. I wanted them to be

So I began looking at women in a different way: I tried to be a man, tried to make my straight female brain think like a straight male brain. It was really tricky. My brain got very tired. You know, boobs just don't turn me on. I can't figure out why men like boobs so much.
Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike boobs - I'm very friendly with my own pair, I like them just fine, but I don't get the big deal than men make over them (in general, not mine in particular).
So then I had to think like a woman again and figure out what it was about men that I like so much: the sound of a man's voice, the lower timbre, I like that very much; whiskers, kissing a face rough with whiskers; the angles of a man's face, neck, shoulders - subtly different than a woman; muscles. I guess I don't know why - the mystery is a part of the attraction, right?

So then I tried looking at women as if I was a woman attracted to women: and that was interesting to me. I - the imaginary I- am not attracted to famous Hollywood sex symbol starlet types. (Probably because I'm not a man.)

What I am discovering (because this is an ongoing game), is that the women who are appealing to my imaginary other self, are women with soft, gentle personalities, some of them are women that might be called "mousy" (in another time and another generation). They are not beautiful, according to modern standards, but they are pretty in their own way. They are modest, they are not overdone with stylish clothes, hairstyles or make up - although they dress neatly and nicely, and wear make up. I've only seen these women in public places and did not know them personally, so this is really an incomplete experiment. My very brief encounters with them include exchanges like "Paper or plastic?" and "Have a nice day," and "Here, let me get that door for you..."

Then there are my friends, the various women I've known throughout my life - and none of them are women I would be attracted to if I were a lesbian. They've been great friends, but I can't imagine a romantic attachment. My best friends in my life have been women who were gregarious, joyful, big-hearted, funny, world-embracing types, the opposite of my own shy, wallflower, vuja-de (see my other blog), shrinking from the world type personality.

Anyway, I have no idea where this post is going, just that it's always interesting trying to see things from a different perspective. I have to go rest my brain now and watch a Russell Crowe movie.