I finally watched Wonder Woman. I'm not a fan of big budget CGI nightmares in general but it was uniquely touching to see women at the center of battle scenes, doing cool martial arts moves and killing the bad guys.
As I watched it I felt profoundly different than when I watch men in those superhero roles and it made me choke up a bit. I could sense on a deep level that I was seeing something very different and very special, and that is why representation is so important.
The closing speech was also super Star-Wars esque, and also incredibly meaningful to me at this particular moment:
I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know... that only Love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight, and I give – for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.
This is great! I wish I had been informed about this before I became a mom. I used to be one of those judgy-wudgy people who disliked when people nursed in public. I regret this so much - I was ignorant and had no idea what I was judging. I had no idea I would nurse my own child one day (even when I was super preggo). I did not prepare. I would never have imagined how it would change my life in positive ways and how magical it truly is. I also had no idea how many people struggle with it and planned for it only to have their hearts broken. That some exclusively pump. That they sometimes want to breastfeed really bad but they just can't and their bottle-feeding has nothing to do with your comfort and everything to do with feeding their baby the best way they can. That sometimes pumping doesn't work and direct feeding is the only solution. That breastmilk is a miracle and its potential has only begun to be revealed.
Parents are out here trying to make it through the day. The last thing any parent needs is you judging or shaming them for doing their best.
Parents need support. All parents need adequate family leave to bond with their baby and establish breastfeeding. They need education around breastfeeding. They need access to resources and equipment to facilitate successful breastfeeding. They need adequate insurance coverage to buy pumps and hire lactation consultants. When they return to work they need time and a safe, clean, private space to pump. They need somewhere to store their milk. They need TSA agents to respect their milk and not treat it like it's some kind of security threat.
Notice how "they need your unsolicited advice, dirty looks and judgmental BS" is not on that list?
Feed your baby whenever and wherever. And really, you shouldn't have to nurse or pump in the bathroom (that's gross).
#sorrynotsorry #feedthatbaby#normalizebreastfeeding #fedisbest #transinclusive
Wearables are already big like FitBit and smart watches, but for me they are a bit cost prohibitive. Lately, I've seen a lot of smart jewelry coming out which is cool if you're not sporty or into giant wristwear. They all connect to apps that let you accumulate data overtime like you're some kind of science experiment! Data can be helpful in setting, maintaining, and keeping track of goals.
We're trying to keep up and do everything, better, faster, and easier. Integrating technology into our bodies makes it more seamless. It's also a status symbol, shows you're fashionable and up with the latest trends. Wearables are integrating technology more seamlessly into our lives. We want to be the best at everything and being able to track, quantify, and measure everything can be comforting in a high-pressure world. We have to be fit, the perfect parents, and be in tune to what's going on but still be present at the same time. It's exhausting! Our robot friends are here to help,
I think it also has something to say about women taking more ownership of their health and lifestyle choices. Re-designing a breast pump to be more comfortable, easy to use, and wired can be revolutionary for a lot of women, considering that many companies or public spaces like airports, etc do not provide safe, private, clean or comfortable places for women to pump while traveling away from their babies or working. This could help women be more effective in the work place and less at risk for firing, demotion, or straight up shaming at their jobs. Smart jewelry that helps track menstrual cycles, fitness, etc can help women be more in tune with their bodies and keep them healthier so they can go out and be a major boss at life. A better baby monitor can help prevent SIDS, give mothers with postpartum anxiety or depression a chance to be less vigilant and worried and get the crucial sleep they need to stay mentally and physically healthy. All in all, wearable tech is GREAT for women! The price however, means it's really great for women who can afford it. Hopefully as it catches on it will be more accessible to more people so those that really need it can reap the benefits as well.
I think it's cool and interesting, but not something I'm willing to try right now. I have concerns about privacy and what all this data will be used for and how safe it is. I'm already tetchy about wireless monitors because they can be hacked by creeps who can use them to speak to your baby or just silently watched (you can google a website for live fees of poorly secured wireless cameras - creepy as hell!). I don't think everything about our lives needs to be connected to an app, although I do find them useful for staying organized, remembering things, and tracking my period, stuff like that. I think this is just the beginning and it will get more intense. We are kind of like the frog boiling in the pot with our privacy. Adam Ruins Everything does a great episode about us giving away or data to Facebook, etc.
It's going to get more intense. I've even read about people being microchipped. We'll become bionic before we know it! I think you can get upset and put on your tinfoil hat or just accept that Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc own our asses and this is the future! I just hope our robot overlords are kind and treat us fairly. On that note, here are a few wearable tech trends I find fascinating!
Ringly buzzes you for important notifications so you don't obsessively look at your screen and allegedly helps you be more present. It's also pretty and looks like normal jewelry. I'd love to try this and see if it helps me be more in the "now."
The Willow is a wearable, wireless, app connected breast pump. Instead of pumping in gross closets and bathrooms, it's discreet enough to do at your desk! I for one am ALL for this! I have pumped in hospital waiting rooms, random conference rooms, you name it. I think this would be great for pumping on your commute, on airplanes, and in offices. It's a high price point, but if your insurance can cover it, it's worth its weight in gold! (Note, mine does but not for the full amount, still pretty amazing! Willow also offers financing).
According to their site, "the Owlet Smart Sock tracks heart and oxygen levels and sends real-time insights to your phone. It also includes a base station which glows green to reassure you baby is okay but will notify you if heart rate and oxygen levels leave preset zones." If you're anything like me, you havespent many a night staring at the tiny glowing screen instead of sleeping, making sure baby is breathing. I'm really eager to try this out just to alleviate some of the new-mom anxiety (normal) and intense post-partum anxiety (normal, but scary) for baby #2. Here's one mom's review below.
Bellabeat Leaf is a personal health tracker specifically geared towards women's health (they also have a smart water bottle). This tracker and app encompasses multiple facets of women's health including sleep, activity, stress, meditation sessions, and menstruation. It's a lovely design with lots of options to choose from, and is a similar pricepoint to FitBit.
I hope you enjoyed my round up of wearable tech for the female future. Whether we come to welcome our robot overlords, or simply become bionic ourselves, these female and mother-centric devices hold a lot of promise. I hope they can become more ubiquitous and offer more diverse price points so more women can enjoy them!
Please don't run away! Trust me - you want to hear this.
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. There is nothing wrong with your actual vagina. It is a word that describes a part of a human body, much like "elbow" or "femur." It's okay to say "vagina." Presumably, not at a work meeting, or in the grocery store, but you know, in private conversations with friends and family or medical professionals. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I mean specifically when talking to your children.
You do not have to say any of following, (unless it makes you super happy, but this is not just about you):
Maybe I saw the "Vagina Monologues" one too many times in college. But if being a mom has taught me anything, it's that kids are REAL. They are so real because they haven't learned how to fit themselves into a tiny box yet. They haven't learned social decorum, shame, guilt, etc. that keeps us wanting to take up as little space as possible with our bodies and our thoughts. When I talk to my daughter, I use the right words.
I learned in an adolescent sexual development class that there is no specific age to start being real about our bodies or sexuality with children - just normalize and be matter of fact from day one. If you are embarrassed, they will be too. I say "vagina" and once my daughter is older and has a larger vocabulary I will help her differentiate from "vulva" and "vagina." I remember hearing it called different things as a kid and I was so confused. I will make sure she knows the correct words so she can tell me if she is in pain or if someone (including other kids) touch her inappropriately (or if she happens to be exploring herself in public places, where apparently such things are frowned upon).
I never want her to associate her body or sexuality with secrets and shame. I want her to feel comfortable setting boundaries. I want her to be proud of herself and have high self esteem. I want her to know what is normal and what is not so I can advocate for her, until she can advocate herself, whether it's in the doctor's office or in her personal relationships. The shroud of secrecy over our bodies and sex is what leads to bad relationships, lack of sexual agency, abuse, sexual assault, etc. It's time to end the madness!
This goes for boys too - they should understand what's appropriate, what consent is, and how to appropriately handle any strong sexual feelings or surprise boners without thinking there is something wrong with them. They should know that a girl's short skirt or spaghetti strap is not an invitation or a "yes."
I'd like to see rape culture, body shaming and slut shaming end in my lifetime... a girl can dream. In the mean time, let's just start with calling our body parts by the right names, 'kay?
This is a call to action.
I'm so over the #Oscars and other awards shows. I'm so tired of terrible men getting rewarded when they should straight up be in jail. We get so excited every time a small handful of women and POC get nominated for something as if it signals real progress and if we should be satisfied with so little.
I want more diverse and inclusive representation in my films, tv, music, and pop culture as a whole. People cannot be rewarded if they aren't given a chance. White (cis, able-bodied, straight) stories have been told again and again and frankly I am bored.
I am much more interested in the stories of those who are different than me, but with whom I may still share universal truths and values; or more importantly, from whom I can learn something new. Stories are what make us human, what keep us alive long beyond our years on earth. Stories matter.
Representation matters. What we see reflected in the media can either inspire or dishearten us. It's the difference between a child saying "that can be me one day" or "someone like me could never do that."
Time to move on from these antiquated awards shows that are behind society as a whole.
Since the election, I've been very interested in and absorbed by the many ways this new President has impacted our thoughts, feelings, and worldviews. One thing I am most excited to see is privileged people waking up to the reality of injustice in America.
It started in my babywearing group on Facebook. I am more of a hobby baby-wearer, and by no means on the level of many of the women in this group for whom it is a lifestyle. I enjoy seeing the beautiful wraps, cool finishes, the cute carriers, and occasionally add one to my Pinterest board Wear all the Babies.
Recently, women of color started sharing their experiences about being discriminated against or otherwise treated in racist ways while babywearing. Naturally, some white women in the group took offense to these revelations and asked that they not talk about race and keep the group "just about babywearing." There was a lot of tone policing (as if asking nicely is going to end oppression). The thing these women fail to realize is that for people of color, race is not separate from anything they do, think, or experience. That is the failure of whiteness and white privilege - we do not see the water in which we swim. Our race is the default and therefore devoid of examination and self-reflection - and that needs to change.
For the next week, the hashtag #youcantignorethis sprung up. Many women shared their experiences of racism while babywearing. I found them brave, refreshing, and honest. The topic of cultural appropriation while babywearing came up as well, which was also fascinating to read. It's something I didn't realize, being new to babywearing (and also being white as can be) that babywearing has been colonized and columbused to death by companies and white people in general. From taking traditional indigenous and African patterns and re-naming them things like "tribal" to the co-opting of the entire practice itself - these women were calling it all out on the table. I reluctantly (it's really very pretty) went to my pin board and removed one such wrap by German company Didymos which was called "Indio" - a racist slur used against Zapotec Mesoamerican indigenous culture. (To learn more, read here.) The term, which I had never heard before may not mean much to me, but to the people who were harmed by it, it's very upsetting. We should respect that. Furthermore, the company has since renamed the wrap to "Prima" due to public outcry. I'm not sure if that means that it's okay to continue using it, but that is an area for further learning and development on my part. My gut feeling tells me that I want to avoid this company altogether if they want to profit off of indigenous cultures and use insensitive language in naming their wraps. I can't stomach companies profiting off of indigenous people at the same time that indigenous Americans are being oppressed in real life, as they always have been.
That whole experience taught me two things:
1) Educating people is a LOT of work. I saw women of color get fed up really quickly and get justifiably angry. I also saw white women step up and and do some educating as well and was moved to do some myself. I immediately got tired of repeating myself and literally copy/pasted the same thing over and over just to keep it moving. I actually had to take a break. But I am privileged to take a break. My mental exhaustion and frustration is a scintilla of the lived experience of people of color. I have a great respect for those who continue to do the free labor of educating people but I also respect those who choose self-care and bid them adieu for their own sanity.
2) Some people just don't get it. I saw a lot of defensiveness, resistance, and hurt feelings. Everything from "I'm not racist" to "Bringing up racism is what causes these problems - we are all one." If anything, they made it about them and denied WOC's actual experience in favor of their hurt at being called out (the phenomenon known as white women's tears). You know, the typical. Very few said "Wow I didn't know. I will try to better" or things like "I am listening and learning."
It made me reflect on my own racial identity development and how far I've come. I do have some (some) empathy for those who are simply ignorant, haven't been exposed to other viewpoints or haven't taken the time to examine their own privilege. Not everyone went to a liberal college with diversity workshops and leadership training. I am very lucky and grateful for these opportunities to unpack my privilege and dismantle my internalized white supremacy. I still make mistakes, I still screw up - but I am trying.
So that brings me to the point of this post. We need to do the work. Many are finally starting to do the work, thanks to this election. We white folks need to take responsibility for our part in keeping white supremacy alive. We didn't ask for this but people of color didn't ask for racism. Anti-racism work is only half the battle - the big one is within. It's examining everything you think you knew and turning it upside down. It's both listening AND believing people when they tell you there is a problem. It's trying not to make it about you, but to make it about how you can work to fix it. It's recognizing that the concept of whiteness is a lie (both my Irish and Italian ancestors were not considered "white") and that our subconscious worldview that whiteness as the end all be-all is what is holding us all back. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere - I do not enjoy living in a world where I have special unearned benefits and others have unearned hardships. The only way to empower others is to relinquish power, and the only one who can do the work is you.
If you are ready to start doing the work, don't expect a free education. Google is your friend. Start here with this awesome introductory post on Intersectional Feminism. Keep working at it and assume that the work may never end. But we sure will get a lot further a lot faster if you get on board.
It's no secret. I love drag queens. I'll never forget the awe, wonder, and complete and utter inadequacy I felt standing next to a gorgeous Amazon in a beautiful hat at Beauty Bar in NYC in the early 2000s. Her glamour, her style. I could barely speak, only stare. I thought "This person is the epitome of cool and I am but a mere mortal with bad bangs." Drag is an art form and to see it up close was utterly breathtaking.
I have watched every single season of RuPaul's Drag race. I get a pure dopamine rush from watching the queens size each other up, read each other, transform into myriad creative interpretations of feminine beauty and stomp the runway. The Snatch Game always has me cracking up - a favorite being Jinkx Monsoon's Little Edie. I love the tender moments with RuPaul. I love when they become vulnerable and share their fears and anxieties. I envy their sickening contour.
But why do I love them so? My own life and experiences couldn't be farther from theirs. As straight, white, cisgender middle-class white woman, I couldn't possibly appreciate all that drag is in its rich tapestry and culture. I couldn't possibly identify with what they have been through and what they have overcome to be the confident, radiant human beings they are on the show. So why the affinity? Why do they speak to me? What follows is a rather unscientific list, garnered 100% from my own experience.
Disclaimer: I understand that straight women's love of gay culture can border into appropriation and exploitation, not to mention a complete disregard of their own privilege in taking over gay spaces. I by no means wish to contribute to such nonsense and hope I have treated this subject with respect. Please let me know if I haven't - I am eager to learn.
Full disclosure - this may get political. But don't unfriend me just yet!
So we are in a tough election season. Our two less than ideal choices are giving me flashbacks to the Kerry/Bush election in which I donned a pin that read "Kerry Sucks Less." We hoped for the best and we got Dubya. Many years later we're now faced with a historic win for either a first woman president with a questionable vagenda or a first rich idiot president (first?). I can't say I have studied their platforms in detail as the mere act of reading the 24 hour news cycle is enough to give me a panic attack. I will say that I can't help but notice that it stirs up some strong feelings in many of my friends and family, especially given our climate of police brutality and protesting footballers.
Often the frustrated exclamation of both liberals and conservatives alike is "if you don't agree with me, then just UNFRIEND ME!" We are either #BlueLivesMatter or #BlackLivesMatter, as if the two were mutually exclusive. As if the solution to all of our problems is to isolate ourselves into distinct tribes in which we only speak with those whom we agree. I can't really blame people for being exhausted and feeling as though talking to their brick wall opposites has simply become unproductive. Everyone is just fed up.
But if all of our social media feeds are simply two opposite viewpoints howling into the void, garnering attention from only like minds, and pushing us further and further into opposing camps... how are we supposed to function as a society? Is our sole purpose in life only to be surrounded by those who think and feel exactly as we do? Or perhaps is it better to be challenged by a fresh perspective, forced to justify your own thoughts and feelings with facts and research, and perhaps consider changing your mind upon learning something new?
If I only surrounded myself with people who agreed with me, I would have no family and I would not be married to my husband. I often questioned my choice to date and then marry a conservative when my heart so clearly bled for the liberal feminist cause. For many years it's been "agree to disagree" on some issues and to find common ground in our shared values - the things that really matter and are non-negotiable. But when it gets to be this tough - a moment in history when we are all on the edge of breaking - agreeing to disagree is no longer good enough. To avoid discussing these big ideas would be detrimental to our relationship in the long term. And as we raise a child together, we seek to model compassion and respectful communication. So why stop there?
We must seek to understand each other, even if we can't agree. Instead of being defensive, we must be curious. Surely there are people on either side of the aisle who are out of their minds and make the rest of us moderate, level-headed folks feel wary and hold grudges against the group at large. The media loves to feed us sensational headlines that make both sides look like idiots and make us further want to defend our position (because we sorta agree with those idiots... but we're not idiots... are we?).
This is not to say that anyone should continue to endure any type of abuse or outright hatred directed at them. I would never begrudge someone to zealously unfriend a bigot, racist, sexist, xenophobe or other hateful person. I also understand how exhausting it can be to explain the same things over and over again to those who refuse to listen, learn, or budge even one bit towards returning your generosity of spirit and openness. By all means - maintain your sanity and wellbeing by disposing of toxic relationships. For those that you do love and trust, and ultimately feel you can both teach and learn from, be sure to give them a chance.
I can go on and tell you why I'm voting for Hilary even though she's not perfect and I can try to convince you that Trump is a terrible, terrible person. But I probably won't. Because like you - I'm scared of how hard it will be to disagree with you - someone I care about. But I won't tell you to unfriend me. Because maybe, just maybe - we should talk about it and come together instead of turning our backs on each other. Because maybe now, more than ever, we need each other.
I don't really set New Year's Resolutions. I always feel they are unrealistic, and winter is the time of year where I most prefer not to move, exert myself, or really go outside. I hibernate. I'm certainly not making any drastic life changes.
This past year, I became a mom. And for those of you that have crossed the threshold into parenthood, you know what that feels like. It's like a switch is flipped and suddenly everything you've ever thought, believed, wanted, or known snaps clearly into focus. Your values, your deeply held convictions, all become crystal clear. You know what is important now, and what is a bunch of crap you can't be bothered with.
It may also come with age - being in your thirties means you've tried on a few different hats. Maybe you've had three or four "big girl jobs." You know what you're good at, and what you're not. In a lot of ways you have paid your dues and are maybe setting your sights on what the next 20-30 years of your career will look like. (Anyone else shudder when they read that?)
So I didn't make a New Year's Resolution. I know who I am, and I do not resolve. I did get hold of a cool journal, called the 52 Lists Project. I decided this would be my year of #selfcare and#selfreflection and #selflove. Yes, I use hashtags in all my writing now. (Thanks, internet)
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself these days. I spend a lot of time playing mindless games like Candy Crush and rotating between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. At the end of a busy day of adulting and momming, the last thing I want to do is work on myself. But I need to. We all do.
I've been in therapy for about a year now. I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned about how I am in relationships, how I deal with conflict, and what I need to work on. The main thing I realized is that despite getting everything I've ever wanted in life - the husband, the house, the baby, amazing job, is that something was still missing. How could something still be missing? I beat myself up for not being grateful enough.
Was it spirituality? A connection to God? I went to church a few times and no, it wasn't that. Although church can be lovely. Was it friendship? My friendships have certainly changed significantly since becoming a mom, but I talk to my best friend almost every day and I've made an effort to stay connected to most of them despite our busy schedules. So what was it?
The answer: ME. I am missing me. In everything I do, I am other-focused. Not because I'm a saint, but because I abandon myself. In every day and every chance I get I find a way to forget myself or put myself last. Who's fault is that? Sure it's easy to blame one's parents, the media, one's partner, and, obviously the patriarchy. But given my relative privilege it's time to stop blaming everyone and everything else. It's time to put in the work and start taking care of myself for real.
I'm grateful for my experiences. I'm grateful for the journey. And in some ways, even though it feels like I've gotten "everything I've ever wanted," my journey is just beginning. When I strip away the blame, when I strip away the guilt, when I strip away the "should haves" all that is left is me. It's both terrifying and exhilarating - but here goes nothing.
Check out my Multimedia Portfolio for a webinar series of three on-demand workshops I did for student parents. In addition to these presentations I compiled some awesome resources. While mostly for college students, a lot of these resources were also helpful to me as a new working mother. i hope you enjoy!
Articles and Websites:
Planning Tools for Busy Parents
Fun Things to do with Your Kids
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!