News flash!

News flash: I’m thinking of going off the pill! Bet you were just dying to know that, weren’t you? Well, let me explain myself before you call me out for being a trivial blog poster, or just plain dumb (no, I’m not about to get pregnant).

Back story: I don’t get a period unless I’m on the pill. When I’m not taking it, not only do I lose my sense of womanhood, but I also get fat and my hair falls out. It’s really just not a fun experience. It’s also not fun to think, “What’s going to happen in 10 years when I do want to have children?” The doctor says all will return to normal, but you can’t be quite sure. And despite the fact I want to have a whole team of kids, I’m not trying to have them all in one gigantic birthing that can only result from hormonal drugs.

So, my plan is to will myself and re-train myself to have a period off the pill. I WANT TO STOP LIVING A LIE! Sorry, I got excited. But really, I am excited. I’ve been talking to a friend of mine here, who encouraged me to see what my emotions would be like off the pill, and also to heal my body rather than to keep medicating it into potential sterility.

Okay, I’m OBVIOUSLY not a doctor. And admittedly I tend to make up “Grace facts” in which I state something to be absolutely true, when I actually haven’t a clue. So I’ll try to restrain from doctoring myself or just straight up lying. But I will say that I suspect that in my case, my regrettably sporadic teenage pill taking might have lead to some less than celebratory cell developments and hormone imbalances when I’m off the pill.  I also suspect that the overall way I treated my body in college (as a bunching bag) didn’t really encourage my period to happily present itself.  All said, I’ve been a mess and I aim to fix it rather than keep denying it.

And about those emotions. When I was in college, I attributed one day each month to the “world is falling apart” day. On this day, I would usually wake up with the definite feeling that on that day, the world would collapse. And usually, in some form, it did. And I would text my friends in the morning to warn them of my instinct, and then call them later on when I was crying, bemoaning, or panicking about something that would otherwise have caused a much lesser offense to my soul.

My world collapsing days have become far and fewer between now that I’m out of the stress-zone that was college. However, I still awake some days with a certain feeling of hatred or fear towards the world, for no explicable reason.

Now, this day could be part of my very being. Or, maybe, it’s somehow connected to the hormones I take every month. Maybe, I’ll feel differently, at different times, based on how my hormones will change. We shall see!

What I mean to say is it’s going to be a good challenge to try to get myself back on track, given the scientific likelihood that I’m going to fail. But then again, in some ways I’ve already failed with all that I’ve done already.

And let’s zoom out for a moment. Let’s think society level. In those good ole days, one used to fall in love as a teenager and become forever attached to that person. Or, one would get married off as a teenager into a loveless marriage that still prevented out-of-wedlock marriages. Either way, our society has now deemed teenage pregnancy not only unacceptable, but also preventative of completing one’s education and integrating into a functioning adult society. (If only I could just publish my whole thesis here… maybe later).

But really, it’s nearly impossible to be pregnant before the age of I don’t know, 24, and be accepted into the society that I know (yay white people who have the privilege of preventing pregnancy without too much fuss). Of course, the benefits of delayed pregnancies are plentiful. The idea promotes more women to attain more education and job opportunities, and to experience more fulfilling life journeys into full adulthood before taking on the responsibility of a child.  (It also leads to a hook up culture where broken hearted teenagers enter college and pretend not to have feelings so they can still have sex … which is well, sometimes just more difficult on the heart. This should also be another blog post).

In the meantime, my question is: what is all of this doing to our bodies? If we’re not allowed to be pregnant, the best solution is to take birth control. (It’s also considered a panacea for cramps, weight gain, emotions…) So, some people take it and nothing happens other than baby prevention. Some take and improve their lives dramatically.  And yet others take it and want to die for weight gain, emotional hurricanes, etc.  But beyond that, what are the long-term consequences of the pill? How hard is it going to be for us 20-something year olds to get pregnant when we’re 30, 35, 40 years old? I guess I don’t really know, but I do hear of many older women going to great lengths to become pregnant, some successfully, some not. Rough stuff.

Really, there’s no good solution. Don’t take the pill, get pregnant, get shunned from society. Take the pill, take a chance on your fertility, and maybe have children or not.

I want more than anything to have children (in like ten years). And right now there is no chance of being pregnant (living up that single life!). So, my current mission is to try to cleanse my reproductive system and love it until it starts cycling on its own! I plan to do so with the help of my friend who has taught me a bit about the idea of loving one’s period. (At which point you think to yourself, “God Grace Get a grip!”). But seriously, I’m going to try to shift my thinking from seeing that monthly BFF of mine as a nuisance to a blessing and take some steps to encourage it’s existence.

And I’m also going to start thinking about the conundrum society has put on us: how to not get pregnant until just the right time?

When I first learned I wasn’t a strong independent woman

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 What!? Am I a weak, dependent woman?

            No, no, no. I’m a woman. Therefore there is no need to say that I am strong and independent.

Before I go any further, imagine saying: “Oh, he is such a strong, independent man! Look at him do his thing!” Seriously, say it out loud! Now, does it make you giggle a little bit? Does it make you feel funny, like you’re making a sarcastic joke?

Well, maybe you say such affirmations of men all the time. But I for one do not. So yes, I tried those words on for size this spring at the urging of my strongly feminist friend. And guess what, saying “he is such a strong independent man” tasted a bit ridiculous. I almost felt like I was belittling the so-said man in my sentence by feminizing him.

NOOO.

Am I horrible? Am I sexist? I’ve always strived to be a strong, independent woman. It’s basically been my life’s dream! What more could I, a woman, want, other than recognition for demonstrating courage and fortitude against the plagues of being an assumedly weak, dependent woman?

What more could I want? What more could I want!? Well, let’s see… I could want my strength and independence to be assumed. In fact, I do want that. And I am so, so thankful to have learned such a valuable lesson from my friend.

I also want strength and independence to be the default for every woman reading this. And I want all of the tremendously awesome things that you do to be products of your womanhood, your personhood, and not products of your extraordinary, phrase-worthy strength and independence. BECAUSE WE, WOMEN, JUST LIKE MEN, ALREADY HAVE STRENGTH AND INDEPENDENCE. We’re freaking humans, its what we do. (We also can be weak, stupid, crazy, and needy… but all in equal parts man and woman).

So, have my life dreams to be a strong independent woman been shattered? Yes. Have they been replaced by a new dream to be a “female bodied human who… tries, cries, giggles, dances horribly, rides an alpaca like a gringa, teaches, and loves her friends and family etc.?” Yup!

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And I’m hopeful that you’ll join me in believing the best about ourselves to be as inherent to our gender as it is to men’s.

And if you’re interested in reading more, this article is fantastic: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters

Read this: Solidarity is For Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of her VMA Performance

“Okay…. but can we talk about the problematic and racist nature of her performance? Her literal use of people as props? Her association of her newfound sexuality with the traditional codifiers of black female culture”

This article is so important . I just read it this morning and wanted to add it, because I feel bad I didn’t write more about it in the first place. Please read and consider.

And if you’re still interested/upset/horrified, read this: http://www.vulture.com/2013/08/jody-rosen-miley-cyrus-vmas-minstrel.html

And then, if you’re interested in the #solidarityisforwhitewoman concept, read this http://girlsglobe.org/2013/08/20/solidarityisforwhitewomen-calls-for-solidarity-of-all-women/ and consider your role in it all.

Doing the sexy dance, American style

Today, all the way over here in Colombia, I saw plenty of Facebook publicized news coverage of Miley Cyrus and her ass shaking escapades at the VMAs last night. It seems like her ________ (fill in the blank with whatever suits your interpretation: gross, crazy, obnoxious, weird, wild, awesome, sexy, ridiculous…) dance has portrayed everything I was thinking when I started to write the prior post last night (twerk it dance moves unbeknownst to me).

In the States, it seems as though our interpretation of sexy is thoroughly enmeshed in sex. Such that, when a girl decides she wants to express her sexuality, she might hump the stage, a man, and a giant finger that looks all too similar to a penis… even if she doesn’t even want to have actual sex! (Or maybe she does, only Miley can answer that).

Stars-reactions-to-Miley-Cyrus-VMA-performance-go-viral

But what I want to ask is this… why have we constructed such a sex-insinuating dance culture that likely has a whole lot to do with college hook up culture, college rape culture, and general devaluation of a dancing woman’s body as a site of f*cking?  Why is this the reality of sexuality for many American women?

In America, We go from assumed innocence to assumed slutiness in about 60 seconds, leaving little room for liberalizing, joyful, Sunday morning in the park ass shaking (see post below). Literally, Miley jumped out a teddy bear and was air humping in that short of a time span, if nothing else to beat Brittany Spear’s transformation from school girl to slithering sex slave in a span of a couple years.

If our culture promoted sexiness over straight sex (again, see post below), it might help to improve the way we women feel about ourselves when we want to be sexual, as well as open up more spaces for women to be sexy in the first place, even if they don’t want sex and don’t want to be objectified. As my lovely friend said in our discussion on this topic, “Yeah, I can’t help that I just want to dance!” Hey, I think she should be able to dance her freaking ass off if she feels like, without anyone assuming they get a chance to sex her.

As there’s also a lot of discussion on Miley’s adoption of a ratchet persona in a way that is entirely inauthentic and abusive of low-income, minority culture, I want to include this article. We should not limit our questioning of such obtuse sexual displays to famous white women, but rather we should be questioning the cultural premise on which women are living out sexual objectification through dance.

They’re sexy and they own it

Can you be sexy without any sexual intentions?

Anyone remember that t-shirt from middle school that said “Be Sexy. It doesn’t mean you have to have sex”, or something like that? Well I’d long forgotten it, until now.

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Here in Colombia, people dance sexy ALL THE TIME. But they’re not always trying to have sex. They’re just dancing their way through life and giggling every so often as they do it.

Men, women, children of Cali, Colombia- they all shake it oh so sexily. (Okay that’s a stereotype and I’m sure there’s a whole slew of Caliños that don’t dance and are thus hidden from my weekend excursions to salsa clubs and public parks). But the ones I have seen… they’re killing it out there!

When guys here try to teach me to dance my gut reaction is “even if you get me to move my hips (and good luck with that) I’m still not going to kiss you!” And that interpretation is so wrong (and so American). Despite the fact I look different than everyone else, I’m not being objectified (as far as I know). Even being the white girl I am, I’m just a person with hips that should move to the music. That’s simply the nature of the dance.

I think it may be the men who dance in ways that surprise me most. Men can move like that too!? What?! They want to swirl their hips and wiggle their asses and shimmy their chests?! It’s fantastic really! A place liberalized enough for men and women to dance sexy because it’s fun and funny, but not because they’re asking for sex. I’ve seen it happen before in the states with groups of women, so I’m not trying to entirely discredit that, buuut, I haven’t seen it done, for example, in a public park at 10am on Sunday morning with 100 people from ages 7 to 70 doing ass shaking circles in unison.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were more places where a little ass shake wasn’t interpreted as “have sex with me please”?

white girl teaches

Hey class! I’m 5’10, light skinned, with strawberry blond hair! I speak English and live in America. 

Now, what am I going to teach you about American English culture (as your deemed American English ambassador)? Here a few of my goals: 

– Not everyone in America speaks English:

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-And not everyone is white, despite my singular representation

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read more: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/08/strangely-beautiful-map-race-america/6534/

And beyond my efforts to prove the diversity I don’t represent, I will also:

– Try my very hardest not to pull any TFA crap (aka “I am your Ivy educated English speaking savior who is here to change your life). Nah, I’m just an Ivy educated English speaking person who got a chance to learn about your country and exchange information about my own. (But let’s be honest: am I strengthening my privilege? Yes. So I’ll try to share as much as possible as a teacher here and in the states.)

-Politely but firmly say “no” when you ask if I have boyfriend (because you probably will given my experience). BUT, just because your teacher happens to be a single woman , it doesn’t mean she wants to date you. (No links necessary, it’s just a fact that I think we should all understand if we’re going to work towards a humanity that doesn’t sexualize women just trying to do their jobs). 

-Find ways that we can share interest and build community togetherImage

 

women love

I love women. I am a man lover, but I love women. I fall in love with women over and over again. They never cease to impress me and to inspire me. Women prove true my dreams of empathy, companionship, intimacy, and support. Here are just a few of the women I have fallen head over heals in love with:

– My current Colombian roommate. She cares, she really really cares. From her I’ve learned more about communal living in three weeks than I have in my four years living with females at college. Maybe we can’t share every juicy secret (thanks to my limited Spanish), but she constantly share food, plans, and laughs. In these past three weeks I feel like I have found a real home in my friendship with this woman.

– My therapist from last fall. What a woman! I walked into her room with a whole lot of stress and self-doubt and she taught me to love myself. She taught me that it is okay to say no. She taught me to feel pain and to stand up against its sources. She taught me empathy. When I was able to move her to tears but just telling her a minor success in my teaching career, I saw a woman I want to emulate. If I can love people like that, then I’ll be doing some good for the female community.

– My grandmother. She’s a no-excuses kind of lady. She had four children THEN went to college (without more than a cent to her name). She worked, she worked, she worked, and at 75 she’s still working. She never made a lot of money as a teacher, but she made a whole lot of love for her community and family that carries her through her busy life. Oh and she also constantly reads, exercises, and works to improve herself. My kind of 75 year old.

-My student. (No inappropriate student-teacher relationship references please). In all seriousness, I fell deeply in love with what this student embodied as a female. Her sense of leadership in her family; her realization at the age of 17 that yes, she needs to learn to read so that she can create a better future for herself (despite a very rough educational history); her love for her work as a young teacher in a community center; her mountain of community service projects (despite her D average in school). All of her strengths and weaknesses, when wrapped together, produce an anomaly in what we often see as the “good girl”. She is good, she is so, so good. But she struggles, she fights (literally, in fist fights), she gives up… but with a heart as strong as hers, she always keeps going again.

-My dear friend who inspired me to write this blog. I think her belief in my represents all that I love about women as sources of support and passion. As we have been sharing articles and discussing our own “modern day loves” (or lack there of in the dating scenes we experience),  we have been able to talk, analyze and connect. From this foundation of solidarity (a reference not meant to step on the toes of #solidarityisforwhitewomen), she urged me to share my thoughts (our thoughts) in a more public forum. So what if no one reads this… at least I’m thinking and learning and developing into the woman I want to be. And what kind of person doesn’t love that?

And to conclude, just one final thought on just a few (of the many many women) who inspire and impress me. They are strong. They are person strong. Their strength is not female. It is human. They love. They love people. They are equal to any renowned man or woman whose human spirit leads them goodness.

Guess that means I’ll also need to be writing a post about the goodness in men. I’ve got to break out of my women love view if I want to achieve the sex-equality that I would love to see.

Also, pretty huge shout out to these ladies: http://swampland.time.com/2013/08/23/the-sisters-of-civil-rights-get-their-due/

Let’s talk it out?

I love this article:  http://thefeministwire.com/2013/08/blackpowerisforblackmen/

The article picks apart the male black voice either smothering the black woman voice, or allowing it to stand alone (in the case of the single black mother issue addressed). Though not a black person of either gender, I am a woman, and as a woman I am in awe of the attentive responses made by these men.

I did not find the culture in which I was raised to be very supportive of such openness and empathy from men. The soon-to-be released documentary “The Masks You Live In” may speak volumes to this issue. From watching just the tailer I felt validated in the feelings I have long experienced as a woman trying to figure out how to get along with men who won’t share their feelings and won’t openly commit to even a friendship with me (less they be seen as weak or taken or “with me”). 

Men confuse the hell out of me. I always end up wishing they would care more.  When I need to channel strength, compassion, love into my life, I always, always, always turn to the women in my life for inspiration and support. And it worries me. Why do I feel so alienated from men? 

Perhaps it is because I have grown up in such a completely different set of values, behaviors, and experiences.  In my life I have learned to take care of siblings, to practice nonjudgemental love with my friends, and to pursue a career founded in love for young people.  The environments in which I have found female strength in this journey are endless, and worthy of a separate post.

But what I will say in this post is that I wish there were more men like this: black, white, brown and everything in between. Men and women talking it out…  but then again, is that me pushing my life experience as a female emotional sharer on men who are raised to hide feelings and push stoic images of themselves out into the world? 

The story you never wanted to hear: Part 2

Okay, I was a little angry last night. And I do feel terrible about sexualization and molestation and attempted rape Michaela had to endure.  Of course t’s a horrifying experience and no woman should ever have to experience any of it. I couldn’t call myself a feminist and say otherwise. 

When I wrote yesterday, I might also have been very influenced by the recent #solidarityisforwhitewoman movement flooding Twitter. As a white woman, I am sensitive to perpetuating the victimized white woman image as the primary image of feminism, or as the primary suffering of women. Moreover, I think it is important to consider the types of sexualization that Indian women, indeed women every where, likely face, but who don’t have the power of CNN to voice their stories. 

Let us not forget the different powers we possess while we divulge our weaknesses, our challenges, and the crosses we all bare. 

The story YOU never wanted to hear

A note to Michaela Cross: “The story YOU never wanted to hear”.

I’m sorry but I don’t feel bad for you, Michaela Cross.  Because the story you never wanted to hear is this: you are an educated, white woman. Whether a man gropes you or not, you still hold within your privileged white hands more power than he can ever hold over your body.

You were sexualized because your body represents all of the power that now penetrates and grasps the entire world. When you were in India, did you happen to see any billboards of light skinned, straight haired, tall thin models selling every imaginable Western product? Did you notice the body types of the manikins in any clothing stores? Did you see women in western dress trying to mimic your American style? Did you see any porn? What did the porn stars look like?

Did you consider that men were going crazy over you because you represent everything YOUR culture has taught them to be desirable?

If you are angry at anyone, be angry at the United States. Be angry at imperialism. Be angry at inequality and injustice. And perhaps consider being angry at yourself for entering a country and taking your white woman privilege for granted.

P.S. I’ve spent two years in developing countries and the only place I’ve ever been masturbated at is in a Chicago subway.

For original article: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1023053

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