Tag Archives: Women

You’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe

It’s not easy to be a feminist these days.

When you try to have a serious conversation about it people think you are a crank or stick-in-the-mud or a prude. The word itself is becoming obsolete and you certainly don’t hear it associated with women anymore, like Michelle Obama, feminist and president’s wife. Or Ellen DeGeneres, feminist and funny lesbian talk show host. Or Mariam Mortaza, feminist and Lingerie Football League star.

Yes, Lingerie Football, that has the motto, “The more T&A, the more we pay.” And currently they are interested in opening a league for youth and younger girls. I am raising girls, and this bothers me. It bothers me that women are objectified in commercials, television, movies, and professional sports. It bothers me that people rarely use the word objectify anymore, and think it’s not relevant, or worse, just plain puzzling. But I’m willing to bet most women (and teenage girls) have felt objectified, even if they never dared use the word. And I’m also willing to bet they know the difference between this feeling and physical attraction, admiration, flirtation, appreciation.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know we have made some gains. There are the Dove commercials and girl power and women’s business associations and reading groups. We have sexual harassment policies in the work place, but unfortunately are still getting paid less than men for the same jobs. We aren’t burning our bras, but instead watching what we should look like in them in Victoria Secret ads. I feel like I’ll be viewed as a sour old biddy for not liking the Sex in the City movies. I’m afraid to tell people I find these movies stupid and offensive. And I don’t really like that there is a new genre called Chick Lit. I even have a hard time saying the words out loud.

I think it really boils down to not wanting my daughters to ever feel less than because they are female. I want them to believe they will be loved because they are kind, smart, funny, creative, independent, warm, wise, giving, strong women. I want them to feel beautiful through and through. I want this for all of us, really. So we can stop battling with ourselves. So we can grow old with grace and serenity. So we can stop buying shoes.



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Hair Scare

I’m having hair problems. Serious hair problems. It’s growing out and has no style whatsoever. And it’s drying up. I’m not talking about a few split ends, I’m talking about that straw-like witch’s broom feeling, especially by the end of the day. My hair was already pretty bad–thin, straight, basic brown even when I color it (it resists change). And I’m of a “certain age” where I want to look young but not ridiculously young. It sucks. Growing old is like being sent away to a camp that you pretty much hate but have to put up with. The food isn’t great, you can’t do the things you used to and instead have to take swimming tests and sweaty, buggy hikes and listen to ghost stories around the campfire that are supposed to be fun but instead scare the crap out of you.

Hair is basically a nightmare for most women. It defines us in some unrealistic and torturous way. It draws the line in the sand between the beautiful and the longing to be beautiful. It brings us confidence or that please-let-me-put-a-bag-over-my-head feeling. Maybe that’s why women seem so obsessed with shoes–so they can draw attention away from their hair. Because face it, if it’s straight you wish it was curly and if it’s curly you wish it were straight. And any given day can bring disaster, except the day before you go to get it cut when it always looks great.

Thank God (and my treasured anonymous sperm donor!) my daughters don’t have my hair. They have gorgeous, thick, naturally highlighted hair you would kill for. Of course, they hate their hair. But someday I hope they learn to appreciate it, or at least  make peace with it. I hope it gives them just a little buffer from all the other things the world throws at them. Sure, their smarts and humor and health and talents and personalities and just pure goodness should be enough. But sometimes it might not be. Sometimes they may face people so full of prejudice or lies or injustice or spite, that good hair will help sustain them. Good hair will give them just the extra umph it takes to roll out of bed and keep at it another day.

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OB Gyn Kenobie

I have a new strategy for helping with writers block–but you need to be of the female persuasion.  Today I had an OBGyn appointment. Who knew how much writing material you can find with your legs up in the air? First I sat in the waiting room for an hour listening to a very chipper women in one of those health infomercials talk about fertility and lack-there-of. Did you know that if men drink more than 2 glasses of wine their sperm craps out when you go at it that night? She seemed so excited to say this. They might as well put Sponge Bob on for us. Finally the nurse brought me in to take my blood pressure and weigh me. You don’t look like you weigh that much she says. Is that supposed to be a compliment? Then she pulls out the tiny thin white paper bolero to cover my boobs and the thin white paper table-cloth to cover everything else. Then I sit.

And I sit.

By now my backside is freezing and the big framed poster of the vaginal canal, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is beginning to look like one of the animal costumes from the Broadway musical The Lion King. Circle of life indeed. My 10:30 appointment is slowly creeping into high noon and I have had nothing to eat all morning. I’ve ripped a rather fashionable v-neck in my bolero (which I put on backwards) and the only magazine in sight is Mens Health (swear to God!). Finally, my Doctor enters. She is also chipper. Her teeth are so white they look recently sandblasted. She goes through the usual litany of questions, throwing in a little joke about how I don’t need birth control (wink, wink). I wonder if she is referring to my age or my sexual orientation. Her chuckle is a bit alarming. Then in an instant I am on my back, feet flailing to find the stirrups, ass hanging over the edge of the examination table, feeling “a little pressure” of the speculum as she pushes it around looking for my cervix. Where is that sneaky cervix now she says, and when she finds it, secures the speculum and begins her business she asks So how’s your job?

How’s my job? My job? Who can talk about their job with a 12 inch Q-tip swabbing the internal deck? I picture myself like Jackie Chan, leaping from my back into the air, my feet hitting her shoulders full force knocking her into the Yak or Giraffe or whatever that poster is. But, I mumble something instead. We have a conversation of sorts. That bizarre conversation that women have when someone is peering into their uterus wearing rubber gloves and a miners flashlight. It’s about odd domestic things or how the education system has failed our kids or something from the Daily Show or our jobs. It’s punctuated with occasional uhs and umphs as things pinch and prod. And it happens like the most natural thing in the world. Like you’re taking a coffee break or chatting with a bank teller.

This is why women are so strong. They face countless moments of intrusion and humiliation and discomfort and pain, but they carry on. They wipe away the muck from their insides, throw their clothes back on, crumple up the paper gown and hit a Dunkin Donuts on their way back to work. Same old same old. Back into the day like nothing happened.

But something does happen. Cells shift, eyes momentarily drift back in their sockets, muscles clench and teeth are barred, and for a minute we move into an ancient fight or flight response. We are lionesses, ready to kill or run to protect. Ready for cancer or babies or blood or emptiness. We fall and we rise in an instant.  A force to be reckoned with.


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