Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian

Dear Kim K., 

We get it. 

You have a big, beautiful dumper. 

You just had a baby and you don't feel very pretty or sexy anymore so you want every man (and even some women) in America to lust after you, because if they do you'll know you've still got it. I've been there. I mean, not the posing with my butt out for a NY mag part, but the unsexy part. 

Heck, I have four kids; I pretty much live on Planet Unsexy these days.

That wasn't always the case though. I was pretty cute and thin back in the day and that's dangerous. You get addicted to the compliments and the attention. You buy into the lie that your looks and sexuality are the sum of your worth. In your mind that becomes the best part of you. So after baby number one I lost my identity too, and I needed people to find me attractive so I could convince myself I still had value… that I was still lovable. Because of that I became easy, and I mean eeeeasy (wink, wink) prey for anyone willing to pay me a compliment. 

That's where you're at now. You're letting the world exploit you because you think their reaction will show you, and perhaps your husband, that you are still valuable and still worthy of love. 

But what you're going to find at the end of this media circus is that tomorrow you will still be a day older, and you will have a new perceived flaw: a new wrinkle, sag, or pound of fat. You will spend the rest of your life working tirelessly to prove your worth to people based on a body that is committed to betraying you. It will become your enemy, and you will grow to hate it. You will grow to hate yourself. No amount of ogling will suffice because you won't be the woman you were last year, last month, last selfie. 

You will be like a hamster constantly running on a wheel trying to catch the approval of others. And that's sad, because you will never be able to stop and enjoy your life. You will always be trying so. damn. hard. to earn love.

And even still, one day there will be another Kim K., a brighter younger fresher version of you, whose nude beauty will fill our news feeds, magazines, and movies. You will flinch at the thought of your husband leering at her, so you will run faster, work harder, sacrifice more. Until finally you won't be able to any longer. You will be so exhausted from trying that you will have to stop... at which point you'll realize all you gave up in this futile pursuit. The pieces of your dignity you sold for Hollywood's fleeting infatuation. The hours of laughter with good friends that were traded for hours at the gym. The minutes spent editing pictures to give to people who don't matter instead of using that time to teach your daughter that her beauty doesn't need to be filtered or fixed. Because you are feeding a monster whose appetite will not be satiated with you, it will one day try to feast on her as well. 

This is a cycle we must break now, for women everywhere and for all future generations of women to come. 

But how?

Well, that's the hard part. We have to go against everything we know and learn to love ourselves. We must learn to value that which doesn't fade but becomes more beautiful over time: our character, our kindness, and our compassion for others. 

Kim K., your mother didn't protect you from this world. She sold you to it. Please, I'm begging you, rip off the price tag and refuse to be bought any longer. You are worth so much more than the price of a magazine. We all are. And so are our daughters. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

With heavy hearts...

Our dear friend Erin, who often helps edit blogs here at New Wave Feminists, lost her 7 week old son, Gabriel, two days ago. He passed away in his sleep. Our hearts are breaking for Erin and her husband, and their two other children as they go through this devastating time.

They have written a beautiful prayer in their son's honor and we invite any of you who would like to lift them up to pray it with us...

Heavenly Father, author of life,
Our hearts are heavy from the loss of our son Gabriel.
Unite our suffering to the cross of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
and use this suffering as a prayer of intercession.
We pray for the safety of all children in their mothers’ wombs.
We pray for men & women considering abortion,
that the light of truth be shown in their hearts,
and that they see the true hope of a better way.
We pray for clinic workers,
that they see the lie of abortion for what it is,
and be given the strength and courage to leave for a better life.
We pray for the hearts of all this nation,
that they see the value of life,
and that they treasure all life as much as we do right now.
Father of all mercies,
enfold our son in your loving embrace,
pour your love into our broken hearts.
Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help,
Pray For Us

From everyone at New Wave Feminists, we offer our deepest and most sincere sympathies to this precious family. Rest in Peace sweet Gabriel. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The very thing that MADE Wendy Davis is what ultimately sunk Wendy Davis: Anarchy

I voted. I called my elected officials. I wrote my senator. And when I was in Austin, I would pop into the capital and give all of the people whom I put into office (and even those I didn't) a piece of my mind. I followed the process, because I believe in the process.

What Wendy David did last summer, however, makes me wonder how anyone would be shortsighted enough to vote for her as a high ranking elected official.

I was in Austin when HB 2 took place and I watched it all go down.

My voice, my VOTE, which as a female was so heartily won, was silenced the second Wendy put up two fingers signaling the gallery to go crazy. The law became lawless and a small portion of Texas (we can only assume they were actually from here) loved it. They hooted and hollered and my voice was no longer relevant. The 19th amendment suddenly meant nothing... oh, but wait, according to Davis it was "for women," I forgot.

Davis tried it the legal way, she filibustered for 11 hours, but in the 11th hour her true colors came out. She didn't care about the government she was appointed to uphold. She cared about her own special interests which made my vote and voice in the political system null and void. Yet she's the one who gets to claim the title of "feminist." She's the savior of women and all those who disagree with her have betrayed their gender? 

After witnessing Wendy's actions last summer I was astonished at the number of constituents still willing to place their faith in her knowing at any moment she might override their will for her own. The very passion they admired would be the thing that could ultimately burn them if they disagreed with her on an issue.

Likewise, the very chaos she depended on last year was the same unorganized anarchy that did not turn out for her Tuesday. Lesson learned, Wendy? Stop blaming the women of Texas for your loss and realize it was because you silenced so many of them that you were ultimately defeated.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Harassment for Dummies: Why Cat Calling is Intimidating to Women

It's not always bad or scary, but it is always an unknown. Because we don't know who you are.

We know 99% of those incarcerated for rape are male, while only 1% are female. 

We know that.

We don't know you. We don't know if you're some nice guy trying to talk to us about our day, or some strange predator sizing up our body and figuring out how to fit it into a trash bag. Because, yeah, we watch Law and Order SVU, homie.  

We know on the news each night we see women with faces just like ours, crying in hospital rooms, talking about the randos on the street who's "attention" suddenly became an attack.

Men, you don't get that, and you probably never will. 

Because when you try to put yourself in our shoes you're picturing women (whom you've likely never felt physically overpowered by) innocently hitting on you, and let's be honest, that's flattering. You know at the end of the interaction, odds are, it's up to you whether you stay and engage or you go. You don't feel the need to politely make an excuse to get away as not to upset the person giving you said attention. You say no, and she hears no. Most women are not use to that. We're used to turning a guy down and him drunkenly persisting. We're use to being hunted... because that's what men, from a very young age are told to do. They strive for success... they take what they want... they're taught to be assertive and not give up. All good in the corporate world, but all very dangerous at a bar... during a party... on the street.

So to help you men understand, let's take women out of it altogether. 

Imagine you're on an island, and it's nothing but beefed up gay dudes. Everywhere you go they're making comments about your body, telling you to smile, walking beside you for 5 minutes at a time. Demanding you say "hello" to them or they call you a "frigid bitch." Because you are not beefed up, you're the weaker of the species on this island. You're expected to be more amicable. You should be delighted that these big, powerful men are taking interest in you. And if you're not? Well, who do you think you are? What a spoiled little twat. bitch. pussy. All female related insults. Interesting, huh?

Now let's say every night on the 'Gay Island News' you hear about another slim dude, just like you, being attacked by one of these beefcakes. Suddenly those little "compliments" don't seem so harmless anymore, do they? Suddenly they're not so innocent, and you don't feel nearly as safe.

Welcome to our world. I'm in no way saying all dudes are like this, but I am saying most of you have no effing clue what you're talking about when you comment on videos about cat calling. And rather then railing against the women trying to explain it to you, how about you thank your lucky stars that you don't get it. Learn empathy.

We, as females, don't have the luxury of figuring out which of you are predators and which of you are nice guys. So how about this. In the future, if you're a nice guy you come up to us and say the following...

"Hi, my name is ....." 

Odds are we'll have our guard up for a bit, but we'll also know a little bit about you. And we want to believe that separates you from the guy who just will hiss at us, grab at us, and ultimately treat us as nothing more than a piece of meat there to pleasure them either visually or physically, because you will have given us something. Your name. Next step, make it an honorable one. 

Now go forth and...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't tell me to stop talking about dudes sucking. Tell dudes to stop sucking.

Last week while sitting in an airport restaurant during a layover, a heavily intoxicated man approached me. He'd just gotten off a flight and was headed to another terminal when he spotted me sitting at the end of the bar by myself (near the entrance), and made a B-line straight toward me.

A whole incident ensued and afterwards I posted about it on our Facebook page. What made this all status update-worthy, however, was not the man's ultimate arrest for public intoxication (because, yes, he was that bad, which is why I left out some of the more obnoxious details about our time together), but how another woman who I can only assume had been traveling on the same flight as this man, never left me alone with him. I wanted to celebrate this awesome act of sisterhood. She stood back as not to escalate the situation, but kept eye contact with me the entire time letting me know something could potentially happen because of the aggressive state he was in.

And it did.

He had cozied up across the bar from me, loudly demanding I tell him he was cuter than my husband (who, yes, I felt the need to name drop early on, because sadly a woman not being interested is not enough these days... she has to be someone else's property in order to turn down a drunk dude's advances *eye roll*). Then finally at one point, only about a minute and a half into him sitting there, he placed both of his hands on my head. I did not feel in any immediate danger, but I know a big part of that was because I wasn't alone. I knew in that moment he had crossed a line and that the other woman was likely alerting airport security.

They came over and this gentleman was given multiple chances by security to go get a cup of coffee before getting on to his next flight, but he refused and just became more belligerent.

The most disturbing part of all of this though? Not the weird drunk airport arrest I watched go down, but rather the comments left on this very positive Facebook post I had written thanking that other woman for having my back.

I was accused of misandry, and overreacting because after all "nothing had happened"…yet. There was a lot of "well, if the tables had been turned and it was a woman who was the aggressor…"

So, fine internet commenter "Nickolai," let's turn the tables.

If you were suddenly approached by a woman twice your size, who was drunk, who had honed in on YOU, and there was no way of talking her out of the plans she had to take you home tonight, you might begin to feel one iota of what many of us feel all too often. But odds are you've never been in that situation. You've likely never felt physically intimidated by a woman, because if you had (as some men have), you would be more empathetic to what I went through and less accusatory of me for using this experience to- what did you say again? -oh yeah: drive up clicks-throughs. Because the ads. They're just everywhere on this blog, right? Remind me to explain to you how the Internet works in a future post.

I'm going to be very blunt. If you were looking for a politically correct "we're all equal" feminist page, you've come to the wrong place. I don't reside in that la-la land. I live in reality. I live in a world where women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual assault, not men. I live in a world where I don't have the luxury of boycotting date-rape-detecting nail polish, because I have had GHB slipped into my drink before. I live in a world where I am not equally as strong as a 250 lb. drunk dude, and I won't act like I am. I live in a world where having another woman watch out for me, and sadly needing other women to watch out for me, is a just part of everyday life. It shouldn't have to be like this, but it is. And until dudes change that, I will not apologize for "continuing the narrative" that men are usually the aggressors in situations like this. Because it wasn't some second-hand anecdote; it was something that really happen to me last week. If you're pissed at anyone, be pissed at the dudes who are creating this stereotype, not the women who are merely acknowledging what's happening and speaking out against it.

I'm sorry, but watch the video below, and then be "man enough" to admit shit like this does. not. happen. to. you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tips for Offering Women Non-Violent Alternatives at the Clinic

From SAFL-

Sometimes, it's the little things that count.

That's no less true for reaching a women-in-crisis, especially in a critical moment in which she's considering abortion.

This week, we thought we'd share with you a few little tidbits to keep with you on the sidewalk in order to make yourself more approachable to an abortion-bound woman...

  • Be a person, not a protester -- This is the main thing we want you to remember: be someone she feels she can talk to.  Be a "safe person."  Think about it this way -- if you were caught in a desperate situation, who would you want to talk to?  The person yelling at you?  Or possibly, a person who looks like you and simply says,"Good morning can we help you?"  It's really something to think about.

  • Avoid "ganging up" on someone -- Even the best sidewalk counselors sometimes miss the opportunity to look around them and say, would this setting be intimidating to a woman-in-crisis?  She's not going to want to talk about her business with a huge group of people around, so try to separate yourself from the group a bit and create a more personal, confidential space for you to converse with someone and share vital information.  A car naturally creates this, but think about the setting for someone who might approach you on foot.

  • Don't be a billboard -- Peaceful messages are fine, but avoiding looking like a pin board for a bunch of angry messages meant for the culture.  Remember: your audience is the heart of a woman-in-crisis; your main goal at an abortion center is to reach her.  You want to be a safe, approachable person.  You don't want a woman to dismiss an opportunity to talk to you because you are "preaching at" them through your clothes.  Be someone who looks professional and approachable.

  • Project your voice, but don't yell -- I still remember the day I called out to a woman across the parking lot of an abortion facility -- I naturally had to project my voice, otherwise, she wouldn't have been able to hear me.  Unfortunately, she went in anyway.  However, she came out about 30 minutes later and came over to talk to me at the fence.  She said, "I decided to come talk to you because you weren't yelling at me."  I marveled at that because I naturally had to call out to her in order to reach her.  Again, there is a difference: if I had yelled out, "Hey, you, what do you think you're doing?!" or related, we would've never had the conversation.  But because I said, "Hi, I'm Lauren!  We'd like you to know that we have real help available ...You can come talk to me at anytime..." and projected my voice in a friendly manner, that made all the difference.