My favorite F word

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 So, what are you studying?

Me: women’s studies

Oh…. does that mean your a feminist?

Me: yeah. I’d like to think so.

Oh.. (let the judgement begin).

  Angry.     Lesbians.     Hair legs.

Superiority over men.    Hating men.

Trying to
throw out every tradition.

Anti feminine.   Against lipstick.

Crazy.    Egotistical.   Excluding groups.

Anti stay at home mom.

Against dating chivalrous men.

Pointless, angry picketing.

Rejection of female characteristics.

Annihilation of gender.

Feminism: this is not actually what the word means for everyone.

I like men. I like men so much that I am dating one. And I even want to be married. I have come across so many people asking me why I am a feminist if I have a child and want to be married. Why would I want both?

I want to hit people with my textbooks sometimes. I hope that if I hit them hard enough, some influential advocates and writers words will imprint their brains.

Permanently.

But instead, I smile and explain what it means to me. What careers I aspire to go for. And what feminists have influenced me. If they want to walk away confused or in disbelief, so be it.

I find it interesting when the topic of feminism comes up among friends. They all want to give input but many don’t back anything up with real history or facts. Some don’t know my major or beliefs and so they crack jokes, looking to be for approval or fuel for the fire. They knock it or make fun of the way “feminists” act. Some do understand what the word means but dare not relate to it.

They don’t want to be identified with it.

Maybe its fear. Or ignorance.

I think a big problem is lack of education. And having too much privilege without understanding how they are able to live the way they do. For me, it seems that every day perspectives around me are narrow. My major and the education I’m being provided with allows me to see things in a whole. A large perspective.

I understand the struggles women deal with every day. Blindly.

I have struggled a lot when trying to be who I am in a society that is hell bent on narrow standards. As a young woman, I have to constantly adhere to a certain way of speaking, thinking, looking and appearing. I am supposed to as Adrienne Rich defined it, “play the part”.

I felt like a performer most of my life. I should behave the way a lady should. And abandon my strong will. Be quiet and obedient. Dress appropriate and never defy men. Not my father, my grandfather, nor my uncle or brother. I shall find a husband to obey too. Maybe get some education. A job in a woman’s field. That’s the life.

I have grown up on conflicting music lyrics and media messages, giving me a false sense of hope in the term modest. Why be modest or virtuous when men sing and obsess over my breasts. My ass cheeks in a tight skirt and leather thigh boots I will never afford but so desperately have wanted in order to fit in with those popular girls in high school. Fashion changes so much during adolescence because of a constant hunger to fit in.

I need to fit in.

I need to be sexy. And wanted. But not easy. I can be alluring but sexy too easily means loose. Floosy. A whore. Stay away from those whores. They are trouble. No, you have to be a middle girl. Someone who is not fake, but fake enough to have a click (popularity). I must be sexy but not too sexy (or else I’ll be the school whore or end up pregnant). Buy those expensive jeans that everyone has. Steal them if you have to. Too fat? Binge and purge. Don’t eat at all. Live off of gum. Do what you gotta do.

Or kiss your highschool life goodbye.

No matter what, I always felt trapped. I always felt like I was pressed to please but couldn’t. My breasts were too big. Or not big enough. I wanted to fit in one day and stand out the next.

My decision to have my baby at 16 was majorly life altering.  Even then, I saw sexism in the works. I was removed from finishing my junior year in my town high school. Being three months pregnant was deemed too dangerous for my (their) wellbeing (reputation). My own father could not handle being a father to her only daughter. My ex bailed shortly after learning I was carrying a girl.

The reality of how men and women are raised is more and more obvious to me every day. In raising a little girl, I see the struggles I faced sometimes repeating for her. What I am thankful for is my awareness.

Feminism to me, is advocating. Its having awareness. Using your education and resources in order to make life more equal for men and women. To stop the objectification of women. To give voice to the many girls that are abused, neglected, raped, or killed because they are not able to fight back. Because they are women.

I want my daughter to feel value and self worth. Not to define it by the length of her denim skirt or the color hair she desires to have. Not by the size of her bra or the amount of guys that want her. I want her to understand her body. To not feel ashamed of her anatomy or what can be done/not done to it. To understand the dangers of assault and rape as well as how to defend herself. I want her to not just feel like she is strong and able but to learn about many people around the world who aren’t. To be educated in how other countries live and behave. Modesty means appreciating your privileges, not exploiting others for what they lack.
 

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Steady heartbeats

Nothing ever made more sense
Than to imagine the leaves blow
To feel the rush in the wind
And let all my worries go

Nothing ever felt more right
Than dreaming of the seas
Thinking of a better place
Of where I’m meant to be

Tossing and turning in my sleep
I was pressed for time
And eager to leave
Muffling out the noises of screams
As she sank deeper and heavier
Into disease

Clock was ticking
Night was falling
And the footsteps got lighter
As she fell to her knees
My escape was drawing nearer
My anticipation peaked

Shuffling through the darkened hall
Finding ways to cheat the creaks
Hoping my heartbeat would silence
Enough to tame the beast
Holding breathe and streaming tears
Almost found the light

And just like rebirth
Out of the cage
The pavement led me
Far away
Knowing anywhere is
Safe to hide
Rather to be alone
Than stuck inside

Fly away doll
Fly far away from home
She can no longer hurt you
Your out on your own.

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Pushing yourself

  We have all been there. That point where we wonder what went wrong. We blame actions and events of others. And don’t want to take responsibility for our wrongs.. its easier to not account for your actions, right? Its easier to push people who oppose to your choices away, and ignore seeing what you have done wrong. The more we become used to not fixing small problems, the bigger trenches we dig into the major issues.

  How is it that we sometimes choose the wrong things, even knowing the consequences could be awful? Do we owe ignorance to curiosity or a lack of guilt of failure? Why do some people choose to be in relationships or positions where they will end up like others predicted? Sometimes we are so stubborn we want to learn for ourselves, right?

  Well go ahead. Make some mistakes. Make some bad choices. Stick with some bad people. And refuse to fix your bad habits. What will that lead to? They say if you do something twenty one times in a row, it becomes a habit. How many things do you do a day, for years even, that attribute to your failures?

  I am thankful that I had addict parents. I am thankful some of the people I knew growing up that struggled with addictions and deep seeded problems as well. I was lucky to not go down the same road. People remind me of that all the time. Especially after hearing how I was raised. It is true that education sets you free. Examples do as well. After seeing someone deteriorate from the inside out, someone I loved and looked up to, I wanted no connection to alcohol or drugs. I wanted to be informed and understand the way bad choices affected health and well being. The more I understood, the more I moved away from those things.

I see people make bad choices a lot even after being educated about the truth. After seeing how men are in past relationships, women still choose to pursue relations hoping to change them. I have seen adult children choose to pursue redemption for their parents and try to build relationships with broken people who are incapable of having a healthy relationship. It also happens in friendships. Trying to fix trust is like building a bridge out of shredded wood. The bond becomes weak and the foundation is forever changed.

I do not claim to be perfect nor do I know the formula for world peace. I will say that from wanting to be educated and make better choices, I have made better relationships and become a better person. I have put focus on the important things in my life and shed the things that held me down. I have chosen to erase certain people from my life that were not able to progress. It was a lost cause to expect anything different from people who did not want to change.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

I have lived with real crazy people. I choose to move forward and meet my own expectations, not become what everyone’s low expectations wanted me to be.

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Struck by lightening

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  I saw a movie this past week on Netflix that really grabbed my attention. Although I must admit I watched it because of the great actors and actresses in it, I really was glad I got to see the whole film. Its about a boy in High School that lives with his alcoholic mother and struggles to be noticed for his writing talents. Although he dies in the opening of the film( not a spoiler), the greatest point of view shown is the backtracking of events that led up to his death.

  I was so amazed by the performance of GLEE star Christopher Colfer, playing Carson Phillips. He struggled through the harsh bullying of peers, in a food chain of wildly dead on characters that portray what high school is really like. Carson was hated by many students, mostly because he was misunderstood and ignored. His parents were split up, leaving him with his crazy mother while his father moved on with a younger woman.

His whole senior year sequence was played out well and very realistic. I was on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen to him and his passionate dreams of becoming a professional writer. What I really connected to was his life at home and struggle to become something more than his parents became. To become free.

I was angered by how his mother treated him constantly but not at all surprised. I could have been the sister he never had. My own mother was much worse, having very few periods of sobriety. My mother struggled with mental illness and other internal problems, treating herself with substances just as the woman in the movie did.

In the film, Carson’s mother had a problem seeing her son succeed because of her own blundered dreams. She was so selfish and reluctant to let her son grow, that she ultimately ruined his future. His chance for survival. It was a hard blow to watch him slowly crash and lose his dreams.

  What frustrated me was the message for the audience in the end. Having parents that obviously didn’t care for him like parents should, he was left to care for himself mostly. Much like a real child of an addict, he had to take on the mature role and challenge his mother’s behavior. He was often put in the position to treat his parents as inferior. Each was so involved in their own needs that they neglected his. His mother could not hold a job let alone wake herself up in the morning. She self medicated and forced her son to start on medication for depression. The doctor she was seeing was ignorant and prescription happy, without even considering the mental condition of his patient. He was more concerned with giving out medication than to tackle any problems through intervention and action. This is a representation of how blind doctors and councilors can be to abuse and dysfunctional families. There was no real concern for the side affects attributed from her multiple prescriptions let alone a method for controlling her alcoholism. Basically, the doctor could care less.

Being the only child of two alcoholics, I can relate to many behaviors Carson had. I watched as he struggled with his emotions and had to push himself constantly to succeed. He worked very hard to accomplish all of his goals, though he had OCD tendencies and was some what bossy. His attitude was beyond his peers and he had a clear vision of his future. College. A career. Something with passion and expression. These are emotions that he was unable to express at home. He did not connect with many friends which made it hard for him to get any support. Instead he used blackmail and outsmarted most of the other students. He was conniving for his own benefit but worked his ass off to achieve his vision.

  The most heart breaking aspect of Carson’s personality was that he was a loner. He had to be. He was unable to trust other people enough to socialize like his peers. He did not wish to conform. Only to fly free. Far away from his life. That was me. In a nutshell.

  I rooted for him all the way until the end of the film. I hoped that the end would have some how altered in order to give him a second chance but it didn’t. His mother ruined his only chance of leaving the small town. I felt the pain as he discovered his mother was behind his declined application to the school of his dreams. I could relate to the lack of support or encouragement from his parents. I appreciated the realness of both of his parents conditions. Each struggled with past issues that carried out most of his adolescent life.

His father was the lesser of two evils, having abandoned the family years earlier only to move on with a new woman. The new woman has a unique perspective in the movie in that she can see the whole picture from the outside looking in. She met Carson’s mother in the beginning of the film only to hate her. Later on she begins to understand why Carson’s mother was the way she was. The relationship between both women helped to show the pattern to which the father was in, with his lack of commitment or compassion. The new woman took pity on Carson’s mother in the end after seeing the fathers true colors.

  The triangle between ex wife, new fiance and husband was very realistic and well laid out. At first it seemed that Carson’s parents divorced because of things the wife had done. As it turns out, the father was very neglectful and abandoned his wife and son for his own selfishness. My father and mother quit when I was only a year old. Their drinking and drug habits only worsened as time went on. Both could not face each other and were constantly angry.

As the film portrayed, this is sometimes caused by residual feelings that get in the way of one or the other person moving on with their lives. My own father left me years after my mother only to find a woman with three children, whom he involves himself with.

Its hard not to be angry or feel like you are replaced when being the child in that situation. It happens a lot. People make mistakes and then try to start over. They believe that recreating a new family will make problems or feelings subside. Carson was old enough to not really care about what his father had missed. However, the fiance was able to see how the family had been affected by the shattering divorce. This made her think twice about her engagement ad choice in the father of her unborn child.

Unfortunately, the regret and realizations that take place in the film do not always happen in real life. Carson’s mother feels regret and pain once realizing she has lost her son. She has no control over what has happened and has to live with her actions. At the expense of her sons life, she finally had to face what her actions caused. Carson’s father becomes more of the bad guy at the end when the audience gets to see his true colors. He becomes less relevant in Carson’s life throughout the film, until he is just a complete disappointment.

  I was interested in the side story about Carson’s relationship with his grandmother that had Alzheimer’s. I loved how he would visit her and read to her, even when she didn’t remember who he was. He was able to publish his childhood story in his literary magazine for the school. It was a positive twist to the sadness of the movie. I was really hoping to see him “get to fly”. What Carson really represents are the children out in the world with abusive and neglectful parents. Though the film is a comedy, it holds real validation for struggling and abused children.

  Having a demise of Carson’s character gives the audience a squashed hope for the success of undesirable children. Children who live daily with alcoholic and addicted parents. Whom have to make their own lunches and pay their own way through life.

I can remember signing my own school trip forms since elementary school. I had to prepare my own food a lot of the time and was mostly ignored. When my parents did want to provide for me, there was always a catch or perk for them. I felt isolated and always struggled to over achieve. I wanted to feel acceptance. Reassurance. I had none at home. It took me a long time to stand up to my own mother.  I found that cleaning up her messes was a lot easier than challenging her authority. You should never bite the hand that feeds you. In my case, when I finally bit back, I was abandoned for good.

  I wish that more children were brave enough to go to authorities about their abusers. But I know the stress and torment that goes along with having to report it. To worry if you won’t be taken seriously or be sent right back home to your parents is the worst thing imaginable. I was able to report my mother on hree different occasions. All of those times I was sent back home eventually. CPS and the law did not protect me. In fact, my mother was not charged with anything. It took until I was seventeen to take my parents to court. Even then I was given legal permission to never go home again because I had a legal guardian. But my parents paid no fines or any criminal charges. I did not seem to have enough proof. So it was dismissed.

  I wish I could inspire children who have been through what I have. I tell my stories openly because they are like old scabs. It helps other people to know they are not alone. They can have a voice. I wish I could be their voice when they don’t have the courage to speak up. The worst feeling in the world was not knowing if I would be safe in my own bed. I never felt at home in my mother’s house. I felt caged. As if I was just kept captive in my room most of my upbringing so my mother would not have to be a parent.

In the film, Carson’s mother did not want to lose him. She seemed to not want to let go if her son even though she did nothing for him. Truth is, she just did not want him to succeed. She could not let her son progress because she never did. She was bitter. Stuck in the mistakes she made, she only wanted her son to pay the same price of losing his dreams. Could it have been in spite? Maybe. Does it make the audience angry? For sure.

What people have to understand about alcoholics is that they are sick. They are not thinking clearly. Or like a responsible person should act. When a child is raised into that type of environment, they do sometimes become a “Carson”. They go into survival mode and advance past their peers out of the necessity to succeed. I know that feeling so deeply. It has made me free. The film does not give justice to those who do succeed. The people who do break free of their old lives and actually become something.

I highly recommend this film to have an alternate ending, though I know it will never happen. I was really rather apauled by how much Carson struggled because it was a lot like looking at myself. I was upset that he did not get to spread his talents out and succeed for his own efforts.

I do not think the film gives a positive message to its viewers about the “undesirables” of society. I am one of those undesirables. A person that was thought to fail. To amount to nothing. To become just like her parents. Addicts. Alcoholics. Crazy. Poor. Unsuccessful. Stuck in a wheel of regret. I truly wonder if that had to be my fate. I refused it. What is stopping others from refusing to follow down the same road?

Is it really that rare to break free?

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The anti-babymama

   If it is one thing I really hate about teen pregnancy Stigma’s its the obsessively used terms “babymama” and “baby daddy”. I just cannot come to terms with associating myself as one. I hate the slang of it as well as the common usage. When someone says that, it makes them sound uneducated and ignorant. When someone says that to me, it makes me feel like I am uneducated and disrespected. I am a woman. A mother. An unwed female with a child. And you sir/madam are a genius because it did in fact take two people to make my child. I did have to reproduce in order to become pregnant. I also have biological attachment to my child, as well as the sperm which made my child. But in no way. No way. Do I want to be referred to or asked about any “Baby mama drama”.

This culture and time period I am growing up in has a lack of understanding or appreciation of parenthood. At all ages, women are degraded and judged for their unwed mothering. The slang terms and stigmas associated with the younger ages are the worst because both imply age with ignorance. I am not a dumb person. I am not a slut. Or a poor case. I do not act “crazy” or make up stories to egg on custody battles. What other things can you all think of? What does a baby mama do?

Am I not considered one because I am earning my degree and independent? If I were living in my parents basement and harboring unhealthy feelings for my ex, would I make the par for that term? Would I need to talk like I am uneducated and dress like I am a stripper? Or does a baby mama have to dress great, have tattoos and spend all the child support money on things she can’t afford in order to spite the ex? I have heard so many different aspects of the term from the media, TV dramas and the mouths of my own peers.

Is being a baby daddy as simple as being the sperm of a child’s conception? Does the “daddy” part only imply an involved father or is it a deadbeat? Does this man have to be a jerk and horrible parent or just a parent who is not engaged, committed to or married to the mother of the child? With all of the contradicting definitions, it is quite hard to keep up. To make the bar. Do I even want to be in those categories?

I am sick of being looked at or thought of as a jerry springer case. As irresponsible or reckless. As someone who is not considered a good mother or a balanced mother because of my age. Why is it that women who are married aren’t called baby mamas? Are they referred to as more than just the biological mother because they have the capability to be what society thinks is a prepared parent? I got news for everyone. No parent is a fully prepared parent. Not at first. Maybe not even after the second or third. No one has every detail planned AND executed perfectly. A wedding ring does not mean a woman is qualified to be a mother. What the problem really is, to be blunt, is that its no ones right to classify a woman and her parenting capability. Its no ones business. But hers.

Now that I have ranted about that, I need to tackle some interesting comparisons between males and females in unwed parenthood. As it seems, from my experiences, the woman will always get the grief and judgement full force. While the males seem to skid by and get a social “pass” for not being ready or making a mistake. I do not make this stuff up. I’ve seen it and lived it. I have studied it. And now, I’m speaking out about it.

So what makes a man a father? What makes a male qualified to parent his child? What makes him unqualified? And really think about this…  do the laws and regulations of custody/Childsupport really abide by societies standards or what is actually best for a child? No matter what state you live in, it is good to research and understand the laws which your society follows.

In New York state, once paternity is established, the father has the obligation to pay 17% for their first child of support. After one child, the percentage is divided up amongst what is left after the first portion. If the father makes children with different women, each child gets money according to the birth order. In the year 2013, it is a fact that 40% of children are born out of wedlock. Think of how busy the child support bureau must be!

When a young man has children with more than one woman, whether by affair or new relationships, he is required to provide care doe each child. Quite often, teen parents become pregnant again within the first two years of their child’s life. That being said, many couples do not make it through the trials and tribulations of early parenthood. They find new partners and start family planning with them. In the community I live, when a man has more than one woman and children from each, he still does not get as much slack as the women. Even if he cheats. Society says that he will just have to pay the support, pay his dues, and no further action is required. It is not acceptable but also ignored if a man fathers many kids. From a biological perspective, he is just spreading his seed. Taking a deeper look from a sociological perspective, he is just trying to find the right partner. Or a better partner. If you examine different species, you will see it can even be quite common for animals to populate with multiple partners to ensure surviving kin. Healthy kin. So I want to know, are we really more evolved than animals in our reproductive traditions? Are some men hard wired to behave out of instinct? Are some women? What makes sex so irresistible that humans find having sex with multiple people is sometimes more satisfying than finding one mate for the rest of their lives? Is this biological? Is it a way of survival? Or is it that sexual drives hold value for some more than establishing a family? One family.

I ask these questions not to be funny but to make everyone think. If we are more evolved than animals and have a deep, intellectual understanding of the world, then why do we sometimes act on pure animal instinct? I certainly do not think its completely natural for the human species to populate with multiple partners, or else that is how we would evolve. There is an importance to picking out the right partner. There is an actual science to it. On how we select our mates and how males/females select their life partners.

This has a lot to do with the terms baby mama and baby daddy. I want you to think about why it becomes a social phenomenon of having unwed and single parents. A lot of factors play into why relationships do not always work out. Economics, religion, education etc. What are the standards in american culture for choosing a mate and does it vary based on gender? Do females have different preferences in their mates, either choosing men for just sex or men to be fathers and partners? They sure do.

What makes me think about my own life is how harshly I have been judged in the past for having a child unwed and too young. For being considered foolish. When my ex left, when I was left with all of the responsibility, why was he not expected by society let alone his family, to be responsible? Why was I questioned and blamed for being abandoned and expected to pick up the slack? Why are most girls expected to when they are not married?  Is it punishment for us choosing the wrong person to father our children? Furthermore, if a woman knows a man had a child but did not stick around, then why would she choose him to father a child with? What makes females think that a man can be changed? Or want to father one child over another?

The answers to my own personal position are that I did not think long term how the man I chose to be sexually active with would be as a father. I did not fully weigh the fact that he did not think about being a father either. I was given the choice to abort or not. I was given the bills. The pregnancy. The responsibilities. As expected because I was perceived as the one who chose to make a mess. So I had to clean it up. And when it became clear that I would be a single mother, not one thing was done to ensure the man would not continue to have sex and make children elsewhere. I was harassed about being put on the pill. The shot. Anything to keep me from “doing it again”. No one asked if the father would be safe. What form of birth control he would use after. If he would make wiser choices. Or be a fulltime parent. In fact, when your a “baby daddy”, society mostly assumes you will be a check.

I have not chosen to label myself based on those terms. I have also decided to put thought and time into finding the right man. Through my maturity and experiences, I have began to understand what it means and takes to be a parent. I made my child and birthed her. But that is not what makes me a mother. What makes me a mother are my daily sacrifices and obstacles that I choose to overcome for my child. I did not anticipate having a child at 17 but I knew what sex led to. I do everything in my power to be there for everything. To raise her with morals, values and an understanding of the world around her. That’s what a mother does.

A father is not defined by the money they send through a check or the fake stories they tell people. If you receive a card once a year from the man who made you, guess what? He’s not a father. A sperm does not equal a parent. What makes a father is a man who is willing and able to put his time into his child. His sacrifices and his love are constant. His efforts are not begged for. His time is not precious but rather a gift for the child. He makes choices to benefit his child. Helps with the work and the obstacles that comes with parenthood. Whether a couple stays together or not, a father is someone who does not abandon the child. For anything.

What is hard to swallow is that people still judge me for being young and impulsive. It is wrong to judge anyone. It is also wrong to push high standards on women over men. To not put any standards on men who make children without putting in the work. That’s proof of patriarchy at its finest. For it to be acceptable for males to not sacrifice the same as the female they made a child with should be a crime. But in most states it isn’t. And in fact, family court values parenting as nothing more than a sperm and egg. Even if you are unmarried,  a single mother is not protected fully by law. Nor is she supported when the father is abusive or a “deadbeat” aka not involved. It is all black and white. No shades of gray to protect the child. That’s the sad truth.

What I do wish to impart on my peers is the importance of self worth. Of choosing a partner that is both trustworthy and intelligent. Compassionate and raised with morals. When you choose a partner to father children with, do it wisely. No matter what type of union you are in, either straight, gay, married or unmarried know the importance of mate selection. Know how to protect yourself when being sexually active. Most importantly, research and know all of your rights. Understand your responsibilities before bringing children into the world. Something so intimate and special should be one of the most important choices you will ever make. Parenthood should never be taken lightheartedly.

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