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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Lunchtime success!

  I am really proud of my planning and research of recipes for my daughters kindergarten lunches. Although I had a lot of things to get done, I am glad i was able to get the Tupperware and groceries needed to make the ideas I found off pinterest and recipes.com. I can now say I followed through on my own plans, rather than spitting out ideas and never bothering there after. Its very easy to do that!

  I was able to get the silicone cups for her lunches as well as a thermos and containers she can open herself (thankgod I thought of that). I love how her lunches look all sectioned out. I have been trying to make smaller portions with bigger selection to help watch her diet and nutrition. Of course I have to pack fun snacks but I like to add a variety of fruits and veggies to her diet. Kids are so darn picky and she’s getting to the age where other kids influence her thought on her once favorite things. (We all know what that’s like).

  I have been sneaky and creative by getting her to eat foods with hidden veggies. It actually works. We are pretty plain eaters. I do not like to put syrup, dressings or heavy cream on or in anything. We eat plain waffles with fruit or plain pancakes because I put peanutbutter or chocolate chips inside. We also do not use ketchup or mustard ever. (Gasp). We don’t add much salt or pepper to things.

  I’m kind of boring in the condiment department. But I do love adding a few ingredients to everything. I love almonds, honey and vanilla extract. I also love cinnamon and nutmeg. I add those things to many common recipes to add variety. I am excited because I tried out a new mini muffin recipe that is really good so far. Introducing the newest flavor combo:

   Chocolate chip squash muffins!

1 Gerber baby food squash container.
1 mix of Betty crocker muffins
1/2 cup water (just add a tad less water)
1 teaspoon honey
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

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I thought about adding some other types of vegetable puree but squash seemed like a good experimental flavor. You can use a whole grain or oatmeal muffin mix as well. Also, honey is just a favorite of ours and it makes it sweet enough to hide the veggie flavor. I couldn’t get my daughter away from the batter.

  

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   I am excited to try more veggie muffins this week. I have decided to use paper cups and then freeze four or six at a time in Tupperware. I originally tried zip lock which was stupid because they stick together. By freezing it, I can defrost small amounts and stick one or two in her lunch box to add some variety.

  

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  So far I am creative and on a roll! She loved her lunch today and helped me pack tomorrows! Ideas are always welcome so please post to me if you have awesome recipe suggestions!

       

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Yum!

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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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Diving into feminism and kindergarten!

  Today went as magically as could be imagined. My daughter loved school and cannot wait to get back tomorrow to her classroom. I was so proud that she ran onto the bus, until she gave me no hug and left like I was invisible. One point for independence. I so needed the tissues more than her. Independence is good though. It means I did everything right. Being a single mother for the past five and a half years has served me right. She needs me a little less. That’s what parents should be. Support and encouragement towards becoming self sufficient. Although I will never be able to imagine a time when we have to part, I am so proud at the reality of my daughter having to move forward with her life. Every tiny step she takes on her own, from her first steps to the steps onto the bus today, she is becoming herself. A person with dreams, inspirations and a desire to grow.

  I am so inspired by the feminists I am reading currently into in all of my courses. It is really amazing to be able to apply my studies to my life. To actually use what I am learning to shape my own life and experiences. No thanks to square dancing or calculus, I am not earning a relative career in those topics. I am not earning a degree in applied math or science. I will not be studying anything mind numbing like some of the courses I was forced to take in early public school. I am proud to have hand selected and earned my position in my field. I hope to luck out and find my career after becoming a graduate student. I truly believe that through praying and focusing, I have been led to the best directions for myself. So far, all my courses have further educated me to a direct interest. I have almost solved the age old question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

  I think that writers like Wollstonecraft and Beauvoir had great points about how women were treated as an “other” or “unbeing” in society. What’s worrisome to me are the many women around me who choose to be inferior and grounded in their lives. I feel like women are so afraid of taking on the responsibility to become more.

  Although I am proud to be a mother as well as a sole provider for my household, I know that it is a hard to juggle and keep up. Not many girls are willing to juggle a child along with their studies and a job. I also think a current problem that is digressing the progress of women is many uneducated people choose to hold their own success back. I do not think that becoming a mother is a setback by any means. My motherhood journey is what launched my success and my drive grew stronger with becoming responsible for another person. I grew into my multiple roles. It is never easy and I do have times where I feel the weight of my juggle act. But its liberating. I enjoy that I am able to have all the experiences and benefits that I do. I have them because I chose to pursue everything. I get scholarships and aid because I have learned how to form relationships with colleagues and professors enough to get recommendations. I have also learned to apply my skills and better my weaknesses. As I mature, I continue to grow and expand my knowledge of the world around me. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had my daughter.

What bothers me are the people who choose to do nothing. No mental stimulation or personal growth. People who choose to be stuck how they are. For years or sometimes forever. What the problem with doing nothing is, is that those who do nothing change nothing. You do not help out your peers in any struggle when attributing to the causes. When you ignore problems or live in cycles of oppression, you encourage it to exist. When you do nothing to support your peers as humankind, you cause gender divide. Society is structured with dichotomies of relationships, caused by resistance to change. It becomes a problem when we raise our children to be racist, sexist and ignorant out of a lack of desire to change our ways. Its selfish. And lazy.

  One thing I do to support changing the way I was raised is to reinforce equality and positive images in the lessons I teach my child. I make sure I explain family structures and love in a variety of ways. I teach her that love is love, regardless of sexual orientation. I teach her that gender differences is nothing but the difference of genitalia, not in her looks or ability to succeed. I highlight all of her characteristics. Without telling her she is boyish or girlish. Its a constant effort on my part to watch my language, verbal and non verbal, as well as what I choose to give her. I select what films we view and I think about the kind of stories I tell her. I care about how she feels. What she thinks. And I support her to progress in whatever she loves. (Unless its something like destroying my homework). I take pride in my choices. Seriously. Because those choices are making my child who she is.

I have taken my daughter on my campus many times as well as to my classes. We have also been attending different organizations since she was a year old. I have been involved I. Student government, the school paper and have worked hard to help change my colleges to be more family (kid) friendly. I have been stared at. I have pushed limits. I have asked questions others dared to. And pressed for changes others never bothered to ask for. Out of their comfort or ignorance. I have taken a few years to realize I am so made for my field that I was meant to be where I am.

Its pretty great to feel like you belong. Like something in you just feels at home with your choices. When I am in my classrooms, although anxiety of homework rattles my brain, I am excited to learn. I do not take for granted any of the privledges I have in my life. Its important to be thankful. Above all, I am tired of people blaming others for their short comings or failures.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you aren’t happy with your life, change it. You can shape your life based on your choices.

When you feel something is not right or you work so hard to make something wrong feel right, it may be time to move on. And when you choose to give up on your dreams, you are to blame.

If you wont even try, you lack ambition, not options.

feministingmama

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?

feministingmama

My old poetry days

Medicated, sedated,
we’re all unconcentrated,
So many questions,
No answers
Just looking for a path cuz
This world directs us
Detects us
But it does not protect us
Spend our whole lives
Trying to cheat debt- just
Live without regrets
Its so impossible to forget
Carry all the burdens
Of our fathers
And father’s with no fathers
Don’t preach don’t follow
The gospel, the gospel and quarrels
Cuz its all lies
Its made to dramatize
Stressing every action
cuz we’re criticized
If we are meant to be free
Why dies our life constraint?
Instead of living for love
Children are bred to hate.
And that’s enough
We just discriminate
We don’t have to follow
The cycle
We have to break
The chain

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