Saturday, May 24, 2014

Entitlement to Women's Bodies at its Most Horrifying.

Trigger Warning: Extreme Violence, Misogyny

Last night, a 22 year old man named Elliot Rodger allegedly opened fire on a small community near Santa Barbara,California, killing six people, possibly himself included.

The night before, he posted a video to YouTube, complaining about being rejected by women and still being a virgin at 22.  He declared that he would take retribution on the women who refused him love, and sex.  He labelled them sluts and said he would mow each of them down. (By the way, that video is disturbing as hell).

A Facebook acquaintance who posted the story referred to him as America's own Marc Lepine.  She's right.

People will see this story and rave on about gun control (which I am all for).  They will see this story and scapegoat the mentally ill.  I get it.  There are not enough resources for the mentally ill.  They need more help that society is willing to provide at this point.  But every time we jump to "They must be mentally ill!" it does a disservice to the numerous non-violent mentally ill.

This guy have been ill.  What he definitely was, is entitled as hell. People will likely ignore the sheer amount of entitlement that it takes to justify murdering numerous people in cold blood because you can't get laid.

Elliot Rodger thought that because women refuse his advances they were sluts and deserved to die.  Women were supposed to be there for his enjoyment.  They didn't provide that.  So they had to be punished.

That is entitlement.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This is Triskadecaphobia.

To My Daughter On Her Thirteenth Birthday,

Bear with your mother for a moment.  As you probably already know, being my child and all, I have a difficult time walking a fine line between sentimentality and snark.  Allow me this moment to get a little misty, to wax philosophical and to pass on some advice as you enter your teen years.

1) You are loved.  I figured I'd get that one out of the way first.  It probably goes without saying, but I don't like to go without saying it.  You are loved.  When you are feeling lost and alone, there is always someone there you can talk to.   I'd like it to be me, but I know there will be things that you may not want to share with your mom.  But I do know that for all the things that you feel like you can't come to me with (which I hope is a very small list) there are any number of people who would be willing to listen.

2) You are beautiful.  But you are also smart, funny, and kind. While beauty may definitely helps you in many areas of this looks-obsessed society we live in, it will be your humour, your kindness and your willingness to learn that will, in the long run, be the things that dictate the direction your life will take and how you are remembered.

3) You are worthy of respect.  Those who would deem you unworthy are not entitled to your time or energy.  That being said, treat others with respect as well.  Every new person you meet has their own stories, strengths, weaknesses, and potential to be a friend or ally.

4) Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses.  Work hard to develop your strengths. Be patient with yourself in areas of weakness.

5) "An it harm none, do what thou will."  Basically, be who you are as long as you are not hurting people in the process.

6) You do not owe your time to people who treat you badly.  YOU DO NOT OWE YOUR TIME TO PEOPLE WHO TREAT YOU BADLY.  It is okay to cut off communication with people who do not respect you or your boundaries.

7) Do not apologize for your passions.  Even if someone tells you that your interests and hobbies are weird or boring, do not apologize.  Even when you've graduated and gone off and left your family and friends, you'll still have Bandersnatch Cummerbund.

8) Be nice to your sister.

9) Try not to view other women as competition.  Don't judge other women's style, bodies, or sexual choices.  We face enough judgement for these things from society at large, without being shitty to each other.  There is no right or wrong way to be a woman.

10) For the love of Gord, turn your light off when you leave your bedroom.  I'm not made of money.

11) Take risks.  Not stupid risks, like getting into a car with some drunk asshole driver or doing drugs or stuff like that, but don't be afraid to try new things or to put yourself out there.  Like someone? Let them know.  If an opportunity presents itself to try something new and exciting, don't let the possibility that things might not work out *exactly* as planned dissuade you.

12)  Don't let people tell you that you are not good enough to accomplish the things you want. However, remember that when someone points out potential flaws in your plans, it is not to discourage you, but to make sure you can see and plan for challenges and obstacles in your path.

13)  Don't be in a hurry to grow up.  Enjoy your childhood and adolescence.  Being a grown-up can suck.  For instance, grown-ups have to watch their kids grow up and deal with all the crappy stuff that can sometimes come with being an adult.  We're also not allowed in the McDonalds Playland.

14) Speaking of which, I will never not worry about you.  So you can just forget about that right now, missy.  I will, however, do my best to trust that you will make good choices in life.

15) You are loved.  Happy birthday, my sweet girl.

Step lightly, love.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conversations with my kid: Know Your Fandom

A few years ago I took the girls to the Toronto FanExpo.  T spots a guy dressed as David Tennant.

T: Mommy, look! It's Mr. Bean!
Me: No, honey. That's Dr. Who.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I have thoughts on Mothers Day.

Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there.  I'm lucky to have a lot of really fantastic moms in my life, including my own mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my kids' stepmother and a number of my friends, including a few guy friends who have had to be both dad and mom.

Parenting is hard.  I say it a lot.  It can be a constant struggle.  It can be a stream of constant worry, second guessing, self-doubt.  There's an endless barrage of information out there, mostly pertaining to the myriad ways one can fuck their kid up for life.  

Not everyone is good at it.  Some people are never meant to be parents.  Some of those people end up raising kids anyway.  

On Mother's Day, lets remember to be sensitive while we post our congratulations to each other on being such awesome moms or having awesome moms, that there are people who do not find this a day to celebrate.  People who have suffered at the hands of their mother.  People who do not speak to their mother.  People who had to grow up with out a mother.  People who have recently lost their mother and still feel the sting and loneliness.  People who desperately want to be mothers but are unable, for whatever reason.  People who aren't mothers and would be quite okay with it were it not for societal messaging that being child-free means somehow being less than. 

I love my mom. I'm lucky, that while she may not be perfect (and none of us are) I can safely say she's generally always had the best of intentions and my sister's and my well-being in mind.  

I like being a mom. I'm lucky that my kids make it easy to like being a mom.  Most of the time, ha ha.  I know a few mothers who struggle daily, who love their kids madly but have days, and sometimes weeks and months where it's difficult to like them very much at all.  

A few reminders:

Not all mothers have experienced pregnancy
Not all mothers are women
Some people do not love their mother. They might have a good reason.

Lastly, a note to the retail sector: if you suggest that a vacuum cleaner is a great way to show your mother your appreciation, you are officially and without a doubt THE WORST.

I'm looking at you Canadian Tire.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Now this is a holiday I can get behind. Get it? Behind? Because I have a big ass.

Content note: weight, diet and food talk

It turns out today is International No Diet Day.  So I had pizza and garlic bread for dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I would probably have had pizza anyway, but now I feel extra justified in my choice.

I gave up dieting a year or so ago, and decided that I was going to try and love my body, no matter what shape it takes.  It's not been an easy task.  I will admit, I still own a scale, and I still step on it from time to time.  Some days i take the number i see with a grain of salt.  Other days, It's hard not to fall into a pattern of self-loathing.  Mostly, I'm trying harder these days to try and listen to my body and what it wants.  I believe it's called intuitive eating. 

In retrospect, when I look back on the 5+ years I spent actively trying to lose weight, the health benefits that I experienced during that period came not from the weight loss itself, but by my increase in physical activity and some improved eating habits. That is to say, I think I benefitted from the good stuff I added to my nutritional intake during that time, rather than the "bad" which I had taken away.  

By the way, can we stop ascribing labels like "good" and "bad" to food? This lends itself to labelling ourselves as "good" and "bad" when we allow ourselves certain indulgences.  

But anyway, I digress.  The fact that I was able to walk faster, run further and do more physically, I now believe came from the fact that I was making my body stronger, rather than making it smaller.

These are the things that I try to concentrate on now during my recovery process.  I concentrate on reducing my negative self-talk and avoiding in engaging in diet talk with others.  

Learning about fat positivity has helped me, after 30+ years, to stop feeling like less than because I don't fit into a size 8 or into societal expectations.  I no longer feel like I need to deprive myself of things other, more slender people take for granted, simply because my body processes food differently than others.

I've learned that clothes are supposed to fit your body, not the other way around.  If my pants don't fit, I don't try to force my body to change; I change my pants instead.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Short, reflective post.

It has officially been six months since the last time I had a large intestine.  It's been seven months and a day since I received the cancer diagnosis that led to me parting ways with my large intestine, with whom I have for years had a tumultuous, codependent relationship.

It sounds like a cliche to say a lot has happened in the last six months.  A cliche and a lie.  I got the news. I wept. I raged.  I laid awake at night, contemplating my mortality.  I went into surgery, I came out of surgery, seven pounds of colon lighter.  I recovered, gradually.  Once, in a morphine haze, I advised my child who was dealing with a schoolyard bully to "just hit her."  

Parenting while on heavy painkillers is interesting, to say the least.

My tumor is currently still making the rounds somewhere in Utah, as geneticists search for the underlying cause as to why a 33-year-old woman would end up with colon cancer.

It was a great day when I heard the words "Stage One."

I got off the pain meds.  I started eating regular food again.  Mostly, anyway.  Some foods are less forgiving than they once were.  I went back to work.

I still worry.  A little part of me dreads September, when I will go in for my one-year scope.  By the way, I feel like the most popular girl at the ball, since it seems every doctor I've spoken with wants to get up in my junk with that sigmoidoscope.

Over half a year since my life changed, and yet, not much feels different.