Monday, June 30, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

Many people are angry today. Many are upset, and rightfully so.

Now let's talk about the way forward.

Before we go any further, if you are female, I want you to go look in the mirror. If you're not female, I want you to find a picture of a female you care about. It can be your mom, grandma, wife, girlfriend, friend, sister, teacher, any woman you care about. Now I want you to look at the image you see and repeat after me, "This person is not equal in the eyes of the law." Keep looking at the image, let it really sink in what these words mean, and repeat again, "This person is not equal in the eyes of the law."

Now I want you to do something about that.

This is the text of the Equal Rights Amendment that will grant ALL people, regardless of sex, full Constitutional equality.

The Equal Rights Amendment
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

We must get the ERA ratified and it is within our power to do so.

35 states ratified the ERA before the deadline imposed by congress expired in 1982. Only 3 more states are needed to get to the 38 needed to ratify the ERA. Then we have to make sure we have the congressional representatives who will remove the deadline on the ratification so that it can move forward.

So here is what you can do.

First pledge your support to doing what's necessary to get the ERA ratified.
http://www.wearewoman.us/take-our-pledge
VOTE
Help OTHERS register and vote

Support ONLY those candidates who show through deeds, not just words, that they support legal and economic equality for all, the Equal Rights Amendment and ballot access for all citizens


It's important to pay attention to who is representing you in both your state legislature and in Congress. Even if you're not old enough to vote, you can contact your representatives, register voters, volunteer to help on campaigns, and talk to others about the issues.

You can also donate or purchase items to help fund the We Are Woman Constitution Day Rally in Washington DC in September. And you can make plans to attend the rally on September 13th.

To move forward we have to make sure that when women look in the mirror, they can say, "I am equal in the eyes of the law." It is only then that we will be free from the fear of legislation and decisions that limit our access to healthcare and our control over ourselves and our bodies.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Reflections

One year ago today, I was standing in front of a museum in Florida, standing up for the right of two moms and their children to be recognized as a family.

Today, I'm a writer and nationally recognized activist. I've done a lot of reflecting today. This is all so amazing. How did I even get here?

Well, a lot of hard work for one. I've taken it upon myself to learn a lot over the past year. I've also learned a lot about balancing the things that are important in my life. Doing what I love helps, but passion will only carry you so far. I have to work every day to get better. The more I learn, the more I can do.

I took a step down a path and before I knew it, I met others along the path and we started walking together. My friends and colleagues help me keep moving forward and I am continuously humbled at how many people continue to help me along my journey. I'm a writer, and I can come up with no words sufficient to express my thanks to so many.

We, all of us, have the power to work together and create beautiful things and build a amazing future. In order to do that, we have to start by paying attention to the present. All around us, there are issues in which individuals can make a real difference.We choose to listen to the voices telling us we can't and we don't matter or instead to the voices telling us that we can, that one ripple in the water can lead to a wave of change.

Figure out what it is you're good at. Figure out what you're passionate about. Don't try to be someone else. Stand up for what you believe in. Stand up for things that are really important. Figure out how you can help make a difference for others. Then get to work and don't give up. It really is that simple.

I continuously say that I don't know where the path I'm on will lead and that's the truth. But I truly appreciate every step I've taken so far. And despite all that's happened over the last year, I'm still the same person I've always been. That's because my pursuit has always been the truth and in order to speak the truth, you have to be true to yourself.

I have a lot of goals in life, legislative and otherwise, but one of my main goals has been to get other young people to speak out. I've seen a lot of that over the past year. I want to see more of it over the next one. There are so many things that hold young people back. They're afraid of what others will think, they're afraid of standing up for themselves, they're afraid of the truth that lies within themselves, they're distracted by things that don't matter. This isn't just holding these individuals back. It's holding our country back. It's holding our whole world back.

At least once a month, I find myself saying, "This was the best day ever." That's an awesome thing. An even more awesome thing is saying, "Wow, look at what we've done." And there are many more things we can continue to do by moving forward together and refusing to take one step back.

Believe in yourself and be the change you want to see in the world. I believe in the power of all of us.

Here is a list of every US Senator on Twitter.
http://www.socialseer.com/resources/us-senator-twitter-accounts/

And here is a list of all the members of the House of Representatives on Twitter.
https://twitter.com/cspan/u-s-representatives/members

Show them your truth.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Playing Possum

From fracking to coal ash, the NC General Assembly can't seem to get it together on environmental protections. One thing that will be protected, however, is opossums. Well, not the environment of the opossums or even the opossums themselves, just the ability for citizens of Brasstown, NC to engage in their favorite New Year's Eve tradition: the Possum Drop.



Brasstown, the self-proclaimed opossum capital of the world, in Clay County, NC, has a population of about 240 people. Every New Year's Eve, a celebration is held at which a possum is lowered in a plastic cage at midnight. The NC General Assembly recently passed in both the House and Senate, with bipartisan support, a bill designed to help ensure the survival of this event.

The bill exempts Clay County from state wildlife laws in respect to opossums between December 26th and January 2nd. So, when it comes to opossums between those dates within the borders of Clay County, it appears anything goes.

Republican Representative Roger West, who sponsored the bill and represents Brasstown, said that the, "marsupial community was in support of the bill."

Jeff Kerr, general counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, begs to differ on that point. “Opossums are shy, reclusive animals, and humans are their primary predators. At the event, they dangle this opossum in a box above a rowdy crowd of more than 1,000 people and force it to endure a terrifying mix of screaming, thumping, music and fireworks -- all in the name of some kind of entertainment,” he told the LA Times.

The National Opossum Society states that these animals, "prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone."

Founder of the opossum drop event, Clay Logan, says, "Rednecks have a lot of fun, and it don't take a lot of money or things to do. We just do plain old silly, stupid stuff, just Southern things that we do."

It appears truer words were never spoken.

Perhaps now that annual opossum-shaming is now legally protected, something can be done about solving the problem of the cancer-causing agents found in drinking water outside a Duke Energy coal ash pond in Salisbury.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pure Nonsense

The concept of purity balls has been the subject of much discussion recently. The great majority agree that these purity balls are creepy. Having a girl pledging her virginity to her father to guard over until marriage is indeed a disturbing idea.

But the question begs to be asked, what is more disturbing, a ritual that only a small segment of the population participates in or the prevalent idea in our culture that a woman's virginity defines her character and worth as a human being?

Recently on Twitter, Conservatives have started attacking Planned Parenthood and the idea of comprehensive sex education using the hashtag #sexed. They are afraid of teens having any information, want them to feel the ultimate shame if they are curious about anything that deviates from the missionary position, and of course don't want them to have access to birth control.

Religion is a big part of what fuels the war on sex. Of course, many religious people ignore Song of Solomon and go straight for the "Thou Shalt Nots."

But if someone has made a decision, based on religious belief, to remain celibate until marriage, there should be no fear of information. There should be no shaming of others making different choices. These things negate the power of whatever deity is involved and speak more to obedience to man and to self-righteousness.

Even outside of religious context, humans have long considered the avoidance of "temptation" to be a virtue. The ability to say no has been seen as a sign of the powerful. Power in conformity defined by societal pressure? That doesn't sound powerful to me.

The very idea of upholding virginity as a virtue is a disempowering concept. Defining sex as an act instead of an art and saddling it with shame not only has the potential to lead to unwanted consequences of intercourse but also contributes to the fact that many women are not experiencing sex as the pleasurable activity it was designed to be, even after their first time.

The real question isn't are purity balls creepy or not. The real question is who's your daddy? If you're engaged in perpetuating shame or are defining your attitudes about sex based on anything but your own personal values and desires, the pledge you're making is a contribution to patriarchy. Consider empowering yourself and consider contributing to Planned Parenthood instead.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Digestion Problems

Behold: Teen's Digest. You'll need an SPF 550 to protect yourself from the RF (ridiculous factor) and possibly a barf bag.

Let's take a look at one of the articles from the site: Does He Like You?

#5 He's Touchy
"Guys usually show what they want if they want it. Is he touchy when you guys talk? Does he rub your arm? Or purposely nudge you? Or put his hand on your leg? If the answer’s yes for all three of those, he probably likes you! Guys want to be obvious and show that they want you. And the best way to show you, is to touch you. Don’t take being touchy in a weird way. Don’t think that he just wants to use you physically or anything. Some guys don’t even have that intention! They just want you to know that you should feel comfortable with their presence."

If guys you haven't defined boundaries with touch you without your consent, it doesn't mean they like you. It means rape culture is real.

#4 He's Looking at Your Lips
"Guys are so obvious when it comes to their body language. Usually guys are always down to kiss. You want to know if he wants to kiss you or not? Keep track of where his eyes are. Is he looking at your lips? He probably wants to kiss you if he is. Is he biting his lip? He probably wants to kiss you. Is he licking his lips? Oh, girl! HE WANTS TO KISS YOU. Now show him that you want to kiss him too! Look at his lips, lick your lips, and bite your lower lip! I’m sure you’ll get a kiss if you do so! You don’t usually just kiss anyone. Kisses mean a lot to some people. Kisses usually mean “I want you. I like you.” If he has the nerve to sneak in a kiss, that means he likes you. Because some guys are way to shy to make a move."

Girls, please. Please don't watch his eyes or sit in stalker mode waiting for him to lick his lips. It could just be dry outside or he could be thirsty. Oh girl! If he wants to kiss you, he'll kiss you. If you want to kiss him, take two steps toward him and look right in his eyes. You'll know.

#3 He Can't Stop Smiling at You
"I’m telling you, guys are so transparent. If he’s sad, he’ll show that he’s sad. If he’s mad, he’ll show that he’s mad. If he’s happy, he’ll show that he’s happy. When he’s with you, and he’s always smiling, he probably loves your company. He loves being with you and he loves just seeing you. He admires you beauty and is grateful at the fact that he is just staring straight at you. Guys also love the little things. They love seeing you happy. They love seeing you smile. They love seeing that you happiness is because of them."
OMG every guy I know wants me. NOT.

#2 He's Genuinely Nice to You
"Let’s be real. Some guys can be super rude! But when a guy likes you, he will be super nice to you. Not just a nice like he’d be to a random stranger, but a genuine nice. He will not be rude to you. He will not say anything to offend you. And he’ll compliment you a lot. And if he really likes you, he’ll even tease you. Literally, he will drop everything to be with you. He’ll ditch his friends to be with you. He’ll change his plans to be with you. No guy ever gives you the time of day unless he is interested in you."

Because the only reason a guy would be nice to you is because he wants to tag and bag you. Because relationships between men and women are defined by stereotypes. RIDICULOUS

#1 You Just Have a Gut Feeling
"Always trust your gut. You think he likes you? Then he probably does. He seems like he puts so much effort into impressing you. It seems like he does all this cute stuff for you and only you. It seems like he just wants to make you happy. It seems like he’s interested. Although, be careful. Try asking him and tell him to be straightforward. Be careful though. Because when asking him, you’re taking a risk and it could go either way. But their way, hope all goes well for you!"Try this. Live your life. Do your thing. Enjoy people. Follow the path, don't try to dictate it.

Want to know if a guy likes you? He truly cares about you, appreciates you, he's there for you, and most importantly, he does these things without any expectations except for your friendship. He's not the guy you meet on Saturday night and are "in a relationship with" a few weeks later. He's the guy who has been a part of your life and all the things that have created your relationship have made it real. There's absolutely nothing wrong with casual dating. It's fun, most of us do it.  But it's not a substitute for reality. 

If you're caught up in worrying about whether or not a guy "likes" you and your goal in life is to find yourself a "boyfriend," I feel sorry for you. You are missing out on some of the best parts of life and relationships. But, if this is your mindset, you might as well keep reading Teen Digest. They have great advice for you like:

WHAT GUYS WANT GIRLS TO WEAR

Please note that in the introduction, I advised the potential need for a barf bag.

A few personal words regarding one of my own relationships, a thank you of sorts. I found myself in a position of extreme hurt, anger, and disappointment last night. A good friend of mine was one of many people who were there for me, and stayed up until after 3AM even though he had to work today. This is not someone I'm "dating" but is someone who has taken the time to put up with my madness to the point he's earned my trust, which is something I do not give easily. I'm going to kill him via chat later. But still, THIS.

Distance

There she was. Her feet were blistered by the fiery pavement, but the miles she had traveled felt like inches. She had shoes at one time, but who had stolen them was a lost memory. Perhaps she had traded them for water. Perhaps they had not been stolen after all. Still, she knew she had a great way to travel, and all she could think of was the little she had left that could be stolen.

The hunger that gripped her was the kind you read about in fairytales. It was the insatiable kind of hunger that provoked witches to shove children into ovens and wolves to eat grandmothers. She knew she couldn't go on much farther without having something; maybe not enough to nourish her but just enough to keep her thoughts from cannibalism or self harm.

When she saw the camp in the distance and the otherworldly light of the fire, she confused herself with someone who would be accepted there. Before she knew it, she was standing in the midst of the tents with the people staring at her, some of them with the kind of ravenous hunger she sought to quench, but of a different sort.

She offered work to them, a few hours of labor for just a few morsels of food and possibly, if they could spare it, some scraps with which to fashion shoes. Before she knew it, she was coming to, everything around her a blur. The blood was dripping down her legs and the pain hurt so much it was almost as though she couldn't even feel it. She didn't remember what happened, only one of them touching her hair and her recoiling in disgust. But she knew. She knew that she had nothing left that could be stolen now.

She knew she had to get up, but she feared what the shadows hid in her already clouded vision. She had to run, but was worried she would fall either from pain, injuries, hunger, or all three. She knew the road was no longer an option. She was wild now. So, she crawled. Every twenty feet or so she stopped to lay down, unsure if this was for physical reasons or just because it felt good to have the safe ground against her body.

A dog passed. He paused for a moment and their eyes met. Once upon a time this would have delighted her, but now she felt only the pangs of hunger. As her hand raised, she suddenly remembered one of the bodies that had crushed her hours before smelled of burnt wood and ash. Striking the dog was like a gasping last breath. The brief moment of relief she felt as he ran away to safety quickly turned to thoughts of the distance.

Getting to her feet, the steps she took were heavy. She started counting them but then found herself unable to even quantify the energy she expended in simple terms like numbers. The blood had dried now and every time she moved she could feel it cracking on her skin. She wondered how far back the camp was. She could no longer see the firelight.

Suddenly, the air was punctuated by an ambience of brightness. It was a mystifying kind of air with periodic breezes that carried with them not just a scent but a feeling. At first, she shuddered in the wake of an emotion she couldn't classify. She could feel herself trembling but something in this air pleaded with her to keep going.

When she found herself standing at the riverbed, she didn't quite know how to interact with the water. She just stood there in still contrast to the gentle current. Finally, the sensation overcame her. Thirsty. She knelt in the water, watching tiny streams of the current turn pink as they carried away what the camp dwellers had painted on her. She cupped her hands and brought them to her face again and again. She noticed tiny fish swimming a short distance away and it was almost as though they were sacrificing themselves to her sustenance.

Days in the light were dreamlike. There was no concept of how many of them passed, endless time. On one of the nameless days a figure appeared from the shadow of the forest. Either he said nothing or she wasn't paying attention. But he held out a pair of shoes.

"No thank you," she said. "My feet don't hurt anymore."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dysfunctional Human Beings

I get a lot of ideas for things to write about from my Twitter feed. Many times, what defines the difference between, "Wow I'm gonna share that," and "OMG I am SO writing about this," is what I call the Ridiculous Factor, or RF. This morning, Twitter really delivered when someone Tweeted a post called, "Things Guys Do That Girls Hate."  It made me weep for every male friend I've ever had. The original post, in addition to having an RF that's off the charts, is kind of annoying to navigate but follow along with me.

#10 Complain About Her Friends
"So he sat there telling her all about how he isn’t her best friends biggest fan…he must have a death wish! Do not tell a girl you don’t like her friends, no matter how much you mean to her. Her friends have been there from the start and could be there forever. Relationships dint [sic] always last but friendships do so think twice before you insult her friends. Sometimes the less you say the better!"

Ladies, guys are not dating your friends. Sometimes your friends are going to do things that make the guy you're dating annoyed, angry, or frustrated. That guy you're dating, he's your friend too...or at least should be. As such, he should be able to express his feelings to you. If he's placing demands on you or attempting to control your friendships, that's different. But your friends don't have to be in love with your boyfriend nor does he have to be in love with your friends.

#9 Act Different Around His Friends
"He’s all cute and cuddly when he’s just with his girl but when he’s with his friends he’s a totally new guy! All girls think they have the most amazing guy, but when we see him with his friends our opinion can completely change. No one likes two faced people. Be the real you with your friends and your other half, don’t pick and choose how you’re going to act depending on who you’re with."


So, let me get this straight. Guys must love my friends but I don't have to like theirs. When I'm with a guy around my girlfriends, the guy should be #1. I shouldn't trade makeup tips, listen to girl music, or talk about chick flicks or else I'm being two-faced. I shouldn't expect my boyfriend to be mature enough to handle it if a hot guy walks by and my girlfriends and I notice. OF COURSE we ladies act differently around our friends and we shouldn't hold guys to a different standard.

#8 One Word Answers
"Ok…yes…no…Can anyone think of a more annoying way to have a conversation. If you don’t want to talk then tell them, don’t make conversation a chore. She’ll get annoyed and think she’s annoying you as well. Save the dramas and just say ‘can we talk soon, I’m busy’ rather than short one word answers. If you don’t have the time, let her know so you can have a better conversation later on."

If held to this same standard, I will absolutely end up alone in a house full of rescue animals. If there is anyone on the face of this Earth who can appreciate that sometimes a guy is engrossed in other thoughts, busy, or has simply used up all his brain power to the point all he can give is one word answers, it's this girl.

#7 Forget Everything
"So you have both arranged a night out, he’s forgotten the time, the day, and even the place…did he really want to go or did he just agree? If he is forgetting little plans like this then does he really want to do them or does he just say yes to prevent arguments. It would be nice if he remembered from time to time, even if it means he has to write it down 100 times for it to sink in, at least he made an effort to remember."

So let me let you into a little reality of my life. It's hard for me to plan stuff in advance. You want to do what at a specific time in 4 days? That's FOUR WHOLE DAYS from now. And then there is the reality that even after making plans, I sometimes have to cancel because something comes up. I wrote something recently where I said, "I can't be anyone's girlfriend even if I wanted to, at least the way most guys want." This. This right here is why. Also, my ADD is real. I constantly find myself in a state of, "OMG that's TOMORROW." So if a guy forgets little plans, or has to be reminded of the what when and where, I am the last person to ascribe that to him, "really not wanting to do them."

#6 Forget to Reply
"This might be done by accident, and usually it is so we can’t really get upset about it, but it’s still a bad move. Just apologize and get the conversation going again. She can’t stay mad forever but don’t argue over a mistake, it’s not worth it. Reply nicely and move on…don’t dwell on it, just try not to do it again."

What even IS this? What does this even mean? I will assume it's talking about text messages. Oh yes, because if I text you, and you don't reply, I'll be sitting in my room crying until I get an apology. Or maybe I'll send you 10 more texts asking why you don't reply. REALLY? I strongly suggest any ladies in this mindset go out and get a life.

#5 Pull Away In Public
"At home you’re all over each other and in public it’s like you don’t know each other, let alone in a relationship. We get that public affection isn’t everyone’s favorite thing but is hand holding really too much to ask for? You should be proud to call her your girlfriend not trying to hide it. If you can’t do that then how do you really feel about her? She’ll think the same and start panicking. If you love her show her, no matter where you are."

Yeah, guys, your mission in life should be to cater to insecure girls who need you to put your affections on display because they view this as proving their self-worth to themselves and others. No matter how hot things are in private, the only way to show a girl "how you really feel about her" means you have to put on a show to convince the public at large. PUH-LEEZ. If you want to touch a girl in public and she's fine with that, do it. If she's mad because you don't do it, back slowly away then RUN.

#4 Showing Up Late
"Girls are the ones who are supposed to be fashionably late so we expect you to be there waiting for us already, not the other way round. It can take girls hours to get ready and when she’s spent all that time making herself look amazing for you, after standing out in the wind for 20 minutes waiting for him doesn’t do the best of things for her hair. All that time will be wasted and she will be freezing cold and probably unhappy, a cheeky smile can only get you out of so much. Get there early next time."

So, the time girls spend getting ready is for guys and if a guy is exceptionally late, girls aren't worrying about whether he was in a car accident or something; they are worried about their hair. And if you show up 20 minutes late, you have completely wasted a girl's time because the whole idea was to get you to appreciate the way she looked and now there is no point in sharing an activity you might both enjoy or time together that could enhance your relationship. BULLSHIT.

#3 Being Messy
"We get that it doesn’t have to be spotless all of the time but, there’s a limit. We can stand a few glasses here and there and maybe plates but when they reach double figure, there’s going to be a problem. It’s not too much to ask to keep the place presentable and liveable is it? It’s easier to tidy as you go along then a huge clear up at the end of the week."

Yeah. This is such a big deal because if a mess is bothering you, you can't do something about that. And of course, when you snag yourself a man, ladies, you gotta "train" that man right, don't you? How about having real conversations about the division of responsibilities in your household and each person's preferences. How about compromise? How about that?

#2 Not Listening
"His favorite TV show is on, you won’t get him to listen to anything while that’s playing. When it’s over and he still won’t listen that’s when girls get frustrated. It can be like talking to a brick wall sometimes and that’s no fun. We don’t say things for our own benefit, we say them so you know what’s going on. We tell you then when the time comes there will always be that ‘well you never told me’ conversation. Guys, we probably did. You just weren’t paying attention."

So let's just go full-on stereotype on men, why don't we? There is nothing else to say to this except I am so so sorry to all the men in the world and let out a great big sigh of utter disgust that some women put you through this level of ridiculousness and drama.

#1 Not Appreciating What We Do
"We don’t want a bunch of flowers every time we do the dishes, but a thank you every now and then will work just fine. It shows that he is realizing what his girl is doing for him and that he actually does appreciate you. Don’t let all her hard work go unnoticed."

This is number one? You show someone you appreciate them through your actions. Doing nice things for others should be about making that person feel good, not to get attention from them. Self-esteem comes from how you feel about yourself and your work. If you don't care about yourself, no one else can fill that missing piece for you.

So ladies and gentlemen, we have now completed today's tour of the ridiculous.

Ladies, if you are treating gentlemen like this, shame on you. You're already miserable and are just setting yourself up for further misery. Try focusing on yourself instead of trying to make some guy as miserable as you are.