Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Steps to Stop #MeToo

The phrase "Me Too" is all over Facebook these days. People who post it are raising awareness of sexual harassment and assault. By posting Me Too, we are affirming that yes, we have personally experiences harassment and/or assault.
There's been a lot of discussion about this, especially since many of us (myself included) don't feel like our experiences count. I've never been raped, and most of the harassment I've experienced has been because I'm pretty, or so I tell myself. And therefore I am told to ignore it. Which is, of course, the very definition of rape culture. You can't ignore catcalls or public groping and then turn around and reject date rape. That is what we are beginning to realize. Our autonomy extends far beyond the simple boundary of genital contact.
In this midst of all this, I have a 6 year old in kindergarten. She's mentioned a few times that there is a boy who likes to chase her. At first she was flattered, calling him her boyfriend. I chuckled and let it go. But later she complained that she didn't want to play chase.

This is where rape culture begins. With a little boy chasing an unwilling girl. 

I told her to tell him that she doesn't want to play chase, and I told her to not run. After all, what fun is it to chase a person who isn't running?
Then this morning she told me that she didn't like school. When I asked why, she reluctantly told me that it's because this boy is still chasing her. And the whole #MeToo campaign hit home for me. Because part of me thinks, "aww, this boy must have a crush on her." But with the awareness of #MeToo, I knew it was time to STOP this madness.
I turned and looked at my daughter and said, "You have the right to not be chased by him. You have the right to tell him to stop. Today on the playground, throw up your hands like this, get in his face, and say, 'Stop it! I don't want to play chase!'" Then I made her practice on me.

We think we don't need to talk to our children about sexual assault until they are older, but the reality of rape culture is that it begins as soon as kids start playing together. 

My daughter dealt with a similar situation to this in preschool. A boy there was calling her nicknames (not mean ones), and we practiced what to say to him. Thanks to her ability to assert herself with him, the nicknames stopped and the two of them became friends.
This is how I'm taking action to make #MeToo stop. By training my daughter to assert her autonomy and her boundaries now. And if the issue isn't resolved, I'm going to contact the boy's parents and talk with them. I won't be nasty. I'll simply explain what's going on and tell them to talk to their son. Because I'm sure he's a nice boy. In fact, he may well have a crush on my daughter, and doesn't know how to express it. So this is their chance to raise a son who will not perpetuate rape culture.

We are all in this together. 

One final thought. Rape culture does NOT mean that all females are victims and all males are rapists. Females can harass and assault, and males can be victims. Rape culture is a problem that affects all PEOPLE regardless of gender.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Coping Strategies that Work

Last spring my anxiety jumped up and hijacked my life. It was a weird time. So in June I started seeing a therapist. At this point in my life, it just makes sense. If I had a severe asthma attack and my inhaler didn't fix it, I would see the doctor. Same thing with anxiety.
Anyway, I'm finally starting to get my groove back. So for Top 10 Tuesday, here are some coping mechanisms that actually work.
10. Stop doing stuff you dislike.
Seriously, if you can get away with not doing a task, then don't do it. If a task sucks energy out of you, and you are battling mental illness, then don't waste your precious energy on it. Obviously this doesn't apply to everything. But I bet there are a lot of things in your life you can let go of for a short time.

9. Take naps. Sleep is one of the best restorative activities out there. Take little naps, big naps, short naps, long naps. Give yourself an extra hour of sleep at night. Let your body and mind drink deep of the restoration of rest.
8. Pursue laughter. Watch TV shows and movies that make you laugh. Read funny books and comedy websites. Go out to a comedy club. Use the power of streaming TV to watch a show from your past that made you laugh like crazy. Give yourself permission to laugh a little each day.

7. Depend on other people. Yes, it just might be time to let go of the illusion of control and let other people run the show for a while. Let me tell you, I don't know anyone battling mental issues who doesn't also have control issues (and that includes me). Control is pretty much a universal desire. So let it go. Let your spouse be in charge of the household. I bet it won't fall apart.
6. Get help. Find a therapist or a counselor. If that's not your thing, find someone you can talk to. Get some Reiki sessions, or schedule a few massage therapy sessions. Even a regular time with your hair stylist or a manicurist can be helpful. The point is to get a captive audience where you can talk and not have to listen. A one way street.

5. Eat healthy foods. I'm not saying you can't eat comfort foods! But everyone likes at least one healthy food. Maybe it's a fruit or vegetable. Maybe it's lean meat. Maybe it's salad, or yogurt. But find one healthy food and eat a little of it whenever you can. Making healthy food choices will keep your body in good working order, which does benefit your emotional moods. You can't eat your way out of mental illness, but you can make tiny healthy choices for yourself along the path to wellness.

4. Keep your hands busy. This is one reason that I cross stitch - to keep my hands busy. It's not mentally challenging, but it does give me a tiny win for each day. And tiny wins are really huge wins when you're battling depression or anxiety. You can cross stitch, knit, crochet, play cat's cradle, braid your hair, pet a cat or dog, etc. If nothing else, get a bowl and fill it with small objects: pebbles, buttons, rice, marbles, dried beans, beads, etc. Then run your hands through it.

3. Volunteer. I know this is a challenge. It's so hard to motivate yourself to do ANYTHING. But find a volunteer job that suits your personality and is inside your comfort zone. There are millions of volunteer activities out there, and doing something to help others, even just once a month, is a positive distraction from your own feelings.

2. Stop consuming news media. It doesn't matter whether you read Fox News or Jezebel, it's all written to create anxiety and fear. But really, when was the last time you actually did something or changed a decision based on a news story? Get a trusted friend to keep you informed about any important news stories and ignore all the rest. Worried about missing something vital? Here's what you'll be missing:
  • Trump said something stupid and inflammatory
  • Congress is considering a bill that will harm you
  • People are killing other people. 
  • Weather is happening
  • Traffic is bad, usually during rush hour

1. Create a ritual for yourself. Just one small daily thing that you control entirely. A glass of wine on your porch after dinner. A cup of hot tea or coffee in the morning. One entry in a gratitude journal when you go to bed. Three yoga poses before you put on pajamas. Creating a ritual gives you something that you DO have control over. It also gives you another tiny win for your day. 
I'm doing better. I don't know why my anxiety peaked. But it doesn't matter. These are the coping strategies I used, and I'm coming out of it. I hope something here helps you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Mighty (Sexy) Girl

My six year old told me recently that she wants a pair of jeans. I went to Target and was horrified to discover that my choices were either Skinny, Super Skinny, or Jeggings. Honestly, Target, what is even the difference? I’m opposed to the sexualization of children so I’m not buying those jeans. Besides, skinny jeans can physically harm the wearer!
I went on Facebook and asked my mom friends where to find kids jeans that aren’t designed for teens and adults. One of them suggested Wal Mart. Now, I hate Wal Mart. It’s dirty, understaffed, and the corporate policies are awful. But I did want a pair of kids jeans. So at the end of our date night, my husband and I went to Wal Mart. We did find a pair of normal jeans, so yay for that.
However, while we were there, we saw these:
I laughed and said, “Look, Deadpool underwear for little boys! Not appropriate.”

My husband agreed. We kept looking, fascinated by the juxtaposition of Sesame Street characters and Marvel super heroes. Then I picked one up. The back was narrower than the front.

“How is a boy even suppose to wear these?” I asked him.

“I don’t know.”

I pulled the waist out from the hanger and noticed how wide they were.

“Um, I don’t think these are for boys.”

“What do you mean? Who could they be for?”

“Little girls!” I exclaimed. “Haven’t I just been telling you that they are sexualizing our kids?”

We continued to stare, puzzling out the bizarre underwear. I saw this was an end cap to an aisle of bras. Adult bras.

“Oh, these are for women,” I said.

“NO!” My husband shook his head. “Look, it’s Sesame Street characters! What woman wants to wear Big Bird underwear?”

“Yes, these are for women!”

So here are the top 5 things wrong with these underpants.

5. They have a really narrow butt. This means they will constantly be wedged into the wearer’s butt crack.

4. They aren’t thongs. If something is going to be in my butt crack, it should be a thong, because at least that way I won’t have visible panty lines.

3. They have Sesame Street characters on them. Look, I get how you might want a pair of Oscar the Grouch underwear that say “Nope” on them. We all get periods. But Big Bird? Cookie Monster? Elmo?

2. They are, with one exception, male characters. Thor, Captain America, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Deadpool, Captain Marvel (who even knows who that is???). The female is Black Widow. Forget feminism. Forget the wildly successful Wonder Woman that is currently in the theaters. Make women wear sexy underwear that celebrates male comic book heroes.

1. These are not knock offs. That means that someone at PBS looked at the idea to put Sesame Street Muppets on women’s underwear and said yes.

I guess the idea is that all women need to fit into one carefully designated box. We must be skinny to the point of disease, young to the point of puberty, mentally young to the level of Sesame Street, but also as sexy as the girlfriends of comic book super heroes. No thanks.