I weep for my species

Ugh.  I feel like I ought to try to unpack all the myriad ways and reasons why people making nasty comments about Quvenzhane Wallis are terrible human beings and why they should feel horrible about themselves.

I feel like I ought to try to unpack all the myriad reasons why Seth MacFarlane’s misogynistic droolings were both a) extremely offensive and b) not actually funny, like, at all.

I probably ought to, but right now my faith in humanity is kinda shot and I am tired and sad.

 

This is how I feel about the world right now

This is how I feel about the world right now

An Open Letter to Fox News

Open Letter to Fox News:

Thing the first: There are eight major holidays in the Wiccan religion. Eight. Not twenty. And they are:

wheel of the year

 

 

   Samhain
   Yule (aka Winter Solstice)
   Imbolc/Brigid
   Ostara (aka Spring Equinox)
   Beltane
   Litha (aka Midsummer, aka Summer Solstice)
   Lammas/Lughnasadh
   Mabon (aka Fall Equinox)

 

 

Some circles also celebrate every full moon, but those eight are the major ones. They correspond to the wheel of the year, and they’re not all that difficult to understand.  (And yes, I could in fact name those without looking them up, thank you.)

Thing the second: Every school I’ve ever been to has had a break scheduled around Easter, to allow students to spend that time with their families and celebrating the holiday. Every job I’ve had has also been closed that day. It’s pretty much assumed that on this major Christian holiday, Christians will be given the time they need to celebrate appropriately. Heck, if it’s an office that’s closed on Sundays anyway, the employees will often get an extra day off, right before or right after the holiday!

If I want to celebrate Beltane, arguably one of the two biggest Pagan holidays? I have three options: 1) hope it falls on my day off, 2) ask permission to use some of my limited PTO time for it (with no guarantee that the request will be approved), or 3) call in sick.

The message is pretty clear: my holiday just isn’t as important as a Christian holiday. My faith isn’t taken as seriously as Christians’ faith.  I am not respected as much as a Christian is. You argue that it’s “traditional,” but if it’s a tradition to favor one religion over others, then that’s a bad tradition and it should be changed. The fact that non-Christians have been short-changed for years doesn’t mean it’s right to keep doing it.

And now we’re getting news that one school is finally recognizing that other religions besides Christianity have holidays that they might like to celebrate occasionally… and you expect us to be angry about this?? What planet are you living on? What do you want us to do, stand up and furiously insist that they keep ignoring us and disrespecting us and treating us like our sacred days don’t matter? Um. No. No thank you.

This isn’t “politics,” it’s treating people decently.

Thing the third: “Any religion that has Halloween as its most important holiday… I just can’t take it seriously! I mean, call me a bigot…”

Um, ok: you’re a bigot.

You’re also woefully uneducated about your own religion’s history. Before it became known as a night for kids mumping candy while dressed as superheroes, All Hallows’ Eve was the first day of Hallowmas – a fairly important Christian holiday for remembering and honoring the souls of the dead.

And before that – before Christianity came to the British Isles and co-opted Pagan holidays and Pagan gods – it was the Celtic holiday of Samhain, when the boundary between our world and the afterlife was believed to be the thinnest, and the souls of the dead were welcomed and feasted by their families.

So when modern Pagans celebrate Samhain, remembering our loved ones who have passed on (a ritual which can often be quite personal and quite painful), we’re not just pulling this out of thin air. We didn’t just pick a day and go “huh, Halloween, that’s a fun night, let’s make that a major holiday! Whee, candy and costumes!” There’s actually a lot of history behind the holiday, both in Christianity and in the Celtic practices that much of Wicca derives from. To suggest otherwise doesn’t just make you look like a bigot (for demeaning a holiday you don’t understand), it makes you look like an ignorant bigot (for not understanding it in the first place.)

That is all.

Naked fat (and clothed fat!)

(CN: fat shaming)

About a month and a half after Su was born, Spouse-Man and I went on a much-needed mini-vacation.  After asking (read: allowing) the grandparents to watch the baby for a couple days, we spent our anniversareekend* at a nudist resort.

One of my mother’s co-workers expressed her admiration for my “bravery” – to go to a nudist resort so soon after giving birth!  I must be so comfortable with my body!

I didn’t have the heart to set her straight.

See, that’s a sentiment often expressed by people who have never been to a nude beach or resort.  They have this idea in their minds that it’s full of pretty naked people being pretty and naked at each other, and that is not the case.  Oh, there are some – young women with small waists and pert breasts and long legs, muscled young men who look like chiseled onyx.  For the most part, though – not so much.  You have flabby bellies.  Sagging breasts.  Wrinkles.  Scars.  Women who are stick-thin with tiny breasts and hips.  Women who’ve had mastectomies   Men with hairy backs and oddly-shaped genitalia.  Fat people, both men and women.  Packs of roving feral naked children, running throughout the whole place.  Ancient, shriveled couples leaning back and laughing as they bask in the sun.

Because, see, the whole point of a nude resort is to be naked.  Not to look at naked people.  Going because you want to look at naked people is doing it wrong.  (In fact, looking too obviously at other people, in ways that make them feel uncomfortable, is actively discouraged.)  And because everyone is revealed and vulnerable, there’s not a whole lot of judging or body-shaming going on.  In fact, it almost feels like having everyone be naked gives people the freedom to not focus on what they look like, and instead just focus on the person inside the skin.

In other words, it’s pretty easy to be fat** and naked at a nude resort.

What’s harder is to be fat (and clothed!) out here in the Real World.  Pretty much every aspect of our culture is dedicated to telling us that our bodies are just not acceptable and should not be seen.  Period.

Fat girls can’t be pretty.  We sure as hell can’t be sexy.  Fashion is not made for us – if we can even find clothes that fit, they’re designed more to conceal our bodies than to show them off.  At best, we can hope for “presentable” or inoffensive.  And gods help us if we show a little skin or try to wear something attractive.

Unless you are Queen Latifah, because she is awesome.

Unless you are Queen Latifah, because she is awesome.

These are the messages I grew up with.  These are the messages I’m pretty sure most of you grew up with.  And they are messages that, as an adult, I find pretty hard to shake.

I’m an intelligent woman.  I understand that beauty is not the end-all and be-all of a woman’s worth.  I understand that I don’t owe it to anyone to be pretty or sexy for them.  I understand that my friends, my family, my husband – the people whose opinions actually matter to me – like me just the way I am.

And yet it hurts, at the end of the day, to look in the mirror and not consider the person I see attractive.  It hurts to see a photo of our group, smile at how nice everyone looks, and then wince because all I see when I look at myself is “the fat girl.”

Nevermind that I’m far from the only heavyset chick in my circle of friends, and I think everyone else looks fine.  Nevermind that there are several overweight people, male and female, that I find very attractive.

It’s hard to convince myself that, when it comes to me, I can be fat AND pretty.  Or fat AND sexy.  It’s hard to look at my features and not go “Oh, I’m so close to looking pretty, if I could just lose 20 pounds…”  It’s hard to stop buying clothes, or drooling over fashions, for the body I WANT rather than the body I HAVE.

Which is why I absolutely, absolutely love the two things I’m about to recommend to you.

1) The Fat People Art Tumblr.  It’s an entire tumblr of pictures of fat people, portrayed positively.  Some are beautiful, some are cute, some are sexy, some just seem friendly and likable.

Example A

Example A

Sometimes even looking at the pictures feels subversive – we’re trained to look away from fat, not celebrate it, not entertain the seemingly-contradictory ideas of “fat” and “gorgeous” in our heads at the same time.  The first time I looked through it I found myself almost blushing, embarrassed to be looking at fat bodies portrayed so openly, so shamelessly.

And then something happened.

After awhile, I started realizing that yeah – these people really were beautiful.  Not “despite” being fat, and not “because” of it, either – “fat” and “beautiful” were simply two coexisting facts about the people being portrayed.

Example B

Example B

And then… and then I went and looked at myself in the mirror.

And made myself really look at the parts of me I didn’t like and hadn’t liked for a while.  Made myself think about whether they were actually ugly, or if I’d just assumed that, because they were fat, they had to be ugly.  (Answer: the latter.)  And started actually thinking about ways to look and feel pretty, without assuming that step one has to be “lose some weight.”

I’ve read a lot about Fat Acceptance and Health At Every Size and all of that, and none of it hit home in the same way that looking at lots and lots of pictures of attractive, happy fat people did.  I’ve bookmarked that site now, and refer back to it occasionally – like whenever I need a self-esteem boost or a reminder.

Starting to think she might look ok :)  (Despite my friend Lord McJudgypants in the background there!)

Starting to think she might look ok 🙂 (Despite my friend Lord McJudgypants in the background there!)

2) The e-book Damn Girl That Style Is Fat!

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the whole thing yet, just the sample page.  But I love the concept.  Because, as I pointed out, mainstream fashion is not really designed around fat women.  With so many messages about hiding our bodies, how on earth is a girl supposed to learn how best to show it off?  So yeah, the idea of 36 pages worth of style advice for people who’re shaped like me makes me all warm and fuzzy inside 😀

So anyway, those are my Fat Acceptance thoughts and links for the day.

* For those keeping score at home, you may have noticed that our anniversary is not, in fact, the month after Su’s birthday. That’s because the wedding anniversary is relatively new – the anniversareekend, however, where we pick a weekend close to when we first met and started dating and go do something fun and relaxing as just the two of us, is a long and established tradition for over a decade now.

** For the record: I am NOT looking for anyone to try and reassure me in the comments that “Oh, you’re not fat!” or any other well-meant platitude.  Fact of the matter is, I’m fat.  I’m not saying I’m the fattest person who’s ever lived, and I do think I carry my weight reasonably well, but I am, in fact, a fat chick.  That’s ok.  It’s actually far better for my self-esteem to acknowledge this fact and decide to rock it anyway, than to have well-meaning people compliment me by telling me I don’t look fat.  Which, in the end, reinforces the idea that only non-fat people are allowed to look good.

Things babies do to f*ck with their parents…

  • Grab your finger, suddenly jab themselves in the face with the sharp end of your fingernail, and then get mad at you for hurting them.
  • Cry steadily from 2 am to 4 am, then – after two hours of feeding, changing, singing, rocking, and cuddling – when they’re finally ready to be put back in the crib, get mad at you for keeping them awake.
  • Develop a steady sleep schedule; maintain it long enough to lull you into a false sense of security.  Then suddenly change it up, because HAHA, SUCKERS!
  • Cry because they’re tired and need a nap.  Then cry because you’re putting them into the crib for a nap, and they don’t wanna.
  • Pitch a small screaming fit demanding a bottle.  Then, once presented with it, take one sip, smile, and refuse to drink anymore.  (Unless, god forbid, you try to put it back in the kitchen – then they want it again.)
  • Pretend to cough, just to see your reaction.
  • Pretend to choke, just to see your reaction.
  • Refuse to run a detectable fever, no matter how many times you check, until after you drop them off at daycare – just so you look like the bad mom who didn’t notice her kid was burning up!
  • Get mad at you for refusing to let them crawl off your lap/the chair/the table and fall to their doom.
  • Ignore the 15 interesting, brightly-colored, noisy, baby-safe toys within easy reach, instead focusing on – and stretching their arms out of their sockets trying to reach – the one dangerous, fragile, and/or messy thing in the room.
  • Lick everything.  Including shoes, cats, other babies, and random strangers in the checkout line.
  • Be perfectly happy playing all by themselves without you – unless, god forbid, you try to do dishes or read a book or do anything other than sit there and silently watch them!
  • Gymnastics.
  • Yoga.
  • Spit out pacifiers with enough force and accuracy to hit the person at the next table.
  • Develop a sudden intense and incurable longing for whichever parent is currently the busiest, and an equally intense dissatisfaction with the other.
  • Flirt with, and occasionally attempt to run off with, total strangers.
  • Develop an avid interest in the contents of your friends’ noses.
  • Smack and/or claw you, hard, in the face, then laugh at the noises of pain you make.
  • Cry because they want to be changed, then cry because they don’t want to be on the changing table.

I need a nap…

Farsyl, Guardian of Dreams

Because every little girl needs a sword…

20130122_012339

20130122_012354

20130125_213741

 

20130125_213728

 

021513151707

 

She will slay her enemies!  …as soon as she’s done teething.

(The sword was made for her by her godfather.  The writing is, indeed, Elvish script, though whether it’s Quenya or Sindarin I couldn’t say 😛  And even though we are cruel parents and won’t let her attack the other babies with it, it’s one of her absolute favorite toys.)

PSA – Diet Coke

For the record, I like Diet Coke.  I like the taste.  I’ve drunk it now for about 20 years, maybe more, and I just prefer it – regular cola tastes too sweet and syrupy to me, and while I occasionally like other soda flavors, this one is my favorite.  It is my default beverage.

Therefore, me drinking a diet coke does NOT mean that I am actively trying to lose weight.

This means!

1)  Cute little “har har, lookit that stupid fat girl” comments if I eat, say, a bacon cheeseburger and fries with a diet coke, are not welcome.  They are also not new.  They were telling that joke back in the 80’s, and it wasn’t especially funny then either.  As a grown-ass adult, I am, in fact, well aware that diet coke is not a magic elixir that somehow negates the calories and fat in the rest of my meal.  I just like how it tastes.  (I also like how the rest of my meal tastes, thankyouverymuch.)

2) Ditto for helpfully informing me that “Diet Coke isn’t actually good for losing weight” or that the chemicals in it are just as bad for me as sugar (or corn syrup.)  Yes, thank you, I also know how to read, and am conversant on current nutritional science.  (By virtue of being female in this country, I couldn’t avoid it if I wanted to.)  Here’s another shocker – my husband, the smoker?  He ALSO knows cigarettes are bad for you!  Sometimes we do things because we enjoy them, not because we are under the mistaken impression that they are somehow healthy.

3) Also, please do not assume that everything else I eat will also be sugar-free.  I actually highly, highly dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners in pretty much everything except diet cola (and even then, some brands are ok and some are nasty.)  Even when I AM actively watching my caloric intake, I generally prefer to simply eat less sweets, but eat them with real sugar, than to eat “lite” substitutes.  So while, say, that gift of sugar-free candy is greatly appreciated and I am grateful for the warm thoughts behind it, I am never going to eat it, because it doesn’t taste very good.

Final thought: when you assume things about my lifestyle and knowledge based on what I choose to drink with my lunch, it makes me make this face:

annoyed

Home Defense for Women

“Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice,” Trotter explained. “The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They’re light. They’re easy for women to hold.”

She added: “And most importantly, their appearance. An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals.”

“And if we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting women at a great disadvantage, more so than men, because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle. They’re not criminals, they’re moms, they’re young women. And they’re not used to violence confrontations.”

Thus spake IWF’s Gayle Trotter at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on gun violence.

Speaking as a young woman and a mother, d’you know my preferred defense weapon against home invasion?

A throwing axe, a KA-BAR, and a goddamn fuck-off quarterstaff.

I think I’m good.

(H/t to Monica Roberts)