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Let’s Get Idealistic

There’s been so much in the news in the past few months about abortion, contraception, and a woman’s right to choose that as I said in a previous post, I’ve been overwhelmed.  I’d like to take a moment to get a little idealistic.

When I was in high school, I took a class about early human development.  We learned about the stages of pregnancy, and the different stages children go through in their first two years of life.  At one point in my class, we were given the task of brainstorming the ideal situation to have a child.  We already knew that adoptive parents had to fulfill certain criteria in order to be able to have a child, so we were told to imagine a “test” of sorts that a woman (or a set of parents) would have to pass in order to have a child.

If I remember correctly, we came up with the following points:

  • Financially stable, with at least six months worth of income in accessible savings.

We came up with this because pregnancy and raising a child are both expensive.  There’s also the risk of complications with the pregnancy or child’s health leaving one or both parents unable to work for a period of time.  We thought that at least six months of income in the bank would help ease that potential burden.

  • Emotionally stable, with a supportive network of friends and family.

Just like the financial cost, pregnancy and raising a child can be unexpectedly difficult, emotionally.  We learned about postpartum depression, and how the woman’s emotional state can affect the child’s development in the womb.  Having a supportive network of friends and family, especially people who are geographically close, is important to making sure that the parents can have a break occasionally.

  • Good health, and good health insurance.

Making sure that the woman is already in good health when she gets pregnant, and maintains her health during the pregnancy were also stressed during my class.  Proper nutrition and regular exercise, as well as the ability to see a doctor when necessary, were things that we deemed of highest importance to the development of the child.

  • A stable and safe place to live.

Being teenagers in the suburbs, we were imagining owning a house with a large backyard.  While I no longer think that is necessary, I do think that living in a relatively safe neighborhood, and taking the proper precautions to baby-proof your house are incredibly important.

  • Ease of access to hospitals, schools, and other important services.

I think this one is self-explanatory.

I am close to many women who have had children without checking any of these boxes.  Their children are happy and healthy, and they are excellent mothers.  I still think that all of these are important things to have in place before I consider having children, and that is why I chose to get an IUD.  When I decide to have children, it will be because I am ready.  This is not a criticism of any woman or her choices.  I fully realize that this is an idealistic list.

I would posit that is also idealistic of the Republican Party to expect to reduce accessibility to contraception and abortion and to somehow still not have any unwanted pregnancies occur, or for parents to not need some sort of assistance to care for their children.  Abstinence education just exacerbates these problems.  People are going to have sex, and sometimes, despite precautions, pregnancies occur.

If you had to come up with a list like this, what would you put on it?  Do you think that the list we came up with in high school was good?  Have you formulated a similar list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

I Don’t Care About Your Abstinence, and it Doesn’t Make You Better Than Me

There have been a few recent articles about the “moral case” of either completely abstaining from sex until marriage, or having sex with partners beforehand.

This all started with an incredibly egotistical and almost horrifyingly judgmental article by Steven Crowder on foxnews.com.  In his piece, Crowder calls women who have sex before marriage “floozies”, and is openly disdainful of another couple after meeting the bride at breakfast the morning after their wedding.  That newly married man’s crime?  Deciding to drink at his wedding.

The people next to us that morning? Well, theirs was just one big party.  And the morning after? Just another hangover.

Our “weddings” were the same event in name only. They know it, and we know it.

Honestly?  That is precisely how I envision my wedding next summer: one big party.  I want my family, Fiance’s family, and all of our friends to be there, and to be celebrating our union.  I want dancing and toasting and laughter and fun.  The fact that I am intimately acquainted with Fiance’s nether regions (and vice versa) does not make our wedding, our engagement, or our relationship any less than yours, Mr. Crowder.

Fiance and I lived together for quite some time, and, unlike you, we have already gone through the awkward stages of living together.  We know that we are compatible in practically every way possible, and that includes sexually.  Yes, it still annoys me that he forgets to put his dirty laundry in the hamper, and he is largely baffled by my beauty regimen, but we have reached a point of homeostasis in our relationship and we know that we can actually share the same space.  You’re going to have to learn all of that, and you’re going to have to learn everything about sex.  Don’t worry, Mr. Crowder, I’m here for you and your wife!.

On the other side of the coin, Jill Filipovic (of Feministe fame) wrote a fantastic response article for The Guardian, detailing precisely why it is better to have sex with your partner before a long-term commitment.  I honestly couldn’t have constructed a better article.  This is my favorite quote,

Sex is good whether you’re married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot. But waiting until marriage often means both early marriage and conservative views on marriage and gender – and people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages. We know that, on the other hand, there are lots of benefits to marrying later and to gender-egalitarian marriages. Couples who both work outside the home and also share housework duties have more sex. Financially independent, college-educated women who marry later in life have extremely low divorce rates.

It turns out that feminist values – not “traditional” ones – lead to the most stable marriages. And feminist views plus later marriage typically equals premarital sex.

I wish you luck with your marriage, Mr. Crowder.  I wish you and your wife every happiness.  It’s a pity that you, with your nose in the air, can’t find it in your “Christian” heart to do the same for me and others who are like me.

Book Review: Sex at Dawn

If you’re a fan of Dan Savage, you’ve probably heard Dan talking about this book on his podcast, Savage Love back in 2010.    In the book, authors Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. and Cacilda Jethá, M.D. explore “The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.”

Covering everything from the form and function of the modern human, to the ways that we act in relationships, Sex at Dawn turned the study of human sexuality upside down.  Through observing and drawing parallels between modern humans, and our evolutionary cousins, the Bonobo chimpanzee, the authors draw the conclusion that modern humans have a difficult time with monogamy because we are genetically engineered towards multiple partners.

On the website for Sex at Dawn, a chart by Franklin Veaux maps the different relationships that modern humans engage in.  The overlap is fascinating.

Although it may seem that the authors are advocating for non-monogamous relationships, they claim that is not their purpose.  An excerpt from the FAQ on the website for Sex at Dawn:

So you’re recommending the everyone should have an open marriage or not get married at all?

Definitely not. We’re not recommending anything other than knowledge, introspection, and honesty. In fact, as we say in the book, we’re not really sure what to do with this information ourselves. We hope Sex at Dawn advances the conversation about human sexuality so people can focus more on the realities of what human beings are and a bit less on the religious and cultural mythologies concerning what we should be and should feel. What individuals or couples do with this information (if anything) is up to them.

It took me longer than I expected to read Sex at Dawn, because each page has information that borders on revelation.  I found myself having to stop frequently just to absorb each new piece of information.  I am normally the type of person who breezes through books, but I simply couldn’t do it with Sex at Dawn.  The authors did an amazing job at fully researching the topic, and presenting it in a way that is entirely accessible to those of us who are not in the academic field.

If you are struggling with any sort of infidelity in your relationships, read this book.  If you found yourself suddenly no longer attracted to a partner after going off of hormonal birth control, read this book.  If you are curious about how and why the modern human body and sexual organs are shaped differently than every other species, read this book.

If you’d like to support Nice Girls, you can purchase Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality through this link.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I will receive a small amount of the price of your purchase.  Thanks!

Some Blogs I Follow

Good afternoon everyone!  I’ve been busy reading books to review for you all on Nice Girls, and I thought that in the meantime, I would share some of the fantastic blogs I follow.

For reading up on feminist issues, these are my top four:

Patriarchy Survivor.  This blog comes from a Facebook page I follow: No, I will NOT be quiet.  This blog has a lot of submitted personal stories, and some of them may be triggering to anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence.

Make Me a Sammich.  The author describes this as “a place to read and talk about being a woman in the USA in the 21st century.”  It’s a great description, and she recently started posting some pretty awesome fiction!

Another Angry Woman describes her blog as “Part anarchist. Part feminist. All angry.”

Damn Right I’m a Feminist has shorter posts, mostly about current news articles and some fantastic quotes.  Don’t miss her Sexist Song of the Day posts.

For some reading that is a little lighter in topic and tone (in other words, you’re much less likely to read something that will make you angry), check out these blogs.

Sex Lives of Moms has some occasionally hilarious posts, but offers advice and commiseration for those awesome moms who are struggling with regaining intimacy with significant others.

Online Dating – Why I’ll Soon Be a Crazy Cat Lady always cracks me up.  If you’ve ever tried to find the genuinely good guys in the cesspool that is online dating, you will probably recognize your experiences in her blog.

 

Tomorrow’s post will be a review of Sex at Dawn!

Oh, Toronto

Once again, Toronto is making headlines across the nation for slut-shaming.  As you might recall, last year, a Toronto police officer sparked a firestorm of criticism and outrage when he said  “women should avoid dressing like sluts not to be victimized” during a speech.  That outrage turned into a movement that has swept across the US and Canada: The Slutwalk.

But apparently that wasn’t enough.

Now, shortly after Toronto police held a news conference to warn women in the area about a series of sexual assaults, Krista Ford, the niece of Mayor Tom Ford, and daughter of a Councillor, sent an awful tweet (screenshot courtesy of Gawker media):

Some People Just Never Learn

 

Don’t dress like a whore?  Really, Ms. Ford?  Guess what?  My clothing is never an excuse for someone to sexually assault me!  It’s never an excuse, period!  People of both sexes, all ages, professions and styles of dress have become victims of sexual assaults.  It’s not just the drunk girl walking home by herself after dancing at a club all night, it’s the girl wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, it’s the guy rushing for a frat who is getting hazed, or anyone who finds themselves in a vulnerable position.

With all of this in mind, I have signed up to attend San Francisco’s Slutwalk, occurring next weekend, September 8th, at Dolores Park.  I hope that all of my readers in the Bay Area will join me.  For those of you who are not in San Francisco, I’ll be taking some pictures!

Book Review: The Choice Effect

To be honest, I don’t remember purchasing The Choice Effect by Amalia McGibbon, Lara Vogel, and Claire A. Williams, for my Kindle, but I just finished reading it two nights ago.  I wasn’t impressed.  On one hand, I commend the authors for writing a semi-sex-positive book about dating (except they portray men as completely disposable), and some of the interesting problems the Millennial generation faces.  On the other hand I finished the book feeling vaguely insulted by some of the ways they characterize my generation, and I became increasingly annoyed by the constant pop culture references.

Their term for the ladies currently in their 20s, “choisters” is an interesting portmanteau created from the word “choice” and the phrase “the world is your oyster”.  The entire book revolves around their hypothesis that because, as a generation, we are more mobile and more connected to the world, we are paralyzed by the plethora of choices available to us and refuse to commit to anything.

When it comes to jobs and a place to live, the economy and ever changing job market are the main factors in my generation’s inability to “settle down”.  By and large, companies are no longer promoting from within and rewarding loyalty and increase in job responsibility with higher titles or compensation.  I read articles all the time bemoaning how it doesn’t pay to invest in Millennial employees, because they leave the company in a few years anyway.  It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It no longer pays off to be a “company (wo)man”.   When you’re looking for a new job every two or three years in order to experience career growth, it becomes difficult to put down roots.

Likewise, with such volatility in the job market, it is difficult to make what is ostensibly a lifetime commitment to a partner unless one or both of you have a mobile career, or an agreement to move if the other person is presented with an amazing opportunity.  The latter can lead to an imbalance in the relationship if one partner is unable to find a job in the new area, or cannot contribute to the household finances as they did previously.

While it is true that my generation is delaying marriage and family life to a much later age than previous generations, I disagree with the authors’ assertion that it is because the women of my generation are constantly looking for someone “better” than the person they are currently dating.  The notion that we are all a bunch of commitment-phobes who just can’t choose a partner, or a job, or a city to live in rings false to my ears.  I’d argue that my generation’s hesitation to commit to a partner, job, or city is born of intelligent caution, and is a legitimate choice, in and of itself.

In the end, it is hard to take a book seriously when the authors are constantly dropping pop culture references to songs, movies, TV shows, and even mobile applications left and right.  I sincerely hope I didn’t pay anything for this book (I can’t find the receipt, I looked), because it wasn’t worth the e-ink it was printed with.

The Nice Girl’s Guide to Fellatio

Ooh!  A saucy and sexy topic to start your Monday off right.  Today’s post is most definitely Not Safe For Work, so for those of you who read Nice Girls at work, you might want to either switch to your mobile device or hold off until you are at home to read this one! Read the rest of this entry

Comprehensive Sex Ed? Not in Clovis USD!

Hey everyone, I am still very sick, so I apologize again for the short post.

I am very proud of California’s commitment to comprehensive sexual education in the school systems. A law passed in 2003 requires that sexual health education in California’s public schools be comprehensive, medically accurate, bias-free, and appropriate for students of all sexual orientations.

Unfortunately, the Clovis Unified School District is now being sued for their abstinence-only and heavily religious leaning sexual education curriculum.  They are now being sued by two parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics California District IX, and the Gay-Straight Alliance network, with the ACLU providing free legal assistance.

Students were being taught that HIV could be spread through kissing, and that getting “lots of rest” was an effective way to prevent STIs.  Both of these statements, of course, are ridiculously inaccurate.  There were also passages in the textbook “Lifetime Health”, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, comparing a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe, and states that men who are aroused are unable to control themselves.  Oh, and there are no mentions of condoms.  Anywhere.  At all.

Congratulations, Clovis.  You have now handed these young men the mental excuses they need to rape someone: “But I just couldn’t control myself!  Besides, she’s not a virgin, so she’s dirty anyways.  Condoms?  Eh, those don’t work anyways.”

Fresno County has had one of the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in California for over a decade now. The Central Valley area also has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  Why, then, are the schools barring their students from medically accurate information?  It almost seems like they are proud of these statistics.

A Call to Men

I recently came across this video on the TED talks website.  It features Tony Porter, the founder of A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women.

His eloquent 11 minute speech is a work of art.  It was definitely worth the standing ovation he received at the end.

To my male readers: what is your experience with stepping outside the “Man Box”?  Do you believe it is real? If so, what can we do to raise the next generation outside of this “Man Box”?

To my female readers: what are your reactions after watching this?

Grace’s Diary

Thanks to a tip from one of my dear friends, I found out about Grace’s Diary, a beautifully drawn point and click game.  But this isn’t your ordinary game.

Grace’s Diary is a visual novel with easy gameplay, but this game has a purpose.  Grace is concerned about her friend Natalie and Natalie’s relationship with her boyfriend, Ken.  Grace has decided that she should call Natalie and voice her concerns, but Grace needs to write down the behaviors that concerned her.

As Grace, you explore your own room for reminders of times that Ken or Natalie have acted in strange ways.  If you find all of the evidence, and you navigate your conversation with Natalie successfully, there is a happy ending.

Although I think some of the gameplay is a little clunky (there is one piece that is particularly difficult to find, and I had to use a walkthrough to find it) and some of the dialogue could use some work,  there is no doubt that Grace’s Diary is a great game.  You can find Grace’s Diary on the Amazon App store here, and it is free.

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