I have menstruated almost 1,680 days in my life. That is four years, seven months, and one week.
I was newly twelve years old when I experienced menarche (the beginning of menstruation). I had already been experiencing the throes of puberty in other ways: I had been unable to sleep on my stomach for almost two years due to the painful budding of breasts on my chest, my bony and childish hips were softening into an hourglass, I was growing taller, and I had finally started shaving under my arms, where I had needed to apply deodorant for at least a year.
I had devoured the booklets we were given in health class, the way that bookworms often do, and I had expected a flood of bright red liquid. I remember being confused at the thick reddish brown stains in my underwear, changing them quickly, and approaching my mom with ashamed tears threatening to spill. She hugged me close and explained that I was experiencing my first period. I was provided with menstrual pads that reminded me of my little brother’s diapers. I was acutely aware of the crinkle of plastic in my pants as I walked through the halls of my new middle school.
I learned to palm the pads from my purse to my pocket as though I’d studied legerdemain, always terrified that a boy would see the plastic packaging and suddenly know that I was on my period. It was a secret to be guarded at all costs, and I felt a vague sense of shame about such a natural bodily function.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that I first started experiencing menstrual cramps. These pangs would radiate from my pelvis around to my lower back and shoot down my legs. I learned that if I took ibuprofen as soon as I saw the telltale blood, I could stave off the worst of the pain. Once I entered high school, I no longer felt shame around menstruation, and it became an annoyance. I had a textbook 28 day cycle, and my periods would generally last for seven days. Sometimes they were longer, sometimes shorter, but the average was seven days.
Once I became sexually active, each month’s menstruation was greeted with jubilation. I was very lucky during this time that I never became pregnant, especially as we were relying solely on condoms at the time. A few months before I married my ex husband, I bought my first and only set of pregnancy tests. I had been using hormonal birth control, in addition to condoms, but for the first time in my life, my period did not visit like clockwork.
My sweaty hands fumbled with the plastic wrappers in the public bathroom of the store in which we had purchased them, and I tried to cry quietly as I turned the purple stick face down on the tile floor while I waited the two minutes for the results. The tests were negative. One week later, my period visited again, though this time it seemed heavier and more painful than previously. I rejoiced through the pain.
At this point in time, I was adamant that I never wanted to have children, and I convinced my gynecologist to give me an IUD. The insertion was painful, and I had perpetual cramps for three consecutive months, but I never wanted to sob alone in a bathroom stall ever again.
Throughout my early to mid-twenties, my period was again a mild annoyance. A fact of life to be endured, and nothing more. I stopped keeping track of the dates I expected to menstruate, knowing that my chosen method of birth control was practically as good as getting a hysterectomy.
Somewhere around age twenty-six, my attitude towards being a mother shifted. It no longer seemed like such a terrifying prospect. By the age of twenty-seven, my criteria for long-term dating partners had changed significantly: I was looking for someone that was interested in marriage and children. I still have my IUD, and have no intention of changing that until I and my boyfriend are fully ready: mentally, emotionally, and financially.
My social media is filled with friends who are pregnant, friends who have infants, and friends who have gorgeous and precocious toddlers and preschoolers. Each photo, each ultrasound, each announcement fills me with joy for my friends’ happiness, and I feel ashamed of my brief twinges of envy.
I am no longer ambivalent or annoyed about my menstruation. I worry each month that I am losing something precious, a finite resource within me. I am scared that when I and my boyfriend are finally ready, I will have bled too often, I will have lost my chance. I have a tiny moment of mourning, a tiny moment of terror, a tiny moment of wondering what might have been, each month.
I am almost thirty-two now.
I have been menstruating for nearly twenty years.
I started my period today.
I’ve gotten a few concerned messages from followers of Nice Girls, worried that something had happened to me because my last post was back in January. Well, something did. I finally feel like I can write about it in a way that has at least a small sense of perspective, and isn’t just coming from a place of pain.
Fiancé is no longer my fiancé. We chose to end our engagement a couple of months ago, and we’re still trying to figure out how and where and whether or not we will fit in one another’s future.
Breakups are messy and painful. Ours was not an exception.
It started slowly. The dissolution of his startup had left him depressed and listless. Over the course of six months, he pulled away emotionally, mentally, and physically. We had opened up our relationship, and right at the same time as his startup dissolved, he had found a new partner who he invested the lions share of his energy towards. I had come to depend on him for love, intellectual stimulation, and support, but with his new relationship, I was shunted aside.
I was hurt and angry. I felt abandoned. I actually was abandoned, for days on end, with minimal contact from him. When he would finally decide to spend time with me, I would lash out and demand he listen to my anger and hurt. He responded by retreating further, wrapping himself in the new relationship like a warm blanket, rather than deal with the sobbing, snarling, wreck of a person I had become. Boundaries were trampled, agreements were broken, and our respective ideas of the future were no longer in sync. Lies, deceit, and avoidance grew where love, acceptance, and honesty were supposed to flourish. I went through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I could no longer trust him to be honest with me. He could no longer trust me to be kind. We made the mutual decision that, despite the fact that we still cared for one another, we would be better apart than we were together. There was no big announcement, no huge public blowup. I’ve been fielding questions from friends, as they realize we are no longer “in a relationship” on Facebook.
I am in an unenviable position right now. Because we were living together (and, consequently, living with his girlfriend too. I forgot to mention that.), I am now essentially homeless. I won’t be sleeping on the streets, because I have wonderful friends here (shout out to you guys, you know who you are, and you are AWESOME), but I am adrift yet again. The vast majority of my personal possessions are still in our once-shared room, or in the storage unit we shared. I am living out of a suitcase.
That isn’t the worst part of this whole situation though. When you spend more than three years with someone, your lives are intertwined. We have countless mutual friends. His parents’ house felt more like a home than anywhere else I had been in years. His extended family embraced me wholeheartedly. It is impossible to fully extricate yourself from this sort of relationship. Little things, like pictures from family gatherings on Facebook, that bring me joy to see from others, now feel like a tiny stab in the heart when they come from his family. I had to request no contact for an indefinite period of time, so that I could fully heal, because his late-night “I miss you” texts were simultaneously making me angry and breaking my heart all over again.
I’ve never had to do this sort of adult breakup before. I used to cut all ties when a relationship ended, but that simply isn’t possible, and furthermore, I don’t want to do that. Forcing friends to choose sides simply isn’t in my nature, and if it were, the inevitable result would be disastrous and even more painful. I have no internal road map for this.
I have no idea where my life will take me from here. I’m working a part-time job and looking for full-time employment, but I’m hesitant to lean on my network too much at the moment. Having a roof over my head is a more immediate worry than a full-time job. My current job gives me enough income to eat and to pay my meager bills, but there isn’t much left over afterwards. I’m trying to increase my skill set by learning some programming through Code Academy. I’m dating a lovely new guy who I adore, and he’s been a wonderful respite from my daily worries.
I am okay. I’ll be more than okay. I am going to thrive and grow, both personally and professionally. Thank you for being patient with me, my dear readers. I am not going to make any promises to you right now about a posting schedule. My posts will likely be sporadic, but I hope that they will increase in frequency again.
Okay, so I had planned on doing a video today, but then I realized that pretty much all of my clothing that isn’t black is currently in the laundry, and I don’t have an alternate backdrop for the studio I film in. If I were to film in my comfy black sweater, you’d see nothing but a floating head and a lot of hair. This lead to the realization that if I waited until it was done, then it would be really late, and no one would see the video. So you get another blog post, yay! And I put on a ton of makeup (before said realization) for no reason at all, yay!
Someone sent me an anonymous request (via my Survey Monkey!) to do a video or blog post about the debate that rages regarding pubic hair.
I’ve been doing some variation of hair removal for over a decade now. When I was a teenager, and I was still using pads, I would often trim my pubic hair while sitting on the toilet, with a pair of scissors. When I had my period, I would often pass clots of blood and tissue, and they would sometimes get tangled in my pubic hair. I reasoned that it would be easier to clean up during my period if the hair wasn’t quite so long.
Then I read an article in a teen magazine. A girl had written in, saying that she was nervous about wearing a bathing suit in front of boys because her pubic hair would peek out the sides of her swimsuit bottoms. She was actually given really good advice. She was told not to worry about it, and that any boys who made fun of her for it were just immature. But she was also told that if it really made her nervous and she wanted to, she could use the same razor that she used on her legs to clean up the sides of her pubic hair.
I was about to start doing swim lessons in high school, and it was a co-ed class. Suddenly, I was nervous about my pubic hair showing on the sides of my bathing suit. So I started shaving the sides of my pubic hair. I kept doing this for years: trimming the long stuff near my labia, and shaving the sides when I knew I was going to be in a swimsuit.
I am pretty sure that my initial decision to actually go ahead and shave all of my pubic hair was out of curiosity. I had read about it in ladies magazines (yes, again, my beauty and hygiene regimen was influenced by someone else having issues about their body), I had heard friends talk about it, and I was curious what it would feel like. So I took an extra long shower and decided to shave it all off. My (now ex) husband really liked it, and asked me to keep doing it.
It felt weird, but it didn’t feel more weird than the sensation after shaving my legs. I was really aware of the fact that my entire vaginal area felt different for a couple of days afterwards. And then the hair started to grow back. It itched. It was prickly. Some of the hair had trouble breaking back through the skin, so I had ingrown hairs, and not only did those itch too, but I had to take a pair of tweezers to my skin to get them out. Even weirder though, was that the hair that grew back in was different. Before I shaved my pubic hair, it had been curly and kind of rough. Now, much like the hair on my head, it was straight and smooth. I let it grow out a little more, but now that it was growing differently, it became hard to have sex without the hair being pulled (and sometimes, even pulled out).
So I continued shaving and letting it grow out and repeating the process. I’ve also waxed the hair, and I find I actually prefer to do that over shaving it. I would prefer to just let it be, but unfortunately, I can’t, unless I want to have pain during sex.
Now let’s talk about the pros and cons of removing your pubic hair. This list goes for anyone who is considering removing it, whether you identify as male, female, or any other gender.
- Some people think it feels better to have no hair on their genitals.
- Long history! People have been doing it since the days of Ancient Greece and Egypt.
- No stress about pubic hair peeking out of your bathing suit, if that’s the kind of thing you stress about.
- Pubic lice? Not a problem. You’ve destroyed their natural environment.
- Some people have a preference for minimal body hair.
- Razor burn
- Ingrown hairs
- Awkward to actually do by yourself
- Creates microscopic tears in the skin
- Increased risk of contracting an STI due to the microscopic tears (they’re open wounds!)
- Some loss of sensitivity in the area (those hairs have nerve endings in the follicles)
- Increased friction between your skin and your clothing.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Hair in your pubic area isn’t gross, or unhygienic. It has a purpose. It’s also okay to remove it, but you have to take extra precautions with preventing infections. Above all, don’t do it if you’re just worried about someone telling you that you should remove it. It is your body. Do with it what you want.
Whew. It’s been quite a month, hasn’t it? As much as I enjoy this season, I’m feeling relieved that the holidays are almost over.
I got this wonderful question in my Survey Monkey, and it’s an important one.
I read your blog about vaginal discharge and stuff. it helped me too cus I was having the same problem. here is my question: everyone was talking in school about whether they are virgins or not. they asked me and I just skipped the question. I am a virgin. should I lose my virginity just so people wont make fun of me for it. I think I am ready, but I don’t know if I should
I’m glad you enjoyed my previous post, my dear! I love hearing that I’ve helped someone.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that people generally don’t find out about until much later in life: Virginity, meaning whether or not someone has had sexual intercourse, doesn’t matter at all. Really. No one is going to think differently of you when you’re an adult if you’ve never had sex. They aren’t going to think of you differently if you have had sex. It flat out doesn’t matter when you’re an adult. I can think of two people that I am friends with (one male, one female) who have never had sex. Both of them are in their mid-twenties. No big deal. Now, I know that doesn’t help you out right now, but it is something to think about.
The answer to your question is no, you should not lose your virginity just so people don’t make fun of you for it. You should only have sex when you actually want to do it. That previous sentence will be true for the rest of your life, not just about your first time, so let me say it again: You should only have sex when you actually want to have sex. If you feel pressure to have sex because you think your friends are all doing it, and that sounds like the case here, then you should wait. If your friends make fun of you for the fact that you haven’t had sex yet, then they aren’t very good friends. It’s okay to say that you aren’t interested in having sex, or that you want to be in a good relationship first, or even just that you don’t think you’re ready yet. All of those are valid reasons for waiting.
I know that in middle school or high school, it can seem like everyone else is “doing it”, but that isn’t actually the case. Some people have, some people are lying because they want to look cool or they think that other people will judge them for not having sex yet. In a study that was done a few years ago, they found that the average age that someone has sex for the first time (male or female) is 17.
There’s another thing to consider. You said that your friends were making fun of you for not having sex yet. Unfortunately, that doesn’t generally go away even if you do have sex. You’re at an age where everyone gossips about everyone else. People will probably talk about you and your sex life (or no sex life), if you and/or your partner are talking to other people about it, no matter what you do. Teenagers and adolescents can be mean. Try to not let the opinions of other people, even your friends, make you decide to do something if you aren’t comfortable with it.
If you and your partner want to have sex, then go for it. Have fun, and be sure to use barrier contraception. You can go to that link to find my blog post about barrier methods for heterosexual (male and female) couples and learn about condoms. You should always use a condom, especially for your first time. You can go to this link to learn about how to have safer sex with another female (and these safer sex practices also apply to heterosexual sex too! Especially using a dental dam!). You should make sure that your partner respects you, likes you (maybe even loves you), and isn’t pressuring you to have sex before you’re ready.
Sex of any kind will pretty much always be awkward the first time. And yes, I mean every kind of sex. Oral sex (giving a blowjob, more properly called fellatio; or “going down” on a girl, more properly called cunnilingus) is still sex, giving someone a “handjob” or “fingering” is still sex, and anal sex is still sex too. It is so important to know that it’ll be weird: your bodies will make strange noises, there are new smells, putting on a condom is generally awkward (please stock up, and read the instructions!), and if you still have your hymen then it might be a little painful too. Having a partner who you care about and who cares about you will make it more fun than awkward.
I’m not saying this to scare you, or to try and make you not want to have sex, but to give you as much information as I possibly can in a short blog post. Get some books and read about sex. I can recommend S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College. It is a great book with a LOT of information (and if you buy it through that link, then you help me make some money!). If you feel comfortable, talking to the school nurse might help too.
I can’t tell you when to have sex. Only you know when you’re ready. But I can tell you that you shouldn’t do it if you are looking to avoid being teased, or to make your friends happy, or even to make your partner happy. You should only have sex when you want to do it. I really hope this post has helped you.
Do you have a question about sex or relationships? You can go here to ask me anything, completely anonymously!
First advice requests! Do you have a burning question? You can ask me anything, completely anonymously, through this link.
Hello Nice Girl,
I am a young woman in my late twenties. I am friends with this couple, and I always enjoy spending time with them. I particularly enjoy spending time with the woman. I think she’s pretty awesome. They are in an open relationship.
The man in the couple is pretty flirty with me, and it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve never said anything to him or his girlfriend about it. I asked a mutual friend to help me handle it, and he said he didn’t know what to do so that friend asked another mutual friend. I’m not sure what else happened, because I haven’t talked to anyone else since then.
I know from your blog that you’re in an open relationship. Did I do the right thing?
Well, letter-writer, the short answer is no, I don’t think you did the right thing. I think you did the cowardly thing. You state in your letter that you haven’t said anything to either person in that couple, and that you brought other friends into the situation. That is really immature, and you might have ruined your friendship with that couple.
Everyone deals with rejection. Everyone. But you didn’t give this guy the ability to handle that rejection by talking to him, or even by talking to his girlfriend about the fact that you are uncomfortable. Instead, you chose to talk about him, behind his back, to a friend and that person has decided to talk to yet another friend. This is how reputation-damaging rumors start, even among adults.
I would suggest that the next time you are in a situation where you are not interested in someone and they are being flirty, you take some initiative, be assertive, and tell him or her that you are not interested. It isn’t easy, I know, but learning to deal with an uncomfortable situation is part of being an adult.
I’d be willing to bet that, had you talked to either person in that couple, they would have thanked you for your honesty and the flirting would have stopped immediately.
I’ve never had an orgasm during sex, I only have them via clit stimulation (generally oral). I’ve never found my g-spot. After reading ’50 Shades of Grey’, it struck me how misled we are about it. We’re taught that, when we’re in the right moment, penetrative orgasms (generally multiples) happen naturally, and if they don’t, then there must be something wrong.
I have never had a penetrative orgasm (not for lack of trying), but find that I am still susceptible to the idea that there must be something wrong with me (when, logically, I know there’s not).
I was reading about the a-spot and my guy and I went on a hunt for it. I think he found it, but it just felt like I REALLY had to pee. I’ve heard that’s normal, but I found it more uncomfortable than pleasurable. Ideas? Suggestions?
For starters, letter-writer, and I want to stress this as much as possible, YOU ARE TOTALLY NORMAL. Only 11% of women ever experience a penetrative orgasm. Ever. The pervasive myth that women should immediately be multi-orgasmic just sets everyone up for disappointment and a sense of failure.
The vast majority of women only experience an orgasm through clitoral stimulation.
If orgasming during intercourse is something that is important to you and your partner (and if it is important to you, then it should also be important to your partner), then I would recommend he either stimulate your clitoris with his hands, or you can incorporate a vibrator during sex. I personally recommend trying something like a bullet vibrator, where you can vary the speed of the vibration if things get too intense or you need more stimulation. (By the way, if you purchase anything through that link, you’re helping to support Nice Girls! I’m now an affiliate with Good Vibrations. Go me!)
Of course, it is always harder for a woman to reach orgasm if she is stressed, so make sure that you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself. Anxiety is a major block for sexual pleasure.
As for the a-spot (and the g-spot), it is generally accepted that they are the internal extensions of the clitoris. It is also totally normal that you felt like you needed to pee, as your partner was probably also putting pressure on your bladder. The next time that you go hunting for pleasure centers inside your vagina, it is always a good idea to make sure that you have gone to the bathroom beforehand.
What do you think of my advice? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section!
This is not a typical post for my blog, but it is something that has been affecting my life and the lives of those around me recently. Let’s talk about depression.
Depression (and mental illnesses in general) is a genetic joke. There are studies upon studies relating creativity, intelligence, and mental issues. Pretty much any incredibly talented artist you can think of suffered from some sort of mental illness. There shouldn’t be any shame related to it.
Unfortunately, many people feel shame about their mental illnesses. I know that I often feel ashamed of mine. I find myself thinking, “you have this amazing opportunity to do something that you love, you live in an amazing city, you have awesome friends, and your fiancé is loving and supportive. You have everything that you need and pretty much anything you want, so why do you feel shitty? You know that there are people out there with REAL problems, right?” and on and on and on. All that shame, negative self-talk, and personal berating only serves to make myself feel worse and makes getting back to normal even more difficult. It is ten times worse when someone else says these things that I find myself thinking.
I have suffered from depression, off and on, for pretty much as long as I can remember. In the tumultuous life that I have lead, depression has been one of the few constants in my life.
When I was dealing with the death of my biological mother at the age of eleven, despite being in therapy, I was depressed and suicidal. I was better for a few years, but high school was particularly hard. I honestly thought that everyone around me had their entire lives figured out already, and I was in a constant state of panic that I hadn’t chosen a career path yet. I was fourteen years old, and I was stressed, anxiety ridden, and depressed.
My mental stresses manifested themselves in several physical ways. I barely slept at night. I would sleep for 30 minutes, and then be awake for an hour and a half, sleep ten minutes, be awake for forty-five minutes. The sleep I did manage to snatch from my overloaded brain was not restful, as I was grinding my teeth and having disturbing nightmares. I managed to grind my teeth so hard that the plate of cartilage between my jaw and skull slipped forward, and prevented me from opening my mouth fully. I had to go to a specialist, get a night guard, and take Valium in order to actually get some rest. I am terrified at the fondness I still feel towards an opiate.
This may come as a shock to my friends at the time, but I was also severely bulimic. In general, I would eat the bag of chips in my packed lunch, throw the rest away, and drink as much water as possible so that they would soften in my stomach, and come up easier. I spent a minimum of 45 minutes in the bathroom after dinner, hoping and praying that no one would hear me as I tried to rid my stomach of all the food I had ingested with my family. I was so severely dehydrated that I would faint from time to time, especially after gym class. The scars on my knuckles have mostly faded, but I fear that I may have done irreparable damage to my metabolism.
I also developed some OCD-like behaviors. I would find myself counting people, or specific things in a room, and unable to stop. There were certain things in my life that absolutely had to be a certain way, or I was convinced some unspeakable horror would occur. I plucked my own body hair: legs, armpits, pubic region, eyelashes. I couldn’t stop.
During my adult life, my depression has taken a few different twists and turns. I found my OCD behaviors moving towards a fear of germs, especially when raw meat was concerned. I would almost hyperventilate while walking in the meat section of the grocery store. I had a particularly bad episode when I had to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. I stood in front of the refrigerator, crying, because I couldn’t bring myself to touch the raw turkey. My hair plucking moved to skin picking, and I still have a very difficult time leaving a blemish or a scab to heal naturally.
I have been suicidal. I have considered the probability of dying with minimal pain by walking into traffic, crashing my car into a cement barrier, taking too many painkillers, using a knife on my own wrists, and, of course, simply wasting away by not eating.
I have been through all of these things. I am just now pulling out of a nine month struggle with some pretty severe depression. I still have bad days, days where I just want to sit in bed or on my computer, eat nothing, produce nothing, and feel nothing. I have wonderful days where I am ready to take on the world, and I get a lot of things done. I hope this explains the sporadic nature of my blog updates in the past few months. Thankfully, with the help of my fiance and my dear friends, I was able to catch myself before I reached the suicidal thoughts stage.
I like to compare getting back to “normal” during a depressive episode to attempting to hike up a hill that is covered in gravel. It is mentally and physically exhausting. It can help to have a walking stick (anti-depression drugs), or a guide (therapist), but sometimes you have to make the journey on your own. Sometimes you slip and fall, and you end up sliding back down to the bottom. If you already know the way up, and you have accepted that sometimes you are going to slide back down, you’ll have an easier time of it and you’re less likely to quit out of frustration. I slide around a bit, and sometimes I end up riding on my butt all the way back down the hill, but I always get up, dust myself off, and try again. It is the only way to get back to feeling like myself. The struggle and the bruises are always worth the time and effort.
I am not a trained therapist nor am I a counselor. I have no education or background in helping someone with depression or suicidal thoughts. I do, however, have a sympathetic ear. I can commiserate with how difficult it is to feel like something is wrong, and to not be able to put a finger on the problem, let alone know where to begin to fix it. I can help find a therapist, or tell silly stories for a laugh.
I am heartbroken each time I hear about a friend who is dealing with the suicide of someone they love. And the person who is gone is always loved. Always. Suicide means that those who are left behind are plagued with thoughts of “What could I have done? How could I not know? I don’t understand.” I think that the grieving process is especially hard when someone commits suicide, because it wasn’t a natural death.
Next week (September 8-14th) is National Suicide Prevention Week in the US. If you or someone that you love is suicidal, there is free help available. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to a counselor in your area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It sounds trite, but suicide is a permanent solution to what may be a short-term problem, and it leaves waves of devastation in its wake. You are loved. Don’t give up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “traditional” femininity, and I’ve come to one conclusion: I really suck at a lot of the things girls are “supposed” to do, and that’s kind of awesome.
I have more colors of eyeshadow and nail polish than anyone really should, but I am hopeless with things like makeup or doing my nails. I keep thinking “oh, well, maybe if I have the right things, I will magically be able to look all pretty and feminine and girly!” I subscribe to multiple versions of makeup grab bags, and I have at least 50 different makeup brushes. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with most of them. I can’t do those cool smoky eye looks (or anything that goes beyond wearing one shade of eyeshadow, really, and even then it ends up looking uneven), I end up looking like a clown when I attempt to use powdered blush, and my at-home mani-pedis generally look like a 5 year old went crazy with the nail polish.
I also can’t do anything with my hair that goes beyond a ponytail, half ponytail, braid, or messy bun. I am adept at washing and drying it, and my at-home touch ups on my hair color are passable. I have been known to use Pinterest to find cute hairstyles, and then I spend two hours trying to get my thick, straight-as-a-pin hair into a cascading braid, or some other adorable up-do, before I ragequit in utter frustration. Attempting to curl my hair is just a way for me to completely waste time. Within 15 minutes that perfect curl is flat again, no matter if I use a curling iron, styling products, or hot rollers.
I am, however, a professional at walking in high heels without looking like I’m about to fall over.
As an adolescent, when I imagine most girls were figuring these things out, I was more interested in figuring out a cure for the profuse sweat that would pour out of my armpits whenever I was talking to a cute boy. Thank god I was in middle school and high school when it was still acceptable to wear a flannel over your t-shirt, because I would stand there, horrified, as I felt the growing patch of wetness travel down my torso to my waist. It was like my deodorant would magically evaporate in the presence of a cute boy. It still does, sometimes. Now I just carry a spare stick of deodorant in my purse and reapply as needed.
I hate cleaning and doing the laundry. Right now, there are at least twelve coffee cups in my room, and I can’t be bothered to take them to the kitchen and wash them (sorry, housemates!). I never make my bed. I actually hate doing the laundry SO MUCH that I take it all to a wash-and-fold, and pay at least $40 once a month for someone else to do it for me. Even then, I forget to put it away at least every other month. I love to cook and bake, but I am terrifically lazy about purchasing ingredients for dinner before the local grocery stores close.
I have realized that the time I could spend on learning these things is better spent doing things like writing my blog or working on my book, reading, or spending time with friends (who could probably teach me about the makeup/nail/hair stuff).
I am fortunate that I live in a place and a forward-thinking culture where I am encouraged to better myself, instead of just looking pretty. I am so thankful that Fiance doesn’t think my worth as a woman is directly tied to how clean I keep our living space, or having dinner on the table when he comes home from work. My brain matters more than how I live up to the cultural standards of femininity. And that’s pretty awesome.
Thanks, feminism, for creating that culture!
Her name was Susan Cox Powell.
We went to high school together. Though we didn’t know one another very well, we had a lot of mutual friends. I remember her as someone who was gracious, intelligent, and kind. Susan had a beautiful smile. She disappeared in 2009. Interviews with Susan’s friends have shown that her relationship with her husband was abusive. He shoved her, slapped her, wouldn’t allow her to buy groceries for the family, and locked her out of the house. Her father-in-law had a disturbing obsession with her, and took voyeuristic photographs of her. Susan left a will in a safe deposit box that said if she disappeared it “wouldn’t be an accident”.
Her sons’ names were Charlie and Braden.
They were taken on an impromptu “camping” trip at 12:30am, in the middle of a snowstorm, by their father, the night that Susan disappeared. Three years later, Charlie and Braden had started talking about that night. Braden drew a picture of a car with three occupants, and when he was asked about his drawing, he said “Mommy’s in the trunk”. One year ago today, they were killed by their father, who took a hatchet to their tiny bodies before setting a fire that would ultimately kill all three.
I am convinced that Susan’s husband killed her. I am convinced that we will likely never find her, her friends and family will probably never have closure. I am convinced that we should learn from this, that we should be tireless advocates for those who are abused by their partners.
- Intimate partner homicides account for 30% of all deaths of women.
- Everyday, in the US, three women are murdered by their partner.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
It is easy to think that you are smarter than a woman in an abusive relationship. It is easy, to look at the situation, and think “she should have left him”. In reality, it is incredibly difficult to leave an abusive relationship, especially when you have children. It is common for abusive partners to use children as a way to get their partner to stay in the abusive relationship. According to her will, Susan’s husband told her that he would “destroy” her if she tried to leave him.
It is hard to be the friend or family member of someone who is in an abusive relationship. It is hard not to have those thoughts. It is hard to watch someone’s personality deteriorate in the face of abuse. It is hard to be supportive, to lend an ear, to watch your friend or family member walk back into the home they share with their abusive partner. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has some very helpful tips on how to help a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship.
Since the National Domestic Violence Hotline was established, domestic violence and intimate partner homicide has taken a drastic downward turn. The Hotline is funded by the Violence Against Women Act. The VAWA is currently being debated by our nation’s elected leaders, and it may not be re-authorized. This would be an unspeakable tragedy. Please, write to your senator, write to your congressional representative. Tell them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
Her name was Susan Cox Powell.
Her sons were Charlie and Braden.
I am burning a candle in their memory today.
I am also emailing my representatives, in their memory, to try and make sure that other women in her situation have the resources necessary to leave abusive relationships.
Edit: For those of you who would like a form letter, please see the one I have drafted below.
Dear Senator/Representative/Congresswoman/Congressman ,
I am writing you today in memory of Susan Cox Powell, and her sons, Charlie and Braden, to urge you to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
This act provides the funding necessary to assist women who are in domestic violence situations, and since its inception in 1994, the number of domestic violence incidences have decreased dramatically.
Decreasing domestic violence is not a partisan issue.
My emotions today have reached a heretofore unprecedented level of sappiness. I kid you not, as of 1:30pm Pacific time, I have cried over three different things I have seen online. I’ve decided to share them with you here.
First up is Anita Sarkeesian’s TEDx talk, where she discusses the potential psychology behind the cybermob that attacked her so viciously over her Tropes vs. Women kickstarter project.
I teared up at the end. Male and female video game characters pander so excessively to the heterosexual male fantasies that it leaves little room for those of alternate genders or sexual orientations to also indulge in the fantasy. I love playing video games. Love it. But just once, I’d like to see a female character that isn’t weak, or aggressively sexualized. Am I really asking too much when I ask to play a female character who isn’t wearing a chainmail bikini over the balloons on her chest?
And then there’s this picture.
That is Dan Savage (one of my personal heroes, though we disagree from time to time) and his longtime partner Terry, getting their marriage certificate signed in Washington state. I wept like a baby. I am so happy that my home state has made same sex marriage legal.
Finally, the fact that this is an actual film that will be shown at SXSW 2013 did me in.
I am so very excited for this film. Wonder Woman is a personal favorite superhero of mine (and really, she should be for anyone else too!). I recently read The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, and the entire premise of this movie ratcheted my geekcitement up to 11. I’m interested to see how the filmmakers will compare with the author of The Supergirls.
Has anything touched your heart today? Maybe made you squee a little? Share your excitement with me in the comments below!
There is a lot of misinformation about Plan B, also known as the Morning After pill. I’ve found that a lot of this is spewed by the same people who fail at basic chemistry (I’m looking at you, people who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old!), and this video does a pretty fantastic job at explaining exactly how Plan B works. Contrary to what those protesting Planned Parenthood would have you believe, Plan B is not an abortifacient, in fact, if the fertilized egg has already implanted, it cannot harm the zygote. I know so many people who actually believe that Plan B is the same as RU486, the abortion pill. This is patently untrue. Plan B prevents unintended pregnancies, and RU486 aborts unintended pregnancies.
Another cool video from AsapSCIENCE explains some of the biological responses that men and women experience during orgasm. I’m sure that little in that video will be surprising to readers of this blog (savvy smart people that you are). I did find it both interesting and slightly vindicating that there is actual research to prove what many men and women in the BDSM scene have been saying for ages: that pain and pleasure are linked.
I’m really looking forward to more videos explaining the science behind sex. What did you think of these videos?