Archives for posts with tag: feminism

Beauty has no size.  Don’t be afraid to sparkle. ~ Anonymous

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went to see Dita Von Teese, the queen of burlesque, perform at the Tabernacle.  This was my second time seeing her – I make it a point to see her when she comes to town.  What I love about Dita is that while burlesque may have started as a tawdry show for men, her shows feel more like body-love song to women.  Not just slender women, with nearly impossible bodies perform – plus size women perform too.  People are expected to objectify, hoot and holler every time a person removes an article, without exception.  As a feminist, I have been taught that objectification is bad but I would argue that at these shows, it is good, because we are celebrating the human body, how it can look and what it can do.  I marveled at Dita’s body and how her whole life must be dedicated to being fit and pale skinned but I marveled more at the plus sized women.  Dare I say it?  Yes, by our society’s standards, there were fat women on stage and to me, they were mesmerizing.  The first one is honored as Miss Nude                    Universe – imagine that!  A big woman being honored as having the perfect nude body!  My favorite was the tassel twirler.  She was fat, but gorgeous; sexy, yet loads of fun.  I can barely imagine the courage it must have taken when she first started performing – I know there must have been many naysayers.  Seeing her perform almost made me cry tears of happiness.  “Take that, Hollywood,” I thought.  “The human body IS beautiful, no matter its size.”

When Dita would perform, she had two male assistant dancers with her who danced in the old Hollywood cheese-ball style.  There was even one male burlesque dancer who performed by himself.  He was a matador who artfully hid himself behind a cape, slowly revealing more and more of himself, until all that was left was the shiniest penis you’ve ever seen!  He was wearing a g-string so blinged out, it was like having the great northern star between his thighs.  It felt good to yell at him the way men have yelled at women for thousands of years.

Of course, it is not good to think of people as objects 24/7, but I do think it is good to appreciate the human body – to see it as beautiful, as a work of art, as something sexy, as something fun.  There is something wonderful about consenting to objectification in a world that all too often objectifies without the consent.                                                                            

It was funny to note how the male dancer not only had a blinged cock but tiny, blinged out pasties on his nipples too.  I really want my own pair!

No, really, I do.  I hate wearing bras and even though I have a big chest, I go without a bra as often as I can.  I just find brassieres to be horribly uncomfortable.  My mom did find me some bras that are finally comfortable and so I wear them, but they are quite ugly.  I definitely do not feel like my sexy self while wearing them.  I need some sparkly pasties.

Before I found the ugly, yet comfortable bras, I experimented with going bra less.  This was good, except for not wanting people to see my nipples on days when I was wearing lighter clothing.  Not having pasties or electrical tape at the time, I tried wearing bandaids over my nipples.  This solved the problem, except that I definitely did not feel sexy.  Bandaged nipples is not a sexy look.  I tried to tell my boyfriend that when he wanted a picture of me but finally I took a picture and I think he was surprised at just how unsexy I looked.  “Don’t show that picture to me again!”  Taking off the bandages only gave my nipples a weird, wavy effect.

All this to say that seeing Dita Von Teese inspired me to love my body more and it heightened my desire for appealing underclothes.  I think I may go down to my specialty bra store and see if they have anything that sparkles, or at least something a little more attractive than big bandaids.

 

This blog is called, “Sexual Healing” for a reason-by talking about my sexuality I am taking out my pain and bringing instead some healing.  Writing about what I have been through also helps give me some clarity and insight.  A few weeks ago, I got to witness some sexual healing that happened during my book club that was really wonderful and special.

Seven months ago, I created a feminist book club and advertised it on meetup.com.  I wondered if anybody would attend and there were a few meetings with very low attendance.  But now after several months with a steady attendance, I am sure that my book club is a success.  We get along really well and we stay and talk so long that we had to move our location to one that stays open later!  That certainly gives me a good feeling.

Like I’ve said, we’ve been having really great meetings for several months now, but at the March meeting I think I helped to create safe space.  “Safe space” is a term often used in feminist circles meaning that a group of people respect each other’s experiences, opinions, and confidentiality.  The members recognize their own privilege and are willing to step back to allow the more disenfranchised members to talk.  They try not to use oppressive language and hopefully all of these things help bring a feeling of inclusivity and freedom of expression.  It’s a tall order and unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.  I started a book club and I wanted us to go deeper into the feminist material and be more intellectual than the other book club that I belong to.  Secretly, I also wanted us to become a freeing feminist community, but I also knew that that may not happen.  To my wonderful surprise, I think we may be on our way.

The funny thing is, is that we never discussed our group as being a “safe space”-we were just going to discuss books, but a feeling of safety seems to have evolved out of the space naturally.  I credit this to the wonderful women in my group.  We all seem to internally monitor how much space we are taking up and we purposely try to draw the ones that are more reticent to speak their truth.  I am proud to say that I also credit myself for speaking my truth.  The topic turned to reproductive rights and I wanted to talk about my abortion, but I was a little afraid-not because I was afraid that they wouldn’t approve, but because it would make me vulnerable.  I am so glad I did, though!  Fortunately, I am stable enough to be able to talk about my experiences without getting extremely emotional or triggered and I was able to clearly share what was on my mind.  My vulnerability was rewarded when the newest member, who was sitting right next to me, then opened up about her abortions.  Then another started talking about being a young mother and her reasons.  We then proceeded to talk for at least another hour about reproductive rights, our hard choices, relationships and life lessons.  Being abandoned by men was a common theme, but there were also stories of men who stepped up and were supportive of their wives’ decisions.  We talked about tough times, but we laughed too.  We had started out that evening as a book club that dared to call itself feminist and I believe our feminism helped us heal.  I went home that night with a feeling of wholeness and healing such as I had not experienced in a long time.  Just thinking about it makes my heart feel full.  Blessed be.

Yesterday I completed training to be part of the Feminist Women’s Health Center’s Action Alert Team.  This means that if the center needs someone to help at the last minute with lobbying or rallying or anything else to help promote reproductive justice, then I’ll be there if I can.  It doesn’t pay in anything, except in satisfaction that I am doing all I can to help the cause.  It was a small, intimate gathering that left me feeling empowered and excited.  On my way home, I reflected on the fact that although I hate the fact that I had to have an abortion almost two years ago, prompting a return of my depression and the losing of a really good job, I would not be the motivated, empowered person I am today without it.  I also reflected on the fact that one of the reasons why the experience of obtaining an abortion so empowered me was because I realized my privilege.  Because I had a good job with fabulous insurance, I did not need to prove that the abortion was necessary for my health, which was great, because I’m not sure the insurance company would have accepted my explanation.  My insurance also paid for almost all of the procedure-I only had to pay fifty dollars.  Also, the Feminist Women’s Health Center, where I decided to have my abortion was relatively close by, being approximately thirty minutes away.  Plus, my parents were supportive and my mother drove me to the center.  When I had my abortion I thought about all these things and I was so grateful that I was able to have it and be supported that I resolved that I would do all I could to make what I had available to all womyn.  I wonder if the awareness of one’s privilege motivates other advocates and feminists. The training really helped me be even more aware of the fact that white, middle-class or rich womyn have always been able to have safe abortions and that that right needs to be extended to all.  I am so grateful to have the power of bodily autonomy-it’s a gratitude that no man can understand and that I could not have even understood myself until I was pregnant.  I want the world to know that I do not take my privilege lightly and that I am fiercely determined to fight for reproductive freedom and justice.

I’ll never forget the day that I officially learned that I was pregnant.  I had already done a home pregnancy test, but I decided that I would wait until I had seen a doctor before freaking out.  I went to an “Urgent Care” medical office, instead of my regular doctor, because I was embarrassed.  I wish I had gone to my regular doctor-he’s very caring and has known me since I was a baby-precisely the reason that I did not want to see him.  Unfortunately, the doctor at the Urgent Care had the personality of a douche.  In fact, that is exactly what my friend called him when we got out of his office, “What a douche!”  He didn’t do a blood test, which is what I had wanted.  I remember he entered the room and handed me the stick, while I just stared at it in shock.  Since I didn’t move, he said in a very annoyed voice, “You’re pregnant.  I’ll give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins.”  He handed me a prescription and then left the room.

I was in shock.  I was also infuriated.  I knew that I shouldn’t expect the care of a therapist out of a doctor, but I did expect him to act like he was interacting with a human being.  I hated how he assumed that I needed prenatal vitamins.  He assumed that I was keeping the baby and that this was a joyous event, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I knew from the beginning that I would be getting an abortion if I got pregnant and it would have been nice if the doctor had acknowledged that I had choices.  I wish that he had talked to me about my options and that he had asked me how I was handling the news.  I wish that he had given me some referrals to people that could help me, instead of treating me like a nuisance.  He could have referred me to Planned Parenthood or to the Feminist Women’s Health Center.  Anything would have been better than him assuming what I would do.  By making those assumptions, he ignored the fact that I had a choice.  I could choose to keep the baby, or give it up for adoption, or have an abortion.  Choosing an option over another does not make one a better or worse person.  When he ignored my power of choice, I felt less than human.  Surely having the ability to make choices is one of the things that makes us human.

With all of the legislation lately against abortions, I am afraid that we may lose our ability to choose what is best for our bodies very soon.  If you’ve read this blog, then you know that I was afraid that my mental illness would get worse if I stayed pregnant.  I made the choice to have an abortion and I have no regrets.  What I do regret is how I was treated by that douche-bag of a doctor.  What we need are more feminist doctors-ones who values a womyn’s agency and who acts with empathy.  This is what I envision for our future.  I’m not going to try to become a doctor, but I hop that by sharing my story that perhaps it will change someone’s mind on how to treat people who are pregnant and not to make assumptions.  Not all people that are pregnant are happy and glowing, but all people deserve to be shown all of their options and to be treated with dignity.  And the best way to give someone dignity is by giving them the power of choice.

The day after Halloween is called All Saint’s Day in the church and it is a day for remembering the people who touched our lives while alive. And so I was pretty sensitive and sad that day, although it took me until nightfall to figure out way.  It would have been nice to figure out why I was so sensitive and emotional earlier in the day, so I could have taken better care of myself, but oh well-I can’t change the past.

My church had celebrated All Saint’s Day two days before and fortunately I attend a feminist Christian congregation, so it is perhaps the only church I know where I can speak openly about what I am experiencing without fear of judgment.  That means more than words can express.  We got an opportunity to share a memory that involved a person that we wanted to honor and I shared how I have decided to remember my fetus.

I guess because I have always wanted a girl, the fetus always seemed female to me.  At first, I hesitated naming the fetus I had aborted, but I needed a way to give meaning to what I’d done.  I just could not escape the fact that I had aborted something that had been alive and precious and I felt giving it a name would help give its short existence some meaning.

So what should I name it?  I had no personality traits to go on-no romantic story to inspire me, so I did the best I could-I figured out what her birth signs would have been and tried to make do with that.  I discovered that she would have been an Aries and so I named her Ariel. I think the name is beautiful and I like the connection with the story of The Little Mermaid for two reasons-1. In the original, Hans Christian Anderson version, the little mermaid is fascinated by souls and falls in love with the idea of having a human soul herself (as merpeople do not possess souls), which does seem apropo. 2. In both the original and the Disney version, the little mermaid has a beautiful voice and loves to sing.  I also love to sing and I would like to imagine that that might be something that I would pass onto my own child.  That, and Love.

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen