Where do I go from here?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for the past several weeks, as I try to figure out exactly what I want to be doing over here in the Adorkable Realm.

I’ve ventured beyond the boundaries of this space in terms of blogging. I’ve got a regular feature over at the Yummy Mummy Club, where I write about vibrators, representations of sex in the media and relationship stuff. I’m also a monthly contributor for Already Pretty, which is where a lot of my body-image pieces are landing. Meanwhile, in my offline life, I’m honing and refining my sex educator skills through school and my AASECT mentorship. I’m becoming less of a sex-generalist and slowly working my way towards becoming a child and youth sexuality specialist.

Basically a lot of information is coming in and a lot of content is going out but very little of it is landing here. For a long time, Adorkable Undies was the clearing house for every bit of sex and/or gender-related I had churning in my brain. Now that I have other outlets, I’m trying to decide what I want to post here. What do I have to share, that I’m not sharing elsewhere?

I’ve been pondering, considering, musing and doing some plain old thinking and I’ve decided my best options boil down to these two:

Option The First – Keep It Professional.

I can use this blog as space to write about topics related to my studies and eventually, my sexuality education practice. I can ruminate on issues related to child and youth sexuality. There’s so much I could tackle: talking to kids about sex, media influences, gender norms, gender variance, orientation, dating, parenting quandaries, porn on the Internet, porn off the Internet, resources, social influences, etc, etc, etc. Tailoring this blog to fit in with my speciality is a basically a big, meaty potential sandwich, with a side of hot crispy sensible, as the time I spend writing will directly support and promote my professional services.

Option The Second: Get Personal

In the  years since I’ve been blogging here, I’ve noticed that it’s often the personal posts that illicit the most response. As much as it’s fun to be all expert-y expert, something really nice happens when I let it all hang out. I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and low libido, my misadventures in parenting and my issues with self-image and you’re so kind and supportive. And you talk, to me and to each other, which makes my heart all big and glow-y! I like being open. I like sharing (sometime oversharing) about my life. But I worry. Will a potential client want my educational services after Googling my name and reading about my masturbatory foibles? Not to mention that while y’all are bomb, the Internet At Large is not always a kind place for women with opinions about the things I have opinions on.

What to do? What to do? I’m going to keep thinking about it. And if you have any ideas or input, I could really, really use some outside influence right now. Opinions, options and all thoughts are most welcome in the comments!

I used the term “y’all” twice in one post. Living in America is having an affect.

 

Gals, it’s great to rock a sexy costume, if that’s your flavour. But if you’d rather stay modest you have options.

Well, an option 😉

 Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

Time to get my head on straight!

Time to get my head on straight!

After twenty-three years of chemical straightening I’ve returned to my natural hair texture. HUZZAH!

If you have the time and the patience, bear with me. Those of you who’ve read my previous post on the subject, know that I’ve got some major feelings tied up in this hair bid’ness. My shrink already has her hands full with all my other neuroses so this long, rambling blog post serves as stand-in therapy on this issue.

After years of ambivalence, I was motivated to make the change once and for all, when The Man of Mans and I began planning our move to California. One of the first things we had to figure out was we how would afford life in a pricey state on a single income while carrying the cost of my return to school.  We had some major trimming to do budget-wise,  so we began by making a spreadsheet of all our current expenses. When we added up the cost of all of my salon appointments, including taxes and tips, I was spending close to $1500 per year to relax my hair!

DAAAAAG!

Fifteen hundred dollars could cover our moving expenses. It would pay for my books. Fifteen hundred dollars would take of all my long-distance bills to friends and family. For fifteen hundred dollars, I could attend three national conference. I could buy the family a new computer. I could take my son to a major league baseball game every weekend,  enroll him in an amazing summer camp or we could take a family trip together. There were so many other uses for the money I was spending on relaxers.

It wasn’t worth it.

I’m happy to spend money on my personal care and grooming. But having straight hair hadn’t felt like an investment for quite sometime. It didn’t make me feel good, figuratively or literally. The terrible sting of chemicals on my scalp left me feeling ashamed and resentful. I was straightening my hair, not because I because it made me feel beautiful but because it made me feel safe, inconspicuous. Relaxers made my head uncontroversial. Appeasing others at my own expense is not the person I want to be. But the memory of hurtful things people used to say about my natural hair still loomed large. I was scared.

I realized that this was probably one of those situations where I’d have to face my fears in order to get past them. It was time to invest my money and my energy into better things. I cancelled my next standing appointment at the salon. I was going natural! I felt strong and empowered…for almost ten whole minutes.

Then I panicked.

It had been so long! I didn’t really remember my natural texture. I didn’t know what to do!  Did I just let it grow? Did I need a weave or wigs? Special products? New shampoo? OMG, what?!

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that my head wasn’t going to break out in nappy curls that second. With the exception of some faint kinking at the roots, my hair was still straight. I literally had to grow into this change, which meant I had time to figure stuff out.

I went to the Internet and Googled something like “RELAXED TO NATURAL OMGHAIRFLAIL!”  Bam!  A myriad of websites, blogs and vlogs about the wonderful world of natural black-people hair.

I knew of women who went natural by doing what’s know as The Big Chop. Essentially it means cutting off all your relaxed hair at once and re-growing it from scratch. That scared the crap out of me. My hair wasn’t spectacular…but I needed it. Otherwise, I’d just be a head and face which…ACK and…I couldn’t and…NO!

A second Google search revealed that going natural without a Big Chop is totally a thing. I could let the natural texture grow in while doing “mini-chops” every few weeks to gradually remove my relaxed hair. It would take a long time – a year, maybe two – to rid myself of all the processed hair. It would also be far more challenging to maintain the health of two radically different hair textures. But the alternative was super-short and that was NOT EVER HAPPENING. So I got myself a pair of trimming scissors and settled in for the long transition.

It took about ten weeks before I really started to notice a substantial change in my hair. My new growth was dense, extremely curly and kind of coarse. Managing my naps while the rest of my hair was straight was tough. My hair started snapping off at the place where the two textures met (typical during transition). I started styling my hair in flat twists and up dos. The styles keep my fragile hair reasonably protected and help conceal some of the transitional awkwardness.

Something I heard time and again from women in the natural hair community was that changing my hair was an emotional journey and I might be surprised by what came out of the experience. That was totally true. I would vacillate from one emotional state to another: fear, excitement, fear, joy, fear, fear, pride, fear, absolute terror, fear, wonderment, fear.

One day, I was in the shower, washing my emerging coils and I thought ‘I like these.’ It was nice and very new not to feel at odds with the kink. Suddenly I was overcome by curiosity. I really wanted to see what that hair would looked like all on it’s own. I got out of the shower, found my scissors and cut the relaxer off a discreet lock of hair near the nape of my neck. Once they were free, my natural strands popped back toward my scalp like a tightly wound spring. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘that’s my hair.’

I wanted that hair and only that hair. But I was still terrified of The Big Chop. It was too drastic. Yes, it would grow out eventually but it would take months, years even to regain any significant length. What if I looked awful in the meantime?

Yet every time I put my hands in my hair my curiosity grew. What was going on up there? The darn relaxer was in my way, distorting my texture and altering my curl pattern. I began trimming more aggressively. I cut off more near my neck. I went back to YouTube and watched videos of other women who had big chopped. Many had been afraid going into it, but they all seemed so happy once it was done. I began to think maybe, just maybe I could do it too.

Of course I’d have to find someone to do the chopping. It was one thing to self-cut small sections of my hair but no way could I shear the my entire head without making a hash of it. I didn’t want to see my old stylist for fear they would try to talk me out of my natural plans. After careful consideration, I asked my mom if she would do it during my next visit to her place. She instantly agreed to help, because my mom is lovely that way.

But even after I made the decision, I still had a great deal of anxiety about having super-short hair. (This is where I get a little heavy. I appreciate that you’ve stayed with me this long. Hang in a little longer, ‘kay?)

I was worried about what others would think. But when I told people my plans, I received an outpouring of enthusiastic support. My partner was uber-excited for me. My friends sent me pictures of women rocking short, stylish afros. I certainly didn’t have to worry about being shunned by my loved ones.

I was very concerned about the fact I didn’t know what I’d look like. A super-short style would change the dynamics of my face, even my body and who knew what the results would be. I might be less attractive. And then it struck me, in a super-clear moment of disempowering shame that thought of being unattractive, scares the crap out of me.

I legit love clothes and make-up and all that look-y look dress up stuff. I adored styling my dolls as a little girl and now that I’m grown, I’m like my own doll, except way better because I’m not plastic. I’m a real person with thoughts, a heart, a soul and a life. Score!

But even though I enjoy clothing and grooming myself (in ways that are very much line with conventional notions of femininity) I also feel I’m expected, if not to attain, to at least strive toward certain beauty standards. I should want to be pretty and if I can’t be, I should feel badly about it. There are times when I really do feel that my right to be seen, to be heard and to take up space in a room is proportional to my perceived level of attractiveness.

I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I constantly hear people, especially women apologize and castigate themselves because they’re the “wrong” size/shape, because they lack the expected adornments or because they’ve committed some other perceived offense, which basically amounts to “I Had The Audacity To Be Out In The World Looking Like What I Actually Look Like”. I want to tell them to stop saying those things. Sometimes I do. Which might be helpful but I realize it’s also hypocritical. The truth is I struggle with those same feelings and I know I’ve buckled under the weight of those expectations more than once. I do feel, at times, that beauty is my obligation and making myself attractive is a major clause in my contract with the rest of society. I feel like I’m always expected to care about how I look or that being pretty is something I’m supposed to want.

Except it isn’t true. It’s pervasive and I feel it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a big pile of toxic bullshit crapping all over my self worth. It gives me feelings; feelings that are very strong and very real. But the truth is, I can choose to take beauty off my list of priorities and that is totally okay.

I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago and sat down to have a serious talk with myself. I said to myself, Self…

That is some toxic nonsense! Don’t make choices based on toxic nonsense. You know you have value, no matter what you look like. This is your body and your hair and you’re allowed to do whatever you want to do with it. If you don’t love the way short hair looks on you, that’s okay. You can still love who you are. So get over yourself, Nadine. It’s just hair.’

My real self-talk wasn’t nearly that Hallmark-ish,  but the gist was there. I felt more courageous about The Big Chop. And even though I’m kind of embarrassed that I needed courage to get a haircut, that’s honestly what it took. Don’t judge me too harshly, okay?

It took two decades of hair trauma and six month of transition but I’m finally learning embrace my hair, as is. I’m becoming reacquainted with my kinky, nappy head and you know what? I really am happy I did this! I’m newly minted naturalista and I’m happy to report that so far life post-relaxer is great and not so scary.

Not so scary at all.

IMG_6298

This is a reboot of a entry I wrote for my old blog back in September of 2010. It’s not about sex but it is very personal. I’m reposting it here as it’s directly related to a new entry coming later in the week.

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Yesterday…I got my hair did.

I have a standing appointment every eight weeks to have my hair washed, trimmed and relaxed.  If you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of black people hair, relaxing is a chemical process that breaks down the bonds of my super-kinky, naturally nappy hair, leaving it straight.

If I had a recent picture of myself with my hair au naturel, I would post it.  But such a photo does not exist. I’ve been processing my hair for well over twenty years now.

Left to it’s own devices, not only is my hair intensely curly, it’s impossibly thick, has a coarse texture similar to that of synthetic furniture stuffing and left unbraided, prefers to point up rather than down.

As a child, I hated everything about my hair.  I hated the thickness that could obliterate lesser combs.  I hated the ordeal of having my head scrubbed every Saturday morning with the special “for-black-people” shampoo that smelled terrible, followed by two hours of pain while my mom combed out the extensive net of knots that had formed.

Young and nap-tural!

But most of all, I hated that my head was topped by stiff plaits when my friends had long, soft, easy hair that actually moved as they did.  Back then I would have gladly traded a limb in exchange for a long, swingy ponytail.

Because I’m female, because I’m black and because I live in the part of the world that I do, having healthy hair-esteem is a challenge. When we very little my cousins and I would put yellow blankets on our heads to simulate the free-flowing blondness we saw in commercials and re-runs of Charlie’s Angels. I was in my twenties, before I saw ad for hair products that included a woman of colour shaking her glorious mane with slow-motion vigour.  And even then, her hair was as straight and silken as her Caucasian compatriots.  The marketing mantra of desirable female hair has been basically then same my entire life: Long. Shiny. Bouncy. In it’s natural state, my hair is exactly the opposite of this.

When I was a girl, white people were baffled and fascinated by my hair.  I remember a woman, a stranger,  actually fingering one of my nappy braids and saying, “It doesn’t even feel like hair.”  That sucked.

It also sucked that while white women regarded my hair with insensitive astonishment, black women – primarily members of my own family – perpetuated “good hair” myths with a vengeance.  Once I hit about ten, the pressure to tame my fuzz and do “something” about my hair was ON!

“You can’t run around looking like some African wild-child,” one aunt-admonished me.   (Side note: Try-Not-To-Seem-Too-African was a driving force amongst my grandparents’ generation of Black West Indians).

I also got, “You’d be pretty if you did something with your hair.”  And the most direct criticism from a family friend, “Your hair makes you look ugly.”

My mom tried her best to counter all the hair negativity.  But my mother’s natural hair texture is a lot looser than mine and much more in line with conventional standards of beauty.  So every time she tried to instill me with a sense of pride in my nappy head, I’d look at her wavy, long, bouncy, shiny hair and think, ‘What the hell to you know?’

Fro-licious!

By the time I was eleven, I succumbed.  I began badgering my parents until they conceded to let me have my hair relaxed.  My mom took me to a salon on a Friday after school.   I was so excited when we arrived, I ran inside and practically jumped into the beautician’s chair.

Relaxer is a cream made of standard conditioning agents, fragrance and an assload of sodium hydroxide.  When the stylist  first applied to my head it felt goopy and kind of cold.  After a few minutes it started to tingle.  Then it kind of started itching.  And then…it began to burn.

I didn’t cry that first time, but I came close.  I was chanting the f-word very, very quietly (Mom within in earshot) and contemplating running to the bathroom and putting my head in the toilet. Finally the stylist ushered me over to the sink, hosed my head down with cold water and put me out of my misery.

 

Why would anyone do this to themselves? I wondered.  I decided that had been my first and last relaxer, because only an idiot would willing subject themselves to that type of pain of a regular basis. Then the stylist turned me around to face the mirror.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.  For the first time in my life, I had “normal” hair.  It was loose and straight and shiny and it moved! It was some sort of hair miracle!  I could not stop touching it.  The minute we got home, I tied it back and started shaking my head around like a pony-tailed fool.  The kids at school went crazy for it.  White people left me alone!  Black people nodded approvingly!   Pain? Who cared? What was 20 minutes of scalp torture when compared with unprecedented social acceptance?

Like so many black women before me, I came to fully embrace relaxer or, “the creamy crack”, as it’s wryly referred to.  Relaxer gave me the ability to experience ponytails and approval.  But there were negatives. You can’t really get relaxed hair wet, which meant wearing covering my hair in various plastic caps in the shower, when I swam and on rainy days. I had to go back to the salon every few weeks to get my roots touched up. At best it was a very painful process. Much worse were the few times I sustained chemical burns on my scalp.

I briefly broke my addiction to the creamy crack the summer after eight grade.  I wanted to swim without having to wear my granny-looking bathing cap.  So I had my hair cut short and let my ‘fro return. I was actually kind of okay with the whole thing for about five minutes. Then high school began.

I went into ninth grade full frizzy fro and NO ONE was having that!   Within a week, the popular black kids were calling me “Buckwheat”.  The popular white kids picked it up. By October, I’m pretty sure most people thought that was actually my name.  One day during art, two of my classmates decided to dump an entire tin of blue powder paint on my head.  Another kid cried out, “Hey! Buckwheat’s black and blue!”  Everyone laughed.  Even the teacher kind of chuckled for a second before he remembered that he had to pretend this wasn’t cool. (After sentencing the paint-bombers to detention, he pulled me aside and kindly suggested that perhaps I could avoid such incidences in the future, if I tried harder to fit in and look like the other students).

That was it. I felt isolated and traumatized.  My hair was not my crowning glory.  It was the bane of my existence.  Not long after, I was back on the creamy crack.  I have been ever since.

I lived many, many years, well into adulthood, simply accepting that my

natural hair was bad.  I’m not sure when I began to rethink that.  I do know that it took a long time before I decided  that my hair is just my hair.  It’s not bad.  It’s not good.  It’s just a bunch of dead protein strands coming out of my head.   The marketing, the gawking, the names, the pressure…it’s all just a remnant of a bunch of oppressive, Euro-normative crap.  I know this.

Because I know this, I have to ask myself, “Self, why do you still relax your hair?”  The answer…because generally speaking, that Euro-normative crap is still the basis for our standards of beauty.  And the truth is, I’m afraid of what it means to defy those standards…at least when it comes to my hair. I don’t want people gawking at my head and fondling my strands like I’m one woman petting zoo. I don’t want to constantly defend my tresses to family members. I don’t want to be mocked or painted blue again. There is a part of me that wants to go back to my natural texture, I’m afraid that I can’t do it in a non-provacative way.

My straight hair is a total concession to The Man. It pretty much violates my feminist and anti-oppressive beliefs.  I imagine there are those who see my hair and judge me as lacking the courage of my convictions.   I certainly judge myself that way, at times.  Casting directors have occasionally cited my hair as a barrier to getting film and TV work.  American producers prefer relaxed hair; however they prefer the long, luxurious look of a weave.  Canadian producers, like a little kink; however, it’s typically a longer, looser curl than I can achieve.

The thought of fighting the fight of race and gender on a part of my body I can’t even see unless I look in the mirror is wearying.  I hope someday I’ll find the resolve to ignore the ignorant but I have to admit that I’m not there yet. If relaxed is what it takes for people to relax for the time being I’ll do it and hope that eventually, I’ll it myself straightened out.

Trigger Warning: This post is about the result of the recent Steubenville trial and mentions rape/sexual assault. Please exercise self care and skip this post if you need to.

On Sunday Trent Mays and Mal’ik Richmond were convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. In the wake of the verdict, CNN anchor Candy Crowley and correspondent Poppy Harlow had the following exchange:


 

Crowley and Harlow’s outpouring of sympathy for the convicted youth prompted a barrage of criticsm from all corners of the Internet. I count myself as a member of that angry online crowd but now a few days have passed and so has the worst of my vitriol.

Now that I’ve cooled off, I can sort of understand Crowley and Harlow’s emotional reaction. These are very young men. I don’t doubt that the verdict brought the reality of a terrifying future into focus for [Trent] and [Mal’ik]. I imagine their grief and terror were sincere. And I actually agree with those who worry about out the significant likelyhood that these boys will come out on the other side of this sentence angrier and more violent than they are now.

So I don’t fault Crowley or Harlow for their feelings. I generally regard compassion as a virtue. Even I wouldn’t say I’m happy about the verdict. The guilty verdict was the only outcome that wouldn’t have been a total fucking travesty. But still, I can’t feel glad. From my perspective nothing good has happened here. A young woman’s body and privacy were brutally violated by two boys, operating under the warped belief that they had a right invade another person’s body. It’s humanity fail on a spectacular level. There need to be consequences, serious ones at that but I find this whole suitation tremendously sad.

Crowley’s assertion that this situation is tragic? Yes, it is. I just don’t think it’s tragic for the same reasons she does. She and Harlow continually characterized the verdict as though it was something that just happened to two nice boys who could have never seen this coming. That isn’t true. But more than that it isn’t helpful. We can watch these boys and feel pity for wasted youth and opportunity. But ignoring Mays and Richmond’s responsibility doesn’t help them now, nor will it help the young people who are watching, listening and learning about their own obligations as reponsible human beings.

This rape didn’t just happen. Mays and Richmond chose to do it. We can feel compassionate; but when lawyers, CNN correspondents and the rest of us ignore the fact that these young men are responsible for what’s happened, we’re letting our sympathy trump our responsibility.

We need to stop talking about sexual assault as though it’s an act of nature, like snow in winter. Because it is exactly that attitude that contributes to youth like Hays and Richmond thinking that molesting an unconscious woman is no big deal, because hey, that’s just what happens when someone is drunk and vulnerable in a room. Furthermore, when anchors like Crowley and Harlow all but ignore the survivor in their post-mortem of these events, it reinforces the idea that this sixteen-year-old woman was a non-person. Instead of saying, “Mays and Richmond did something terrible to this girl,” she becomes the mere catalyst for two football players’ tragic fall from grace.

Crowley says, “Regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like sixteen-year-olds.”  That’s true. I am also saddened by how young these men are. They are barely more than children. Children learn from adults, especially adults who hold positions of authority and credibility. Which is why I believe it’s so important that parents, coaches, teachers and people who speak on behalf of major media outlets consider the messages that we give to young people when we talk about rape as though it happens indenpendently of the rapist’s free will. We need to watch our words. We need to be aware of the way we speak about survivors. We need to think about the message we’re sending to youth when we say, “He was a good student,” “She was drinking,” “He played football.”

This young woman’s decision to drink did NOT cause Mays and Richmond to assault her. Their academic and athletic abilities are NOT absolution from responsibility. Doing well in school DOES NOT put one on a higher plane of humanity that entitles them to treat drunk, unconscious woman as objects of amusement.

I hate that two 16-year-olds are going to prison. I hate the thought that they may grow into hardened, damaged men. I have a son. When I imagine what those boys’ parents must be feeling today I want lie down and cry all the tears. So no, I don’t think Crowley’s compassion was misplaced. But she had a job to do and in this case, I feel she failed. What she needed to say, what Harlow needed to say , what we all need to say is that these boys made a choice. This isn’t random happenstance. Their tragic circumstance came as a direct consequence of their decision to assault another human being. Don’t imply to the world this sentence is sad because Mays was a gifted footballer or Richmond got good grades. It’s sad because those two boys deliberately harmed another person.

I don’t want to see dismayed boys sobbing in court and carted off to prison, wondering how this could have possibly happened to them. If those young men don’t understand, if other young men don’t understand then we need to help them. Not by making excuses for them, but by explaining in no uncertain terms that sexual assault is a choice that -regardless of the circumstances – is wrong.

“I do multiple intrinsically non- and/or anti-feminist things a day. It doesn’t change who I am or what I stand for – but those things also don’t become feminist just because I’m the one doing them.”

The following is a quote by feminist author and body image activist extrodinaire, Kate Harding. I’ve been a long time fan of Ms. Harding. She frequently writes things that blow my mind and alter my thinking on issues regarding women, bodies and general life stuff. Now she’s done it again.

This particular statement was taken from a recent article entitled ‘Why I Lose My Mind Every Time We Have The Name Conversation’. The piece is about women’s who take their husband’s names at marriage. Kate fully acknowledges that:

a) becoming Ms. HisLastName is a choice that women have a right to make.

b) it can be thoughtful, meaningful, positive option for many women.

c) you can be Ms. HisLastName and a feminist and that’s totally cool.

Harding explains that women who take their husband’s names are still awesome, feminist gals making a valid life choice. But the fact that it’s a choice doesn’t magically separate the convention from it’s roots in patriarchal ownership. And being a feminist does not negate the fact that, generally speaking, our society tends to regard men’s identities as fixed and women’s as fluid.

Harding’s specific thoughts on married names were all kinds of interesting. But it’s the passage I quoted that resonated. I identify strongly as feminist, sex-positive, a queer-ally and bunch of other things. While reading the article, I realized that part of me does feel like everything I do, should fall in line with my belief that social oppression is for suck and it needs to go away now. And I will try to rationalize all of my actions within the context of those beliefs.

Case in point. I recently wrote a piece for Already Pretty about burlesque. I wrote my own experiences doing burlesque and tied that to a larger point about performers using the art form to challenge conventional perceptions of what sexy body looks like. Body image politics + personal experience = Instant Awesome Blogpost.

I thought it would be an easy assignment. Instead it was a frustrating struggling that went on for days. Eventually I finished the article and even though I wasn’t entirely satisfied, I submitted it. I figured this was just one of those crappy, writer’s block kind of weeks, nothing more.

But after reading Kate Harding’s piece I can see why I had a hard time. I was writing about burlesque subverting body image norms and I was trying to say that my participation was part of that subversion. But it’s not.

I’ve done burlesque with all sorts of people who fall outside the young, thin, able-bodied, cis-gendered, heteronormative ideal our society tends to uphold as “sexy”. I think how awesomely cool it is to see people broadening the standards of beauty and sexuality, while being hella hot and talented. I support the shit out of that kind of thing. But here’s things:

I am a younger-looking, slender, able-bodied, cis-gendered, heterosexual woman. Pretty much everything about the way I look and the way I present myself  falls in line with conventional ideas about what sexy is supposed to look like. Some might say that being as a person of colour takes me a bit outside the “norms” of sexiness. But even then I find that there’s a trend toward glamourizing/idealizing POCs – especially if they have European-esque features, which I pretty much do.

I love performing. I love dressing up and wearing costumes and being a big, exhibitionist show-off with my body. I also believe, passtionately that we need to make more room in this world for the many, may types of sexy that are out there. But that’s not what I’m doing when I do burlesque. I can’t do that when I do burlesque because our society has already made lots of room for my type of sexy and it has done so at the expense of other people.

None of this means that I shouldn’t be doing burlesque or that I can’t derive joy from the experience. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t support or believe that we need more sexy diversity (and maybe a better term).

I’m going to change over time. I will get older. The shape and likely the size of my body will change. There’s no guarantee that I will remain able-bodied throughout my life. If I still choose to twirll my tassles while rockin’ the wrinkles and low boobs, I WILL be sticking to the patriarchy and ageism and bunch of other sex-negative, body-negative bullshit. But I’m not now, so I probably shouldn’t pretend that I am.

Like everyone else, I make choices. Many are informed by desire to work towards a less oppressive, more inclusive society. But they’re also about what’s right for me and sometimes that’s the status quo. Instead of trying to rationalize those choices, it feels I can say, “This system/convetion/idea unfairly penalizes or excludes others. I don’t like that, but I am choosing to work within this system because there are still benefits for me as an individual.”

To put it another way, not everything I do is about fighting a social battle. And I realize after reading Kate Harding’s words, that I don’t have to rationalize it or get defensive. I’m a person, a part of this society. There’s some messed up shit happening but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it works for me.


It’s International Women’s Day. In honour of the occasion this week’s question is:

Who are the amazing women in your life?

I feel blessed by the abundance of super cool gals in my life. Each deserves a blog post of her very own and if I had the time to write them all I would. For now, I’d like to give a special shout out to the women of my family. Wonderful people, each of whom has helped shape me and sustain me as I stumble through this obstacle course called life.

My mom. My chattiness, my love of bright colours and my need for control all come from her. Sometimes we butt heads but at the end of the day it’s the little things – like her support of this blog – that let me know she’s always on my side. I love you, Mom. Without you none of this would be possible – literally.

My mother-in-law defies every stereotype associated with the role. She is warm, smart, honest, supportive and a ton of fun. She managed to build an impressive career in education, while has raising three exceptional, accomplished children. She is a tremendous role model and one of my dearest friends.

My sisters-in-law are pretty impressive gals too. The older is a doctor, the younger a lawyer. My “big sister”  is kind, funny and good everything from medicine, to mothering, to writing and words (she kicks my ass at Scrabble every time!). My “little sister” could run the world and we’d in very good hands. She’s brave, strong and loving. Their girls are very, very lucky to have these women as their mothers.

And speaking of those girls…let’s talk about my nieces. Four women-in-the-making. Four BIG loves in my life. Not only is my twelve-year-old niece a gifted athlete, she’s also kind, responsible and an all-around beautiful person. The eight-year-old is feisty, spirited and perhaps most clever kid I’ve ever met. My three year old niece is a charming, little storyteller, eager to regale the world with tales of all kind. And the one year old is an adorable baby muffin with bright eyes and a smile. They are the four best girls an aunt could hope for.

And Steph. The sister of my soul. We’ve been together since we were seven years old. She’s my oldest friend, my best friend and she knows me in a way that no one else can. When The Bean was born, I asked her to be his godmother. Though neither of is religious, I couldn’t think of anyone better to be my child’s moral guide through life. Steph’s sense of fairness, justice and equality are tremendous. She reads all the books. She knows all the sports. And you can tell me there’s a better best friend out there…but I won’t believe you!

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about the wonderful women that make your life awesome! The comments are open. Happy IWD, everyone!

Aaand…we’re back!

Life took my best laid plans to scale back my blogging and turned them into a full scale hiatus. On the bleak side, I was plagued by a brutal flu, followed by a less intense but super-icky cold. Worst of all was the sudden death of a beloved family member just a couple of days before Christmas.

But the holiday hasn’t all been sickness and sad. The MoMs and I managed to pull together a pretty swank Christmas dinner, complete with prime rib roast and a successful first attempt at Yorkshire puddings. We went for our first family snowshoe through Gatineau park. I’ve also got some pretty exciting plans for the new year in the works…but that’s a subject for another post!

Right now I’m just glad to be back writing in the adorkable realm. And since this will be my final post of 2012, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at my ten most popular posts from this past year, before taking the plunge into 2013!

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

1. My Favourite Things: Elvgren Pin Up Girls

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me. Well Actually, It’s Them

3. My Favourite Things: The Lelo Smart Wand (Video Review)

4. Plight of the Topless Woman

5. My Book Report On 50 Shades Of Gray

6. Why I Don’t Oppose Sex Selective Abortion

7. My Favourite Things: 50 Shades Of Snark

8. My Favourite Things: Dr. NerdLove

9. Sorry, But…

10. Princesses Are People Too. Why Kate Middleton Had Every Right To Be Topless.

 

 

While I’m taking it easy over here, I thought I’d share some of the fun, funny, thought-provoking and sexy things I’ve been enjoying on the intarbets!

Thanks to some inventive fundraising, Cards Against Humanity raised dough to purchase oodles of condoms and buckets of boar sperm. (They didn’t, though.)

Cliff says “…it’s easy– especially in areas as private and emotionally loaded as sex–to have a totally skewed idea of what everyone else is doing, and to try to conform to that skewed idea,”  and other stuff that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

I’d love to be a sex educator for parents and kids. Like The Mama Sutra!

I hear tell that some folks think we’re all going to die in a fiery inferno this weekend. That’s probably not true, but if Armageddon does come to pass, 25% of men will regret that they didn’t have more sex.

This spoken word piece on fatherhood is super dope!

I have a new Internet/blog friend! Annie is a wise, witty wordsmith and her blog, The Belle Jar is a treasure trove of feminist musings.

A mega-sized coffee table book of photography and graphic art from The Golden Age Of Porn? YES, PLEASE!

This article about perceptions of black sexuality in the U.S. fascinates me.

Hands up if you love The Lingerie Addict as much as I do!

Before I jet, I just want to say thank you everyone who commented, Tweeted or e-mailed with well-wishes after last week’s post. I’ve read all of them several times over and I feel very blessed to be part of  such a supportive community of friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

 

I know, I know. I’ve already touted the gender egalitarian hawtness of Feminist Ryan Gosling. But  it turns out that FRG the tumblr was just the beginning. Get ready to swoon, bibliophiles!

 

IT’S A BOOK!!!!

According to reviews, author and queen of clever, Danielle Henderson has created a whack of new content, garnished it with the best of the website and bound it into a single volume of brain-porn! I’m excited. And by excited, I mean that I now know what to get for all those fabulous feminist on my gift list.

And by excited, I also mean that I have happy feelings…in my pants.