Admit You’re a Feminist for International Women’s Day

Back in 2012 I realized I am a feminist—albeit with a little hesitation. Claiming to be a feminist, after all, can carry a lot of pressure, and a good deal of judgement. People see feminists as shrill, bossy, angry hordes of women coming to rip men apart with their pointy feminist teeth. Snap!

I am a feminist graphic with empowered fist

So I thought, “I’m not shrill or angry. I don’t want to chew on the souls of men…maybe I’m not a feminist.”

We’re also in a really interesting time in history. It’s like the smelling salts have been snapped, and we’re all getting a jarring new look around. Organizations like Miss Representation, Feminist Frequency, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are doing the painstaking work of really inspecting what we see and hear in TV, film, and advertising. Through that process a lot of really normal and accepted stuff is being called out as sexist. Misogyny lurks under so many things we really dig (Blurred Lines, anyone?), and one of the roles of feminism is to really look at our world, and call creepy, sexist BS for what it is. But if you’re in the shower singing Blurred Lines and thinking, “This is my jam!” and then you read about how it’s a bunch of creepy, sexist, BS that normalizes rape, suddenly you feel like a creepy sexist who normalizes rape culture. Hmm…(It’s okay. You probably aren’t.)

Feminism also tackles a whole host of topics, some of which might make you uncomfortable. Like the roles of women (and men) in the workplace. The roles of women (and men) in the home. And reproductive rights, which necessitates the use of the word vagina. (Why is vagina such a scary word, you all? 7th graders say it in health class.)

And that stuff? That makes feminism feel like a club that you’re not in.

But unless you’re the mayor of Crapville, you’re probably a feminist. Here’s a test to find out:

  1. Do you think women are just as important as men?
  2. Do you think it’s wrong and bad for women to be beat, groped, harassed, or raped?
  3. Do you think that babies need parents, and that women and men should be allowed to take time off from work when said babies are born or adopted?
  4. Do you think men can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be strong, or violent, or void of emotion?
  5. Do you think women can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be subservient, or demure, or “pretty”?
  6. Do you believe that all people are valuable and we should treat them that way?

Did you answer “yes” to most of those? Well, friend…you’re a feminist.

We’re not going to agree on everything. We feminists—we’re going to have differences and diversity just like anyone else. We’re going to muddle through all of these topics, push back on norms, and bumble around quite a bit. And you’re not going to feel like you’re doing it right.

But you don’t stop being a parent because you don’t know all the answers. You don’t stop voting just because the issues are complicated. You don’t stop shopping until you straighten out your economic theory. You dive in. You work it out. You take it easy on yourself and your fellow humans. You know there’s room to grow.

It is actually important to use the F word

The more people freely say, “I’m a feminist,” the less people will associate feminism with harpy witch women who hate men. The more men say, “I’m a feminist,” the more we can use feminism to improve men’s lives too. (Want to see a man doing some badass work for feminism? Look no further than your favorite Star Trek captain.) The more people throw their weight behind feminism, the faster we’ll progress.

And you know what? We need feminism in a bad way. Click that link and check out aaaaaall those reasons.

I promise once women get equal pay, I won’t care if you call yourself a feminist or not. When women and girls stop getting raped, then executed for it, I’ll leave you alone. When girls don’t get shot in the head for wanting education, when parenthood and earning a living can co-exist, when johns are prosecuted more than the underage prostitutes they rape, when women earn the same pay for the same work—WHEN I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE A LIST OF THIS CRAPPY STUFF, we can abandon the word feminist on the side of the road. It will have served it’s purpose. Until then—and it’s gonna be a while—pretty pretty please use that F word.

So, congratulations! You’re a feminist!

Go celebrate International Women’s Day by claiming feminism as your own. Tell your friends and family to join in on the fun. Let’s make a ruckus and do some good work. I’ll raise a fist in the air for you.

Jerry Finds a Lady; I’m Not So Sheepish After All

Remember last year when I was all, “Jerry Seinfeld thinks only people with penises are funny and that kinda makes me torqued and I think maybe I’m a feminist but I’m not sure because I don’t know what that means exactly“? Well…it’s time for an update.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee - Season 2, Ep 1

Season 2 of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee launches today and—lo and behold—Jerry found a lady comedian. (Sarah Silverman to be precise.) Was that so hard, Jerry?

I mean sure, it took you a whole season of dudes before you were able to search the world for ONE female comedian, but hey, one is better than none I suppose. It’s a teeny bit disappointing that, by the looks of the trailer, Ms. Silverman is the sole female comedian of the season (gack!), but I guess I’ll try to let it slide. We can be friends again. I know you’ve missed me.

And I have to admit, a lot of good has come for me out of Seinfeld’s missteps. It was his omission of the female gender that got me thinking about what’s important to me, and what it means for women to be underrepresented in basically ALL OF THE THINGS. It got me thinking about what kind of world I want my daughters to live in. It got me thinking about what I’m willing to fight for. It got me feeling that maybe I’ll take on the label of “feminist,” with whatever judgements and assumptions it might come with.

Because you know what? It sucks that women are being raped in alarming numbers in our military. It sucks that Disney feels the need to give strong female characters big boobs, small waists and perfect hair. It sucks that we pigeonhole the crap out of kids when it comes to their toys. It sucks that some people are totally on board with domestic violence. (WTH, people?!)

I think about all that stuff and it makes it a lot easier to toss aside the sheepishness and use my voice, however small, to make the world a tiny bit less puketastic. It’s a good use of time. If I wasn’t doing feminist things I’d probably just be playing online poker or eating too many cookies, so no big deal.

So that’s where I’m at now. I figured it’s only fair to let Jerry know that I see and appreciate his efforts. And I want to let you know, dear readers, that I’m a feminist for good. A miserably pregnant, sassy, loud-mouthed feminist. So, you know, watch out for that.

And what are YOU up to? Let’s all catch up in the comments, k?

Happy Motherhood Survival Day!

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Sorry this cute little thing will smack you in the face one day. Next round's on me.

I just got hit in the face. Hard. Happy Mother’s Day?

Okay, so it’s technically the day before Mother’s Day and I’m being a bit dramatic. But I got hit in the face by my kid real hard, so I kinda think I get a pass.

Now I need to say this: by all accounts, my daughter is a kind, thoughtful, well-behaved child. She’s smart and funny and awesome. I say that not to brag about my kid, but rather just to point out that the best case scenario as a parent is that your kid will be kind, thoughtful, and well-behaved before and after she smacks you in the face.

That’s just parenting. That’s the gig. It’s some kind of insane, child-rearing blood sport. Lord help us.

So let’s buy dumb crap and alienate people!

I read this Salon article by Anne Lamott the other day called, “Why I hate Mother’s Day.” And while I usually just smile too much, nod, and hug my computer screen when I read her work, I sadly have to disagree with this one—at least a little.*

I think Mother’s Day can be kind of stupid and obligatory, but only because we’ve framed it wrong. Mother’s Day isn’t about claiming that mothers are better than other people, or somehow more valuable. They’re not. There are zero requirements to becoming a mother. Stupid people become mothers all the time. Big deal.

I don’t think you somehow become more of a person when you become a mother. Your value is there from day 1. You’re valuable just because, and there’s no amount of marrying or procreation or anything else makes you more legitimate as a person. So we can stop mother worship as a holiday. It creeps me out.

But I kinda need Mother’s Day, okay?

I don’t need pink cards, or flowers, or certainly one of those swoopy necklaces or whatever. It’s not about that to me. You know what it’s about? Survival. I need a day when people that are important to me say, “Hey, I see you over there, and I know you’re just barely making it. Good job and I’m sorry and here’s a beer.”

It should be called “Motherhood Survival Day,” where all mothers are acknowledged not for doing it all right, or being magically worth treasuring, but just for making it through another year. Just for making it through an unending torrent of questions and comments about your daily activities, objections to whatever plans you’ve laid, several-times-daily accidental injuries to your person or property, unbridled emotions and—yes—the occasional southpaw smack to the face.

I come into and out of too many days feeling battered and bruised, not knowing if I can stitch together enough scraps of my remaining sanity to hold myself together. And I’m guessing a lot of mothers feel that way, too.

I’m sorry. I see you. Hang in there.

So, following last year’s tradition, I’ve whipped up a few Mother’s Day greetings for you to use if you wanna keep it real this year. Send and receive them with high fives and snuggles from me, okay? Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Let's call it a win that you haven't pulled out all your hair yet.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, You're makin' exhausted desperation look goooood.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Thanks for not abandoning me, even though I'm being a little a-hole.

*it should be noted that I love Anne Lamott to freaking bits and if you haven’t read her work you absolutely should. Bird by Bird is an all-time fav of mine (thanks Matt!). Go check her out.

Why You Should Always Give a Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Next time you see a pregnant lady, you really need to stop and give her five bucks. Why? Well, the short answer is that pregnancy is the freaking worst. THE WORST.

Okay, having your leg chewed off by a bengal tiger is probably pretty bad, too. But pregnancy is freaking awful, and no one comes right out and says that because, well, I think it makes you look like a bad parent or something. But I totally don’t care about that. Let me endure the judgement and describe the terrible catastrophe that is pregnancy. You’re welcome.

Why You Should Always Give A Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Morning Sickness is a Lie

The term “morning sickness” is about as accurate as “occasional breathing” or “optional heartbeat.” For many, the nausea that comes with your precious bundle of joy happens whenever the crap it wants to, and—blissfully for some—all the live long day. I’ll let you guess which of those things happened to me.

It’s also not some adorable, dainty little queasiness. It’s as if food is now the enemy, and your body will do anything to keep it out of your mouth/stomach/necessary locations for life. I’ve read of women puking 20 times a day. Twenty. Times. Uh, give that lady five bucks.

My nausea was so bad that my doctors gave me a drug that they also give to chemo patients. Because apparently being on chemo and being pregnant have certain similarities. I don’t know why they don’t put that on Hallmark cards. Even that prescription-strength solution didn’t keep this pleasant little conversation from happening in my head several times a day:

I’m going to die. I can’t believe this is how it’s going to end for me. A shriveled, starved mess that can’t get out of bed. Wait, no, you live in California, Melanie. CALIFORNIA. I’m pretty sure there are a few steps between this and death. Right? Of course! They’ll hook you up to IVs and give you nutrients that way! All you need is hospitalization! No. big. deal.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, though I did ask my husband several times to check into a medically induced coma. I’m still a little mad that he didn’t at least Google it. Right? Right.

“Cravings”? Not Exactly

You always hear those adorable stories of women wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, like that’s the cutest thing ever. The reality? Pickles and ice cream—and other equally absurd food choices—may be the only thing your body will accept. So, if the choice is between the aforementioned hospitalization and, say, shrimp-flavored Cup O’ Noodle and instant mashed potatoes, you kinda choose the Cup O’ Noodle. Turns out, the desire to not die in your bed is pretty strong.

There once was a time when I favored braised beef cheek and chilled grape soup with basil foam—pregnancy reduced my palate to that of a still-drunk frat boy. Thanks for that. Give me five bucks, please. I have no self respect.

I told my doctor about this terrible starvation/inability to eat anything that can reasonably be called food and her was response was, “Luckily, the baby doesn’t need nutrition right now.” Yeah, luckily. And it’s not like need it, right? And where is the baby getting her nutrients? She’s stealing them from your body. Like a parasite. Where’s the greeting card for that?
someecards.com - Congratulations on your acquisition of a small parasite that will steal your essential nutrients.
(Sadly, that analogy doesn’t quite end at birth. Not that I hate my kid. I don’t. I promise. Look, I can prove it.)

“Luckily,” Lots of Terrible Stuff is Normal

If you’ve never been pregnant before, all this crazy stuff will start happening to you and you’ll be like, “Holy shitballs, this can’t be right. This is how humans are made?” and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say as much to your doctor. And she will say, “Yeaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry.” Because it totally IS right. It’s normal. For your entertainment/education/horrification, here’s a bunch of bizarro stuff that’s just par for the course with pregnancy.

  • Days long headaches that you can’t do anything about, because you can’t take any pain killers when you’re pregnant. A wet cloth on your head in a dark room may be recommended.
  • Bleeding gums. Like you’re a pirate with scurvy. Sweet.
  • Not pooping ever. Someone I know might have thought she was going to die of not pooping. It wasn’t me, because why would I share that? But no one wants pooping to be mentioned in their obit.
  • Nosebleeds. Wha…? Or a constant stuffy nose. Also wha…?
  • The persistent feeling of being kicked in the crotch. This happens because of a chemical that makes your joints loosen. Sometimes your pelvic joint kinda, you know, comes apart. And that process might make you Google “pregnancy kicked in the crotch.”
  • Extra moles. To make you feel awesome about yourself.
  • Chest pain due to: a baby being where your organs are supposed to go; or heartburn; or maybe a blood clot or heart attack. Hard to know. Not that that’ll freak you out or anything.
  • Dark spots all over your skin. To help with camouflage in the wild?
  • Hot flashes. Because why the heck not at this point, right?

There’s totally more than this but…why? (Oh, wait…diabetes! You can get di-a-be-tes just while you’re pregnant. And middle-of-the-night leg cramps! And anemia!!) I mean, does it need to get any worse for you to spot a lady a fiver? If so, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU HORRID FIEND?

I will take one second to address something that might come up in the comments: some people have lovely pregnancies. They say they’ve never felt better, and that it’s such a blessing and they glow and all that crap. Ladies, you owe other pregnant women fifty bucks. Somehow they caught your share of the crappy part while you rubbed your belly and made cooing noises. Not okay.

So there it is. Go forth and procreate you poor bastards. I’ll give you five bucks if I see you.

I Have Gray Hair, Stretch Marks, And Love Handles…Because I’m a *Human Person*

Old friends

Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license.

Sigh.

I don’t know what it is about today; about this week or this month… Maybe it’s been years now, maybe a lifetime—but I’m hitting a little bit of a tipping point when it comes to how I perceive my body and its various shortcomings. For review, let’s list out what’s wrong with me (limited to physical appearance, of course—we only have so much room here):

  • gray hair
  • deep forehead wrinkles…nay—crevasses
  • stretch marks (thanks kids)
  • flabby arms (or underarm dingle-dangle, as Ruthie would say)
  • love handles
  • untamed bikini line
  • splotchy pores on legs
  • dry lips
  • cellulite
  • knobby knees
  • hairy uprising on the facial region
  • several “companion pounds” I’ll call them, that may never leave me…

And you know what? Who gives a shit?

I have all of those things because I’m a human person. I am a human person who has yet to develop some crazy disorder that prevents me from aging. So, as I get older—as we all are forced to do by the time-space continuum—I look older. And, I ask again, who gives a even a tiny turd about it?!

Take just a moment to think about how nuts it is that we try to stop aging. I mean, when you see a product in the store labeled “anti-aging,” do you think, “What kind of crack pot monkey dreamed that up, and how stoned was the group of people that launched it into reality?” Because that’s what you should think. That’s what we should ALL think.

The Silver Fox of Snark

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary...

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall in MOMA, New York City in April 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started going gray in my mid-twenties. It’s not really a look that most people want to cultivate. I discovered I was gray when I stopped dying my hair. I was like, “I’m gonna be all natural and embrace myself and yadda yadda,” and my head replied, “Well, that’s fun because we’ve changed a few things around here.” And there it was. I kind of decided (likely due to my frequently mentioned laziness) that it is way too much fuss to dye away the gray. I just didn’t have the energy to put up a 70-year-long fight against, of all things, my freaking hair.

So here I am nearly a decade later and I’ve got a whole lot of that stuff sprouting out of my head. Every now and again it bothers me, but I really don’t care. My plan is to let it all come in and take over, then I’ll rock that business like I’m Steve Martin. I mean, look at that guy’s hair. Pure, 100% silver white and no one cares. Which brings me to a sticking point…

Men are allowed to age. Women are not.

Yep. That’s the deal. Steve Martin sports his gray hair like nobody’s business and he seems distinguished. Hillary Clinton grows her hair out and pulls it back instead of coiffing it just so and people go bananas. Hey, people: shut up. Because Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowed to look however she wants. She’s allowed to get older, and to decide not to invest endless time and money into pretending she’s not getting older. Just like I am. We’re all allowed—men and women—to age with grace, and dignity, even affection (!) for our changing selves. My new rule: if Steve Martin can do it, so can I.

And then there’s the Thinspiration problem

I think the reason this is all on my mind right this second is because I keep happening upon what I’ve learned is called “thinspiration.” It’s like all those “how to drop 10 lbs in a month” or that picture of a woman squeezing her leg with the caption “how to solve the cellulite problem.” (Here’s a hint: stop squeezing your leg like that!)

Pinterest is brimming with these things, but so is the Today show, major news outlets, magazines—basically everywhere you look, you can find some “solution” for the problem of your—ahemnormal human body.

And to revisit my last point, how many dudes do you think are trying to solve their “cellulite problems”? How many under-eye creams do you think dudes are buying? Waxing kits? Boxes of hair dye? Skin primers? Lip balms? Anti-whatever-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you salves? Not nearly as many as women are. If a guy can save his money to go to the movies instead spending money to rip/bleach/laser blast his hair off, don’t you think you’re allowed to do the same? And menfolk, if you find yourselves falling into the trap of needing to look like a glowing, 2% body fat stone sculpture of a human, don’t worry about it. No one cares. Be a real human person with skin and hair and flaws. It’s okay. For all of us.

I don’t need to feel beautiful

I think our normal response in this discussion is to affirm beauty. To say, “No, no! You look [enter appropriate compliment here]!” And while this, indeed, is quite comforting, it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Because, you know what? I’m not going to be “beautiful” when I’m 85. In fact, I’ll likely fall well below the beauty standard far, far before then. So will you. Even if you get surgery and shellac the crap out of yourself, everyone’s going to know that you’re not a 16-year-old girl. (Which is, apparently, our effed up standard for what people should always look like.)

I need to feel human. I need to watch time mark the days around my eyes and on my hips and through my hair and somehow feel more like myself, not less. I want each season to bring new scars, new wrinkles and more sag and for all that to make me feel that somehow, some way, I’m winning. I’m living. I’m human. I’m aging. It’s great.

Closing eyes and clicking heels

I want to believe all of these words through and through, without batting an eye. I want to banish that pang of guilt I feel every time I’m presented with the b.s. yardstick society so politely reminds me I’m not measuring up to. I want to embrace my changing, aging body without the knee-jerk reaction to sculpt it, starve it, or slather it into some other, better form. But for now, I’m closing my eyes, and clicking my heels, just hoping I’ll be transported to a mental home, free of these crazy, shrieking, body-hating monkeys.

And so, heroes of the internet with sagging boobs, and gray hair, and furry potbellies, I ask you to join me. Try with me. Get everyone you know to be down with aging. Wouldn’t it be rad if in 2033 there isn’t a single person out there writing this same freaking blog post? Fighting these same shrieking monkeys? There’s no place like…

What do you think?

(p.s. Check out this TED talk from model Cameron Russell. If models are still bummed about how they look after, you know, being the model for how people should look, maybe we’ve got it all wrong, huh?)

Thank You For Your Valuable Feedback: The Art of Interpersonal Customer Service

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

A very kind, smart, caring, professional, and good-looking friend (that last part is irrelevant, but what the hey—it’s true) just received her very first piece of hate mail. The criticisms aren’t about widgets not being springy enough, or jeans shrinking in the wash. The criticisms are more personal, more pointed, more…lively.

These kinds of things basically make you want to retreat to an igloo, living out your days in the company of dead fish and wandering arctic wolves. Or, at least, that’s my first response. So, being the kind, smart, professional person that *I* am, I thought I would save her the trouble of writing a reply. Feel free to use it yourself, should the occasion arise.

Dear Concerned Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your valuable feedback!

There are so many items and facets to address (wonders, really!), but I will do my best to give you the attentiveness that you so kindly gave me.

First, I must commend you on the tremendous effort you have displayed. Your thoughts were carefully constructed, and neatly typed out. There was not even a trace of food from the anger-snacking I assume you participated in before, during, and after writing this. I mean, there was not even a small amount of Cheeto powder or Ding Dong filling…color me impressed. And then, you folded the letter, put it in an envelope, addressed it properly, and took it to the post office! Were you going there already? Or did you make a special stop just for me? Either way, just look at that follow through.

Secondly, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts about my sexual orientation. Did you know that I didn’t even know I’m a lesbian? It’s true! Here I’ve been dating and enjoying men my entire life. A feel a little foolish for being so blatantly out of touch with myself, but grateful for your brave counsel. Someone else suggested that you may not be more in touch with my feelings than I am, but rather are using sexual orientation as an insult…but that seems below both of us, doesn’t it? I’m glad you agree.

I also really enjoyed the sweeping generalizations you used for entire groups of people. Some people call that prejudice, or just being an unbearable troll, but I can see how you were just trying to be efficient. Equally impressive was the way you disparaged both my employer and the people we serve—that way no one has to feel left out!

It got a little ramble-y toward the end, but you did bring it to a swift and succinct close when you stripped me of my value both as a “woman” and as a “human being.” The feedback from my peers suggested that perhaps this was an ugly overstatement, and inappropriate for civil dialog, but you know what I see? A fresh start! There’s no where to go from here but up! In fact, any future criticisms you might have are essentially unnecessary at this point: what could you possibly expect from someone who has failed both as an expression of the female gender, and as a human being of any kind? If you find yourself disappointed in me in the future, I think it’s safe to say you have yourself to blame; appropriate expectations are key.

Again, thank you for your valuable feedback—I regret that I need to wrap this letter up to attend to my many personal and professional shortcomings that you’ve painstakingly outlined. I can only hope to attain the kind of human perfection that you’ve clearly attained, removing my need for self-reflection, and freeing me to mercilessly judge members of my community with impunity.

Warm regards,

[Your Name Here]

p.s. Just for future reference, is anonymity required when sending merciless judge letters? Or was that just for an air of mystery? Be patient with me, please (see above re: failed human being).

How to Be Beautiful

It’s hard to be beautiful. There are so many ointments to apply, so many devices to wield, so many techniques to employ…yeesh! It’s surprising that more women don’t have flasks in their brassieres—who wouldn’t need a morning drink after all of that?

And it’s not really optional. Sure, there are some rad young women out there daring to step in the daylight without makeup on their faces, but for most women, we get shooed back into our bathrooms by societal pressure or self-doubt if we walk down that road. Shooed, I say!

I mean, when Candy Crowley (the moderator for the second 2012 presidential debate) gets pre-emptively bashed for her weight and looks (not her qualifications or skill), I think that underscores the demand for women to—above all—be pretty. Even Martha Stewart had a recent article with instructions on how to—I shit you not—”avoid the pull of gravity” on your neck. (Love you, Martha, but damn…really?!) I mean, putting on a little lip gloss is one thing, but somehow skirting the laws of the universe seems like a little too lofty a goal.

But Hey, If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Shellac the Crap Right out of Your Face

The other day I was in a fake pageant for my friend Melissa‘s birthday. It was kind of fabulous and insane, and Stephen and I performed the oddest combination of talents and abilities in the history of talents and abilities. If you and your milieu find yourselves wanting for entertainment, please throw a pretend adult pageant. You won’t regret it! Anyway, as part of the pageant planning process, I looked up how to do super fancy pageant make-up ala Miss America, via the source of all knowledge: YouTube.

I forgot to take pictures of the process, so I decided to recreate it through Photoshop with my hard-earned, under-used Photoshop wizardry. It’s both instructive and entertaining, so sit down and enjoy yourself, okay? Alright. Here we go:

Here’s me starting out. Look at that face. It’s like Cinderella’s been using it to clean the windows. Yikes. Gotta fix that business, and fast!

Step 1: Cover that freaking skin up!

Okay, now this part isn’t actually in the video, but you can tell that she has foundation ALL OVER that business. So, you should do something kinda like this:

Except that’s mildly terrifying, so you need to blend it. Blend it. Like so:

Oops—lost the eyebrows in the process, but that’s no big deal. Just draw those bad boys back in there.

Sweet. Lookin’ good.

Now We Work on Dramatic Eyes! With Drama!

Okay, so you start smudging white stuff under your “brow bone” and on the inner corner of your eyes. Kinda like a zombie! And then blend, of course, then you do some other darker shades on your eye lids, and then draw some even darker triangles on the corner of your eyes. It’s kind of like coloring in preschool, except on your face.

And then you do more white stuff under your eyes. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do that earlier, but whatever. I’m the student, not the teacher.

And blend…

And now black where you just put white…

And now you look like a kitty! Which is the best time to start gluing things on your face. Your eyelids, specifically. Glue some fake eyelashes right about where your real ones are, since your real ones are now engulfed by dramatic, colored powders.

Okay, the eyes are done! Now we need to add “natural glow” back where we covered it with paste at the beginning. And add some highlights to give dimension. (I know we had dimension before we started this whole charade. I get it. But just go with it. I mean…I’m lookin’ pretty dang good, so…you know. Don’t rock the makeup bag.)

So natural! Add a little lipstick…

Tada!

Now, that’s about all I can do with makeup. BUT, since we’re already working with Photoshop, lets use a few of the tricks that people frequently employ to “enhance” a woman’s face in print and on the web.

Eyes Like a Baby Dolphin! Teeth Made of Ivory!

It’s proven that larger eyes are more attractive, so let’s get that done. And, hey, the whiter the teeth, the better, right? And might as well fix that little chip in my tooth…and make my eyes “pop” a little more…

*tinker tinker tinker* …

PERFECT!

What the Hell…Let’s Stick Something Else on Your Head

We all know that curly blonde hair is preferred over dark, witch hair, so we’ll just swap that out and we’ll be done!

…drum roll please…

…drum drum drum…

And…I’m done! Sure, I look like something the devil dreamt about after watching too many episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo while listening to a Dolly Parton station on Pandora, but—whew!—isn’t that so much better than my, you know, skin? And real face and teeth? You go enjoy that, friends. I’m here to help.

What’s your relationship with makeup like? Love it? Hate it? Please do share.

(And don’t forget! You can get a weekly dose of my A-game—like this—by subscribing via WordPress, email or RSS)

The Rape Rainbow (A Guide to all the Kinds of Raping)

First, a note: the beginning of this piece is what they call “satire.” If you’re new to the idea, satire means that if you find yourself agreeing with this stuff, you might also have a rusty nail wedged in your brain, or maybe you were raised by squirrels in the forest*, or perhaps you’re trying to win a contest for the dumbest human alive. Whatever led you to this point, you should probably see a doctor and/or read all the books in your local library. Also, please refrain from talking unless it’s to call a doctor or ask for directions to said library.

You know they say that you learn something new every day? Well, guess what I learned the other day? I learned that there are lots of different kinds of rape and—here’s the real fascinating part—a bunch of them are okay! Well, not TOTALLY okay, but some kinds of rape can’t get anyone pregnant, and therefore it’s probably not that big of a deal. And if you DO happen to get pregnant from rape, it’s because it wasn’t all that bad, and probably you were wearing a short skirt, or smiling, or having breasts and a vagina—you know, you were asking for it.

I know, it’s crazy! I had NO idea. I feel so silly for thinking that rape was always rape when you weren’t 100% sure that your partner—pssht, I’m sorry. “Partner?” What am I, some crazy liberal? Let me try again. I thought rape was rape when you weren’t a 100% sure that your sex receiver was into the whole thing. Boy, was I wrong. There’s “forcible rape,” “non-forcible rape,” “legitimate rape,” “sneezy rape,” and they all have different causes AND consequences. Fascinating stuff.

So, as to not be an irresponsible community member, I thought I’d come up with a handy guide to knowing when it’s the okay kind of rape, or really RAPE rape, which, you know, is bad. I now present you with…the Rape Rainbow!

Red Rape

Stop! Red rape is the bad rape. Maybe you have a knife, or a gun, or your strangling someone, and then you have sex with them. CLEARLY this one is super terrible, but on the upside, you can’t get your victim pregnant (according to the Czar of No Science Ever). I know you’ve got your heart set on raping someone, but we have to draw the line somewhere, so the line is brutal force. Brutal force + sex = Red Rape.

But you’re in luck! There are other kinds of rape that are kinda almost fine!

Orange Rape

Orange rape is still pretty freaking terrible, but if you get really douchey about it, you can explain how your victim didn’t say no, so, you know…you’re in the clear!

Now, how do you get someone to let you do something you know they don’t want you to do? Drugs! Alcohol! They key here is to make sure your lovely lady is either completely unconscious, or that she doesn’t remember how words work. She won’t even remember what happened until a few weeks later when—blammo!—she discovers the gift of a human embryo you left her in her insides! See? You gave her a present! What an ingrate.

Yellow Rape

Yellow rape is all about prostitutes. Buying a prostitute is like buying a house.  When you buy a house, you can do whatever you want to it, because you PAID for it. Same thing goes with a prostitute. It’s not like prostitutes are people with feelings. And if they didn’t want to get raped, they would have chosen to be florists or a senators, right?

Green Rape

Green means go! Green rape is all about finding the most ambiguous signal that could be interpreted as sexual interest, and then using that to make the victim feel like she WANTED to be raped (because we all kinda do, right? Of course.). This can be wearing “slutty clothes,” smiling at you at the bar, feeling overcome by your coolness because you’re 10 years older…all kinds of stuff. And if you’re dating someone, that’s just blanket permission to rape. It’s kinda like all those terms of service things that we don’t read; she signs up for dating, but you know that she’s agreed to giving you sex whenever you want it, even if you have to use a little muscle or emotional threats or whatever.

And then…um…

Okay, people…sorry. I can’t get through it. I can’t keep up with my own sarcasm because…well, this is crazy. What’s crazier is that Todd Akin is out there is propagating these toxic beliefs and trying to get people to PAY him to make legislation on their behalf.

I know there are a lot of issues on which to hang our hats, and it’s hard to make progress when we’re drawing so many lines in the sand, BUT there’s no excuse for trying to minimize rape. None of us want to be raped. None of us want our daughters, or sisters, or aunts, or cousins, or coworkers to ever experience such a painful violation.

We have to communicate to our representatives that if you’re not willing to stand up for victims of violence in our communities, then you’re simply not qualified for the job.  There’s only one kind of rape. If you believe in degrees of rape, you don’t belong in our government. Sorry, but it’s not a liability we can afford. Maybe try the florist route. There are lots of shades of things there.

*No offense to those of you with rusty nail heads and squirrel parents. I know you’re better than this.

Hope 2012: A Blog Relay

Update: Friday, August 10: At last count there are 81 posts in HOPE 2012, and at least 196 people invited. I’m scheduling closing ceremonies for Monday, August 13, so there’s still time to write if you want to! Go write, you crazy people! Write!

The Olympics are starting today! Or, at least, all the Olympic fanfare starts today. Something Olympic and big is starting in some fashion today. That’s what I know. (I may not be an expert.) At any rate, hoorah for whatever exciting thing is happening today!

Yesterday while I was on my run, whilst thinking about the Olympics, I had this idea that I instantly fell in love with, which I then thrust on several other talented bloggers, proving that while I still completely hate exercise (sorry guy that told me I have a bad attitude), it isn’t totally useless. So, here’s my idea:

Hope 2012: A blog relay

A blog relay! Themed! Like the Olympics! (Yes, I know I’m both being obscenely nerdy and overusing exclamation points.)

So here’s the thing. I’m going to blog about hope, and I asked a bunch of fabulous, diverse, wonderful people to do the same. Then, they’re going to ask people to do the same. And then they’re going to…you get the idea. And just like in a relay race, we’ll go farther and faster than we could if we were doing it alone. Hope, in its beautiful, strange, unexpected and stalwart forms will be noted. Documented. Acknowledged. Appreciated.

I can’t wait to hear all the stories, perspectives, wisdom, and wit that is going to ooze straight out of these posts like that energy goop straight out of its space-age pouch. Hold on to your freaking hats, people. It’s going to be great.

Keep an eye on this post and the blogs listed at the bottom for more hope-filled goodness. And if you want to join in—do it! You can snag the little graphic if you want, too! Go to town, spread some hope, and have an awesome freaking day. In a couple of weeks I’ll post the “closing ceremonies” (more nerdery, I know), highlighting bits and pieces of all the HOPE 2012 posts that I can find.

So. Excited.

Without further ado, here’s my contribution to HOPE 2012

So, of course, predictably, after I came up with this snazzy idea for a hope relay and talked a bunch of people into it, my mind snapped its vicious little jaws on any shred of enthusiasm and inspiration it found laying around. “Oh, look!” it said, “there’s some hope…” *squeeeeesh* “That’s better. Continue.” And as charming as that is, it’s not entirely helpful. So, after a lot of anxiety-producing brainstorming, I’ve come up with the thought that makes me most hopeful for my future. Here it is:

It’s okay to fail.

It’s A-O-K to suck. To be wrong. To have everyone in a 5 mile radius turn to you in one accord and say, “…boo.” It’s totally and completely fine.

Now, for those of you out there that didn’t come out of your childhood with an angry but witty inner voice latched on to you like a rabid monkey, this might sound like common sense. But for some—myself included—this is a radical thought. This is revolutionary. This is sacrilege.

See, the anal-retentive perfectionist soul requires a daily sacrifice of self-worth. If you’ve done something good, something decent, something okay, the perfectionist soul requires that you bundle it up and set it aflame as penance for the fact that someone, somewhere, is better than you. That’s the requirement when you’re doing well. Imagine the price to pay if you’re wrong, or last, or embarrassingly terrible; it’s high and swiftly collected.

I think the real driving force behind my fear of failure is a fear of rejection. I read an article over at Lifehacker recently that talked about how rejection has a powerful effect on us, even resulting in something that, to the brain, is almost like physical pain. No wonder we fear it. But, as the article suggests, the solution isn’t avoidance, it’s embrace. It’s building up immunity. Building up resistance. Taking away the power of the pain. (They suggest playing a game in which you aim to get rejected once a day, which I think is hilarious. Maybe I’ll do that once I stop feeling like a scaredy cat.)

And here’s the thing that I keep thinking about: so I do something really sucky and stupid and everyone looks at me like I’m a Klingon for a second; then what? Who cares? Is anyone going to stab me in the gut with a javelin? Is the government going to repossess all of my belongings for writing a bad blog post, or getting a script rejected a thousand times, or forgetting important birthdays? No. And I think the simple reason behind it is that no one cares as much about what I’m doing as I do. In my mind, the process of me failing starts with people saying, “She’s terrible,” and ends with them saying, “let’s murder her in the alley.” When in reality, it’s more like, “She’s terrible. Ooohh…nachos!”

And just like that, me and my failure are forgotten by the light of neon yellow, cheese-flavored goo. No big deal.

The idea that it’s okay to be wrong gives me hope for a day when I don’t feel the need to dash myself on the rocks of self-hatred. Maybe I can just do things I like—things that inspire me—and not be fettered by the fact that I’m not the best. And—not to always talk about my kid, but those little buggers sure do make you think twice—maybe my daughter won’t absorb my crippling dysfunction and she’ll actually feel kinda okay about herself. She’ll try, and fail, and try, and fail, and get some freakin’ nachos.

And here’s the real amazing, frighteningly hopeful thought: what would I do with myself if I wasn’t so freaking scared all the time? What would I try? What would I embrace? What would I learn? Who would I meet? So many roads in my life are off limits, guarded by a big, smelly, hairy fear ogre. If the ogre’s gone, it’d be an entirely different voyage.

So that’s what I say. There is hope. Push that ugly fear ogre out of your way and go fail your pants off. Let’s do it together.

(Let’s do failing together, not “doing it” together. Ugh. That’s a terrible ending. *shrug* Who cares?)

Passing the Baton

Ready for more hope? Keep your eye out for these folks:

Jerrod at Never Had One Lesson

Cancer never looked more evil than it did last Saturday when it covered an 8-year-old.

As I watched him, all I could think about was the opposite of hope. Despair was the only thing my mind was concerned with. The typical “how could this happen” and “but he’s just a kid” thoughts were all I could think about. Then it hit me. [Read the full post]

Amy at Reams Photo

…Let everything happen to you: beauty and dread… [Click here for Amy's post featuring hope expressed through photography and a perfectly fitting poem from Rainer Maria Rilke.]

Denise at Victory Road

Matt at The Church-State Guy

…thinking of hope made me remember what initially made me passionate about the church/state relationship in the first place: I saw people who navigated it well, with grace, and candor, and integrity. That’s seriously hopeful stuff. [Read the full post]

Todd at ToddAndrewClayton.com

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense

From the second I started thinking about hope, my thoughts were clouded with this fearful cynicism; but after contemplating the subject over these last few days, I see that my fears are merely the flip-side of my hopes; that one almost can’t exist without the other. [Read the full post]

Jenn and Casey at So This Is Love

She is little.

Too little to know what she knows of the world.

The neglect of her parents. The failure of a system that is supposed to protect her.

Bruises that have healed from her skin, but remain in her heart.

She folds herself into a chair, pulling her knees close to her. Protection. Defense. Knobby-kneed line in the sand. [Read the full post]

Shirley the Sheepish Feminist

So, I think I’m a feminist. Maybe. Kinda. Probably a lot. I’m not sure. Honestly, I’m not terribly schooled in women’s studies or the feminist movement, so I’m kinda wingin’ it here. So, I think I should do what I always do when I’m unsure about something: ask Google.

Asking Google: Am I a feminist?

Google, in its omniscience, directed me to Wikipedia, which says that

A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”[3]

and also that

Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

and

They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women.

By those parameters, I’d absolutely say I’m a feminist. Why do I have this lingering feeling that “feminist” is a dirty word? Where did I get that from? Because, really, I can’t NOT want equality for women. I can’t NOT want to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. And, by golly, I think that women should have rights in the workplace, and that boobs shouldn’t keep them from getting good jobs, and that they should have the same pay opportunities as their dude counterparts. These are all no-brainers…so why am I such a chicken about it?

I’d like to be Melanie the Magnificent Feminist, but…I’m not really magnificent. I’m more kind of terrified. And timid. I’m more Shirley the Sheepish Feminist (not that Shirleys are weak, I just like alliteration.) It sucks.

Case in point: I’m so sad to say it, but I’m kinda pissed off at Jerry Seinfeld.

And I like that guy a lot. I think he’s really funny and awesome. I loved Comedian (have you seen it? It’s good.). In it, Seinfeld is humble and hard-working, even after years of his staggering success. He connects with his craft in a really beautiful way. And he’s hilarious. There’s no arguing that. It’s a pretty kick-ass flick.

But then…he comes out with his new show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” which premieres on Crackle.com tomorrow. It’s a simple show that looks really funny—it’s Seinfeld driving around with different comedians, getting coffee and chatting. I’m sure there will be GREAT moments in the show. But as I watched the two trailers for it, I noticed something was missing: women. There’s more than half a dozen comedians in the trailers and not a single one is female.

Really? Shouldn’t it be called “Dude Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”? Or “Comedians with Penises in Cars Getting Coffee”? I mean, just to be clear about it? Because there are a ton of funny women out there. Funny women that Seinfeld has worked with over the years.

Where are the women?!

And this is about where I start to feel pretty sheepish about things. I hear that voice pipe up that says that I shouldn’t need to see women everywhere. Why is it important to have women in a silly comedy show? Why does it matter? Can’t Seinfeld just do what he wants? Aren’t you being too sensitive? (Also, you can’t be funny and witty and fun AND be a feminist. Everyone knows feminists are a bunch of downers.)

And, I dunno. Maybe I am being too sensitive. Like I said, I’m a terrible feminist—I’m just starting to really explore it. But I’ve got this feeling in my gut that if one of the best comedians of the last 30 years has a show that highlights other comedians that he deems valuable, and none of them are women, the message is that women aren’t capable of being in that class of talent; women don’t make the cut. And I hear that message all too much.

After the message that we don’t make the cut, comes the message that we’re lesser-than. And after that, it’s that we should be sexy to get what we want. Then it’s that if you’re sexy, you should expect to get ogled. And then…and then after that…? The path is long, and windy, and shitty, and it paves the way for girls and women everywhere to think less of themselves; to expect less for themselves; and to silently take abuse. It’s a tired song and I’m sick of hearing it. What’s more, I don’t want my daughter to ever hear it.

So, even with that voice inside telling me to pipe down and stop being such an entitled shrew, I just can’t do it. It bothers me. I want to see women succeeding and being valued so that I can feel like I can succeed too. I want my daughter (hell, all daughters) to grow up in a world that doesn’t limit women, define them, reduce them or abuse them because of their gender.

And so I’m posting this complaint about the ab-fab Jerry Seinfeld and his inability to hunt down even one, good, female comedian. Come on, Jerry. You can do it. Please, oh, please prove me wrong on this one. Don’t be one of those guys.

What do you think? Am I being “too sensitive” or is this something we’re way overdue in changing? Cough up those opinions, peeps.

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