Ten years ago, on my 25th birthday, I stood in front of my mirror, very naked and very pregnant and burst into tears because huge, purple, itchy stretchmarks were snaking their way up my belly. Well, wait. That is not technically accurate. I burst into tears because the stretch marks were just the cherry on top of the horrible shit sundae I’d made of my life. I was making a baby with a terrible someone who I KNEW was bad news. I worked a shitty job that kept me for 13 or 14 hours a day sometimes. I was PREGNANT (oops) and even though I was in a (horrible) relationship, I was definitely alone. One of my best friends took me out to dinner that night and I ate a pricey hamburger I could not afford, so she covered my tab. I went home, alone and obviously sober, and wondered if that would be my life in 10 years. Would I be miserable and raising a miserable child, miserably? Would I still be broke and at a dead-end job I hated, needing friends to pay for everything? I could hardly muster enthusiasm for creme brulee anymore, how was I going to get stoked for a man I detested and I life I made for myself that fucking sucked? Continue reading
I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone by saying that this world feels really fucking shitty right now, especially if you’re a woman. (I mean, if you’re a woman, the world has always felt pretty terrible, because the patriarchy is real and has been for centuries. Things have just gotten like a million times more intense feeling.) I’m also not breaking ground by saying life in general is tough and adulthood is a goddamn bullshit factory. There are soul-crushing jobs and endless bills and cars that breakdown and kids don’t know that silence is a thing and partners that you love but drive you insane. I’m a constant mess of rage and sorrow and anxiety and exhaustion and joy and I know I’m not the only one out there.
If I had to do all of this on my own, I’d collapse. (This is not a dismissal of my husband, who is a rock solid partner but can’t relate to my Diva Cup adventures even though I tell him all about it anyways because SHARING IS CARING.) And that is why I am grateful every fucking day for my friends. Social media can be the worst, unless you are lucky enough to have an amazing group chat somewhere with strong, smart, funny, thoughtful, supportive, gorgeous, badass women.
What started as a way to share dumb memes and feminist cartoons has evolved into an ongoing discussion that keeps me sane. We share our personal triumphs and tribulations. We crack each other up and support one another fiercely. We have epic conversations about the world we want and the world we live in and how to bridge the gap between those two. We talk about farts and pizza and adorable animals and our super weird dreams.
Editor Note: Trigger Warning/Explicit Content – this is a detailed account of one man’s rape. It is brutal at times, as is the case with rape. It is also wonderfully written and we are incredibly proud to give him a space to share his story.
Our guest contributor is Christopher. He is a great lover of food and music, but not necessarily in that order. His favorite thing is being alive. In fact, he intends to never die.
My story isn’t one that I’ve seen or heard too often, but I’m sure it’s happened to other men, and maybe they could benefit from this. This is a rape story. This is my rape story, and I’m still getting used to applying that term to what happened to me. We think of rape as something disgusting that happens to women and children, so when it happens to a man, it becomes a story of emasculation, of weakening, a story that should probably be shouldered or tucked away someplace dark and silent. I chose a different technique. I turned my story into a comedic narrative and delivered it to a live audience in the form of a stand-up routine. I got a lot of laughs, and the live performance filled me with adrenaline and bolstered my confidence. I don’t like horror movies; never have. Typically, when I’m reluctantly watching a horror film, my instinct is to laugh at the highest points of tension, to giggle with glee when a scene startles the piss out of me. It’s not surprising that I turned the horrific story of my rape into a comedy. Sadly, this is also somewhat of a coming-out story, as this rape was my first sexual encounter with another gay man. This guy knowingly took my virginity. He took advantage of my inexperience and he premeditated this sexual assault. This is the real story, without the strategic timing and pauses for anticipated laughter.
It was 2001, and I was an invincible 22-year-old. I was a freshly-minted homosexual in that I’d come out to a modest handful of close friends and a few siblings. In truth, I’m one of those men who have always been gay, or at least since I was old enough to understand that I was different. I’d dated girls in my late teens, but by my 22nd birthday I was ready to be my true self. Only I had no idea of how to proceed.
I was working as a server and bartender at a chain restaurant. I was living in the DC-Metro area. I just needed that first door to open. His name was…I guess I can’t say his actual name. He had one of those names that should have been an immediate red flag, one of those names that always pops up on a 15 Most Douchey Names list. So let’s call him Trip. Continue reading
Because this is a feminist momblog, we spend a lot of space discussing women and our issues. However, we all know that feminism is for everyone, and we’ve each got some really fantastic men in our lives who may be underrepresented here. So, here’s a shout out to some of the rad dads we know and love and appreciate daily.
Dad – Pops, Old Man River, Groucho (that’s a new one I just made up but it fits, I promise). I would not be who I am without this man. LITERALLY. We are (nearly though not quite) the same person. Our political views are polar opposite (mine are correct, and his are not at all), but we still find common ground over cooking, Monty Python, and laughing at the misfortune of others. (Like the time he witnessed a dude in a tiny BMW think he was hot shit at the gas station, and he wound up pulling the damn pump out of the machine as he drove away. Oh man, did we laugh about that!) It’s a science fact that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and I think that’s what happened here. So sorry, Pops, this is all your fault but hey, I think you did a good job even though you probably have misgivings re: my appearance, taste in music, political beliefs, and my hatred of mayonnaise. Love you!
My Boo – I’ve talked at great length about THIS guy, and I still could write eleventy billion more words about him and how fucking rad he is. He’s got my back no matter what, he makes the best tacos I’ve ever had, he’s adorable, and he’s an amazing father to my son. He busts his ass every goddamn day, and inspires me to be a better mother, employee, friend, and person every goddamn day. We’re nearly 2 years in, and are still just as excited to see each other every day as we were then. The man talks the talk AND he walks the walk. Whatever this shit world leaves on our doorstep, I know that we can (proverbially) punch it in the face. I really cannot say enough good things about this dude, he’s the fucking best. Love you, boo!
My Little Boo – Yeah, I’ll count my kid here. He’s not quite a “man” yet, technically (even though WE WEAR THE SAME SIZE SHOE OH MY GAWD WHAT.), but shit, he certainly demonstrates a capacity for understanding as an adult does. (Not for everything, but for a lot of things, like how gay people are just, you know, people.) Being my kid cannot be an easy thing, I’ll be the first to admit that. And he’s doing a great job. His attitude is a little out of control at times (especially when he is busy getting BIGGER which is every other day I think.) But his attitude in general is kind, curious, hilarious, and understanding. We watch Wayne’s World and RuPaul’s Drag Race together, and he loves to draw with my Boo (and he’s really gotten quite good the more he practices – I’m super impressed!) Raising a child is fucking HARD. Especially when they’re smart, and they are basically YOU (I know from whence that attitude comes.) But I’ve got a great couple of dudes who make it enjoyable. Love you, Ham Guy!
My fucking homies – I’ve got a few tight homies who are rad and deserve a shout out here. My tight bros from back in the day, my boss, any pal I have who’s been there for me without expecting a “reward” for their friendship. I’m in the groom’s wedding party this year of one of these dudes! Super stoked. You guys, just keep on doing what you’re doing and always stand up and support women.
I am a world-class worrier. I worry to the point that if someone says “stop worrying so much!” I worry about why I’m so worried. Yes. I am a special snowflake. These days, the thoughts that keep me up at night are primarily focused around this rising tide of ignorance and hate that’s threatening to drown our country and the way that’s affecting my kid. I worry about how I will have to explain why some people hate his aunt and uncle because of who they love. I worry about having to explain why we are living in a culture where it is commonplace to have a mass shooting every week or so, and how he can protect himself. I worry about teaching him to respect everyone equally and treat everyone with respect and dignity and that no means no and not ever yes, and enthusiastic consent and drinking and depression and the why why why of everything. It’s so much.
But I am so thankful. Because as much as I am overwhelmed with the pressure and fear, I have a partner who is equally in this fight with me. My husband, an amazing father and a fantastic partner in life, who is hard-working and sweet and just as worried about everything, is in this fight with me. He’s just as involved in the (sometimes awkward) explanations and hugs and lessons that it’s taking to raise a child, especially a male child, in our society today. He is in the trenches with the boo boo kisses and teaching that colors are for everyone. Sometimes he is completely ignored and unappreciated by our son, who is going through a major mommy phase, but I see him, and I know others do too, and I am so proud to call him mine.
I come from a long line of strong women, for that I am thankful. I watched my grandmother do plumbing and electrical work around her house. I watched my mom research and do things on the computer most people my age can’t figure out. My Dads never treated me any different than the boys in the family. My family never told me I couldn’t do anything because I am a girl. Those things are important to me as I raise girls of my own.
We never talked about it though, my husband and I. I never actually said the words “I want to raise our girls to have no gender boundaries”. He just does it. He shows them that men can do the things that have historically been deemed “women’s work”. They see him do dishes and cook. Clean and do laundry. He takes care of the plants in the house. (I have a black thumb, I couldn’t keep a plant alive to save my life.) He also shows them girls can do whatever the hell they want. He has taught them to change and rotate tires, change the oil and do other car repairs with him. He just showed our youngest how to turn the water off to the house and had her help fix our leaking toilet and shower. Never once did he blink an eye or think it was strange for her to learn these skills.
He also allows them to be who they are. Some days that’s glitter and pink everything including a crown. Some days that sports jerseys and jeans with muddy shoes. He loves them and never judges them. My girls embody the mixed up world that is a young girl’s feelings and mind. They laugh, they are prissy, they fart while giggling hysterically, they are messy. They love makeup and cars. They dance and play basketball. They watch their dad closely as he holds open the door for them on their way into a building, and they return the favor on the way out. He sits through dance classes and has learned the difference between a lindy and a ball change. He also spent two weeks building a Lego VW Vanagon with them, including working engine and a peace and love poster. The girls have given him “makeovers”. He has had his toes done by them. He says that he doesn’t want to wear makeup outside the house but some boys do and that’s cool. He said he doesn’t want to wear dresses, but some people who were born a boy want to, and that’s cool too.
Bottom line is he doesn’t see limits for his kids just because they were born without a penis. He teaches them things he would have taught a son. He tells them to be kind to everyone. And love who they want (just no dating until they are thirty). He has taught them life skills, ways to be independent; the things I was taught as a young girl. But knowing their Dad has their back is the best thing he can do for them. Girls are complicated, girls are emotional, girls can be anything and everything they want and knowing that their Dad believes this too is the greatest thing he has ever done for them.
Here’s a small list of some of the stupid-awesome things my dad has done for me that have gone above and beyond the call of dad duty:
- driving me to see a friend’s shitty band play at Jaxx during a snow storm in high school
- driving into DC when I forgot concert tickets at home
- driving to Charlottesville to get me when my car broke down, then going back to get the car a few days later
- not disowning me for fucking up at college and allowing me to move back home after dropping out
- not dying when he had a surprise heart attack (very important)
- driving to DC in the middle of the night when I missed the last Metro home
- driving to somewhere outside of Baltimore in the middle of the night when my car broke down in the snow on the way home from a concert
- driving to Richmond at 2am to help me move out of a shitty ex-boyfriend’s house on no notice
- driving to Richmond in the middle of the day to help me move out of a shitty apartment on no notice
- providing legal advice when necessary (including “don’t do something that will require me to pick you up from jail”)
I’m definitely a fuck-up who has trouble showing how grateful I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without my dad – my #1 buddy. Thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do (because I still don’t have my shit together), and for being one of the good ones.
I have an amazing partner. He’s my person in so many ways and I try to tell him that every day. He doesn’t just support me, he encourages me. He’s the reason I always have clean underpants and my credit score isn’t in the “YIIIIIIKES” category any more. He’s smart, he reads faster than I do (trust me, this is impressive), he’s interested in things, he makes me pee myself laughing, he’s got artistic talent and the swagger of someone who knows who the fuck they are. He’s been through some shit and has never given up. He’s the reason I have the (mostly) pleasure of raising two sons and I absolutely love parenting with him. He gets all the high-fives from me.
One of the biggest reasons I love him is because he listens. He sits through my intersectional feminist rants and pays attention and now recognizes The Patriarchy before I do (sometimes). He has never assumed I can’t do something or understand the world because I’m a woman. He respects me and my choices, he’s never shamed me for my past or who I am. He values my input and we have amazing conversations about the world and society. We don’t always agree, and we’re both okay with that, because we both realize the other is a fully-formed, autonomous adult entitled to their beliefs and convictions. He’s changed the way I view the world, and I’ve changed the way he does. He’s never been intimidated by me, at least not how most men in my life have been.
We are equals and partners. We have each other’s fucking backs no matter what. We trust one another and challenge each other and every goddamn day I’m happy that my life’s path crossed his. I love you, dearest, Happy Father’s Day.
There’s a growing sense of dread that’s come to sit on my shoulders. I know I’m not the only one. There’s an uneasiness that lives somewhere between my stomach and my heart, a churning ball of anxiety and rage and sorrow. There is an unshakeable tension between my shoulders and a slight tremor in my hands. I’m becoming terrified of our world, our country, our society.
I don’t have to spell it out. Your fear might not have the exact same triggers as mine, but it’s there in all of us right now. All of us who pay the slightest attention to the world outside. Like a old Maine fisherman, we’re sitting on our front porches, looking at the sky and muttering “Stahm’s a’ brewin’.”
Underneath all of that scary, there sits a tiny shred of hope, though. I can’t help my streak of optimism and I’m trying very hard to focus on it, nurture it now when it is needed most. My hope comes from seeing Bernie Sanders almost pull off the upset of the century and reminding Democrats what liberal is. My hope comes from watching crowds gather in solidarity around victims of violence. My hope comes from national outrage at reduced sentences for the affluent white male. My hope is that more and more people are waking the fuck up. Continue reading
There are a lot of huge, terrible things in this world. Like, a lot a lot. I don’t have the energy or strength to discuss those right now. So I’m going to rant about something that isn’t truly important but has made my life a sort of living hell. And that thing is LEGO Dimensions, or the worst video game in the world.
My oldest son is 14. Like most teens, he’s obsessed with video games. The autism might make this fixation a little more intense, but I’m sure a lot of parents can feel me on this. Video games for kids are terrible now. Not their content, but this new thing of buying a million add-ons for each game. There’s Disney Infinity and Skylanders. We have an extensive Amiibo collection, which, as far as I can tell, do absolutely nothing. You can unlock special suits and characters, but from what I can gather, you can also unlock those things just by playing the game. But, no, we need to spend $13 a pop for plastic figurines in a variety of characters and variations – Mario, Gold Mario, Fireball Mario, 32-bit Mario in classic colors, 32-bit Mario in modern colors, Mario with his arms in a slightly different postion. Seriously. It’s a load of bullshit. But Cal has always been a Mario freak and we indulge.
My child has had a shitty illness for this week. When his fever finally dropped to 99, I sent him back to school. He did not get better. I took him to the doctor. She prescribed him antibiotics, we went to fill the prescription, and that is when I learned that our health coverage was GONE. My insurance company had canceled both of our plans. Just like that. I argued with the smug, British fucker saying I’d had no idea, that they hadn’t notified me. He argued back saying they had, indeed, notified me by mail. He said they mailed me a letter April 6, and told me the address to which they mailed it. Continue reading
This guest writer has requested to remain anonymous.
Today, I became a statistic. What sort of statistic? I’m not entirely sure because I’m older than the typical age range according to the CDC. What I am sure of: I tested positive for chlamydia.
The diagnosis didn’t come as a total surprise, which I’m sure my doctor could hear in my voice when she called before 8:30 in the morning. That’s not to say it wasn’t a crushing blow to hear the news, because it was. When you get that inkling that something might be wrong, you hope you’re just overthinking, so confirmation of the suspicion sucks. The good news is that I decided to get tested. The good news is that it’s something treatable. The good news is that everything else came back negative. The bad news is that it IS something, and there’s no denying it.
At work I felt like a zombie walking, preoccupied with the thought of this sexually transmitted infection lurking inside of me. I checked my phone non-stop for the text from the pharmacy saying my prescription was ready for pickup. Saying I raced to the store would be an understatement. I have never been so excited to pay for antibiotics and take the first dose in my life. A week-long pill regimen for a lifetime of, “yes, I have been infected before.” My brain has been racing with questions – did he give it to me? Have I had it for years unknowingly and then gave it to him? How did I let this happen? How did he let this happen? I don’t want to be accusatory; how will this conversation go? Continue reading
● Upon reading a brave young lady’s account of being sexually assaulted at a metal show,
I was reminded of the time I confessed to a past boyfriend my deep dark secret of being
assaulted myself. And how he called me a liar. Same boyfriend a few months later got
angry at me for yelling at one of his customers at the bar he worked at because the
customer grabbed my ass, and was equally handsy with other ladies at the same time.
● Taking a walk last night, I was hollered at by an SUV full of young men. Contrary to their
intentions, I was not flattered, only thankful I was on a busy street so if they tried to
physically assault me, at least I was in public and would maybe get help from passers by. Continue reading
I hate a lot of things. Like. A lot. Mayonnaise, Michael McDonald, abortion protests, peep toe booties, the months of July and August, pets, dirty dishes, Pretty Woman, overbearing parents. (An abbreviated list for sure.) But in that “overbearing parents” category is the “mama bear.” And to the mama bear, I say, “Ugh, shut the fuck up.” Continue reading