My Public Service Announcement for the Day

I have figured something out about blow driers. You know how when you go to the hairdresser and they blow out your hair and it has this amazing texture? I figured out today that it is the blow drier. Blow driers have these nets that catch the dust from the air circulating through them. The dustier they get, the worse the blowing. Apparently, the worse the blowing, the worse the texture of your hair too, because mine was looking and feeling seriously shabby. Today I couldn’t stand that it was taking me twice as long as it should to blow dry, and I got the clue that I hadn’t cleaned the dust thing in months and months, so I cleaned it. Voila! Not only did my hair dry quickly again, but my hair had that texture I get at the hairdresser, a texture I have been only intermittently able to achieve at home. Well, duh. It’s the blow drier. Now I know and if you’re reading this, so do you. Clean the lint trap on your blow drier, experience a new level of great hair texture at home.

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Maldives Girl to Get 100 Lashes for Pre-Marital Rape

This story is simply horrifying. We have got to rebalance the imbalance between the masculine and feminine in this world.

See this story here.

Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex

By Olivia Lang
BBC News

A 15-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, court officials said.

The charges against the girl were brought against her last year after police investigated accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. He is still to face trial.

Prosecutors said her conviction did not relate to the rape case.

Amnesty International condemned the punishment as “cruel, degrading and inhumane”.

The government said it did not agree with the punishment and that it would look into changing the law.

Baby death

Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the juvenile court, said the girl was also ordered to remain under house arrest at a children’s home for eight months.

She defended the punishment, saying the girl had willingly committed an act outside of the law.

Officials said she would receive the punishment when she turns 18, unless she requested it earlier.

The case was sent for prosecution after police were called to investigate a dead baby buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, in the north of the country.

Her stepfather was accused of raping her and impregnating her before killing the baby. The girl’s mother also faces charges for failing to report the abuse to the authorities.

The legal system of the Maldives, an Islamic archipelago with a population of some 400,000, has elements of Islamic law (Sharia) as well as English common law.

Ahmed Faiz, a researcher with Amnesty International, said flogging was “cruel, degrading and inhumane” and urged the authorities to abolish it.

“We are very surprised that the government is not doing anything to stop this punishment – to remove it altogether from the statute books.”

“This is not the only case. It is happening frequently – only last month there was another girl who was sexually abused and sentenced to lashes.”

He said he did not know when the punishment was last carried out as people were not willing to discuss it openly.

These Breasts were Made for Feeding

This article was published on Huffington Post and can be seen here. If you like it, buzz it up and feel free to share, with proper accreditation of course.

These Breasts were Made for Feeding

~ by Lara M. Gardner

Time magazine recently ran a cover story about long-term breastfeeding. It depicted a cover photo of a woman standing and staring into the distance, a three-year-old boy standing on a chair in front of her, attached to her breast. Needless to say, the photo and article caused an uproar. Some people thought it was obscene. Others, myself included, thought it was misleading, to say the least.

It doesn’t surprise me that breastfeeding and breastfeeding to an age that more naturally suits biology has come to the fore in the public consciousness. It fits right in with the resurrection of the right-wing war on women, statements by politicians that women should never have been able to vote, laws that force women to share their sex lives with employers, and basically anything that says women cannot and should not be able to determine anything about themselves, and most especially their sexuality or anything related to their bodies (unless they are getting their breasts cut off because they have cancer, then it is okay).

All this furor over women breastfeeding children beyond an age our culture has deemed appropriate (corporate profits aside) belies a greater underlying issue. Ultimately, any discussion of breastfeeding as obscene is part of this American cultural hostility against women. Our culture would like to maintain that women’s bodies are property and should be available at all times as sexual playthings. Seeing the female body as life-giving and nurturing (i.e., breastfeeding) is a far more powerful message, and certainly not something that can be owned and controlled.

The Time photo is offensive precisely because it is obscene, but it is not obscene because the young child in it is breastfeeding. Rather, it is obscene because it has taken something that is nurturing (and arguably scientifically best for children and women), and turned it into something salacious and indecent.  Nothing about the photo is in any way representative of breastfeeding as it is. It seeks to make breastfeeding seem suggestive and forbidden, something tawdry that should be stopped before it gets out of control, something that should be hidden under a blanket.  No matter that breasts are flaunted as sexual playthings in advertising and on magazine covers. In the latter context, breasts are kept in their place. It is the former that touches a nerve because it suggests that breasts might have another, more fundamental purpose, one that doesn’t involve breasts as property or women as objects.

Perhaps the editors of Time intended for the photo to inflame and kickstart further discussion about women’s bodies and women’s place in our culture. Perhaps they understood that breastfeeding is something so fundamental to being a woman, something as life-giving as the birth process itself, that it should be acceptable in our culture, without question and without blankets. Perhaps they wanted to make it loud and clear just how ridiculous it is to claim this act is obscene. Maybe they weren’t just trying to sell magazines. I doubt it, but it is possible.

(In the interests of full disclosure, this article was written while my 2 1/2 year old daughter nursed in my lap.)

My Eyes Cannot See

I am learning that my eyes cannot see.  I have for so long had one view of how my body should look, that undoing that view requires changing my eyes.  They simply cannot see me physically for how I am, or see that how I am is how I should be.

Nearly 13 years ago, after the birth of my first daughter, I gradually realized how much I had wrapped up who I am into how I look.  When suddenly I did not look as I had, I had to adapt. I didn’t like it, but I had no choice. I weighed more than I ever had in my life.  It was still below average, but I felt huge, and I realized that I had to accept it because no matter what I did, I did not lose those last 15 post-baby pounds.  Considering I had always been below-average thin, it wasn’t such a bad thing.  Just different.

When my daughter was four, she was in a baby ballet pageant with a bunch of other toddlers and small children.  They looked like adorable little sausages in their fluffy costumes and wings. I thought they were precious.

Watching them dance on stage, my mom leaned over and whispered, “I can’t believe they would let all those little fatties dance in those tight outfits.”  The words were a slap. I realized in that moment that I had been hearing similar statements my entire life.  My looks had been commented on and dissected for as long as I could remember.  Still weighing 15 pounds more than I had pre-baby, it was an eye opener, further realization that my eyes had been wearing the wrong glasses for my entire life.

Within another year I was back at pre-baby weight. It took nearly 4 years, and ultimately I shed the final pounds when I stopped breastfeeding my daughter at age four and a half.  I was satisfied with this.  I figured I had learned the lesson those four plus years of being bigger than I was used to.  I also thought my eyes could see, that I had learned with a different prescription.  I was learning so much more about life, and unlearning so much other early conditioning, the body image adjustments were simply part of all of it.

Since gradually understanding this, I have noticed that both my parents are still completely fixated on looks and the body. I have wondered what happened to them in their upbringing that this is how they think.  They are raising my brother’s daughter.  She is nearly 5 and somewhat clumsy.  In terms of western ideals of beauty, she is not excessively beautiful or not.  She is an average looking little girl, based on this definition.  Personally, I think she’s darling. Her impish personality shines through in all she does.  However, when my parents visit us, they compare her looks to those of my daughters.  “Isabel is so dainty.  She has such “feminine” features, just like you had and Milla has.  Sara isn’t like that.  Sara is a clod.  She’s so much like her mother.”  Comparisons, comparisons, all based on looks. It’s constant.  During an entire visit I will hear how beautiful Isabel is over and over.  I notice and it feels strange.  I try to direct the conversation elsewhere.  I know my parents.  If I object, they’ll clam up and not visit for a long time and it will be because I was “too critical.” So to keep the peace, I don’t say anything and remember that their visits are infrequent. They will not have the influence on my children that was had on me. But not poor Sara.

In any case, here I am again, post baby at two and a half years. I have begun working with a personal trainer.  I’m struggling to bring my weight back down to that pre-baby level.  It’s not working.  I’m getting a lot stronger, but I’m not getting thinner.  I am still breastfeeding and this may be part of it, but yesterday when working on one of the many moves I struggle through in personal training (oh, it is so much more work at this age than 20), I finally allowed myself to look into the wall of mirrors and see what it is I saw.  I have avoided these mirrors.  When I’m facing them for whatever reason, I will not look at me.  I do not want to see how I look.

Yesterday, I looked.  I realized that the looking was completely uncomfortable, but I forced myself to keep looking.  I realized that my hips are slightly wider than I want them to be, that my breasts are saggier.  I kept looking away, but then told myself, NO.  I looked again.  I stared. I examined my body completely.  I criticized the self there.  Too big, too big, too big, I thought.

Last night and since, I have been thinking about that.  If I saw a woman with the body that I have, I would not think she was too big. I would think she is fine.  Why the double standard for myself?  I simply can’t see physical body as it is.  I then concluded that my eyes cannot see.  They have never been able to see.  It’s another layer of early conditioning I will need to undo.  Our culture makes it much more difficult. My upbringing makes it more difficult. I’m not sure what the result will be for me, but I want to change my eyes so I no longer believe that someone with my shape who is not overweight, is getting physically stronger all over, and is still actually quite athletic is just fine, and that no matter what I weigh, no matter what I look like, it doesn’t really change who I am.

More Pithy Observation

Why is it that so many people think that for a woman to be self-actualized and equal — in the workplace, in the home, in her sexuality — she has to act like a man? I don’t see how sleeping with a bunch of men and ignoring them later makes me any stronger or wiser. I don’t see how shattering the glass ceiling by working ridiculous hours and ignoring my children gives me any sort of independence. I don’t see how ignoring household chores and letting my children care for themselves before they really understand who they are offers me freedom. So often what is held up as equality isn’t equal at all, it’s reduction of the female self to an outdated patriarchal view of how the world ought to operate. And I’m simply not on board with it.

That’s all.

Blue Valentine

I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out.  The thing was depressing and I could not get into it.  I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it.  Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video.  I’m glad that I did.

Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship.  It brings back memories.  Funny, they caught  the things in the beginning that would go wrong later.  Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight.  The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you.  You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster.  In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew.  I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work.  At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.

The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too.  There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster.  She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning.  The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu.  The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy?  What the hell, indeed.

There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them.  However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy.  I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in.  Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it.  Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that.  I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway.  One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.

Groupon Does Business with Pure Med Spa

After several commenters noted that Groupon in Dallas is giving out a Groupon on Pure Med Spa (aka Beauty Med Spa–same name, no difference), I sent them an email saying that they really ought to reconsider promoting a company that has done so much harm.  Here was Groupon’s response:

Hi Lara,

Thanks for your feedback and sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
We do our best to feature businesses that see Groupon as an opportunity to gain loyal customers as well as advertise their services.

We stand by all of the businesses we feature and the deals we offer, but if you ever feel let down in any way when using your Groupon, we’ll be more than happy to work with you towards satisfaction! Also, thanks for the information! I will be passing this on to the right people.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Regards,

Sarah M.

support@groupon.com

I told them that I am not going to be let down, but others will be.  Who wants to be a loyal customer to a business that has stolen thousands of dollars from customers, burned people with lasers, caused one woman to require surgery because they damaged her legs, and on and on. They are being investigated by several state attorneys general and have been profiled on many television news programs for the harm they have caused.

It’s a shame that this is Groupon’s response considering the negative publicity associated with this company.  Groupon is promoting thieves and hucksters.  Send Groupon a letter letting them know if you have been harmed and what happened.  Maybe if enough people contact them, they will change their policy.