Parenting


Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book was good, but it wasn’t. That may not be obvious since I rated it so low. Firsts tackled some tough subjects, but it didn’t really do so in a great or helpful way. I honestly wonder if it may have done more harm than good. The intention of the author, much like the intention of the main character Mercedes Ayres, was probably a good one at heart, but, as the proverb goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Good intentions cannot fix what is truly wrong with this book. I understand the attempt to soften the approach people take to cheating and slut-shaming, but it doesn’t actually achieve that. Instead, it pushes those stereotypes even further and dismisses criminal behavior as seduction and bad parenting. Luke is portrayed as the former boyfriend, while the behavior described is clearly sexually abusive. He groomed Mercedes before forcing her to perform oral sex on him and before eventually raping her. Charlie’s actions are not really any better. Filming a person having sex without their consent is illegal. Trying to physically force someone to have sex with you is illegal. Attempting to blackmail someone over their sex life is, you guessed it, illegal. But the author chooses to say that Charlie was trying to “seduce” Mercedes. No, that’s not seduction. Those are acts of sexual violence. Kim is an emotionally abusive and emotionally & physically neglectful mother, and Mercedes’ absentee father who decided to punish Mercedes for her mom’s decisions isn’t much better. Kim is portrayed as a slut and a bimbo who only cares about spending the ill-gotten gains of her ex-husband. It’s the kind of storyline that you might get from websites run by “men’s rights activists” and MGTOW. Faye is the supposed-to-be-subtle-but-really-isn’t cautionary tale. Zach is the night-in-shining armor. Angela is the good girl, the girl with the patience of a saint and who is let back into Mercy’s life too easily. Mercedes is the fallen girl/girl gone bad who takes on the sins of all those involved & is nearly ruined in the process. She is constantly obsessing over what side she should show others, which is something that a lot of people feel, but it was never really addressed in the book. Yes, there’s the whole, her mom screwed up how she thinks about sex, beauty, weight, etc., but that’s not enough to explain why she is so hyper-critical and why she is convinced that she is unlovable. And if you’re going to spend a whole book tearing down the main character’s self-esteem, then you need to spend more than a couple of pages making her act like she’s all-better all of a sudden. Sometimes it came across as preachy. No, wait, it always came across as preachy. The sex lives of most of the characters in the book are regularly criticized. Angela, Mercy’s BFF, is super-religious and pushes her faith onto everyone. (There are even Bible verses that are quoted and referenced.) Her sex-negative attitude only pushes Mercy to hide her actions. Kim’s antics seem to push the idea that adultery leads women to even more vice-filled lives. Mercy’s internal dialogue about how many guys she’s had sex with pushed the idea that girls & women who have ‘too much’ sex might be seen as used up goods. The outcome at school for Mercedes pushes the idea that women and girls have to be punished for being sexual. When Mercedes describes how she feels about sex and intimacy, even when she sometimes thinks she’s attracted to Faye, it’s almost like reading a pamphlet on sex addiction. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the way that her pseudo-attraction to Faye was handled. I know that with sex addiction, a person might engage in sex with people that they aren’t really attracted to, but the whole “is she going to kiss me” thing that existed through most of their interactions was just shrugged away toward the end. I didn’t know if Mercedes was only thinking about Faye that way because she really doesn’t understand relationship boundaries or if she might not be as heterosexual as she eventually felt the need to declare she was. Sex addiction or figuring out that you’re LGBTQ might be an interesting topic to cover in a novel, but it needs to be addressed in a better way. Come to think of it: all of the issues that are described within the book need to be addressed properly. In attempting to counter the sex-negativity that people, especially women and girls, encounter in their lives, the book actually pushed an even more sex-negative outlook. The book essentially normalized sexual violence, parental neglect, and shaming young women for being interested in sex. That’s why I don’t think I could ever truly love this book. It almost seemed like a book I could like until it became clear that it was just another in a long line of anti-sex books with ambiguous attitudes toward abuse and sexual assault. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. View all my reviews

Review: Firsts


“The problem the WRP faced in connecting pregnancy to their line of sex-discrimination was this: Even if a man could take care of the kids and the elders, and a woman could join the air force and handle the family finances, only one of them could get pregnant and give birth. RBG and her team had to convince the justices that pregnancy too was a matter of equality—or inequality—and not just something special that women indulged in, off on their own. Even more radically, RBG wanted the Supreme Court to recognize that women would never be equal if they could not control their reproductive lives, whether they wanted to be pregnant or not. That meant the right to an abortion, and it meant the right to be free of discrimination for staying pregnant.” – Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik via Tumblr Photo credit: national museum of american history via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

“The problem the WRP faced in connecting pregnancy to their ...



1
Once upon a time, we were friends. We would email each other, talk on Twitter, comment on each other’s blogs, etc. It was nice. You and I were both diagnosed as Bipolar and it was nice to have someone around my age to talk to about that. You weren’t my only friend with that issue, but for a while there you were one of the closest. When you got your lap-band surgery done, I remember worrying because you couldn’t keep down food, but you didn’t want to tell your doctor because you were finally losing weight. I worried you would have nutritional deficiencies before I realized I had them.  And you told me you worried about my health issues as well.   That’s why you felt the need when you were diagnosed with “Chronic Lyme Disease” to suggest I might have it as well.1 You told me that it fit my symptoms. You told me I might be able to go off my meds, lose weight, and live a life off without chronic pain if I’d just go to a Lyme specialist.2 And for a split second, I considered it.3 But then I researched it, something that you should have known I would do. When I told you that I didn’t think an infection was causing my hereditary condition,4 you huffed off like a toddler for a while before you came roaring back into my life.  Our friendship never recovered from that, did it? Or maybe our friendship was nonexistent from the beginning. That’s what I started thinking tonight as your tirade came in. Well, I did after I described your past behaviors, including that close friendship with a certain blogger that used to write fat-shaming posts pretty regularly, and some people started pointing out that friends don’t really act like you’ve acted. I tried to defend you. You’re bipolar and off your meds…you are just on a Lyme disease kick…you’re just having a bad day or week or month or year.  But that doesn’t explain it.  Because the reality is that you’ve always had a shady edge to your behavior.  Like how you harassed one mutual friend over her past drug issues and how that compared to your Lyme disease. Or the time you harassed another person I know and you know of over her exercising routine and her teeth. Or maybe the time you went after another mutual friend calling her a bad parent for having an autistic child and eating gluten. Or maybe how you treated total strangers should have clued me in. You trolled groups for disabled people on Twitter to promote your “everything is Lyme” mindset. You said people who didn’t buy marijuana5 off the street, not from reputable/regulated dealers, for their epileptic children were bad parents. You would even buy marijuana, in a state where it’s illegal, to make homemade CBD oil & you’d brag about it on social media. You didn’t care who you hurt, whether it was a friend, a family member, a stranger, or yourself.   So your nonsensical transphobic tirade fits with the rest of your utter disregard and lack of even basic compassion for other people. And I am so happy my eyes are open to your cruelty. I’m glad that I am no longer having to hope that one day you’ll go back on your medicine and into therapy and be all better. Clearly, this is what the real you is like. I don’t know why you think the transgender community wants to strip you of your rights any more than I know why you fixated on Lyme. I don’t understand why you think I’m brainwashed when you’re the person actually buying into speculation and denying facts. I don’t know why you think that it’s okay to compare the LGBTQ community to Nazis or why you think there’s a vast conspiracy to brainwash children into being trans. Do you think that I’m going to molest children because of my past? Would you not trust me to be around children if I didn’t identify as 100% heterosexual? I mean before you determined that I was brainwashed by my trans friends. Was I a threat then? Am I one now? Have you always thought of me as a dangerous person? Did you really think I was threatening you? These are things I wanted to ask you. I don’t usually give people who pick fights with me multiple chances to walk away. I don’t warn them like I did you. You’ve seen me argue and you know this. You have to at least know I would never beat you up. I’ve slapped one person in my whole life and I still feel bad about that. I mean, come on, this is me. I rant online, but I’m practically a pacifist.  Identifying as transgender is not a result of child molestation. Being a  non-heterosexual is not the result of child molestation. This is a bullshit belief that even total homophobes and transphobes don’t express that much anymore. And being gay or trans doesn’t mean someone will molest children. Don’t believe what fear- and hate-mongers want you to believe. Don’t put your faith in people who won’t be honest with you. Did you even bother to look for a legitimate source on any of those articles? Ooh. Tabloids. So trust-worthy, especially ones with links to UKIP, BNP, & Tories. But I guess that fits with your fear-mongering and with your love of Trump.6 I always knew you were a Republican, but I never realized how much hatred you carry in your heart.7 You want me to be educated on this issue, but you’re forgetting that I actually am educated. Remember early in our friendship when I was being booted from my college major with one semester left? Or that what that major was in? I know a Social Work degree and a GRE score high enough to get my Master’s is not as impressive as being able to make your own CBD oil, but it’s close, right? I […]

Dearest Marie


Do you believe that gender roles and gendered play1 should be strictly enforced in children? Or should children be allowed to play with toys that they are most comfortable with, even if those toys are traditionally associated with the opposite sex? Do you think that what kids play with as children impacts their views on gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or overall equality as adults? Dolls for girls. Cars for boys. ↩

Daily Debate: Oct. 3, 2015



Anyone who likes Christina Hoff Sommers should probably leave this blog. I see people talking about her debunking of the wage gap and her “equity feminism” beliefs without mentioning that she isn’t exactly the best source of what is good/bad economics- and equality-wise. Why? Well, her current job, for one. (Her previous job of ethics professor doesn’t really mesh with it.) Christina Hoff Sommers works for The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is a “think tank” for rich white people who don’t like to think. On AEI’s Board of Trustees, there is the totally equal ratio of 24:1 (men to women). That sure sounds like equity has already been achieved there. AEI’s interests aren’t in actual equality, but in fighting America’s “culture war” and reforming education, affirmative action, and welfare. They have also been advancing their causes of making sure all voters have photo ID (potential poll tax), doubting the reality that is climate change, opposing regulation of the financial system, opposing increases in minimum wage, and defending big tobacco. “Scholars” of AEI have written articles in favor of government censorship of art. I can almost hear the goose stepping now. When he was in office, George W. Bush appointed over a dozen people from AEI to senior positions within his administration and they helped promote his war machine. Reportedly, they offered money to scientists who would dispute a climate change study. They’re big on the whole “anti-lobbying” thing and I’m guessing that that’s because you don’t need to lobby when you’ve already got people in positions of influence within the actual government. Once upon a time, Kenneth Lay (of Enron fame) and Dick Cheney were on the board of trustees; Dinesh D’Souza is a fellow there. And its current incarnation has ties to both ALEC and the Koch brothers. AEI’s affiliate, Charles Murray, published The Bell Curve in the 1990s; it established IQ was a determinant of socio-economic status. But that’s not the only issue.  

IDGI: Christina Hoff Sommers Fans


1
My mom once told me that I was cute and I was pretty, but I wasn’t truly beautiful or attractive. This was one of the things that stuck with me over the years in a negative way. I’ve been able to move past it lately. I feel pretty, cute, beautiful, and attractive. I’ve even felt downright sexy with certain people who shall remain nameless. But, basically, my self-esteem in that area is up. The other night1 she told me that I wouldn’t be a good mom someday. Her reasoning was that when I get upset with Amy for things like peeing on the couch that I “ignore” Amy. I recognize myself getting upset and I tell my parents to take care of her/keep an eye on her for a little while, while I calm down. I don’t yell at her. I just take a break. I pointed this out and my mom said, “With a kid, you can’t do that.” When she said this, I pointed out that as a child, she would put me in a playpen, leave the room entirely AND make sure the door was shut when she would get upset.2 I almost pointed out to my father, who was agreeing with her, that he had a bit of temper and tends to lose control of it, that maybe my handing off for a little while and cooling down isn’t the worst reaction to have. And I realized that she was sort of moving on to my next insecurity.3 If the appearance thing doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, then she has to have something to give me a hard time about. I don’t even know if she realizes that she is doing it or why she does it, but I don’t particularly appreciate it.4 I can’t exactly bring it up with her because that would lead to an argument, which would lead to a “I’m so aggrieved” speech by her and a rehashing of everything that has ever gone wrong in this family. Quite frankly, I just don’t want to deal with that, so I just try to smile and not pay attention to this sort of thing. I know I still have issues that I need to work on. I admit that. I also know that it’s possible that I wouldn’t be a good mom, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for her to decide to bring me down like this. Sunday ↩Her doctor told her to do this because, as a baby/toddler, I tended to apologize anytime my mom would be upset. ↩Not that she doesn’t still do the appearance one from time-to-time. I showed her the picture of me with red lip gloss on the other day that I was feeling confident about. She told me that I looked completely washed out and that I should never wear that color again because it looked so horrible. ↩I’m pretty sure the “you won’t be a good mom” thing was partly a result of Nana showering me with positive attention over my weight loss and treating me like I wasn’t the biggest person in the family anymore. It moved her back some. I’m pretty sure about this because the comments came just a few hours after the visit with Nana. ↩

Don’t Rain on My Parade