Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Want to be a Diva When I Grow Up

There was an auspicious event in my home this morning. Something that I have been working towards for over a year has finally come to pass. A thing that will open the gates of communication and information into my realm of existence. As of 10:00 this morning I have cable and internet in my house! Whoo-hoo!

It's true. Until today all my internet time has been through my computer at work. And TV has been a slightly fuzzy picture that comes in best on the Spanish and Korean channels for some reason. Now I can enjoy crystal clear pictures on all the basic cable channels and update my blog whenever I want to. Even on the weekends! Oh, the possibilities.

What am I most excited about finally getting to watch? Law & Order? Cagney and Lacey re-runs? Old episodes of The Muppett Show? Nope - I wanna see Adventure Divas on PBS.

What is an Adventure Diva? Well, as far as I can tell, it is this incredible organization of women who travel all over the world, looking for other amazing women (or "divas") and documenting their travails and accomplishments. I stumbled into their website a while back and I was so inspired by them. I wish I could just throw a toothbrush and a towel into a knap-sack and take off to help dig wells in India or help The Kids in Mongolia. Seriously. It's that cool.

They have helpful information on their web site such as whether or not to pack your sex toys when traveling and a list of "things we learned the hard way" about traveling in South America. They do interviews with women all over the place and write travel dispatches about their own experiences in far off lands.

Holly Morris, a co-founder of Adventure Divas had this to say in a speech about the mission of the group:

"Adventure Divas is a program of travel and biography and is driven by the energy of what we're calling diva-dom. At the heart of each program lies a diva, and as we've worked our way towards a definition of diva, a few essential traits keep showing up. Divas are all over the world; they're women who've not simply waited for their ships to come in, but rowed out to meet them. Be they musicians or mountain climbers, activists or poets, the common denominator in their lives, besides a healthy sense of humor, is a compass set on passion. Divas realize their full potential, and in doing so inspire not only admiration, but action. Divas show us that to indulge your passions fully is to know yourself completely. Only then can you treat the rest of the world - its people, its ecosystems - with wit and compassion."

How effin' cool is that?!

One of the things about feminism that drives be beserk, is the media driven stereoro-type that a feminist is an unattractive, man-hating, angry woman with no sense of humor. These ladies are out there, helping women all over the world, using all kinds of media to get their message heard. They are doing it with a sense of adventure and, dare I say it, a sense of fun.

Yeah, I wanna be a diva when I grow up.

So, I'm going to go home and check out my shiny new cable TV schedule and find out when I can watch this show. 'Cause we all could use a little inspiration now and then.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Celebrity Corner (gah!)

I never thought I'd say this, but...

Can we just leave Britney Spears alone?

Seriously. This media craziness over her supposedly bad mothering skills is getting old. Yeah, I know she should not be driving around with her baby in her lap or nearly dropping the poor kid on his head, but this is getting out of hand. In another news story released last week (is this really news by the way?) it was reported that Britney tripped on her long pants while exiting The Ritz Carlton and fell forward while holding her baby boy, Sean Preston in one arm. I particularly liked this passage:

"As her bodyguards walked Spears to her car, she stumbled, her long pants apparently getting tangled in her open-toed shoes, and bent low as Sean Preston's head flung backward, knocking off his orange hat." - Associated Press
You can check out the story here

They make it sound like his head damn near came off his neck. This young lady is surrounded by bodyguards, personal assistants, nannies and general handlers all day long. I suspect that the actual danger this child is in from being neglected is pretty slim.

What is the point of this kind of story? I suppose it's the old feeling of schadenfreude that makes it so appealing. Britney has that aire of white trashiness combined with tacky "new money" and a career based on taking off her clothes. It's just so much fun to see her perfect little blond, perky ass taken down a notch. After all if Britney Spears is a rotten mother, then I can enjoy my little glow of superiority at my own mothering skills. So what if I don't actually have kids? My cat loves me!

The problem, of course, is that if it's ok to srutinize this pop star's every movement while mothering, we are encouraging the same scrutiny on every mother in America. The fact is that American media loves to pick apart "mom". From celebrity mom profiles that seem engineered to make us feel inferior to the scare tactic news stories about day care, we have put women under a social microscope. So, let's cut Britney some slack and in doing so, give every other hard working mom a break, too.


On to GQ and the recent Tom Cruise interview. I went to see Mission Impossible III last week and you know what, it was a fun summer movie. Things blew up, cars moved quickly, people leapt from buildings and a good time was had by all. The truth is, I really want to like Tom Cruise. He's cute and he's even a decent actor. I just wonder if he thinks about the things that fall out of his mouth during interviews and on television. He must know that the interviewer is not his buddy, they are writing down everything you say. So, be careful, Tom. Think before you speak.

In the interview in GQ this month Mr. Cruise is asked quite a lot about Katie Holmes and their baby. At the time of the interview, of course, little Suri had not been born yet. He was talking about preparing for the birth and all the things you need to learn about, going to the doctor and things that can go wrong.

"Early on when we were interviewing different doctors, you sense that they come with this trepidation, telling you all the things that can go wrong. They go, "Well, I just have to tell you..." and I go, "I understand that, and I thank you for telling me this stuff, but this is a beautiful thing and we want to celebrate it." And I also remember saying, "Tell me these things; don't tell her." You just think how women have been giving birth for ever. I mean we now know that there are vitamins that you better be taking. Folic acid, the vitamin E, the vitamin C - there are very specific things that are gonna help the placenta feed the child. And why worry the mother about it?"

I nearly dropped the magazine! Was he serious? Why "worry" the mother about it? Oh, I don't know, perhaps Katie would like to be informed about what's going on with HER OWN BODY! This idea that women don't need medical information because someone else will take care of it upsets my stomach. We have a long sad history in medicine of doctors not listening to women's concerns because they are "just women". The doctor, or husband, or father etc. knows better than the woman in question what's going on with her own body. For years, serious medical conditions were dismissed as "hysteria" and women were told to take a nap or get their hair done in order to feel better. At best, we might have been prescribed some valium to help get you through the day.

I think Tom Cruise is coming from a place of good intentions. He probably thinks he's being a good dad and protector of Katie and his baby. By taking on the responsibility of "worrying" for her, he is showing her how much he loves her and cares about her. The truth is, women don't need someone to worry for them. We need someone to worry with us. A loving relationship should have trust and communication. If you have that, then you can work through any tough decisions together.

I hope that Katie figures that out soon and that their daughter has a chance to grow up and make decisions for herself concerning her own health. That's a basic right that loving husbands and well intentioned doctors need to understand is not something they can relieve us of, even if they mean well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

There's Got To Be A Morning After...

la,la,la,la ...We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searchin' any more

Sing with me! Aww come know the words. It's that sappy song from the 1972 classic The Poseidon Adventure. Wheee!

Or not.

It seems the right wing powers that be are freaking out over a different morning after. They don't want young women to have the option of purchasing Plan B, the morning after pill, over the counter. Among the arguments (and there are quite a few) are the theory that it will allow girls to be more promiscuous. Now, if it were just girls that were having sex we wouldn't have any pregnancies at all would we? Oops, but that's another whole blog, isn't it? Ah-hem.

My favorite theory is that allowing easier access to The Morning After Pill will allow teenagers to create sex cults where they will have all kinds of crazy monkey sex and then just pop the pill the next day. I am not making this up. This was the concern voiced by a conservative Christian group on Nightline Monday night. They equate making the Plan B pill readily available to the sexual revolution of the 60s and the freedom that was allowed women due to The Pill (birth control). Heaven forefend women have some control over their reproductive futures.

What an odd argument. Don't they realize, that times have changed considerably? When the young people of the 60s were discovering a new found freedom of reproductive choice, about the worst thing you could catch during sex was the clap. I may not be a teenager anymore, but I'm not that far removed and I know that I grew up in an age where having sex CAN KILL YOU. As far as I know things have not changed in that regard. HIV and AIDS is still out there and the message is clear. "Have unprotected sex and risk your life." Besides, we are not talking about handing out Plan B like candy to underage kids. You would need an I.D. to get it and I believe you would have to be over 18. (I'll have to check my sources on that one to be sure.) It might be 21. The point is, it would not be easily accessible to your average 15 year old.

I find it terrifying that our current president has been able to appoint supreme court justices that will be gleefully chipping away at Roe v. Wade for the foreseeable future. We have companies making a mint on little blue pills for men. Yet we can't seem to get it together and help a woman prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Plan B is most effective when taken less than 72 hours after intercourse. If you have ever tried to get a prescription filled that requires a doctor visit, you know that 72 hours ain't long. The sooner you can take this pill the better. Not to mention that there are many pharmacists that won't distribute the Plan B pill even with a prescription because it contradicts their moral ideals. Now there's a terrifying thought. Plan B does not kill a fetus. It produces a massive amount of hormones that prevents an egg from being fertilized or stops the fertilization process. The pharmacist issue freaks me out because it's hard enough to get a doctor to listen to your choices and act on them. The last thing a patient needs is yet another wall of resistance barring her way to completing a difficult and possibly traumatic decision.

If getting preggers were still an issue for me, I would be asking for a prescription and getting it filled as soon as I could. I think it's good advice. Shit happens. Condoms break. We forget to take our birth control pill. Not to mention possible really bad things like date rape and worse. Better to have it an not need it than to need it and not be able to get it in time, then find yourself at a planned parenthood clinic talking to a counselor about your "options."

For more information, click here to go to thePlan B website.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Give your bra the afternoon off!

I am happy to report that I had a nice weekend and have recovered some of my positive outlook. Man, what a week!

I had an interesting little fashion problem this weekend that I must share.

The b/f and I were out and about on Sunday. We were planning on going for a hike and generally getting dirty so I wore a workout tank top and my "dirty" jeans. Since we went shopping two weeks ago and I bought a new pair of jeans, my "comfy" jeans have been relegated to "dirty" jeans. The new jeans are now "casual Friday" jeans and the old "casual Friday" jeans are now "comfy jeans". Yes, there is a whole hierarchy to my dresser drawers. It's like a little fashion caste system of my very own.

Anyway, the tank top was one of those T-back numbers with the bra built in. This is a good thing since, as we all know, you can't wear a regular bra with a T-back shirt. It's just not pretty. Bra straps everywhere! So I'm all ready to go hiking and get good and dirty and we somehow end up at the Northridge mall! Damn it! I'm not prepared for this. I look like a schlump. To make matters worse, I discover that the tank top is mostly Lycra and some kind of poly blend so the stupid thing actually holds in my body heat. Blech! I was hot and sweaty and generally uncomfortable, even in the air-conditioned stores. I take this as further proof that Northridge is built directly above a portal to Hell. But, I digress...My b/f suggests that I dash into JC Penny's (one of my fav shopping sites) and buy a little cotton shirt that breathes better so I will be more comfortable (thus more pleasant to be around). Sounds like a good idea right? It's great except for the little matter of my not having a bra on! I can't run around in a cotton t-shirt or tank top without support. It would be bad. It would be indecent. It would be....just....just...wrong!

(sigh) But I'm really sweaty and feeling gross.

What to do?

I finally decided that comfort trumps modesty and marched into that department store. They were having a great sale on juniors Ts and tanks. I found a Happy Bunny t-shirt that I liked but it was white and I was not feeling quite that daring. My nipples cast shadows as it is. I wasn't ready to have naught but a thin layer of white cotton between them and the world. I ended up with a dark gray, ribbed tank top with a flowery, artsy design up the side. Originally $16.00 now ONLY $7.99! Oh yes. I bought it. I exited the store with my purchase in hand, ready to shed the offending garment and change into something a little more comfortable. I headed to the nearest ladies room, which turned out to be in the far corner of the food court. Please keep in mind that this was a Sunday afternoon and the mall was bloody crowded. Wall to wall teenagers, tired parents, old people and snotty girls who travel in packs and sneer at you 'cause you aren't as cool as they are. Oh, the joy.

After I had changed, I had to walk across the entire food court sans brassiere to meet up with the b/f where I had left him comfortably ensconced in the cushy chair outside Penny's. It was a really. long. walk. What to do? Should I just walk across like there's nothing amiss in my appearance? Should I try folding my arms over my chest as I cross, or will that just draw more attention? I felt like I wasn't even wearing a top. I felt so exposed! I don't think I'm overly curvy up top, but I am definitely a girl who should, well...wear a bra. These are not cute little perky boobs that can be left to roam free. Mine are not free-range boobies.

Then it occurred to me, these were not even MY opinions. What the hell was I afraid of here? What, the snotty seventeen-year-olds are going to think I'm a slut 'cause I don't have a bra on? Am I seriously still afraid of what teenage girls think of me? (Hey, some things are tough to let go of.) Was I afraid of being approached by some skeevy guy due to my outward appearance of promiscuity? I lived in NYC for seven years. I should be able to handle anyone who comes up to me. And how come a girl without a bra on is automatically a slut? What's that all about?

I walked across that stupid food court with confidence and a bounce in my step. That's right, a bounce. Ha! Really, it was quite freeing. I did feel more secure with my b/f along side for the rest of the afternoon, though I did venture out on my own a few times, too. I think I would have felt just as secure with a girlfriend. It was more about having a friendly person with me and my breasts then having a guy to "protect" me. If I can strut across the mall food court alone and bra-less, I can certainly sift through the sale rack at Wet Seal all alone. It's just nice to know you've got someone to back you up.

The moral of the story: Don't be afraid to go au natural if you want from time to time. You might just find out you're more daring than you ever knew. Maybe there is something to the old 'bra burning" idea.