30 June 2015

*sigh* I tried.

Really hard.

I wanted to read the books and talk about what I really thought of them based on the literary and social merits of the story.

So I tried.

And I failed.

I just can't do it. I'm sorry. I can't read Fifty Shades. Not only do I object to the content, but I can't get past the writing.

So to all those who said I can't have an opinion if I haven't read the books, know that I tried, and my opinion is only reinforced. I hate it.

29 June 2015

Why I'm going to be Mrs. Bo

When a man and woman get married, the assumption is that the wife will take her husband's last name. There are variations, of course. Some women keep their maiden names for various reasons (professional, children from a previous relationship) or the couple will hyphenate. However, in today's society, it is still a very rare thing for the husband to take the wife's name.

Non-hetero marriages are different. When two women or two men get married, both last names are up for grabs. They may hyphenate or keep their respective names (especially if they are not out at work, for example). However, the conversation has to happen in order for the couple to decide what they are going to do.

Bo and I had a quick conversation about it and discovered we were both on the same page. I am taking her last name. And there are several reasons for it.

When Monty and I divorced, I kept my married name. The kids were young, and it made more sense to me at the time to have the same last name they do. In addition, I didn't want to have my father's last name, and moving to something different would have been unnecessarily complicated. So I kept my married name.

Because of that, when Bo and I got engaged our choices were for both of us to keep our respective names, for her to take the last name of my ex-husband, or for me to take her last name. Neither of us wanted to hyphenate, partly because of the length of her last name.

I didn't want to keep our respective last names. One of the joys of being able to legally get married in the U.S. is to legally pronounce that relationship to the world, including with a name change. I can legally take the name of my wife as an outward sign of our love and devotion. Why wouldn't I do that?

So that left us with one of us taking the other's last name. Bo wasn't comfortable taking my last name because it's not my maiden name. (For some reason, she doesn't want to share my ex-husband's last name. Who would have guessed....) I agreed with her, and realized that I didn't really want it, either.

Yes, it's the kids' last name, but the kids are comfortable in the idea that not everyone in their family has the same last name they do. They understand that family is as much love and desire as it is name and blood. So it doesn't bother me at all anymore to have a different last name than theirs.

In addition, my current last name is representative of something that isn't me anymore. It's from a very different time in my life, It's appropriate that my new last name will be much more who I am.

I'll have to practice signing the new name.

28 June 2015

Renew your spirit with women's soccer

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup is going on.

And the U.S. team is awesome. I've loved watching them play, and I'm glad that Bo and I decided to start watching soccer.

We originally decided to start watching way back in March when we were on our cruise. There were a couple of soccer matches on the stateroom TV throughout the week, and we got to talking about how we both wanted to have a sport to watch, but neither of us really like watching the mainstream American sports like football, basketball, and baseball. So we decided to give soccer a try.

And now we're a soccer lesbian couple.

I really like soccer. I understand the rules, there is minimal down time within the game, and the women on the U.S. team are badasses. There are even a couple of players I consider myself a fan of, like Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach (both of whom are out and proud, by the way).

The next U.S. game is against Germany on Tuesday. We'll be watching.

27 June 2015

The dangers of Christianity, in 8 easy steps!--step one: rebuke her privately

Yesterday was awesome.

And in the aftermath of that awesomeness of rainbow marriage, I'm talking today about how Christians* view their own marriages. Kind of a weird contrast, but maybe that will highlight the absurdity of it all.

For those who haven't read them, here are the previous posts:

  1. The dangers of Christianity, in 8 easy steps!: part one of so much wrong
  2. The dangers of Christianity, in 8 easy steps!: part two of so much wrong
After a "Good Christian Husband" has realized the need to address his wife's willful, sinful habit of not giving it up for him whenever and wherever he wants, and has prayed on it (because that's what you do for everything: pray on it), it's time to start the "tough love" process of fixing her problem.

Step one of this process, which the poster bases on Matthew 18:15, is to "rebuke her privately." The post says (emphasis mine):
Rebuke your wife's sin to her in private. This assumes you have already on several occasions tried to speaking [sic] gently to her about this issue. You have tried time and time again to find out if there is anything you can help her with, and anything you can do different. This assumes you have ruled out health problems, and or [sic] other mental problems and she simply has a stubborn and willful attitude toward sex in marriage and she does not think she needs to change.
So the message here is that a husband has talked to his wife "on several occasions" about her lack of desire for sex. And since the husband has decided that her decision is not based on physical or mental illness (since those are the only valid reasons to say no, if you remember), that means she's being "willful," Which, in this case, is kind of the good Christian way of saying, "Dude, you're being a bitch."

I want to pause here to talk about that word "willful."

When I was actively participating in the brainwashing lifestyle known as the conservative Baptist faith, I heard that word a lot. But typically, it was directed toward me as a child/adolescent rather than as an adult. Children who are willful toward their parents are "corrected," which often takes the form of interventions designed by the church and pastor.

That means the terminology being used here is what is used for parents about their children. And wives who don't kowtow to their husbands' desires are put on par with a child who won't clear the table or say "Yes, sir" in response to a father. And that's the kind of relationship that so many of these young men and women strive for.

Is that really the kind of relationship that is loving and healthy for women? Is that the kind of relationship that parents want to model for their children?

In conservative Christianity, it seems so.

There is something I agree with in this step. (I know.) It's the "privately" part. Because the thing is, a physical relationship is a personal thing, and should be discussed between the two (or more, in the case of polyamory) people involved. No one else.

But to rebuke?

To rebuke is to express criticism and disapproval. The best way to understand it, which aligns with the imagery created with "willful," is to examine it as a parent-child conversation. The husband expresses his disapproval at his wife's disobedience.

Privately, but still.

As step one, this really sets the stage for the rest of the instructions. And next time, we get to talk about a husband rebuking his wife in front of witnesses.


*In this and most posts dealing with religion, I'm talking about the conservative, fundamental brands of Christianity. Think Duggars and similar.

26 June 2015

It is so ordered.

So, this morning...




Though it may have been kicking and screaming, the United States has been brought to the right side of history. Here's what transpired between yesterday and today:


It looks so much prettier now, don't you think? And more like the United States of America.

Here is the decision for those who would like to read it. According to the decision:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. 
The judgement of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. 
It is so ordered.
Good job, SCOTUS.

19 June 2015

Getting away to get recharged

Puck and Tink are with Monty for a few weeks for their summer extravaganza (our summer extravaganza is immediately after Monty's), so Bo and I decided to take a few days to visit Mimi and Papa G.

It's been a crazy spring semester and beginning of the summer, so we were grateful for the chance to get away, spend time with family, and recharge before I jump into a heavy season of work with clients.

I'm excited for what the summer will bring for work and life and everything (especially as we continue to plan and get ready for the wedding in October).

It is a working mini-vacation, but it's still wonderful to have some time away from the normal setting and routine, and it's especially good to get to spend time with Bo's parents.

And the puppy dogs!

15 June 2015

The dangers of Christianity, in 8 easy steps!: part two of so much wrong

Last week I addressed the first part of an introduction to a blog post that made me roll my eyes with nearly every sentence. I've steeled myself for the second part of the introduction and present it here. And there are some good bits.

I would like to note that I've skipped a portion of the introduction, which addresses a specific Bible verse. This part of the introduction attempts to refute the use of I Corinthians 7:6 to say that spouses are not obligated to have sex whenever and wherever the mood strikes one of them. I'm choosing to leave this out of my discussion because I think that using the Bible to prove or disprove the Bible is ridiculous. I don't feel the need to address this particular point by the writer of the post.

So it is established in the first part of the introduction that sexual denial is sin, unless the wife has a "legitimate" physical or mental reason for denial. Let's ignore the fact that lack of desire is a legitimate reason under the law and move forward for the purposes of discussion.

The writer of this post not only makes it clear to husbands that sexual denial is a sin, but calls out those who would say otherwise. The post says* (emphasis mine):
In the same way men are often counseled by Christian counselors, Pastors and marriage books to simply tolerate their wives sexual denial - which is just as immoral as if she were to commit adultery. They told to talk to their wives and pray for their wives - which is good advice. But then if their wife does not repent they are told they must simply learn to cope with their wife's sexual immorality and there is nothing else they can or should do. 
I am here to tell you there is something more you can and should do. You need to call out your wife's sin for exactly what it is - sexual immorality.
Right. So first, we have a notion that saying no to sex (except for legitimate reasons, which still haven't been fully explained) is on par with cheating in the Christian marriage paradigm. That's right, folks. Saying "Sorry, honey. Not tonight. I'm really not in the mood" is the same as picking up a random person in a bar for a one-night stand or having an affair.

And then, husbands are told by "counselors" (in quotations because they're listed as Christian counselor and pastors and likely Christian-based marriage books) that if they talk to their wives and pray that they'll want to have sex more and their wives still don't want to have sex, they should deal with it.

The best piece of advice in the whole post is set up as a bad thing, and as going against the teachings of Christianity. Because in so, so many Christian patriarchal frameworks, all that matters is that the patriarch gets what he wants. And if he wants sex, then by Bible, he'll get it, or you'll go to hell for it.

So if your wife dares to deny you your god-given right, it is your responsibility as a good Christian husband to make her see the error of her ways through, as the blog post says, "tough love."

You don't want to have sex because you had a bad day? Sinner!

Because above all, she should submit to her husband. Even though the Bible tries to make men and women equal in the physical relationship according to the passage brought up in the post (I Corinthians 7:1-7), men are not responsible for the emotional needs of their wives if they want sex. Because a wife should sacrifice her needs and desires for her husband, but clearly he is not required or even encouraged to do the same thing if she has an emotional need that isn't sex.

And it is in this foundation that the blog post presents its steps to correct wives' awful, sinful behavior of not giving it up just because their husbands say "I'm horny."

And let's remember, kids, that husbands sacrifice themselves for their wives to make them holy, they are even more obligated to sex, since god says sex in a marriage is holy. Therefore, wives should feel guilty if they don't have sex because look at all their husbands do for them. For their holy souls. And you can't have a holy soul unless it's had holy sex.

I want to end this post with a particular golden nugget. The post says (emphasis mine):
As I said in previous posts - God wants sex in your marriage, your desire for sex in your marriage is not a sin, but rather it is a gift from God. My Pastor often says God put a desire in men and a command toward men that they be "intoxicated" or "ravished" by their wife's body. (See note ** below.) 
Your desire for your wife is not the sin, but instead it is your wife's sinful sexual refusal that must be confronted.
Remember: men are not sinning by wanting sex even when their wives are not in the mood or need something from their supposed partners other than physical contact. It's those women who are wrong and sinning and need to be "corrected."

And so, in the next post, we dive into step one: Rebuke her privately.

I'm having fun already.

*This quote is direct, errors included. I can only deduce that the writer was so passionate about sexual denial as sin that proofreading became unimportant.

**Between these two paragraphs, the post quotes (the King James Version, of course) of Proverbs 5:19, which basically says women should be loving and pleasure-giving, and that they should "satisfy" their husbands at all times. I could write an entire post about why this verse doesn't mean what the post is implying it means, but there's only so much time in a day.

11 June 2015

The dangers of Christianity, in 8 easy steps!: the first part of so much wrong

Here's the thing. I try to be very open-minded about people and events and situations. I know there's (usually) more to a story than what I find out, so I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. But there is a lot of stuff on the Interwebz that makes me shake my head at Christianity. (For example, I read this today.)

People's small, closed-minded, unjustified opinions and ranting and damaging ideas about life, the universe, and everything.

People hating and wanting to kill other people because they are different or act differently or think differently or whatever else they figure out based on their misinterpretations of a mistranslated book that may as well be The Hunger Games.

But a little less than two weeks ago, I read something that I just couldn't ignore. I came upon a blog post titled "8 steps to confront you wife's sexual refusal."


I got angrier and angrier as I read it. I kept going over it, rereading passages, jotting notes on a scrap of paper. I ended up printing it out so I could make notes in the margins. So I decided it was worth exploring here on the blog.

But there's so much wrong with this post that I don't really know where to begin. So I decided for this post, at least, all I'm going to address is the first part of the introductory section (which includes a disclaimer in large font because, yanno, the lib-rals). And we'll see how it goes.

So the first thing I want to mention about this blog post is that it comes from a site called Biblical Gender Roles. So the entire basis of the content is on the patriarchal worldview of the Bible as the "right" and "natural" order of things. That is, if a wife submits to her husband in, well, everything, the marriage will be happy because the Bible. But we're going to set aside that little nugget for the purposes of this post. I want to discuss the specific content of the specific blog post. Because even in the first part of the introductory section of this post, there's just so much I want to talk about.

So. Here we go.

The first thing I want to discuss is the circumstances addressed for a husband confronting his wife. The blogger says (emphasis mine):
Christian Husbands - let me be crystal clear here. The situation I am addressing in this post is not your wife occasionally turning you down for sex (even with a bad attitude, as opposed to for health or other legitimate reasons). What I am addressing here is the wife who consistently and routinely denies her husband sexually simply because she does not need sex as much or she thinks she should not have to do it except when she is in the mood or she thinks her husband should have to earn sex with her by "putting her in the mood" by doing various things she expects or likes.
Again. So much wrong.

The goal of this paragraph is to give good, Christian husbands a context for confronting their wives. To make it fair, I guess? And what the author blogger this person says is that it's okay for a woman to deny her husband sex for legitimate reasons. Like health. But the post never really explains what constitutes a legitimate reason.

Most reasonable people would say that not being in the mood is a perfectly legitimate reason. I don't want to. I'm a person. I don't have to. The end.

But in this post's worldview of marriage, that's just not good enough. Not only should a wife not expect her husband to "put her in the mood," but "not being in the mood" is not an "excuse" for getting out of her marital obligations.

Because the Bible. Please note that there are no Biblical references yet. Those come a bit later when the post attempts to refute a perceived objection to this perspective.

I don't think I have to tell you that this perspective of a relationship between a man and a woman is dangerous. Essentially, this blog post says, "You're a wife. You can't say no unless you're sick or actually giving birth right this minute."

Essentially, this view of a marriage creates an environment in which a wife feels obligated to have sex with her husband because of what he does for her (providing food, shelter, money, etc.), which is addressed later in the post and at length. Sorry, but that's rape culture.

Of course, the post includes a disclaimer, which is in a large font in the post. It says (emphasis mine):
I have not, nor would I EVER advocate for a husband to force himself physically upon his wife or to physically abuse her in any fashion. The issue being discussed is how a husband can confront a wife who chronically or willfully denies his sexual rights in marriage without just cause (be it legitimate health or mental conditions). He has the right, both under Biblical law, as well as under American law, to reason with his wife and try to convince her to willingly (even if grudgingly) yield herself to him, and thereby fulfilling one [of] her most important duties in Christian marriage.
Did you spot the conflict? I highlighted it.

Coercion is not consent. Coercion is not consent. Because, if we're going to bring American law into it, the legal definition of consent, under American law, is (emphasis mine):
"[...A] freely given agreement to the conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the use of force, threat of force, or placing another person in fear does not constitute consent. [...] Lack of consent may be inferred based on the circumstances of the offense. All the surrounding circumstances are to be considered in determining whether a person gave consent, or whether a person did not resist or ceased to resist only because of another person's actions.
So when this blog post says husbands should try to "reason with" their wives to convince them to have sex when they've said no, the blog post is advocating and encouraging rape culture.

The blog post says:
A husband ought not to feel guilty for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood if she yields, even grudgingly.
This not only advocates marital rape, but tells husbands that it's allowed, expected, and part of marriage. Because, according to the blog post:
A wife cannot flatly refuse her husband, she may only ask for a delay (a raincheck) and then she needs to make good on that raincheck as soon as possible. 
A husband has the right to confront his wife's sexual refusal as a sin not only against him, but also against God.
That's right, folks. Not only is a wife not allowed to say no to her husband, but if she does, she's not a good Christian.

There are people who say Christianity is ridiculous, but harmless, and the people who believe are misguided, but don't hurt others.

That's just not true.

When you believe in a teaching that not only breaks the spirits of its followers but teaches that rape is Biblical, there's a problem.

So, so much wrong.

The next section of the introduction (which I'll address in a few days) talks about how the advice requires courage and "tough love." It even compares sexual refusal to infidelity, so there's that to look forward to!

I'll be back tomorrow, but I have to stop now and go bleach my brain.

07 June 2015

Renew your spirit, and keep moving

I've been struggling lately. I've had to deal with depression and anxiety since I was in middle school, and while I can keep it under control the vast majority of the time, there are still days that are worse than others.

This week has seen some bad days.

I don't exactly why; nothing has happened to cause it. But I found myself really struggling this week to keep pushing forward and doing what I needed to do. The lure of doing nothing was particularly strong.

The first day it happened, I thought it was just my introvert-ness showing. Between Bo and I working together and Puck's school schedule, I hadn't had much alone time to recharge. The time I did have alone was spent driving or doing administrative-type work (updating task lists, organizing, etc.).

But it persisted. And changed.

And it had a weird, unwelcome feeling to it.

I have tools and resources to help me fight depression and anxiety, and they usually work. But this time has been a little different. The tools and resources I normally use haven't worked, and I've come to the conclusion that the only way out is through.

I know it will get better. I just have to keep moving.

05 June 2015

Transformation and clothing

I've been doing a lot of changing and developing, especially mentally/emotionally and spiritually, over the past several months. Along with reassessing my priorities in order to provide for my family better, I have renewed my efforts at self-care to ensure that I am in the best position to be the woman I want to be, and the woman my family needs to be.

As I've gone through these changes, I've noticed things about myself that have changed. I don't watch TV much anymore (I much prefer listening to New Age-y ambient music or indie, folksy music). I'm incorporating healthier habits in my every day life.

And my clothing tastes have changed significantly.

My clothing used to be simple, with most of my pieces coming from Soul-Flower (which I still love, by the way). However, as my career is taking a different direction, and I find myself interested in different things in my life, my wardrobe has changed. I'm shifting to a more minimalist wardrobe, focusing on French wardrobe-inspired basics in white, gray, navy, and black. That way, nearly everything in my wardrobe will coordinate with everything else, and I'll always look clean and polished, even when all I'm wearing is jeans and a tank top.

Sample French-inspired minimalist wardrobe (source)

I've got about half of what's on my list. I'm in the process of getting rid of what I don't wear and replacing with high quality pieces in my new wardrobe plan. The goal is to have the basic pieces I can wear throughout the year (especially easy since I live in Florida and the climate doesn't change too drastically between seasons).

The shift in fashion taste reflects a shift in my mindset, I think. I'm in a much better place than I was a year ago--or even six months ago--and this new wardrobe is a better expression of who I am on the inside: a professional, put-together, goal-oriented solopreneur.

One of the pieces of advice often given to those who work from home is to treat your home office the way you would a traditional office. That is, start at a set time each day, stop at a set time each day, and present yourself as though you work in an office.

It may be a great concept to be able to work in your pajamas, but if you look like you work in an office, your head-space is different. You allow yourself to feel that you're in "work mode" when you're wearing a pencil skirt, blouse, and heels.

Besides, the shift in my fashion taste has given me the excuse for a little retail therapy!

Do your fashion tastes change when you go through an emotional/mental/spiritual change?

04 June 2015

Tink had to get a pinch yesterday....

Yesterday was Tink's four-year checkup and physical exam for pre-K (hooray!). She was nervous about it, though, because she knew she would have to get vaccinated,* and kind of psyched herself out about it.

When Tink was called back by the nurse, before we even left the waiting area, she looked up at the nurse with her big eyes and said, "You're not going to give me a pinch, are you? I don't want to get a pinch." The nurse faltered, and said she only does what the doctor tells her to do (nice deflection).

The physical exam went well. Dr. M was impressed with her cognitive development. She speaks clearly in complete sentences, knows how to spell her name verbally, and has the fine motor skills to be able to write her name (first and last) legibly. She can do sequencing and counting, and is well on her way to being ready for school.

One thing we've always struggled with for Tink is her size. When she was a baby, she had weight checks once a week, was having blood drawn every other week, and went to a number of specialists to try and determine whether her slow--almost nonexistent--growth was for a reason. In the end, the pediatric geneticist said that either she's okay and will just be small (or grow out of it), or she has something that she was too young to meet the diagnostic criteria for.

So that was a worry for me this time. She has grown in height, which I'm incredibly happy about. We even had to buy her new clothes because her ankles were peeking out of her pant legs.

But she hasn't grown in weight. Like...at all.

That, paired with some pain she's been having, led the doctor to want to run some blood work and get an x-ray to see if there's a reason to be worried. There are a couple of things Dr. M thinks it could be, and the tests she's ordered will help figure things out. And she wants to see Tink in six months for a weight check (better than the weekly appointments it was when she was a baby!).

Overall, it was  good appointment, with one "let's see." That being said, Tink is active and smart and happy, and very ready to take pre-K by storm.

*We vaccinate. On time.