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We have a serious problem

“1 in 4 women in college today has been the victim of rape, and nearly 90% of them
knew their rapist.”

The above statistic makes me sick to my stomach. I have a daughter that will be off to college in a few years. But I also have a son. And as much as I pray for her to stay safe and smart, I’m teaching him to not be a rapist.

The statistics and numbers are staggering. Alarming. The case of campus rape and assault has been in the news a lot lately. The president addressed it in a speech. Rutger University students are creating apps to have on mobile phones to keep women safe on campus.

There’s nail polish that changes color in a drink to detect if it’s been rufied.

That’s great. But we have a problem folks.

We’re not changing the culture of our society. As brutal as it sounds, and like describing a middle eastern third world country, we are a rape culture people.

The United States of America is still a rape culture.

Why?

Because we still put the responsibility on the woman to keep herself safe. The problem is we aren’t teaching our sons to NOT RAPE.

Now while I really appreciate these apps and I will probably have my daughter download them on her own phone (You can read about the apps here.) But it troubles me when I keep hearing of all these measures for women to protect themselves and I don’t hear how we’re changing our culture and society for men to protect women instead of victimizing them. Girls are responsible to not dress provocatively. They can’t wear short skirts to school or school dances. Heaven forbid a boy would be distracted. Girls need to be responsible to not drink too much at a party. They need to stick together in a group. They need to check in with their friends. Reasonable measures indeed. But how nice it would be if men were gentlemen. Saints even.

We need to change when even fashion can dictate what’s cool for guys.

What about male clothing that promotes rape? Can you believe there are shirts with that message?

Foulmouthshirts.com (I will not offer the link, you can take my word for it) has shirts on their website, mind you, in over 350 colors and font styles, that read,

“It’s not rape. It’s a snuggle with a struggle.”

Idakoos.com sells shirts that read “I Love Motionless Girls”

People. This is war.

We have to stop this. It’s a huge battle on a steep hill, but can we please instill in our boys to respect women?

I know it’s not fun to teach our kids the birds and the bees. I know the conversations can be awkward.

But we need to be straightforward about sex, boundaries and respect. We need to talk to them about porn and not to download it. Yes. It’s degrading to women. So be up front with your boys. Tell them that is not how people have sex.

Tell them what is not okay when it comes to dating a girl.

Can we show them that the Ray Rice’s of the world and the Kobe Bryants are not heroes. Yeah. Remember Kobe was found not guilty of raping that woman in a hotel room, but I don’t believe it for a second that he’s innocent.

But let’s focus back on the campus situation. Women working together to protect each other is a great thing. Yes. Apps, buddy systems, staying sober; all of it, is important.

These are necessary since according to the Department of Justice, a college campus of 10,000 students could experience as many as 350 rapes per year.

If those numbers are unsettling (I attended the University of Washington, a campus of 50,000 students, that’s a potential 2400 rapes per year.) and make you want to bring your pitch fork to your nearest university, then listen to this:

Every 21 hours there is a rape on a college campus.

43% of college men admit to using coercive behavior to have sex, ignoring the woman’s protest.

1 in 12 college men admit to fulfilling the prevailing definition of rape, but don’t consider themselves rapists.

Only 10% of victims even report the rape.

And this is only the surface folks. There’s more stats where these came from. Shall we grab our torches now?

Do women just run around being all victimy? Or are young men predators? I’m sure most of these sons are good kids in all other areas.  Clearly we aren’t doing enough to keep them from thinking this behavior is okay. That along with teaching them to hold doors open for ladies, we haven’t pointed out it’s not okay to hold them down for a ‘snuggle with a struggle’.

What has to change? Let’s not make it the woman’s job to protect herself.

Is it some good ol’ boys club that encourages this behavior? That ‘bro code’ is more important than the safety of their girlfriends, co-eds and friends?

We need to teach our sons what rape is and not to do it. That there is no ‘gray area’. Where are the good boys? The gentlemen? Where are the young men to intervene in these frat house or dorm room situations? Because what is more important than a can of pepper spray to a woman, is a man setting an example and pulling back the curtain on his friends’ repugnant behavior.

Frugalista Blog tells us we need to teach our boys not to rape

I’m sickened after hearing even some of our senators and state representatives that still think there’s some justifiable reason to rape a woman.

No. There’s not.

What if she’s drunk? Nope. Not then.

What if she’s passed out? Nope. Not then.

What if she’s wearing a short skirt and you’re kissing her? Nope.

What if she came over when your parents weren’t home and you both got naked? Not even then.

I’m telling you moms and dads- it’s time we teach our boys about how to band together and honor women, and not just teach our daughters where to kick a guy in the groin or buy her magic rufie nail polish.

Are you with me?

For more information and sickening statistics-

http://www.crisisconnectioninc.org/sexualassault/college_campuses_and_rape.htm

https://www.rainn.org/public-policy/campus-safety

Why I regret spanking my child

We say it takes a village to raise a child.

It can take a fleet of people to bring home a new baby. Grandparents, neighbors, best friends are all helping the new and bleary-eyed parents with their unfamiliar and exhausting schedule. The dinners are pre-made in the freezer, the laundry folded by a kind grandma, neighbor or mother-in-law are absolutely life savers!

There are countless instances where the village kicks in:

A ride to the pediatrician with your best friend can help you with that cumbersome stroller you’re still getting the hang of collapsing to fit in your trunk…I’ve been there.

When your oldest is sick and you can’t pick up your youngest from school and that helpful neighbor offers to do it for you.

But when it comes to issues like discipline that border on child abuse, we can turn a blind eye and say that how you discipline your kids is your business. What goes on behind closed doors is your business. How you treat or mistreat your spouse is your business.

It’s a Pandora’s Box of taboo topics. A minefield of gray that most of us would rather leave to each his own.

However, if it takes a village to raise a child, why do we neglect one of the parts that is so critical to a child’s psyche and molding in how he or she will perceive violence, corporal punishment, and power?

In the case of NFL player, Adrian Peterson, he took a switch, a small branch from a tree and hit the child repeatedly for interfering with another child’s video game.

This is an old-fashioned form of punishment. Probably one our grandparents endured. I think my dad did. We’ve seen it on episodes of Little House on the Prairie when the school master disciplines a student with a switch or stick. Nuns did this in Catholic schools with rulers, headmasters with paddles.

The difference between those situations and the Adrian Peterson situation is the boy’s injuries and wounds look like they were inflicted out of rage and lack of self control.

Discipline should be carried out judicially. Not in a fit of anger.

This is why I can say I regret some of the spankings I gave my daughter. I know that I reacted in the heat of the moment when I gave her the swat on her diapered backside. Read more

 

Why I regret spanking my child by Frugalista Blog for Bonbon Break

It’s not my place to judge

“Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please.”

Remember those lyrics to the M*A*S*H theme song? Well, it wasn’t sung in the opening of the show, but I had the sheet music when I was 9 to play on the piano. I thought those words were so odd to me at that age. What on earth could be painless about killing yourself?

But I’ve learned in my adult years, that to the person who commits suicide, the pain of living is greater than the act of death. Hard to comprehend, I know.

There’s been much talk about suicide after Robin Williams’ death on Monday. Many bloggers have written about the topic. Some with stupidity and ignorance that makes me cringe, and some with understanding, poignancy and heart that reaches out to those who might be in a dark place.

I’m not writing this as click-bait. I’m sort of jumping on the bandwagon, I suppose. But I want to keep the dialogue going. And I want to offer my comfort and love to those suffering among the living.

Not the depressed ones, no. The survivors of someone they love that has committed suicide. This post is for them. I know a few, sadly. And what I’ve been reading and hearing on the Internet and social media makes my heart break for them. Because it’s no one’s place to judge or condemn their loved one for something that person did. Albeit final, permanent and devastating, but not their place to judge. No.

The stages of grief are first Denial and then Anger. I think some people dwell in the stage of Anger longer than is appropriate.

Can you imagine your mother or husband taking their own life? Leaving you behind to grow up alone with your sisters, or raise children without a partner? I can’t either. I do feel angry for those left behind. I could scream on their behalf. But I’m not the one living it. It’s not my place to judge.

But I know people that are living this. And I want to tell them that there is no shame. The pain of that family member was so great, so confounding that no one can understand. And it isn’t anyone’s right or place to tell them what ‘choice’ (not my words) they made. They were sick. Sure it wasn’t cancer, but they were sick. And it’s not my place to judge.

The mind’s chemistry is still a mystery. But we have come many strides in science to know that there are chemicals the body needs to function. Just like insulin or oxygen, we need a balance. And when that balance is off, things can go haywire.

How horrible that Sarah goes to school ashamed she has no father because he killed himself over the summer when he lost his battle with Bipolar Disorder. But Sally’s mom passed away from cancer and everyone is making her cards and offering help. But Sarah’s mom and siblings don’t talk about their loss. They’re too ashamed. Everyone says, “How could he do such a thing? How could he leave his family like that?”

He didn’t rob a bank. He didn’t gun down a school. He was sick. Just like Sally’s mom. He was sick. And the flames of pain and darkness burned too hot. It’s not our place to judge.

I can’t say it better than David Foster Wallace:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

I feel so unqualified to even broach this topic. But battling depression myself, knowing a friend who sought help to keep from attempting suicide, and the dear loved ones of friends and family that I know who are survivors of suicide; I can only offer my words as a salve. A balm to their wounds that might wear off temporarily, but hopefully will be felt at a time of need. It’s not my place to judge. And it’s not yours either.

 

It's not my place to judge by Frugalista Blog lifting the shame of suicide for those left behind

 

 

My America. Your America.

Are you a Republican? A Democrat? Maybe you’re an Independent. Maybe you’re apathetic and seem to just ignore politics and those public figures.

Are you Christian? A Jew? Athiest?

What I’m getting at is, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of your beliefs or ideals, some things are just a big deal and really cool to experience.

Yesterday, I got to do something with my children that we will never forget. It was something only a handful of people get the opportunity to do.

We greeted Air Force One and shook President Obama’s hand!

Yeah! Pretty freaking amazing!!

Have you shaken a standing president’s hand before?

Have you been [this close] to Secret Service? It’s pretty cool.

We have a lot of crap going on in the world. A lot of ills and worries. But there’s also lots and lots of cool and wonderful things. I like to focus on the wonderful. But that doesn’t mean I’m not helping or trying to help the ill or ailing as well.

We took the kids to Washington D.C. in 2010. Seeing the Smithsonian monuments and hearing all the history was a banquet of memories and emotions for the kids and us. We love history. We love this country.

I watch documentaries on presidents all the time. I have a fascination with the Kennedy’s. I modeled my wedding dress after Jackie’s gown. And then I got to see it at the Kennedy Library on our honeymoon, but only by coincidence. I didn’t plan things THAT well!

Politics and politicians can be incredibly divisive. We have a tendency of hearing things on 24 hour news channels and either wanting to believe them because they fit with our ideals, not having the energy to disbelieve because ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’, OR, wondering if everything you hear you need to take with a grain of salt.

I respect the office of the presidency of the United States of America. And whether or not you voted for that particular president that comes to your town, doesn’t matter. The president is in town! How cool is that?

We have a lot to be grateful for. I am grateful for my rights as a citizen and enjoying the freedom to shake a president’s hand, go to my church, and love who I want.

Oh, and I asked about your religion earlier because, had I met the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis, would you spew your religious inclinations my way? Your grievances with the Catholic church or Tibet? I hope not. I would hope that you can understand that it’s awesome and fabulous, and an experience that should be respected.

My kids got to do something they will tell their kids about one day.

So here you go. Our pics with the president.

Frugalista blog with Air Force One

The kids and I  pose in front of Air Force One in Seattle.

 

President Obama with Owen

President Obama chatting with Owen, and Emma’s head in the foreground.

 

The money shot and Owen shaking Obama’s hand.



The privileged child parent’s lament

 

It is a world of Starbucks, iPhones, YouTube and Uggs. Or not the whole world, just ours. The middle suburban class of North America.

The privileged child parent's lament by Frugalista Blog

I don’t know exactly when this awkward transition of our culture started that went from cool novelty gadgets, to advanced science fiction at our fingertips on a constant.

If you’re like me as a parent in this time of ours, you might sometimes think you’ve created a monster. That all the things you said you’d never do as a parent, you do now without even thinking twice.

Do you feel like you’ve given in? Or did you just give up years ago and not realize? Maybe the fight is already over and there isn’t anything to give in to.

Like the Starbuck’s drive-thru, for instance. It absolutely irks me when my children get grumpy over the fact that I won’t get them Starbucks for breakfast. There’s a number of reasons why I don’t just hop in my car and drive the quarter mile down the street to the drive-thru and get them their favorite cheese danish and vanilla bean Frappuccino every morning. Cost. It’s $10 a pop for both kids every time I do that. Logistics. Maybe I’m still in my pajamas and I don’t want to leave the house. Scruples. I feel absolutely awful for going the easy and expensive route at every whim my child has.

But how did we get to this point? If I demanded McDonald’s as a child and expected my parents to administer to my beck and calls as frequently as my children do, I’d a had another thing coming! When I was a kid, McDonald’s was a treat. It wasn’t a staple.

On some mornings I have gotten Starbucks for my kids because I wanted it too. Because we already were in the car. Because maybe, it had been a busy morning and it’s a nice treat. There- a treat. Trust me kids, mom wants a pecan tart and caramel macchiato every morning too, but we just have to deal! You can’t have Christmas every day. So you can’t have Starbucks every day. My rules.

The way we’ve created much of our convenient drive through food establishments as staples because we spend the majority of our time in our cars, isn’t really our fault. Or it is because we’ve made that bed for ourselves with our schedules, and now we have to sleep in that proverbial bed?

And I don’t mean to just pick on Starbucks. Let’s talk about smart phones. We have smart phones in our family. All three of us. Owen hasn’t gotten one yet. It’s an 11th birthday right of passage. Once they’re off to middle school, life is easier when your child has its own modern day honing device, complete with GPS and messaging. That’s pretty much what it is in my opinion.

Emma has had her cell phone for about 3 years and has used it for the greater good and not evil. Thankfully. She has had a smart phone for the last year of those 3 years. Does she spend a bajillion hours on that thing? Yes? Do I do on mine? Guilty.

So until I set mine aside, I can’t really expect her to ditch hers, right?

And then when you do get your kid a smart phone, it’s not like their FRIENDS’ smart phone. Or it doesn’t have unlimited data, or it’s not the upgrade like little Jimmy got. Waa waa waa. Call the whambulance.

Oh for Pete’s sake!! You got a smart phone dammit. Stop your bitching!

Maybe this isn’t just a problem from this era. Maybe long long ago, Cassius was upset because Antonius got a better abacus. Maybe Fauntleroy teased all his friends over the gold pocket watch he got. And little Abigail always got the fanciest curds and whey before heading off to school while the other kids just got regular old porridge.

It’s just that fine line of making things nice enough for your kids, but keeping them from over indulging.

Remember the scene in This is 40 when the parents are telling the kids to limit electronics? And they tell Sadie the 13 year old, to build a fort with her friends, and Paul Rudd says, ‘go find a hoop and beat it with a stick down the street.’

Oh if only our kids just played with rocks and sticks again.

I guess we’re just going to have to actually PARENT the little buggers. Set boundaries, tell them no. Even when they hate us for it. God parenting is hard.

 

 

 

Does this picture make you angry? It should.

Sign the petition to stop using anorexic models

Photo credit Saint Laurent Paris

It makes me angry because naturally thin women don’t look like this. This looks like someone who is afraid to eat a Tic Tac for the 1.5 calories that’s in it.

Thanks to Shannon at The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful for bringing my attention to this. And not just raising a fist in anger or posting it on her blog, but gathering her wits and doing something about it. The ad campaign is from the design house of Yves Saint Laurent. Shannon is using Change.org to petition the CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, Francesca Bellettini to stop using anorexic models.

I have signed Shannon’s petition and I’m sharing it with you. Because it is possible to make a difference. Seventeen magazine no longer photoshops it’s models after a Change.org petition was brought against them.

Sure, there are naturally tall and thin women who model. Maybe they head to Old Country buffet on a Sunday and eat their weight in waffles and then go kayaking afterwards to burn off those extra calories. That’s awesome.

But there’s also models who have died from anorexia. Because they had an eating disorder  caused by the mental crippling that begins with photos like this that tell girls, “be skinny, get work as a model.” Right?

Finding a woman who doesn’t want to change at least one thing about her appearance is like finding a unicorn wearing a rainbow tutu. It’s impossible. But we can be the change to help design houses value the lives and health of young models more than just its label.

Sure, the fashion industry is about the clothes, not the models. The models are just human hangers. Well, sorry folks, there’s no such thing as a human hanger and this is someone’s daughter or sister. She deserves a healthy life past the runway.

Please CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION! and then share it for others to sign too.

Thank you!

AYFKM?* : Boob vouchers

“I can’t wait to be like mummy with big boobies. They’re so pretty.” Poppy, age 7.

No, not me or my daughter. That doesn’t run in this family.

Do the blogging gods just make this stuff up? Does it magically fall in to my lap so I can poke fun at the unsuspecting half-wits?

A mom in the UK gave her daughter a voucher of liposuction as a Christmas present to be redeemed when she is 16. She already gave her a voucher for her birthday for breast augmentation to be used later as well.

Mummy has had over 50,000 UK Pounds of work done on herself. That’s as in currency, not silicone.

When responding to criticism, she says, “Poppy (the daughter) is a normal girl, like any other. Girls don’t want Snow White and Cinderella anymore. They want to be WAGs.”

A WAG is a British term for a wife or girlfriend of a high profile soccer star. Oh my GOODNESS! It’s like what we call an MRS degree!

Only they don’t go to college for it, they get plastic surgery for it. I guess that means there’s soccer groupies that hang out after games with their big boobs, skinny arms and pouty lips. PUHLEEZE!

We can’t all be brilliant Tina Feys or Madeline Albrights; self-described unattractive females with enormous BRAINS. (I know, who else would lump those two together but me?)  Some like being intellectual, bookish, brainy. Like Sarah Vowell. Incredibly witty, with an edge, a dry side that you never know what is going to come out of that head of theirs. Talent, success based on talent. Shall I go on?

To each his own. I’m not against plastic surgery. I wish the tummy tuck fairies would come in my sleep and do their job. I might even get Botox one day. (Oh hush James).  I like pageant girls too. The Miss America scholarship kind. NOT the Toddlers and Tiaras kind.

Sorry, but white trash getting behind on your trailer payments so your daughter can be Grand Supreme (sounds like a burrito) and wear a crown bigger than her head, just isn’t right. Especially when they whine and cry the whole time. Because we need more shows with kids whining and crying.

Poppy’s mom is an event planner for plastic surgery and swinging parties. Wow, you folks in the UK don’t mess around do you? I mean, you do, but, well, you know what I mean.

She idolizes the UK media sensation Cheryl Cole. Didn’t she get fired from Simon Cowell’s show and is divorced from her husband Ashley? Psst. He’s a guy that cheated with a woman from these parts and she sold her story to a British tabloid. Google it.

Ridiculous UK Daily Mail article of Poppy the wunderkind

I can't tell if she's excited or her face is just frozen that way from Botox.

*Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

Glee — ‘coming out’, ‘first times’ and more parental anxiety…

I let Emma (11) watch Glee. Owen, (8) does not. He doesn’t want to. And I’m so glad for now!

It’s not really his cup of tea- all that dancing and singing (snooze) and then there’s the kissing. And that’s just disgusting to an 8 year old boy.

Some parents would object to the content of Glee. It’s not all singing and dancing. It covers homosexuality, teen pregnancy, adultery, bullying and sex. Lots of undertones of sexuality.  BUT- – if you think your child isn’t mature enough for it- don’t let them watch it. But do we need to ban a show? Really people? Isn’t that the idea of parenting? I don’t let my children watch Family Guy either. I think it’s rude, offensive and vulgar. Inappropriate? Very much so. Does it have any value? No.  I think Glee does however. If it offends you- don’t watch it. But for the millions out there that gain insight, feel acceptance from it, or are just entertained by it, it’s a quality show.

I asked myself if I was comfortable with letting Emma watch a show where teenagers come to grips with their sexuality. Where teenagers realize they’re gay, and dealing with coming out to their parents, their peers and their crushes. And my answer is- yes. If there’s a vehicle of positive examples of children trying to understand all those feelings that jumble around inside of them during the teen years, then what is wrong with that? I watch it with her. We discuss the topics. If I’m uncomfortable with her seeing something, I ask myself why? She knows about the birds and the bees. That’s just the mechanics, I realize that. Nuances and romance and innuendo are entirely different! But talking about these things is what opens doors. It’s what brings children closer to their parents. Helps them trust us as confidants. It doesn’t fill their head with salacious thoughts of going out and losing their virginity!!  And isn’t it better they are talking to YOU than just the kids at school? Or they overhear disgusting ‘locker room’ talk on the bus ride or in the cafeteria? Face it- it’s out there. And some of it is shocking. So if Emma is equipped with an understanding of what is disrespectful vs. respectful and compassionate, then I don’t care if she’s 11 or 20.

Some conservative groups want Glee off the airwaves. (http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/11/08/glee-teen-sex/)

Not just because of homosexual story lines, but teen sex story lines where 16 and 17 year-olds are talking about their ‘first time’. Yes, technically they aren’t adults. They have adult raging hormones though! And if you’ve ever seen a Glee episode, there’s a lot of talking, but not a whole lot of ‘doing’. You see characters kiss, embrace on the bed, sit on the bed talking. Yes some things are implied. But yes, the characters are clothed. Most of the time the characters rethink their emotions- decide not to go through with something. Think of themselves first instead of acting out in the moment or for peer pressure. These are all things I want my children to do. Seeing the discovery process of young adults who make those important decisions can have a lasting impact. And I think for the  better more than for the worse.

We saw the Glee movie in the theaters. A lot of it was fan testimonials. There are so many kids out there that felt Glee saved their lives. They needed something to relate to, something to help them know that what they were going through was ‘normal’.

I feel I’ve been so lucky that Emma and I talk about almost everything. No topic is really off limits. She trusts me. I honor that trust and continue to do what I can to nourish the ‘talks’ we have. I hope those talks don’t end. Especially as the boyfriends start to line up!!

Thankfully, right now Owen is still in the girls are gross stage. When that changes it will be James to take the lead. Right babe? Owen is quite frank with his ‘body talk’. He asks questions and points out anatomical things for me. (Some I don’t want to know!) But I always react with respect, integrity and understand his sensitivity. He is much more private than Emma, but as long as he knows he can share when he’s ready, I’m here. And so is James. Oh thank goodness!