babies · feelings · feminism · mississippi · motherhood · politics · protest · race · sexual assault · trump

What Happens When You Throw an Anti-Trump Rally in Mississippi

img_20161009_184224Donald Trump has brought out a side of me I haven’t seen since my college days.  He has made me militant af and so far there’s no sign of my backing down.  My level of rage has not abated.  Hearing that garbage human talking about women that way on Friday was very triggering to me and apparently I just live like this now and because I am back to pre-pregnancy, pre-breastfeeding levels of caffeine intake a day  I have a lot of manufactured energy to burn.

I got the idea to throw a “Never Trump” rally and immediately texted my friend Lindsay, who is a very reasonable person, and who has protest experience, and whose husband is a police officer and would know if I was doing something illegal and is also a normal mom with kids who doesn’t want their president and role model to be a sexual predator.

I knew if she agreed to show up, I would go do this rally even if I could only get a few people to show up.

For anybody who doesn’t live in Mississippi, it’s hard to explain the level of political apathy and willful ignorance people engage in here.  The polite term for racists, misogynists, and white supremacists here is, “my redneck cousins,” or “my REALLY redneck cousins.”  When people have gotten engaged lately, it mainly seems like they support Trump.  I wish I could say it were just everybody’s redneck cousins, but it’s not. It’s average people, working class, etc…  He has held rallies here with thousands of people in attendance.  The headline our local TV station chose in the aftermath of the tape was about Trump apologizing for the tape, instead of you know, that a candidate for president had bragged about sexual assault.  It’s no secret that this is a very red state, so why bother protesting?

At the end of the day, I just couldn’t keep quiet.  It seemed too important not to make some kind of statement and I truly believe that most people here would never leave their daughter alone in a room with this guy and would be deeply ashamed if their son acted like that, so I thought it was worth it to try something.

It was very important to me to do it before the debate and in a timely manner before the press moved on to whatever Trump scandal erupted next so I created an event Saturday to protest the next day, Sunday.  I knew this short notice would probably prevent me from getting a bigger crowd, but I didn’t want to wait.

Lindsay and I got the word out fast.  We posted our event on the WLOX article about Trump “apologizing,” and we DM’d multiple likely anti-trump groups.  Our event was shared 14 times in 24 hours by regular people and large progressive groups with huge followings.  We invited people across political party lines and we got at least 54 interested people.  I knew we would only get a small fraction of those to actually show up and I was right, but the people who did come, were so amazing.

I made some very basic signs that said “Never Trump” and a few other phrases, got there early and waited.  I used my stroller to carry everything and set up camp in Gulfport’s largest and most prominent public park right near HWY 90, the main drag on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  People slowly filed in.  We ended up with 8 adults and a few of us brought our kids.

We had a brief prayer/moment of silence for Survivors of Sexual Assault.  My toddler interrupted me and squirmed throughout my short speech where I read off a list of different things Trump has done to disqualify him for the presidency (and public life at all) and then we got our signs and headed toward traffic. (I wore my babe in my Tula, so she was safely attached to me, not running off).

I was very nervous about safety.  I told everyone to stay together, and not to engage with anybody who came at us with negativity.  I told everyone that if at any point they felt threatened or unsafe we would shut down, and if anybody looked like they would get violent we would immediately call the police.  At one point a young skateboarder kind of scared me because my overactive imagination (and the reality that there are tens of thousands of gun owners here) made me question if his cell phone was a gun.

So imagine my relief when the first cars drove by our signs and started honking in support!  We did get a few people (all white) who gave us the bird or a thumbs down or yelled something at us.  We could hardly ever make out what they said.  My absolute favorite moment was when a guy shouting his support for Trump and giving us the bird got slapped in the face by his girlfriend in the front seat.  I was dying.  It was like watching a metaphor for the feminist struggle physically manifest itself in front of my eyes.  The skateboarder kid?  He politely asked to take a selfie with us.  His mama raised him right.

All in all, it genuinely seemed like people were happy to see us out there.  Practically every black or Latino person who drove by us honked or shouted or waved or gave us a thumbs up of support and even some old ass white people did too (and a few other white people).

My favorite was the black guys in their big trucks revving their engines.  It’s just such a quintessential way to show your feelings in the deep south.

It was really nice to meet the other people who showed up to protest.  We all added each other on Facebook and exchanged info about our backgrounds and political involvement.  I think I’ll see them again at future events.

My daughter loved it.  We were outside. There were other kids there.  I brought crayons! Her absolute favorite part was when we would chant.  If you’ve never heard a little baby shouting “Never Trump!” you haven’t lived.  It sounded like this- “Ne-ba Chump! Ne-ba Chump!”  I’m so proud of my little activist.

All in all, it felt amazing.  It felt very empowering to be holding a bright blue sign and shouting at the top of my lungs, utterly rejecting this sleazebag, out loud, in public, unashamed, not hiding.  I felt like I was accomplishing more than I might just losing my shit on facebook during hour after hour of my rage spiral.  I had my laughing baby on my back, good people at my side, perfect weather, sunshine and a cool breeze.  It was a beautiful day and people saw us, they listened, and maybe we let people know, who wouldn’t dare come to a rally, that there were people out there who felt the way they did, that they weren’t alone, and it’s ok to stand against the crowd of people telling you to tow the party line, or not to vote your conscience.  It felt like freedom.

So that’s what happens at an Anti-Trump rally in Mississippi, you have fun, your baby is cute, you get an overwhelming majority of supporters versus cretins, and you meet super nice politically engaged people!  I think you know what your weekend plans are everybody!

feelings · feminism · motherhood · sexual assault · trump

Sexual Assault is #notokay

burst-1439569_960_720

The first time I was sexually assaulted was when I was 12.  A boy in one of my 7th grade classes groped my breast.  I was embarrassed and scared and ashamed.  I wanted to stay quiet.  A girl I was friends with witnessed it.  She made me tell the teacher.  The boy was sent to the vice-principal’s office. He came back to class that period and sat next to me every day for the rest of the semester because there were assigned seats.  I don’t think anyone ever called my parents.  I don’t know if he was ever punished.

The second time, a family member forced me to hold up my shirt to show him my breasts and threatened me if I didn’t do it.  He also snuck in my room and lifted my shirt while I pretended to sleep because I was too scared to move.  I was 13.

Too many times to count, as a young woman dancing in a club or out for a night, a man rubbed his erection on me on the dance floor or groped me or tried to kiss me without my consent.

Once, when I was hanging out with friends at the People’s Improv Theater in New York, a place I loved and felt safe in, where I put up my first plays in New York, where I still have many wonderful friends to this day, a man who had previously been banned from the theater for allegedly assaulting another woman, without any provocation from me, grabbed my face and kissed me in the middle of the conversation.  I was drunk and confused.  I tried to shake it off.

When he tried to do it again, I stopped him and said, “you shouldn’t have done that the first time.” He got angry and started yelling at me but it was loud and crowded and nobody noticed.  He accused me of leading him on and walked away from me.  A guy I had a crush on was nearby and I was embarrassed.  I was afraid he would think I was into this guy or with this guy who had kissed me without my consent.  To other people it probably looked innocent enough, drunk people making out in a bar, maybe even dating, getting in an argument, you don’t want to interfere, a guy wouldn’t do that in front of everybody if it wasn’t ‘ok’ right?  Especially a guy with a bad reputation who maybe needed to prove that women liked him?

These are my stories, and they all make me cringe and feel afraid and skeptical of men to this day.  I have more too.  I’ve been followed home by men, cornered in elevators, yelled at on the street.  I’ve even been roofied.  I think the horror of being roofied made me talk about it for a long time with a sense of humor.  It was the only way I dealt with it.  The man who roofied me and my friend didn’t get away with anything.  He didn’t get his hands on me, but when I think about what would have happened if he had, I can’t handle that, so I joke about it being a wild night.

Not anymore.

When I heard the Donald Trump tape of him, a rich powerful famous married man, bragging about kissing women without permission, how he could get away with anything because he was a star, how he couldn’t control himself, how he tried to fuck married women, how he moved on them like a bitch, how he could grab their pussies, I felt and remembered every time a man has sexually assaulted me and so did millions of women.

These are my stories, but the story I have told people many times about sexual assault is this, and it is the one that has stuck with me the most, and it is the most powerful one I know.  Once in college, a bunch of the girls in our theater department at school snuck into the school at night to have a slumber party for the graduating seniors which makes me laugh so hard to this day.  This is the kind of wild stuff we college girls got up to.  We snuck INTO SCHOOL.  We hung out with our girlfriends in sleeping bags in the middle of the acting/movement classroom floor.  We sat around sharing our feelings and our stories. We CLEANED UP AFTER.  These were the kind of girlfriends I had.

At some point during the night, we were playing some version of Truth or Dare that just turned into truth, and we all shared our deepest darkest secret.  There were 13 of us, and as we went around in a circle, all but ONE of us had a story about sexual assault.  Some version of a man violating us, taking advantage when we were drunk, or touching us without consent, or raping us.  For some of us it was a family member, for some a friend, a boyfriend, a guy we liked…  In a room of 13, only one had been spared.  It was the moment I knew.  Men are dangerous.

Obviously I’m talking about this, and trust me, I feel very vulnerable doing so-  I feel scared and nervous about the repercussions- but obviously I am talking about this because a man who can do this to a woman, who can brag about it, who can delight in it and laugh about it, cannot be the President of the United States.  It can never happen.

Anybody who votes for him or defends him, is defending sexual assault.  He is against women.  He hates women.  There is no way that you can think this is excusable or okay and not hate women. My language is strong but trust me my actions will be stronger.  Not only will I vote, as I have in every election, local or otherwise since I have been registered in Mississippi, but I will bring my daughter every time.  Not just this November, but every time, until I am dead.  This will be OUR STRONGEST FAMILY TRADITION.  I will NEVER shut up.  I will NEVER stand down.  I will raise my daughter to understand her rights and how to fight back.

I know I live in a red state.  I know I live in the south.  It does not matter.  I will NEVER stop doing everything in my power to stop this endless bullshit cycle of assault.

I know the stats.  There is a strong likelihood that my daughter, even though I am fiercely protective of her, even though I cringe to think of this ever happening to her, will be one of the 12 girls in that room and not the 13th, but you can better believe that I will teach her how to fight back.  I will show her the video of Gigi Hadid elbowing her molester in the face.  I will take her to the polls.  She will grow up with the first woman president of the United States.  We will change the culture.  We will change the country for women.  We have to.

motherhood

7 Ways I’m a Better Mom Than You

img_0461

(I built the crib in this photo from foraged bones.  That’s why it looks so pure white.)

1. I’m right about everything. 

I’m the kind of mom who wins every facebook fight she gets into.  Nobody that I’ve ever voted for has lost an election.  My petitions are so good my pinterest page for them has like 3 million followers.  I have a “hack” for everything.  I believe in myself and if people living in poverty want to get out of it, they just need to visualize.  I’ve watched a lot of Oprah, not just Super Soul Sunday, old school Oprah, where she interviewed trans people and created books.

2. MY kid knows how to behave.

You might think you see my kid melting down in Wal-Mart because I’m making her sit in the cart instead of running around the store getting lost and taking down the displays causing fire hazards and eating the produce in the middle of the floor (like a brat!) but really she’s just EXPRESSING herself because I taught her sign language in the womb and now she is advanced at both verbal communication and echo-location.

3. I feed my kid the RIGHT way.

My breast milk was so magical that now my daughter can only survive on the purest of foods. You will never see me giving my kid fast food (more like toxic sludge, amiright?) because I have the time, energy and money to make her homemade organic kale biscuits and turkey puffs FROM SCRATCH that she loves (or she starves without) during my weekly meal prep sessions where I gently and educationally include her in the process, teaching her the right way to handle the raw meats and LOCAL vegetables I grow in my backyard garden with only the finest essential oils.  NO WATER here- CLIMATE CHANGE.  Once a week I give her a sugar-free lemon dust sorghum cookie as a “special.”

4. I have a GIRL.

I see a lot of moms walking around in strollers with boys. (I exclusively babywear.  My daughter’s feet won’t touch the ground until I SAY SO).  I just don’t see how they do it. How will they plan his wedding?  Their fathers don’t even get to take them to their first purity ball.  How do you even control a boy?  How do you make it wear a headband?

5. I figured out all my problems BEFORE having a kid.

Before I had my daughter I was debt-free, a homeowner, a HYBRID driver, with a respectable middle class income from my rewarding career that offered excellent benefits and 6 weeks paid vacation (maternity leave) a year (that I promptly surrendered after my first OBGYN visit to confirm my first pregnancy).  I had a robust savings account, retirement account and I frugally saved on wedding expenses to my supportive loving husband by making my own centerpieces out of reclaimed bird’s nests (with REAL EGGS- ORGANIC- REUSABLE!) I have a coupon e-mail and a regular e-mail.  I use a fertility tracking app.

6. I know what’s wrong with you.

Stressed? Tired? Are you hoping for FREEDOM? Please join my private facebook group to find out about an exciting business opportunity that can make you $$$$$$ and help you lose weight at the same time!

7. I take time for me.

My appointment book can get really crazy, between my duties as a wife and a mother, voluntourism commitments, church groups, mommy meet-ups, intimacy dates with my husband, brunches, book club, community gardening, monitoring my daughter’s screen time, my wholesome home-based business, play dates, crafts, etc… that sometimes a mom just needs a break (wine)! So I make sure to schedule 5 minutes a day just for me.  I go to my bathroom, look at myself in the mirror, give myself a good slap and do my affirmations.  It gives me all the strength I need to get back out there and conquer. I’m fine.

babies · body positivity · fat acceptance · feelings · feminism · motherhood · weight loss

I’m Not Thinner, I’m Just Gorgeous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(This image of me was taken in a photo booth at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, when I was reporting on a fashion show for Allie is Wired.  I was easily one of the fattest women anywhere in the tents that day, and I think I looked AMAZING.  I really love my outfit, which was completely non-designer cheap ass H&M stuff except for the Coach bag, which was a gift. I have no money.)

Whenever anyone asks me if I’ve lost weight,  a lot of times I say no, or “I don’t think so,” or in the past I’ve said, “Thank You.”

The truth is, I really don’t know, but I suspect not- I rarely weigh myself- and I don’t even trust scales anyway.  The same clothes have fit me for years, with a brief interlude where I was pregnant.  I was chubby before I got pregnant.  I only gained 30 pounds when I was pregnant and lost most of it in a few weeks after pregnancy, probably because my daughter breastfed constantly day and night.  It certainly wasn’t exercise or a juice cleanse.

Other than that I’ve worn a size 14 jean for years and usually an XL in dresses and tops. I’ve stayed a 38DD bra size, a size 8 bikini underwear, a size 7 shoe, except for sneakers which are 7.5.

I don’t sweat my weight.  I feel beautiful and hot.  I never diet (it’s a huge scam) and I eat what I want and I dress how I want and I exercise when and how I want. I am 100% in charge of my body.  I have no real health issues (seasonal allergies?).

I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about my weight, and I am proud and happy to call myself fat, not in a self-deprecating way, but just because I am and that’s ok.  Of course, I didn’t always feel that way.  (I’m a woman on Earth).  I used to really hate myself, a lot, and my number one target of my self-hatred was my body.  I would beat myself up over it.  I starved myself trying to fix it.  I let myself wallow in misery and depression and compared myself to thinner girls and really let every mean thing I’d ever heard about how women need to be thin in order to be beautiful or loved or human into my brain and poison it.

As soon as I stopped doing that, I actually lost weight.  This is true.  The last time I lost weight, was several years ago when I gave up on dieting.  I went from a 16/18 to a size 14.  Or maybe I didn’t, because I stopped weighing myself, so how the hell do I know?  I think I did, but maybe I just let myself wear size 14 clothes because I wanted to wear tight clothes and stop being invisible.  Maybe I was never a size 16/18 but that’s just how I saw myself.  I honestly don’t know, but that’s what happened.

The decision that being fat was by far, the least of my worries as a woman, changed me forever. Kindness, respect, dignity, intelligence, and confidence became my only goals, WAY above outer beauty.  Being thin is not a moral obligation and it is not an achievement and it does not bring peace into your life, so I quit trying to attain it.

Coincidentally, my only spiral back into a place of shame and food issues and all that glorious bullshit associated with the pressure to be thin, was when I was pregnant, and for a while after I had my daughter, which is a whole other chapter in my story, and I have been clawing my way out of that pit for some time now to tell it, and I will soon, now that I am finally feeling the light and the joy again of not giving a crap about my weight.

There is a lot more that I have to say about this, but let me get back to my original point.  After this big decision to give myself permission just to breathe and live and not worry about my weight, I got asked this question a lot, and I still get asked this question ALL. THE. TIME.

Whenever I am looking really good (maybe I am wearing clothes I didn’t used to dare wear or people think I “shouldn’t” wear because of my size and pulling them off or maybe I am just feeling good, feeling happy and feeling confident) people ask me if I have lost weight. They mean it as a compliment, sort of.  They mean “You look beautiful.  The only way to be beautiful is to be thin.  Therefore, you must have lost weight.”

Maybe they’re being sincere.  Maybe they think that’s what I want to hear.  Maybe they don’t mean it at all, but they just want to say something nice and they think implying that I have lost weight is nice, because I’m not thin, so that must be my greatest desire and success.  I don’t know, but it is probably the most common “compliment” I get.  What a passive aggresive af compliment that is, right?  I can just hear Lucille Bluth saying it with a painfully phony grin plastered on her face.

My answer going forward has to be that, absolutely, I have lost the weight of fear, shame and depression.  I have lost my obsession with striving to be thin.  I have certainly lost a lot of my pain.  That’s what happens when you reject what you know in your heart to be a lie.  You become free.

So you can stop asking me that.  You can just tell me how beautiful I look or even, don’t worry about how I look at all, or how any women look.  You can let that one go, and if you’d like to know any of my secrets to achieving joy and purpose and happiness, I’m happy to share.