Slut Shaming or Why Bristol Palin is NOT a slut.

Let’s discuss… what is a “slut”?
I’m sure many of us have used this word in disgust at a woman we don’t like.  Maybe thrown this word out after a woman sleeps with a man we like or simply find attractive.  Or, maybe even, used this word toward one of our good friends whose sex life is different than ours is.  I know I have at all of the above, and it’s not something I’m proud of.

My late 90’s early 2000’s Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary my Gram got me for high school graduation (I’m sure she’d be thrilled it’s being used for this purpose, haha) defines a slut as:
“1. a slovenly woman
2. a – promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute
2. b – a saucy girl : minx

I typed into Google the following:  Define: Slut
and got this:
noun; derogatory
1. a woman who has many sexual partners
2. a woman with  low standards of cleanliness

Anyone else seeing the problem I am?  The word slut, is used as an insult to a woman who *gasp* dares to own her sexuality unabashedly.  A WOMAN.  Neither definition says “a person” or “anyone”. Neither definition includes “man” or “male”.  It is, simply, a woman.

Yesterday a friend posted an article about the slut shaming of Bristol Palin in the wake of her announcement that she is pregnant.  I am NOT a fan of the Palin family, overall.  However, I think that calling Bristol, a twenty five year old mother, a slut is a bit insane.  Hear me out…
Yes, she’s a hypocrite.  After her first child, Tripp, was born Bristol became a spokeswoman for The Candies Foundation and recorded a few PSAs on teen pregnancy.  That’s not so bad.  That doesn’t even make her a hypocrite… she was simply showing that life as a teen mom wasn’t easy or glamorous and attempting to deter young girls from getting pregnant.
However, she was also an abstinence educator, and therein lies the hypocrisy.  It’s fine that she decided to abstain from sex until marriage and to turn it into a job as a speaker.  However, to stand in front of how many thousands of people (I’m assuming) over the years and preach waiting until marriage when she actually wasn’t… that’s not okay.  That, you guessed it, makes her a hypocrite.

But how does her hypocrisy make her a slut?
Figure it out yet?
It doesn’t!

There is no set number of sexual partners or sexual encounters that is used to call a woman a slut.  Generally, that word seems to be thrown around when others are uncomfortable with a woman taking charge of her sexuality or they are jealous of the great sex and confidence that woman has.  Neither one is an appropriate reason to call someone a slut!
Think about it… a man has sex and nothing is said.  He has sex with one, two…ten partners and no one bats an eye.  He takes a woman home from the bar and he’s hot shit.  However that woman will likely be called a slut.  Why is it that in our society men are “allowed” to be sexual creatures and women are not?

Bristol was engaged and nearly made it to the nuptials, but something happened and it didn’t pan out.  She was with a man she planned to spend her life with and got pregnant, and from what she posted it was not an accident.  She made the CHOICE to get pregnant.  Now that she is single again she is making the choice to have the child.  How does this scream “slut”?  It doesn’t!  Hypocrite, yes.  Slut, no.

The idea that a woman taking charge of her sex life is a bad thing is something that needs to be erased from our society.  It goes even deeper than being called a slut.  If a woman is sexually assaulted, they are asked what they were drinking/wearing/doing/saying.  Automatically the blame falls on her because she’s a woman and of course the testosterone filled man just couldn’t help himself.  Heaven forbid if that woman is someone who has had sex before- that vile temptress!  Are you freaking kidding me!?  It is absolutely insane that this is the society we live in!  It’s time for a change.  Women are not looked at as property of men in this day and age so they should stop being treated as such in all respects.

It’s fine to have a lot of sex.  It’s fine to not have sex at all.  It’s fine to wait until marriage.  It’s fine to have sex with as many partners as you so choose, so long as they consent.  No one should ever make anyone feel bad for their sexuality.

YA Hitting the Highway?

Well as this blog is called “bibliophile lifestyle”, I thought that maybe at some point I could post about, you know, books.

I was looking through BookTube videos on YouTube earlier today and came across a few that expressed something that has been on my mind a lot this year.  Young Adult books, namely my lack of interest in this genre.  For a few years I was all about the YA – nearly everything that I read was YA. I was hooked into so many series and I was reading voraciously.  It was fantastic.  But then.. well.. okay let me backtrack a bit and start at the beginning.

When I was the target age for YA books – there was no YA section. Seriously.  I had the Fear Street and Christopher Pike books that I loved as I was a huge fan of horror novels, but even at that age I was reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King.  Back around 2007 or so when I started cataloging each book that I read it was a lot of adult contemporary.  Slowly YA became a “thing” and then it was a “Big Thing”.  I think Harry Potter really started this off for me.  I will NEVER turn my back on that series or anything that comes from it.  It is a beautifully written series that I adore.

When Potter ended and I closed book seven (for the first time… because let’s be honest it’s been reread a few times since then) I looked for something to fill that void.  I heard about Twilight and figured… “Why not?”  I was hopeful it would cure my Post Potter Depression.  Instead it bothered me – a lot.  I read each book, saw the first movie or two.  But it was just terrible.  Not only was the writing subpar to me, the plot was awful (sparkly vampires…what the fuck?!)… and most of all the abusive relationship between Edward and Bella.  I’ll rant on that another time, but suffice it to say that I do NOT agree with what goes on in that book and shame on the author for glorifying an abusive relationship to young girls, tweens, and teens and passing it off as romantic.

After that I went back and forth between adult contemporary and some YA.  Then a few years ago, three or four years I suppose, it was all about the YA.  I fell in love with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.  I was in awe of Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy.  The Hunger Games and Divergent were a big thing.  These were some of my big time YA loves, and remain some of my favorite series.  That won’t change.

However, the more YA I read the more it felt the same.  A lot of it was dystopian future.  Love triangles.  Insta love.  Over and over..and over.  Sure, there were some unique books thrown in the mix, but I felt like so many were just a retelling of the ones that came before.  I was getting bored.  Then last year I was getting hyped about three books that were coming out (or recently out that I was waiting on getting from the library).  Of those three I didn’t finish one, forced myself to finish the second, and finished the third but figured out the HUGE twist less than halfway in.  It was kind of heart breaking.  It started a major reading slump.  For me, whose first stop at the library or bookstore was the YA section I was losing hope.

I began to read more adult contemporary and some new adult (NONE of that 50 Shades bullshit for me, thanks).  I began to pick up some of the classics I own that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  I looked for other BookTubers to add to my subscriptions that didn’t focus solely on YA.  I was finding more authors and titles I hadn’t thought to pick up before.  Things that made me think and inspired me in a way that YA was no longer doing.

Once I started my graduate school program this March, time has been slim for fun reading. Because of this I was inspired to do a pretty massive unhaul of a lot of YA books and series that I knew I wouldn’t finish.  I still have a TBR miles long – but it’s more of a mix of books and not just one genre.  I am, by no means, saying I will never pick up another YA book again.  Cassandra Clare’s new series will be out soon.  Lauren DeStefano has is still working on the Internment Chronicles.  There are a few on my shelves that I am still really interested in reading as well (Paper Towns, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone).  But, I think that the part of me that enjoyed YA so much as grown.  It’s grown because the YA I read solely  helped me to see things differently and think differently.

All of that said – no one should ever be ashamed for what they are reading.  While I have strong opinions about things like Twilight and 50 Shades, I don’t condemn anyone for reading it, but I will share my thoughts on it if the person is open to hearing them.  So long as a person is reading, I call it a win.

Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got.

Oi. It’s already nearing the end of June.  I hate summer… for about two days I enjoy it and then I am ready to go back to chilly autumn weather and even the cold winter weather.  Only good thing about summer is my birthday.

I’ve sat down to write this a few times today, as I had the day off, but the words never wanted to come to me.  I get in the shower and BAM!  all the words come flooding in.  I need a waterproof laptop so I can type while I shower.  Because, while I’ll read a physical book in the shower (yes, it can be done without ruining the book), I won’t bring electronics in… because… obvious reasons.

So, hi, friends!

My second grad school class is done.  Wow.  I earned an ‘A’ in the first and am hoping for the same in the second, I should know by the end of the week.  Now, I am on my week break.  This means I have all week to read, Netflix, and game my little heart out (aside from work, of course).

Through my limited coursework so far I have realized how much I missed school and, honestly, how well I do with school when I want to.  I have gotten a lot of positive feed back from my weekly essays and research papers.  Enough that I am spending time making points of things to write about because it would be stellar to be published at some point, no?

I turn 33 in just over a month.  Most days I don’t even feel like an adult… but I, apparently, am one (or so I am told).  I work a full time job that pays the bills.  I am married.  Trying to get pregnant (no luck there yet, though that’s not a shock).  I go to school.  But, here I am at nearly 33 asking myself what I want to be when I “grow up”.  And the only answer I have had that feels 100% right is… I want to be my best original self.

Being myself is a super hard thing for me to do.  I know, it sounds crazy… but for someone like me who has quirks and passions for things that many people don’t seem to give a shit about it’s hard.  For someone like me who struggles with anxiety and depression and chronic illness, it’s hard.  Because, I always feel like I am being judged.  I want so badly to not really care what others think, but I have yet to reach that point in my life.

The thing is, I realized very recently that I can care what others think but still do my own thing.  I don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything that I do (well, almost anyone).  It’s my life and it’s my body.  Others don’t have to like it but so long as I don’t lose my job or marriage over it, the overall opinion of others isn’t all that important.  I know my marriage isn’t going anywhere bad – so that’s covered.  My job is secure.  My future career goals are a bit more liberal and open minded than where I am now… so that’s fine.

It’s taken a lot for me to speak up and speak out on things but I have, and each time I am more comfortable with it.  I don’t back down just because someone tries to bully me into doing so (a recent debate over circumcision comes to mind – I held my ground and thanks to the knowledge I have was able to stay collected and end the conversation with an agree to disagree instead of saying what I always used to “You’re right”, even when they so obviously aren’t).  I have some friends who are on the polar opposite side of me when it comes to social issues.  When I say ‘feminist’ they cringe and try to run the opposite direction.  But, they have stayed my friends and supportive, even if they don’t totally agree with me most of the time.

So, I am striving to be more me than I ever have been before.  I will be authentic and weird and loving.  I will be soft and kind, but taking no shit.  I will do my best to lift others up, and not tear them down.  I know there will be times where I can’t shine as brightly as I want because it may not be deemed appropriate – and for now that’s okay.  I will work on tearing one barrier at a time down in my world.

If I want something, I am going for it.  I don’t owe explanations to everyone and I just need to remember that.

I was always bad in chemistry.

I have many topics I want to share with y’all – but today’s is personal and a bit heavy.  So, please, bear with me.

As I lay in bed in the middle of the day, again, staring blankly at the ceiling the truth of things hit me hard.  I’m depressed, again.  Screw you, brain chemistry.

I think a lot of it has to do with trying to figure out how to cope with living inside a body that won’t work the way it is supposed to.  Between the fibromyalgia and the PCOS I feel like my body can’t do anything ‘right’.  The fact I am still not pregnant kills me.  The fact that no matter what I do lately weight loss won’t happen is upsetting.  The fact that my body hurts so bad at times, for no obvious reason, that I just want to cry is beyond frustrating.

Overall, my life is pretty great.  I have a loving husband.  A job I enjoy, and working toward a higher education to do even better in that department.  We have a roof over our heads and food in the pantry.  I have access to ‘extras’ that while they seem basic to me, I know not everyone can afford them.  But, things aren’t how I always pictured they would be… and it isn’t a bad thing in most cases… but sometimes when life doesn’t match the beautiful picture that has been painted in your head it can get to a person.

Depression and anxiety have been near constant companions for me for most of my adult years, and before.  I have times where things are really really good and times when they are awful – thankfully the truly awful rock bottom is a place I only have been to one time.  A good portion of the time things are fairly even keeled.  I have coping tools that help me when things are really bad – as I really dislike medication, mainly because one hasn’t ‘worked’ for me and most have awful side effects.  I know not the best excuses in the world – but here we are.

I’m an avid reader, that’s nothing new.  I enjoy mental health memoirs, I always have.  I think a good part of that is being able to strong identify with the author and/or main subject in the stories.  Realizing that the thoughts I have aren’t all that ‘crazy’ and that I am, in fact, not alone.  There is comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, even if you don’t know the person who shares in your turmoil.  Misery does love company, after all.

In a lot of those books they focus on how deep into it they felt – not being able to get out of bed, shower, or basically do anything.  I completely get that.  I feel like there is this… part of my brain that somehow functions under depressive conditions.  This part is what keeps me getting up, getting dressed, pulling forty hours a week at work, and doing all of the other life things I have to do.  If that part ever totally shorts out, I am beyond screwed.  I don’t know why it works even at the worst of times… but somehow, something keeps me moving forward.  Barely, at times, but I’m thankful for even that.

Honestly?  I’m not sure why I even felt the need to write this.  I generally keep these things to myself.  But with the stress of school, work, and life in general I figured maybe writing would be cathartic.  That maybe, for even a few minutes, by putting words onto the screen something may make more sense.

Lady on Lady Hate.

Today I would like to touch on something that has been on my mind a lot recently between my newly chosen education/career path and the media.

Lady on Lady Hate.

What sparked this post was a tweet that author J.K. Rowling sent out in support of Madonna after Madge fell during her performance at the Brit Awards last week.  For those that didn’t see a clip, Madonna was performing her new single and it appeared she got pulled down off of a platform by the cape she was wearing by one of the dancers.  It wasn’t her fault and it was an accident.  Madge, always graceful, got right back up and continued performing.  The problem is that the world went NUTS with nasty and snide comments about Madonna.  I mean, this wasn’t even her fault!  Even if it had been, shouldn’t our first worry be for her safety?   Shouldn’t we applaud her recovery and drive to go forward instead of reveling in her less than glamorous moment?  Well, J.K. Rowling did just that in this tweet:

jktweet

The sad thing is that it is so very rare to see a woman praising or applauding another woman in today’s world. The media makes it seem that, as a whole, women are kind to each others faces and nasty behind each others backs. Sadly I can think of far more women in my life who fit that than the type of woman who supports and encourages other women, and I blame a lot of that on society and media.

As young ladies we get mixed messages.  We are told to be dainty and girly and always polite.  But, then we are told to grab life by the sensitive bits and pursue our dreams, and that we can do whatever boys can do.  It is entirely possible to be both.  You can be driven and kind. You don’t have to revel in someone’s misfortunes.  We as humans, by nature, don’t like every single person we meet.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But to be a ‘Mean Girl’ to someone new in the work place just because it’s fun?  To rip apart someone, no matter how famous, who had some sort of misfortune?  That’s NOT okay.

So when did it become so ‘fun’ to make fun of others – regardless of if we know them or how famous they are?  When did that become the proper thing to do?   I firmly believe that hate is a learned action.  Just like young girls who see their mothers obsess over their own bodies tend to grow up to do the same, young girls who listen to their mother and her friends tear other women down for whatever reason think that’s the ‘norm’ and ‘okay.  Young girls coming home from school in tears because someone bullied them, or way worse, ending their own lives over bullying.  It’s not a joke and it’s not okay… yet the meanness continues in our schools and in our media.  It is our job to teach the younger generations how to act, and so far friends… we are doing a bang up job at best.  But, that is a post for another day.

Higher Ground

As always, I am terrible at blogging.  I can’t tell you how many times I had a thought, an idea, or an event that made me WANT to write.  But then, I just didn’t.  Depression is a MFer.

So here I sit, awaiting yet ANOTHER wonderful north east Ohio snow storm that OF COURSE has to happen on a Sunday so I get to drive in a mess to work at 6:15am on Monday morning because even when the weather forecasts call for snowmageddon, somehow the cities are never ready for it.

I bought a new planner today.  This was the highlight of my day.  And I know there are those of you who don’t know me out there confused as to why:
A) I am buying a planner when it is almost March, as opposed to doing so at the new year like a “normal person”
and/or
B) Why buying a planner was the highlight of my day

It’s because… I as of March 30th I will be back in school to obtain my Master’s Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Gender Studies.

I have always wanted to go further with my education.  The problem was I was so stunted when it came to options.  I have my BA in Human Development and Family Studies.  This has me working at a local child care center – where the money isn’t half bad and the job is really fun.  However, I paid HOW MUCH for that piece of paper and I am changing diapers and wiping snotty noses of children who are not my own.  I knew online schooling would be my best bet – I could still work full time without rushing to and from class.   But, honestly?  The only things I could think of were in the education field or counseling.  Both require outside practicum hours that would be nearly impossible to make work within the confines of my work schedule.  So, I gave up.  Maybe I just wasn’t mentally ready to think about going back at that time.  Maybe I was just terrified (oh wait, I still am!).  Whatever the reason was, it just didn’t happen then, or any of the handful of other times I really started to look into Grad School again.

A few weeks back I had a conversation with a friend of my husband’s who is a HR person.  She was trying to help guide me into a new career path as I had expressed interest in getting out of child care/teaching and doing something… more.  I craved more.  I like to think I am good at what I do, and I do enjoy it… but I need something different to make me fully happy in my career.  Shortly after that conversation I was reading posts and chatting with one of my favorite people on the planet.  Unbeknownst to her she was inspiring me through her work that she is doing within human sexuality.  It got me really thinking that maybe I could turn something I am majorly passionate about into a living for myself.

Things that I am passionate about:  Ending mental health stigmas, GLBT rights, Breaking traditional gender roles, sexuality within rape survivors or eating disordered patients…. just to name a few.

Forward to another conversation with another lovely lady who got her Masters degree online and is now working on her Doctorate.  She encourages me to check into the school she attended for her Masters… when I start searching through offered programs I was becoming discouraged.  It was more of the same… until I saw the Psychology program offered a concentration in Gender Studies.  It clicked.  I *KNEW* it was right for me.  I went for it.

I had the day off of work on Monday (funny how that worked out…) and reached out to the school.  Now here we are.  I will be studying online at a Regionally Accredited University and within eighteen months to two years, depending on how I stagger my courses, I will be finished.  My mind is absolutely spinning at the ideas I have and the jobs I can look into once all is said and done.

Am I nervous?  VERY.  I have ADD and because my husband and I are trying for a baby I can’t be on my medication.  I have anxiety and depression that can be overwhelming at times.  However, I also have the support of my husband and close friends who all believe in me.  My mom and a few other family members that know seem very excited for me and are encouraging as well.  I know it will take some work, and maybe more work than the ‘average’ person.. but I can do this.  I will.

Here’s to new beginnings and hopefully a whole load of success.

Bout of Books 12.0 Wrap Up!

Bout of Books 12.0 ends tonight, and I doubt I will see much in the way of any progress worth noting tonight.  It was a super long day of moving furniture and cleaning my house… so it was a total loss in the way of reading.  I have to admit, I kinda sucked for this read-a-thon.  I didn’t complete my goal, and until last night I was way behind.

Total pages read: 727

Total books read: 3 – One novel and two graphic novels.

During the week I ended up focusing on The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.  I didn’t read a lot each night, due to being absolutely knackered after going back to work from a long break, but I tried to get a few pages in each night.  Saturday I finished that book and moved on to Anya’s Ghost… that was a pretty quick read and I was able to also pick up and finish The Gigantic Beard that was Evil.

However I made no progress on Bad Feminist.  I thought I was really going to be more into that one than The Interestings, but that wasn’t the case.  I’m enjoying Bad Feminist, though, and plan to finish it soon.

Not my best read-a-thon but not my worst.

Reviews of all books and graphic novels are forthcoming :)