Note To Self: My Husband Is Not The Patriarchy

I’m angry. Right now.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill anger. It’s the kind of seething anger that pops up every now and then without notice.

It’s anger without a reason.

This might sound crazy, but I’ll be perfectly happy one minute — and then ten minutes later I’m fuming. It literally comes from no where. There’s typically nothing that predicates it. It just happens.

I try to get rid of it — try to step away for a moment and breathe. The anger doesn’t happen all the time. But it happens enough. And I become bitter and resentful for an entire evening.

It’s truly awful.

It’s basically this — out of nowhere I become angry at the fact that I’m the woman in the house. And just to be clear — I LOVE being a woman. The anger stems from this feeling that there’s this unspoken, subconscious expectation of me based on my gender.

Don’t get me wrong — my husband is a feminist. A big one. He’s amazing. He pulls his weight. He supports me totally and completely. He loves his children fiercely.

Yet sometimes. Sometimes I can’t help but resent the fact that he’s a man (which I’m glad he is.) Although he cooks and helps with the cleaning, and splits night-time feedings 50/50 — I still feel short-changed as a woman.

Because I worry. I worry about every goddamn thing, and my beautiful husband looks so goddamned relaxed. The thing about Ernesto is that he knows how to kick his shoes off and read a book in the middle of chaos. He’s not being lazy — the man works his ass off. But he knows how to take a moment — a breather.

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And I don’t know how to do that. As a woman, it’s ingrained in me to care for everything — even when it’s not necessary. There is this deep-seated unspoken expectation within myself to run the household. To make sure the kids get their baths, to do endless loads of laundry, to maintain the kitchen, to wipe down the bathrooms, to change the sheets, to make appointments for the kids, to schedule playdates, to sign the kids up for activities, to make sure the kids are well dressed, etc, etc, infinity, etc.

My husband does a lot. Hell, dinner wouldn’t get made without him. I wouldn’t have any food in my house if it weren’t for his diligent shopping expeditions with the kids. And did I mention he brings home most of the money?

So why am I angry? Why am I complaining? I decided to have a family — I should be grateful. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Last year my husband bought me a stack of books on feminism from the used bookstore. It was a lovely gift. One of the books called, The Bitch in the House (trying to tell me something babe?) is a compilation of works by various female writers that highlight the daily trials and triumphs of being a woman. I didn’t read the entire book. As a matter of fact I only read the first 20 pages. It was difficult to read a book about angry women when I have so much anger of my own.

For god sakes. I just want to be content. And happy. Which I am most of the time — about seventy percent of the time if you want an exact number — a number I would like to improve on.

But the first essay I read in The Bitch in the House was a piece written by E.S. Maduro, titled Excuse Me While I Explode: My Mother, Myself, My Anger. She writes about her feminist boyfriend — a man who was the complete opposite of her traditional, sexist father. In it she explains her seething anger as she realized that even the most feminist men can’t escape male privilege — that these men with all their progressive ideas about women, still unknowingly bask in the glow of that ultimate advantage. And it’s infuriating.

Here’s an excerpt describing her anger upon returning home from work and seeing her boyfriend relaxing and downloading music at the computer in the midst of a messy, dirty house:

On such occasions I will be angry for thirty minutes, or maybe until I have eaten something. I will ruminate on the place of the woman in today’s “modern” society. I will cook and clean, and all the while think about how I am falling into the same trap of housework that my own mother fell into. As I scrub the kitchen sink, I will hear her voice saying, “You have choices,” and I will scowl at the concept of choice. I will decide that my modern, liberal, open-minded boyfriend, having been raised by a mother who did everything in the home (in addition to having a job), will never notice or care if his girlfriend or wife takes over those same domestic responsibilities. He is capable of doing all of them, but if they get done for him, my thoughts go, he might never even realize that they needed doing in the first place.

What she continues to say brings full circle the very conundrum that clutches me.

But then slowly, as I finish picking up the dirty clothes from the floor, I will think about his day, will remember that he works long hours, too — and that he loves music, that finding new albums to record off our computer is a way for him to relax, to wind down. It will occur to me that maybe he was waiting for me to come home so that we could eat together, that he didn’t know I would be arriving so late; that he was sincere, rather than just trying to avoid a fight, when he offered to cook for me {. . .} gradually my anger will start to wane, and in it’s place will come guilt and confusion and sadness.

Maduro talks about how she wants and chooses to be angry.

I feel frustrated by the guilt that accompanies asking Paul to take the initiative to run the dishwasher, to do the laundry without shrinking my sweaters, to buy groceries that are healthy. . . to ask for what my mother never would have, to be what she would have considered a “nag.” In wanting my home to be as well organized as my mother kept hers, I feel as though I must choose between doing everything myself and constantly asking Paul to do more.

And this is where the resentment comes in. I don’t want to have to ASK my husband to do more. Why would I do that when he already does so much? I don’t want to be a nag. But I have certain expectations of how a house should run — how a house should feel. As a woman, I know how to run a house. Why? Because that’s how I was brought up. My mom did everything — cooked, cleaned, and raised four children. I watched her do it all. And even though my mom is a feminist, I felt the unspoken expectation that this is what I would do when I grew up — raise children and run a household. As a matter of fact, it’s what I WANTED to do. As a little girl I dreamed of being a mother.

And here I am with four children. Cooking. Cleaning. Running a household. Except I have an amazingly helpful husband. And there are many duties that we try to split evenly. But I’m angry that it seems easier for him. Easier for him to get out of the house — or so I think. Couldn’t I go out for a drink at night if I really wanted to? Ernesto would totally support that. But I feel guilty for WANTING to — because, well — I have other responsibilities, and the dishes need to be done, and the laundry needs to be folded, and Kiera needs to clean her room.

And it’s so obvious that I’m doing this to myself. Ernesto isn’t to blame. I WANT to be angry — to bask in momentary bitterness. But I don’t want to WANT to be angry.

See how this is totally my problem?

My husband is not the patriarchy. He’s my partner. As a woman I’m lucky to have all the choices that I have today — even though we, as women, have a ways to go.

Ernesto says that I can relax too. Why can’t I sit down for a moment and read a chapter out of my book? Why can’t I draw or write for twenty minutes? Ernesto feels no guilt, no shame, no concern about taking that small amount of time for himself to recoup. And he shouldn’t. He deserves that. But that’s — in part — because he’s a man. Kicking his feet up is okay and smiled upon. Our society practically encourages it despite the fact that we’ve come a long way. There are just some things that don’t stress him out the way it stresses me out. BUT THAT’S NOT HIS FAULT. It’s this never-ending cycle that’s all just a load of shit because I’m doing this to myself.

Really.

So in the musical words of my nine-year-old daughter, maybe I should “let it go.”

Yes. I just said that.

I need to find a way to let go of this unrest I feel as a woman. This underlying rage isn’t doing me or my family any favors.

It’s time to move on from this stagnant place — time to be grateful for everything I have. Time to stop wallowing in these “first world problems.”

I think I’ll step outside and breathe in the fresh air. And just let all this shit go.

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What Do You Think of Pantene’s New “Feminist” Ad?

So I came across Pantene’s new commercial for the Philippines. On the surface, it comes off as a powerful statement — one that shows how powerful men are revered in the business world versus how powerful women are looked at as “pushy,” and “bossy.”

Watch it for yourself:

But that’s just on the surface. And it’s so fucking easy to see right through the message.

After all, Pantene’s goal is to sell shampoo to women — to make them look better.

As Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post so aptly put it, “Jane is ‘bossy’, but her mane is glossy!”

Pantene, while boasting its worldly, “modern” views of women in the workplace, wants women to look beautiful while shattering the glass ceiling.

And doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of breaking through the gender demarcation in the workplace? It’s an ugly thing — this never ending expectation that women are supposed to look beautiful while we demolish gender stereotypes.

Praise and accolades abound for the new ad — and Sheryl Sandburg is giving it a standing ovation.

What do you think? Does the ad deserve applause, or does it deserve a raised eyebrow and a head shake?

Tide Thinks It’s Cute And Sexy When Men Clean The House

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What the fuck, Tide.

Really? What is this, the 1950s? Get yer shit together.

It’s not sexy when men do housework. It’s not hot. It’s not a turn-on.

It’s what they’re supposed to be doing to help their partner maintain a home.

Your attempt at being cute and funny was a total FAIL.

Check out Buzzfeed to see what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Five Links To Feminism

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Being a woman — it ain’t easy. Here are a few Sunday morning (er afternoon) links to feminism.

  1. Burly Dudes Replace Hot Models to Illustrate Double Standards in Advertising
  2. Cool Story Bro
  3. Women — Like men, only cheaper — image on the gender pay gap.
  4. Slutty Lady Detectives
  5. Calling Me A Terrorist Is Not Flirting

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

A New Twist On The UN Google Autocomplete Campaign

Good morning!

Ready to be pissed off?

Ha. Well PolicyMic has come up with a new twist to the UN Women Google auto complete campaign.

Elizabeth Plank of PolicyMic replaced the word “women” with the word “feminists” — and of course, you guessed it — there’s still a lot of hate toward feminism. Surprised?

Take a look.

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Happy Feminist Friday!

And The Men Were Terrified

And now for your viewing pleasure.

Introducing…

Vintage Anti-Suffrage Postcards.

The Society Pages posted these images back in 2012, but I thought they were worth revisiting. All photos are courtesy of Palczewski Postcard Archive at the University of Northern Iowa. These particular postcards are from 1909.

Enjoy!

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

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Palczewski, Catherine H. Postcard Archive. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA.

Poor men.

Eight Year Old Girl Believes In Herself

Kiera, my eight year old daughter, saw that I was reading a few articles on feminism this morning. She nodded her head and said, “Ah yes. Womanism.”  So then she stood before me and proudly proclaimed:

A boy at school said girls are weak and that we can’t even pick up a pencil.

So I picked up HIM.

That’s my girl.

Dear Texas

Fuck you.

Texas reinstates anti-abortion laws that will shut down almost a third of it’s clinics.

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As a pro-choice woman who is 25 weeks pregnant, I find this reprehensible. Read more at Feministing to get more details.

Happy Feminist Friday, right?

The Alpha Parent Shows Me The Error Of My Ways

I wanted to bestow upon you this image that I came across on thealphaparent.com.

It’s a gem.

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It’s pretty amazing, huh?

Amazingly fucked up.

First of all, the image is not original or creative. It’s one of the lactivists most frequent comparisons: Formula as fast food.  Formula as junk food. Formula, essentially, as poison.

I haven’t read very much of The Alpha Parent blog. It’s pretty hard to stomach — my pregnancy is making me nauseated enough.

But I did come across this gem from 2011 titled: Why the way you feed your baby is MY business.  I know, right? A typical, blatant, mean-girl title that’s meant to garner as much attention as possible.

Well unfortunately, this title caught my attention.

I will summarize her blog post for you. Because it’ll be fun.

The way you feed your baby is HER business BECAUSE:

1. If you use formula, you’re saying YES to dead babies in developing countries. Because these evil formula companies (and I acknowledge that they’re not very ethical — they ARE big business after-all) force their food on the poor, illiterate women who end up mis-using the formula. Tragic and awful? YES. Is it prevalent enough for me to go through even more agony so I can provide breast milk that only has marginal benefits compared to formula? NO.

And if this is a major concern for you, research your formula companies. Or go for local formula companies such as Vermont Organics infant formula.

2. She finds the way I feed my baby offensive because she cares about all the diseases/illnesses/bacteria he will acquire from such junk food.

As I don’t use formula you may wonder why I’m troubled by this. However just because I did not give birth to the children suffering or put at risk because of formula feeding, this does not prevent me from feeling compassion for them. I find it short-sighted and self-centred that people expect me to care only for children to whom I have a genetic link.

Essentially — she cares about my children more than I do.  Because I put them at risk by formula feeding. By the way, I’m still waiting for my almost three year old to get an ear-infection from all the formula I gave him.

Yeah, still waiting.

Waiting.

Oh, nothing yet? Okay, well now I’ll wait for another (insert horrible disease here.) In the mean time, I’ll cry myself to sleep every night because she cares about my children more than I do.

3. Formula feeding mothers are ruining the environment. I’m honestly just too tired to deal with this one. That must mean I don’t care about the environment. I hate myself!

4. If you use formula, you’re not a feminist.

Excuse me while I have a laughing fit.

Okay, I’m done.

Consider her far-reaching reasoning:

Furthermore, a common conception of formula is that it aids a woman’s economic mobility through strengthening her role in the workplace. She is no longer tied to a dependant infant and can instead pass a bottle of formula to grandma and return to being economically active. However this perceived benefit is negated by the fact that formula fed children are significantly more likely to fall ill, and numerous studies have shown that a child’s illness commonly results in the mother rather than the father taking time off work (Journal of Early ChildhoodWeimer.JNursery WorldMother and Baby;Working Mums Magazine). Thus when a woman is taking more time off work she is seen as a burden by her employer. This does not strengthen the role of women in the workplace. Consequently women of childbaring age are viewed as liabilities. This is not to mention the strain on employers caused by their employees sick children results in lower incomes for working families, thus reducing income tax revenues which pay for government programs and services that benefit everyone.

So I’m trying to understand what she’s saying here. Is she saying women should just stay home and nurse their babies to further the women’s lib movement? Or we should be chained to breast-pumps to mitigate any illnesses that MIGHT happen? I have an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence (yes I know this is not considered “real” evidence), but my two breastfed children had far more illnesses than my formula fed child. My daughter who was exclusively breastfed, had numerous ear infections as an infant and toddler.

Dear Alpha Parent — perhaps just the act of bearing children is considered a liability — not HOW they’re fed.

So, in essence, you must feed your babies through your bleeding, cracked nipples to prove that you’re not a slave to formula companies. This makes you a strong, independent woman!

Thanks for your concern, Alpha Parent!

5. By formula feeding my child, the Alpha Parent is concerned that I’m contributing to the puritanical idea that breasts are strictly sexual and not for breastfeeding — that breastfeeding women shouldn’t nurse in public. I’m kind of flattered that she thinks that I’m contributing to all these problems — and to my country’s distorted view of breasts. I think Alpha Parent needs to take a deep look at herself and wonder if maybe — just maybe — part of this backlash of nursing in public is related to the lactivists smug, self-congratulatory, mean-girl status — and their scathing judgement on those who don’t breastfeed.

By the way, I think nursing in public is awesome and should be done more often.

6.  She’s concerned about my child’s intelligence. She’s worried he’ll be stupid or some such shit.

The following quote is pretty hysterical:

But why do I care about the IQ of other people’s children? As formula feeding lowers the IQ of the population, this means less scientific advancements. We’re talking about cures for cancers and other diseases, new amenities, new technologies, strategies to combat global warming, and so on.

Ah yes, the Baby Boomer generation produced nothing but dunces — no scientists, literary geniuses, lawyers, politicians, mathematicians, doctors, etc, came out of that generation — all because most of them were formula fed.

7. I’m more likely to abuse my child because I use formula. Apparently. Or something like that. You know, because I don’t care about my child.

But Alpha Parent cares. She cares more than me.

8. My formula feeding choice effects Alpha Parent because I’m producing the spawn of satan. Essentially — my child will be the next Charles Manson — or something along those lines.

9.  My baby is going to get her baby sick. And she cares about that because it effects other children as well. Pretty soon my baby will be getting everybody sick. It’s gonna be like that movie Contagion up in here, folks!

10. She cares that my child will be getting colds and the flu or some such shit. Because breast-fed babies don’t ever get sick, remember?

11. Giving my children formula means that I’m uneducated and will continue to have babies, perpetuating the cycle of poverty in this country. Maybe she’s right! I AM having my fourth child after all.

12. She’s concerned that formula fed babies are going to take all the doctors away from her children.

13. Apparently she thinks I’m anti-breastfeeding, and that I’m hurting other women’s chance at breastfeeding successfully. I won’t dignify this accusation with a response.

14. My child is a drain on the medical community.

And hilariously, Alpha Parent concludes with this:

Just to clarify, I fully defend a woman’s right to chose how she feeds her baby IF that choice is fully informed, free from bias and backed up with adequate support…

I find this statement laughable after she lambasted all formula feeding mothers for being uneducated, selfish, and anti-feminist.

Sigh.

But, whatever.

Excuse me while I tend to my suffering, wasteful, unintelligent, abused, juvenile delinquent, germ-infested, medical doctor hogging offspring. I have a lot of work ahead of me to “fix” my children so they can be contributing members of society.

Thanks, Alpha Parent, for showing me the error of my ways.

How To Give Up Breastfeeding And Not Feel Guilty About It: Part 2

Mother Feeding Baby

If you read my previous post on breastfeeding, you’ll know that I was very successful with nursing my first two babies. Just to do a quick recap — I breastfed my first two for over a year — almost to the 18 month mark. I had basically zero issues except for some minor pain in the beginning. My babies latched perfectly.

Perfectly.

So when I became pregnant for the third time, I expected the same ease — the same loveliness and warmth with breastfeeding that I had with my first two.

It never occurred to me that I might have problems. There was just no question in my mind.

I kept thinking: I’m a good, educated Mom. Of course I’ll breastfeed.

Before you hate me for my smugness, let me tell you my breastfeeding story.

Breastfeeding my third baby was pure fucking hell.

In the hospital, the lactation consultant figured I knew how to breastfeed since I was successful with my first two. She basically came in, looked at me, and said, I see you’re experienced. Everything looks fine! And then she walked out of the room. She didn’t even look at my baby’s latch.

And he was latched all wrong. I could feel it. And no matter how I tried, he just wouldn’t open his tiny little mouth wide enough. He would just take in the very tip of my nipple. And this became excruciating.

Excruciating.

By day four postpartum, my breasts were hard as rocks and on fire. I remember looking down at my left breast and thinking, Huh. That’s weird. What’s that big huge red streak doing there? By evening I had a fever of 103 — and full blown mastitis. My mom and my aunt were experienced nursers and encouraged me to continue nursing through it. Every article I read said to continue nursing to relieve the clogs in the glands.

So I did.

And I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how much it hurt. I would throw my head back and wail in pain as my mom and my aunt helped him latch to my bleeding nipples. My precious newborn was literally sucking the life and blood out of me.

Let’s just put it this way. My nipples looked like ground beef. Yes. I want you to visualize that so you can see what women go through to give their baby the “very best.” And of course, since mastitis is an infection, I had to go on antibiotics. And this was when I discovered that I was allergic to Penicillin.

I broke out into an itchy, painful body rash. It was on my face, neck, arms, tummy, legs — you name it. So there I was with bleeding nipples, a horrid infection, a full blown body rash and raging postpartum depression — not to mention, I was recovering from my third C-Section. After a week, I was able to get out of bed, but the rash was still there. After two weeks the mastitis was back again full force. I had to go on another antibiotic and I soon discovered that I was allergic to Cephalosporins. Yes. I broke out into ANOTHER full blown body rash.

All through this, I kept nursing and pumping. Pumping and nursing. Waking up every two to three hours to pump because my breasts were so engorged — and because I wanted to keep my supply up.

I didn’t want my husband to see my breasts because they were so mangled — like open wounds.

By week number three I had to go to the dermatologist to get something for my rash. She prescribed a steroid and told me that I could never take Penicillins or Cephalosporins again — because I could die from an allergic reaction. She basically said that the rashes were my body’s way of warning me to stop taking them.

Nice.

After the appointment, I got into my car — and cried. Sobbed. Wept.

I was exhausted. I couldn’t enjoy my baby. I couldn’t enjoy my children. Plus I was still recovering from a C-section.

And I thought —I’m done. I’m so fucking done.

So I called my husband, and through my crying hiccups and snot and tears — I told him to buy some formula.

And I felt like a piece of shit. A failure. Yes, folks. After all that pure fucking hell, I was still being hard on myself — like it was my fault that I couldn’t breastfeed.

But you know what?

When it comes down to it, I didn’t WANT to breastfeed anymore. I could’ve kept going. Could’ve kept pumping to keep my supply up — but at this point, my baby was just nursing out of my right breast because my left breast was so painful. He wouldn’t even latch on to my left breast — would just straight up refuse it. And he was probably refusing because I would stiffen up every time he tried to latch. He could feel my anxiety.

So my husband bought some formula. I continued to nurse my boy out of my right breast for an additional three months, but we supplemented heavily with formula. Then one day, he didn’t want the breast anymore. He was done. I tucked my right breast away — this time for good.

And he became strictly a bottle baby.

When I made that decision to start giving formula — I grieved for a week. Yes, dramatic. But I did. I cried my heart out. I thought I failed my boy. I was giving him something “second rate.” I was reading blogs that compared formula to fast-food.

I was made to feel that what I was doing was equivalent to child-abuse or neglect.

But you know what happened? Because I didn’t need to pump, I started getting more sleep. My son became a good sleeper (and yes, I know the lactivists say this is a negative thing,) and my breasts healed. I became healthy and happy again — and wouldn’t you know it — my son was healthy too.

He’s two and has been sick twice in his life. I know this is purely anecdotal evidence — but fuck. The breastfeeding movement needlessly scares the shit out of mothers.

Oh, and he’s not “less intelligent.” He’s barely two and recognizes all his letters and knows their sounds. He knows all his colors and shapes. He counts to ten and sometimes beyond. In addition, my first born — who was breastfed for 18 months — has severe learning disabilities and ADHD.

I’m not saying there are no benefits to breastfeeding. What I’m saying is — there are no guarantees either way you slice it. Whether you choose breast or bottle, there are other factors that play a more significant role in how your child develops.

During my grieving phase, I found a website that made me smile again. The Fearless Formula Feeder was my go-to blog for awhile — because posts like this made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It made me feel normal — like a mother who just wants the best for her baby regardless of how he’s fed.

Because anguishing over breast milk vs. formula should NOT be on our to-do list as new mothers. We have other shit to worry about — especially if there are older children to take care of.

Especially because — as women — we need to take care of ourselves.

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