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?

In Their Own Words: Victims of Verbal Abuse

The following are the words of women who have responded to my posts about verbal abuse. You can read the posts here and here. Some of these responses were comments in my blog posts and some of them were emails. The desperation, helplessness, and self-blame are quite evident in these women’s responses.

Their words reveal the simple fact that you never know what goes on behind closed doors. What may seem like a happy marriage may in fact be an abusive one. I speak from personal experience.

Remember, just because women don’t talk about verbal abuse, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. There is a level of shame involved that prevents most women from speaking up about it — the idea that the husband is a reflection of herself — of her poor life choices — that she should just accept this as her fate. After all, didn’t she make the decision to marry him? She made her bed, now she needs to lie in it. But these are lies that we tell ourselves — and these lies are steeped in self-doubt and the absence of self-worth.

We need more stories like these to offer solace and support to fellow women who are suffering at the cruel words and actions of their husbands and partners.

These situations are far, far too common.

And you are not alone.

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This is just a taste of comments/emails I’ve received.

The more women talk about it, the more we can help and encourage one another.

If you have any insights or words of encouragement for these women, please don’t hesitate to leave a message in the comments.

The Moms Are Alright

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I’m a good mom.

I am.

What about you?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “I’m not doing enough” mentality that seems to plague parents. Mothers especially are hard on themselves due to the deeply ingrained societal expectations that have been embedded into their double X chromosomes. We just think we need to do everything. No matter how independent and strong we are as women — no matter how far we’ve come — we have a deep, irrational fear of not being perfect. Not to say that fathers don’t feel parental guilt too — they do. God knows I’ve seen my husband wracked with guilt over something he “should’ve” done, or “should’ve” done better. As parents this guilt lies in wait — and we usually bend at it’s will.

But as mothers. As mothers — and as women — we have this unachievable expectation that we should have the supermom ability to make things right. And if we don’t make it right the first time, we beat ourselves to a pulp. If we don’t achieve unrealistic levels of excellence, we bend to the guilt — to the voice in the back of our head that says:

You fucked up. You’re fucking everything up.

And I’m tired of it. I’m tired of myself and other women feeling guilty because we don’t feel completely fulfilled as mothers — for not attaining some sort of mystical and spiritual plenitude from raising children. Motherhood is not what defines us, right? So why should motherhood be our sole definition once we have a fertilized egg embedded in our uterine lining?

I came to the conclusion a while back that I wasn’t going to bend to the guilt anymore. I don’t know how or when I came to that conclusion, but over the past few months I have refused to feel guilty over my inability to be a perfect mother.

Because that’s fucking dumb.

Here is what I’ve come to accept:

Motherhood is a part of my identity, but not my identity as a whole. I’m imperfect and I’m totally cool with that shit. I will not feel guilty for my imperfections. I will not feel guilty for putting myself first sometimes. All of this does not mean I love my children any less.

I love them fiercely. 

A good example of how mom guilt pervades motherhood is the #momfail hashtag on twitter. I know the momfail hashtag is an attempt to be self-depracating and humorous. I mean, it’s good to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes. But a depressing thing to note is that there are far less dadfail hashtags than momfail hashtags. Why is that?

Because women are set up to feel guilty from birth — because we not only need to do everything; we need to do everything right.

So here is a list of my so-called failures as a mother. These “failures” are what make me perfectly imperfect. And some of them I wouldn’t even consider failures — they just may be failures in the eyes of others.

  • I yell too much.
  • I’m impatient.
  • I’m okay with my kids not being involved in a shit-ton of activities.
  • I’m okay with them watching a little too much TV.
  • I’ve accepted that their rooms are just going to be messy most of the time.
  • My two oldest children are familiar with a whole slew of swear words due to my inability to keep my mouth shut when I’m driving. Also I have the knack of not censoring myself if I drop something, stub my toe or if I’m talking to my husband about a really shitty day at work. There are just some situations that my children will here me say “shit,” and “fuck.” And I’m okay with that.
  • My house is messy and cluttered.
  • I’m disorganized and an epic procrastinator. I don’t do chore charts and I’m bad at planning meals. I just tell my kids what needs to get done (and they kind of know what is expected of them by now anyway) and I just kind of throw meals together at the last minute (that’s if my husband doesn’t make dinner — which he usually does.)
  • I don’t read to my kids every night.
  • Sometimes I put my three year old in bed without brushing his teeth (scandalous!).
  • My two younger kids will go three or four days between baths. I don’t know — it just seems silly to waste that much water every night. Plus it just makes my life easier. My 12 year old is getting to that point where he HAS to shower at least every other day — he’s starting to get all gross and oily. Because ew. Puberty.
  • I drink two cups of coffee a day and will have an occasional glass of wine. And I’m 27 weeks pregnant. But I refuse to bend to the idea that pregnant women should abstain from all things pleasurable. Pregnancy is pretty fucking miserable anyway. Might as well enjoy my coffee.

I CANNOT be a perfect parent. I CANNOT live up to the unrealistic expectations that are heaped upon mothers from the time, the day, the second, they conceive their first child. I embrace my imperfections as a mother —  and I recognize the areas where I need to improve.

So just as the kids are alright — the moms are alright too.

And isn’t that all that matters?

Now stop your crying and acknowledge the fact that we all fuck up. You’re doing a fabulous job.

How To Leave Your Husband: A Follow-up

Verbal-Abuse-3-oYou ladies are breakin’ my heart.

Seriously. For reals.

Most of the traffic driven to this site are from the following search terms:

How to leave your husband

How to leave your husband with children and no money

Husband is a jerk

No money and mean husband

You ladies make me want to cry. Because I’ve been there. I know how helpless you feel.

I realize some of the resources I’ve posted previously have not been adequate. Therefore my project over the next week is to acquire resources, phone numbers, and links to assist you in your flight from your prison of a marriage.

Just to be clear, these posts are aimed at women in an environment where their spouse is causing verbal and/or physical abuse. If you’re not in that situation, please feel free to use these resources as well. A bad marriage is a bad marriage. Just remember — as I said previously — if you’re the jerk in the situation — OWN IT.

In addition, if you want to talk, please contact me. I’m no legal expert, but I can offer emotional support and a few words of encouragement.

I will try to post the resources within a week as I don’t want to leave you hanging too long.

Much love to you ladies and I truly wish you the best. I hope you find peace in your new journey.

How To Know Your Husband Is A Jerk

I thought I would expand a little bit on my post on how to leave your husband. From the search terms that are leading people to this site, I’ve come to the conclusion that so many women are in the helpless situation of not knowing if their husband is a jerk.

I know. You’d think it would be easy to figure this out. I mean, either someone is a jerk or someone isn’t. This ain’t fucking rocket science, right?

Well, sometimes the answer is a bit more hidden than you think.

Because love is blind. And fear is debilitating. What happens in a verbal abuse situation, is that you think you love somebody — and maybe you truly do. But the love only goes as far as your fear of leaving. Only once you move past the debilitating fear of leaving, can you understand that your self-respect far surpasses your love of the man who oppresses you.

We’re not talking about wife-beaters here. This isn’t a domestic violence situation. That’s why it’s so complicated.

I’m talking words.

Saying mean things to psychologically harm and deliberately hurt someone is abuse. And it sucks to be on the receiving end.

There are ignorant people out there who ask the inevitable question of, “Well, why don’t you just leave?” I was even told once that I brought the situation on myself for marrying him. That I should’ve known. That I should’ve had abortions instead of bringing children into the marriage.

And these attitudes are precisely why women don’t leave. They’re made to feel ashamed. They end up being too embarrassed to tell family members or friends what’s really going on. These women don’t need to hear a smug, “I told you so.” They don’t need to hear a, “Well I was wondering why you married him in the first place.”

Just some simple understanding and encouragement is all that’s needed.

So here are the reasons why coming to the conclusion that your husband is a jerk can be such a confusing process:

1. You love him. Or you think you love him.

2. You’re embarrassed that you married him and you think it’s a reflection of you. So you don’t want to tell people how bad the marriage really is because you don’t want people to think that you were stupid for marrying the guy in the first place  — which means you put on a show and are not really facing reality.

3. He can be really nice. Really nice. He’s not a jerk all the time. There are many times when he’ll do things for you — make you dinner, buy you flowers, clean the kitchen, give you a back rub. For example, when I was pregnant with my first child, there was a pot hole in our driveway. It was always excruciating for me when we drove over it because my baby would bounce on my bladder. My ex-husband took it upon himself to fix the pot hole so I could be more comfortable. But does that erase the times he called me worthless? Does that erase the times he came home drunk and woke me up just so he could call me names? No. And unfortunately it took me a while to figure that out.

4. FEAR. Fear is the biggest of them all. Fear of never finding love after divorce. Fear of being alone. Fear of having no money, no support, no place to live. Because once you admit that your husband is a jerk, that’s when you know you’ll have to do something — and doing something means you’ll be facing your fears.

But once you admit that your husband is jerk. You’ll be free.  A free woman who can DO this shit.

So how do you know your husband is a jerk?

Your husband is a jerk if he holds you back from becoming the person you want to be. He’s a jerk if he calls you names. He’s still a jerk when he’s nice — because anybody who can treat their life partner like shit then turn around and be sweet as pie is truly fucked in the head and is not worth your time. He’s a jerk if he disregards your feelings. He’s a jerk if he deliberately hides things from you. He’s a jerk if he tries to make you look stupid in front of your children and family members.

He’s a jerk.

You are valuable.

And you are stronger than you think.

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Kamikaze Girls And Patriarchal Bullshit

I figured it was time for me to read a book about being a woman — about feminism — about vagina-having humans.

Thus I picked up How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran.

Impressed yet? Oh, you’re not? Well you should be. Because this is a good book (so far at least.)  And being a woman means I gave birth (and yes, I know there are many women who  choose not to do the baby thing) to three babies, and now I support those babies by working full-time, which means I don’t have much time to do a whole lot, so it’s pretty impressive that I can actually pick up a book and read it, much less write about it.

Now are you impressed?

Yeah, anyway.

So How To Be a Woman is Caitlin Moran’s book about well — being a woman — and feminism. In the prologue she laments about how feminism is becoming extinct — that feminism comes in waves — so many waves, in fact, that it’s now become an irrelevant “incoming tide.”  Moran is not saying that feminism is irrelevant — only that it has become irrelevant in the eyes of society.

She opens with talking about her 13th birthday. Her changing body. Her reluctance to enter into that unknown terrain of womanhood.

…there is no crueler or more inappropriate present to give a child than estrogen and a big pair of tits.

And so it began. That foray into becoming a woman.

Then there are girls who do all they can to prevent womanhood from happening. Those who fly into denial.

There are those who try to stop it, of course: the teenage girls who try to buy themselves time by aggressively regressing back to their five-year old selves and becoming obsessed with “girliness,” and pink. Filling their beds with teddies, to make it clear there’s no room for sex. Talking in baby talk, so they aren’t asked adult questions. At school, I could see some of my contemporaries were choosing not to be active women — out there, making their own fate — but to be princesses, just waiting to be “found” and married, instead.

Then there are girls who physically try to stop their body from changing.

And at the most dysfunctional end, of course, there are the kamikaze girls who wade into war with their pituitary — trying to starve it or confuse it into defeat, with anorexia, or bulimia.

My god. She explains things so well. This battle with womanhood that we all as women confront at one point or another. The tragic part is that teenage girls are so busy battling it, that they don’t see that being a woman — as challenging and frustrating as it can be — is such an amazing, lovely, crazy experience.

But the problem with battling yourself is that even if you win, you lose. At some point — scarred and exhausted — you either accept that you must become a woman — that you are a woman — or you die. This is the brutal, root truth of adolescence — that it is often a long, painful campaign of attrition. Those self-harming girls, with the latticework of razor cuts on their arms and thighs, are just reminding themselves that their body is a battlefield.

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But Moran goes on to say, that even those notable women who got it right — those women who mastered the battle cry — they themselves ended up being conquered and beat down by a society who abhors strong, leading women.

Show a pioneering hero — Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc — and you also, more often than not, show a girl a woman who was eventually crushed. Your hard-won triumphs can be wholly negated if you live in a climate where your victories are seen as threatening, incorrect, distasteful, or — most crucially of all, for a teenage girl — simply uncool. Few girls would choose to be right — right, down into their clever, brilliant bones — but lonely.

It sounds so hopeless for a girl approaching teenager-dom — that cliff where you’re forced to jump full-force into that gravity pulling pit of womanhood.

This all sounds so bad. So negative. But I promise you it’s not. It’s just the prologue — the introduction. But here’s why being a woman can be so terrifying. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg:

…we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them.

And this my friends, is the broken windows theory of feminism. One neglected broken window on a house will eventually lead to trespassers, burglars and squatters.  And according to Moran, that’s precisely what’s happening to feminism.

I’m done for now, because I’ve only read the prologue and I would like to read some more. But I leave with you this Caitlin Moran quote for you to ponder.

When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still won’t often tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk.

So we must have a zero-tolerance policy on the squatters climbing into our broken windows — “a zero tolerance policy on ‘All the Patriarchal Bullshit.'”

How To Leave Your Husband: A Quick How-To Guide

Is your New Year’s resolution to leave your husband? Well you’re in the right place!

This how-to guide is in reference to my first marriage. My second marriage — which I’m currently in and forever shall remain because my husband is fucking amazing — has nothing to do with this post.

Step #1. Realize your husband is an asshole who will never change. This may take years to figure out because women have this romantic notion in their head that they can change a man — thanks to fairy-tales like Beauty and the Beast. And your husband may not be a complete asshole which makes leaving harder because he has other good qualities that blind you to his big asshole qualities that aren’t really worth putting up with — which was my situation.

Step #2. If you want to end your marriage and your husband isn’t an asshole and is a really nice guy, then that means you’re the asshole. So own it. Sometimes it takes years to realize you’re the asshole because human beings have egos and have a tendency to be assholes.

Step #3. Make a plan. If you have kids this is essential. To be serious for a moment, I was in a bad place. No college education to speak of. A spotty work history. No money. Two kids. BUT I had family. An amazing immediate and extended family to take me in and help me get on my feet. If you don’t have a supportive family then you need to take advantage of additional resources and websites such as singlemom.com.

Step #4. Get. A. Lawyer. And consult a lawyer before you leave him (unless you’re in a domestic violence situation — in that case you need to leave ASAP). I did not do this. I wanted to avoid coming across as a bulldog — as a mean ex-wife. I wanted to be nice. After all, I was breaking the mans heart. I didn’t want a scary lawyer to come in and make my soon-to-be-ex-husband feel bad. Bull-shit. If you have the financial resources — get that lawyer. My family offered to pay for one, but I wanted to play nice and that really did me a disservice. I went forward with a “do-it-yourself” divorce. DO NOT DO THIS.  I essentially had no knowledge of my rights, no knowledge of child support requirements, how to split assets and debts, etc. I was basically stupid and stubborn — which is what got me into the dead-end marriage in the first place.

Step #5. After your plan is in place — where you’re going to live, making sure you have access to money, acquiring a lawyer, etc. — leave. Split. Get out (Unless of course you have the ability to throw his shit out of the house first.) Yes, it’s hard. You’ll cry your eyes out even though your husband was an asshole — because leaving your comfort zone is never fun. Willfully venturing into the unknown is terrifying. But it’s brave. And if your marriage is truly a shitty one, and if children are involved — then it is essential that you leave. Don’t let your little ones grow up around an unhappy, tumultuous relationship. Your daughters and sons need to see you be strong — to see you take the independent step out into the world — to stand up for yourself — to know women deserve respect.

Step #6. Get back on your feet — financially. And yes, this could take years. It took me five years because I had to go to college. If you already have a solid education and work background, then this will be much easier for you. Again, there are many resources for this. Use them. I was lucky enough to receive a Pell Grant that covered almost all my educational expenses — including full-time childcare for my daughter.

Step #7. Get back on your feet — emotionally. If you want to be a good parent, if you want to move on in the relationship department — you have to do a lot of soul-searching. Your husband may have been an asshole, but you also contributed some negativity to the marriage. What was that? What qualities about yourself can you change — improve on? And if you were the asshole in the relationship then you REALLY need to do some soul-searching. And the soul-searching can take years. But it’s essential that you re-discover your identity as a single woman. Because a failed marriage changes a person — but it’s usually for the better.

Now go on and git yerself divorced! And Happy New Year!

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