Subverting gender roles

I’ve never been femme. For a not-so-brief period in my life I was definitely anti femme. I would speak out of one side of my mouth that girls could do anything they chose to do while the other half of my mouth criticized at every turn the overtly femme choices that many girls chose to make.

I was wrong. I thought I was showing how equal girls could be in this world. Instead, I was merely reinforcing the male default status. Perhaps it took me having children to see how wrong I was. Took having both a boy child and a girl child to see that as a mom I was more comfortable with my girl choosing dirt and worms, than with my son choosing a purse.

I am not that ideal parent who made sure to subvert gender roles at every opportunity. I bought son clothes from boys section and girl clothes from the girl section. It was easy and I was a bit too busy loving my children in other ways. Even though I hated pink before I had my daughter, her first come home outfit chosen by me was pink (and Eeyore, and just adorable). Son had mostly dinosaurs and action figures for early toys, and daughter had mostly dolls and plastic pets. There is not a lot of difference between the substance of the toys. The toys, while gender marked, were often played with in similar ways. My son was never one to have violent fantasies with his toys, and my daughter was not super mothering to hers. They played pretend. They crossed their gendered toy so that littlest pet shop animals rode on cars, while dinosaurs drank at tea parties. They played with what they had in all the ways their imaginations would take them and for my part, those other ways I spoke of loving my children, was all about letting them just be children.

At some point, a marked shift began to occur in toy isles. Maybe it began with Lego Friends. My daughter was at high femme when Lego Friends came out and had only rarely expressed an interest in son’s Legos. I thought that having more realistic people and pet characters would hopefully excite her more about building with Legos. I was wrong, every time I showed them to her she was wholly uninterested. Her first Lego set was actually Sponge Bob which she loved a great deal. My son however did express an interest in Lego Friends (he still doesn’t have any, only because other sets he liked a little bit better). This was the first time my son had really been highly interested in a toy marketed to girls.

And everyone criticized Lego for the “pinkification” of their brand.

It wasn’t my son’s last foray into girl toys. When Nerf came out with Rebel line, my daughter requested the bow. It immediately became something my son and daughter both played with regularly. Something they loved enough they checked out the toy isles for the newest Rebel designs. It was one of the coolest toys they had ever played with and it was marked “for girls.”

And everyone criticized Nerf for the “pinkification” of their brand.

I praised them for it. I had grown stop hating pink. I had grown to realize that make up is valuable. I had grown to respect the choices of high femme as much as I respected the choice of butch. I was grateful to the toy companies for making toys marketed to girls that were likewise appealing to boys. In each toy lesson, came a life lesson to both my children. Knowing that girl things have value and that the color doesn’t decrease their value is important. It helped when my adolescent son saw a purse as a thing of value. It helped when my daughter asked for makeup and for me not to cringe at whether she would become a person who wouldn’t leave the house without it. It helped when my son chose flip flops for comfort rather than gender. It helped when my daughter early love of animals led to her dissecting a frog in hopes to understand anatomy better.

Learning the value in all things femme is a life long process. Culture routinely devalues that which is assigned to girl to the point that male attachment to any of those things means they have to be renamed. Murse, Manscaping, Bromance are all examples of valuable things typically assigned to women, that men feel they can only reclaim if they change the gender. For me, this is the battlefield that gender is to be subverted on. Not only that women can access and value things assigned to men, but more importantly that men can and should value those things assigned to women.


I’m lucky. Ever since high school, I’ve successfully hidden under my bi cloak of invisibility from the more hateful parts of society. The assumed straight default of a heterosexual marriage, means that no one has attacked me for my queerness. Basically don’t shout I like to eat out chicks in a room full of Christians, and I’ll live a mostly peaceful, closeted life.

That may change soon. Before I never had to worry about pda with a girl because I never dated a girl. In the part of my life before marriage, my internalized misogyny said girls are for fucking not dating, and the monogamous marriage to a man hid me further. Falling in love with a girl and becoming a feminist has changed me. My Kinsey scale has shifted and with it my perspective. Tonight I go to a gay bar to watch a burlesque show with a friend. I also go to meet girls. I am still not exactly ready for dating girls other than my girlfriend (with whom irl stuff is irrelevant) but I might be up for some pda. I might want to walk away from tonight’s experience with a kiss goodnight or some intimate hand holding in nearby coffee shop.

And my perspective has changed. I can’t assume I won’t be kicked out of the coffee shop. I can’t assume that the stares won’t escalate to violence. I can’t assume I will walk away without scars.

Tom Cotton tells me to have perspective though. At least they don’t hang me for being queer. My question though is how long before my perspective has to shift again. How long before your religious freedom that denies me rights becomes your religious freedom that denies me life? My current perspective states that although violence against me isn’t publicly sanctioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t publicly supported. Laws like the religious freedom bill in Indiana are what shift perspective the wrong direction. Tell me again to have perspective, I’ve had plenty for the time being.


The end

I tried writing this the day my step-father died. It took several tries typing away on a tiny phone and eventually I had a product I was satisfied with presenting. Of course my phone refused to post it and then promptly deleted everything I wrote. Again we are at the drawing board as I attempt to eulogize my step-father, or as you may know him, the man who raped me multiple times in my childhood. All the trigger warnings apply.

I’ve told our story once before and I am linking back to that here. I don’t want to retell all the details but I made promises at the beginning of the year to write a post by the end telling a particularly difficult bit of the story. Apparently the narrative I had come to accept had to be shifted as more skeletons were revealed. Wounds in my past I thought were mostly healed were formed anew and goddamn it’s taken a year to write this.

But he’s dead now and the year has one more day. It’s time.

Once there was a mother who lived with her son and younger daughter. They had recently branched out on their own from the grandparents. Things were good. That is until jobs were lost. Money was lost; men were found. Things turned dark quickly for this family when the mother met a very bad man.

I’m going to interrupt the narrative for a moment to describe to you this very bad man. He was not my step-father. He never raped me but I hold him in my memory in near equal hatred. He started my mother drinking. He brought the first memories of true fear into my life. Times my brother and I huddled between a bed and a wall while he and another man fought over a gun. Weeks of him and my mother binging on liquor and not caring weather we got fed. He never even had the pretense of being nice. But I didn’t know bad he was then. I know now.

Once the very bad man showed the mother the wonders of alcohol. They drank together every day and night. One night while drinking together the very bad man told the mother she should try something very bad herself. He told drunk mother that doing this THING wasn’t actually bad. That her then 14 year old son would like it. And so she did what he asked. That night the mother orally raped her own son.

Maybe she didn’t rape him. Maybe they both were raped by him because he forced her to perform the oral sex. Maybe I have to convince myself that was the case to continue functioning. Maybe love makes liars of us all. I don’t know. It is time to fast forward our narrative.

Once the mother left the very bad man. She didn’t leave the drink. She found a new man. The first and only man she was to marry. She loved him. He probably loved her at least a little. She trusted him with the darkest secrets of her past. She told him about being raped in her childhood. She told him about loving a man whose ill-timed heart attack mid intercourse set the town whispering. She told him about her greatest regret, the night she raped her son. She trusted him. He wasn’t trustworthy.

We enter into the parts of the story I’ve already told now. Forgive the brief retelling.

Once the step-father snuck away to the daughter in the night with alcohol on his breath. He told the daughter he wanted to stick his tongue a certain place and that it would feel good. He lied. It felt wrong. The daughter told the mother the next day and they left. The step-father promised it would never happen again. He was drunk and she had done the same thing once. So she believed him and the family went back. It happened again, except the daughter didn’t tell anyone this time. More things happened and eventually the daughter told. She was whisked away to be protected from her step-father but the mother and brother remained.

I had always believed growing up my mother remained because she was mentally ill and my step-father provided some sort of crutch for her survival. She had attempted suicide several times. I believed much of that was centered around the man who died while she was having sex with him. I am less sure now. Maybe it was the guilt of what she did to her own son. I don’t know but my entire narrative was constructed around the idea she chose to stay with him.

Once the mother told the daughter all the secrets. She told her about raping her own son. She told the daughter the how the step-father wouldn’t let her leave him. He threated to tell everyone and that she would lose both her children. She broke the daughter’s narrative.

Maybe she was seeking absolution. I couldn’t give it to her.

Once the step-father developed pancreatic cancer. From diagnosis to death the cancer was swift. Perhaps quicker than the man who stole a girl’s childhood and mother from her deserves. But swift it was and this is his eulogy. On the day before his 78th birthday the step-father died. Neither the mother, the son, nor the daughter went to his funeral. The end.

I’m not a gamer, but

I play few games from time to time. You may have heard of them. Some are quite popular. Bejewled Blitz, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, Typing Maniac, and a few others I don’t get into as much anymore but I used to love (ahem..Farmville).

But those don’t count do they? At least I never thought they did. When I pictured “gamer” I pictured someone playing WOW, Skyrim, Halo, Assassins Creed, or any other of those games they market to the stereotypical “gamer” market.

Other than my love of Zelda (and sometimes Super Mario Galaxy), I don’t fit the pattern. I am not marketed to. I don’t count. I am not someone they can make money from. I am a girl and not one of those “fake gamer girls” who buy your games in droves despite how rarely companies choose to represent our gender in a positive, non-objective light. Since they are obviously fake, companies don’t seem to market to the “gamer girls” either. They will obviously just follow whatever the boys are into anyway (insert sarcasm button here).

Except I spent $ on a game a gazillion years old because I remember loving it in college (turns out Myst doesn’t work so well on modern systems). I bought a used Nintendo 64 way outdated so I could play Pokemon Snap and Zelda Ocarina of Time. I re-bought those games on the Wii when I realized that was an option. I dream of owning a $300 machine because the new Zelda looks that amazing but know it won’t be a reality since I never could justify spending the $ on Skyward Sword (poverty is to blame here).

Except that some companies do market to me. Every time I consider buying coins for a Bejeweled power-up, It is because I am a customer. Every time I watch an add in the middle of a Text-Twist game, I am a customer. Every time I hunt for games like Myst and Riven, I am a potential customer.

There isn’t a big message in this post, only a realization. I am not a gamer, but only because I didn’t believe I counted.


A poem

I’ve been thinking about this one a couple of days now. Finally sat down to write it. I hope you enjoy.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Tomorrow is a ghost of herself
Never fully present
Indecision kept her distant, cold
On the brink of ascent
Tomorrow’s suitors always seem
Biased to her best
Each driven mad eventually
In pursuit of all the rest
Tomorrow is an honest girl
Whose promise is a lie
It never is her fault
That we imagine enough to try





I read this post/cartoon a while back. I’ve been too afraid to write this ever since. I am going to try now.

Trigger warning cause this one’s going to be fucked up, but I don’t know how else to say it.

Ever look at your child and wonder, “Will I rape him/her one day?” I have.

Ever scrutinize all your snuggles for evidence that you are turning into him, the man who stole your childhood, your trust, your future? I have.

It wasn’t so hard with my son. He liked a quick hug and then to do his own thing. It is harder with my daughter. The scrutiny that is. Not desire, because I don’t feel desire for children. She likes her belly/backed rubbed, her under arms tickled, raspberries on her belly. Am I hurting her somehow? She clearly wants to be snuggled, but maybe I’ve done something and don’t realize I am touching all wrong. Is that a question normal people ask? Or maybe it is her age that makes it hard. Seven. One year younger than I was the first time he raped me. One fucking year. Staring at her, I can’t fathom the size I was then. I can’t imagine why, what happened to make me an object. To make me a victim. To make him a predator.

And I wonder, will it happen to me. Did he infect me with his poison? Am I irreparable? Is the question alone proof of my disease? That I can even ask that first question makes me terrified.

Is it only child rape victims that ask this question? What about child rapists? I wonder if they ask the same questions before their first victim. Is it a parallel we will always share and no other? Unless we cross the line of course. Become both.

I thought for many years that being a victim increased my likelihood of being a perpetrator. Believed it. Feared it. Questioned it. The cartoon’s premise gives me hope but hope isn’t enough. Because some victims do grow up irreparable. Some victims become the monsters in their own closets. Maybe not most, but some.

Some. One. Even the tiniest possibility is terrifying.

Please don’t let me be part of the some. Please don’t let me be broken.

Things I wish I knew about sex and my body before it happened

I think I made it fairly of clear in the past that I lived with several families growing up. I was too young (what does that even mean) for the sex talk when I was raped by my step father. Too young to talk to about sex but not too young to be raped. I had already caught glimpses of porn flicks on the television though. I remember an orgy train sort of scenario that I had to piece together in my head many years later. Nonetheless, my mom never gave me the talk. My step father gave me the wrong talk. Then I was shipped off to my aunt’s and uncle’s house. They must have thought I knew enough or was too sensitive to talk to after my ordeal. I wasn’t even properly talked to about periods before I had one but that I learned from “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margret” by Judy Blume. I was prepared enough to expect bleeding out of my cunt when it happened, though no one is prepared for it to happen with movers in the house on moving day (embarrassing).

Everything else I learned about sex and my body came from my friends, their parents’ porn, and fiction books. I never had sex education class. I never had a parent sit down beside me and explain what parts go where. I never knew what to expect really. These are some of the things I wish someone had told me. Not the pain, everyone and their brother told me it would hurt at first. No, the little things. Things most people seem to take for granted. Things the movies try and hide because they aren’t pretty enough to show.

I wish someone had told me that my cunt would be inexplicably moist sometimes and dry others.

I wish someone had told me about lube (for those inexplicably dry times).

I wish someone had told me that a guy’s cum will leak out of you for like 24 hours after sex.

I wish someone had told me about the wet spot or why a towel was important (believe me it wasn’t enough to have read “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”).

I wish someone had explained the important stuff about anal before I tried it my self.

I wish someone explained masturbation was more than penetration with a brush handle or my fingers before sex.

I wish someone had told me what/where my clit was before sex.

I wish someone had told me about how and why to use a condom.

I wish someone would have explained that hair also grows in your ass crack.

I wish that someone would have told me it that my general cunt smell was normal (and pretty sexy to non assholes).

I wish someone would have explained an orgasm without the terms “explosion,” “bam,” and “OMG” as the primary descriptors (seriously peoples descriptions will make a girl wonder her whole life if what she is feeling is a “real” orgasm).

I wish someone would have told me it was normal for my clit to be super sensitive for a long time post orgasm when I was young and for that to suddenly change in my thirties.

I wish someone explained the term “multiple orgasm” and why that wasn’t achievable at first (see above) (also I thought it meant “at one time” which was very confusing).

I wish someone would have explained that sometimes your cervix can get in the way of a good banging.

I wish someone would have told me that sometime you get horny as fuck while bleeding.

I wish someone would have told me that rimming was pretty nice.

I wish someone would have told me that handcuffs hurt a bunch but soft ropes, wider cuffs, and neck ties are all pleasant ways to be bound.

I wish someone would have told me how to get around the jaw pain of a long blow job or how to give really good head.

I wish someone would have told me what a yeast infection was before I spent that night with a cold washcloth fills with ice cubes between my legs (seriously had no clue what the fuck was happening to my cunt).

I wish someone explained to me it was normal for my clit to be to sensitive to directly touch but that indirect stimulation was very nice.

I wish someone had explained how to have an orgasm.

I wish someone explained that not feeling a g spot was normal (then suddenly feeling it when older was normal too).

I wish someone explained how to use my hands during a blow job and tip vs shaft technique.

I wish someone had told me to pee after sex to avoid a urinary tract infection.

I wish someone would have warned me that just when everything is going good you might get a awkward foot cramp that kills the mood.

I wish someone would have explained that sometimes five minute sex is far better than five hour sex.

I wish someone had told me that water is a terrible lubricant and that piv sex in the water is not as hot as it seems.

I wish someone had told me that sex on the beach is a terrible idea.

I wish someone has explained that nipples on women are greatly varied in how they look and size.

I probably missed some of my questions that I had at one time or another. I hope as a parent I do a better job of explaining sex and their bodies to my children. Maybe this will help you to do the same with your children, nieces, nephews, and friends. Tell me some of the things that you worried most about because no one told you.

Talking about harassment at work

Just so everyone knows, I started a new job at the prison as a Corrections Officer (CO). It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that the overwhelming majority of new trainees are men. Even more so that there are even fewer women CO’s that have been there for a long time. I won’t say it is in the hiring though. Right now they are hiring all the fresh bodies they can get. Much the gender gap is in the recruiting and the perceptions that CO is a “man’s job.”

But the retention of competent females is another thing all together. I bet part of it has something to do with the story a woman CO told us as a class yesterday. The story tells of her own harassment in one particular area at the prison. The basics boiled down to men CO’s making sexually explicit jokes pointed at her and in front of the inmates. That last bit is important. The other CO’s were making the offensive and harassing jokes in front of inmates, some of whom are guaranteed to be looking for exploitative opportunities. One time that someone violates a boundary to that degree in such a dangerous manner is inexcusable. However, the jokes and harassment continued after she requested they stop.

She went to her superiors and asked to move and explained why. She specifically did not want to file a sexual harassment report about it but didn’t not want to be in the same department with people who were hurting her. She was moved as requested and nothing happened to her harassers (not that I am sure anything could have happened without her request).

All would have been fine if the woman telling the story had stopped there. Everyone in the room could have imagined her reasons for not reporting officially her harassment. But she didn’t stop. Instead she proceeded to recommend to the few women and sea of men that women think twice before officially reporting their harassment. Her reasoning was clear. That anyone who brings in outside help in handling their harassment, risks being ostracized from the group. That “everyone will treat” us “different” if we don’t handle this under the table. That our coworkers will be afraid to cut up and be friendly.

She basically told us not to report our harassment. She basically told us to run from it and do what she did so we won’t be friendless. She basically said let the next woman who works in that department handle it.

The funny thing is  that probably everyone knows that last damaging nugget of info she chose to share. As women many of us have always had to navigate the very narrow corridor of what is considered the “proper way” to handle such things. Most of us women don’t report, know how much we risk by reporting. Most of us women don’t need another reason to hide our harassment.

We need a reason to bring it to daylight.

This is an especially pertinent topic right now in the atheist/skeptic movement. People in our movement have far too long been stifled, silenced by all the reasons to “keep quiet.” The status quo fighters have done their duty in hiding harassment from the delicate eyes of everyone else. Now however, women and men in this movement are speaking out about this. One person risking it all and giving her peers a reason to talk was enough to start a mini chain-reaction.

I wish the woman teaching us yesterday would have been like like you all who are fighting harassment tooth and nail rather than passing it off to the next victim. I wish she would have at least said that she had our back in however we choose to handle our own harassment.

Suicide as a tool

This one requires a trigger warning about suicide. I have suicidal ideations. You can read some of my thoughts on suicide here. I wanted to talk more about this today since this seems to be a hot button discussion recently. I have thoughts and I want to get them out.

I think about suicide on most days. I consider myself committing suicide in such a variety of ways. But it is all the time. Sometimes it is worse. I don’t just think about it. Sometimes suicide isn’t just a crutch. Sometimes it is an urge. A drive. A desire. At those times I want to talk about it. I usually do talk about it. Unsurprisingly though the urge springs up at the worst times. When things are bad in life. The various stresses that cause fights to arrive in the family are also triggers for urges to commit suicide.

And that’s when I am afraid.

I can’t just talk about it. Then I am manipulating. I know it. I feel that dirty feeling deep inside my core. That sensation that I am a fucking horrible human being. Those are the times that I end up holding on to knives in the bathroom. Or the times that I punch myself in the legs till the pain makes my head less swimmy. Bite my knuckles till I can’t think of anything else but the sensation I feel.

The anxiety I feel when talking about my suicide when I most need to talk about it is the worst. Sometimes I still talk about it. Sometimes I don’t. I get to a certain point and I have no choice. Talk or risk.

I say all this because I am absolutely terrified that every time I talk about suicide I am using it as a weapon. I am terrified that the fact that I can think about it this much even when I want to kill myself means that I am definitely manipulating those I love.  I am absolutely terrified I am the horrible person in my head.

But my sane self. The one who checks up one me and shares the rumination capacity of my crazy self, is there to remind me that this is always in my head. Suicide isn’t just there as a tool for manipulation. No suicide is real and present even when there is nothing and no one thing making me sad. Those are the times I need to remember when I need to talk about my thoughts.

That was a lot of rambling for the point I am going to get to next.

I am not the only one who does this, who deals with suicidal thoughts and fears talking about them because talking about it means you drag everyone else into your own horrible web of manipulation. A lot of people experience these thoughts and feels.

So keeping that in mind, accusing someone of using suicide to manipulate is a dangerous thing. Maybe they are using against others. Doesn’t mean they don’t internally struggle with the pain of doing so. I kinda don’t care if a person has a history of manipulation.  I have “friends” like that. For them I don’t vest myself emotionally too much, but I would never accuse them of rigging the game.

I’ve only had one time where I confronted someone with their own threat of suicide. It was direct. It was public. That time took it to a whole new level of wrong. That time the person attempted to cause harm and did cause harm with their words. Even then my confrontation was such that I merely gave him outs from that which was causing him difficulty and explained the unfairness of his accusations.

And yes there are those who abuse through manipulation. But they don’t do it once. It isn’t an isolated incident. The threats aren’t “I can’t handle the deck life has handed me” but rather “I am going to kill myself if you don’t fix this.” There is a difference. It is surprisingly clear to an outsider even if it isn’t clear to the victim.

Maybe that was a longish point after all. Suicidal brains are tricky. They prey on our vulnerabilities. They make us shut up when we want to talk and visa versa. They convince us to do the thing we fear slightly less than what we fear the most.

I hope that people consider a little more the risk we play when we accuse someone of manipulating through suicide. Publicly no less. I am not saying that horrible people shouldn’t be held accountable for their horribleness. I just don’t think that questioning the validity of their depression, their suicidal ideations, is in anyway helpful to the person or the further reaching audience of your public post.

I don’t know if I have a good solution with all this but rather to ask people to try to be a bit more empathetic. Even to our enemies. Certainly to our friends and admirers.

This isn’t one of those “I know something” posts. So tell me your thoughts. Help me weigh the risks of pointing out perceived manipulation.