Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hobby Lobby lobby

The reaction to today's SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby has wakened the Sleeping Giantess. For those of you reading this from outside the US, here's a short version of the case history:

Obama ran for president largely on a platform that promised to reform health care and make it more accessible to more Americans. After much partisan debate, he passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was basically a combined and bastardized version of any number of bills that might have been helpful as they were originally written--but with the vast majority of the helpful stuff cut out. One of the few things that made lots of Americans happy, particularly those with vaginas, was that the ACA mandated that all insurance plans, private or public, must include contraceptive coverage. Yay!

But Big Money was not excited about the ACA, and therefore many politicians who are beholden to that money were not excited about the ACA. Providing health care to employees not already covered and/or expanding coverage that was deemed inadequate under the new law would be expensive. What's worse (and surely the larger point), support for the ACA meant support for the country's liberal (read: "anti-corporation") lobby and thus could lead to the creation of more "anti-business" policies down the pike. So stopping the ACA was important to what one might typically classify as "right-wing" interests.

After a mind-boggling number of misinformation- and propaganda-based campaigns failed to convince enough Americans that caring for their own health was not in their own best interest (imagine that!), the anti-ACA camp needed to find a new angle from which to chip away at the bill. It didn't take them long to find comfy bedfellows in social conservatives (note that I'm refraining from using the words Republican or Christians here), who were appalled that their religious organizations--many of whom employ secular women--would end up footing the bill for their employees' recreational sex acts. Oh Noez!

So Obama goes all 'don't worry, religious organizations won't have to pay, we'll work it out,' and the people were all like 'OK, that's still kinda creepy, but cool, fine, everyone gets what they want,' and the media were like, '[static]' cuz they're not really equipped to deal when a sudden, rational response interrupts what might have been a perfectly good national crisis.

But meanwhile Big Money was like 'oh crap, people really seem to be settling into the idea of health care as a human right, and that's gonna suck for us one way or another.' So they hit up the social conservatives again to see if they've got anything else cooking, and it turns out they've got an ace in the hole--a for-profit but "religious" company that, because it's for profit, isn't covered by Obama's Big Compromise with religious organizations.

Hobby Lobby was the anti-ACA lobby's wet dream: a nice, white, midwestern, all-I-needed-was-Jesus-and-my-own-bootstraps success story, the American Dream at work. How on earth could the government expect this God-fearing all-American family to financially support the sexual promiscuity of its employees? It's just plain anti-religious and unAmerican.

Of course, the idea of covering contraceptive stuff in its insurance plans hadn't bothered Hobby Lobby enough prior to the mandate to compel them to ever check their own policies to ensure such coverage was excluded when it would have been optional for them to do so (see p. 14, #55), and at least as recently as December 2012 the company appeared to take no issue with investing in retirement funds that come, at least in part, from the sale of contraceptive items up to and including that babykilling "abortion pill" that we ignorant nonbelievers call Plan B.

Long story short (too late), the Hobby Lobby case went to the Supreme Court, and five of our Justices sided with the store. I'd like to get all up in arms about it being an anti-woman thing, cuz it is, of course, anti-woman. Sure, that pisses me off. But what bothers me the most is that I sometimes wonder whether the backlash of (especially anti-Christian) objections from feminist and secular organizations almost feeds into a larger plan of alienating us from each other (women against men, secular against religious), of weakening our bonds with one another in the face of a much more powerful enemy.

So it seems to me that we oversimplify the issue--and maybe even disadvantage ourselves--when we look at this as a case about women's rights...or sexual freedom or reproductive health. It never was. And it wasn't even about "religious freedom"--the general lack of support for Hobby Lobby's case from religious organizations demonstrates that. This case was nothing but a grand political maneuver aimed at reminding us "little people"--and, more importantly, anyone left in government who would like to protect us--that policies aimed at helping lower- and (what's left of) middle-income families at the expense of the wealthy Will Not Be Tolerated. We women just basically "took one for the [corporate] team," that's all. It was about Big Money putting on a power play for the rest of us to see, and now we know (if we didn't already) that five of our Justices are bona fide cast members.

I find it profoundly sad.

All we really have at this point is each other and the few dollars we can still manage to scrape together. It is now more than ever our obligation to use those powers--the powers inherent in the bonds we form with each other and in where we choose to spend our time and money--to stand up for ourselves. So...

If you:

  • Have a vagina
  • Enjoy vaginas 
  • Love people who have vaginas

...don't spend your money at Hobby Lobby, and for the love of all that's sparkly and scrapbookable, DON'T WORK THERE!!!

It's that simple. Don't shop there, don't work there. Don't support Hobby Lobby's role in the latest corporate power play. If we stand together on this, they'll get the message eventually: Using women as pawns is Not OK. We see what you're doing, and we won't stop fighting back.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Caught in the Net: A PSA

OK, before I begin, let me make a couple of things clear. First, I'm totally not into the celebrity thing, so you'll rarely see me comment on anything they say or do unless it dovetails with an issue that's dear to me. Second, I'm FAR from the Fashion Police. Wear what makes you feel good--who cares what people think? The whole concept of shows like What Not to Wear rubs me the wrong way.

With that said, I am compelled to post the following as a Public Service Announcement.

If you should ever decide to suddenly take on the nakeder side of dark/fetish style, and you choose to wear a very low-cut bottom, NEVER--AND I MEAN NEVER--should your fishnets be visible above the panty.

And unless you're going for an Urkel fetish or something (hey, whatever you're into is cool with me), they should CERTAINLY not reach above your belly button.

Good rule of thumb--if you can't figure out how to hide your hosiery's center crotch seam, for the love of Buddy Christ, go with thigh high stockings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help me change the world!

The lack of awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders among the general public as well as the medical and psychiatric communities can have devastating consequences for expecting and new mothers and their families. Sadly, I only know this because a misdiagnosed case of postpartum OCD almost destroyed me and tore apart my family in fall 2013.

Suffering alone--as most women do--is hard enough, but as a recent survivor of psychiatric malpractice directly related to the medical community's massive blind spot when it comes to diagnosing these disorders, it is my mission to raise awareness on a large scale so that other women will not have to suffer what my family and I were forced to endure.

Someday I will tell my story here, but for now, I am simply asking for your support in my first (hopefully annual) Climb Out of the Darkness, to be held this Saturday in Lower Manhattan. On the same day, over 100 other teams will conduct their own climbs across the country and around the world.

Click on this link to donate, come out and walk with me this Saturday, share this post to help spread the word--any small effort could make a huge difference.

The MidLife Makeover

I went to a tailor shop today. For the first time in my life. I'm in the process of a MidLife Makeover, and I'm determined to reshape my wardrobe until my closet runneth over with clothes that fit me on the outside AND on the inside. If that means figuring out how to ask a tailor to fix something for me, I figured I'd just have to push aside my irrational Fears of Unknown Processes and march bravely into the nearest alterations shop. Turns out it wasn't that complicated.

Finding a dress you love so much that it's worth buying in the wrong size and having it tailored to suit you might not seem like a big deal, but it's a big step for the Giantess. It's a return to my youthful idealism--a midlife-crisis regression, if you will. And I'm determined to milk it for all it's worth. 

See, growing up, I had style to a fault. That is to say, I "had style" because my clothes were, well, distinctive, but the "fault" was that my ensembles were the kind of distinctive that translated less as "popular" and more as "pariah." 

But lest you read this as self-pity, my "freak" status really didn't bother me that much back then. Lucky for me, Barry Manilow had been promising me since I was in diapers that I'd find a place in the world someday--the subject of another post perhaps--and although his music drifted out of my life along with 8-track tapes, his message had permeated my subconscious enough to help me resist letting the haters get me down. 

I wore a different vintage men's tie every day of my sophomore year in high school. I dyed my hair eggplant, wore men's shoes and mohair sweaters, 70s paisley sheath dresses lovingly plucked from my mother's closet and vintage olive wool peacoats from Goodwill. I combed through secondhand-store bins for antique horn-rimmed eyeglass frames that I would wear with the lenses popped out. 

Contrary to the commonly accepted wisdom that kids who dress outside the mainstream do so out of a self-centered desire for attention, I would just as soon have faded into the background. I didn't necessarily care to be SEEN. What mattered was that, should I happen to be spotted, I wanted the onlooker to see ME. I would have been just as happy in a world where everyone was wearing mohair sweaters and men's shoes. I didn't so much like being different, I just didn't want to be mistaken for someone or something I wasn't. 

Then, between the ages of 22 and 32, I literally doubled in size. I added another me to me. In the years since, it would seem I've made repeated attempts to add a third, though by some force of luck I keep stalling somewhere around the 2.25 mark. I try to be zen about my appearance. It is what it is. I remind myself that I'm loved, I'm worthy, I'm talented, I'm intelligent, I'm blah blah blah. You know, all that stuff you say when you're trying to ignore the fact that the elephant in the room is, well, YOU. 

But sometimes reality seeps through the zen haze, like that one night in the early-ohs, when I stepped into the ladies' room at a fashionable-but-still-"underground" bar deep in Manhattan's East Village for the sole purpose of refreshing my pout. I was comfortably buzzed, surrounded by fabulousity, reveling in being A Part of It All. As I puckered up in front of the mirror, I noticed an ad pasted above it. 


I can't remember what product or service the ad was trying to sell me, but I received its message loud and clear. I looked hard at myself in the mirror, then down at the tube of Revlon Colorstay 25 Burgundy in my hand. "Still a pig," I said out loud. I replaced the cap, tossed it in the garbage, and strolled back into the stylish black and white room, pale-lipped and full of wonder at the fact that one could suddenly feel so enormous and so small at the same time.

In the years since, little by little, I learned to hide inside my expanding body. I would eventually stop wearing make up altogether, would let my hair grow untended for years at a time. I shied away from purchasing anything that might get noticed and instead adopted the shopping mantra: "Whatever. It fits." Does it cover a body part that needs to be covered without falling down, busting a seam, or cutting off my circulation when I bend over? Perfect! Sold!

But guess what? Say it with me...


I'm ready to let people see ME again. In fact, I'm going to insist on it. While altering my habits and perhaps, by default, my body in the name of good health is an idea I'm currently gnawing on (no pun intended), I'm not going to use my generous physique as an invisibility cloak any longer. I know who I am and what I want to express, so the challenge now is to re-learn how to dress in a way that brings my insides back to the outside. I've got a vision percolating, one that I hope will approach my newly minted middle-age status with both open arms and a certain firmly extended digit. 

Out with the invisibility cloaks. In with the look of the Giantess!

PSSSSSST!!! Got any ideas for dressing the Giantess? Post them in the comments section!! I welcome links to online retailers who handle plus-sized vintage, retro, or otherwise unique clothing. And eyeglass frames, which I will now actually have to fill with prescription lenses. Style AND function! Huzzah!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Welcome to My Midlife Crisis. Trust Me, It Will Be Awesome.

So I'm turning 40. And I'm totally riding the midlife-crisismobile. But I'm cool with it. I always thought midlife crises were sad, pathetic periods (they ARE called "crises," after all...) during which otherwise rational people suddenly started hating their lives or themselves in ways that could only be assuaged by the purchase of a sports car. 

Turns out midlife crises can be kind of awesome. Here's some insight into where I'm at.

I spent most of my 30s stressing out about, well, everything. Setting the bar so high for myself that I HAD to fail, every day, in literally every sphere of my existence. Student, teacher, wife, mother, friend, relative, employee, homemaker, writer, name it, I could give you at least 15 ways in which I was a failure at it. Seems the one thing I DIDN'T suck at was finding ways to suck.

I'm over it.

This new decade comes on the heels of the most challenging years of my life. I have seen The Bottom, and while it may be a nice place to visit if you've got a penchant for drama, trust me, you wouldn't wanna live there. So this is the decade where I come out swinging. No more putting things off until their complete execution is fully and meticulously planned from start to finish. Cuz guess what...when you can't start a project 'til it's finished, chances are you'll never get a damn thing off the ground.

You're looking at what is literally a new beginning. I've wanted to start a blog for years. I will even be bold enough to say that some very kind people have been badgering me to do it. But I couldn't. Why? Because I didn't know where to start, of course! What blogging platform should I use? Should it be public? The whole point is to make it public, right? But do I use my real name? What if people think I'm stupid? What if I write something stupid? What should I call it? What should I blog about? What if I start a blog about politics but one day I want to write about football? What if I start off blogging about my graduate sexuality studies but then want to post about my undying devotion to the greatest band on earth (which is the Cure, BTW), or life as a freelancer, or my affinity for artisan cocktails, or my trip to the zoo, or I dunno, whatever--haberdashery? I don't actually know a damn thing about haberdashery, but what if I find out something cool about it that I want to blog about 5 years down the road, and I'm locked into a blog that's focused on being a middle-aged mom of mixed-race toddlers? WHAT THEN?! Can I wax poetic about haberdashery on a motherhood blog?!

Oh, yeah, surprise! I have OCD. Not the hip, cool, I-tell-everyone-I-have-OCD-so-they'll-marvel-at-my-keen-organizational-skills kind of OCD. Like, the clinical, no fun, my-mind-likes-to-completely-paralyze-me kind of OCD. I'm working on it. I'll probably always be working on it.

But here I am, just hours after my 40th birthday has officially ended, starting something I can't fully map out. Gasp! Go, me! The name came to me as I was pondering this weird energy I suddenly feel about marching into this new decade. Is this energy all just an illusion, just some hormonally induced product of a real midlife crisis? I suppose it could be. But who cares? I don't, as long as I make something good come out of it. For maybe the first time, I don't hate my life or myself or my past or the decisions I've made. Right, wrong, good, bad, positive, negative...whatever. My experiences up to this point in my life just...are. What's new is the clarity I feel about them. They were all little pieces of the road that brought me here--or, better yet, links in my chainmail. 

At 40, I finally feel suited up and ready for battle. The Sleeping Giantess has been awakened.

So THAT'S what I'll be blogging about. My journey from here. Maybe some people will read this and want to walk with me. Maybe some will drop in only long enough to throw a few sharp stones in my path. That's fine. I welcome everyone, because now I understand that the only person who can move this Giantess is me.

All that, and I didn't even have to buy a sports car.