Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vintage Advertisements

Business Insider, Mar 2012

Sometimes, I am just a glutton for rage. I am not sure why I click on stories that I know are going to bug me, but I do. The advertisement above came from such an article, only, those ads really aren't so vintage are they? They existed in my grandmother's lifetime. It was not so long ago that these sorts of ads ran in magazines and newspapers. How different are they from these?


Or these? (I won't lie: I laughed at both these concepts. Maybe they were geared towards trying to get men into the supermarkets. Maybe they were just sexist. Either way, it is hard to say the ads of the 1950s are completely extinct.)

Or today's gendered marketing?

How will I know what tools are for me?!

Boys and girls clearly need different bibles.

We are clearly in a better place with advertising in this day and age. Clearly.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Pile Shakes As I Hit 80 on the Open Road

I'd like to say that I had a grand idea for this past weekend: replicate my husband and son's road trip with my daughter. That isn't really how it went down, though. The reality was, I wanted to make the drive to visit my parents and a friend, but I felt guilty leaving Matt alone with three kids for a weekend when I pretty much did that the weekend before. So, Hattie and I packed a bag, and had a girls weekend.

It was really QUIET. Hats was perfectly lovely the entire trip. There was no screaming or fighting, and I had a chance to find out what she is all about sans brothers: doctors, butterflies, and ponies. For some reason, her confidence surprised me. I know that we were only around family and people she is familiar with, but she rocked the hand on the hip and talked a mile a minute unless she was sleeping. In the fall, Calvin will go to school, and I was a bit worried how she would handle the void when he is at school. Now I know it will be quiet and she is already a leader. I should not be surprised by her confidence. After all, aren't we raising our children to know they are enough?

 The weekend was a good opportunity for me to get to know my daughter. Some highlights:

-Everywhere we went, she stopped to introduce herself to someone. "I'm Hattie. Nice to meet you. This is my mom."

-I went out to dinner with a friend, and Hattie stayed at my mom's. She slept most of the time, so we got back to the hotel room and she wanted "lunch". Watching her eat a turkey sandwich at midnight and then crawl into bed with a smile has to be on my All Time Greatest Moments list.

-While in Kansas, we hit up a Target. She is into dress up right now, and we found a pair of butterfly wings and a "king crown". Once we were at home, she was flitting around the living room wearing them both:
Hattie: I need my butterfly wings and my king crown. I'm a king.
Calvin: You mean princess?
Hattie: No. King.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Thing About Rape.

(I forgot to mention over the weekend that I am participating in Conversion Diary's Seven Posts in Seven Days. It will be a good thing for me to work through all of these violence against women posts that have been stirring around in my head! Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 in 7!)

Women. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, attitudes. They have different religions, different families, different strengths, different extra curricular activities. Introverted and extroverted. Attached or unattached. Young and old, experienced or inexperienced and everything in-between.

A few days ago, I wrote about the concept of not enough, or scarcity. Sometimes, not enough is a bit normal. Think back to being an adolescent: trying to figure out hormones and the inexperience of youth trying to be adult. I think I had what would be considered a normal amount of this back in the day. I remember bursting into tears one day over a school photo, and "too much forehead." My mom suggested a new haircut, and I was off to find something else about myself that I needed to critique. Today, it seems much worse for young girls.

Let me get back on track before I hijack my own post with Mean Girls and tales of my youth. The point: I had parents that talked to me about sex, dating and even rape. I was just an average kid, trying to get used to growing up. 

 Left: Eighth grader me

Right: college me
I didn't really feel comfortable in my own skin until college. My freshmen year and most of my sophomore year, I was just happy. Things may not have been perfect in my life, but I felt comfortable with who I was. The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote for The Guiding Star Project (Parts One and Two) last March:

It was Thanksgiving my freshmen year of college. After the standard family time, I had plans to spend some time with one of my best friends. He picked me up and we went to his parent’s house so we could catch up. He told me how his classes were going and all about his most recent break up. I told him about my classes and how I had just started seeing someone new. I remember gushing a little, because I just felt really happy. Within a few moments, the conversation turned and suddenly he was on top of me in the dark. I asked him repeatedly to stop: I reminded him that I was seeing someone. It was as though he could not hear me. I was terrified of the person I thought was my best friend. I retreated inside my head and repeated the Hail Mary as I was certain the night would end in my virginity being stolen. After a few minutes, he sat up and I asked if he could take me home. He talked to me the entire ride home nonchalantly as I stared out the passenger window, relieved that he only assaulted me. I asked my dad to take me back to school early so I could be alone.

It took some time for me to come to terms with what had happened. I over-analyzed everything I had said to him, certain that I just had not been clear enough with him. My confidence was shattered, and I felt used.

I was lucky in a twisted way.

It was a few weeks before I told anyone what had happened. I was fortunate enough to have a best friend that loved me, and encouraged me to be honest and truthful about the situation. That half an hour of my life was powerful enough to have lasting consequences for me and my self-worth. It also impacted my perception of sexual assault victims, especially in one specific way:

This is a photo of the outfit I was wearing that night. My favorite pair of well worn, boot-cut, dark wash jeans. My favorite fuzzy sweater hoodie with a t-shirt underneath it: perfect for a Kansas November night. I had spent all day with my family and was just visiting my friend. I was not stumbling out of  a bar, in a tube top and Daisy Duke shorts. Even if I was, it did not mean anyone had the right to assault me.

I have hesitated to make this point. The comparison is a moot point, because it truly doesn't matter what you are doing or wearing. If you are unable to give consent, or you say no, it is assault. Period. 
One of the campaigns that I love right now, is from Men Can Stop Rape. An Example:

 photo MCSR-TakeaStand-Poster-3.jpg

The reason I am writing this post? It is far past time to change our attitudes about rape. Rape culture is pervasive: it victim blames, it gives rapists excuses, and otherwise good people crappy reasons to ignore and minimize rape. Rape should not feel like "the great equalizer" for women. The truth about rape and sexual assault is that it can happen to anyone. It does not just happen outside a bar. The thing about rape, is that it is not ever "understandable" or deserved. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Prayer and Wishing

I am a work in progress when it comes to knowing how to pray with my children. I knew that I needed to show them how to pray outside of Mass, but struggled with how.

One day, we were driving back from the store or some mundane errand, and I heard a siren. I instantly made the Sign of the Cross, and Hail Mary'd it up in my head. My kindergarten teacher taught us to pray at the sound of sirens, and it has always just been something that I did without thinking. This time, I noticed it. So I said the prayer aloud.

Cal: Mom, who are you talking to?
Me: God. Do you hear the siren? It is an ambulance. Ambulances go to help people when they are really hurt. I am asking Mary to ask God to help them.
Cal: Oh. Can I ask Him for a new car?

Instantly, a siren prompted Cal to ask me if we could pray for people. Slowly, I began to pray before our meals as well. For some reason, the Prayer Before Meals stuck in his head better than the Hail Mary, so anytime he wanted to pray: sirens, Church, before bed, randomly in the car or at the park, he would pray the Prayer Before Meals.

From time to time, I ask the kids if they would like to pray. This means Hattie (2 years old)  prays the Prayer Before Meals, and Calvin prays his own version of it out loud:

"Bless us, oh Lordy, for these gifts, I would like a car and a donut."

Hearing his prayers make me smile, but I also explain that we do not pray to ask for things, we pray to tell God thank you, or to ask Him to watch over people. Or do we pray as though we are wishing?

That is a really, really, REALLY difficult thing to explain when praying can feel like wishing. It wasn't until I began to pray the occasional novena that I even thought about wishing vs. praying. My novena intention would begin sounding like I was begging for something, but then it would morph into asking God to help my will to match His, or asking for strength.

I can't help but imagine God looking over us all, and chuckling at how "cute" we are praying. I see my son, kneeling at Mass with his hands clutched, asking God for donuts and candy. Then I see myself right next to him, asking for... well other things. My prayer life still isn't perfect, but I am happy to share the journey with my family. Maybe the fact that I am still learning will give the kids a head start!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Daring Greatly and IPV

You may not know this about me, but I do not board the Self Help Reading Train very often. When I was an advocate, I read a great deal of books that would help me to become a better advocate. Those books ranged from books like The Courage To Heal, memoirs written by abuse survivors, art therapy books that might help me to think about how I interact as an advocate, finance... trust me. It ran the gamut. Now that I stay at home with my children, my reading as turned more towards things that interest me, but when I heard several people talk about the book Daring Greatly, it seemed time to pick it up. If I am being completely candid, my face looked like this for a few months:

The more I listened to the sort of information and tolls that people were taking away from the book, the more curious I became. So, I bought it. I really do find Brown's research fascinating.

Brown talks about the concept of scarcity in her first chapter, as a way to "collect" all the "not enough" sentiments: not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not strong enough, not enough. This is a concept that has not escaped the feminism movement, no matter what branch or tree of the movement with which you identify. Feminism seeks to eradicate the concept that women are not enough. Sure, there are different ideas and approaches, but equality means equality.

When it comes to IPV (intimate partner violence), sometimes it feels different. Folks that typically would fight the concept of mommy wars, or fight for women's equality seem to feel uncomfortable when a woman experiences violence in her relationship. Here are some things I have actually heard said about women in violent relationships:

- She must like the drama.
- She deserves it for having kids with him.
-She is a grown-ass woman and should fight back.

This sort of talk leads me to believe that, in general, most people do not understand the dynamics of IPV. Or how "domestic issues" are handled sometimes with the legal system, but that is another conversation. Why isn't it as simple as being drawn to drama, or deserving it, or fighting back?

 Yep. I am posting it again. I think in many ways, the concept of scarcity applies to this. It is one thing to live in a world filled with messages from the media, advertisers, maybe a few so-called friends that you are not enough. It is a horse of a different color to live in a world where the person that is supposed to choose to love you no matter what and more than anything else in the world, and the person that you love no matter what and you have given your heart to fills you to the brim with not enough. Imagine for a moment that your loved one:

-Told you that, because you are a woman, you are not good enough to me more than his servant.
-Told you that you are not a good enough mother to your kids, and if you left, he would surely take them away.
-Told you he only treats you the way he does because, if you were thinner, he might love you again.
-Told you that your family and friends can't come to your home because you are a slob and not clean enough.
-Said all of the above and then used threats of or actual violence, emotion abuse, sexual abuse and limited your financial access as well.

The fact is that every instance of IPV is different, yet strikingly the same. It is set up to manipulate and control the victim. It is never as simple as leaving, especially since we know the threats and likelihood of lethality increase when a woman leaves.

I read the first chapter of Daring Greatly, and instantly thought about the women I have known that lived with abuse. If we fight to end the "not enough" messages that women encounter daily, then that means fighting to end IPV, and helping women survive abuse and its aftermath.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The New Newness

In an effort to simplify before I become so mega famous that I can't go back, I have changed some things around the blog. I have my reasons:

1. Ever since the word 'adorkable' was used, I have barely tolerated the 'push two words together and make a new word' craze. I was caught up in the moment. Cathofeminism was how I felt!

Now that the giddiness has subsided, I realize I am not starting a movement: I am adding my voice to a fantastic (and existing) movement! So, I will just be me.

The New Newness:

I even set up a few other accounts, so help me figure out Tumblr and Twitter! (I will work on setting up Instagram and possibly Pinterest, but I am adverse to change. I am taking it slow!)

Twitter: @jessfayette

The new webpage:

So, thanks for following, and let's see if we can grow a little bit! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

To Be Pro Life and Against Violence Towards Women...

... seems to feel like more of a rarity than it should be. In my experience as an advocate, I worked hard to take a deep breath and speak up when abortion was discussed with coworkers. I will admit that I certainly feel more well-versed on the subject matter now, but I did not have it in me to stay silent on the matter. I never was faced with the situation where a survivor asked for abortion resources, but I did provide many a shoulder to cry on and comfort for women that had abortions or were overwhelmed with pregnancy or miscarriage. It taught me that there are scary, real, and harmful situations for women in this world. It taught me that women sometimes feel they must do the unimaginable to survive. I hate that I know these things.
Power and Control Wheel:
This graph illustrates many of the tactics abusers use to control their partners.

Being an advocate means knowing these awful things, and knowing that there are others trying to combat violence and rape in a culture that blames women for rape and sees IPV as "relationship" or "domestic" issues. The advocates that fight in the trenches every day to help women heal from abuse and rape go to court with survivors and see the gamut of outcomes: conviction, charges dismissed, custody given to abusive partners, battered women held responsible for their partner's abuse, rape trials turned into a parade of the victim's sexual past. They see women judged by society and they have no legal or social support. They see women raped and left in pieces, sometimes with a child as a result. They see women beaten and forced into sex get pregnant, stay pregnant or beaten until they miscarry. It is no wonder that abortion looks like the better option.

The religious affiliation statistic is heart breaking.
 It shows a real gap in the love we are asked to show and that love in action.

Being a (small) voice in the pro life movement means encountering all kinds of pro life individuals. This movement is filled with loving, caring, and compassionate people. It is filled with the voices of my generation: those that survived the abortion statistics. It is also filled with Christians, non-Christians, atheists, men, women, and children. There are also those that call women who have had abortions murderers and whores. There are those that think that shaming and blaming women for abortion is the "tough love" approach that will save lives. These people are wrong.

Now you have an idea of what I see: Pro choicers determined to find a way to avoid trauma and alleviate some pain. Pro choicers wary of those against abortion but unwilling to fight IPV and rape culture. Pro lifers that know children cannot be the cost of equality. Pro lifers wary of those that promote abortion because they see them as trying to destroy the family unit.

No one wins in this deadlock, especially not women. People on both sides of the abortion debate must start to acknowledge the pieces of truth the other side holds.

Rape is not as simple as reporting it if we shame victims and blame them for their own assault.

If you are pro life and reading this post, I challenge you to seek more information on the cycle of violence. Find out more about rape.

If you are pro choice and reading this post, I encourage you to engage in real conversation with someone you know that is pro life, or research Feminists For Life to find out more about how the pro life cause does not mean saving children at the expense of women.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I am sitting here in my (mostly) clean living room, thinking about going to the Guiding Star Brazos Valley Launch Party tomorrow. I am marveling at the way God puts things in my path.

I have written about "falling into" advocacy, and something very similar is happening right now. Close to two years ago, I joined an NFP Facebook group, looking for a place to ask questions and get information. When I found I had a voice that I wanted heard, and began this project, that group brought me to organizations like The Guiding Star Project, New Wave Feminists, and New Feminism. It showed me that there are indeed more women like myself that seek equality for women, but not at the expense of our children. I desperately needed to know this. Further more, I desperately needed to reaffirm that fighting to end violence and sexual assault against women did not have to support the added violence of abortion.

So, before I become too goofy and sappy and nostalgic, I wanted to take some time this gorgeous Texas afternoon to draw some attention to pro life organizations that I believe truly are turning the pro life cause on its side, and changing it from the inside-out FOR THE BETTER.

The Guiding Star Project

I know this one is fairly obvious as I try to find the time to be a part of the blogging team, but for real: a center that wants looks like this:

AND it seeks to provide holistic medical care to women, Has that whole Brazos valley thing going on, AND AND AND wants to provide a brand name to rival Planned Parenthood? This is not just lip service. This is providing an answer.

New Wave Feminists

I love it when strong women provide an alternative look at what pro life can be. It is not just the stereotypical group praying rosaries outside of clinics (but PRAY away, peaceful protesters and sidewalk counselors, we need you!). It is not just Catholics. It is not just old, white, male politicians that are out of touch. It is women with a voice. (And Destiny listens to awesome music as a bonus.)

Save The Storks

I think what I secretly love about Save the Storks, is that I loved that old MTV show Pimp My Ride, and so I harbor a deep fondness for tricked out vehicles. Tricked out vans with sono equipment inside and resources for women that are pregnant and need help?

And Then There Were None

This one might be my favorite. If you want to dismantle the abortion industry, how about helping all their trained employees find work elsewhere in the healthcare industry? Enter Abby Johnson and ATTWN.

Since the start of this ministry, they have helped 95 workers find work outside of the abortion industry. Fantastic.

You throw all these organizations together, and you are talking about some serious pro life upheaval. Love it. Get excited.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Five Favorites (02.12.14)


This is not Groundhog Day. 

The fact that the wonderful ladies throwing this together thought that I wouldn't be stalking the ticket link until exactly 9:00 CST without showering first to take a pic... laughable. 


A recreation of what I looked like when I was checking out. 


Now, I must find shoes. I thought I might be able to get away with these:

But those are easily beaten. The search is on.

I won't make all five be about Edel. I am also looking forward to a quick road trip to see my mom. SOLO. Unless I decide to bring this character along. It is tempting.

In other news, I am looking forward to a date night with the Husband this weekend, and in a month. To go see Veronica Mars. If he backs out, then I am looking forward to going to see it alone. TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baptizing. The Final Frontier.

Now I hate myself for using a Star Trek or Star Wars or sci-fi reference, but I am far too distracted to come up with a better title.

Would you like to know the single most awful thing about having another child? (No, this is not a pregnancy announcement, thanks for wondering.) It isn't nausea. It isn't dealing with OBs or c-sections. It is planning the new child's baptism, and it is enough to make me hesitate to have more kids now that we have moved. Again.

I don't relish telling the following story, but I hear similar accounts, if not worse, from parents across the country. This is not an isolated instance, and I truly hope that more parishes can follow Pope Francis' example on the matter, because a Sacrament should not make someone feel like a terrible parent for being Catholic in isolating situations. I am writing this post in the hopes that those that can identify with it know they are not alone, and to say this: Remember that the sacrament is important, regardless of the challenges in procuring said sacrament!

It never crossed my mind that a sacrament would be a difficult project to set up or plan. With our oldest, we were in a small town and had been parishoners for years. I called, the priest asked to meet to set it up, and he was baptized within the month he was born. The day of the baptism, he mumbled something about needing a document from the Godparent's parish, stating they were on solid standing with the Church. The important aspect of the situation? A child would be baptized.

We moved to Florida before our second child was born. We settled on a parish while I was still pregnant, and I called months early to try to get a handle on the situation. I was not allowed to even set a date until I had presented an application for Baptism (complete with a birth certificate) and we needed to take a baptism preparation class. The next scheduled class was on the day after I was scheduled for surgery, so we had to wait to have our daughter baptized nearly two months. My conversations with the Baptism Coordinator went something like this:

BC: Oh, you don't have family here? I will find someone to be a Godparent.
Me: I am not comfortable with that. We have individuals we would like to ask.
BC: So your husband isn't Catholic?
Me: No.
BC: Is that the best environment to raise a child? I mean, that is confusing for a child, and maybe it would be better if you waited until you can convince him to convert.

I felt as though I was being told I was an awful Catholic for not manhandling my husband and relatives into conversion. The baptism class was worse. All 90 minutes of it was a conversation about appropriate gifts for your Godchildren.

Not on the list of appropriate gifts.

While we were not required to take the baptism class for our third child (because it fell within two years of taking the last class), this time it was just as difficult to get a baptism scheduled. When I called, I was first asked what my envelope number was, and that is really a demeaning experience. We had the same Godmother as we did the last time, but they required her parish priest send a certain document to verify she was in good standing. The problem, was that it was not a universally named document, so he had no idea what he was supposed to send. Should baptizing your child feel like you are the main event at the circus?

I am no dummy. I realize that there are maybe some well-intentioned folks out there that might not be baptizing their child with the full understanding of what that means in the Catholic faith. Maybe it is for show, maybe there are citizenship issues that influence policies, maybe bigger parishes are just trying to figure out how to do the best job they can do in order to "baptize all the babies!" Maybe parish politics are suffocating. I also know that it is important to have other Catholic role models in your children's lives, but are all these rules and regulations serving a purpose if it causes parents to hesitate to baptize their children in the faith?

I do not mean to infer that parish priests are responsible for this communication break-down. I had a few priests tell me they would happily baptize my child if I could not cross the finish line in our own parish. I love our priests and I truly do respect the catechism. I also talk a big game. I get really worked up, and my rage is especially easy to provoke while pregnant. I will always jump through every last hoop I have to in order to baptize my children. It all seems so unnecessary and incredibly joyless to wonder if you will actually close the deal on a baptism when we should be celebrating the births of the newest members of our Church.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pope Awesome, Goldie Blox and The Guiding Star Project

Last night, I was able to finish reading Pope Awesome by Cari Donaldson. In case you need a few visuals:


My To-Read List is actually getting smaller! Pope Awesome is a book that I want to buy for at least five people. It is such an authentic look at family and faith life, and it (almost) makes me want to home school and go buy a huge van. Just kidding about the van. And probably the home schooling.

In other news, I did not watch the Super Bowl, but I knew that Goldie Blox had won a contest for commercial time. 

My daughter is only two, and I want to go buy all the sets. Sometimes, it is really super hard for me to remember that she should be allowed to like what she wants to like, even if it is pink and sparkly. I am eating major crow now that she is a little bit past pirates and loving princesses (she thinks they are superheroes) and fashion. She is exactly the type of child that would love Goldie Blox because of the color and the story lines. I have seen a bit of push back on the subject, because they are toys designed to inspire a love of engineering and the like in young girls, and they are (like most toys marketed to girls) pastel and pink. I think we have to be bigger than that. Pink and pastels are good. So are other colors. This is a small company, with a refreshingly clear message: Toys for Future Innovators. I for one would hate for my daughter to miss out on this type of toy. Also, the shirts are fantastic!

Lastly, The Guiding Star Project had some amazing news this morning! They are opening a Maternity Home and our first Guiding Star Center in Bryan/College Station, TX! Head over to the new affiliate site for more information, and please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they get organized and set up shop!