Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Modesty" and Assault

I can't believe we are still having this conversation.

Upworthy has a video discussing cat calling and assault. (Some language, but good.) It was positive to see a video linking cat calling and assault, especially after the recent proclamation that women should take being harassed as they walk in public as a compliment. Then I did a stupid thing. I looked at the comments. On a pro-life Facebook page's post about the video.

Ladies. Gentlemen. It was embarrassing. If you watch the video, I am sure you can guess what I saw in the combox, so I won't bother repeating it here.

I'm not going to write about the danger zone we've created with modesty talks. I've seen it written better than I can manage dozens of times. Many of those posts come from Calah Alexander, BUT SHE IS RIGHT.

I have covered (no pun intended) the subject of sexual assault before. I have even detailed my own experience with assault.

Today, there is only one message I want to pass on. If you are conservative, against abortion even in cases of rape, Christian, Catholic, traditional... Stop. Stop making assault hinge on what a woman is wearing. JUST STOP. The crime lies in deciding someone else's body is there for your amusement and pleasure. The crime is deciding you do not have to keep your hands or your words to yourself. The crime is in taking without consent.

Stop. Refocus your thoughts. This is not about destroying men or their fun times. It is about destroying the idea that a woman is there for your pleasure, and that you have a right to take what you want without asking.

Stop. When you say that men and women should show respect and reverence for one another and that marriage and sex is sacred, no one is listening if you follow that by calling a woman a whore for wearing short shorts. No one is listening when you say that all life is sacred, even in the womb, if you follow that noble statement by saying a woman deserves to be assaulted if the way she dresses does not meet your approval.

Do you need to know why no one is listening? Women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds experience assault, harassment, and rape. Everything about what you do, how you walk, how you talk, what you are wearing, and how you look can be re-framed. Don't believe me? Potato salad.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Parenting Books Part II

To be completely honest, I had no intention of reading Momnipotent. I wasn't even sure if I would read it once I found it in my swag bag. I flipped through the pages and saw that some of the pages had flowery designs and instantly remembered that my femininity was broken.

But, it was suddenly in my adoration bag, and seemed like a nice contrast to The Screwtape Letters. The chairs in the adoration chapel are uncomfortable, and awkward when you fall asleep, so I try to read.

The author, Danielle Bean, really is easier to relate to for me than the other authors on parenting that I have read. (I might not have burst into tears over turtle food, but I have found myself pregnant and literally stuck in a pantry while I sobbed on the floor. It's nice to be reminded that I am not the only imperfect mom out there!) It might just be that I am in a different place in life. When I read now, my mind sometimes floats towards "What am I getting out of this?" or "What do I want others to know about this book? While I am only halfway through it, Momnipotent certainly has some points for me to consider, though to be frank, I skip over the true/false quizzes and the answers that are sprinkled through out because they are not what gets the gears turning and they feel sort of obvious to me.


Bean makes sure to hit the popular subject of femininity. I mean, come on. It is a book about being a mom, right? We are living in the midst of the Mommy Wars and opinions that never end about what women are all about. She includes quotes from St. John Paul II that I know very well. Bean asks and answers "Where do we find our worth?"

I am not sure I am satisfied with the answer to this question that is given by many Catholics, including myself at times. My "feminine genius" does not feel feminine at all. While I might experience more emotions than my husband, the emotion I feel most often is annoyance at all the emotions with which women are saddled. I don't watch Lifetime for Women (Project Runway doesn't count.) and I don't really appreciate rom coms. I don't fit the stereotype. I am not a nurturing mother, if I am being completely honest. I don't know how to be that, and it certainly does not come naturally when my children need it from me.

All this the femininity and "different yet equal" talk prompts for me, is more questions.

What happens when your feminine genius is broken?

What does it mean if accessing the "feminine strengths" is just as hard as it is for you to pee in a urinal?

I can start to build answers to these questions by asking myself where my worth comes from, and I believe that the answers extend past motherhood. Every person: single, married, religious ordered, man, woman, teen, and child has to figure out answers to that question often throughout life, and the answer changes.

The Morning Offering

Bean has some reflections on The Morning Offering that are helpful. Mostly, that it is a good prayer for me to remember and to try to teach the kiddos. Let's be real: it is hard to hear The Prayer Before Meals 45 times a day. I will shoot for a little variety in the weeks to come. But. I still have to ask:

Who are these moms that find a way to include prayer time into the day to day life?! Am I doomed if I have trouble getting a handle on my own prayer life? I worry that I am just not built for that. Why does it feel so much more difficult to accomplish for my life than it looks in others?

Mom Martyrdom

In my SAHM circles, I hear this theme often. I also hear it in the working mom circles, because don't we all have roughly the same list of things to accomplish? Bean touches on this issue, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the conclusion.

I get it. There are times when I do things that need to be done for the wrong reasons. Sometimes I might do it just to prove I can, or to try to yank out a "WOW, MOM/WIFE! You are the most amazing person in the entire universe and I will never be able to thank you enough." Care to guess how many times that has worked?

The vast majority of the time, I am merely trying to pull my weight. If I had to spend my days away from the house and come home to a mess I did not create or supervise, I would feel like crap. So, the drive to finish the to-do list has less to do with martyrdom and more to do with putting in my fair share of the work.

Realistically, in our situation, there are two adults that are responsible for all household duties, including financial support. If one of us can't do it, is it really martyrdom to accept that you are responsible for that task when you have the more adjustable schedule?

To conclude, I am interested to finish the book, and I don't mean this to be a criticism of Momnipotent more than I mean to talk about the questions that books on the subject of Catholic parenting continually raise. I am truly looking to hear your input on the matter: I'd love to talk about it with others that are facing, have faced or one day might face the same questions.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parenting Books Part I

I'm not really the parenting book type of mom. I own a copy of What to Expect When You are Expecting and I have not touched it since I was pregnant the first time. During Calvin's toddler year without a sibling, I was beyond bored and yet the busiest I had ever been. I felt as though I had no time for God, or me, or both. So I bought The Handbook for Catholic Moms. I promptly spent the next two weeks feeling like a total failure as a parent for not being able to incorporate my prayer life into the active life of my son. We had a bit of a difficult time about then, so I signed up for the online forums to try to get some support from the community, even if the book wasn't really for me. My question sat unanswered for months, so I deleted the post and my account. I was officially off any book that had to do with parenting.

This. Every day.

When I was pregnant with Frank, I found out Mayim Bialyik was interesting in a refreshingly different way from her Blossom days, and had written a book. As I was having my third child on earth and only owned a double stroller, I was exploring the world of baby wearing for the first time, and her book was called Beyond the Sling. I was curious.

See? The first outing with two kids.
Hattie is perilously balanced on the cart and Calvin passed out with worry.
We barely survived.

It was shocking to realize that the parenting Matt and I were doing had a striking resemblance to about half of what Bialyik called attachment parenting. There were several chapters I skipped over or merely skimmed (Sorry. Elimination Communication is just not for me.) and the book really had little to do with why I thought I was buying it, but it did reinforce my belief in not relying on parenting books. 

Enter Edel. 

I was all sorts of happy to hear we were getting swag bags for attending. I love getting stuff. I claimed my seat on the end of a row and started digging. The most surprising item (other than the pillowcase) was the book, Momnipotent. 

I've heard of it in the Catho grapevine. I'm on a reading kick right now, and desperately trying to avoid starting my giant Van Gogh read. So I've been reading it. I'm not sure that I have picked up anything earth shattering yet, but I do have a few things I have been mulling over that I would like to share and hopefully discuss. 

Tomorrow, I will dig through some of the notes I have taken and I would love to hear your input! Be prepared, online blogging community. I am going to need you to comment on tomorrow's post!