Tagged: women rights

The (little) girl next door

‘Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
Wouldn’t you
What it feels like for a girl’

Since I started redlipstickmama, there is something I managed to do rather well: not censuring myself. And this for many reasons:
– freedom of thought helps my writing. I spent the last 10 years of my career getting my words edited with a red pencil, or with CAPS or worst with shrewd cutting out of entire paragraphs. And although it was very often deserved (tendency to ramble is second nature to me), it always crippled me a little.
– commitment to authenticity is key to my own sanity and to the enjoyment (I hope) of my 300 or so readers (note: I look like I am bragging but considering 2/3 are friends and family…)

Anyway, there is one subject that I have started to write about and kept deleting over and over again: my own daughter. It all started innocently enough. I was looking at my Facebook page insights and noticed how my blog posts about my boy G. are usually quite popular. I then realized with sheer horror that I to date have written at least 2 blog posts about him and 0 about my daughter, P.

DH and I are obsessed about fairness when it comes to raising our kids. DH, because it is one of the things his folks did very well -always giving equivalent time, money, gifts etc. to him and his sisters – and Me, because it is one of the things my folks fucked up big time. It is popular knowledge in my family that one out of us 5 got more financial support, or more praise, or more demands, more criticisms from my mom and my dad. Thank god, it was not always the same kid who got it all. It’s a miracle the 5 of us actually love each other ūüôā

Indeed, when I started my blog, one of my goals was to document our family life. I hoped that my kids one day will read all my entries when the time for them comes to forgive me for the obnoxious way I proclaim that ‘I know them better than they know themselves’ or when they start criticizing my style and maybe understand that back then I had no time nor the inclination to comb my hair or ¬†wear anything but sweat pants. ¬†And we all know that old habits die hard, right? I especially hope that they will read the blog when it is time to decide which retirement home they will put us in when we loose our brain and can no longer make any decisions and read this: RESORT, GOLF, DANCE CLUB, FLO-RI-DA.

I felt horribly bad about not having written about P so I was adamant to amend this immediately. But then, I started to do the unthinkable: censoring myself.¬†I kept deleting words wondering: ‘what is she going to feel when she reads this? Will she think I prefer her brothers?’

The truth is that I have very complex emotions when it comes to P. It started way before she was even born. It started way before I was told I was pregnant with twin boy and girl. As far as I can remember I have always been nervous about raising a daughter perhaps because:

  • I have my own up and down and ‘come to a full circle’ relationship with my mom.
  • I often had intense passive aggressive friendships with girls; so much that for a very long time half my family thought I had lesbian affairs
  • I was raised to be competitive with my almost twin sister. I mean, our very own grandparents used to bet on whom would win a Mano a Mano wrestling fight. I was 4. Who does this? I swear Lao people are mental.
  • I felt I already had a daughter in the shape of my 14 year younger sister to whom I already taught what I think every girl should know: not to cry over boys, love other girls, how to pluck their eyebrows and how one should always avoid, unless your name is Rihanna, combining micro skirts and high heels.

Thus since P was born, I cannot for the life of myself understand why I am tougher on her than on her brothers. I cringe when she flirts her way through things, when she bawls her eyes out when G & L barely push her, when she is obsessing about lip balms or constantly demands to wear dresses. She is so precocious that she thinks my girlfriends are her girlfriends. She protests about anything and everything. Maybe I cannot handle how ‘girly’ she is. Or maybe I cannot handle how she basically trashed a whole life conviction that gender neutral upbringing would help girls not to fall into the ‘traps’ societies build for them such as the expectations to be cute, sweet and pretty or to love nursing their baby doll. But here I am with my twin boy and girl doing exactly the same thing to no avail; she is all about sparkles and making adults fall in love with her.

I grew up thinking that I had to be one of the boys to make it. And for now, she makes it clear that the last thing she wants to do is ‘act like a boy’. ¬†The world she is growing into is different, I guess, and hopefully offers more narratives about what a strong woman truly is. I don’t know. While Beyonc√© sings ‘girls rule the world’¬† and Sheryl Sandberg has been officially decreed a billionaire, institutional, social and political deficiencies continue to stymie the potential of girls and women. I am talking about¬†glass ceiling, oversexualization of girls and women bodies, governments’ inability to articulate the value of childcare into sound long-term economic policies, reproductive rights that continuously need to be defended (Spain, I am talking to you and Shame on you!), or how parental leave actually still means ‘maternal leave’.

So yeah, maybe I am tougher because I worry more (that, plus the fact that she will eventually steal all my designer shoes collection). But does me being harder on her is actually telling her that I expect her to fail by being herself? Am I tough because I am sometimes disappointed by the woman I am? It is not fair and¬†P, ¬†I make you this promise: I will try harder to be the woman I wish you would grow into.¬†Also you are already very awesome because you just cracked me up two days ago when you strutted towards me in my UGG boots applying some balm on your lips and firmly demanded: ‘Mom, I want a wrench and a fast car. Can you buy me that?’

You made me remember this kick ass quote from Sarah Silverman:¬†‘Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. I think it’s a mistake. Not because they can’t, but because it would never have occurred to them that they couldn’t.’

Point taken.



Abortion and motherhood: a true story

Preliminary note: Two days ago, I tried to load my resume onto an online recruitment agency website and for some reasons (OK, I admit I am useless when it comes to the multi-touch trackpad options, too old for these tricks) I opened a document I wrote three years ago. It was my way of dealing with all sorts of emotions and guilt I felt when starting the process of getting pregnant.  The following is my most intimate and controversial post so far. Some of my closest friends will be shocked. I agonized about putting it out there but another tragic death  in Ireland due to anti abortion laws gave me the courage to come out: I had a pregnancy termination. Like many women I never talk about it. I felt shame considering that a decade after my abortion I went through fertility treatments but today I am thankful I found caring and understanding hospital staff  who did the procedure in a way that did not scar me for life.
Savita Halappanavar, your death is senseless and I hope this never happens again.
She is so pretty, has perfect hair, perfect skin, and a perfect smile.
Her immaculate blouse is blinding. Her interrogation is lethal though, I feel like a stripper being body searched.
‚ÄėAre you smoking?‚Äô¬†She will know if I lie so I say ‚Äėyes one or two a day‚Äô¬†with a smug. She is not fazed. She is a pro.
‚ÄėHow many years have¬†you been smoking for? And how much was the most you have smoked?‚Äô‚ÄėWell I did quit for 4 years…‚Äô
She is so not having any of my crap; I¬†thus give in:¬†13 years and for 3 years I was on 30 cigarettes a day… I think¬†she’s just choked. Actually it was a slow scream between her pearly teeth. I know what is going follow and my brain starts wandering …my guts tell me get out of here pronto. I know better though. It took me five years to be where I am now. Five years to be¬†now lectured by a perfectly nice and sense making woman¬†who also smells¬†very nice. It‚Äôs ok because I want to be here. I must admit that not¬†having my goody two shoes husband sitting next to me smugly say that he‚Äôs always¬†been an occasional smoker would help.
It’s ok because I expect to be vilified during my first appointment at a fertility clinic. I am not in my 20s and I am now struggling to get pregnant. What did I think was going to happen, right? But it gets worse…
–¬†Have you ever been pregnant?
– Yes
РWhat has been the result of the pregnancy?

Thought response: I got it killed and removed from my body because no way I was being a mum.
Actual response: termination by surgical procedure
– Was it by your husband?
Thought response: I don t know
Actual response: 90 % per cent sure so a tiny risk that no … Can I say that we were not really together? (great, I am making¬†things worse: she now thinks I am an addict and a slut).
Good doctor now talks about the 4 Ts (4 tests)
Are you ovulating?
Are your tubes ok?
Is the semen ok?
Are the eggs and sperm meeting somewhere down in the uterus?Yawn. I have been there twice and now must look very smug. But then¬†out of nowhere Mr ‚ÄėI nod my head‚Äô starts asking:
About tests my sperm motility was assessed and no issue there, so¬†is there anything else that could be looked at in detail ?Good Doctor is impressed by Good Husband. He is not like most men; he actually wants to¬†know more about what could be wrong with him. Good doctor starts to mumble something about DNA detraction or fragmentation and Good Husband nods. Hang on a¬†second, now that‚Äôs enough to make me get out of my lethargy. These¬†two are getting very serious; we are now talking hereditary diseases¬† (by the way do megalomania -my side- and depression- his side –¬†count?). He is asking about STD and unprotected sex. Did we even¬†agree that we were going to talk about this with Good Doctor – who by¬†now must think that we are swingers, oh lord ‚Ķ They talk about being¬†healthy to carry pregnancies. Now, I was not prepared for what has¬†just happened.That s it G D and G H managed to do it. They did it together. They¬†made it real. She talks about babies being inseminated not embryos¬†(for the first time in 8 years I feel weird and sweaty about by¬†my abortion-is that even fair?). They made it so real that I start¬†touching my belly and I am now all freaked out. They made it so real that I¬†can almost hear the screaming in the night, smell stains of rotten¬†regurgitation, feel the little feet in my hand, see the wrinkly neck and touch¬†the fine back hair. Bastards they did it: I am already a mom.