Welcome to college. Try not to get raped.

by renegademama

You are the person who thinks it’s “no big deal” that some young men hang banners from the balconies of their frat house with the words: “Freshman daughter drop off,” “Rowdy and Fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too.”

It’s hard to believe you still exist, in 2015.

I want to rant and rave at you. I want to call you names and insult your intelligence and tell you to fuck right off a thousand ways. You support a culture that views women as objects to be consumed and taken at will.

You support a culture of rape.

And you do it openly. And you say it’s just your “opinion” as if it is that innocuous.

I fucking hate you.

But my hatred does nothing. So instead, I’ll just talk to you.

Let’s break down the messages of these banners. Translate them. Make explicit the implicit.

“Freshman daughter drop off:” The person you have raised and protected and adored as a child needs to be deposited into our hands so we can take over your role as parent and do with her what we will, which is have sex with her. We want to take advantage of her insecurity as a new student and attempt to play on her vulnerability.

You think I’m going too far? I’m not. They call her “daughter.” Ownership. Not even an autonomous human being. Somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s child. “Freshman:” New, young, nervous, unsure.

“Rowdy and fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time.” More direct, same message. Baby girl. Reduced to infantile. Reduced to pure vulnerability. Purity. Perceived virginity. Don’t fucking tell me I’m reading too much into this: WHAT IS A BABY GIRL IF NOT AN INNOCENT VIRGIN?

About to be violated. STILL NOT ADDRESSING THE ACTUAL HUMAN BEING.

Still not addressing THE YOUNG WOMAN IN QUESTION who may or may not want to have sex with a dude or 2 or 6 but that is not the point is it?

They’re writing to the parents. They’re not writing to her. They don’t give a shit about her. Her sexuality is a non-issue. Her desires are irrelevant. Her body is not her own.

SHE IS A NON-ISSUE.

SHE IS IRRELEVANT.

The only people who matter are the parents, the ones who blocked them from getting to her vagina.

“Go ahead and drop off mom too:” Hell, we don’t care. We’ll fuck any warm body. Even if she’s old and gross, because we all know that’s what older women are.

We’ll fuck your baby girl and your wife. Two objects you own that we want.

These messages reduce women to bodies to be passed off between men: dads and husbands to frat boys.

These messages reduce women to THINGS to be TRADED between men.

Do I think these boys are posting these messages with full awareness of the what they’re saying? Maybe. Put probably not. They’re probably too fucking dumb for that. THEY ARE ABSORBING THE CULTURE AROUND THEM. THEY ARE ABSORBING THE CULTURE YOU ARE SUPPORTING EVERY TIME YOU SAY

You’re overly sensitive.

These are just boys being boys.

Young college boys are horny.

They’re just having fun.

 

Meanwhile, girls are raped.

Meanwhile, boys are growing up thinking this is what being a man means.

Meanwhile, our sons are reduced to douchebag morons with penises that blur humanity.

Meanwhile, our daughters are reduced to available or unavailable vaginas.

Meanwhile, our daughters are on the ground with a boot on their neck, choking under the power of a patriarchy that protects or consumes them, but never lets them breathe.

 

We buy a onesie that says “Daddy’s little princess.”

We buy a onesie that says “Lock your daughters up.”

We buy heels for our 3-year-old. She can’t run at the park anymore.

We put her in skirts and tell her to close her legs. They’ll see your panties!

Somebody’s older brother touched her. “Boys will be boys. He’s just exploring.”

She says nothing the 2nd time. The third the fourth the fifth.

We tell her to adhere to dress codes. Don’t show too much leg. That belly. Shame!

We tell her to buy some pepper spray.

We tell her not to get drunk.

Boys will be boys you know they are just having fun they can’t help themselves the power of their dicks is just too much LOOK AT THOSE PROMISING FOOTBALL CAREERS.

You want sex? No don’t have sex you’ll be a slut and nobody likes a slut be clean be good be respectable you can do anything YOU ARE DADDY’S LITTLE PRINCESS.

“Drop your baby girl off here.”

We’ve got it. We’ll take care of you now, little princess.

 

She shouldn’t have done that keg stand.

She shouldn’t have worn that skirt.

She shouldn’t have gone upstairs.

She shouldn’t have walked alone.

She shouldn’t have driven.

She shouldn’t have been born.

 

It’s no big deal.

You’re being too sensitive.

He was just horny.

He was just having fun.

Welcome to college, princess. Welcome to the world.

 

Ah shit, drop her mom off too.

 

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Link to photos: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/odu-fraternity-freshman-girls-banners_55dbd2d8e4b0a40aa3ac00ba

70 Comments | Posted in politics | August 27, 2015

A troll’s guide to the internet

by renegademama

The trolls of the internet got together  (in my head) and wrote a helpful handy guide. If you are unclear what a “troll” is, I give you this definition: The most annoying commenters in the world; people who make it their mission to enrage and insult while simultaneously ignoring the point. They appear on every comment thread. Anywhere. No matter what. You can run, but you can’t hide.

Luckily though they are easy to spot because THEY ALL THINK THE SAME WAY.

Anyway, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want a list such as the one below, but Service to Nobody is what being a troll is all about. Plus, I have a fucked-up sense of humor.

So here you go.

A Troll’s Guide to the Internet (Or, How to Get Everyone on the Interwebz to Hate You):

  1. If somebody writes about an experience you haven’t had it’s because they think your life is a lie.
  2. And you, you are A LIAR.
  3. If somebody writes about an experience you have had but feels differently about it it’s because they think your feelings are bad.
  4. If you are not the intended audience it’s because the writer hates you.
  5. Generally speaking, if you can’t relate to something, it is a pointed attack on you, your intelligence, and your life, and the only thing to do is call the writer a cunt.
  6. Or fat. Or a fat cunt. You could also mention beating them with a uterus.* Anywho.
  7. If a writer doesn’t validate, include, speak to and/or make warm and cuddly every type of human on the planet, the writer hates them too, and you should point out each and every type of human the writer has omitted. Unless you don’t like them either. Then it’s okay.
  8. The title alone is sufficient data to formulate an opinion and share it widely.
  9. When in doubt, attack grammar or reference Jesus.
  10. If you read it in a meme, it is true.
  11. If you find one study backing your opinion, even if it was conducted at Burning Man, you are correct. Beat people with this (it’s firmer than uteri).
  12. If somebody is struggling with something you are good at, he or she is a deeply flawed human and needs your guidance.
  13. If somebody is good at something you’re struggling with, he or she is BLATANTLY ATTACKING YOUR WAY OF LIFE.
  14. Along these lines, a single piece of writing is sufficient information to critique, analyze, deconstruct and rebuild a stranger’s life.
  15. You should do that a lot because people like it.
  16. If you suspect however that this person may NOT like your extensive unsolicited unsupported misguided opinions (weird), preface your analysis by explaining your Earnest Desire to be Helpful.
  17. Everybody likes helpful people.
  18. Or say something about “playing devil’s advocate.” People dig that too.
  19. A reader should not be required to engage in the complexities of reading such as comprehending tone, voice, rhetorical cues or even the publication’s tagline that reads: “A satirical news source.” NO! If the writer fails to use “irony punctuation,” which is definitely a thing because I saw it in a meme last July, they are not being clear.
  20. Invent things at random (e.g. “irony punctuation”).
  21. Whenever possible, argue against something by inadvertently being an example of it. This is not easy. You will have to work hard at this. Few people are born with this level of cyclical logic and total lack of self-awareness. One must strive daily.
  22. If the writer is a woman, talk about whether or not you’d like to have sex with her.
  23. If the writer is a person of color, mention “race card” often and how you have black friends, NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC.
  24. Lie often.
  25. Steal souls.
  26. Ignore reason. And the topic at hand.
  27. Never use your actual name and never, ever give up on a comment thread. Always come back. Always, always come back and bring your friends from Reddit.

Remember, young troll, above all else:
trolloffend

 

They are vast, and they’re waiting for you.

Go get em, tiger!

 

*The uterus thing actually happened. Wish I kept the screenshot. 

 

*****

Join me for my last writing workshop of 2015. Session 1 is sold out. Session 2 is half full. Get on it. Let’s hang out. Let’s write.

WRITE THE WORDS, non-troll.

bastards1

To the mamas who never feel “just right”

by renegademama

I’ll never feel “just right” as a mother. That’s what I’ve learned. No matter what I do, a piece of me will wonder about the other side, the other choice. I’ll crave it a little, yearn for it a little, lie down at night and wish for it, a little.

I’ll wake up in the morning and go on with my day anyway.

I’ll wake up and get dressed and go to my office and write. It will feel right. I will feel refreshed to be out of the house and alone, invigorated to be doing the work in my gut, trying, bringing our finances to a more comfortable level.

“When I grow up I want to be a writer like you, mama.”

Ha. George thinks I’m a writer. Of course she also has a fake friend named “Carrot” (who’s also a giant), but her declaration makes me smile all the same.

I get home from work and Mac has taken the kids to swimming lessons. I bring home Mexican food but we miss each other. I eat alone and leave again to work with women alcoholics.

When I get home, Arlo is already asleep.

My breasts and arms crave him. I’m a little irritated at Mac for putting him to bed, which is insane, and I know it. It’s not him it’s me. It’s the sadness, my choices and non-choices, the guilt and stab at my heart. The not right. The just not quite right.

“But I have to nurse him!”

“I’m sure he’ll wake up for a little nursing, Janelle.” Mac is right.

I lie beside my babe and pull him close and he nurses instinctually, eyes closed, wide open mouth like a little bird. We settle down near each other as we have since he was a newborn, in the same bed, and I kiss and smell him over and over again like a starving person who just found food.

I physically crave my baby.

I physically ache for him.

I imagine this is the ache that drags bereaved mothers to the brink of insanity. Hair-pulling batshit total delusion insanity. Because if that craving could not be satisfied…my God. I think of my friend Kim.

 

Three days a week, from 9am until 4pm. That’s how long I’m gone. It’s not long. I used to work more. Some moms work 50, 60 hours a week.

Some evenings I’m gone too, but I’ll be gone a lot more than 3 days a week if I start drinking again.

I know these things, all of them, and yet at the close of the day I think of my first baby turning 14 in a few months and last summer, when I was home all the time with them and we went to the library every day with new tiny creation Arlo and how Ava mentioned it as the best summer and how this summer we’ve only gone once. To the library, that is. We swam on Sunday together as a family and Ava played with her siblings. I wonder how much longer she’ll do that.

When I think about it like that I curse every moment I’m gone and want back. BACK HOME. Back with them.

Yesterday though I met with a filmmaker who’s working with me to write my first screenplay and when she and I are talking I feel an energy vibrating through us and I think there’s no way I would survive without finding out what the words will say.

Now, and in 20 years.

I can’t quit silent.

 

From the outside it looks sometimes like women are secure and clear in their choices or non-choices. For better or worse, it appears black and white.

I want my kids to see an independent mother.

I want my kids to see a mother at home.

I want my kids to see a professional mother.

I hate staying at home.

 I hate working.  

I work because I have no choice.

I stay home because I have no choice.

For me, it’s all gray. (Maybe it’s gray for all of us, deep down.) I work because I have to and mostly want to, but I also know if we seriously down-sized I wouldn’t “have to” anymore. But I don’t want that either. I’m never “sure.” I’m never not regretting, sometimes. I’m never just right.

Maybe you’re the same.

I see you.

 

And here’s what I want to tell you: Maybe not just right can actually be “just right” and life can roll on okay with us over here flailing a little back and forth, acutely aware of how little we know, and how much we’ll never be clear how to be, exactly. And what’s “best,” always.

Maybe this is it. The clarity and the best.

Maybe I can be grateful for my life, my choices my words my home my breath my kids and husband and trust that this is enough.

I think this is it. I think I can relax in the gray and be here now, in my office writing to you.

And home in a couple hours, wondering what the fuck happened to the kids’ room.

And sitting down to play the sorting house with Arlo because 9am to 4pm is an awful long time when I walk in the door and he comes toddling so fast his tiny legs blur like the side of me that will walk out again tomorrow.

You know, because I called Ava yesterday while she was visiting her grandparents and asked how she was keeping herself entertained. She responded “looking at feminist posts on Instagram.” And I thought well that’s pretty rad since there are a few thousand other things a 13-year-old could be looking at with her smartphone and Rocket read his fortune the other day in the Chinese restaurant by himself without even a lick of fear and George, well she wants to be a writer now and Carrot is doing just fine,

and Arlo will wake up for a little nursing.

He’ll find me again, even with his eyes closed, in the gray of evening when we can’t see a thing.

Somehow still here, just right.

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44 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | August 11, 2015

To George on the eve of her 5th birthday

by renegademama

When I started this blog you were 5 months old. You were bald, and your ears kind of curled over at the top. We called them your “elf ears.” This will probably be less amusing when you’re 15.

you see the dimples?

you see the dimples?

When you smiled your face exploded in tiny indentations: A cleft chin, and a dimple on each side.

That still happens. It happened just this morning when you asked me if I’d give you “side spikeys” today. Your hair, that is.

Tomorrow you turn 5.

 

I thought your birth, my first one at home, was going to roll out and along like soft waves crashing on a foggy ocean shore, because that’s what happened in your brother’s birth a few years before. I envisioned myself dancing you out all calm and quiet and serene, maybe pulling you to the surface of the water with eyes wide open.

Instead I drank castor oil, setting off a 9-hour torture session of me squealing like a hyena and cursing the day I realized children were a possibility.

You were in a funky position. I had to push for approximately 9 years and 27 days.

There was no doubt in my mind I could not do it. When the midwife said “Well you’re the only one that can” and I met my mom’s eyes as her mouth said “Janelle get angry” I knew they were right and I let go and readied myself for the end and pulled all the energy from you, me, the ocean and all the motherfucking hyenas to get your 10-pound body out of me, with your chin not tucked appropriately and head cocked to one side.

Not gonna lie, your head was super jacked up on one side. I didn’t notice.

Your daddy lifted you from the water and the midwife said “cord.” Your older brother and sister gathered close. She flipped you over twice and your body flooded pink right there from the center and I think I cried and broke in elation because neither of us were dead and you were so big and lovely and mine and soft.

Ours, actually: me and daddy and Rocket and Ava.

You hardly cried. I swear it’s true. Through your whole damn infancy. You played and played and laughed and smiled and nursed a lot, but preferred sleeping alone. It was like a dream. You were like a dream.

not making the milk sign, but still damn cute playing with blocks

ELF EARS

Your independence was fierce and full right from the beginning, as if you started out knowing, just knowing what you needed to know, already. Like you showed up and said “I’m here, folks.” And started living complete, or mostly so, or more than the rest of us.

On your first day of preschool you stomped up the stairs, threw the door open and said “GEORGIA IS HERE.” And walked in.

That’s kind of how you’ve treated life.

 

We went camping when you were 10 months old and you already talked quite a bit, which was super weird after your brother, who barely spoke until he was three. You found a rock you loved and named it “owl.”

YOU NAMED THE ROCK “OWL.”

Georgia and her rock, which she called "owl", because she calls everything "owl", because she's perfect. Oh right. And there's Mac, too. :)

Georgia and “owl”

I think we still have it.

At 18 months you explained you were a “big boy” and for two years were adamant that you were a boy and cried if people called you a girl, so you were our boy and it was fine and damn you were adorable.

 

You had a “big boy dinosaur monster truck party” when you turned three.

A few months after your 4th birthday you decided you were a girl and then both, but really, you’ve just been you and that’s enough for me. All of us, your family, and the world.

At least I hope it is.

A few months ago you said when you grew up you were going to build a room where nobody asks if you’re a boy or a girl.

I’ll join you there, my love.

 

GeorgieI hope they’re nice to you in kindergarten. I hope you can just be Georgia there too. I hope your faux hawk (you begged for it for a solid year) and digger shirt paired with a bright floral skirt and red Pumas doesn’t make the other kids wonder.

Some of them are very disturbed by you. It makes me sad to think of the rigidity that must exist in their homes. We have had children yell in our faces “GIRLS DON’T HAVE SHORT HAIR!”

Oh, my heart.

I hope nobody tells me I shouldn’t let my kid look like that if I want people to know how to treat her because I’ll tell that person to kiss my ass seventeen thousand ways before I’ll tell my kid “Sorry. There’s no place for you…and to make other people comfortable, to conform to arbitrary, archaic societal guidelines regarding gender, I’m gonna need you to pretend to be something someone somebody you are not.”

Nope. Kick rocks asshole. You change.

We’re fine. 

Here. HERE IS A PRIMER ON HOW TO ACT IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF SOMEBODY’S GENDER: Nice.

Act nice. Proceed with life.

 

You turn 5 tomorrow. This year it’s a dinosaur astronaut party.

We’ve had some rough patches, you and I. Some days I thought you were too much. The wrestling. Yelling. Jumping. Running. Dancing.1510446_10206802667088298_7890154119994312816_n

No. Not the dancing.

The dancing has never been too much.

At the public pool, if your jam came on, you danced. Within a few moments you had a little audience. “Does she go to dance class?” Some of the kids asked.

“No,” I answered, “That’s just how she moves.”

That’s just how she lives.

 

Tomorrow you turn 5. It feels huge. It feels heavy and deep and a little
mean.

It feels perfect. It feels lucky. It feels the only way I’d ever have it.

I watch you all move along, a day a week a month a year beyond. I wonder if I held on, played enough. I regret the day care and babysitter. I regret every day spent away. I regret the time you were at the doctor’s without me. Every time I’ve yelled.

I remember I can’t do motherhood if I’m never away. I remember I needed to earn money. I remember I did what I could, then, and now. I take a breath and watch your face explode in tiny indentations.  

I remember it all lead us here.

Here. Now. To tomorrow.

Motherhood is a series of letting go. It does not grow easier.

On the first day of school I’ll do your spikes just right, pack your dinosaur lunch box and watch you walk away, holding the hand of the boy who came like the waves.

And watch as you go out with them too.

 

62 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | August 4, 2015

Breaking news: Don’t be a dick in restaurants

by renegademama

By now you’ve heard of the restaurant owner in Maine who yelled at some toddler who allegedly screamed for 40 minutes at a table.

I don’t want to talk about that. It’s boring. We have no idea what happened. As messed up as it is to squeal at a stranger’s baby (and that lady seemed pretty damn unhinged), it’s pretty messed up to let your kid cry for that long in a restaurant (if that’s even what happened).

What I want to talk about is the “debate” that surfaces between people with and without kids whenever an event like this occurs. In case you’ve been living in a yurt on a New Mexican bluff, the two sides go like this:

  1. Babies should not be allowed in nice restaurants because they’re assholes.
  1. Babies should be allowed in all restaurants because THEY HAVE RIGHTS even though they’re assholes.

I added the last part.

Anyway I find this debate ridiculous. Well, no. Not really. What I find ridiculous is that the whole thing could be cleared up instantly if everybody could just stop being dicks.

Let’s start with the parents.

Hey parents, How to not be a dick in a restaurant with your baby, toddler, or kids:

  1. Remember above all else that nobody likes your kids as much as you do. To you they are special snowflakes. To you they are the expression of your divine purpose. To everybody else they are tiny sticky creatures with unimpressive palates, limited conversational skills and a baffling inability to sit the fuck down.
  2. If you have a toddler and want to eat out, maybe don’t go to the tiny hipster joint full of humans too artistically profound to have children. They hate you, your uterus and the mammal it housed. They don’t think your kid is cute. They wish you’d stop ruining the fucking planet. Now pass the boutique beer.
  3. Perhaps also avoid the white-linens-only church-vibe restaurant without a dish below $50. Why? Because toddlers are fucking annoying and nobody wants to be annoyed in a $50-per-plate restaurant.
  4. I get it. You want to still go to these places. And YOU CAN. On Friday, when grandma has Johnny for the evening. I know you think you deserve all the rights and privileges of those without children. I know. I get it. But check it out: One of the rights of people without offspring is the ability to sit in a restaurant and enjoy themselves. Sure they have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives, but THEY HAVE ENJOYABLE DINING EXPERIENCES. Let’s give them that. It’s the least we can do as superior human beings.
  5. Or go to a loud, big, raucous family joint. People that hate children don’t go there. Or if they do, it’s their problem.
  6. But don’t let your toddler cry there either. That’s still a dick move. I have kids and I still don’t want to hear yours. I barely want to hear mine.
  7. So if your toddler cries or screams for more than a few minutes, TAKE HER OUT OF THE RESTAURANT. This is not rocket science.
  8. If you leave a big mess on the floor, pick it up or leave a giant fucking tip. And I mean a BIG TIP. I’m not going to pick up rice kernels on my hands and knees for 20 minutes after my baby (because I used to work in a restaurant and happen to know bussers have sweeping tools for that sort of job), but I sure as hell am going to leave at least a 25% tip. Because I try not to be a dick.
  9. Back on topic: Don’t let your kid run around. Don’t let your kid scale the booths. Don’t let your kid throw food. Don’t let your kid scream. Don’t let your kid bang things on other things. If a grown human did these things they would be escorted out of the place and instructed to stop smoking meth.
  10. So, as a general rule, do not let your child act like a tweaker.

These are not hard rules. These are easy rules. As parents I think we should be aware of the fact that we are bringing highly annoying humans into a place where adults are attempting to not be annoyed. Unless it’s a family restaurant.

Hey world: DO NOT GO TO A FAMILY RESTAURANT AND EXPECT AN ABSENCE OF FAMILIES.

There’s no boutique beer here, asshole. Only slick menus and chicken strips so leave me alone.

Really it isn’t IF my toddler is going to be annoying, it’s HOW annoying my toddler is going to be. And sometimes that level is so high I just pack our food up and eat in the car while regretting every decision I’ve made in the past 10 years and wondering if anybody would notice if I moved to a yurt in New Mexico.

Alone.

But then I remember that people without kids have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives. Whew what a relief.*

DODGED THAT BULLET.

 

On the other hand, toddlers need to learn to how to behave in restaurants so they don’t grow up to be the dude I sat next to a few weeks ago who was doing things with his sweet & sour pork and vocal cords that made me wonder if perhaps somebody should intervene.

So hey, maybe restaurant-goers sans kids can work with us here a bit too, and show a shred of compassion as we dig in our purses, pockets and souls looking for something to entertain this highly annoying small human with a limited palate so we can get some fucking nourishment.

(Trust me we aren’t expecting to enjoy ourselves. Going to a restaurant with a toddler is about as enjoyable as trying to corner a feral cat while the world looks on, judging.)

Cut me a bit of slack. Five minutes. Maybe 10. TEN AT THE MOST (not of crying. crying gets 12 seconds.). And if it doesn’t get better, I promise I’ll take my special snowflake outside to melt on the sidewalk so you can eat in peace.

Let’s just try not to be dicks. All of us.

Even in restaurants.

Kumbaya. Bon appétit. Feral cats. Whatever.

Hi, I'm Arlo, and I'll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

Hi, I’m Arlo, and I’ll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

*DEAR INTERNET: I do not actually think people who don’t have kids lead meaningless lives. I am making fun of that mentality. There are numerous cues in the writing indicating that. If you can’t find them, please ask somebody who knows how to read to help you.