“I Don’t Weigh.”

“Oh. You don’t?”
:laughter: …. “Hold on, are you serious?”
“Does your doctor let you get away with that?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll get in trouble if I don’t get two vitals for you.”
“I’m with you, honey. Now get on the scale.”
“Wait. What?”

For the past 18 months, I’ve refused to step on the scale when I visit a doctor’s office.

I’ve seen a number of different doctors during that time period–my endocrinologist, my regular doctor, my OBGYN, the university health center doctor, maybe more I’m not thinking about.

Each time, a nurse takes me back and says, “Step on the scale so we can get your weight.”

Each time, I say, “No, I don’t weigh.”

Each time, there’s been a moment of double-take, as if the nurse isn’t sure exactly what to say next. After a moment of confusion, either they ask why or they awkwardly move to the next segment of our appointment, usually taking my blood pressure.

When they ask why, I explain:

Because the number on a scale doesn’t actually tell you much about my health.
Because I’ve been surrounded by people struggling with eating disorders.
Because now I know even more about eating disorders and how toxic our weight-obsessed culture is.
Because I know dieting is the number one trigger for developing an eating disorder.
Because I believe in Health at Every Size.
Because I believe in intuitive eating.
Because numbers don’t help me love my body.
Because all my clothes fit, so I know I haven’t had a drastic weight change reflecting a medical condition.
Because I’m here to talk about XYZ issue which has nothing to do with my weight.

Would I step on a scale before an anesthesiologist decided my dosage before a surgery? Hell yeah, I would. Would I step on a scale if my endocrinologist was worried about my thyroid replacement levels and needed to confirm weight loss/gain? Yup.

Do I need to step on a scale to get a culture for strep throat? Or diagnose a sinus infection? No. No, I do not.

I’m not of a size/weight/shape where doctors routinely chastise me and blame Every Single Health Condition on some ill-formed “need to lose weight.” I know that struggle is real for many people.

I’ve chosen not to weigh as a protest against a system which fixates on weight as synonymous with health (it’s not). I refuse the scale in solidarity with my sisters and brothers for whom numbers lead to dieting leads to eating disorders. I refuse the scale to empower others to refuse the scale.

Join me?

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Picture of adorable Chinese water dragon with its head cocked to to the side, one beautiful copper eye looking at us, and gorgeous blue-green-brown scales–the only scales I wanna see!

“Featured pic” at top of this post is by Andrea Parrish-Geyer, follow her work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinytall/

I know him.

I have heard his voice.
I have seen his face contorted in anger.
I have watched the public react to his church-boy persona while I fear his secret rage.
I have watched him joke and play with his buddies, like an all-American dude-bro, like a good ol’ boy, while secretly calculating how much he can take, how far he can push. What he can get.
I have watched him assess how drunk a woman is. How much drunker she needs to be.
I have watched him grow bigger when he sees fear in someone’s eyes.
I know him.

I’m not alone. Most women know him. We know the petulant-yet-violent anger of pure entitlement, when someone DARES stand between him and something he wants and deserves, because goddammit do you know who he is?

I have watched the facade of thoughtful, reasonable consideration crack.
I have seen the raw, seething pit of SELFISH WANT and RAGE beneath.

I have witnessed the calculation. How much can he take and still maintain his self-image–that he is a good person? that it is justified? that he matters more? that he is a victim? that it was a prank or a misunderstanding or a lie? A lie.

How long will he have to lie to himself before he believes the lie completely?

I believe in peace.
I believe in nonviolence.
I believe in the slow and steady upswing of human history and equity and growth.
I believe in human goodness and love.

But now I understand the depth of rage and despair that drives riots.
I want to take to the streets and smash things.
I want to scream until my throat is bloody, until I AM HEARD.
I want to be heard, even if I bleed.

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Who Says Feminists Aren’t Funny?

I’m intense. I hold strong opinions. I have a hard time “enjoying” media without critiquing the hell out of its problematic messages. I am amused by nothing that contains sexism/racism/classism/able-ism/homophobia/any-other-isms. I care about “too many” social issues (for other people’s comfort). I may even be “too much” for some people.

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But I’m funny.

WANNA KNOW HOW I KNOW???!

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency just accepted a piece I wrote.

And if McSweeney’s isn’t funny, NOTHING is funny. Like. Because McSweeney’s IS funny, get it? Most of the pieces on McSweeney’s are absolutely hilarious and amusing and MY PIECE WILL LIVE WITH THEM.

I’m not claiming I’m up to par with “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” or “FAQ: The ‘Snake Fight’ Portion of Your Thesis Defense” or “An Update on the Problem of Maria.” 

My piece might be the sad, neglected neighbor-child to those pieces. BUT WE WILL BE NEIGHBORS!

BECAUSE I’M FUNNY.

(And, yes, I will absolutely, definitely, without-a-doubt post the link here when it’s published, which should be in the next few weeks.)

It’s the Patriarchy, Stupid!!

Please read this great discussion of #MeToo and patriarchy reblogged from “One Wild and Precious Life.”

One Wild and Precious Life

Patriarchy (n.)

Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father”[3][4] and comes from the Greek πατριάρχης (patriarkhēs), “father of a race” or “chief of a race, patriarch“,[5][6] which is a compound of πατριά (patria), “lineage, descent”[7] (from πατήρ patēr, “father”) and ἄρχω (arkhō), “I rule”.[8]

Historically, the term patriarchy was used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modern times, it more generally refers to social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men.[9][10][11] One example definition of patriarchy by Sylvia Walby is “a system of interrelated social structures which allow men to exploit women.”[12]According to April A. Gordon,[12] Walby’s definition allows for the variability and changes in women’s roles and in the order of their priority under different patriarchal systems. It also recognizes that it is the institutionalized…

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Urban Fantasy and Social Justice

Did you all know there’s a website specifically dedicated to urban fantasy and social justice issues?

(Take a moment to revel in the glories of this thing we call the internet, where all interests have a voice.)

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Fangs for the Fantasy recently posted a 4.5 Fang review of Waxing Moon–you should follow the link and check it out! While you’re there, click around on their website and read a bit. They have some REALLY great perspectives on books, movies, TV shows, etc. I love their attention to diversity, representation, and equity–these are issues I hold central in my mind while I write. I have joked that Waxing Moon is actually a social justice book. With Werewolves.

My favorite part of their review of Waxing Moon is this discussion of Eliza:

“Loyal, supportive, passionate, determined, a good woman AND WRONG. Because you can be a good person and still be part of a deeply flawed, prejudiced system; you can be a good person and perpetuate inexcusable things within that system and being a good person doesn’t make it ok. That’s a nuance that is far superior to the simplistic narratives we see elsewhere.”

I know not all readers will like my work and not all readers will even think much about the social justice messages wrapped up in my Werewolf stories, but how lovely that SOME READERS GET IT! ❤

When we write fantasy, we write our ideal worlds. How important it is for such worlds to contain as much diversity and representation as our real world! If not more. And it may be easier to think about discrimination, stereotypes, and power structures when we dress them in the guise of humans, Werewolves, ‘Manders, and Witches. Less threatening to our sense of self and society? (Unless we happen to be Weres…)

Interested in fantasy written with social justice in mind? Here’s some authors you might want to check out:O9M8L

  • Octavia Butler
  • N. K. Jemisin
  • Ursula LeGuin
  • Margaret Atwood
  • China Miéville
  • Jim Hines – lots of writing about disabilities; he’s new to me!

This anthology is on my reading list right now: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. 


Updates from the writing trenches:

  1. I plan to have a decent draft of book three (working title Rising Wolf) done by the end of November.
  2. Right now, I have four stories out on submission at various places. Swim strongly, my little babies, and impress the editors!
  3. I also took a side step and wrote a creative non-fiction essay about being a care partner. That’s also on submission to an academic journal in the field of disability studies. We’ll see–this essay came pouring out of me, for better or worse.

This blog doesn’t have enough pictures. Um. Here, have some cats.

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Adorable kitten poking her head through a cardboard box

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And one more time, my favorite gif of all time!

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White People: We Gotta Step Up

I don’t purport to be perfect or even close. I make mistakes. I’ve grown up in a culture that teaches us all to be racist, sexist, and all the other -ists. I fight against these oppressive beliefs, but I’m sure as hell not perfect.

My voice doesn’t deserve to be heard over others–especially over the voices of people of color.

That said, however, I’ve been around several people recently who’ve asked:

As a white person, what can I do? How can I be an ally? How can I be anti-racist?

It is not the responsibility of people of color to give us–you and me–a list of Top Ten Things White People Can Do To Have Less Guilt. That’s asking too much emotional labor from a group of people fighting for their survival–emotional, mental, and physical.

So, although my thoughts are not authoritative, I thought I’d share what I can in the hopes that it be somewhat helpful for some people. (And if I mess up here, I am open and appreciative of the time anyone takes to educate me.)

What can we do as white folks? Here’s some of the things.

  • Talk to your kids about racism. Make sure they know what happened in Charlottesville. Make sure they know why white supremacy is wrong. It doesn’t matter how old they are. Talk to them if they’re 3 or 5 or 11 or 17 or, hell, 26 or 42. I’ve heard parents say they don’t want to talk to their young kids, because they don’t want them to be upset/scared/confused. Do you think kids of color have that luxury? Talking about racism doesn’t make you racist and doesn’t give your kids sudden knowledge about racism that might lead them to be racist. Silence on racism perpetuates racism. Silence excuses. Silence says, “This isn’t a big deal. You don’t need to be worried about it.” Teach. Them. Now. And continually. About racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, cissexism, ableism, etc etc etc.
  • Every single white supremacist who went to Charlottesville comes from a community of mostly white friends & family. Do not look the other way if someone in your community is a white supremacist. Don’t think they’re just misunderstood. Don’t think they’re just playing devil’s advocate and they don’t really believe that. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. As Captain Awkward says, Don’t date Nazis. Tell them their views are not okay. Do not support physically, mentally, or emotionally while they espouse hatred. Sure, tell them you’ll be there for them when they renounce those views, like these parents. But do not be part of their community, wring your hands, and say, “I never thought he’d really [fill in the blank]” on the day after. Also? If you think someone might pose a threat? Report them to the police. Like. Now. Even if they are your father, your husband, your brother, your son.*
  • Listen. And read. Seek out people of color and their views on what’s happening. Take their thoughts, fears, and insights seriously. Seek out scholars and undercover researchers and trustworthy reporters. Educate yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge you can share with other white folks–not the ones who are proud to call themselves white supremacists, but the ones who think there are “all sides” or use the term “alt-left.”
  • Read fiction. Read fiction written by people of color. People totally unlike you. This will make you a better, kinder, more understanding person. Really.
  • Speak up. But don’t speak over. I don’t mean this in a white savior way, truly I don’t. But just like men need to be responsible for ending sexism, because sexism is largely perpetuated by men and gives men advantage, white people need to be responsible for ending racism. On a systemic level, white people control many of the institutions that perpetuate racism. We gotta change those systems. We’re in charge, so we have the power to do this. Now, we shouldn’t assume we know best what needs to be fixed or how to do it–this is where  listening comes in.
  • If you belong to any house of worship and the religious leader did not devote the entire service this weekend to denouncing white supremacy, ASK WHY. Call them now. Ask what they stand for. Ask what your place of worship stands for. LEAVE if they don’t have a good answer. Find a place where people want to make this world a better place and aren’t afraid to confront the realities of what’s happening–in the name of nonpartisanship, in the name of preserving relationships, in the name of raising money during the offering. It is NOT POLITICAL to be against white supremacy. It is perfectly appropriate for a place of religion to denounce racism, antisemitism, and hatred.
  • Wake. Up. This is happening and if we can’t find a way to fix it? Then more people will die. Call your elected officials. Call your parents who voted for Trump. Talk to your neighbor. Do something. If you can do nothing else, donate your money to those who can fight these fights.

Okay. That’s my thoughts for today.

I wish you all love, peace, and joy, my friends. Now let’s get working.

 

 

*Yes, I’ve used all male terms there. I WONDER WHY?

ps. I don’t have some cute picture for this post. It’s not that kind of topic.

“The Art of Discovering What You Believe”

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Gustave Flaubert

I came across this quote today and made me think. What have I discovered that I believe through writing Dark Moon WolfWaxing Moon, and my WIP?

  • Women’s friendships are the backbone of their lives, whatever the media may say to the contrary with their depictions of female competition.
  • Physical strength isn’t the answer, isn’t the judge of a person, isn’t how power should be allocated.
  • We can all handle more than we think we can. We’d be amazed to discover what we can really do when it’s necessary.
  • Sometimes you have to stand up against the people you thought were on your own team, when you realize they’re wrong about something important.
  • All people have value. All people. All. This, perhaps, is the guiding belief of my life.

I think I have gotten more out of writing than anyone has gotten from reading my writing. Maybe that’s how it always works?

the_power_of_writing_by_saragray-d8a0b3r

https://saragray.deviantart.com/art/The-power-of-writing-500539959

A Wonder to Me

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Like many others who’ve written about the new Wonder Woman movie, I was blindsided by the strength of my reaction to the movie. During the early scenes on Themyscira, I blinked away tears caused by the visual impact of a screen full of women focusing on what their bodies can DO, instead of how their bodies LOOK. I eagerly absorbed every moment of Diana’s idealism, her integrity, her compassion, and her code of ethics that refused to let her turn away when she could DO SOMETHING TO HELP.

What a message.

In Diana, we see a person whose tremendous compassion is a source of strength and resolve, instead of something that makes her overemotional, incapable, weak, or naive.

At the end of the movie, I found myself wracked with sobs–literally unable to contain my tears. My husband Gary said, “Are you okay? Are you…are you that happy?”

Yes. Yes, I was that happy. This movie stars a woman who stands for idealism, caring, a belief in love, a belief in the power of beliefs–things which, personally, I have been MOCKED for (and I’m not alone)–and turned those things into a portrait of strength, empowerment, and respect.

This movie showed a beautiful woman and focused on what she can do, not how she looks. I have never been so conscious of the male gaze as I was when watching this movie where it was ABSENT. We see no lingering shots panning Diana’s body. We have no shots up her skirt or down her cleavage. We have no shots framed between her legs. These things were simply not part of the movie–and they are such a commonly-used sign of “here’s your sex object” that we barely notice them, until they are removed. When Diana leaps into the air during the final fight scene and slams back to ground, landing on her feet in victory, her thigh shakes with the force of impact. Unedited. The movement of her thigh, her force, the importance of what she just accomplished–the reality of her body–all these are highlighted, instead of transforming her into a sex object.

We’re trained to think the male gaze is just how women are seen–until they’re not. This movie’s focus on empowering and respectful visual images dismantles any possible argument that objectified images of women are somehow natural or unconstructed, that the camera simply records what is, that the vision BEHIND the camera doesn’t influence what ends up on the screen.

I finally watched a superhero movie and saw myself on screen.

wonder-woman-movie-artworkAnd it was so powerful. SHE was so powerful–not in the sense of possessing power over others (though she kicks a tremendous amount of ass), but in the sense of being completely empowered within herself and respected by others because of who she is and what she does.

Representation matters. Representation creates possibilities. Representation affirms what’s important.

Some people may pick apart Wonder Woman and they may have valid points. I’m not saying it’s the best piece of cinematography ever created.

But I’m saying it’s perfect. I’m so very thankful.

“So I stay, I fight, I give for the world I know can be.”

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