right now, as a woman

am i right in stating that it has been pretty darn heart wrenching to be a woman lately? is anyone else feeling that?

i will try to refrain from pretentiously stating what “conversations we should be having” as a culture. i don’t see how anyone can claim to have that kind of omnipotent power or insight. but i do have some thoughts to put out there should anyone choose to digest them. and i have a right to put them out there in hopes that it will be of aid in the flow and evolution of your own thoughts.

everything from the enslavement of school girls in nigeria, the killings at UCSB and following public debates, the death of maya angelou down to the dynamics of my own home have my heart aching over the state of affairs womanhood is experiencing right now. it’s all over the map out there, friends, and my head and my heart can’t turn away from it at the present time.

the events of last week have me thinking a lot about entitlement issues. it really has me thinking about how those are playing out and working in my own life. see, i try to make some good out of these events by bringing them into my own focus and changing what i can, and that is only EVER me. i can only change me. i can confront my own entitlement issues in hopes that it may domino to the world around me. i can acknowledge that we are all dealing with entitlement in our lives, especially in this country. what my mind keeps coming back to with all of this is that this world, this life, this universe, this existence owes us nothing. not a damn thing. it takes us out the same way it brings us in. any and everything that happens in between is a blessing. i’m not guaranteed someone to love me. i’m not guaranteed a roof over my head. i’m not guaranteed a fair wage. i’m not guaranteed that my dreams will come true. i’m not guaranteed good health. i’m not even guaranteed tomorrow morning. everything in my life deserves my full gratitude and i’ve been neglectful of that in so many ways. i am not entitled for anyone, anywhere to act in a certain way towards me. i’m certainly never entitled to another person’s body. i’m even less entitled to my own body than i previously thought {thanks cosmos and my expanding knowledge of the human body biome}.  my hope is that more humans will start to see that if you have someone to love you, someone to lay with you, someone to mother you, someone to shake your hand or bag your groceries or put in stitches when you arrive at the emergency room etc. and on, that is a gift from the universe and not something we are entitled to just by showing up on this earth.

also, from my perspective, i acknowledge that i’ve experienced and witnessed male entitlement over the bodies of women and yes, i do believe those are at work in our culture in a big way.

i have had men touch my body and feel entitled to that. i have had all kinds of vile comments made about my body, as most women have. i’ve felt unsafe out at night. i’ve had a man reach around and yank on my hair out at a bar when i declined to dance with him. i’ve deflected forward advances from a married man and then had to read his status this week pertaining to the shooting that said the equivalent of “just ignore it when it happens and it will stop.”  and i had to know in my heart that it is because we ignore it that it doesn’t stop.

i acknowledge the statistical facts and information that some males feel so entitled to women’s bodies so much that they regularly and routinely result to force and violence. i am not going to argue facts. i acknowledge it and i hope that we will move towards a world that acknowledges it, too.

this week i had a man look at my body, my beautiful body growing another human, and say “god, i’m glad i’m not a woman.”  what am i supposed to say to that?  what i want to say to that in this space is BEING A WOMAN IS NOT AN AFFLICTION. maybe we’re in this mess because too few men AND women understand that.

or…

maybe we’re in this mess because men know what an asset women are. in fact, maybe women are the greatest resource this planet has ever evolved and men know it. maybe that is why some of them are willing to take us by force if necessary. maybe they know just how valuable we really are.

i don’t know. i don’t have answers, i just have thoughts and feelings and i know both my mind and spirit find being a woman to be tremendously powerful and an asset. and my heart was saddened by the loss of a woman who seemed to know this very thing as well. but in a way that was a blessing, right? it brought it back into balance. this sorrowful hatred against women transpired against the backdrop of a woman’s legacy of love and courage for her femalekind. maybe the universe knew we would need her words of strength to be in our ears as we move forward.

i know it helped me tremendously to hear them and read them this week.

i’ve enjoyed my evolving feminism over the years. it’s something i work on daily. i have a hard time seeing how a female gets through a day past her 10th birthday without confronting her womanness anymore. and i have to remind myself to be grateful for the struggles that have affirmed my strength in being a woman. it’s a gift that can’t be taken from me no matter how much i earn or what i achieve. because it doesn’t hinge on that. it comes from a place that respects you being proud of who you are and respects me being proud of who i am. i think it comes from the same place that spawned a poem as great as this one. i’ll leave off at that:

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
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did you know your pregnancy comments are a body conversation?

i’ve had a lot of time to sit on some thoughts and feelings about this subject for a couple of months now… since right about the time i started getting a belly.

so, late pregnancy starts to really show you how many conversational freaks there are out there in the world. people start saying, and sometimes shouting from the other side of the street, odd comments about your growing frame. for some reason these statements have put me more on my guard than my first pregnancy. i think a good deal about the way i feel women’s bodies are treated and discussed has changed within me since my pregnancy with darla. i have a few thoughts to put out there for you to ponder, should you choose:

i think there is some kind of drive within people that makes them want to connect with pregnant mothers. we all want to connect with life. i wholeheartedly believe this drive stems from a good place, a human place, but society at large seems to be lacking in some tools for communicating with women about this life change, probably due to the aforementioned undercurrent of negativity we have going on towards women’s bodies.

the majority of comments i get from people, strangers and not, are negative. these comments are about my size, how tired i look, “you’re about to pop” or “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” and other things of various negative connotations. i think i can tell you with 100% certainty that no woman, pregnant or not, has ever been happy to hear she looks big or tired or about to pop.

and let me state two other things i know as a fact: 1. in the scheme of pregnant ladies, i’m on the smaller end. yes, i look big for my frame but i know i’m not big enough for people to assume i’m carrying twins. 2. i’m a happy pregnant lady. i am embracing this bigness. I LIKE my roundness and LOVE this body fullness. i’m clearly not shy about it since i put in on the gawddamned internet every week, so i’m imagining that if it’s hard for me to let these comments roll off then how does the mother who really doesn’t like how her body is changing in pregnancy or the extremely shy mother feel about these unwarranted remarks?

i feel most people forget that these comments are still body conversations and those should never be initiated by a person other than the body owner.

i find it so odd that people think pregnancy is an automatic open door to make negative remarks about another human’s physique. i mean, i’ve never thought of walking up to a person in a wheel chair and saying “wow, really can’t use those legs, can you?” or a person with a large nose and saying “you’re nose is SO BIG. you must be so uncomfortable!”  and then i’d absolve myself of any wrong by adding a quick “it’s not rude of me to say that, right?”

i want to offer up some tools. i talk with pregnant women, a lot. A LOT. and i am a pregnant woman. i will tell you one thing that is always acceptable to say:  you look beautiful. let’s just stick with telling pregnant women they look beautiful. ok?

and maybe you don’t feel that way. maybe you don’t feel pregnant ladies are all glowy and radiant. that is fine! you don’t have to say anything at all. you don’t! we aren’t expecting it!

or here’s another idea if you’re wanting to initiate a pregnancy related conversation with an expectant mother: ask her how she’s feeling. it’s so refreshing when i receive that depth of communication from another human. you can just ask a woman how she’s feeling and let her tell you where she’s at with her body changes. we’re circling back to that body ownership thing again. let HER be the one to tell you she’s tired. let HER be the one to tell you she’s big. Let HER be the one to tell you she fears there may be another secret human in there. i think if we treated women with this kind of respect we’d all feel much more at ease with how organic these conversations can be.

maybe i’m a little sensitive to this because this experience seems parallel to other body conversations i’ve had to fend off for the better part of my life. part of the reason that i like my big belly is that something on my body finally dwarfs my enormous breasts that people seem to think are in the free realm of conversation. since i was 15 people have been making comments to me about my boobs. i’ve navigated that in many different ways at different phases of my life and now i’ve put a finger on this similarity between pregnancy and my breasts. strangers comment, women ask for permission to touch them in bathrooms, gay men don’t even ask for permission they just do it {sorry, just my personal experience} and i’ve had all variations from hetero men as well.

and i can’t rationalize that as much as the pregnancy talks. i know the common thread here is that women’s bodies seem to be part of the public sphere and not the private. and i can’t change that. but i feel that if our bodies are going to be part of the public conversation forum then i can do a small something to change it into POSITIVE communication instead of negative.

i will tell my pregnant friends they are beautiful. i will ask pregnant strangers how they are feeling. i will let other women tell me how THEY feel about THEIR bodies and i will listen with respect.

because that is what i feel mothers and women deserve.

bump day

 baby belly pictuer

i’m lacking in baby bump selfie creativity this morning after being out at a birth until late last night. i thought i’d just do an updated version of this previous bump day to see how we’re progressing here. i can still see my feet! but you can tell there’s a roundness and fullness now that reaches up into my abdomen.

sitting here looking down at my rounded and mounded body has me filled with such gratitude that i am a woman. in a world where women can be portrayed as jumbles of sharp angles and points, i’m happy to be here with curves representing the circular properties of womanhood that i cherish deeply.

i yam what i yam

so i’m here to tell you why i didn’t change my last name. my husband would explain it as sheer laziness. in truth, that is somewhere in the ball park of the explanation.

don’t worry. i’m not going to spray some feminist manifesto into your ears about the subordination of women through the practice of the name change. even though i do feel strongly compelled by some of those arguments and the history of the practice.

on the contrary, i feel that women wanting to hold the same last name as their husbands and children carry as much water as a ten gallon hat. ten gallons of water is really heavy!!! if women want to change their names then go forth and prosper, young matrons.

but therein lies my motivation. or my unmotivation, rather. i didn’t want to. i haven’t really tried to wrestle around with reasons or justifications too much. i’m elaine marie tucker and i just didn’t want to go through the process. so i didn’t. that’s all. and that should be what it’s all about. what each individual woman wants for herself. i am so eternally thankful to live in a time period where i can make these choices for myself.

besides, if i were going to change my last name i’d change it to something like merriweather, pumperknickel, or saint-exupiary. you know, something colorful, sounds slightly literary and fun to say.*

*disclaimer: i love my husband’s last name. i love the memory of him becoming extremely sheepish telling me he was mr. wright. “you know like mr. right?” to which i replied “you are awfully sure of yourself.”  it has nothing to do with me not being proud of carrying his name. maybe someday in the future i will want to change over but i will make the change when that day comes.