Be Less Horrible to One Another

No… it isn’t the 2014 version of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, but it could be.

billandted

The past 5 days have pulled me all over the country with the news of insane bills and potential laws that are, at their core, new ways for us to be horrible to each other.  The past 5 days have brought tears to my eyes, broken my heart, and given me renewed hope for the future all at the same time.  The past 5 days have caused me to reflect on my life, how I was raised, and how I have been treated. The past 5 days have been exhausting.

I grew up as an intelligent, overweight, glasses-wearing kid in the heart of the southern United States.  I was raised Southern Baptist. I was a cancer survivor – but people didn’t really remember that about me in school.  As a child I sang in church, “Let us love one another” and I believed that was how God and my parents wanted me to be.  Teachers loved me.  I loved school and the challenge of learning.   But I was teased, and there were times the teasing verged on bullying.  I cried more times than I could count because my best friend chose a new friend, because the boy I liked told everyone “not that fat girl,” because the boys that did start calling me wanted help with their homework or they wanted me to ask my friend to go out with them.  I barely even realized I was a lesbian before the teasing and disgusting jokes at my expense began all over again, and another best friend decided we weren’t going to be friends anymore.  At 19 I relived the teasing and tears of my 11 year-old self, feeling that I had no one at home to turn to.

Risk of Gay Teen Suicide by Region in 2011
Source: Huffington Post

But I got away from all that.  I moved away and I moved on.  I didn’t leave the south, but I left the confines of my close-minded environment.  And now, as an adult I am an intelligent, successful scientist who owns my own home, pays all my bills, gives to charities that I believe in, and mentors to students as they work their way through school to join my profession.  And yes, if you are wondering, I am a Christian. I consider myself lucky. I have been able to embrace who I am and live (mostly) without worrying about hiding who I am. I have worked hard to make something of myself.  But all around me, every single day I am bombarded by stories and images of hate.  Discrimination is just another form of teasing, of bullying, of making people feel isolated and hopeless.  Is this how Christians really think Jesus would act? I do not believe that it is. We all should just love and are for each other. That is what Jesus would do. But will we ever get there?

Have you heard of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act?  It’s being disguised as an update to the state seal, so it is sneaking through committee, but it also aims to “restore religious freedom” in Mississippi.  It basically says we are all free to exercise our religious beliefs without fearing the burden of the law.  Beat up the gay kid in class because your church said being gay is a sin?  That’s okay, you were exercising your religious beliefs!  There are so many ways to interpret that.

Did you see House Bill 2453 in Kansas?  Same story.  A bill concerned with religious freedoms in respect to marriage.  It’s aim was to protect someone from being discriminated against for their religious beliefs by allowing them to discriminate against anyone in a civil union, gay marriage or similar arragement.  A restaurant owner could put up a sign that said “No Gays Served Here” and that would be perfectly legal.  Next we will have separate water fountains and “Gays Only” bathrooms.

How about Idaho?  Same story. Different state.  Segregation and discrimination legalized under the veil of religious freedom.  It’s not the loving one another religion I sang about as a child.  It doesn’t feel freedom of any kind to me. And sadly there have been similar bills proposed in South Dakota and Arizona, I may have even missed a few.

Across the globe, the Ugandan President plans to sign a bill that would make it illegal to be gay in Uganda.  The Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) is an attempt to “combat the spread of HIV/AIDS” and wage a war on the “homosexual lobby” in Uganda.  So rather than seek care when they are ill, gays and lesbians will likely retreat and hide from the possibility of being arrested.

In researching for this blog post, I came across this column – a story from someone growing up gay, searching, looking for someone like them.  This is what it feels like to be isolated, every day of your life.  This is what it feels like being teased and bullied as a kid.  But, this is what it also feels like when we make laws that allow adults to discriminate against each other, be horrible, and hide behind relegion while they do it.  Instead of embracing each other with love, when we are faced with the unknown, with differences, we “eat our own.”

This leads me to the “Turn the Gays Away” bill in Tennessee.  Also known as the “Religious Freedom Act,” and very similar to the bills in Mississippi and Kansas, this bill was actually aimed at protecting wedding-related business from lawsuits if they refused service to same-sex couples if it violated the business owners’ religious beliefs.  But on Tuesday, Tennessee Senator Mike Bell shelved his bill.  A small victory, considering the legislators who were supporting the bill all stated that they felt current laws will protect people of faith from having to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs, but it was a victory none-the-less, right?

Then I watched this video.  It was part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference.  I watched as a young Hollywood starlet came out as a lesbian in front of an audience and cameras and more.  If you don’t know her, meet the star of Juno and Whip it, Ellen Page:

“You’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”

Ellen says it all.  She’s tired of hiding, tired of conforming to what Hollywood says she has to be, and you can tell she’s a little scared.  Her voice is shaking.  Personally, I think she’s probably exhausted, and I think she hits the nail on the head.  She had me crying.  Why can’t we all just be kind to each other?  Why can’t we all practice our religion freely and love one another?  If we approach everyone and every situation with love and kindness, does it really matter who we choose to marry?

Choose love.
AIBC team member zenkitty

#LoveConquersHate
#BeExcellentToOneAnother
#AllYouNeedisLove

Vote: Who is the Cattiest Character on Downton Abbey?

After a long, long week of waiting, it’s finally Downton Day! So we want to know — who is the cattiest character at Downton? The competition is stiff, but can you pick just one?

The cast of Downton Abbey (as if they need an introduction)

The cast of Downton Abbey (as if they need an introduction)

Take That, Cupid!

Valentine’s Day. Every February those two words strike fear and anticipation into the hearts and wallets of people everywhere. No gender, religion or relationship status can quite get us out of the path of this heart-slinging, chocolate inhaling holiday.

Vday chocolate

There’s always been something slightly disturbing to me about a day that celebrates full-figured babies shooting arrows at people, but it’s been a love-hate situation with me and V-day since the beginning.

High school was all about cutesy love notes and “perfect” gifts. Hold your reflux. In college, I embraced the suck of single lady-hood and threw monster anti-Valentine’s Day parties that made even the happily coupled want to slap each other and call things off. Yep. That was me. Married life turned the day to nothing except a flashback pity party. Boo-hoo. Hence, my new incarnation as a soon-to-be divorcee staring down today with a double dare in my eye.

vday watching

I refuse to be that bitter break-up victim today.

We all have our issues with Valentine’s Day past, present and future. It’s a day that makes you look at your life from a very uncomfortable angle. Who am I in relation to those I love? What is love to me? Am I loved or loving? If I don’t have romantic love now, will I ever?

vday snap

You know your answers. I know mine, as uncertain and disturbingly honest as they are.

Today, I choose love. I sign my name to a couple of  heart-shaped cards and tape them to cartoon character embossed boxes of chocolates knowing that I’m closer to true love than ever before in my life. This is what it feels like to love without boundaries and without a thought to the consequences of opening my heart so completely to two mini-mes. It may not be the type of love that half-naked cherub was aiming for when he shot, but the effects are permanent.

vday target

I remind myself that I don’t need to be part of a couple to know real love. If that opportunity ever does cross my path again (not probable, but possible), this is my gauge. Those arms that almost squeeze the breath out of me when little voices wish me “Happy Valentine’s Day” today will measure what “twue wuv” can be in my future. God help the hypothetical person who walks into that competition if he exists. This feeling  is a lot to live up to.

It’s enough to celebrate the whole year. Especially with chocolate.

Much love to you all,

Melanie

When in Doubt, Say It With E-love

It’s the dreaded day of days. The arrows are sharpened, so we hope you wore your Kevlar.

Valentine’s Day is an equal opportunity hassle for guys and gals, single or attached. Whether or not you truly feel it, society says today is the day to tell the people in your world how much you love them.

And if you haven’t made it to the local pharmacy for a card to say what you’d prefer not to, we have the perfect e-cards to help you make nice (or not.) 

Singles just getting into the game should be subtle.

vday physical

And smooth.

vday fine

And honest.

vday buns

And open to more commitment.

vday cellmate

For those dealing with some heartbreak, this is a favorite.

vday gone

Or this.

vday box

Perhaps make it official?

vday divorce

Maybe just an affirmation?

vday std

Long-time lovers and married couples should love this.

vday sloth

Or this.

vday ron

Maybe a heartfelt sentiment?

vday patience

Or a piece of your mind?

vday zombie

Whatever you choose, deliver these with care. That Cupid kid can be a real pain-in-the-butt.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the AIBC team!

You wish you kicked ass, like a girl!

My son busted it on the concrete the other day.  Trying not to hover I called out to him, “You alright dude?”  Taking a few deep breaths, he stood up and dusted off his hind quarters.  He smiled and proclaimed, “I’m a man, I can take anything.”

Smiling, I turned and walked away.  It was like a thorn in my paw.  It ate at me all day.  Why is bravery and tough synonymous with being a man?  When I think of someone both brave and tough, most of my examples are women.

Being a Southern mother of a son, I have had to shrug off plenty of sexist remarks used to toughen up boys: boys don’t cry, step it up Nancy, and girls play in kitchens.  But I have had enough.

Maybe my time in the dojo has colored my outlook, but women ARE brave and tenacious.  We are the backbone of our families; the rule makers and enforcers of our homes; and the front line of protection for our friends, families, and children.

We need to inform our boys and girls of the women in the world that push the boundaries and prove the stereotypes wrong.  We need to remind them that women are more than girlfriends, wives, and mothers.  That way maybe the next time my son hears, “You ____ like a girl” a few pictures may come to mind.

Throw like a girl.

Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch

Hammer the gavel like a girl.

Sandra Day O'Conner, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan

Sandra Day O’Conner, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan

Cook like a girl.

Alice Waters

Alice Waters

Run like a girl.

Jackie Joyner Kersee

Jackie Joyner Kersee

Drive like a girl.

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick

Run a Country like a girl.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

Train a Marine like a girl.

Pfcs. Katie Gorz, Julia Carroll, and Christina Fuentes Montenegro

Pfcs. Katie Gorz, Julia Carroll, and Christina Fuentes Montenegro

Call the shots like a girl.

Violet Palmer

Violet Palmer

Paint like a girl.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

And Punch like a girl.

Laila Ali

Laila Ali

March is Women’s History Month, and I have decided that every day I am going to tell the story of a woman who has blazed the trail.  There are examples of a woman’s touch in every facet of our world’s history, and I know he will not be the only one to learn a thing or two about the life of women.

I urge you to do the same, take the time to find (and pass on) a few examples of just how tenacious we can be.

– NinjaKitty

#girlskicksass  #betenacious  #WomensHistroyMonth  #girlpower

Namaste Y’all.

Never ones to shy away from tough topics here at Am I Being Catty, we’d like to invite you to buckle in ladies, because this post may be a bumpy ride.

As a person raised in the Deep South, I am aware of the inflammatory and provocative nature of race and ethnicity. I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s when the popular race-relation strategy was to be “colorblind.” In other words, “let me pretend not to notice the difference in your skin tone and ignore the cultural differences that probably go along with it.” I adhered to this “colorblind” philosophy for many years because I didn’t understand that while we, as humans, share a common human experience that does not mean that I, as a white woman, share the same life experiences as a woman of color.

This brings me to current events. Recently a former (and much loved and respected) professor shared an article from XOJane that was actually a response to this original article.  Here are some excerpts of Yoga Girl’s article for those of you who don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole original piece:

A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.

Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I’ve seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it’s a sad thing, but as a student there’s nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.
 
I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my high-waisted bike shorts, my tastefully tacky sports bra, my well-versedness in these poses that I have been in hundreds of times. My skinny white girl body. Surely this woman was noticing all of these things and judging me for them, stereotyping me, resenting me—or so I imagined.
I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her? If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same. Trying to ignore it only made it worse. 
I got home from that class and promptly broke down crying. Yoga, a beloved safe space that has helped me through many dark moments in over six years of practice, suddenly felt deeply suspect. Knowing fully well that one hour of perhaps self-importantly believing myself to be the deserving target of a racially charged anger is nothing, is largely my own psychological projection, is a drop in the bucket, is the tip of the iceberg in American race relations, I was shaken by it all the same.

Ok, so there are lots of things I could say in response to this article for instance I could comment on Yoga girl’s unbelievable mind reading skills, or her co-opting of the experience of another human being (with whom she NEVER SPOKE) but those comments have already been eloquently covered here by another XOJane contributor.

I could also comment on how Yoga girl takes a narcissistic and biased view of her own body as not only the yoga ideal but also apparently the ideal of the unnamed heavy black woman (again, with whom she NEVER SPOKE). But again that view has been very powerfully expressed here.

Or maybe I could comment on how Yoga girl may need to re-boot her yoga practice by looking at her own mind and heart rather than worrying about who is or isn’t giving her the stink eye, but once again this has been beautifully stated here (this is my personal favorite).

1607022_10151846618851990_1849141208_n

So you may be asking what’s left for me, a white woman, to add to this conversation about race, body types, privilege and yoga?  Well, as a matter of fact, not much.  The truth is I can only truly speak to my own experience as a middle class white woman.  I am not naive enough to believe that I have not benefited from my skin color and class.  I have been privy to plenty of conversations with others who share my white skin (and believe I share their “values”) to know that racism is not a relic of days gone by.  I am also not so idealistic (or pompous) to believe that my skin color and class have not influenced my view of others in good and bad ways.

I think the lesson in Yoga girl’s unfortunate online debut is remembering that everyone’s life experiences, culture, and racial and ethnic identities color their perspective.  And that perspective is probably very different from yours.

Welcome the diversity, embrace the differences and never assume that the craziness going on in your head (which is influenced by your own life, culture etc.) is also going on in someone else’s head.  Trust me, everyone has their own crazy.

And maybe next time there is a new person (of any color or body size) in your yoga, kickboxing or weightlifting class just say “hello.”

Peace and love ladies,

Ashley

#yogaisforposers #namasteyall #xojane

Who’s Faking?

AIBC would like to apologize to our readers. After the Super Bowl halftime show, we had a bit of an afterglow (if you know what we mean) when we posted our response on FB. It looked something like this:

football music

But we were reeling over the Red Hot Chili Peppers, too. How was it possible that these guys, whom many of us have drooled over since we were tweens, could still possibly be this hot and musically satisfying as grandpas?

Red-Hot-Chili-Peppers-at-Super-Bowl-608x436

Thanks to Flea, now we know. The band was Milli Vanilli-ing it…or Ashley Simpson-ing it if you’re not a child of the 80s. Anthony Kiedis was really singing. His band mates just weren’t actually plugged into the amps. They were really jamming out up there, but what we heard was pre-recorded.

Here’s the Time write-up on the debacle.

RHCP’s defense? The NFL made them do it just in case something went wrong with the sound.

Our response? We feel like the guy that finds out she was faking it all along. How could they? It was a fun ride though. And we didn’t even know it wasn’t real in the midst of the swoon.

A part of us is just astounded that these guys could pull off a fake so well. Maybe they learned that from some of those groupies over the years or from watching the first half of that football game.

Anyways…Is it forgivable? Time will tell. We bet RHCP still has some ‘splainin’ to do to their fans out there. Don’t forget the flowers and chocolates to go with that apology.

Here at AIBC, it could take us some time to accept. Be patient. It could happen.

But in the meantime, we will be sure to remember that NFL excuse the next time were caught faking. It seems really legit. Don’t you think?