Archives for posts with tag: sexism

Today is International Peace Day. I think a lot about peace and I try hard to cultivate it within myself as well as to be a peaceful participant in the world around me. The degree of success varies but it is rare that a day goes by without my being mindful of my intent.

I have not written as frequently as in the past, in part, because my mind is fragmented. My emotions are fragmented. The world is not making sense. There are many things going on but they are all getting wrapped up literally and metaphorically in our U.S. Presidential election. It is white male heterosexual privilege against everyone else. We have a major presidential candidate with no experience who is viable just because he is white, heterosexual, powerful, and more importantly, an explicit spewer of hate and selfishness. When he cheats, he is savvy. His exploitation of people and resources makes sense because he is the right sex, orientation, and color to dominate others.

Meanwhile, we have a very competent woman running for president with decades of experience who manages to get things done despite the fact that she’s been held to a level of scrutiny that arguably no other candidate has ever faced. Her crime? She’s made mistakes. Women are not allowed to make mistakes. They are allowed to be perfect mothers or to serve men.

Meanwhile, African American people, some children, are being murdered by police. No, this is not new. What is relatively new is that the incidents are now filmed and even when they can be viewed, many white people still come up with reasons why the person, often unarmed, sometimes with their hands-up, deserved to die.

Meanwhile, an African American football player decides to stop standing for the National Anthem at football games. There is strong backlash against this kind of “disrespect” to our country as well as to our military. This is a peaceful protest by a man who belongs to a race that has been owned, systematically oppressed, and clearly shown on video, hunted. It is 2016. This is still happening. We have a major presidential candidate who is whipping up hatred for every “otherized” person. People, what are YOUR PRIORITIES? Respecting the flag or not killing people?

Meanwhile, nearly half of the homeless youth in the U.S. are LGBT. LGBT youth, more generally, are subject to a high incidence of sexual and physical assault, drug/alcohol use, and suicidality. This is all because we believe that not being straight or cisgender somehow threatens our safety.

Meanwhile, immigrants, potential immigrants, or anyone who resembles an immigrant from a non-European country, are being treated like terrorists, despite research evidence pointing to the opposite. Immigrants, by and large, are hard-working people. Their children, on average, engage in significantly less crime and drug use than U.S. born white youth.

Meanwhile, I was at home yesterday when my husband received a text from a friend, who referred to him as “a girl” as a joke. My tolerance for this kind of sexism is low. I told him that it was a misogynist joke. He disagreed and his feelings were hurt. Both men are good and decent men but I was taken aback that my husband defended the joke and acted like I was overreacting. My reaction may have been stronger than usual but that is only because it is exhausting and unhealthy to be in a constant stage of outrage over the insidious and outright violent oppression in our country and world.

I know that I can best advocate for peace, when I have more myself. That does not mean not being angry, afraid, or in grief for some very hateful forces in our world. But it does mean balancing them with the good that exists around me.

In about an hour I am going to the Frye Museum in Seattle where there is a sitting meditation every Wednesday. That will help as will meeting my friend, Nancy, there.

I wish you all peace in your hearts.

 

I have long loved summer, it’s long long days, the clear blue skies, vacations, and mountain views.  2012 was the summer of surgeries, I had three of them, each spaced two weeks apart. I remember watching the Olympic games from my hospital room on the day after my mastectomy. I spent a lot of that sunny Seattle summer scared and indoors. Since that time, summers have been savored the best that I can. I spend a lot of time outdoors and in nature. I take photos of the beauty around me.

This summer, I’ve been doing a lot of canning. I’ve been preserving the bounty of stone fruits in jams and salsa not to mention our wonderful berries and rhubarb. It reminds me of canning peaches and tomatoes with my mom, when I was a girl. There was so much in the garden, so much in the orchards. It was full and sweet and delicious. Canning is not the same as fresh but in the dark days of winter, it provides a bright taste of summer and the hopes of days of longer sunlight up ahead.

Women, traditionally, are the savers of these normal but parts of life. The save food, remember birthdays, keep photo albums of family vacations, and write milestones, the first steps and first words in baby books. Women preserve history of these day to day memories, the events that are not rare, but to be celebrated and appreciated. These are not events recorded in history books.
The summer of 2016 has brought a new event, one that will be preserved in history books. Yesterday, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was the first woman nominated for the presidency of the United States by a major political party. This is more than a big deal. It is something I did not expect to happen in my lifetime.

Like many major societal changes, the good news has been somewhat offset by negative, qualifying, or discounting remarks. I have seen so many women obviously moved by this historical event include a qualification or apology. “Well, I don’t agree with everything Hillary’s done or said,” or “Hey, I still like Bernie Sanders even if I like Hillary.” I have also seen women admonished for their enthusiasm on social media with cautions of, “Well you know that you shouldn’t just vote for her because she’s a woman. You need to vote for the best candidate.”

As if the women of America would be sent into hysteria and forget how to vote responsibly, something we have been doing as a group, since given the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920. And then there are the other objections, the blemishes, the “good but’s”, and just plain old unadulterated misogyny.

But for now, I am working to preserve, the best and sweetest bits of the summer of 2016, and I am savoring them indeed.

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Last night I attended my daughter’s choir concert. One of the songs they performed was 2014’s, Shut up and dance (with me). It’s a catchy song with multiple messages, both literal and figurative. I’ve been thinking about it since last night. It was part of my meditation during my walk today.

The message I have been meditating upon is, “Get out of your head and engage with me. Engage with my humanity.” Yeah, I know. That’s kind of a stretch. But hey, this is what mindfulness does for me when I examine my thoughts and thread them together with my experiences.  It has meaning and usefulness for me.

There has been a great deal of human engagement weighing heavily on my mind.  It is the engagement that results in stalemate, hatefulness, paralysis, and polarization. It is human engagement without the recognition of humanity. There is violence in my country that is specifically targeted toward underrepresented populations fueled by institutional racism, institutional sexism, xenophobia, and institutional homophobia. There is violence in my country due to suicide. There is violence in my country due to accidental shooting deaths by children who gain access to firearms.

It is also the presidential election season in the U.S.  People choose a candidate. Passions often run high. That is normal for a major election season. But this is not a normal election season. This is a season during which a reality t.v. star is a major presidential candidate and he is running on a platform so filled with hatred that even members of the party he is representing is having trouble coming together to support him. It is an incredibly stressful time for our country as well as the fact that the world is watching, helplessly, contemplating the possibility that an unqualified person who spews hate will be the head of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

I could tune all of this out. I could avoid reading any news. If I did, I would not be living a true life. I would be living in denial. I could also get myself very involved in all of this. Read the news constantly. Ruminate. Argue with people. The latter is what I have been doing and it is also not a true life, because the ball of anxiety, sadness, and anger I feel is making it harder to appreciate and engage in the positive aspects of my world. When I am out of balance either, too much or too little, I am prone to black and white thinking. That is not the world in which I actually live.

I try really hard to engage respectfully with people with whom I disagree about these subjects. It is difficult. I have only two or three friends on social media who engage in discussion and do so in a respectful fashion. I don’t get a lot disrespectful or judgmental comments. When people engage in that type of behavior, I either say something or ignore it, depending on what I judge to be the more effective response at the time. I do, however, find myself in discussions, which although civil, just don’t go anywhere. We just each repeat our position in slightly different words, even after it is clear that each of us has had the opportunity to consider the other viewpoint. When I am most mindful, I recognize this and say something along the lines of, “I’ve had an opportunity to consider your viewpoint. I still don’t agree. Peace.”

Today, I witnessed a rather remarkable exchange between a Facebook friend of mine and someone with whom she had grown up with but not seen for 45 years. One of the things I admire greatly about this friend is that she expresses her viewpoints in a respectful, compassionate, and well informed way. When she disagrees, she is kind but clear. She responded to what many of us would call an Islamiphobic statement with a gentle persistence. The person with whom she was interacting did not sound like he was going to change his position. However, by the end of 2-3 conversational turns, he wrote that she had given him things to think about and that he needed to obtain more information about the subject. They engaged in a way that identified the humanity in each other. It was one of the more heartening experiences I’ve had.

Last night, I was at a Pride Month concert. It was a performance of the LBTGQ/Allies youth choir in which my daughter sings. I used the restroom before the concert. There was a woman at the sinks who looked like she might be transgendered. I know that as a 50 year-old woman, this was likely not the first time I’d shared a bathroom with a transgender woman. However, it is the first time since an outspoken and passionate segment of my country decided that this was a major threat to restroom safety. I was struck by how little it struck me and how normal it felt. I liked her hair and I made a mindful decision to give her a compliment, which was met with appreciation. I wanted her to know that I engaged with her humanity and that I supported her right to be there. Engaging with someone from a standpoint of connection rather than difference can mean so much. Sometimes the mundane can be a peaceful and comforting experience.

Honestly, I need to unplug from political discussion for a bit. But that does not mean that I have to unplug for humanity. I can still engage and I can engage purposefully with people with whom my fearful or judgmental mind categorizes as “other”.  Maybe I can engage in a brief conversation with people who whom I have a knee-jerk reaction to judge even though I think it’s wrong, for example, people in a cranky mood, parents who bring small children to romantic restaurants,  parents who deck their kids out in military style garb, and men who wear t-shirts or hats with “Official Babe Inspector” written on them.  Maybe I can engage with folks with whom I know I have strong political and religious differences about other topics.

It is a platitude, but it is true that people put up walls. It is so true that we have a presidential candidate who is talking about it LITERALLY. The world can get so easily overwhelming. I find myself in fear and great worry myself. I understand why people want to shut it out. I understand why people want to arm themselves against danger. I also understand why people want to yell, hurt, and destroy. I understand why people want to give up. I understand these things because they are part of my own individual human experience.

Fear, anger, shame, selfishness, and sadness are shared parts of our human experience. But so are joy, curiosity, hope, compassion, and charity. Together, we are more than the sum of our parts.

 

 

I was walking in my neighborhood last week and I passed two men. One of them had a newborn strapped to his chest in one of those little baby carriers. His baby looked blissfully asleep and his father looked like he was enjoying his time with his son.

This is not an uncommon sight where I live. It was a rather uncommon sight when I was a girl. When I was young, a man changing his own child’s diaper was considered a rarity. Men played with their babies. They were not as involved with the day-to-day caretaking as they are now. Caretaking was considered “woman’s work” and therefore “beneath” a man. It still is, to a certain extent,  but there really has been a significant overall increase in men’s level of involvement in their children’s lives not to mention an increased appreciation for “women’s work”. I have been providing mental health services to families for since 1991. When I started out this meant working with mothers and their children. Father participation was not common. It is far more common now and it is rare that I never meet with a child’s father.

When I saw the man with his infant, I smiled in recognition of what our culture has gained from the women’s movement. There is still sexism. “Feminist” is still a “bad word”. But it is difficult to deny if I REALLY think about it that men’s lives have been improved by feminism. To know your children better and to be a nurturing force in a vulnerable being’s life are gifts. With the loosening of gender roles, I also think it is easier for gay men to be parents together.

Civil rights and social movements are often met with resistance, the resistance that to give up a privilege is an absolute loss. That there is nothing to be gained through change. There is a lack of acceptance.

Loss, perceived or actual, is often a sticking point. It is a place where we hesitate, trip, or in some cases, fall into a deep pit, for which climbing out is virtually impossible.

Honestly, sometimes we want to stay in the pit even if climbing out is a possibility. We struggle. We suffer. We want to be heard, seen, and felt. At other times, we deny that we are in a pit. “What, this isn’t a pit? Everything is fine.” This is another kind of nonacceptance, and it too causes suffering. Denying and suppressing loss and the grief that comes with it, is a short term solution with painful consequences. In the world of cancer and other griefs, I see this acutely.

In the world of cancer and other griefs, I see this acutely. It can be so difficult to find balance. It is so difficult to find the time and space we need to grieve our own losses and come to some kind of peaceful place with them. On top of that, there is no final destination. Grief is an iterative process, one that we must come back to over and over. This is why we can get on with life and yet not ever “be over” a significant loss in our lives.

This weekend, I have been feeling anxious. I had awful nightmares last night. I feel justifiably underappreciated by my family. However, the way my impatience has played out in my behavior is a way that increases my suffering as well as that of my family.

I came back to my well-spring. I did a sitting meditation and I am sitting her with my own thoughts and feelings, writing this post. I can feel myself letting go of hurt and anxiety. I am not quite solidly balanced, but I am getting there. I am nurturing myself and it is radiating within. When I leave this office and rejoin my family, I am hoping to radiate compassion toward them, as well.

As you know I am a child/adolescent psychologist with a private practice. A few years back, I got a voicemail from one of the local news stations asking me if I was interested in writing a parenting column for the health section of their website. I returned the call and listened to the description of the webpage. I also looked at it online while on the phone, at the man’s suggestion.

Then he said it. “So, we want to partner with you financially to set up your parenting column.”

I said, “Wait a minute. You’re selling advertising.”

After I confirmed this to be the case, I continued, “Look, I run a business. There was no reason for you to hide the fact that you are selling advertisements. Businesses advertise. But I need to tell you something. Psychologists are ethically bound to be honest in how we represent ourselves, our education, the methods we use, how much we charge, and what are intentions are. If you want to engage with us, you need to be honest.”

We ended the conversation awkwardly and I suspect he may have even thought of my emphatic assertiveness in an extreme unfavorable light, a response with which I have become accustomed over the years.

One of my friends is a professor back east. She is a cancer researcher and does basic work on the metastatic process. She says that the power and influence of breast cancer research advocates is discussed by her colleagues. It is reassuring to hear that we have a voice and influence.

But because of this, we are ripe for exploitation. I was contacted earlier in this week by someone who was representing an organization that purportedly raised breast cancer awareness and was raising money. They asked if I would be wiling to be featured on their website. I did a little quick Google search and discovered that there was a business behind the group. The purpose was to promote a particular panel of medical tests to guide breast cancer treatment decisions. Having benefited from the information provided by oncotype testing, I understand the benefit of such tests. But why not inform me of the real purpose of the group? Consequently, I declined and further noted that I was uncomfortable with the lack of up front disclosure.

It was a bit of a surprise to me that my modest blog might be seen as a resource for free advertising of a medical test. But it’s easy to find breast cancer blogs and easy to send each person a form letter email invitation. The breast cancer blogging community, as a whole, communicates information quickly and widely.

In both of these examples, I was offered something that I may have actually given serious consideration to if I had been told the truth up front. At the very least, I wouldn’t have felt like someone was trying to take advantage of me for their own profit.

The worst of this in breast cancer, as you will read time and time again, is the use of these horrible diseases and their high profile, to make profit. Companies use pink ribbons as an icon of respectability, honesty, and compassion, even if they do very little to help eradicate breast cancer. It has become such a powerful iconic communication that  a lot of people don’t even notice anymore how incredibly tacky and tasteless a lot of this merchandising of our disease is. For example an enormous pink bra statue was installed in a busy pedestrian area of a city. It was inscribed with a healthcare company name and directions to advertise said company through texting so that a tiny bit of money, much less than was likely needed to build and install a 3/4 ton statue.

Then there are all of the sexualized images of women that are used to promote breast cancer awareness because sex sells. You know, if these companies really thought about what they were doing, I mean REALLY thought about it, do you think the marketing departments would say, “Hey, we can make money by leveraging the power associated with a physical disease by combining it with the influence of the cultural disease of sexism. The air of philanthropy legitimizes it and the misogyny will close the deal.”

The last bit, the last layer of this that bothers me so is that not only does all of the pinkwashing use the sexism that is already present in our society to propel itself but by legitimizing it by associating it with a charity, a way to supposedly help women, it makes sexism even more insidious. As a woman, I find this reprehensible. As a mother of a 16 year old girl, I am outraged. As a human being, I am livid.

I emphatically assert that we need more money for breast cancer research. To better understand it, to better treat it, to cure it, and to prevent it. One out of eight women and one out of eight hundred men in this country will develop breast cancer in their life time.  These are awful diseases, just awful.

So much about my breast cancer and the commercialization of this disease has reminded me of my youth, when I would be groped and sexualized by boys and men. When I complained I was often told that I should be glad to be desirable enough to solicit attention.

I am very happy to be alive. But I will not be exploited and told that it is a small price to pay for “increased awareness”. I have a brain and I know how to use it.

Corporate America, you may be powerful, super powerful. But even in my few short years as a breast cancer patient, I see increased outrage about Pinktober and it’s exploitative underpinnings. Things are changing and if I’ve discovered one thing about the breast cancer community is that we organize, we write, we talk, we support each other, and we grieve for eachother. We wish these diseases on no one.

Ta ta’s, my ass.

My official title is “Dr. MacKenzie”. This is because I have a doctoral degree, a Ph.D. in psychology. In formal settings, I introduce myself this way. I also introduce myself this way to groups of children, for example, when I used to supervise my daughter’s classroom so that the teacher could have a break for lunch. I didn’t see a reason to introduce myself otherwise and further, I think it is a good example to girls to know that women can get advanced degrees.

My first job after getting my Ph.D. was a post-doctoral fellowship. When my husband was doing our taxes, I felt very diminished when I saw that he had listed my profession as “student”. And then I got really mad at him when he tried to justify it by saying, “What’s the difference?” I am not an unforgiving woman but I will tell you that I get hurt quickly at these times when the response is something other than, “Oops, I’m sorry. I will fix that right away.”

A long time ago, the term “doctor” became the name of a profession rather than reflective of whether one had a doctoral degree or not. The term “doctor” became synonymous with the perfectly excellent and specific name, “physician”. I don’t know when this started but my dissertation chair claimed that the doctorate, the Ph.D., goes back to the Middle Ages and that M.D.’s stole it.

Words matter but I am finding increasingly in my own professional life that it doesn’t matter so much to me. I am older now and established in my profession. I have a good reputation. I no longer live in the very sexist world of academia. In the clinical world, working with children and adolescents, being female is more desirable, generally. Lots of my patients’ parents call me by my first name. It’s not a big deal to me on a personal level. But it is a significant deal when it comes to my profession. People understand that physicians complete many years of training and education. A lot of people think that I have a master’s degree, which is a fine accomplishment, but on average involves five less years of training and education.

Similarly, words matter in the world of breast cancer. Most of us who have it are women and if we are paying attention, we have learned that sexist words matter, too. There are words and phrases in the breast cancer community that have resulted in people feeling diminished such as “survivor” or the war analogy. These words matter because they define us and impact the way others view us.

I don’t want to diminish anybody so I am careful with the words I use. But on a personal level, I don’t mind the terms “survivor” or the war analogy, even if I don’t use the latter in reference to myself.  I understand why they bother people and I empathize with that. And I am a firm believer in each of us having the right to self-define.

But there’s the tricky bit, if we don’t at least a little shared language and identity, having cancer can be even more lonely. And if we have too much shared language that doesn’t resound with us at an individual level, it is that lonely feeling we have even when we are surrounded by people. And when other people who don’t even have breast cancer tell us what our identity is, that’s just hurtful and maddening!

I know I have written about this time and time again but it is no wonder that the balance between connection and distinction is a major task for adolescent identity development.

Whatever we chose to call ourselves, I am so happy to be part of this community and wish all of you the very best of health.

As you may have heard a thousand times by now, my hometown’s professional football team, the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl. It was very exciting. It was a major achievement. There was a parade in downtown Seattle. 700,000 fans came to the parade. Seattle’s population is about 620,000. More than a whole city’s worth of people were crammed into the space of a few city blocks on a relatively cold day. That’s how excited people were.

There were also a number of media articles and FB posts excitedly declaring that the Superbowl win was the first major sports championship for Seattle in 35 years. I remember that championship. It was the Seattle Sonics basketball team when they were coached by Lennie Wilkenson. I was an avid Sonics fan at they time. It was really exciting when we won that championship. But something else has happened in the intervening 35 years. The Seattle Storm, a team in the WNBA has won the national championship. Actually, they’ve won it twice. Given the age of the WNBA, it is particularly impressive. The Storm play in the same arena in which the Seattle Sonics used to play, before the Sonics left Seattle in a huff because most tax payers didn’t want to pay for a third new sports stadium in a small number of years.

Someone from high school posted on Facebook about how excited he was that the Superbowl win was the first major championship for Seattle in 35 years. One of his friends reminded him that he has daughters and that the Storm has won two championships. His reply? “No really, that doesn’t count.”

I am not an angry person but I get angry about injustice. Women and girls are discriminated against in this world. It is a fact and a quite obvious one. This is why it is so important to keep working for equality and also to celebrate the accomplishments of girls and women.

Everybody’s had a woman or a girl in their life, right? Mothers, teachers, sisters, daughters, friends, wives, girlfriends. And one would think that if I were to share a non-political post on Facebook like, “Hey, it’s Marie Curie’s birthday!” that I would get “likes” from both men and women. I rarely get “likes” from men on any kind of so called “women’s issue” posts. Seriously? Marie Curie? What’s not to like? Even when my daughter dressed up as Eleanor Roosevelt for Famous Persons’ day in elementary school. Zero “likes” from men. Come on! How adorable and cool is that?

Social media is powerful. It has changed culture in some meaningful ways. Men, how about paying some attention to these human issues posts? They are not just about women. They affect all of us directly and indirectly.

Still not convinced, men? Still not motivated to take action? I have an exercise for you. Close your eyes. Imagine an argument that would convince you to “like” and or positively comment on posts celebrating the achievement of female human beings or calling attention to civil rights issues affecting female human beings. Now imagine that I have made this argument and you are successfully convinced.

Look, gentleman we are just asking you to “like” us not “like like” us, as the kids say. You would be helping everyone. Thank you.

I grew up in a loving household, in a good neighborhood, and went to good public schools. Despite this, as an adolescent girl, I became quickly and keenly aware that part of being female was being prey to boys and men.

I went to middle school in the late 70’s. Like many teens, I had an ugly duckling/swan transformation. As a 7th grader, I was considered to be rather homely. Boys fake-flirted with me to humiliate me. They treated me like I was stupid. By 8th grade, I had undergone a bunch of pubertal changes, lost weight, grew several inches, and got fashionable. But it didn’t matter whether I was pretty or not. That school was an incredibly humiliating place for a girl. Walking the hallways was like running a gauntlet because boys hands would be groping everywhere and I mean everywhere in what seemed to be full view of teachers. Not one of the adults did a damn thing about it.

The summer after 8th grade, we went to a Seafair (Seattle’s summer-long festival) parade. One of the Seafair clowns, a GROWN ASS MAN, picked me out of the crowd (did I mention I had just finished the 8th grade?) and gave me a sloppy kiss full on the lips. I tried to make a joke to regain my footing and recover from the confusion and humiliation. He made some mildly sexual comment. That was my first kiss, by the way.

When I was a high school freshman, I often walked the mile between my bus stop and home by myself. There were other kids in the neighborhood so I don’t know exactly why I walked alone so frequently, but I did. On more than one occasion, a car would pass, come to a halt in front of me, and open the door to the passenger side of the car. They were strange men waiting for me to get into their cars with them like this would be something I would want to do. I would freeze and I remember being afraid to walk past that open door. After a bit the door would close and the car would drive off.

When I was in the 10th grade my history teacher, who was at the time THE SAME AGE AS MY FATHER, engaged in some super creepy behavior with me. Whenever we had independent work time, he would sit on top of the desk in front of me and stare at me. Occasionally, he would try to start up a conversation. I hate to be crass but feel compelled to point out that when he was seated this way, his crotch was right at my eye level. I argued with him about one of my grades once and he looked a little desperate, as if he were somehow losing me. He put his hand on my shoulder and told me that he loved me. I told two teachers and a guidance counselor about this. I was told that I had misunderstood what was fatherly concern. My peers teased me and told me that I thought everyone was in love with me. I felt ashamed and didn’t tell my mother about this or any of the other middle school and high school incidents. I would learn later in my life that my mother would have likely kicked some ass and taken names on my behalf. That’s because my mom did kick ass and take names on my behalf but that’s an incident that I’d rather keep private at this time in my life.

These events were creepy and felt clearly wrong to me. But there were many other experiences with peers that were far more confusing. Some of my male peers could be disgusting one moment and sweet another moment. I dated very little in high school but I did have one little “fling” at music camp when I was 15 years old. The boy was smart, funny, and at times, sweet. At one point he characterized the appearance of my legs as “good for spreading.” I can’t remember the context of this comment except that there were other kids around when he said it. I made out with him anyway, in the kind of barely PG-rated way that a 15 year-old girl “good Catholic girl” would do.

This is the world of females, when being sexually desired is mixed with degradation. And I would clarify that it is the world of straight females but even non-heterosexual girls and women are subjected to expectation from many boys and men that they exist for male pleasure and domination. What a way to tarnish healthy sexual development. What a way to make it feel wrong and dirty.

Why do I tell you about my life experience? Is it because it is so unusual? No, I describe my experiences because I think they are close to the typical female experience. Actually, my experiences may arguably be better than the typical female experience. Tellingly, I took myself off of the dating market until college by having crushes on boys so shy they’d never ask me out or boys who I would later learn, were gay. And I went to a high school where being a smart, outspoken girl meant a death knell to dating. I kept my head in the books. I decided when I was 12 years old that I wanted to get a Ph.D. I was lucky enough to have academic skills and support that I could leverage, to build this future for myself.

Last week, I learned that Larry Flynt and his “gentleman’s club” put on an event called “Flight of the Ta-Tas”, a topless skydiving event to benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), an organization devoted to women and men who have had breast cancer and later developed metastatic cancer. As it turns out, LBBC’s logo was used to promote the event without their permission. They did not sponsor the event. To read more about this, Knot Telling wrote an excellent series of posts about it as well as communicating directly with LBBC about it.

But let’s back up a second to Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler Magazine. The first time I learned about this magazine was when I saw this 1978 cover.

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But look at Larry Flynt’s quote on the side, “We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.”

Oh wow, Larry Flynt was speaking up for women. He was trying to help! You buying this because I’m sure not. When one looks at the context of this statement, the context of all of the degrading photos of women in Hustler not to mention the juxtaposition of this quote with an image of a woman in a meat grinder, the real message is as clear as day.

Sexism has long been protected by ignoring context. That is why I’ve told you about aspects of my life. And no, not all males are exploitative of women. And not all women allow themselves to be exploited. I am talking about culture, the group. And as a group, girls and women are subjected to sexism and it hurts.

Yes, I can see a specific instance where going topless skydiving might be a positive experience. But done within the context of the sexism that pervades our culture as well as the culture that trivializes and sexualizes breast cancer because it involves “boobs”, “The Flight of the Ta-Ta’s” does more harm to women and girls than it does to help by raising money for a worthwhile cause. A lot of people may think that I’m making too much out of this, wasting my time and energy. I mean LBBC would get a big check if they chose to accept it, right? Let me ask you this. Would the same rationale apply to a black face/minstrel show to raise money for the NAACP?

Larry Flynt, I’m not taking the candy you offer me to get into your car. Keep your money. We aren’t going to sell ourselves, other women, or our daughters.

Heart Sisters

For women living with heart disease

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

KomenWatch

Keeping our eyes and ears open.....

Life in a Wheelchair

You never think it could happen to you!

4 Times and Counting

Confessions Of A 4 Time Breast Cancer Survivor

Nancy's Point

A blog about breast cancer, loss & survivorship

After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog

Exploring progress in cancer research from the patient perspective.

My Eyes Are Up Here

My life is not just about my chest, despite rumblings to the contrary.

Woman in the Hat

Cancer to Wellness in 1,038,769 Easy Steps!

SeasonedSistah2

Today is Better Than Yesterday

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

The Pink Underbelly

A day in the life of a sassy Texas girl dealing with breast cancer and its messy aftermath

The Asymmetry of Matter

Qui vivra verra.

Fab 4th and 5th Grade

Teaching readers, writers, and thinkers

Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

making sense of the breast cancer experience together

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

Entering a World of Pink

a male breast cancer blog

Luminous Blue

a mother's and daughter's journey with transformation, cancer, death and LOVE

Fierce is the New Pink

Run to the Bear!

The Sarcastic Boob

Determined to Manage Breast Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else

FEC-THis

Life after a tango with death & its best friend cancer