“We Will Not Remain Silent” as Featured on BLUNTmoms

I thought I could do it. I thought I was strong enough and far enough from my own experiences of sexual assault and harassment to wade into the discussions surrounding the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.

I’ve watched hours of testimony, weighed the accounts of Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford with as open a mind as possible, contemplated the arguments of thinking and not-so-thinking people on both sides, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve lost our damn minds.

Social media, for all of its positives- cute photos, connection with faraway friends and family, and uncanny ads for things you were just talking about- is also full of negatives. The last week of news sharing, discourse, and debate has been proof of this. As we have read the thoughts and opinions of our friends, family, and colleagues online, we have become aware of a collective cynicism and victim blaming that plagues our nation.

Character assassination, political pandering, and partisanship have become the norm, and it’s pushed its way through our conversations with biting memes and conspiracy theories, slandering and dehumanizing all who dare to stand in its way.

Shame is a bully, and silence has been a solace.

Until now.

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Why I Wanted To Love Wonder Woman

I didn’t know it, but I’ve waited all of my adult life to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. I’ve spent the greater part of 30 years missing out on an experience that my seven-year-old sons have already had.  

At the age of 40, I was finally going to witness the unveiling of bravery and heroism of My superhero on the big screen. My Wonder Woman. My Diana. The woman I dressed like and emulated every Saturday afternoon in my parents living room while donning Wonder Woman Underoos, my mother’s go-go boots, and handmade cuffs, a tiara, and a lasso.

I didn’t realize what I was missing until it was nipping at my heels. But when I saw the first trailer for Wonder Woman last fall, something happened. The little girl who wanted to be brave, and strong, and the ultimate enforcer of justice, came alive as I watched amazing women kick butt right there on the big screen.

And since I spent much of my youth as a fellow Amazon, kicking bad guy butt along with Diana, her on the television and myself side-kicking it from the sofa, I felt pretty qualified to review the movie.

I liked the movie. But I wanted to love it. I wanted to love Diana and Wonder Woman, and all of the Amazons. I started out hopeful and reminded myself that the movie was just beginning when the first few lines came out stiff and lacking. I tried to be amazed by the fact that Gal Gadot was five months pregnant during filming, but found myself wondering if she was healthy, eating enough, and what it must have been like to have that kind of pressure. (Only to find out today that she hid it for as long as she could.)

The overall storyline was good. But the relationship with Steve was predictable. I understand that Diana had never seen a man, but the penis scene? The cheesy one-liners referring to his “above average-ness?” I found it unnecessary and out of line for a character from that era with his level of courage and decency. Is it impossible to draw and please a broad audience without sophomoric jokes and gender stereotypes?

But let’s move on to the more irksome moment of the movie and talk about the inferred romantic encounter. I mean I’m sure that I’d like nothing more than to get naked with a guy I barely knew after I had to wage war and kill countless people to save some helpless village that was going to get gassed by some crazed madman. I’m also sure that I’d have absolutely no sweat, soil, or scent after running through fields in a half metal armored leotard, and that if I did, there would be working plumbing and water for a proper bath available. So I related. Really, I did.

But let’s go with this here and say for a moment that I resented the stupidity of such an encounter. And since we are at it, let’s say I also resented the fact that this quick and shallow love affair became the pinnacle of character breakthrough for Wonder Woman. I might have to ask if these writers learned nothing at all from the wild success of Disney’s Frozen. Hello? Love was the answer. But love comes in a lot of forms. Some a little more robust than a quick fling with the first man you meet. She could defeat the God of War but could not withstand the wingaling of the first man she saw naked? I mean come on!

But I digress. Overall, Gal was fantastic. I liked the story, the action, and most of the content. I could have used less of the doe-eyed emotional moments, a little more complexity in character development, and greater exploration of the relationship with her mother, but I do realize this is a DC superhero flick, and the last Ironman was painfully lacking, so I’ll adjust.

When it comes down to it, I’m just happy that Wonder Woman made it onto the big screen. I’ve waited thirty years, so I suppose I can patiently await better character development, less gender stereotyping, and more complexity. I look forward to more female superhero leads and most importantly, more stories for Wonder Woman. And you can bet I will be there to watch them, Wonder Woman Underoos and all.

Dear Victoria’s Secret

Dear Victoria’s Secret,

Allow me to begin this letter with a heart-felt thank you. You see, I’ve suffered from a horrible case of writers block for months now. But today? Today I have been unblocked thanks to you. While the story is rather old news, it’s been given a new life since Upworthy posted this bit by Saturday Night Live the other day. Had it not been for them; I would have remained unaware of what happened at one of your Texas stores. I just read that one of your employees recently denied a paying customer the right to feed her child in discreet dignity in one of your dressing rooms; that she suggested the woman who had shopped with a baby in tow (kudos to her), then purchased $150 in merchandise- was told to go feed her child in an alleyway! I have to be honest here; as this story continues to sink in, I’m absolutely amazed by the irony of it all.

You make your millions selling to women. Mothers, wives, girlfriends, young women; even teens and pre-teens. In some fashion the majority of your income is likely to come from a household with mothers. They may not be lactating, but at some point they were. At some point a vast majority of them probably even fed their children from their breasts. You know- those things you spend loads of advertising dollars plastering all over America; that you blow up, air brush, and shove in the faces of countless innocent passers-by walking through America’s malls day after day? (Oh, I do love a good pun.)

Let’s be clear here, breasts in their own way are pretty awesome. But see, you sell a bag of lies and bombard us with images throughout malls and shopping plazas; images that are sold on the backs of women’s beauty. Yours are photoshopped lies that feed and prey on the insecurities of girls and women. You use our beauty in a way that suits you as a product pusher, and further the notion that women’s breasts are for pleasure and consumption alone. You litter storefronts and commercials with images that are often degrading and demoralizing. (I’m thinking back to one particular commercial gem of yours that graced my television years back. It started with women in lingerie rolling all over beds, and ended with a model taking a rather disgusting guzzle of milk at the end of her cat walk.)

Your advertising department may be wondering why so many people are upset right now; thinking you merely need to point out that this was the action of one rogue employee and reassure people that you have a pro-breastfeeding corporate policy. I’m hopeful that you’re going to find there are a lot more people like me out there; a lot more people who are waking up to the unfortunate truths of your company and others like you. Your company has been part of a campaign that uses women and their unique beauty to sell a lie at their ultimate expense. You gladly take our money. You take our money and you kick a nursing mother out of your store? It’s amazing, if it weren’t so bloody infuriating.

And please don’t get me wrong here. I’m no prude. I like lingerie. My husband really likes lingerie. I made the difficult decision to follow my conscience over a decade ago when I stopped shopping at your stores. It was difficult in part because I liked your products… a lot. They were easily accessible and relatively affordable. I also knew that when I walked out the door as a consumer you’d never even notice; that it wouldn’t affect your bottom line one bit. But that wasn’t the point. I had spent years being uncomfortable with your large and obtrusive ads, and as the ads got bigger and more inappropriate, it became clear to me that you merely wanted to push your agenda. To this day- I can’t think of a mom friend who was/is comfortable walking by your storefront with their children. That’s sad. So I decided that I had to stop being a part of something that I found inappropriately aggressive in its advertising, and that continued with what I considered reckless disregard in advertising. Your company has shown time and time again that it has no regard for women, children, or the public in general. And this recent move by your employee was just too poetic, the irony too great to go unmentioned.

As I began this letter with a thanks, I must also end with one. Thank you for helping me see with more clarity than ever before. I’ve never felt as vindicated, as satisfied or as certain with a decision as I do now.

Regards,

Jennifer Kinney