Slut Shaming

I’m about to get real with y’all, and here’s your fair warning that I’m going to say some dirty words. I’m hoping you’ll keep reading though because this stuff needs to be said and understood by so many out there.

“Slut shaming.” Have you heard of it? It’s become a catchphrase in our current times that describes the act of putting a woman down for her real or assumed sexual activity. I think most of us are aware of this, but are we aware of how often we are actually doing it? Are we aware of how often we’re hurting someone through comments, looks, and judgments?

A few weeks ago, I saw a meme on Facebook a friend of mine shared that said something about how when a lonely woman goes out to the bar alone and then still goes home to bed alone, how she has standards and self-control, or something similar to that. The meme struck a nerve with me for a variety of reasons, but because I try to avoid arguing on Facebook over anything these days, I didn’t say anything. It has stayed with me since though.

When I saw that meme, it was kind of a punch to the gut. I can tell you that there are many, many times I’ve gone out lonely and still come home to bed by myself. I can also say there are times I’ve gone home to someone else’s bed. But, I’ll get back to this part in a moment.

Last night, also on Facebook, I had a friend post a meme that asked something about, “Does your mom know you’re a whore?” I made a joking comment on it, but again, it stayed with me. This morning, when there were several more comments on it, I commented again, “But is being a “whore” really the worst thing one can do? Like, I’m an amazing, caring, generous, kind person and my life goal is to help others. But I could also be sleeping with half of our little town right now. Does that trump everything and make me a bad person?”

I want you to think about this for a moment. How often have you said words like whore, slut, skank, hoochie, tramp, etc.? How many times have you given a dirty look to someone because of what she was wearing or because you’d heard. . .*insert “slutty” accusation here*? How many times have you dismissed everything human and good about a woman because of slut shaming judgement? Now, before you get too defensive and feel like I’m picking on you, let me tell ya, I’m just as guilty (if not more so) than the next person. I will be the first to tell you, I have been wrong here. The craziest part about that too though, is *gasp* I have also been the “slut.”

I have had broken moments in my life. I talked about this in I Am More Than My Cleavage. I’ve had moments where I’ve used my body to get the attention my heart needed. Sadly, many women have done this, especially if they had a rough childhood. Some of us that have been through really hard times have turned to physical affection as a source of comfort and fulfillment in our own brokenness. We try to fill a void in our hearts through physical contact as if being desired magically fixes everything.

While this is kind of a hard subject to talk about, it’s even harder to bare one’s own “secrets” and stories. But I’m going to do it anyway. So let me tell you a story.

I had a best friend years ago that I’m no longer friends with. She’s a pretty amazing person and much of her is all the great things I am not. We were instantly close when we met and she was the first person I ever used the term “bestie” with. We were also very alike in several ways. While we both battled our own hard stuff in life, there started to become a wedge between us. Honestly, I can’t even remember what started it or why, but it got worse. We then both did things that hurt each other. We both said things that were vile and ugly. One of my biggest regrets as far as her and my friendship is concerned was ever using the dirty words mentioned before about her, a woman I truly loved (and still do). She had been by my side when I was making some really poor choices as far as men and sex goes, and yet, once I was in a monogamous relationship, it was like I forgot my own transgressions and no longer had an issue with slinging out those awful words about her choices. Our friendship came to an end, and I still think about her almost every day since. In the couple of years since we went separate ways, I’ve had lots of time to think about my own actions. I’ve tried to reach out to her since, but she has never responded. I can only think that my hurtful words are unforgiveable. I’m so embarrassed that I ever insulted her in ways that I’ve been insulted myself. I’m no better than her or anyone else, which brings me to my next and biggest point. . .

The comment that I put on my friends status about “What if…?” is a really good question. How did we get to a point in society where we felt it was okay to judge and mistreat someone we feel is promiscuous? Sadly, a woman doesn’t even have to truly be that way, we can all just be going off of rumors, and yet, most people feel no shame in throwing out those words. Why is it acceptable to make those remarks and joke about it? What makes us feel that someone’s character, goodness, and humanity doesn’t matter and that we can verbally shred a woman over her sexual choices?

I’ll use myself as an example because who better is there to throw under the bus than me? I’m a good person. I have a huge heart, a tender spirit, and I love helping others in any way I can. I would literally give the shirt off my back to someone that was in need of it. I volunteer in my community, have given people in need items out of my own home, taken people into my home that had nowhere to go, and put my own safety at risk to help others. I also have made many questionable decisions in life. If you knew that I’ve slept with someone I’ve met off of Craigslist before, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve slept with 2 different men in 2 days, does that change your opinion of me? If you knew that I’ve had sex on first dates, slept with someone else during a breakup to numb my heartache, or that there was a time in my past that I slept with people that I couldn’t tell you their names now, does that change your opinion of me? If all of these things are true, am I a “whore?” By most people’s definition, the answer to that would yes. So now, let’s say that by society’s definition, I’m a whore. Now what? Under that label, am I less deserving or respect? Affection? Love? Am I a bad person? The answer to each of those is no. I am not less deserving, and I am not a bad person. So then why is it okay for you to call me names? Why is it okay for you to look at me and judge who I am as a person based off of a few choices? Read this and understand this carefully please; it is NOT okay for you to treat anyone with less respect, no matter what their sexual choices are with other consenting adults.

Now, please know that I’m not saying that these are healthy behaviors. That’s an entirely different blog topic, and I have caused my own heart a lot of damage with bad choices. However, it’s not ANYONE’S place to decide what is good for another person. It is not my place, nor yours, to judge another human being’s sexual activity with consenting partners. When you take away everything else about a woman and label her regarding her sexual choices only, even if you are just sharing a meme on social media that doesn’t call anyone out specifically, you are telling women that we are nothing more than what our vaginas do. I am more than what happens to my vagina. You are more than what happens to yours. So let’s put some conscious effort into not shaming women for what they choose to do with their own body parts. STOP THE SLUT SHAMING. It’s important.

And as always, stay safe, my friends.

Love,
Moonshine Niki

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Here’s to a New Chapter

Social media is great in many ways, but man, sometimes it sucks! Going through a breakup is one of those times I hate social media, and this time was the worst.

“We can still be friends,” he says as he’s breaking my heart weeks ago and saying he wants to move out.

I cried, “I don’t want to be your friend. I want to be your girlfriend.”

I wanted a piece of him still, even if it meant without a romantic relationship, so I agreed to be friends. I noticed how he’d pulled away suddenly and how his actions were contradicting his words, but I was so lost and confused in the center of the storm that I didn’t consciously think much about it. During the several day period where we were in the middle, in purgatory, with him still living with me after he’d said he wanted to end it, but then changing his mind and saying he wanted to keep trying, everything he was saying was telling me between the lines that he was leaving. Deep down I knew he was gone for good and that someone else had his attention already.

“If it doesn’t work out, I know you’ll be okay. You’re a strong woman.”

“You’ll find someone new who will be your forever, I’m sure of it.”

“I’m just going to focus on me and my kids,” he says, but then one breath later, “You should get out and have fun and meet new people,” and, “Be young and wild and free.”

Why? Why do I need to get out? Why do I need to meet new people? Why are you pushing me out there and then encouraging me to go party of all things? How fast are you moving with someone else to be coming at me with this stuff when you still have belongings that haven’t even been moved out of my house yet?

I’m not stupid. I may have had some serious denial going on and even been foolish for all of my hoping, but I’m definitely not stupid, and I knew exactly what these statements meant. These statements meant there was already another girl. These statements meant he didn’t want to feel guilty and if I quickly found someone else, he wouldn’t have to. I knew this was true because it was only a matter of days before there were flirty statuses going up on Facebook from him that were clearly intended for one person, and it wasn’t me. Wanting to continue with the goal of being friends and knowing it would just take some time to not be so sensitive to that stuff, I simply unfollowed him.

I pushed forward with my life without him. I started working out, I quickly found a support system of just a few friends that I could talk to and rely on, and I started focusing on the important things in my life that had nothing to do with him.

One of my most important tasks was to find a second job. I was terrified of what that could mean for me and scared that I would have to work 7 days a week. I’m a mother and my children, even though they are teenagers, still need me. I have to take care of me to take care of them and it’s hard to take care of me if I never get a day off of work.

Well, there have been some rapid changes over the last few days. One is that I got hired and start working a second job next week. The manager was very kind when I talked with him about the hours I’m looking for and what my schedule is like for my main job. He said he intends to work me 3 evenings a week and understands that I’m still hoping to get one day off a weekend so that I have one day off from both jobs and will work with me on that too.

Another change is that I actually went on a date. It was wonderful. It was with a friend I’ve known for years and he was incredibly sweet and gentlemanly. It was a lovely reminder that I’m still a woman and more than just a mom and employee, that I am desirable, and that I am wanted. I won’t go into details here, but I can say that I’m very much hoping we’ll get together again.

The last change is that yesterday when I was getting ready to start work, I thought to myself that I’m in a great mood and I’m getting over the old relationship and maybe I can look at his Facebook page without getting upset. I was immediately greeted with the confirmation of what I already knew to be true. There’s a new woman. I was taken aback. It’s not that there’s just someone new in general, because I already knew that was the case within days of him moving out, but to already be posting together and putting pictures up. . . I’ll spare you all my thoughts on this, but I will say that I realized in that moment, being friends is unnecessary. Clearly, it doesn’t matter what I think and feel to him and that’s not what friends are. I didn’t cry when I saw it. In fact, I wasn’t filled with any intense emotion (can I get an amen for healing?!), and I was proud in that moment that I wasn’t tempted to lash out at anyone. It was time to take my next big girl step and hit the unfriend button. We weren’t friends before we dated; there’s no need to be friends now. I clicked that button and smiled. Chapter closed.

Waking up today and getting everyone ready and out the door for the first day of school, I have been in an amazing mood. I’m handling my business. I’ve got my own back. I feel happy again! Finding a job took away a ginormous amount of stress. I now know that I have a plan. I know what has to happen to get our necessities covered. I also know that the activity of working another job will help my weight loss along. All of these things will make me feel better emotionally and mentally and once again, confidence will shine through. Just as I mentioned in my post The Weak Hunt the Wounded about how broken people attract more broken people, the opposite is also true. With me feeling great and confident and happy, those are also the people I will attract in my life.

So, my friends, things are good! I’m onto a new chapter and new adventures and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Here’s to a new page turned!

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Shattered. Simply Shattered.

Shattered. That is my heart at the moment. That’s the best word I can come up with to describe myself. Simply shattered.

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Anyone who’s ever paid attention to my blogs knows that I’m not real private. I’ll tell pretty much anyone pretty much anything going on in my life. One thing I’m normally intensely private about though is breakups, if for no other reason, than just because I like having time to digest it all by myself without anyone getting in my business.

This time is a little different. I would really like to be private about everything, but y’all know me and I MUST write to process. So I might as well just lay it all out there. The love of my life told me he’s never been in love with me and left. Can you imagine the sting?

B isn’t a bad guy. If he was, I never would have been involved in the first place. The problem was largely timing. I knew better than to get involved with someone so fresh out of a bad marriage. Part of me even knew he wasn’t yet over his cheating wife when we began. What I did not know though was that I would still have all the faith in the world, and that it would break me.

This all started a week and a half ago. An argument no worse than any other (neither of us is much for fighting) on a Tuesday night would be the beginning of a very rough 2 weeks. It would be the beginning of the end. For the first time in our entire relationship, when he got up for work in the early morning that Wednesday, he left without kissing me goodbye. I somehow instinctively knew he wouldn’t too. While I normally sleep soundly while he gets ready until he comes to kiss me, I wasn’t sleeping that morning. I could just feel that something had changed. I had to pee but I didn’t want to move. I was trying to will him into coming in and kissing me. I laid in that bed and watched his shadow cross the wall from the outside and then listened to his truck back out of the driveway. I was crushed.

By the time I was pulling into work later that morning, he had told me he might be ending it. I was in shock and thought there was no way a little fight could mean that. I was panicked but trying so hard to hold myself together. I didn’t do well. I threw up uncontrollably. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think. Two days later, he told me he was done, but that he still wanted his children to come for the weekend at my house because of family plans that had been in place for a while and then move out the following Monday. What the f***. . .?!

I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. I continued with my throwing up, constantly crying, no eating, sleeping horribly cycle. I started dropping weight immediately and drastically. I felt like my world was ending. I begged and pleaded for him to change his mind. I tried to remind him of everything great about us. I told him how I’d never loved anyone in my life like I love him, how I never had fully given myself to someone before him, how much I thought he was my “forever” in life—all truths. What I couldn’t yet swallow though was that it all didn’t matter. He couldn’t change the way he felt (or rather, didn’t feel).

The weekend was hard. I love his children. Every moment was difficult because I couldn’t stop wondering if it would be our last. Is this the last picture together, is this the last time I would cook for them, is this the last time I would get a “monkey hug” before strapping them into their car seats for their trip back to their mama’s house? It was hard to go to his dad and step mom’s house for a BBQ because I love them so much. On that afternoon, after much talking and crying, he said he changed his mind. I didn’t feel relieved though, I felt terrified. Why the sudden change? Would he change his mind right back?

On Sunday, we took pictures together and I wondered if I would ever see them. I was so scared but so filled with hope. We talked Sunday night about all of the issues and I finally felt so relieved. I thought it was going to work. Every fear he had or complaint about our relationship, I had a valid answer, response, and plan for. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling like it was all going to be okay, but once again, I woke up on Monday morning just instinctively knowing that something was wrong. I noticed every time he did something that wasn’t normal and was out of place. I noticed he still was not calling me “baby” and was largely avoiding me. I knew what was coming. Monday night, he told me he’d felt I’d manipulated him with everything I’d said, including that I had gone along with the weekend hoping that he would see me with his children and family and realize what he was doing. That night, I listened to him but I didn’t freak out. I didn’t cry. He had said that he’d previously said he’d stay “for a while” and work on it and that he was still going to do that. I knew what it meant though. It meant that he was just trying to relieve the guilt he felt for changing his mind once again. I woke up on Tuesday morning angry. I then felt like I was the one being manipulated. He wanted me to relieve him of his guilt and tell him to just go. I spent most of my day fairly calm though until it got to the afternoon. Then I was getting upset. Everything about his behavior said he was done. And finally, for me, I was done on the crazy intense roller coaster I’d been on too. If he wanted to leave, then so be it. I was tired of throwing up, being unable to eat, and sleeping so poorly. I was tired of crying and fearing. I was tired of pretending like things could get better. I was tired of walking on eggshells worrying that I would upset him.

The final end started in text message. That was when that tired cliché of “I love you but I’m not in love with you” started. This time, there was no talk of ending things. It was just known without being spoken. I told him he never should have gotten my hopes back up. I told him I was going to hurt like hell, but ultimately, I know that heartache won’t kill me and that’s a lesson I’d learned already in life when I had to lay my child to rest. Then I told him we’d discuss him moving out when we were both home from work.

Things fell apart from there though. I was angry and crushed. I chose to cope that first night by drinking. I got angry at everything and everyone. It became apparent that I should not be there while he moved his stuff out. I went home before he got there and cleared off all of my stuff from the top of his dresser. I dropped his picture frame and saw the glass crack. While it wasn’t intentional, the angry part of me felt satisfied. I was on the porch when he pulled up. He knew I would only be there for a moment to help him change his relationship status on Facebook and to hide it so that others wouldn’t see the change and comment on it. It took less than 2 minutes and I was back in my rig, bawling my eyes out. I left knowing that I would not want to return to see all the holes where his stuff used to be.

I was so angry at him and yet I couldn’t blame him either. If he couldn’t feel more for me, it’s not fair to him, me, my children, or his children to keep trying. I stayed away from home until almost midnight. I didn’t want to go back but I knew I still had to go to work the next day and I had to go to bed. I walked into the bedroom and dissolved into tears again. I was rapidly bouncing back and forth between intense anger and sorrow. I wrote him an angry message on Facebook and sent it, took my clothes off, and crawled into my bed to cry until sweet sleep brought relief.

Yesterday was a blur. There was no one to really be angry at. There is no cure for any of the pain except to keep feeling it until it lessens. I talked with my children in depth for the first time last night. I told them what I need and expect from them. I told them that at 13-16 years old, they are not little babies anymore and they’re old enough to understand. There were many tears from all of us, but I reassured them that we can make it just fine as a family of 4. We are partners. It was a hard conversation, but I think we all felt better.

I didn’t get drunk last night, nor will I cope with alcohol to get through the hurts right now. Nighttime is the worst because it’s idle brain time to just think and feel. I’m going to keep allowing myself to feel without numbing it. It’s hard, but I have to heal the way intended so that I don’t do more damage. I refuse to do anything to make it any harder on myself or my kids.

I woke up this morning feeling better. There was no moment of confusion and having to remember what’s going on as there has been every morning for a week and a half. I’m down 17 pounds in 9 days (unintentionally) but I am starting to be able to eat more. I am heartsick, but I won’t be forever. I know that I’m going to be okay. I know that I’m going to heal. I know that I will continue to persevere for myself and my kiddos. I know that eventually, I won’t feel so shattered.

I Am More Than My Cleavage

I Am More Than My Cleavage? Seriously?! What kind of world do we live in that I feel the need to write a blog with that title?

In order to truly explain my thought process and feelings behind all this, I must give you some background info. As a teenager, like many confused kids, I had attention issues. Hell, I still do (I mean, hello, I write a blog—pay attention to me! Haha). My attention issues then were different though. Yes, I was that girl that fooled around with the boys before my peers did. As a young woman with large breasts and a curvy body, developed long before I knew what to do with it, it was easy to discover how I could get the attention that I craved.

When I moved to my small town, the place I now call home, I was just beginning to really act out. I desperately wanted to fit in and be one of the Cool Kids. I wanted to be liked and paid attention to. I was a mere 13 years old, but thought of myself as a grown up. It only took a month or two to not only catch the attention of some of the popular boys, but also to make myself ostracized. I realized after it was too late that I was the girl the boys wanted, the girl the girls hated, and the girl no one wanted to be publicly associated with. I wasn’t understood and I didn’t know how to behave any differently.

I struggled with this stuff my entire youth. It was a constant fight inside myself between wanting to be paid attention to and wanting with all of my aching teenage heart to not be an outcast. I wanted to be liked for who I was inside my tender soul, but I kept searching for it with my cleavage.

Now to fast forward many years, many heartaches, many milestones, and much personal growth, I’m no longer that broken girl. But you know what? Society is. We live in this era of everything being sexual, insane beauty standards constantly in our faces, and a terribly sad casual attitude about sexual activity in our society. Teenagers (along with the adults, of course) are exchanging naked selfies, even fast food commercials use sex to sell, no one bats an eye at casual sex and “friends with benefits,” and we push birth control on 12 year olds. Along with all of this, women seem to be seen in general as sex objects and nothing more. When one is lusting after the barely dressed woman on the cover of Cosmo, he or she is not thinking about who that woman is, what matters to her, or what she has going on in her life—he or she is thinking about how great her breasts look or how amazing those thighs are, et cetera. This objectification doesn’t just go for those we see on television, on magazine covers, or in online ads. It spills over into how we see women in real life. In fact, that statement right there, “real life,” shows just how deep this goes. Those women, photoshopped, covered in makeup, and in glossy print everywhere you look—they’re still real women.  They still have feelings, goals, family, struggles, and triumphs that have nothing to do with the image you see on those screens or magazine covers.

While writing this, I decided to do some quick research about how many ads the typical American sees in a day because it’s relevant to my point on what we are seeing without even realizing it on a daily basis. There are no hard and fast numbers, but many sources estimate that the number of daily ads we see can reach into the thousands. THOUSANDS! Think about it, every time you log onto Pandora, every time you pass a city bus, check out at the grocery store, sit in front of your TV, get on Facebook, play a mobile game, flip through a magazine in a waiting room, step in front of a television in Wal-Mart, shop online, walk down the cereal aisle, drive through town, use the Internet to help your children with homework, and even getting into an elevator in bigger cities—your eyes are bombarded with advertisements. Thousands of images every day flood into your brain whether you realize it or not, and many of these are using edited images of “sexy” women. According to mediaed.org, it is thought that only around 8% of an ad’s message is consciously received into the mind. So much info is being put into our minds, and while we may not realize it, that data soaks into our brains anyway.

But I’m straying from my point here. When we are teaching those in society through this constant onslaught of images that women are to be lusted after, that deeply ingrained, unconscious act cannot be compartmentalized into just viewing women in media this way. It becomes how our youth sees their female peers. It is how grown men see their coworkers. It is how old men see younger generations of women. The list goes on… It is even how us women now tend to see each other and ourselves. As human beings, our eyes take in how others look and our bodies and brains are stimulated accordingly. Without having guarded hearts and trained minds, we unconsciously objectify others based on these standards, and I have recently had much personal experience to remind me of this.

I have been struggling the last several months with having gone through a breakup of a serious relationship and all that goes with that. I’ve had loneliness and a desire to be accepted and wanted by others. In some ways, bits of that broken teenage girl in me crept back to the surface, and that allowed me to put my guard down without realizing it. Unlike when I was a kid though, we have this wonderful thing called social media these days. It often gives a false sense of connectedness with others, and it also gives many people the guts to say things online that wouldn’t be said face to face. I could give several examples of this, but to save face and space to this already very long post, I’m going to just give one example of how outrageous this objectification has become, and it has an impact.

The one incident that punched me in the gut emotionally and I knew would result in this post with this exact title happened around two months ago. Like most, I have a Facebook account and around 300 “friends” on it. Also like most women, I change my profile picture on it often. I use a little app on my phone to make pretty edited pictures that make the perfect size for a “pro pic.” One day, I changed my picture without thinking about the unintentional cleavage that was showing. Remember, long gone are my days of wanting to draw people in with my breasts, but because they are large, cleavage happens sometimes regardless. I was leaving work when I suddenly got an instant message from a male friend that threw me off. I wasn’t on Facebook at the moment and wasn’t even aware yet of the comments on my new profile picture, but all it took was one friend to comment about my cleavage on this picture before there were suddenly a small handful of comments about my breasts. What was worse though was the message from my “friend.” One word. Boobies.

I had no idea what it meant when the Facebook message texted my phone. I honestly thought it was an accident. I got online to inquire about it. I opened up my messages, and sure enough, it was the one word and then a selfie of him.

Me: Boobies?

Him: Yeah, I like them.

Him: *shirtless selfie*

Him: Where’s my pic now? You always show your boobs hanging out. Let ’em loose.

I was appalled and so very hurt. I had previously thought this guy was kinda cute and had known we had stuff in common, so I was actually pleased that he messaged me at first. But I was not happy that he felt it was okay to not just bring up such inappropriate subject matter so boldly, but to talk to me as if I wasn’t even a normal human being deserving of respect. I was ashamed even though I’d done nothing to ask for this kind of treatment. I was deeply hurt that he talked to me like this completely unsolicited and without an ounce of respect–especially when it was the first time he’d ever initiated conversation with me.

Me: There’s websites for that ya know.

Him: Yeah, but why online if it’s local?

I teared up reading his messages. I was thoroughly blown away. In an instant, I was that hurting young woman that wanted to be one of the Cool Kids so badly, but I was also the adult I am now and knew that no matter what I was feeling, I was NOT going to allow this to continue.

Me: Because I’m more than just my cleavage.

Him: Yeah, you got an ass too.

Me: *Closes Facebook*

I realized that I felt shame before I had even done anything. There was embarrassment that had lived there inside me so long. Humiliation from acts so long ago that caused me to still feel that hurt as a grown woman. But he didn’t get what he wanted, and I kept my dignity. I honestly meant what I said. I AM more than my cleavage. Whether it was intentional or accidental, cleavage did not give him permission to completely disregard the fact that I am a woman with feelings. I have lived and succeeded through major struggles, I have experienced great joys, I have beautiful children that think I’m the most important person on earth, and I have been hurt badly, loved madly, and helped others gladly. I am a woman, not an object! Even though it’s taken me a while longer in life to discover it, I am worthy of love, tenderness, and respect. I. Am. More. Than. My. Cleavage.