Why Are We Suddenly Obsessing About Women Choosing To Be Childfree?

childfree

There’s a movement happening in motherhood and the new parental breakthrough being applauded is the choice to be child free. You can’t peruse a blog or walk through a Barnes and Noble without women happily defending their decision to NOT be someone’s mommy. There’s “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed” an anthology of stories from women who have chosen to be child-free. And there isn’t a day that I’m scrolling down my Facebook feed that I don’t come across an article like Zero Buns In The Oven in which women feel the need to defend what takes place (or doesn’t) inside their uterus.

Newsflash: Parenthood is a personal choice that isn’t for everyone, and I can’t help but wonder why the issue has to be so black and white. The decision to parent isn’t as simple as we keep trying to make it. If we aren’t damning anything with ovaries straight to hell that isn’t sporting a mini human on their hip by 30, we are talking about why it’s the best thing ever to only be responsible for the well-being of a glass of wine.

Why Purging Won’t Solve Your Problems

purging your problems away

At some point, all women will come through an experience in their lives that will lead them to the idea of purging their problems away. It might be a bad break up, an unexpected job lay off or the breakdown of a friendship that you’ve realized is a very parasitic part of your life. Some of us will delete all the numbers off our phones believing clearing our contacts will cleanse our conscience. Others will sift through their Facebook friends, go natural and cut off all the processed parts of their hair or get rid of all the Pop Secret and Pringles in the kitchen cabinets.

On Tuesday, we witnessed our favorite anti-hero Mary Jane attempt to purge her problems away on BET’s Being Mary Jane. After yet another failed attempt to make a wrong relationship get right with ex-boyfriend, David, MJ finds herself frantically vacuuming her house in the early morning hours before pouring top shelf tequila down her drain and embarking on a self-help journey through “Johari’s window”. She’s desperate and dying to discover what ever made her sink to the levels of trying to get pregnant by a man who is already expecting a child with another woman.

When you’re drowning it’s all too easy to be so desperate to be saved that you end up jumping on the first driftwood raft you see when the Carnival Cruise Ship is only a few feet in the distance. Purging your problems away rarely works because it doesn’t matter how many friends you delete or material items you through away, if you’re only ridding yourself of symptoms of the problem and not the actual problem you’ll always end up unhappy.

If you’re deleting all of your Facebook friends because you’re tired of seeing bullshit, the problem isn’t your friends, the problem is what made you accept those friend requests in the first place and why does their cyber bullshit affect your ability to function in life so much. It’s Facebook, people. You can log off and move the fuck on with your very real life without deleting a damn soul. I always say if your timeline is full of bullshit that says more about the company you choose to keep on-line than other people’s issues. My timeline is full of grad school congrats, wedding pictures and newborn babies, not baby daddy drama and chicks beefing off of whose LV bag is real or not. What about yours?

Also, life is about balance. Clearing your contacts and getting rid of all your liquor is like douching your life. You need a balance of both good and bad things, otherwise after completely cleaning house you risk overcompensating and ending up with the infection you initially started with. You don’t always need to get rid of the bad, you need to learn how to better deal with it since it is inevitably a part of life.

In addition, when it comes to the fragile balance of bad habits, there are times in life that are simply about survival. And as long as you don’t drop too far in the rabbit hole and start developing an unhealthy dependency, sometimes it’s OK to develop a few bad habits if it means in the long run you become a better person.

What Came First, The Manager or the Asshole?

horrible bosses

When you’re climbing the career ladder in any field, you quickly learn that the higher you get, the less direct contact you have with the people you serve. This became a sobering reality to me as I made my way through the humbling world of non-profit work in positions were I worked as an educator to teens and young adults.

In 2008, I found myself fresh from college volunteering at the city’s main Planned Parenthood headquarters in The Gayborhood of Philadelphia. It was there I became fascinated with the sex educators. To me, they were the “cool kids”. While we coordinated schedules for canvassing on Broad Street or approached anxious patients asking them to donate to the cause while they waited for their annual exams, the sex educators would cascade in all worldly with their sex ed kits of full wooden penises and flavored lube. They’d tell graphic stories they heard in the classroom of the creative ways teens thought you could prevent pregnancy like douching with Coca Cola. It was then I knew I didn’t want a career that in any way resembled my senior internship where I spent most of my days looking at a computer screen drafting press releases about National Condom Week. I wanted to be the cool condom lady on some small liberal arts college campus making co-eds play Sex Ed Jeopardy at a health fair.

For the past 5 years of my career of I’ve been able to be in positions I love, educating and interacting directly with the young people’s lives I hope to make a difference in. But as I’ve grown with different organizations and witnessed all the budgeting, office politics and program planning that goes into making it possible to make change, it’s became abundantly clear: There’s something about management that brings out the asshole otherwise normal individuals. For me it’s nothing personal. As angsty and bitter as I may be coming off right now, it’s honestly just the business I’ve witnessed.

Or it might be that management positions attract assholes. I’m still undecided on how that works yet. I’m sorry if anybody with a management title takes offense to that, but there’s a reason why co-workers go to happy hour and complain about the boss and not the intern or administrative assistant. “Horrible Bosses” is a real thing and a majority of you guys really don’t have clue what the fuck you’re doing.

5 Things I Miss About Being Pregnant and 6 Things I Don’t

=pregnancy perks

Warning:  I’m about to be super annoying for the next year or so.  Just kidding, but I am a new mom and I finally get that fascination that new parents have about twenty or so times a day every time their newborn smiles, discovers a new appendage, or belches differently. I won’t pretend to suddenly be a parenting expert because there is a little person in this world sporting some of my DNA. What I will do is give you my very real opinion on parenthood. I’ll tell you as much about spit up down my cleavage as I will about those questionable men who would still hit on me despite the Hcg running through my body.

You know what I won’t do? I won’t preface everything with, “I love my child to death, but…” Let’s just get this out the way now, because I noticed I’ve been doing that lately to balance out any ill-feelings I may have about not being in love with being a mom 24/7 and it’s completely unnecessary. Let’s just say motherhood is like being a nurse. Most of us know what we signed up for and love our jobs, but honestly, who really enjoys cleaning up shit? So to be clear, I LOVE MY SQUIRM, but there are plenty of unglamorous, annoying and disgusting things about being a mom that I am not so in love with.

What no one tells you is that newborns sleep A LOT. I’m talking I didn’t know what color Camden’s eyes were until she was about a month old. When you first bring your baby home from the hospital you’ll feel less like the super mom on the Pampers commercial with something that kicks, coos and looks at you like you’re the most fascinating thing to hide behind two hands, and more like a roommate on the Bad Girls Club. There will be this new gorgeous roommate, who you soon discover cries a lot, doesn’t pay rent and leaves all of her shit for you to clean. What that meant for me is that I had a whole lot of time to write and shop. By the time I got back to work I had a week’s worth of posts for the blog and a bunch of overpriced items from Etsy for the Squirm like a custom-made elephant lamp which is virtually impossible for any person under the age of twenty-one to appreciate. She’ll probably end up writing her name on it in red crayon and completely break my heart.

But anyways, here are some things that I really miss about life pre-Squirm and some things I’m glad are finally gone:

Stop Being So Defensive and Read The Damn Article

Woman Angry At LaptopI’ve been weekend editor for Madamenoire for a little over a month now. As I’ve mentioned before, editing has it’s pros and cons when I compare it to my days of simply freelancing. For the most part it’s a tedious, time-consuming task that requires little creativity. Thankfully I still get to contribute some of my personal pieces but for the most part I’m reporting the same stories about who owes child support, who’s cheating and who’s having a baby that every other celebrity blog is reporting. As I stated before, when blogging becomes a business there’s no longer the freedom that comes with random ramblings that catch your particular interest like musing about how much my life has changed for the better since I discovered espresso. My Dunkin Donuts addiction isn’t going to get the site hits, however Oprah telling Lilo to get her shit together will. It’s the nature of the beast and honestly I’m loving every minute I’m learning about this whole business.

But I must admit there’s still one pet peeve that although I am guilty of myself, I still can’t find it in my heart to forgive my readers for: Commenting before reading the entire article. Like the world, the internet is a very angry place. It’s painful for me to digest the fact that even if I was writing about Care Bears and cotton candy, someone would complain that Care Bears were simply covers for mental illness and cotton candy is sticky, worthless shit meant for the downfall of mankind. There are so many days when I want to close my laptop and write the whole world a prescription for Zoloft.

Yesterday I wrote a piece entitled Are Black Women Aiming to Be Marilyn Monroe? in which I expressed my thoughts on our culture’s obsession with the iconic beauty and if women’s fascination with her was unhealthy. In the piece I don’t just target black women, I place blame where the impartial shoe fits on all women from Nicki Minaj to Miley Cyrus. But no sooner after the piece had been up for ten seconds was the comments section filled with all kinds of clever observations:

“It’s not just black women… But I don’t understand the obsession…. Maybe I need to do more research bc all I know her to be was a mistress… Nothing more.”

“I don’t think it should be narrowed down to black women because every race of women want to imitate her. The topic is pointless.”

“Uh?! Women in general love Marilyn Monroe. It was NEVER a black thing. Who came up with this question lolol cuz its funny.”

You know what is funny? The fact that I verify exactly what the commenters are saying in the damn article. The whole article states the fascination with Marilyn Monroe is an American obsession and not just a black one and I go on to challenge exactly who is in charge of creating the beauty standard for all women. But readers didn’t skim past the headline before getting defensive and writing essays about how pointless my article was. It probably was pointless to them because they failed to read the article to see if there was one.

Want to know a little journalism secret that’s actually not such a secret? Blogs and websites know that with Twitter and TMZ the average person has the attention span of a gnat. The headline is merely bait. It’s meant to get your attention. It’s meant to misinform you. It’s meant to offend you. Like a methhead, as long as we get that hit, we’re good. And the article could clearly be about bat shit, but our stats say otherwise. And readers fall for it every single time. And this is what makes me worry. With so much information a swipe away, I’d venture to guess many of us are becoming less and less informed. We make too many assumptions. We’re all self-proclaimed, writers, experts, bloggers and media mavens that we’re becoming too smart for our own damn good.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my readers. They make my day. And in all honesty, they supplement my income. But that’s my readers, not the skimmers who think they know me because of my opinions on the workings of the world. I love to see a comments section filled with healthy debate, quotes from something other than the first paragraph and a general respect for my thoughts, time and energy even if they disagree. But the most disrespectful thing I think someone can do to someone’s work is spread ignorance about something they didn’t take the time to read. That’s like me saying The Catcher and The Rye was a shit novel and then being like, “Holden Caulfield, who?”

I understand there are only so many hours in the day and too many cat videos to watch on Youtube. I confess I’m good for skimming headlines. But when someone brings up, “Hey did you hear about that lady that drove her kids into the ocean?” I don’t pretend to know the details on something I didn’t take the time to read. And I damn sure don’t pen an essay on anything I haven’t attempted to educate myself about.

I also confess that I write too much. I am entirely way too wordy. But if not my pieces, please take the time to read others work before you begin commenting and getting defensive. You might learn something. Literacy, especially media literacy is the most powerful strength we have as a people. Because the TV will literally tell you anything and blogs will have you believing things that couldn’t be farther from the truth. One of the reasons slavery was able to continue for so long was simply because slaves couldn’t read. The fucked up part is we’re able to, but choose not to. And because of it we are slowly growing to be some of the most articulate fools in history.

We Didn’t Land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock Landed On Our Parking: Spike Lee May Have Had a Point With His Gentrification Rant

Whenever I tell people I’m from North Philly they never believe me.  Instead of being from Broad and Erie or 13th and Dauphin I’ve lived in a neighborhood all my life that’s recently come to be known as Northern Liberties aka NoLibs.  In my neighborhood the corner boys strapped with 380’s blasting bullets are replaced by joggers strapped with Iphones blasting Katy Perry.  Hipsters from across the city flock to the area in search of the Piazza and the Electric Factory, but it’s not the neighborhood I grew up in.  So when Spike Lee recently went on a rant against gentrification at Pratt Institute, it occurred to me I may know more about it than I thought I did.

After an audience member suggested that gentrification helps urban communities create more wealth, Spike Lee immediately took to checking them:

Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf**kin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.

Then comes the motherf**kin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherf**kin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherf**kin’-sixty-eight, and the motherf**kin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherf**kin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherf**kin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the f**k outta here!

Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherf**kin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.

(You can read the rest of Lee’s rant at Ny Mag)

10 Things I’ve Learned In My Two Weeks As An Editor

woman frustrated at computer

So about a month ago as I was waiting inside the lobby of my job for my ride and I scrolled through my Yahoo inbox to see an e-mail from the deputy editor at MadameNoire.com titled “Weekend Editor Position”.  It turns out that the current weekend editor had some other obligations leaving the position open.  A little birdie otherwise known as the site’s awesome assistant editor had referred me noting that my writing was clean and after writing for the site for five years, I expressed wanting some growth in my writing career.

You may note that a little over a month ago with the start of the new year, one of the goals listed on my dream board stated, “I will not freelance forever, however, I will be a journalist, staff writer, editor or assistant editor.”  Now maybe I’m a little high on faith and the laws of attraction, but ever since I’ve been reading my Christmas gift, Joel Osteen’s Breakout!, I been trying to put into practice this idea of praying big.  I’ve never been the most religious person, but I had reached a frustrated point in my progress as a writer where I needed something to believe in.  I needed a sign that I should keep writing and not start filling out grad school applications. I couldn’t tell you whether recent opportunities in my life came just because it was finally time for my hard work to pay off or whether someone heard my prayers, but I will say this:  Never underestimate speaking (or tweeting) things into existence.  Whether God heard my prayer or my editor paid closer attention to my blog than I thought, someone heard me and someone helped make my goals happen.

As a result I’ve quickly realized I only have two hands and those are spent covering breaking news like celebrity baby showers and bad fake booty jobs on the weekends for the site. The time I devote to BulletsandBlessings has taken a hit, but I’m begging you to please be patient as I discipline myself a little more and rearrange my schedule.  In the meantime, I’ve noticed some incredible differences between writing and editing that I’d like to share before anyone decides they want to start their own blog or edit someone else’s.