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My first "real" job I had (made all the more real by its lack of polyester uniform and matching visor and sturdy, black work shoes with heavy traction) was at a local bookstore owned by two pioneering women, one of whom was a graduate of women's studies. The shelves were stocked to well-over capacity with women's history, feminist, multi-cultural, and self-help books, along with our meat-and -potatoes, mass market trade fictions. In our small town, there wasn't a high calling for anything outside top-fiction and children's genres, but we made a go of it. I had all the books on women's issues I could eat, and could recite by the page sections from The Boston Women's Health Collective's famous book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, in addition to being inordinately well-versed in Ina May Gatskin's Spiritual Midwifery. I read Clarrisa Pinkola Estez' Women Who Run With the Wolves when we had a backlog of special orders for the title, and spent my down-time with my nose in Susan Fauldi's Backlash. I was so, so poor in those days, but was surrounded with a wealth of books to feed my early feminist ideals. Ahh, those were the days.  

The one drawback to my bookstore job was a regular customer who made the Women's Special Interest isles his own personal meat-market. Don't get me wrong; he did buy books; stacks upon stacks of books pertaining to women's issues, books he'd pull from our shelves and books he'd special order. Its just that if (and that's a pretty big if) he read any of the books he purchased, he certainly didn't apply any of the feminist messages to his own interactions with women.



 
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Women at Adolf Koch’s socialist body culture school, which drew on Reich’s ideas.
As a child of the 70's, I grew up right along-side the feminist movement. Feminism was in its second wave at that time, a new enthusiasm for the politics of that generation's grandmothers. In the early sixties, however,  
activists supporting women's rights were not so much standing on the shoulders suffragettes, who overturned legal obstacles making women's voting rights and property rights, as they were radicalizing their own ideals; namely reproductive rights and wage-equality in the workplace.  In 1967, San Fransisco's Haight-Ashbury district was rushed by 100,000 hippies during what was referred to as, "The Summer of Love," a period of time that can only truly be measured by the amount of LSD-25 dissolved under the tongue and the number of sexual encounters enjoyed during the season of free love. Occurring alongside the hippie movement of the sixties, new attitudes towards sexuality created a climate of accepted sexual freedom within the overlap of the two groups, and many women and men entered into a new-found open-market for satiating the senses. Ahhhh, orgies. In for a penny, in for a pound, I always say. 

My parents didn't meet in a joint-circle on the Haight, nor did either dance to keep the music out of their eyes at Woodstock. They met in small-town Kelso, Washington, right across the street from the old west Kelso brothel, where my father was protesting. He'd had his fill of filling his sexual appetites and of hallucinagens, and at that time was filled with a new high, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every day, he'd march, blazing a sign that read, "Where are YOU going to spend ETERNITY?" My mother tells me that every day when she drove past his one-man march, she'd roll her eyes and think, "God! I f***ing hate that guy!"  At some point, they must have found common ground, because (as my mother tells it) the next thing she knew, she was pregnant with twin babies and married to my father and a living with a bunch of crazy Holy Roller in a Jesus Commune.


 
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New Moon Waxing Crescent

I'm feeling really not-so-goodish right now. When the moon drains of its light, she takes me right down with her, every time. I'm damn near ready to start leaving her little offerings of sweets and trinkets and song, just to appease her. She shakes me to the core until I bleed with her, emptying myself of built up negative energies that fester like a wound.  
Living in sync with the moon creates a spiritual aspect to our cycles as women, and creates the basis for understanding ourselves outside the biology of our bodies.  Focusing solely on the physical realm, we amputate the most central part of ourselves; our sacred beauty, our light, our femininity. The Holy Spirit, in traditional Judaic teachings, is refered to as YHVH's Goddess nature, and the only part of the Holy Trinity described in the feminine form. 

Culturally, so much heat is put on our gender during times of menstruation, and historically the belief that a woman's menstrual blood is dangerous; deadly even, and spans across otherwise unbreakable barriers between religions. And we are dangerous. We become very thin in our connection with the physical, and our thoughts turn inward. We are easily agitated when roused from our introverted state. We can turn waspish, snapping at anyone who interferes with our sacred meditation.



 
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The precise moment last summer when an Italian nationalst visiting England became a mother for the third time was the same moment her infant child disappeared from her womb.

The unnamed woman had been in Britain attending an airline training course at Stansted Airport in Essex when the strange string of events began to unfold; the woman, unable to the passports belonging to her children experienced a panic attack. The police were summoned (the police? Really?!), who then contacted the young woman’s mother back in Italy. The woman’s mother detailed her assumption that her daughter, who had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was currently under a doctor’s care, surmised that she may not have been taking her prescription. The police claiming that her unborn baby might be in danger, escorted her to the mental hospital, where she was restrained by orderlies and held against her will sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Take a deep breath; things are about to go from bad to (Holy-Christ-I-can’t-believe-this-shit) WORSE.


 
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These four beautiful women challenge the objectification of their adolescent bodies at the 2013 Brave New Voices poetry slam in Washington DC. During the middle ages, the only option a woman had for removing herself from the collective rape culture is to give up her dowry to the Catholic Church and become a nun, ashewing any and all evidence of their sexuality and committing to a life of poverty and powerlessness behind the veil.

Today, while women still struggle with marginalization and objectification from a young safe, the teens in this video step into their power as women and declare themselves to be "mother-fucking monsters."  


 
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Feminism isn’t NICE.

There is no way in polite society I can discuss pro-feminist issues like a lady.

Imagine this scenario: a church potluck; families in their Sunday best, ignoring the slight discomfort of their full bellies , reclining, slightly in their folding chairs around long, out-dated banquet tables… to your left, Aunt Irma is starting to nod-off… on right side, a tired mother, holding a baby on her lap, watching lazily, as he throws his whole body weight into a failed grab for the food on her plate… children, running off their spare energy. The pastor has just given a very thought-provoking message on the blessings of tithing, and you feel inspired to study out the scriptures he used and increase your giving.

Just then, as you least suspect it, that crazy redhead across the table from you (that would be me) leans in your direction and says in a loud voice,

“Did you know that so-and-so’s daughter was acquaintance raped while walking back from the campus library last Wednesday? I understand she reported it to campus security, but after taking her report, she’s been on the receiving end of some pretty abusive comments and slut-shaming. I’m worried.  We should get involved!”

You won’t need to stretch yourself to imagine the abrupt silence that would follow.



 
Pictureimage from http://www.goldieblox.com
The launch of a Youtube video highjacks Beastie Boys hit song, “Girls,” and turning it into an anthem for young feminists. The video  promoting the Feminist toy company, GoldieBlox, which aspires to reclaim the traditionally male-dominated fields of interest in math and science and overcome antiquated (and inaccurate) stereotypes that limit girls to playing house.

GoldieBlox was conceived by Debbie Sterling, the founder and engineer of the company, who began by drawing a series of illustrations with strong characters, reminiscent of  Pippie Longstocking  or Punky Brewster. The girls’ toy line (while admittedly, bathed in the soft hues of pink and lavender) consists of building games with  her character, Goldie, figurines and expansion packs with a creative focus of inspiring girls to become future engineers and a small clothing line with the slogan, “More than just a princess” emblazed across the front.


Pictureimage from www.goldieblox.com/pages/about‎
The company creatively avoids marginalization in their advertising by depicting girls outside the golden Caucasian norm by representing little girls of diverse ethnicity, furthering GoldieBlox’s confrontation of the limits we, as a culture, put on those of us existing outside the realm of white, male entitlement. 

I sense a Princess revolution.


 
When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” WhichWhen I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers' hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.


 is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers' hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.


 
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I admit that I may have a problem.

Let me first speak in defense of myself... I have had a pretty tough go of things when it comes to relationships. My last relationship left me somewhat bruised and in need of a lot of therapy. I warm up slowly to new people; its only because I can't look you in the eyes that I'm able to write posts on my experiences of spousal abuse that I am able to click "publish." 

That being said, I'm having a deeply satisfying love affair with my kombucha mother SCOBY, Beatrice. It's not what you think; I'm not going to be petitioning the courts to legally declare my love for her, nor are we going to enter into a commitment ceremony. I just love her. She’s really good for me.



 
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I started Naked Consciousness because I wanted to create a forum in which I could share my journey from living in an abusive relationship to freeing myself and finding healing.

I write from a Christian feminist perception... That may seem like a contradiction in terms, but nothing could be farther from the truth. God designed women to have shared value with men. When our Father created mankind, it was in His image. Just as the holy trinity is made up of three parts, existing simultaneously as separate individually and as a whole being, God poured not only his male, but female nature as well into Adam during his creation. In Jewish tradition, the Holy Spirit has always been referred to in the feminine form. As a co-existent being with the Father and the Son,  the feminine nature of God is not cancelled out, but ratified as one of the beautiful facets of the Godhead.  In the genesis of womankind, the Father put Adam into a deep sleep and pulled from him a rib (translated from the original Hebrew as meaning, more accurately half of him;) pulling out the feminine nature of Adam and creating the new, feminine gender. The female form was NOT a separate being, but was designed, like the Trinity, to co-exist as mankind. The female gender was pulled from Adam because God the Father saw that it was not good that Adam was alone. 



 
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THIS is what a feminist looks like! (Behold the spit bubble on his tongue... THAT'S a feminist guy thing.)
I had fun taking pictures of my little guy, Julian today. Its so great that at six, he's able to break feminism down to fit his child-size understanding: things should be FAIR. He takes his feminism to school with him on the playground when he takes turns pushing his best friend, Alexandra, on the swings. They play together every day at recess, because they share a mutual desire to be treated with kindness. When Alexandra first came into his life, he was enchanted. When I asked him to describe her to me, he went all dreamy, and said, “She has a very, very beautiful heart. And, oh! Mama, she’s so kind!”

Julian is starting to become aware that because his best friend is a girl, some of the boys talk over her or push past her to the front of the line, but they don’t do that to him. Its difficult for me as a feminist to avoid using phrases like, “male entitlement,” which, as a mama, leave a bad taste in my mouth; as if saying them in some way indicates an inherent evil in my sons. Instead, I let my son lead, giving him the opportunity to understand his feelings about how Alexandra is treated differently. I see him struggle with anger in defense of his female friend. He makes declarative statements about how he honors her as a woman-child; he stands straight as his resolve to protect her right to be equal… for things to be fair. 


 
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***WARNING- POSSIBLE TRIGGERS***

I just finished reading The Yellow Wallpaper for a discussion in a feminist book club I just joined. I thought it would be so easy; there was a link for a free, downloadable PDF available through the Gutenberg Project, so I wouldn’t even have to shell out a few bucks, or worse, have to special order it after waiting until the last minute. The next day, I walked into my local free book exchange, and found a copy. The pages were still crisp and everything. I thought, “Score!” Since it was very short, only thirty-six pages, (not counting the afterward) I was able to off reading it in favor of another book I was excited to start. Less than an hour after I optimistically turned the first pages, I had reached the end.

I HATED that book.

I wanted to throw it across the room. I might still do it. Every time the husband, John, dismissed the wife (did she even HAVE a name? I’m assuming her personal worth does not necessitate an identifying factor, like a NAME) I had to use my utmost self-control and not rip the damn thing in half. My self-control was ADMIRABLE, above all things. NOBODY. GOT. HURT.



 
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I used to manage a quilting store, and I was fired for being a victim of domestic violence. WORSE, when I added my time with them to my employment experience on my resume when looking for a new job, the owner pretended she had no idea who I was when a prospective employer called for a reference. I helped build that store from the ground up, and the store's reputation fro being a fun, quirky place to shop was due to me. Its important to have laws that protect victims of domestic violence from job loss, but without the financial resources, family support, and a safe home environment free of abuse, taking legal action against a former employer who unlawfully fired a domestic violence victim is unlikely. 


 
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This free i-phone app was released in June of this year. Pink, hairless, and infantile, the character, Happy, seeks to liberate women from their sexual inhibitions by instructing them in techniques on female masturbation. Are women really so uncomfortable with their sexuality that they need a silly cartoon puss to make them feel safe "down there?" In the early days of women's liberation, masturbation apps were more commonly referred to as "examining-one's-one-vagina-in-the-company-of-other-women-with-your-panties-down-your-ankles-and-a-mirror-aimed-up-your-skirt." But, in an age where most women avoid seeing themselves fully undressed in a mirror without sucking in their abs, I begrudgingly look the other way.
http://www.happyplaytime.com/

 
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Feminism isn’t NICE.

There is no way in polite society I can discuss pro-feminist issues like a lady.

Imagine this scenario: a church potluck; families in their Sunday best, ignoring the slight discomfort of their full bellies , reclining, slightly in their folding chairs around long, out-dated banquet tables… to your left, Aunt Irma is starting to nod-off… on right side, a tired mother, holding a baby on her lap, watching lazily, as he throws his whole body weight into a failed grab for the food on her plate… children, running off their spare energy. The pastor has just given a very thought-provoking message on the blessings of tithing, and you feel inspired to study out the scriptures he used and increase your giving.

Just then, as you least suspect it, that crazy redhead across the table from you (that would be me) leans in your direction and says in a loud voice,

“Did you know that so-and-so’s daughter was acquaintance raped while walking back from the campus library last Wednesday? I understand she reported it to campus security, but after taking her report, she’s been on the receiving end of some pretty abusive comments and slut-shaming. I’m worried.  We should get involved!”

You won’t need to stretch yourself to imagine the abrupt silence that would follow.



 
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When I was in high school, a size eight was considered the perfect size for women. I was very slender from ballet, and when I quit, I added a size over the summer and got a lot of attention because of my tiny curves. I don't think I hit a size eight until after my first child was born. I stayed a constant size ten after giving birth to five kids. I generally reached about 190 lbs during my pregnancies... I was not one of those mamas with a perfect orb and a willowy frame.  I was a ripe, red, shiny apple, with long hair that was unmanageable because of pregnancy hormones, but I refused to cut it because it was so long and had taken me years to grow. I was BIG, and had long, stringy hair.