Activism

Feminist writer Darrah de jour shares her perspective on the latest in activism and her interviews with world leaders and environmental heroes.

Asking for Help: Why Is It So Hard?

Help! I need somebody. Not just anybody. 

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Back in 1965, the Beatles crooned about needing somebody — anybody — to save them from what John Lennon would later tell Playboy was the incomprehensible Beatles fame. “I was subconsciously crying out for help,” Lennon admitted. While most of us will never reach the heights of fame that they did, we have issues and problems that are just as valid, important and needing of attention as celebrities. There are misconceptions about asking for help. Many women and mothers are silently screaming and suffering, but are too proud or unsure of how and when to ask for help.

Sometimes, asking for help can be confusing. I remember being fifteen and a half and first learning about feminism. I was startled by Gloria Steinem’s quote, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I kept moving it around in my head like a lumbering lesson; trying to find meaning in it. Why would a fish and a bicycle be in the same sentence? Is needing a man bad? Do I need a man? Should I need a man? It was so convoluted and I was scared to admit it felt foreign. Instead, I declared it proudly, and then waited to see how the people I loved reacted. My mother thought it was ludicrous. My father resented it. My guy friends laughed. My female friends nodded. The only problem with this quote and my clumsy interpretation of it, was that, it ended up resembling a Rubik’s Cube and I was never fully able to make all of the colors line up. So when I needed help: be it at work after graduation, while carrying heavy boxes of Xerox paper, or worse, when I found myself in over my head as a drug addict, I thought only the weak sought out help. Instead, I happily chirped, “I am woman, hear me roar!” while my back cracked beneath the weight of too many paper reams, or my hair fell out while I spun out on a speed bender.

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After I had my daughter, via C-section, I was pretty much incapable of even getting up to go pee in the middle of the night. I had to rely on my partner to come around to my side and grab my elbow and lift me. I remember my hero of an OB tell me, “Don’t be proud. Ask for help.” She was trying to kill that part of me (and, assumably, other women) that would rather hold their pee or bust their stitches than shove their baby-daddies awake at 2am. My stomach was numb for months and my C-section scar took a year+ to thin out and stop feeling like a burn. During that time, I got stuck in the couch like a deer in quicksand more times than I’d like to admit. But, I did ask for help. Because it’s been over a decade since I was a seventeen-year-old drug addict, and it’s been at least a few years since I realized something else: I do need men. And, I do need other women. For help. For guidance. For emotional stability. For maturity. For fun. For role-modeling. For everything I didn’t get when I was younger and for some things I couldn’t embrace before now.

Having struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a child, I have become an expert at hiding or “hibernating” as I like to call it. This worked for a long, long time. I was able to calm my inner storms and control my external environment. Now, it works in limited capacity. Now, I need company, a pep talk, or to be lifted out of my dark room and that’s just the way it goes. What served me before doesn’t serve me now. I need to trust the change and go with the flow of who I have metamorphosed into. I need to honor my current incarnation.

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Don’t forget to breathe!

My daughter goes to Children’s Hospital for treatment for a genetic condition that has caused her muscles to develop at a slower pace than her peers. This can be isolating for me because I have trouble interacting with mothers of typically-developing children. I love my daughter more than anything in this life. And, while at CHLA or other providers, we are in a friendly environment for her distinct needs. She’s a trooper and I’m her cheerleader. But, with my mommy friends, we stick out. And, I resent the questioning looks and outright nosiness of people who want to know why she is more petite or not walking yet. I’m still navigating this. It’s hard to ask for help in this area.

After a particularly difficult day that found me in bed in the dark by my daughter’s early bedtime, I hit a bottom that gave birth to a realization. Perhaps, being of service to other moms and their unique situations will help? To put that idea in action, I started a social support group for parents of special needs children. I am hopeful that this will connect me with others that have similar gifts of unique parenthood and I can find out how they interface with other moms. To be clear, I wouldn’t trade my situation for anything, I’m simply learning how to steer the car better.

Speaking of being of service, at CHLA recently, I was in the bathroom when I saw a mother who was struggling with her two-month old baby girl. She was trying to juggle her stroller, the change table, and using the bathroom herself. Finally, she patted her daughter on the stomach and looked at me (she didn’t speak English) as if to say, “I’m leaving her here while I go use the toilet.” I gestured to her that I would watch her daughter. That she didn’t need to put her child in jeopardy. That she could breathe a sigh of relief for a few minutes and trust that everything would be fine. She smiled so big the bathroom’s florescent bulbs shimmered off her teeth.

Whenever I see a mom, a woman — or a man — in need of help (I have rescued a few old men from the side of the street having fallen) I try to rise to the occasion. And, when I need help, especially if I’m feeling blue and can’t seem to navigate the fog by myself, I’m learning to surrender to the divine connection we all have. We are one. And as fabulous as we are, sometimes, we need help. And that’s totally OK!

Liked this essay? Please share it! And let’s be friends! FacebookTwitter & Instagram

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Red Pill – A new documentary explores the Men’s Rights Movement

Cassie Jaye - The Red Pill

Cannes award-winning documentary filmmaker Cassie Jaye (Daddy I Do) has traveled the country documenting members of the controversial, mostly online, group The Men’s Rights Movement or MRAs for her feature documentary The Red Pill.

Heralding Alice’s fall down the “rabbit hole”, the feminist filmmaker follows the MRAs to protests, sits with them in their homes and delves into issues such as circumcision, abortion, incarceration, suicide, father’s rights and birth control, to name a few. She also interviews leading feminists for the other side’s take on gender politics.The journey makes Jaye question her own beliefs.

Cassie says, “I’m very excited to start sharing my third feature documentary “The Red Pill” with the world, but we still need to raise finishing funds. I hope you’ll support our Kickstarter campaign and help spread the word!”

While VERY pregnant, I was interviewed for The Red Pill, representing the “feminist” half of this groundbreaking new film. Hearing some of the unique perspectives of men I’d never met, and engaging in an hours-long conversation with Jaye made me reexamine a lot of my own longstanding feminist beliefs, and further embrace my life’s mission statement: to attain unity with men and more compassion for all beings. It raised questions I still don’t have answers to, and personally — I can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!

PLEASE share this on your Facebook and Twitter, pin it to your Pinterest and of course, donate to RED PILL’s Kickstarter page!            Every $ counts! 😉 Thanks for your support! XOX

Sound intriguing? Follow Red Pill on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

[THE RED PILL]

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Women and HIV/AIDS: Reality & Hope

New darrahdejour.com contributor Jennifer Sawyer shares information with us about the current state of HIV/AIDS as it affects women in America. 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Founded in 2006, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created with the intent to bring awareness to women and girls fighting HIV/AIDS all over the world. In partnering with volunteers, the foundation strives to educate the public on two aspects: Prevention methods and the plight of those suffering from the disease.

What You Need to Know

The spread of HIV/AIDS is still prevalent in today’s society, and many women aren’t getting the care they need. As noted by the Center for Disease Control, even though one in four of those suffering from HIV are women, many of those diagnosed will go on suffering without proper treatment.

“Although most (88%) of women living with HIV in 2011 were aware of their infection, less than half of them (45%) were engaged in medical care,” the CDC reported.

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Reasons for the lack of treatment can vary. In some of the less developed parts of the world, the complex medications and skilled care required to fight the disease simply aren’t available. Sometimes, even when medicine and care are available, many patients cannot afford the hefty price tag that comes with them.

Perhaps just as heartbreaking, some women actually make the conscious decision to obtain from treatment, even when help is available and affordable. According to WomensHealth.gov, “Even when they know their status, about 1 in 4 women postpone medical care because of barriers such as family, depression, or threat of partner violence.”

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helps give these women a voice, especially the ones who can’t speak for themselves.

SAFE SEX

How You Can Protect Yourself

Avoid becoming another statistic, and diligently practice preventative methods. No matter your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, if you’re sexually active, you can contract HIV/AIDS and other STIs. When engaging in any kind of sexually activity, it’s critical that you use protection.

As explained in the Safer Sex
Guide from AdamEve.com
, practicing abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent safe. However, using latex condoms significantly decreases the likelihood of the disease transmitting between partners, making it a relatively “low-risk” activity. They advise that condoms should be used during oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. Always use the appropriate protection during each activity (male or female prophylactics) and use a fresh prophylactic during each intimate act with every partner.

The only way to know for sure that you do or do not have HIV/AIDS is to get tested. If you’re sexually active, see your doctor, and get tested regularly. Visit AIDS.gov today for more information, and see what you can do to spread awareness and support the cause!

Editor’s Note: One of darrahdejour.com’s favorite sex education and conversation sites is Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World

Jennifer Sawyer is a full-time student studying Public Health, and residing in Boston. She fills every free moment she has consuming coffee, writing to-do lists, and promoting sexual health in all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Follow her on Twitter.

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Activists Stand On Shaky Ground

Activists fight daily against oppression in myriad ways. Whether you are defending the rights of animals; taking sides in the “War on Terror” or trying your damnedest to legalize marijuana, you risk burnout. pattrice jones’s new book Aftershock aims to help pro-active peaceful warriors with activist overwhelm.  It includes practical tips for individuals, organizations, and communities, as well as info about how traumatic events affect our bodies (read: PTSD).

Don’t let your passions break you. As an animal lover and vegetarian since a teenager, I’ve passionately mounted ideas and movements, like environmentalism, recycling, HIV/AIDS fundraising, etc. only to become burdened by the sadness that surrounds these heavy issues. I look forward to delving into Aftershock. If you pick it up, leave me a note and let me know if it helped!

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‘Masterminds & Wingmen’ – New SuicideGirls Interview!

Hi all,

I know I’ve been naughty about keeping in touch! But, I’ve emerged from the ethers. 😉 This interview (my first in nine months!) was so worth the wait – I promise! Speaking to Rosalind Wiseman, bestselling author of Queen Bees & Wannabes, the inspiration behind Tina Fey’s Mean Girls movie, was truly eye-opening. This time around, she turns the spotlight on boys. With the help of hundreds of tweens and teens, Wiseman covers the art of social war for guys, including hook up culture, locker room talk, violent video games, and their deep emotional life. Please read, comment and share on your social networks and send it to friends, parents and educators you know. Anybody who has boys in their life!

XOX

Masterminds & Wingmen Author Rosalind Wiseman Talks Hooking Up, Raising Better Boys and How To Deal With Cyber Bullies

by Darrah de jour

Masterminds & Wingmen from James M. Edwards on Vimeo.

Author Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book Queen Bees & Wannabes was the inspiration for the film Mean Girls,Tina Fey’s hilarious and dead-on satire of high school hierarchies. Back when Lindsay Lohan could sincerely portray a wide-eyed new girl on campus, we all related as she struggled to fit in, be herself, and decode the oft confusing and conniving girl world. In Wiseman’s latest work, she turns her attention to boys; breaking the guy code for parents, educators and young men themselves. With suicide and incarceration rates of boys averaging five to eight times those of girls, this boy bible is needed more than ever. Revealing their capacity for deep emotional life, Wiseman, a foremost anti-bullying activist, offers an important foundation to better understand and communicate with today’s boys.

Darrah de jour: How did you get started as an educator and social justice advocate?

Rosalind Wiseman: Strangely enough, I started by teaching self defense to girls, shortly after I graduated from college. I fell into it, and started a non-profit. I very quickly got to a place of wanting to address the root causes of violence. I went into where girls and boys were and I ran a non-profit for about ten years. I wrote a curricula for social competence, bullying prevention, media literacy and ethical leadership that’s used in many schools and organizations to this day.

DDJ: I remember taking self defense and it had such a powerful effect on me. It even changed my dreams.

RW: Yes, makes sense to me. It’s so fundamental [to] our sense of power and self agency over our bodies. So, if we change that, and feel better about it, it really changes the way we walk through the world.

DDJ: Something particularly unique about your method of relating to teens is that you provide a safe space for them to share their stories and feelings. I remember after the Columbine shooting, when asked what he’d say to the shooters, Marilyn Manson famously replied, “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d listen to them. Which nobody else did.” What drew you to working with tweens and teens –– especially with relation to hot topics like bullying, self-esteem and cliques?

RW: This has been the only job I’ve ever had. I graduated from college and started working on these issues. Very quickly, as a young person in her early 20s, I was struck by how many adults were giving advice but weren’t listening to the kids. So the advice was not helpful. It was not reflective of what the kids were going through. It could be very patronizing. It’s an amazing thing to have to listen to advice from somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. And if you try and argue or present a different point of view it’s perceived by some adults as being disrespectful. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand that we were teaching children but we were not doing our due diligence to present them with the best information possible. That included listening to them.

Read the rest at SuicideGirls Blog.

Reprinted by GirlieGirl Army.

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Girls Rising

On Sunday, June 16 at 6pm PST, CNN will broadcast an original documentary by Academy Award winning director Richard E. Robbins, award-winning Documentary Group, Vulcan Productions and Intel Corporation called Girl Rising – a feature film about the power of education to change a girl — and the world.

Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez and other A-list actresses contribute voice performances to the film, which features original music from Academy Award winner Rachel Portman, in collaboration with Hans Zimmer.

The film spotlights unforgettable girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from the dumps of Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who composes music to help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian “pavement-dweller” whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter’s dreams. Each girl is paired with a renowned writer from her native country. Edwidge Danticat, Sooni Taraporevala Aminatta Forna and others tell the girls’ stories, all with profound resonance.

The obstacles they have faced are ubiquitous. Like the 66 million girls around the world who dream of going to school, what Sokha, Suma, Ruksana and the rest want most is to learn. And now, by sharing their personal journeys, they have become teachers.

Visit www.girlrising.com to learn how to bring Girl Rising to your local theater and support them on Facebook.


[YOUTUBE]

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Flashback Thursday ~ The Vagina Monologues (Video)

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[Vagina]

Here’s li’l me performing “Because He Liked To Look At It” as part of The Vagina Monologues in ’08 at the Directors Guild of America. Please “like” and subscribe for more of my youtube vids!

Hi guys! Here’s a flashback vid in celebration of the recently passed International Women’s Day. Hopefully, these candid conversation about gender and sex will educate the likes of Poland, Egypt, Muslim countries and the Vatican who are in talks with the UN, using “religion, custom and tradition” as a defense to leave women unprotected against violence. (Talk about an unholy alliance! The Vatican is in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood – let’s take that in for a second.) Think their reasoning is a load of bull? Support TVM playwright Eve Ensler’s charity V-Day, which educates, raises funds and helps women in the global movement for peace.

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White Smoke? Forgive me if I don’t care for the Papacy and Here’s Why

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Wow! Those are a lot of white heads!

Here is a verbatim news telecast from 1989, when over 1.2 million people had died worldwide from AIDS: “AIDS is now the leading cause of death for men under forty in New York and a half dozen other cities. Surpassing homicide and all other diseases. Yet, Roman Catholic Bishops are meeting this week, to publicly oppose the use of condoms as morally unacceptable. This puts them in direct opposition to U.S. public health policy.”

As New York City’s Archbishop John Cardinal O’Connor put it, “The use of prophylactic is immoral in a pluralistic society or any other society.”

In a time when AIDS patients who died in hospitals were placed in black trash bags by hospital staff, and ACT-UP had to fight the FDA tooth and nail for anti-viral drugs, the Catholic Church was busy telling homosexuals and others affected by AIDS to shut up, that they are sinners and to repent. They still insist on hiding their heads in the sand, denying their followers and citizens true public health information, preferring instead to instruct the sheep of the world not to protect themselves against the deadly transmission of HIV and other STDs.

In more positive news~ a new girlfriend of mine in Nor Cal is a progressive Episcopilian priest, and was just offered a killer job that pays well, where she’ll be part of a family of believers that understands and embraces all kinds of diversity. This is perfect timing, as her father is suffering from cancer and she’s taken on the responsibility of caring for him. Please pray for her dad, and celebrate Her today as she leads with light and truth.

Wanna be proud of a group of committed citizens that doesn’t hide inside the Vatican or tax-free institutions? That doesn’t separate men and women, straight and gay, healthy and sick? ACT-UP – New York City’s self-assembled warriors for PWAs (People With AIDS) has spent three decades changing the face of the disease and finding hope where there was none. Because of their humbling and life-altering efforts, AIDS is now considered a disease, instead of a death sentence. And, with new discoveries being made everyday, the cure for HIV/AIDS may come in our lifetime!

Let’s take nothing for granted! Watch the trailer for Academy Award nominated “How To Survive A Plague” below and find out how hard patients fought for trials, experiments and funding. Wanna do something? Donate to AIDS Alliance.org today.

[How To Survive A Plague]

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What’s New in the News?

If Zac Efron Does It?

As promised, I will do drive-by-newsings from time to time to let y’all in on what I’m reading, and what’s happening in this fine world we share!

If Zac Efron Does It?

Here’s the scoop:

Lisa Ling gets kinky on her new show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, exploring BDSM’s underworld.

Taylor Swift holds boys accountable for their dating trespasses and Michael J. Fox doesn’t like it.

Leann Rimes yet again discusses her marriage to Eddie Cibrian, their cheating scandal – this time referencing suicide, how pathetic she was, and how her “body wouldn’t let her stop.”

(1) I wonder if public opinion would change if Cibrian appeared alone or alongside her on one of these shows? 2) How much would the public love her more if she had denied his advances or taken the high road and exited the affair even with a broken marriage – her own – ending in divorce?)

Animal rights activist and phenomenal painter Gretchen Ryan appeared on the Ricki Lake show to offer a very public apology to the driver of a Jeep who, years ago, tragically drove off a cliff leaving her paralyzed. She also stars in a viral video called “My Story” directed by Ari Solomon.

A Swedish Toys “R” Us catalog erases gender imbalance in toys. Now girls can shoot plastic Uzi’s too!

Speaking of plastic, here’s more on the photo Zac Efron doesn’t want you to see involving a dildo or five.

In what might be the most awesome stunt ever, two Dutch TV hosts, Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno undergo simulated labor contractions (sans delivery). If only they had to pass a baby the size of a watermelon out a tiny hole…

(For reals, I do wonder if empathy is the missing link in unity between women and men. Fathers have told me that only after they experienced the magic and mystery of their gf’s or wive’s becoming goddess mothers did their opinion of women become fully realized. It reminds me of the episode of The Tudors when King Henry VIII had zero part in the delivery of Anne Boleyn‘s baby, except to check if it was a boy. The polar opposite of what prompted Flea to name Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album “Mother’s Milk” and sit in awe of his wife after the birth of their baby. It’s that front row seat to femininity with her wings spread amass – as opposed to fearing it, or being separate from it – that changes men. And, it’s that uncommon empathy that would make men better lovers and more vocal advocates of protecting women from sexual assault. Really, dudes, your silence on this issue has been deafening. Women need you. You have a lot of power here, so please help us by joining and initiating this conversation!) Off soap box. 😉

Traveling will no longer include flashing TSA your naughty bits.

Closing on a sweet note! Calling all East Coast expatriates! Dunkin’ Donuts plans to open 150 stores in Southern California. Herald the five pounds I recently lost from my hips… :/ Pssst… in case you were wondering… their blueberry muffins with actual bits of sugar on top are forever my vice.

Have a splendid weekend! xox

Leann Rimes Gets Honest About Her Affair in New Song, Borrowed

What do you think? Is Leann Rimes being brave by playing the role of “Super Mistress” and speaking up about the ins & outs of having an affair with a married man? Or, should she shut up already, cuz, she won the man? And… is ex-wife Brandi Glanville’s anger misdirected? Or, should Leann have shown some kind of sisterhood to a woman she never met?

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Red, White and Femme: Who’s Your Guru? Sex Crimes and Small Town Exaltation of Athletes

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By Darrah Le Montre

UPDATE 3/17/2013: The two defendants in the Steubenville, OH rape case have been found “delinquent” on all three charges. Delinquent is the equivalent of guilty in juvenile court. Read the full story here.

UPDATE: I’m honored to announce that my article has been chosen as Recommended Reading for High Schools across the nation!

On August 11/12th of last year, a 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, was allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulted by members of Steubenville High School’s almighty Big Red Football team. When the story subsequently broke worldwide, it divided a small town and forced us to question the future of our men.

A self-described member of a group that call themselves the “Rape Crew,” Nodianos, or “Nodi” as his teammates call him, starred in an incriminating, vile smart phone video that was posted to YouTube on the night of the alleged assault, then taken down, then reposted to the web by KnightSec and Commander X, who are both affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivist hive. This video features “Nodi” – who clearly borders on sociopathic – maniacally laughing and apparently providing a play-by-play of the repeated gang rape of the 16-year old female victim. During the course of his commentary, he frequently refers to her as the “dead body.”

Events like this force people out of their copacetic, pacified state of separateness, and push us to admit we are all connected. Transgressions like these beg questions about social responsibility, technology’s role in our lives, who is teaching what to our children, what it means to be a father and mother, and why we are even debating whether unconscious means consensual.

Read the rest at: SUICIDEGIRLS BLOG

This article was reprinted by GIRLIEGIRL ARMY.

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