Our Progress Since 1959

I recently got back from vacationing with my wife. Among our many adventures in Nova Scotia, we stayed at the inn where she proposed to me, as is usual with our trips out east. The little inn shall remain unnamed, but they offer a small glass-door cupboard of books for guests to borrow, with a request to return for others to enjoy.

There were three or four shelves in a cupboard about two feet wide, so there weren’t a whole lot of books. It’s quite an eclectic mix, I must say. There were a few titles by L. Ron Hubbard, and several books in other languages. There was a 2006 – 2007 copy of Sunday Missal: Living with Christ and a small Lizzie McGuire chapter book.

But this immediately caught my eye: The New Illustrated Medical Encyclopedia For Home Use.

This beauty had four volumes, and looked old. I thought for sure it would be an entertaining read.

I brought it back to our room and delved in. It was published in 1959, back when having a medical encyclopedia for home use was a good idea and wouldn’t lead to chronic hypochondria.

The index was quite entertaining by itself.

themenopause
Not just any Menopause; THE Menopause.

Some of the information I encountered was progressive, and some of it was dated in that it was sexist, offensive, or incorrect. Or all of the above. Continue reading “Our Progress Since 1959”

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Independent Woman is Dating a Woman

(Originally posted on January 9, 2014 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Several weeks ago, I went to my first appointment with my therapist. I’ve done therapy before, but I had a new, pressing topic to discuss. Since coming out, I’ve been feeling guilty about my outward expression; how I dress, how I wear my hair, whether or not I choose to wear make up.

Growing up, I idolized my older brother. I wanted to be as good as he was at everything, wanted to eat my cereal as fast as he did, wanted to grow to be as tall as he was. After we both grew to our close-to adult sizes, I started wearing a lot of his hand-me-downs. I continue to favour baggier clothes than many women do, and continue to purchase men’s pants to this day. When I was fourteen, I stopped dance classes after almost ten years. I was tired of having my hair styled tightly into buns cemented in place with gel and hairspray, and I was tired of the thick stage make up. I withdrew from make up and had no terrible interest in putting great effort into my hair.

When I was about fifteen, a year after I stopped dancing, I started Taekwon-do and archery classes. I wore more men’s clothing, and I enjoyed being good at things that were predominantly ‘guy’ things, like martial arts and science. I actively avoided anything pink, as I didn’t want to be associated with anything that girly. It got more and more intense as I got older. I only wore men’s pants and refused to carry a purse, opting for a man wallet. I took a bow-hunting course and was one of only three or four women in a class of around twenty. I was proud just to be there as a woman, and when I turned out to have more natural talent at certain things, you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for days. I learned to drive a stick shift. I took welding classes. I was running my life under the motto of anything you can do, I can do better.

My dad has influenced me in this regard, as well. He has always been adamant that I should never need a man for anything – not to pay my bills, not to fix my car. I have done a lot of my own car maintenance, with my dad and brother showing me how to do it for next time. I’ve replaced my own brakes, done all my own oil changes, and I’ve changed a flat tire in a rainstorm. I see my financial and personal independence as a huge part of who I am, and will frequently deny help from others, especially men, with the phrase, ‘I’m an independent woman!’

Continue reading “Independent Woman is Dating a Woman”

No Monsters Here

Mothers-in-law are seemingly the stuff of nightmares: they are the antagonists of horror stories told between friends and coworkers, and as villains in pop-culture, right up there with evil step-mothers.

I’ve had my share of horror stories concerning the parents (especially mothers) of people I’ve dated. I dated a Filipino guy in high school, and his mother would lecture him – right in front of me – about how he should be dating a nice, Catholic, Asian girl. I am neither Catholic nor Asian. It was about as awkward as you’d expect.

My only multi-year relationship (aside from my wife) was with a Canadian-Indian son of immigrant parents. His parents refused to acknowledge me once we started dating, and for two and a half years I was not allowed at his house. He would never tell them when he was with me. His parents frequently pressured him to not only leave me, but also tried setting him up with other women.

This was all before I came out – imagine the reaction if I had been openly queer, too! So it only makes sense that wading into the queer community’s dating pool was a little intimidating, especially concerning parents of prospective partners. Continue reading “No Monsters Here”

CLEXA: The Best Ship That Ever Shipped

Arrr ye matey, tharr be spoilers ahead!

A quick recap:

It’s been 97 years since a planet-wide nuclear war. A very small percentage of humanity escaped into space, and has since been biding time in The Ark, a space station orbiting post-apocalypse earth. It is ruled with the iron fist of the democratically elected chancellor, and any rule breakers above the age of 18 are “floated” – sent out an air lock to their death, floating into frozen space. Under-age rule breakers are kept confined, awaiting a retrial on their 18th birthday, when they will either rejoin The Ark’s society, or be floated.

The air starts running out on The Ark. Dramatic, drastic measures are taken but little time is gained for the inhabitants of The Ark. There proves to be a chance that Earth is becoming habitable again, so the decision is made to send the juvenile delinquents down to Earth as an experiment. With futuristic FitBits locked to their wrists, 100 good-looking teens are shot down to Earth. The bracelets let The Ark know how their bodies react to the climate – and radiation – on Earth.

No surprise, it turns out to be habitable. The JDs get all Lord of the Flies and a primitive culture and leadership develops. One of these leaders is Clarke, a relatively goody-two-shoes who tries to maintain her moral high ground, but finds herself quickly devolving with the rest of the no-good kids.

But for a select number of people, it’s been habitable the entire time humanity has been waiting it out in space. In “modern” society’s absence, a primitive, tribal culture has developed. These are the Grounders. The JDs are the Sky People. Season one is basically Sky People vs Grounders. But then the adults from The Ark come to earth, and shit gets real. Continue reading “CLEXA: The Best Ship That Ever Shipped”

Bisexual Monogamy

(Originally posted on May 7, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I’ve noticed something since coming out, and I’m not sure if I should be bothered by it or not. I can’t say it’s a trend – can two people be a trend? – but coupled with other bisexual experiences I’ve read about, it seems to be a thing I can’t escape by the very nature of my sexual orientation.

I have officially dated two people since coming out, both of them have been men. Both of them knew I am bisexual, both of them knew my experience with women is limited, and both of them kept insisting I should explore my sexuality by dating women on the side.

I suppose now is a good time to clarify that I am very much a monogamous person. I can’t even casually go on a date with one person one week and a different person the next, unless I’ve completely ruled out the first person. I think I make this clear, as a general rule, to those I get beyond the point of casual dating with. I can’t focus on more than one person at a time to that degree; trying to maintain and further intimate relationships with multiple people would exhaust me.

Yet since coming out, the men I’ve dated have insisted I should carry on with what are essentially – in my mind – affairs! There have been arguments about it, like these straight men know what’s best for me as a bisexual woman and I’m obviously deluded about how bisexuality works. Neither of them wanted a free pass to also date women on the side, and neither seemed bothered by the idea of me forming intimate physical and emotional relationships with women. Continue reading “Bisexual Monogamy”

Microaggression

(Originally written on April 3, 2015.)

The other day Mo and I had to take our new car in for service at the dealership where we bought it last year (it shall remain unnamed). We got the usual oil change, and our winter tires were swapped for summer tires. I dropped the car off at the dealership in the morning and as I waited for the shuttle to come back to take me to work, I realized I had forgotten my purse at home. With some texting back and forth with Mo, we figured that the shuttle could pick her up after work instead of me, and then she could cover the bill.

The shuttle driver was an older gentleman who got talking with the other customer in the van about ice fishing on the drive over. When we arrived at my stop, he asked if he would be picking me up at the same location. I told him no, he’d be picking up “my fiancée”. I told him where she works, with mild emphasis on the pronoun. He then asked, “so when will I be picking up your friend?”

Microaggressions like this serve to remind me that not everyone is as accepting of my relationship and my identity as my family and friends have been. It wasn’t scary, and it didn’t ruin my day. It was definitely awkward, though. The driver refused to acknowledge the relationship I had specifically spelled out for him. People tend to take pride in their relationships. Amberly isn’t just my friend, she is my best friend. In having that title, a certain meaning and history to our relationship is conveyed to people who don’t know her. Mo isn’t my friend, she is my fiancée. She is the woman I intend to marry, and spend the rest of my life with. If you are in a heterosexual marriage, and you introduced your spouse to someone, and that person then called him or her your “friend”, do you think you might be a little confused? Miffed? Maybe offended? Would you correct the person?

There are many places in the world where being queer is very dangerous, and looking at our closest neighbour, I can see that living in Canada – even Alberta – is preferable to much of the United States. But the way politics are, and the stances that the right-wing political parties in Alberta have taken on some recent issues like religious freedom, and gay-straight alliances in schools, I am wary of things changing for the worse. How big are the steps between no gay straight alliances in schools, and being turned away at my doctor’s office when treating me violates the religious beliefs of my doctor?

In the end, we got a ride with one of Mo’s coworkers, and didn’t need the shuttle. We wouldn’t have taken it even if we had.


Author

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The Same-Sex Choice

“Many lesbians and gay men believe that bisexuals have less commitment to “the community”, and that whatever a lesbian or gay man might have to offer to their bisexual partner will not be enough to outweigh the external benefits offered to those who are in heterosexual relationships. […] What gets lost in the fear is the fact that same-sex relationships also offer benefits not available in heterosexual relationships: the absence of scripted gender roles, freedom from unwanted pregnancy, the ease of being with someone with more similar social conditioning, and so on.”

Robyn Ochs, “Biphobia”

From Getting Bi, Second Edition.

I’m sure part of me will always be suspicious of my queerness. Since my wife has been the only woman I’ve been in a relationship with, when I think of dating women vs. men, something makes me pause and wonder if it’s women, or just Mo. But then I remind myself that gender is a huge part of someone’s identity, so it’s impossible to look at it as women or Mo.

Either way, the selection above from Robyn Ochs’ piece really hit me.

While not really an activist in my feminism, I am nonetheless staunchly feminist with regards to my life. In all my dealings with men – family, friends, lovers – I have always felt the need to prove myself as equal. I had to be just as tough, just as strong, just as handy. My father frequently told me as I grew up that he wanted me to be able to get through life not needing a man for anything; not to house me, not to pay my bills, not to fix my car. This became my mantra for life: not needing a man. Anything a man could do, I could do just as well, if not better. My older brother fueled my competitive drive. Dressing more and more masculine as I entered high school, I veered towards sports like Taekwon-do, archery, and cycling. I refused anything pink, wore mostly men’s clothing, and started an almost annual tradition of chopping my long hair off. Continue reading “The Same-Sex Choice”

A Wife By Any Other Name

It seems to me, especially given my own experience, that women can get away with homoerotic behaviours far more than men can. Before – and since – coming out, I’ve made comments about my attraction to women and have had it accepted without the batting of a single eye. Many women talk about their female friends as girlfriends in a completely platonic fashion. Even confessed crushes have been brushed aside with nonchalant waves; intense feelings of attraction towards women apparently being a common occurrence amongst even the straightest of women. Continue reading “A Wife By Any Other Name”

Copycat Queer

Fifteen years ago, I became a vegetarian.

I’d never really liked meat, unless it was a neatly trimmed chicken breast or the hyper processed junk you get at McDonald’s or other fast food places. Juicy homemade burgers made me gag. I had little interest in steak. I hated pork, and would nip tiny bites into the back of my mouth, swallowing them whole just to avoid tasting it or feeling its texture.

We had family stay with us during summer when I was young – aunt, uncle, and cousin. For medical reasons, they had adopted a vegetarian diet, so we provided as much vegetarian fare as possible. Before this, I had no idea you could opt out of eating meat. I learned a few years later from my cousin that my mother had taken her aside to ask her not to encourage me towards vegetarianism. But the desire not to eat meat was already strong in me. I became vegetarian shortly after their visit, to my parents’ dismay. Continue reading “Copycat Queer”