An important message: Consent still applies to pregnant ladies

The following is from my dear friend affectionately known as Nurse Nathalie, or @howetolove on the Twittersphere:

This maternity shirt was lovingly given to me by an amazing coworker as a jest to my disdain for people touching my belly since being pregnant, but it brings forward the important concept of consent. A wise nurse once modelled to me the importance of obtaining consent from a patient before ever touching her breasts, abdomen, or private areas before an exam, and since then, I’ve always tried to model this for newer staff. It may seem like the abdomen is a normal place to touch or rub a pregnant woman, but truthfully, would you do that to anyone else? I believe that usually it is an area reserved for a consensual intimate relationship, and that fact doesn’t change in pregnancy just because a baby is kicking away. It’s not that you CAN’T touch a pregnant belly, but more that you should gain consent before doing so, even if already implied to close friends, immediate family, and your partner. Imagine for a second, a woman who had been sexually assaulted at some point in her life; a point where consent was taken away from her. Imagine bringing those feelings back, even if your touch was well-intentioned. This is why you have to ask, and respect the answer immediately. This is not a hormone fueled rant, but more a peaceful, thought provoking piece on consent, based on my observations and feelings so far as a pregnant woman.

I know many, many times over how amazing it is to share in the life being created by a woman during pregnancy, but if you weren’t invited to do so, all you have to do is ask. :) <3

can't touch this

Messy inside

Oh yeah I’m a reaper man
Every good thing, I kill it good
Oh yeah I’m a hooligan
Out in the street making a mess

Fuck yeah I’m a deviant
When I go to the store I go undressed
Oh yeah I’m a sexy mess
Go on the date just to get the dress off

How’d I ever get so off my rocks?
How’d I ever get so lost
Everybody out there on the job
But not me

Oh, but not me

Oh yeah I’m an ugly mess
Not in the face, but in the head
I’m thinking that was best not said
But I say it anyway, then I say it again

They took a little look at my brain,
they come to find, all is sane
They took a little look at my heart
They found a prince living behind bars

How’d I ever get so off my rocks?
How’d I ever get so lost
Everybody out there on the job, but not me oh no
How’d I ever get so indiscreet, how’d I ever get so freakly
Everybody out there on a leash
But not me


I know I got no choice, got no choice, but to love myself
I know I got no choice, got no choice, but to love myself
God knows, you got no choice, got no choice, but to love yourself
God knows, I got no choice, got no choice, got no choice

How’d I ever get so off my rocks?
How’d I ever get so lost (who knows)
Everybody out there on the job, but not me oh no
How’d I ever get so indiscreet, how’d I ever get so freakly
Everybody out there on a leash
But not me

Oh, but not me

(Reaper Man by Mother Mother)

I have a confession to make. When my life gets out of control, I don’t eat. And when I don’t eat, I don’t have enough calories to keep me asleep at night. And when I can’t sleep, I slip into really bad anxiety and then I get sad. It’s hard to make rational decisions when I’m sleep deprived, and it’s not an easy cycle for me to break. Every now and then a song comes along and sticks to you like the gluey residue from an old BandAid, that was Reaper Man for me. I identify with the above lyrics, probably more than is healthy.

I start to wonder if this is my new normal, but then I look back and think how did I get in this place? Is this forever? Has anyone noticed how fucked up this is? You better believe people notice when you’ve become a shell of your former self. I try to hide when I am unwell inside, but it seeps out in the most interesting, and sometimes outlandish, ways. I can’t keep this shit inside, no matter how hard I try.

I know what it is like to be weird inside. I know what it is to be fucked up and make a bad decision or two, or three, or four. I know the self-loathing that comes with making bad decisions, feeling like you don’t deserve the good things in life, entrenching further and further that I am not a good person. In my experience, forgiving and loving yourself again and again is hard work and seems so far out of reach at times.

This I know: I’m a strong woman and I have won many battles on my own, but depression and anxiety are not one of them. I have relied on a therapist and a doctor more than once in my life, and I continually count on a vast support network. People are fallible. Oh God, am I ever fallible. My struggles with depression and anxiety are not over; at the moment I just happen to be on even ground. I know the signs, and I know earlier and earlier when things start to slip for me. But it still happens.

I am human, I am fallible, I am imperfect, I make bad decisions, I hurt people. I don’t pretend to be anything more than this, because I’m not.

I eat well and I exercise because I know I need to take care of my body. I feel like this is a general rule we’re all aware of, because society talks about it all the time. But not enough people talk about taking care of our mental health. You’d go to a doctor if something in your body hurt or malfunctioned, so why do we sweep a mental health crisis under the rug and hope that it goes away on its own? Why is one kind of medical care covered by our government’s provided medical system but one isn’t? Why are they any different?

Unless people talk about it, there won’t be a push for a mental health strategy. I don’t love that it takes a corporation like Bell to get the conversation started, but something needs to happen to make mental health matter. If Bell is willing to help encourage us to speak up and keep the conversation going, it’s a step in the right direction. Talking about it drops the stigma.

I’m a little messed up, but when it comes down to it, we all are. I’m just willing to talk about it.
And I hope it encourages you to talk about this kind of stuff too. I’m here.

An open letter to Jian Ghomeshi, written by Ro

Jian Ghomeshi is raging through my mind this morning.

Maybe it’s because my family is embroiled in its own baseless legal battle where innocent and good people are being dragged through the mud, but Jian Ghomeshi is the scum of the earth.

Dear Jian,

What you did was WRONG and you tried to cover your tracks by puffing out your chest and intimidating people into silence. You hired a big PR firm because once again, you believed that if you beat people down hard enough, they would slither away, like so many of the women that you preyed upon. You used your pseudo-celebrity status to dazzle young women, and then you hurt them and shamed them into silence. You are a predator.

You should have to pay the CBC back for the legal expenses you incurred, but I feel like you owe the CBC far more than $18,000. Your claims were baseless, and while you were being an asshole, you continued to further victimize the women you abused and led your fan base to believe that you were innocent. The damage that you have incurred is priceless, and no amount of money is going to make any of those women feel safe and whole again.

So many of your fans stood up for you and cried for your innocence. You made a mockery of thousands of Canadians. You used your dead father to garner sympathy. You victim shamed innocent women and you called them jilted exes. You attempted to manipulate the situation, and for once, it backfired tremendously.

Everyday people like you walk away from situations like this, unscathed. In your wake you were willing to leave honest and truthful people to rot in the web of lies you’ve created to keep yourself elevated. You disgust me to the core.

Enjoy the legal process, you coward. Enjoy having your words used against you and having holes poked into everything you’ve ever said. Privacy is no longer yours, and you too, can enjoy what it’s like to feel little and helpless like so many of the people you’ve silenced over the years.

Fuck you.

From Rochele, on behalf of Canadians everywhere

I’m angry

I am angry that dress codes exist.

I’m angry that someone’s religion trumps a woman’s right to decide how she uses her body and what she does or does not put in it.

I’m angry that I get a sick feeling when I have to walk past a group of men.

I’m angry that little girls are told to be modest and that taking pride in their body and displaying it will be too tempting to a man. Girls, you are not the problem and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are.

I’m angry that most men will never, ever understand how degrading it is to be cat-called or leered at.

I’m angry that a woman is a slut if she sleeps with a man/men outside of a relationship.

I’m angry about slut-shaming in general; why are you forcing your insecurity on others?

I’m angry that Hobby Lobby was taken seriously at all. I’m furious that it passed.

I’m angry that women get asked, “What were you wearing?” after they were raped.

I’m angry that someone I know was touched without her permission on public transit.

I’m angry that someone I know was raped by a friend of a friend on the way home from a party. I’m angry that she didn’t report it.

I’m angry that ANYONE feels entitled to a woman’s body in any way, shape, or form. She is not yours to tell how to dress, how to smile, what shape her body should be, what she can and cannot put in her body, how to use it or not use it.

I’m angry that I feel the need to change my outfit because it’s a bit too sexy or that I’m showing a lot of skin.

I’m angry that when I am mad or upset it’s akin to being crazy or hysterical. Dramatic, sure. Crazy I am not.

I’m angry that women are taught to be uncomfortable in their skin.

I’m angry that I don’t feel safe taking transit at night time because I’m a woman.

I’m angry that if I assert myself and say no that I’m a bitch.

I’m mostly angry because I don’t know how to change any of it. Be the change you want to see in the world, but how? I’m angry because I feel helpless.


The biological deadline

Once again I find that being a young woman has its disadvantages.

I feel like I’ve been given a very small window to accomplish everything that I need to- if I want to have children. And I do. But not yet. For all the non-breeders, I can truly appreciate why you chose not to have children and I envy that you are not limited to what I am about to discuss.

Men have all the time in the world to go to school, get their careers off the ground and then start a family. I am not discounting all the loving men and husbands that are standing by their women as they make these decisions when the biological clock gets forced on you. But they can delay procreation for as long as they want. I’m sure the quality of their sperm deteriorates as they age, but not like a women’s eggs. Men continually produce sperm (sometimes at an alarming rate.)

Girls are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, and after the age of 30 the health of these eggs rapidly declines and the risks of birth defects and abnormalities sky-rocket, and fertility drops drastically. We can thank growth hormones and all the crap in our food and environment for that, those eggs are exposed to all kinds of stuff over their lifetime. So if you can, use them earlier rather than later.

So let’s say 30 is the magic number to start trying for a baby. What do I need to accomplish before I will even consider having a child? A lot. It keeps me awake at night.

I feel a lot of fucking pressure these days. I’m 26 and I want to go back to school because it turns out Tourism Management was a terrible choice for me.  Going back to school is a difficult decision; if I choose a degree program, that is four years of income that I am not earning, and I’ll be graduating when I’m 30/31. Then I’ll need to go back to work to get my career off the ground and earn some money. So that puts me in my mid to late thirties before I can even start to try to have a family. And it might take a while to get pregnant, if it happens at all. Yes I know that all the yuppies who put their career first are waiting for their mid thirties and early forties when they are more established to start families, but they are struggling with infertility. I don’t want to take those risks and I don’t want to be an old parent. My mom had me young and I can say that I got the best years of her life. She waited another 12.5 years to produce another child, and although she’s a damn fine mom to my little sister, she’s not as agile and energetic as she used to be and she’s had to come to terms with it. She compensates by having more wisdom, knowledge, and foresight; qualities that she has perfected with my sister.

My husband and I are struggling with what to do. I’m a late starter, I really needed time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and now I feel like it’s too late to go back to school, have a career, and have a family. The thing is, I’M 26 FOR FUCK SAKES! I AM FUCKING YOUNG BUT I’VE GOT A MAJOR DEADLINE TO GET MY LIFE IN ORDER. Why do we have such a small window to accomplish everything? That window is not very long, considering I plan to live well into my 90’s. Why does everything need to get sorted between the ages of 18-40? I’m angry about this, and I want to stomp my feet and scream at the world. We have looked at all scenarios: do I have the first baby now, then go back to school? Do I go back to school, start my career, then have a baby? Do I say forget school and limp along in life and then have a baby and never be satisfied? Do we just not have children at all?

I know it is possible. One of my family members had two babies while she was in university. Not one, but two. Her and her husband rigged up the most amazing childcare/school/work/EI combo that there ever was. When the babies were small enough, she took them to class with her. When they got bigger, he took parental leave and she went to school full-time and worked at a grocery store to supplement his EI. She would stay home in the summer and look after the babies and he’d go back to work.

No matter what decisions we make, we’re going to struggle with it. Something is going to have to give. No matter how much I pray, “Dear God, more time! More time!” We’ve got to make a decision and make one fast, the clock is ticking. The most I am willing to wait before procuring my first child is five years.

I’m annoyed that all of my major decisions need to be made in the first 1/3 of my life.

*I’d like to give a shout out to my little sister who is just dying for me to make her an aunt.  If that condom breaks, you better say your prayers. I’m coming after you. 

Give out my social media passwords for a job interview? Never.

Full disclosure: this has absolutely nothing to do with my current place of work. I’m speaking out because young people and those re-entering the workforce need to know their rights in regards to privacy.

Why would you ever consent to giving someone your Facebook/Twitter/Google +/??Social Media Site passwords during a job interview? Unless you need a security clearance for something ie building a government facility, or entering the police force, DON’T DO IT.

Here is why:

In Canada and the USA there are certain things that a potential employer is NEVER allowed to ask you. They are not entitled to know information such as your marital status, your age (with the exception of determining if you are of legal working age,) your religion, if you have children etc. By asking for your social media passwords you are effectively allowing them to access that information, and that is illegal. Don’t think for one moment that it is okay for them to ‘Friend Request’ you, either. Do yourself a favour and lock up your Facebook account to the maximum privacy settings – Only Friends for everything. Otherwise they won’t even have to ask for the information, it’s there for the taking.

What business do potential employers have peering into the way you interact with your friends and family? The last time I checked it was just an applicant applying for a job, not their dumbass friends and family applying as a group package. Would you allow a potential employer to have access to your personal email? Text messages? The way you talk to your spouse/partner in a private message or the way you interact with your buddies should have absolutely no standing when applying for a job. Sometimes I’m a fucking hooligan on the weekends, and yet on Monday morning I’m in dress clothes, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to kick off that meeting BECAUSE I AM A PROFESSIONAL. Monday-Friday, 9-5 I am a professional and I get it done, and I do it well. If you looked at my Facebook profile or my Twitter feed you might not get the same picture because professional Ro and the rest of the time Ro are two different people. Should your boss care what you do in your free time? Not unless it has an impact at work, and then only things pertaining to work need to be discussed.

Let’s face it, when you’re at the office you’re probably not cracking brewskis or bangin babes in the coat closet. If you are, well, you deserve to be fired (unless it’s office-sanctioned Beer Club Fridays, then you’re fine, but sexual harassment is still sexual harassment.) I think you can say no in a firm, but professional way. Let them know that your accounts contain personal information regarding marital status, your age, and your religion that you don’t need to disclose. Assure them that your personal life has absolutely no bearing on your professional life, and your qualifications, references and demeanour speak for themselves.  You need to practice saying these things now and be confident about saying them. It is illegal for a potential employer to turn you down for not surrendering your passwords, that would be discrimination because what they are asking for is illegal in it’s nature.

Key points:

1. Lock that shit up!

2. Just say no.

3. Don’t be intimidated, respect yourself and stand your ground.

4. You are a professional, so act like one.

In the end, would you really want to work for a company who needed to pry into your personal life? I wouldn’t.

Gender Equality- or not

Yesterday a (male) co-worker called me ‘woman’ out of anger. Never before in my life have I been reduced to my gender in place of my name.

The situation was not meant to be confrontational. I asked him to clean up after himself and he retorted with, “Jesus woman! It’s just a few dishes. How hard is it to put them away?’ MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY. Just because I am a woman does not mean that I am automatically there to clean up after you. You are more than capable of putting your dishes into the dishwasher, especially since I unload it every morning when I get in. I did not resort to name calling or degrading you in any manner. I didn’t send you an email or act in a passive way because I am an adult and if the roles were reversed, I’d want to know. I’d apologize and take responsibility. I am fair to a fault, even if it meant my own undoing. I admit when I’m wrong, I’ll admit when I was snarky, because two wrongs don’t make a right. But I wasn’t either of those in this circumstance and you lashed out and called me woman and tried to put me in my place which apparently is doing your dishes.

And today I got a phone call from another man asking for the principal of the firm. Being unavailable I asked the caller if I could take a message. Then the caller said, “I’d prefer to speak with a gentleman.” I said, “Excuse me?” and the caller said, “I’d rather deal with a man.”  I told the caller never to phone this office ever again. They could have asked for another discipline and I would have been 100% okay with that, but they had to ask for someone not female. Seriously? What century do you live in? I happen to be the principal’s executive assistant, and chances are he’d pass whatever matter to me anyway.

I am balancing being livid and trying not to cry. There is no crying in the executive world, only on the phone when you need the airline to credit your non-refundable flights.