Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sisters in Solidarity: A Chance to Be Heard

I try to bring a little humor to these posts, but today, I want to explore an idea that I have still yet to reconcile for myself despite years of research and self-reflection.

I want to begin by expressing my deep sadness for the women of the LDS church who feel the need to verbally and emotionally attack the women participating in the "Ordain Women" movement.

Yes, I did say that I was sad for the aggressors. While I do feel for the women promoting the movement and the negativity they experience in expressing and pursuing their beliefs, I experience even greater sadness for the attackers of the women in this movement. That's right, sadness FOR them, not toward them, or for the situation. I feel sad FOR all those who feel they need to expend great amounts of energy not only to oppose the movement, but to also personally critique and demean the women involved.

This sadness had led me, once again, to the conclusion that women are their own greatest adversaries and opponents.

Kelly Valen, author of The Twisted Sisterhood, writes in a New York Times article, "We women swim in shark-infested waters of our own design. Often we don't have a clue where we stand with one another  -- socially, as mothers, as colleagues -- because we're at once allies and foes." 

I want to explore the power behind both of these relationships starting with women as allies:

For centuries, all around the world, women have had to fight to be heard in patriarchal society placing them as property in the hands of men. One of the the few strengths women have found during these trying times have been, in fact, other women; women standing next to women in solidarity of belief, womanhood, love, motherhood, and most importantly strength. 

During the Salem Witch Trials, when women were being wrongfully accused of witchcraft, women stood by women in reaffirming their innocence though they knew they would be killed by the en of their village. When Alice Paul fought President Woodrow Wilson and members of congress for the right to vote, she had hundreds of sisters, daughters, and mothers marching behind her. When Margaret Sanger sought to develop the science behind the hormonal methods of birth control, another woman, Katharine Dexter McCormick, threw her financial support behind the research research in order to make it possible. Women have a history of supporting other women.

With specific regard to the Ordain Women movement, in a Deseret News article, Joseph Walker quotes movement participant April Young Bennett: "After spending most of my life following social stigmas that silence Mormon women and compel us to feign that we love our exclusion, it was like a miracle to see so many women willing to openly express their righteous desires to fully participate in the church."

Here, again, women finding strength in other women.

It seems odd, then, to see women as each other's foes, even though in the development of feminism, traditionally, women have represented the majority in opposers of the movement.

Authors David Campbell and Robert Putnam, in their book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, found that "an overwhelming majority of LDS women -- 90 percent -- are opposed to priesthood ordination for women. By comparison, 52 percent of LDS men oppose priesthood ordination for women."

How is it that those in the church who make executive decisions such as ordination are statistically less opposed to said ordination of women to the priesthood than the Sisters of the LDS Church?

Valen further writes in her article of her experiences with other women, "I had bought into the talk of sisterly solidarity... and they not only failed to support me in crisis, they collectively kicked me as I lay in the gutter, judged me from under a veil of hypocrisy, then cast me out, leper style."

These instances, and thousands of other personal experiences, tell stories of women exiling women in their quest for identity.


Let's face it, we ALL disagree on things. Man, woman; senior, young adult; brother, sister -- it doesn't matter. We as humans are bound to have differing opinions on things. We teach children from a young age that being different is okay, that we should embrace each others differences and love each other anyway. Why don't we take our own advice when it comes to the women in our own lives?

We are all women and daughters. Some of us sisters, mothers, and partners. We have felt the pain of oppression, and the triumph of strength and empowerment. We have felt pain, loss, and humiliation, as well as joy, companionship and humility. We have loved, been loved, and had our hearts broken.

We are human.

So instead of gossiping about the girl who stood up to her priesthood leader or chastising the choice for a mother to stay at home, let us stand in solidarity against all those -- men and women -- who tell us that what we feel isn't valid and what we believe isn't correct, even if we personally agree or disagree.

Because we all want -- and deserve -- a chance to be respectfully heard.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spinning Hell

Lately, I've been trying to be more active. I'm getting up earlier now that I consistently work early in the morning, and I have been attempting to utilize that time to do something other than marathon watch One Tree Hill until 1:00 in the afternoon. 

So, I tried a spin class yesterday. 

For those of you who have never been to one of those before, let me paint you a picture of this hell:

You sit, ass on seat for 60 minutes while pedaling,  altering your speed and resistance to mock climbing and sprinting. Why anyone would WANT to recreate sprinting up a hill, I'm not sure.

The contraption that you are actually sitting on resembles a torture device with one metal wheel that looks more like the blade on an electric saw, than the wheel of a bicycle. There is a metal bar across the back of the machine helping to stabilize the contraption, keeping it motionless. Again, not only is it recreating sprinting up a hill, but it is doing so without even actually going anywhere.

Next, the instructor comes over to adjust the machine to "fit your body". By this she means wrench the handlebars to far forward to comfortable reach, and so far down that your back is hunched over like a ninety year old woman. 

And there you are, all set to pedal your ass off for the next hour.

Oh wait, I forgot to tell you about the oddly shaped seat you you rest your rump on. It has no cushion, instead resembling the general shape of a penis with testicles (I won't even go into the feminist implications this has for female cycling). It also isn't shaped to match the anatomy of your ass, like a negative image or a yin yang: black to white, white to black. It isn't even flat.

It is perfectly designed with bumps lined up to your bumps, curves to your curves, like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that just don't fit. As each leg lifts, the bulges grinding into your bones.

Lets just say, my crotch was on fire--

and NOT in the good way.

On top of all of this, you are expected to sit, moving leg over leg for 60 grueling minutes, while a peppy blonde up front, with her make up beautifully drawn, and her hair perfectly straightened, cheerily chatters at you to "keep those legs movin'!" without even breaking a sweat every time you slow and take a moment to let the fire on your ass calm down.

I'll just go running next time.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Plight of a Single Lady With Morals and No Religion

Hi, my name is Erika. I like dogs and reading. I am a genuinely good person who believes in the golden rule and treating people with respect. I don't do drugs, I drink sometimes, and I don't believe in Jesus. What's your name?

I had an interesting discussion with my father and grandfather today: three generations attempting to define morality.

This should be interesting, I thought.

The conversation was started with my complaint that I would once again go home and sit, by myself, reading a book until it was time to go to sleep at 9:30 PM, only to wake up and do the same the next day.

I mean, in a community where 90% of the single men are conservative Christians, and out of the 10% that aren't, 90% of those men don't want to commit to anything serious (and tend to womanize), how is an educated, liberal, slightly anti-social girl to find anyone in that 1%?

My dad suggested I go to church.


I kindly explained to him, that that was exactly my point--I didn't want a God-fearin' man. I want an intellectual, who is kind and curious, funny with a little bit of bitter mixed in. I want someone who is jaded because of all the times he has struggle to make an identity in a world that doesn't accept non-religious people with morals, but uses sarcasm to deal with it instead of anger.

That is when my Grandpa stepped into the conversation.

He explained to me that the people who have the morals are the people who go to church.



This is when I started to get a little testy. Was he insinuating that I didn't have morals? That I wasn't a good person? That I deserved to go to Hell?

Of course not.

But he was implying that most good people go to church, so naturally, if I want to find good person, I should find the nearest altar and say a prayer, so my "holier-than-thou" man can descend from a fluffy white cloud robed in white silk with gold stitching.

I politely told my Grandpa that we must have a different idea of what "morality" meant. To which he scoffed saying "morals are morals." My morals dictate that I am honest and try to be kind (sometimes, if you catch me in the morning, this isn't always the case). I am considerate, and believe in being a generally good person, making some kind of contribution to the world. Apparently, this isn't moral enough for the 90% Jesus lovers, but it is too moral for the 9% of womanizers, so where is that 1%?

Are they, too, holed up at home reading A Game of Thrones while spooning their 75 pound Pitt Bull on a Sunday night? Is it just that we of the Non-Christian Moral kind tend to stay indoors avoiding the horrors of the outside world? Or is it the fear of impending loneliness due to a lack of God or a lack of insensitivity?

Either way, we aren't meeting each other.

So if you are out there, oh 1%, please put down your book, drive to the nearest bookstore, coffee shop, or poetry reading long enough to ask my name and shake my hand. Then, we can take up reading again, but this time next to another fellow good-person, non-christian with whom we might have something to actually talk about.

Until this happens, goodnight world. I'll be curled up under my comforter cuddling a snoring pup and reading until my eyelids sink closed.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Sometimes, good things don't work out.

Sometimes, bitterness doesn't help numb anything.

Sometimes, the disappointment and frustration of an unfair situation eats me from the inside out, making it impossible to breathe.

At the end of the day, not every man who hurts a woman is a villain. Sometimes, he is merely doing what he needs to do in order to survive.

But where does that leave me?

Deep chasms cut into your rigid brow
painting streaks of worry across your soft face.
Your eyes carry with them
glassy remnants of sorrow and regret,
splashed with dashes of embarrassment.

Your words get caught in your throat
as weighted silence creeps through cracks
and seeps into long-forgotten crevices
leaving no empty airspace for
your sympathetic attempt to
appease the disappointment
choking me.

Discomfort wraps her tight arms around your throat;
I can almost feel her fingernails
scrape at your vocal chords,
ripping away your ability to speak.
Simultaneously she deposits a dense mass
in the bottom recesses of my gut,
magnetically binding me to my rigid place
at your right hand.

The urgent need to complete this complicated task
overpowers Discomforts reigning grasp.
As her lengthy fingers retreat,
your lips part to reveal a shadowed channel
destined to deliver the night’s misfortune,
despite the stillness of the dark
alluringly passing outside your window.

“I’m sorry,
I never meant to…”
Begging for forgiveness,
your words permeate the air,
slowly and softly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My last post on this blog was... a year ago. Exactly. Well, almost exactly. Minus a half hour or so.

You've missed a lot. Hell, I've missed a lot. But you really have. You've missed

-A relationship with the [almost] love of my life (in its entirety)
-An anti-climactic graduation from college
-Meetings with Air Force recruiters
-Various love affairs (You know me) that NEVER live up to what I think I need
-Multiple divine revelations proving that God does, indeed, have a sense of humor.

I'm really sure that You have missed far more than this, but this brings me to the point of this post. Nothing that happened in the last year is something I want to rehash for various misfits and Facebook [barely] friends to read at 3:17 A.M. when they should be asleep but are instead putting off studying for their Bio test by Facebook stalking people they swear they wished they talked to more.

I don't care that much.

So here's the update in one sentence: I am a recent-college-grad applying my baccalaureate[no I didn't have to spell check that; isn't that sad?]-acquired communication skills in the Food Service Industry while still looking for love [unfortunately] but settling, instead, for a good read by a cozy fire (currently: Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik).

In summary? I'm boring.

I'm not going to pretend that I am going to use this blog to keep all of my millions [ha] of readers up-to-date on my devotion to new years resolutions.

I'm not going to use this space to shove sappy love stories down Your throats in an attempt to reassure you that I am happy.

I'm not going to share with the internet the succes of my diets, or of my spirituality, or of my love life.

What I am going to do is something that I have neglected to do for far too long: I am going to write.

I am going to write anything and everything that pops into my head. I am going to write [bad] poetry, and cynical exposés on the human condition, and one line wonders. I will write quotes from authors I aspire to [but will never] be like. I will write because it makes me happy, and it has been a lot time since I have done something just because it makes me happy to do it.

So join me for the ride.

Or don't join me.

Or only join me when it is 3:17 A.M. and you remember you haven't checked my blog in a while and probably can kill 45 minutes catching up on my posts so you have an excuse not to study for the aforementioned test.

I don't care.
Because this?
This is for me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Everything Will Be Okay

It's about time that I posted something. The world needs an update for how Erika is doing, right?! Probably wrong, but words help me get things clear.

I have changed more in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years. I have so radically flipped my life around. Can I even be called the same person? I believe in things I've never believed in. I've felt things I've never felt. I've seen things I've never seen. I've trusted in ways I've never trusted. From here, I don't know where I'll go.

I feel like a phase of my life is over; doors have closed. I turn around and what do I see? White. Never ending white. No more doors, no windows, no color, no people. A blank slate with endless possibilities. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I know?

I feel calm. Moving away from here is where I need to go; I can't stay in a transition period for forever. I have leave this place, these people. I need to move forward and begin building my new life. I need to begin my future. It's okay that I will leave these people behind. It's okay that it didn't work out. It's okay that you couldn't love me. It's okay that I'm different. It's okay that It's okay that I'm not perfect. It's okay that I will never look back. It's okay that I will never be the same.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Everything IS okay.

Definitely, maybe,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Material Existence

"This will make you look skinnier,

That makes you look too fat"

"Don't cut your hair,

A girl wears her hair long;

Rip your hair out with this flat iron"

Thin is in

Pain is gain

Acceptance is missing

where did you go?

"your sweater isn't tight enough,

your jeans are too baggy"

"don't wear this, don't wear that"

"conceal the unevenness of your tone

highlight your eyes with this color

plump your eyelashes with that paste"

paint on your face:

so that it can be smeared by disappointment and lies

by the close of the evening.

top it all off with what?


Welcome to a material existence.

You will NEVER be enough.

You're not pretty enough.

You're not skinny enough.

You're not tall enough.

You're not short enough.

You don't dress well enough.

You don't shop enough.

You don't smile enough.

You don't laugh enough.

You don't talk enough.

You don't have enough.

You're not cool enough.

You're not good enough.

I. AM. ME.