Men and Unwanted Pet Names

I almost called this post ‘Say My Name Bitch’ or “Catcalling can Suck My Dick’ or ‘Fuck Right Off’ for reasons you will come to understand. The following is an excerpt of a frustrating conversation I had with a previous acquaintance that I soon after chose to remove from my life because of the continual disrespect and blatant misogyny present in our relationship.This confrontation is not an isolated event, it happens often and to all women, whether they recognize it as systematic oppression or not.

Men and Unwanted Pet Names

I am choosing to post this publicly to illustrate the kind of situations and conversations that women have to endure regularly with the men in our lives. Although I am typically more than happy to debate various topics, I do not enjoy having to explain continuously the validity of a person’s feelings when met with disrespect. It is a cultural sickness that a large majority of men/boys are raised to be like this when their ego is confronted.

This begins after the person in question hailed me online by referring to me by a demeaning pet name and I responded at first politely by asking him to use my given name instead, as a sign of respect. His reaction was less than desirable. This is the eventual result of some mind boggling back and forth I endured on the validity of me asking to be referred to by my given name. I kid you not. Here we go:

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You asked for clarification so here is my attempt at illustrating why pet names and catcalling is demeaning to most women with healthy self-esteem. Now if we take a similar interaction as the example, this is how respectful discourse would proceed:

A: “Hello Sexypants McGee”

B:”Hi (name). I find objectifying pet names demeaning, please refer to me by name instead. J”

A:”I apologise. That was not my intention. Hey (name) How are you today?)”

There.

But that is not what happened.

Instead I had to explain to you in detail why I was asking for more respect instead of it just being given and having to justify my feelings in the first place. When I expressed distaste over the language used and asked to be referred by name, you asked me what was wrong with the pet name used and said that it represented your interest in conversing with me when in actually all it showed is your attraction to me, which is objectifying. Showing me respect would be by referring to me by name and accepting my boundary about the use to demeaning pet names.

Instead you brought up your past experiences with all those other females that didn’t confront you about this issue for personal reasons, as if that then justified it. You even referred to the example that men don’t seem to mind being called dude (which has completely different meaning than using hun or sexy on a female btw) so women should not be offended either. This insinuates that my feelings are invalid because others unrelated to me haven’t reacted in the same way, so then I am not entitled to my feelings over similar treatment. And certainly if men are not offended, neither should women which ignores very strong differences in experiences with gender bias.  You seem to feel that it is harmless and since no one else brought it up, I must be wrong (showing a lack of respect for my feelings and intelligence). You even used a reference towards a book to solidify the opinion that I shouldn’t be offended since you don’t think that you were being disrespectful, despite me pointing it out clearly.

You expressed that you didn’t feel that you used diminutive or offensive sexist language despite me pointing out that it was exactly that, but apparently my opinion doesn’t matter despite me expressing clearly that I find it offensive. You don’t find it offensive (you are not the target), so apparently it isn’t valid. Then you move on to say that sometimes using a person’s name is too formal….umm…what? Names are not formal, they are our names and we are entitled to be given the formal respect of a name just like men are. We are also entitled to full respect as people and not just as diminutives. Then you needed an explanation like this one as to why I am entitled to be referred by my given name. Do you see the idiocy of that yet?

The crux of the matter is, there is a difference between cat calling and giving an authentic compliment and you seem confused by the two so I suggest you look more closely into that. Pet names are not empowering nor respectful either unless mutually agreed by both parties. I expressed that it was disrespectful to me to refer to me anything other than my name because I expect to be treated like a person and not just a sex object or pet. I am a mature woman and have earned that right. The only appropriate response would to accept it and honor it. Instead you spent all that time mansplaining why I was wrong and telling me to not be offended because despite your actions, you claim to actually respect me.

Do you understand a bit now why maybe so many women do not confront men that call them by demeaning pet names? Not everyone has the energy to sit down and explain how they are being disrespectful without their intelligence and feelings being invalidated in the process and getting nowhere. In the end, many men simply choose to brush it off and say that these women are just being sensitive (rather than enforcing a healthy boundary) and dismissing them out of hand,  so instead many just smile and nod and go on their way. It doesn’t mean that they don’t find it offensive, only that they don’t care to address this issue with someone who already disrespects them by using diminutive names in the first place.

*drops mike*

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But seriously, Fuck right off. My name is Kae. Use it.

*Has a similar conversation ever happened to you? How did you handle it? How do you wish you had handled it?**

Alberta’s Maternity Care Crisis

In the last few weeks, families across Alberta have taken to social media to share their personal stories in support of increasing access to the Midwifery model of care in the province. Led by MCAN (Maternity Care Consumers of Alberta Network), parents have been posting personal anecdotes and statistical information about the benefits and need for better options in health care.

Alberta Maternity Care Crisis

Without delving too deeply into the complicated politics of our maternity care system, essentially the disparity between evidence-based care and what is currently offered as valid options for Canadian families is discouraging. Despite the very obvious interest for having Midwives when it comes to childbirth support, Alberta still utilizes an unsustainable funding model that caps the number of clients allowed to be accepted into care, and offers very limited funds by AHS to employ the Midwives currently practicing. Physicians and Obstetricians however are funded by Alberta Health and have no limit to the amount of clients they are allowed to take on.

What this has created is a significant maternity care crisis, in which parents are jostling for a spot with Midwifery clinics but are often denied care and forced to accept unnecessary obstetric treatment. The financial cost to the province for utilizing specialized surgeons in normal births rather than the more cost-effective care of Midwives is a significant factor to consider in itself. However, within local community support groups, discussions around the lack of options in care is a regular occurrence and generates much ire. Many who desire using Midwives are filled with anxiety the moment they discover they have conceived, because other community members emphasize the need for applying immediately if they are to have a remote chance of receiving that kind of care. A common saying circulating is “call the clinics, then call your partner!”, that illustrates just how dire the situation is. Additional stress is also generated when any deviation from what is considered a low-risk pregnancy will often result in dropped care, despite the very feasible option of cooperative care between various providers. The main issues are of course in relation to funding complications.

The disappointment in regards to not connecting with desired caregivers has tangible effects on the family unit, especially those still recovering from previous birth trauma, who are then forced into care that exacerbates their anxieties. With the unfortunate reality of the occasional abuse of authority within the limited midwifery pool where some have been known to drop clients due to personality conflicts rather than valid medical issues, it is concerning, since replacing clients is effortless with so many desperate families vying for a spot. The lack of business competition because of the cap allows for private clinics to dictate who they accept, and keep on. This has created a hostile environment for mothers who are often afraid to voice their concerns or needs with their providers less they lose care altogether. The families desiring homebirths are especially vulnerable to this situation.

Another concerning result of these issues is the increase of families forced into choosing to freebirth their infants rather than risk obstetrical trauma; parents who would otherwise be happy with midwifery support if it were available to them. Although unassisted birthing is not limited to those who cannot find other care, it should not be a situation that is forced onto parents if it isn’t a conscious choice.

The lack of options in birth support in Alberta is completely unacceptable. There are currently around 1300 families on the wait list for midwifery care; and the list constantly grows. This does not include all the parents who have not bothered to apply because they are in rural areas without midwives or those with potential medical issues that could mean they are not even considered for care anyways. Parents should have the option of choosing how and with whom they birth. Their right to informed birth choices should not be a competition or a lottery.

So what needs to be done?

Essentially funding needs to follow the consumer, not the provider so Alberta needs a more sustainable funding model that doesn’t involve year-to-year negotiations. Midwives need to be allotted the same privileges as Physicians and Obstetricians in order to take on all the clients that desire their care, and have the ability to work cooperatively with specialists if the need arises. This will alleviate the burden off of these medical specialists to exclusively take on high risk cases and give them appropriate care, rather than handle the overflow of normal births that Midwives can accommodate. This will be especially cost effective for the Province, who will not be required to pay specialists for uneventful births. With the cap removed, parents are then also capable of exercising their right to determine whether a caregiver is a good fit for their family and change providers if there is a conflict of interest.

What can consumers do to help?

It is vital that our MLA’s are made aware of this maternity care crisis to discuss a coordinated effort in addressing these issues. Use the link above to find your local member and contact them by phone or email to express your concerns. The more citizens that make the effort to do so, the more attention will be brought to the problem.
Another way is to engage in the social media storm led by MCAN using the following hashtags on an image outlining your experiences and needs to make the public more aware of the situation. Positive media attention will also benefit the push for access to Midwifery care.

#ABmidwives
#mybabymybirth
#maternitycarecrisis
#VBACstrong
#whatismidwifery
#AHS
@MCAN_tweets
@SHoffmanAB (Honourable Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health)
@SPhillipsAB (Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister for Status of Women)
@albertamidwives (AAM)

Additional Reading on the movement
Alberta families take to Twitter to support poorly funded midwives
MCAN on Instagram
What is Midwifery Video
Alberta midwives won’t likely see boost in funds to serve more moms

The Gateway to Self Love is Radical Self Care

There is a pervasive belief in our culture that women should be self-sacrificing and this toxic belief has led to our reluctance to take care of our inner selves. Just like any other living thing, the need to nurture and indulge in radical self love is not a luxury, but a necessity to our well-being.

The Gateway to Self Love is Radical Self Care

Indulging in radical self love has been an ongoing challenge for me but something just clicked for me last night when I was giving myself a deep coconut oil hair conditioning (and some other pleasures!), that really enforced the important truth that I was worthy of this care. As I underwent the ritual, I was musing about how for years I have been told from different sources that self-care was important and I believed this on a rational level and could perceive its myriad benefits but was never really motivated to partake in it regularly. The reasons for this are somewhat obscure, but essentially there was always something more important for me to do. My needs and desires were usually reserved to moments that had literally, nothing else to do, which as a mother, was rare. Within my women’s circles we often talked about the importance of self care and urged each other to do so, but I noticed than many of us didn’t actually practice it in reality. The desire and need to practice radical self love was left in the Ether, as if some elusive magical dream.

Meanwhile I was struggling with my sense of self, my unrealized ambitions, my emotional blocks, and other life challenges and was essentially drowning. I was fully in my dark shadow of the soul and it was demoralizing. I knew something had to change but was at a loss at how to overcome this heavy melancholy that gripped me and I felt powerless because mental health issues are challenging. That’s when I figured that I had to start somewhere and self care seemed like a good place. So I then started my own little rituals every day where I MADE time to do the things I loved, whether it was reading a book, drinking tea, coloring in my meditation books, writing in my journal, taking a bath, or handcrafting. These little moments at first made me feel guilty for indulging in them because there was so much else I could be investing my energy in but I forced myself to do it anyways.

Then slowly, I started seeing myself in a new light; that I was worthy, that I had value and interests that deserved attention, that I could in fact, overcome challenges and learn from them. Exploring my feelings and thoughts during these self-care moments allowed me the space to process them instead of just be overwhelmed by them. By indulging in my little joys I was once again falling in love with myself as a unique person and by giving her the time of day, she was thriving. My life hadn’t changed, but my perception of it did and it wasn’t by forcibly changing the way I saw things (like actively trying to think positively), but by simply loving myself freely, and the rest fell into place organically. You can’t help but be transformed by love. And nothing is more powerful than the enormous power of unconditional self love.

It isn’t enough to tell yourself that you are worthy, you have to live it. By exploring your interests and giving into the whimsy of what brings you joy, even if seems outside of what is expected of you, is where the magic lies. That is where you reinforce the truth that you are lovable in all your facets, and not just those that are pleasing to others. Giving yourself the space to feel all the range of emotions through regular self care and nurturing is where the stress and anxiety melts away and you are gifted with the clarity to continue growing.

How do you indulge in self care? What brings your soul joy?

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