#WhoRunsTheWorld (Or #NowWhat)

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“Who runs the world?” -Beyonce (Women do, duh.)

Saturday’s global Women’s Marches scattered expectations, supporting various causes that included women’s rights, immigration reform, health care reform, environment protection, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, workers’ rights and to give Donald Trump the finger. A reported 673 marches took place worldwide, and in my hometown of Reno, over 10,000 men women and children took to the main street with signs and chants, positivity and hope.

So,now what?

My biggest fear is this movement will slowly fade as the year progresses. Where do we go from here? Despite my admiration for the high turn out of this weekend’s protests, what will be most impressive is what we do by putting our words and feelings into actions. Movements are not just about dramatic marches- they’re everyday acts of resistance, creating the positive change and seeing growth with issues we marched for.

First off, VOTE! Vote in your upcoming city, county and state elections! That is the biggest way to have your voice be heard. Support who and what what you believe in. Call, write and email your city’s and state’s representatives about the issues that you are concerned about the most.

Start by donating to organizations like Planned Parenthood, PFLAG, the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild. Also, support media outlets like NPR that provide the public with reliable journalism.

I also understand if you’re broke (you and I both!). One of the simplest thing you can do is not be a passive observer if you see someone being mistreated. Stand up when you see someone being teased or harassed. Tell the abuser that they are wrong. One of the best way to support women, people of color, the LGBTQ, etc, is to stand up for them and never be complacent on something you believe will advance their position in society, as well as their happiness and safety.

If you are more community orientated, volunteer at one your local non-profits. Organize a toiletry drive for a local women’s shelter (shelters often need sanitary napkins and tampons the most). Spend some time at your local animal shelter- kitties and puppies need love, too. Get involved with political and advocacy groups in your area. Get off your couch, step out of your comfort zone, meet some cool people and make plans to change the world!

Remember that the resistance doesn’t stop with the march- we need to keep the drumbeat going and the pressure on from all sides and state. There is no “right” way to get involved- you simply need to get out there. Figure out what works for you. Then do it. JUST DO IT. Fight on, dear reader!

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#TouchMe

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I’m a sucker for cuddling. Holding hands. Giving long hugs. Sitting close on the couch. Kissing. Scientists figured out that human beings need at least five different touch interactions during the day and the lack of that comforting touch can lead to depression and anxiety. Touch gives us humans the sensory input that we crave.

The power of touch is pretty incredible. It’s our primary language of compassion and care. Even when it is non-sexual.Touch instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. It lifts serotonin levels, elevating your mood. Touch builds trust and a sense of safety. It’s one of the most simple of ways that we continually renew our bonds with those we love- holding our children, caressing our partners. It relaxes muscles and releases tension in the body.

It is possible to be touch deprived (something that I have been experiencing lately). “Most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting,” said psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University. “Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.”

In the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard observed friends in different parts of the world as they sat in a café together. Sometimes, they hugged. Sometimes, they gave each other a simple high five. Sometimes, something more. In England, Jourard noted that the two friends touched each other zero times within the hour. In the United States, we touched each other twice. In France, the number shot up to 110 times per hour- no wonder the French are considered so sensual, engaging in their sense of touch.

Why are Americans so afraid to touch one another?

We live in such a busy, crowded world. Yet, it’s so easy for many of us to go days, weeks, even months without touching and/or being touched by others. Ask yourself, dear reader, if you are deprived and why you are. I’m not saying to tackle the next random person you see on the street. But maybe the emerging cuddling businesses might be the way to go. Perhaps I should become a professional snuggler…

#BodyTalk

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What a happy, little tampon!

Most things don’t gross me out. Perhaps it’s because I’m the daughter of a nurse- I remember one time my dad showed my sisters and I cell phone pictures of a little boy’s bowel movements. When I lived with my old roommate then in med school (now a doctor), I was delighted when she shared stories of her carving up a cadaver. To me, bodies and what they do are fascinating, not unmentionable. So, why don’t we talk about natural occurrences like menstrual cycles?

Earlier this week, Chinese swimmer, Fu Yuanhui, made headlines when she announced that she was on her period, breaking the  silence about menstruation. While China is becoming more accepting of the natural occurrence, one would think that the US of A would be a little bit more progressive, especially since half of our population has or will experience their period. But as I read comments on multiple sites about Yuanhui’s post -wim interview, I realized that wasn’t the case. Especially with men.

Even in relationships, I found that talking about menstruation was taboo. In the past, I’ve had boyfriends who promised the world to me but still refused to buy me tampons. Female lawmakers in multiple states are trying to lift the tax on tampons but are being struck down by their male counterparts. Allegedly when Yuanhui was in the pool, several male critics claimed that swimming while menstruating was unhygienic and unhealthy.

I’ve been trying to figure out why talking about menstruation is so shameful even when sex runs rampid throughout our media. Sex is what we see and talk about every day. Society oogles breasts, whose primary function is for feeding. We cracked jokes about both male and female anatomy without a second thought. We need to stop looking at our bodies and our sexual behavior as something embarrassing and scandalous., when our bodies are as natural as water and air.

I hope to see the day where women, all around the world, aren’t shunned for having a period. Women’s bodies deserve more respect and appreciation- your mom, your sister, your friend, your significant other- all deserve better. And you, male reader, will totally get points with me if you purchase me some Tampax.

30 Things Every Woman Should Know by her 30th Birthday

With the new year quickly approaching, I can’t help but think about 2015 and all the great things it will bring. I’ll turn 29 and I hope that the last year of my twenties will bring nothing but excitement and joy. I know that some hardships will be on the horizon (each year, my body acts more and more like it wants me dead) but I’m thrilled about my 30s. From what I hear, the 30s are the best time of one’s life- you finally know who you are and life finally sets into place.

I read Glamour magazine often (especially when Lupita Nyong’o is on the cover) and came across this list of thirty things every woman should know by her 30th birthday. I read over the list and thought it through- despite this being a list for a straight woman in her 30s, I think this list could apply to everyone (fellows included, minus the black lacy bra, unless you’re into that kind of thing. No judgement here)…

By 30, you should have:

  1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come (Andrea’s noteoh man, I have several of the later…)
  2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family
  3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour
  4. A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying
  5. A youth you’re content to move beyond
  6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age. (Andrea’s note: I can’t wait to tell my future grandchild all the stories of Granny Andi living it up in New York City)
  7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it. (Andrea’s note: Hello 401K! Seriously, if you haven’t set one up, do it NOW!)
  8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you
  9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded (Andrea’s note: Hell yes- because I’m a bad, hard-working bitch)
  10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry
  11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra (Andrea’s note: I DO! I DO! I do have all of those things!)
  12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it
  13. The belief that you deserve it
  14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30
  15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better

By 30, you should know:

  1. How to fall in love without losing yourself (Andrea’s note: it took a while but I know how to now… finally)
  2. How you feel about having kids
  3. How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship
  4. When to try harder and when to walk away
  5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next
  6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town (Andrea’s note: This is the only one I’m iffy on- sorry, Mom and Dad… I don’t know your grandmas’ names. But I do know of a good tailor in Reno!)
  7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to
  8. How to take control of your own birthday (Andrea’s note: All I need is tequila and chocolate cake)
  9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents
  10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over (Andrea’s note: Thank you, Jesus)
  11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love
  12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long
  13. Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally
  14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault
  15. Why they say life begins at 30 (Andrea’s note: I CAN’T WAIT!)

Naked Thoughts

There was this debate online earlier last week about sex and murder. Maroon 5 came out with a music video for their latest song, “Animal.” In the video, the band’s leader singer stalks a young woman and ominously spies on her during intimate moments. The film ended in a blood bath… literally- the couple has a bucket of blood poured over them. I watched the video (thinking it was similar to another video I once had on rotation) and read some of the comments below. One person started a thread of how this particular video was better than another certain female rapper’s video. That got me thinking…

A New Scientist study says by the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school, they will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on TV. How is it that we’re okay with seeing blood and gore every night on television but we still freak out when a woman flashes a nipple or someone mentions the word, “penis?” Why are dance moves criticized more than bloody knife fights? Why is violence the norm and tolerable while sex is still considered taboo? I would think that our bodies would be natural to see on a screen than violence- the majority of the world has or will have sex (not to mention, we all have a sexual organ); only a handful of people commit violent, injurious crimes.

A little while ago, Olivia Wilde graced the pages of Glamour, breast feeding her infant son. The pictures were beautiful but caused a stir, with people questioning whether or not it’s appropriate for women to breastfeed their children in public. “Breastfeeding is the most natural thing,” Wilde told the magazine. If “the breast is the best,” why do people get in a tizzy when a mother pulls out her nipple to feed her hungry child?

I’ll be honest- the lyrics to Minaj’s “Anaconda” aren’t the best but I do love the video. As a woman who always worries about her size (especially as I just gained a pants size), it’s wonderful to see women shaking their rounded bottoms on screen. I love how Minaj celebrates her shape and is body positive. I hope other women watch the “Anaconda” video and will love their shapely butts, ample thighs, chubby bellies, anything and everything. That celebration is what I rather see on television. Leave the guts and gore to the cheesy B-horror movies and the world news.

 

 

The FIRST EVER (!!!) Reno SlutWalk

Saturday, September 6th- the Reno SlutWalk was underway!

Slut. Ho. Tramp. Whore. Bitch. Those words are heard by women on the daily. How many times do you hear those words thrown around in a casual conversation- words that we think are the norm but really hurt us deep down inside?

But words are only the beginning. Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Assault is something that is still not openly spoken about. Today’s women assume that the name calling and sidewalk whistling are a part of everyday life. But there are many people who know that this is wrong and should not be tolerated. Hence creation of the SlutWalk.

Participants made their own signs. There were so many funny and clever ones- this one was one of my favorites... "Catcalls are not compliments."

Participants made their own signs. There were so many funny and clever ones- this one was one of my favorites… “Catcalls are not compliments.”

Reno hosted the city’s first SlutWalk this past Saturday. It was a huge undertaking but it created AMAZING results. Over 125 people- men, women, children and a couple of dogs- marched from the ReTrac Plaza to the Second Street police station, stopping to pose under the infamous Reno arch for a great group photo. There was a sign making session, fun costumes and inspiring speeches. The entire experience moved me to tears and made me so incredibly proud of my city.

The first SlutWalk was in Toronto in April 2011. The organizer, Sonya Barnett, created the event in part of a response to a Toronto police officer telling a York University safety forum, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

SlutWalks aims to take back the word, “slut” and all its variations, transforming the negative meaning into an empowered one. They encourage women to wear whatever they chose to without feeling any shame nor victim blaming. They teach men and women not to rape and how to peacefully fight back against those who hurt others verbally and physically.

Parents brought their children along, which was pretty amazing. I loved all our mini protesters!

Parents brought their children along, which was pretty amazing. I loved all our mini protesters!

There was a couple kinks in the road- the organization of the walk was a little crazy. We got a couple complaints, ranging from the name of the walk to people thinking the event was a downtown pub crawl. But in the end, all the stress and anxiety I had about the SlutWalk melted away. All I wanted to do was spread our positive message and have our voices be heard.

I know that things are not going to change overnight. There will still be catcalling and hating and sexual violence. But with time and respect from everyone, Reno- the United States, our ENTIRE world, can be a safer and more positive place to live and work. Together, we change our home, our city, for the better. The SlutWalk aspires to show that sexual assault and cruelty are not way of life- respect and acceptance is.

Thank you all again for being a part of the movement on Saturday. See you next year!

I Am Sex Positive (and Proud!)

On September 6th, the city of Reno will holding its first ever SlutWalk. For those who are not familiar with the walk, the first SlutWalk was in Toronto in April 2011. The organizer, Sonya Barnett, created the event in part as a response to a Toronto police offer telling a York University safety forum, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Since then, SlutWalks have been organized in nearly every major U.S. city, as well in several countries around the world. I participated in my first walk back in New York City and was impressed and in awe with everyone’s open efforts to discuss rape culture and how to end such violence against women. For the last two years, after I moved back to Reno, I thought about the Biggest Little City’s progression and growth and how the city would be ready for a SlutWalk. There has been too many times in this city where I am verbally harassed by men driving by in cars or I’m called ‘a whore’ by a passing-by woman for the pair of shorts I choose to wear on a hot day or for a dress I wear out dancing. I know that I’m not the only woman in town who has been affected by negative words and its time to do something about it. It’s time to let voice be heard. It’s time to educate ignorant minds. It’s time to change.

I’m one of the leaders of the Reno Sex Positive (RSP) and we are the group who’s organizing this September’s SlutWalk. We are a non-profit that formed in March 2013 by our fearless co-leaders, Adam and Rocky. Our mission is to promote open sexual dialog in the Northern Nevada area as we welcome and promote acceptance of person representing all areas of sexual diversity including sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, body type, ability, age (adult) and choice of consensual sexual expression. We welcome straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals; as well as those who identify as gender fluid, asexual, polyamorous, monogamous and non-monogamous. At its core, the sex positive movement believes in the acceptance of all forms of sex among consenting adults. We believe that sex is healthy; that pleasure is good; and that intimacy helps bring people together. Reno Sex Positive holds bi-weekly discussions on a wide range of sexual and relationship topics including communication, slut shaming and love.

Yes, even YOU can be sex positive- just stop with the judgment and start with the acceptance.

Yes, even YOU can be sex positive- just stop with the judgment and start with the acceptance and respect!

I’ve been involved with RSP since last winter. I was intrigued by the concept of the group and appreciated everyone’s open-mindedness. During the weekly discussions, I learned a lot about sexuality- that being sexual active was okay; that being a virgin was okay; that sexuality was different to everyone. I learned that sex and sexuality is not shameful– it can be talked about in the open with mature adults (thank you, Samantha from “Sex and the City!”). I discovered that all forms of sexuality are okay- (as long as you’re a consenting adult, of course). If you’re religious and are only having sex for pro-creation, that’s okay. If you’re in a bar and you want to hook up with that cute couple in the corner, that’s okay. If you’re single and you rather spend “some time” with yourself, that’s okay. If you had have 34 sexual partners, that’s okay. If you’re a virgin- even being one at a late age, that’s okay, too (yes, it really is! I wish I knew that when I was 22!).

Of course, I’ve received negative backlash from creating the walk and being involved with RSP in general (so many people have asked me to the change the name of the walk to something more appropriate- huh? Seriously, why?). I’m sure that people think the members of RSP are a bunch of horny nut jobs who go to swinger clubs and screw each other during our free time (not that there is anything wrong with that but no, I don’t that and I can’t see myself ever doing so). I’ve deleted comments on the SlutWalk Facebook page on how the idea of a walk is stupid- rape is going to happen no matter what. Instead of women walking and protesting, we should be learning how to defend ourselves. Although I understand where that viewpoint is coming from (I have taken self-defense courses before and I can throw a decent punch if need be), I want to live in a world where I don’t have to look over my should when I walk home late at night. I want to live in a world where I can get coffee for the shop around the corner and not be stopped by some guy sitting in his car, asking if I’m “available.” I want to live in a world where I can wear whatever I damn well please and not be slut-shamed. I want to be able to talk about sex as if doing so wasn’t taboo and considered “dirty” or “funny” or “promiscuous.”

To me, being sex positive is about acceptance and respect. Although there are a lot of sexual ideas I’m not into, I do respect others and the choices that they make. Just because I’m not into something, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or immoral. I’m all about the happy- sex makes me happy! And as long as that sexual activity and sexual awareness comes from a respectful place, I can be positive about that.

For more information about the Reno SlutWalk, please visit our Facebook page

You said it, Samantha.

You said it, Samantha.