Dear America, please tell Congress we want paid leave

Dear American parents, sons, and daughters,

I recently learned some truly disturbing facts about paid leave in our country while working on an eye-opening documentary called The Milky Way. Did you know that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have mandated paid leave? It is one of only four of 173 nations surveyed that doesn’t have it. The other three are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Liberia (or Lesotho, depending on the source.) It’s true. Look here, here, or here. Oh, and here. From the survey:

Out of 173 countries studied, 169 countries offer guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth; 98 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Although in a number of countries many women work in the informal sector, where these government guarantees do not always apply, the fact remains that the U.S. guarantees no paid leave for mothers in any segment of the work force, leaving it in the company of only 3 other nations: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.

You may know that back in 1993, Congress passed the FMLA, which provided 12 weeks of unpaid leave to a small number of employees that met a list of eligibility requirements. Most of you probably didn’t even get that. Or couldn’t take it because of that pesky need for money to buy food and such.

How many of you got paid leave after your kids were born? How many of you were paid when you had to take time off to nurse a sick parent to heath?

I’m guessing too few. If any.

And here’s why I’m writing. The long-overdue next step is here. Congress has in their possession, right now, a bill that provides 12 weeks of paid leave that would cost us about the same as disability or unemployment insurance. Two tenths of one percent, that’s all. Which ends up being about $1.50 a week for the average worker. (Some people have called it the “price of a cup of coffee” but they either haven’t bought coffee in ten years or don’t even drink it.) And there isn’t a long list of eligibility requirents. It is called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY act. According to this fact sheet provided by National Partnership for Women and Families, The FAMILY Act would:

– Provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; the birth or adoption of a child; and/or for particular military caregiving and leave purposes.

– Enable workers to earn 66 percent of their monthly wages, up to a capped amount.

– Cover workers in all companies, no matter their size. Younger, part-time, lower-wage and contingent workers would be eligible for benefits.

– Be funded by small employee and employer payroll contributions of two-tenths of one percent each (two cents per $10 in wages), or about $1.50 per week for a typical worker.

– Be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration. Payroll contributions would cover both insurance benefits and administrative costs.

Sign this MoveOn.org petition to tell Congress we want paid leave!

In January, the wonderful National Partnership for Women and Families sent the members of Congress this letter on behalf of 433 organizations and millions of Americans urging them to support the bill. But they were way too nice; they have to be.

I don’t.

I’m in the Navy, and I curse like a sailor when I’m not around my kids, and I’ll bet a lot of y’all do too, so here it comes.

What the f*ck is going on in our country that such a crucial measure to protect our families is barely a blip on our government’s radar? The bill is already buried in committees in both houses. According to the govtrack.us site and some legislators out there, the bill is a nice idea but will never pass. To which I say:

Bullsh*t. Have you actually talked to any of your constituents? Because I’ll bet that mom who just had her baby and is already trying to figure out pumping schedules would sure like to know that she could actually spend some time bonding with her baby first. And that guy who has to take off work because his mother has fallen ill would feel a lot better knowing that he’d have a paycheck coming in for a couple months while he helps her get better.

Go here to sign the National Partnership for Women and Families petition. Please.

I have been talking to people about this everywhere I go, and so far not a single person knows that there is a bill in Congress that could give us 12 weeks paid leave. Not. A. Single. Person. Once I told them about it, especially that it would be mandated, low-cost, and doesn’t add to the federal budget, every one of them enthusiastically agreed that this bill should pass.

Of course it should pass! And you know why? It is high f*cking time that the U.S. catches up with the rest of the world and supports families, specifically new mothers and fathers. What can be more important than nurturing the next generation?

I keep hearing that the bill has little to no chance of becoming law, and I refuse to accept that. I know that if the American people knew about it, Congress would feel public pressure the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Vietnam. I would be the first leading a charge of protests and rallies to get our mamas time with their babies instead of watching them cry as they hand off a newborn to a daycare provider.

Our country is at a tipping point; mothers are having to go back to work too soon after giving birth. The breastfeeding relationships suffer because, rather than being able to bond with her baby and recover, the new mom has to start thinking about pumping and working and childcare. Depression is rampant among lower income new mothers because the stress is overwhelming. It’s hard enough to deal with the sleep-deprivation and already existing stress of a newborn. Going back to work too soon isn’t good for mother or baby. Why are newborns, the seeds of our future, so low on the list of priorities?

Please share this. And keep sharing this. Tell everyone you know. Sign every petition you see, like this MomsRising one. Write or call your Senator or Representative; you can find them using the links below. Please help me wake up our country to what is possible for our families. I want our government to hear our voices so loud that this bill will move to the top of the priority list where it belongs.

Thanks so much for reading, and for spreading the knowledge that will make such an important difference to American families.

More info:

Petitions:
MoveOn.org Petition for Paid Parental Leave
National Partnership for Women and Families petition
MomsRising.org petition

Track the bill:
View and track the full bill in the Senate, S. 1810.
View and track the full bill in the House, H.R. 3712.

Contact your Congressperson:
Find your Representative.
Find your Senator.

National Partnership links:
Please check out out their page. They are an incredible power for change.
(Here is their fact sheet referenced above also.)

“Is your husband in the military?” My Experience with Gender Bias

A repairman came to fix our fridge today, and I knew what was coming as he glanced at the military pictures and framed documents that dominate our decor. Hey, flight school was f*cking hard; damn right I’m gonna show that sh*t off! Wouldn’t you? Anyway, I knew that he was going to ask the question, and sure enough, there it was.

“Oh, is your husband in the military?”

I smiled, thinking I know you didn’t mean to sound like a sexist jackass, and I said “we both are.” Then came the usual ill-concealed surprise. But this time, he shook my hand and thanked me for my service. Which I appreciated.

But I’m sick of it.

It’s a question I get every time we move, or every time a stranger is in our home. And it’s not just from old men; guys in their twenties and thirties see our “We love us” wall covered with various mementos of our years in Naval aviation and just automatically assume it all belongs to my husband. It was kind of fun ten years ago when I still liked surprising people, but now? I’m an accomplished veteran, mother of two, and forty(-ish) year old woman.

I’m sick of being underestimated just because of my gender.

Well-meaning people make excuses for the question. They talk about how female military members are still a new thing.

No, we’re not.

There aren’t enough of us, but it is not a new thing. Women were finally allowed (on paper) to fly into combat in 1993. Over two decades ago. That’s like saying the CD is a new thing. (Aside: my daughter asked me the other day, “What’s a CD?” We stream a lot of music.)

Here’s why I think some people “just need time to get used to it,” a phrase I detest when it comes to women in historically male roles.

We don’t need time to adjust. Men need our help to catch up.

Oh, great, another woman saying that men can’t help it because they’re men and it’s up to us to do the work and change the world.

Well, yeah. Kind of. I believe that men tend to resist change more than women. It’s in their DNA. The primal hunter needs to be in control of his environment and surroundings so he can adequately protect his mate and offspring from enemies or predators. He needs time to suss things out and make the cave defensible. Absolutely fair. The problem is that we are not in caves anymore.

I’m not saying men should change, nor am I saying that it’s on women to speed things up.

What I am asking women to do is stop giving a sh*t what people think of who you really are. And I aim this challenge at myself, too. I’m constantly working on letting my true colors fly.

It’s my life, and I’m the one that has to live it as authentically as I can.

How many of us have backed away from our goals because of too much flack or negativity from people? I know that I have silenced myself for fear of offending someone who probably ends up offended anyway. I have listened too often to the inner critic saying shut up shut up. How often have we not spoken our mind because we don’t want to be called bossy or bitchy? And here’s a thing:

There is no male equivalent to the word “bossy.” A man can be “boss” but that is considered a compliment. That’s f*cked up, y’all. Not right at all.

I wish that I had said “in the future, you might not want to assume that the man is the military member.” Because if we don’t start calling out the gender bias that is endemic in our society, it will continue. Yes, we have made progress. But not enough. And definitely not fast enough.

I’d love to kick things up a notch. Who’s with me? Are you sick of staying quiet to avoid pissing anyone off? Are you fed up with being called bitchy or egotistical because you’re good at your job? I’d love to hear your stories!

Love and purple,

Eve

20140224-215218.jpg

Burned Alive While Breastfeeding in India

I am filled. Filled with pain, rage, and frustration. And feeling so utterly powerless to do anything.

Help me change that.

I cannot stop my tears, and I won’t. There is a mother to cry for, and an innocent baby girl, both of whom lost their lives because of their gender.

The husband and his family set them on fire, waited until they were burned, and then moved them while the mother was still alive and left her to suffer all night before death brought relief. This horrific, cold-blooded act was over a dowry.

They suffered and died because they were female.

Help me change that.

I ask you: is this the world we want? A world where women are considered a liability? Or only useful for our bodies? Whether it’s using the female body to sell a product, constantly undervaluing girls, or making us gestate a fetus against our will, there most definitely is a global war on women. And it’s especially heinous in India.

According this article:

A woman is killed over dowry ‘every hour’ in India, according to the data released by the country’s National Crime Records Bureau.

‘8,233 young women, many of them new brides, were killed in so-called ‘dowry deaths’ in 2012,’ the report said last year.

Domestic violence largely motivated by dowry demands is very common in the area, but killing of Ms Devi along with her baby girl has shocked the locals.

It is encouraging to hear that this tragedy has “shocked the locals,” but what is that going to change?

I have another idea.

The U.S. is so powerful, right? Can you imagine how much more powerful we’d be if we had a female majority in our government? Because most men read a story like this and feel momentary sadness. (I said most; I know there are men with a greater breadth of feeling, and I’m doing my damndest to find them as well.)

But most women, especially mothers, will read about this mother and child and feel oceans of grief. And anger. And a desperate urge to make this not ever happen again. And all of those things that compelled me to sit down and write to implore anyone feeling what I’m feeling:

Please help me.

How, you ask?

We will find the women. The mothers, the daughters, the sisters, the wives that want so desperately to make a difference in their families. To better themselves and their communities, our country, and this f*cked up world. We will ask them to vote, to tweet, to read, to run for local government, run for Congress. Like Rock The Vote, Emily’s List, (but open to all parties), and a little bit of Moms Who Drink and Swear thrown in to represent us more accurately.

We need to get involved.

We are going to make this world better.

We will make this world better.

Please say you’ll help me.

Tell your stories. Trust each other. Vote with passion. Vote with conviction. Vote with knowledge. Just find the women you trust and vote for them.

And if you have ideas to repair this world, please talk to me. Comment here or write me directly.

I very much look forward to talking with you all. Let’s make America the country that becomes known as the center of humanitarianism. Let’s become a people that the world looks at with trust, respect and gratitude.

Let’s repair the world.

Being ODB: My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

I am a Naval Flight Officer and veteran. I served eight years on active duty and entered the Navy Reserve in 2010 after having my first child. My callsign is ODB (that’s another post) and the Being ODB series focuses on my time in the Navy as a short Jewish female aviator. This post originally appeared on The Purple Mama.

After finishing flight school and reporting to my squadron back in 2005, I stepped aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and life got even more interesting. This is an account of my first day on The Boat. Some of it may be a foreign language to civilians, so please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy reading it!

My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

1130: Strap on four computers and about twice my weight in gear and head to the ready room….wherever that may be. (Heh. Strap-on.) Try not to panic when I have to walk aboard alone and clueless. Feel like I have a large blinking neon sign above my head saying HELP I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE! Have no idea what to say to the Officer of The Deck. Find out I am supposed to say either “Request permission to board” or “Report my return aboard.” I say something like “Request permission to report my returning to board.”

1132: While carrying aforementioned gear, fall down the same ladder upon which a fellow squadron member broke his leg on the previous deployment. Get up with some bruises, mainly to my ego. (Really, Mom, I’m ok.)

1133: Realize that personnel ranging from Seaman Schmuckatelli to a Commander on ship’s company witnessed the fall. Freeze in horror. Unfreeze to avoid holding up the line of 1500 annoyed people behind me.

1200: Find out that my stateroom isn’t available yet, so I have nowhere to bring my gear. (Aside: The Navy calls them staterooms to make them sound luxurious. Most of you have bathrooms that are bigger.) Am told I have to wait until “later” to get a room. Plan to sleep in the ready room. Which is fine, really. That means I don’t have to negotiate any more ladders.

1200 – 1300: Hang around in the ready room trying to blend in with the walls so I don’t get tasked and have to risk another ladder anytime soon.

1302: Get tasked to do stuff and have to climb at least ten ladders trying to find goal of tasking. Get miserably lost, not solely because of lack of orientation, but also because all ladders seem to lead to the same place: nowhere. On the plus side, I don’t fall again. Yet.

1330: Finally realize that I have to figure it out and actually get started on my job. Find out that my job is going to be a bit more difficult because my month of prep work has been arbitrarily declared null and void. Right butt cheek and elbow start throbbing from fall.

1331-1600: Get the hang of the ladder and climb up and down five decks with computers while trying to set up the LAN and my users. Only get marginally lost and remain upright the entire time. Feel proud, and still bruised.

1600: Eat in Wardroom. Cloth napkins! Glass goblets! Buffet style cafeteria food! Fried goodness! Multiple desserts! Am in heaven!

1645: Flight suit will barely stayed zipped up. Have to work out three times a day every day now…Ugh, I don’t know if that was really chicken. Where’s the head?

1700: Go to S5 (Staterooms) office and stand in a line that snakes around the corner.

1730: Move up two feet.

1745: Move up three feet.

1800: Move back three feet.

1830: Get into the office and ask for a key to my room. He leaves the office muttering something about leaves. Or something.

1845: First person I asked is nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a key.

1900: Find out that original stateroom is still occupied. Get sent to the Ship’s Secretary’s stateroom, which is a 3-man that she has made into a 1-woman. Have nowhere to put my stuff and she has no interest in making room. I don’t blame her.

1930: Go back to S5 office and ask for a different room.

2000: Original person nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a different room.

2030: Get a key to an 8 man on the 0-3 level under the Jet Blast Deflector, or JBD. Original room was 5 decks lower in a very quiet space. Am sure that something called Jet Blast Deflector can’t be too bad, though.

2035: Resume ADP duties. Climb 13 more ladder wells, bringing the total this far to at least 5,132.

0030: Cannot put off bringing my seabag and duffel bag up 5 decks any longer. Make two trips. Eagerly anticipate sleep.

0040: Realize that my flip-flops, necessary for showering in the morning and getting around during the night, are at the bottom of my very tightly packed seabag.

0045: Unpack and realize that every single drawer and cabinet make a curiously loud whining sound when opening or closing. Am sure the five sleeping roommates don’t mind at all.

0100: Finish unpacking, brush teeth, wash face and hit the rack. Literally. Discover “mattress” is well-disguised piece of concrete. Ouch.

0105: Somewhat noisy, but think I can fall asleep. After all, it’s not so bad, much like my college dorm, which was not too OH MY G-D A TRACTOR JUST FELL THROUGH THE ROOF NEXT DOOR.

0106: No one is very concerned about fallen tractor. Realize it is aforementioned JBD when it happens again 2 minutes later. And every 2 minutes after that. For a very. Long. Time.

0108: Realize that Jet Blast Deflector is deflecting blast into my room. Try to find something peaceful and lulling about said blast.

0140-0800: Attempt something once known as “sleep.” Realize it will take time to adjust to this new definition.

0830: Proceed to female head to take a shower. Feel bruised but very excited about first full day aboard. Start the water and wait for it to warm up.

0832: Wait some more for water to warm up.

0834: Still waiting and trying to remain positive.

0835: Oh no. Please no.

0840: Huddle in corner of shower and soap up. Dread rinsing.

0841: F*ckthisisfreezingf*ckthisisf*ckingcoldholyf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ck.

0843: Head back to stateroom, warmed up by rainforest-like atmosphere in passageway. Get dressed.

0915: Make it to ready room and start to get work done. Actually help a few new sailors with directions along the way. I think.

1130: Take a quick stroll in the hangar bay and appreciate the view of the ocean rushing past 50 feet below. Help a few more sailors with directions. Hopefully. Remain upright all the way down. Bruises not so bad. Things will be just fine…

Eve, The Purple Mama, is a veteran and mother trying to take over the world here. She writes anything that is unrelated to world domination here.

20140119-232131.jpg

A Victoria’s Secret employee wouldn’t let a mom breastfeed. But that’s not the problem.

There is a lot of uproar about this story in which a Victoria’s Secret employee refused a customer’s request to breastfeed her baby in the store. Yes, it’s ridiculous that this employee said to go nurse in an alley. Yes, it’s unfortunate for Victoria’s Secret that they apparently didn’t train all their employees on breastfeeding policies very well.

But they’re not the problem; that mom is.

Let me clarify; that she felt she had to ask permission to feed her child is an indictment of our society. The most basic right of a newborn is to be fed when she is hungry. Would she have asked permission to give that baby a bottle? Probably not. But because she is a breastfeeding mother, she had to make sure the people around her were ok with it. Why should that matter in the face of a child’s hunger? Why should we make this tiny, vulnerable infant wait and suffer because someone doesn’t want to think about a nipple in a baby’s mouth?

I’m going to bang my drum again here. An individual’s comfort level should not ever come before that baby’s right to eat. It is time for this country to get its priorities unf*cked when it comes to families and mothers. Once we start putting the next generation, and therefore our future, higher on our list, we can really start to evolve.

So for those moms already breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere because that’s what your baby needs, thank you for helping us on the path to renormalizing breastfeeding. And for those mamas still feeling a little unsure about the whole thing, just go for it. We’ve got your back. Don’t ask someone if it’s ok. You know it’s ok. And if you still feel unsure, message me. I’m glued to my phone and I love requests for support. Seriously. So please feed your child and don’t make her wait because of a stranger. Your baby and your full boobs will thank you for it.

Love and purple,

Eve

20140117-013314.jpg

Band of Mothers: Breastfeeding at Work

All too often these days, I notice that mothers are the first ones criticizing other mothers, and it breaks my heart.

I recently wrote about a Canadian politician trying to breastfeed her baby without losing her seat as Councillor. And my awesome friends and followers shared it out. One of the first negative comments was from another mother, and it made me sad. I’m going to break it down here.

“She shouldn’t get to bring her baby to work with her in her ‘seat’ all day. This is not what other working moms who breastfeed have to do.”

Unfortunately, you’re right. Most moms can’t bring their babies to work, and I think it’s utter bullsh!t. (See what I did there? With the udder thing?) It’s time to evolve a little faster, people. Not much has changed when it comes to working mothers and childcare. Our society views breasts as sexual, and women as either mothers or working women. In most office situations, we can do a damn fine job with a baby attached, and I’m determined to show that to the world.

“Newborns at work will never be the norm.”

Why not? Because that’s not the way we’ve always done it? You’re either a mom or you know one; you know how well we multitask, and how quiet an attached newborn can be. There are already women doing it; I read a lot about the flack they get, but not one word about the child actually causing any disruption.

Let’s face it, many people just don’t want to be in the same room as a baby sucking on a nipple, which is ridiculous. It’s like we’re a bunch of nine year old boys saying “ew gross!” while pointing and whispering. It’s a mother feeding her child. That’s it.

20140106-232106.jpg

Our society has this thing now where if one person is uncomfortable, something must be done to rectify it. Some will read this and say “I wouldn’t be able to work if there was a woman whipping out her boob at work.” Is she getting her work done? Yes? Then why can’t you do yours? If she has a baby latched on and is working fine one-handed, what is stopping you?

“I love breast feeding and support it 100% but this lady is causing trouble.”

Aaaaand there it is. The big but. I support breastfeeding, but [insert non-supportive and/or judgemental statement here.] The crazy thing is that the commenter is currently breastfeeding. And it’s not her first time. She knows how hard it is, but she still can’t just say “you go, girl!” Why can’t we just step aside and let mothers do what they can to provide for their child and also pursue their personal goals? Why do we keep making mothers choose?

I’d like to see a society that values and supports the mother-child pair and recognizes the amazing abilities of women.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years. Yet the U.S. is one of only four countries in the developed world with no mandated paid maternity leave. Sure, we have pumping rooms, and pumping laws are getting more common, and pump this and pump that.

We need to shift our priorities so that the focus at work is breastfeeding, with pumping as an emergency backup.

Breastfeeding our babies at work is better, faster, healthier, and easier for everyone involved. Pumping at work just sucks.

I have heard mother after mother talk about how they couldn’t keep up with their baby’s demand while pumping at work. I pumped when I was still active duty, and I couldn’t either. As any pumping mother will tell you, it takes a lot of work to build up a supply when you have a pump instead of a baby at your breast. A pump doesn’t signal the same as a hungry baby. A pump can’t respond to a baby’s saliva and make antibodies specifically designed for the infant’s current state. A pump doesn’t bite either, but you know, trade-offs.

20140106-232122.jpg

Shifting our focus means a lot of change. It means changing how and where we do childcare. It means caring more about the next generation of humanity than an individual adult’s comfort level. It means upsetting the status quo in a big way. It means “causing trouble.”

But it’s so worth it.

Mamas out there, I beg you. Please let’s just support each other’s choices, even if we don’t agree. If every mom’s declaration is met with support and acceptance, we can accomplish amazing things together. Heck, you don’t have to be a mother. Let’s just support one another. Then we’ll know better and do better. For ourselves, each other, and our kids. Let’s heal the world.

Much love to you all,

Eve

We can breastfeed and work. Because we’re women.

I just found out about a politician in Canada named Amy England. She recently had a baby and is not eligible for maternity leave because she doesn’t pay into the fund. (In Canada, everyone pays a small amount into Employment Insurance, which covers parental leave. Novel concept, right?) As of now, there is no policy for councillors who give birth during their term.

Councillor England is determined to breastfeed (thank you!!) and is bringing her baby to work with her so she doesn’t miss a meeting. It kills me that people are apparently claiming she can’t have a baby and also serve the people. Really? Who better to take care of constituents than a young mother raising the next generation? A crotchety old man who thinks we should all be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

I don’t think so either.

In Amy’s words:

I am a regional and city municipal councillor in the city of Oshawa in Ontario Canada. I am the first woman who has been elected and had a baby while being elected in my city and region. I have been breast feeding my 3 week old baby and must return to work on January 6th. If I miss more than 3 months of meetings in a row I will lose my seat. I will be bringing my baby with me for the purpose of breast feeding and have been viciously attacked for this decision when I announced my intention. Now I expect when I bring my baby, it will cause major debate and attention…I do not want to be pushed into bathrooms or backrooms and have to choose between my child’s human right for breast milk and my right to vote on behalf of my constituents.

There is absolutely no reason that Councillor England can’t be allowed to breastfeed her baby. Mothers have worked while breastfeeding throughout history, and it’s high time we are acknowledged and supported in modern day society. Look at Licia Ronzulli, an Italian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who breastfed her daughter at work when she was six weeks old and still brings her daughter to work at age three.

20131231-232456.jpg
Seriously, how awesome is this?

When Councillor England’s story first came out, there were some awful comments. This article by Chris Bird highlights some of the doozies. I came to this part and thought YES, he says it perfectly:

So, go ahead and throw insults at Amy England and other women for trying to change the ‘traditional’ way of raising children and/or being a politician. Or better yet, you could praise them for having the balls to say that something needs to change. It’s not a boys club anymore, and it never will be again. Once you accept that, and try to work with people instead of against them, you’ll find that your life will become a lot easier.”

Please get the word out and show support for Councillor England and all breastfeeding mothers. You can find her at http://amyengland.ca.

Thank you!

Move over, men: The beginning of the movement

Not too long ago, I went out to a local bar because I needed to sing my ass off and get my groove on. (Warning for my fellow grammar snobs: I end sentences with prepositions.) I’m cute, short and buxom, so as I walked into the bar, I was getting those looks. You know, the men were all hey-I’d-f*ck-that, and the women were all who-the-f*ck-is-this, and it was an interesting vibe.

Most of the men were completely distracted by my boobs and my strut (I’m done with playing small), whereas the women heard every word I spoke to the crowd. In fact, they were cheering and laughing.

I’ll admit that I have wielded my sexual power to have a desired effect on men; I mean, c’mon, it’s so damn easy. And it’s definitely a heady feeling to make men want you. While I immensely enjoy feeling wanted and desired, I really really don’t like any kind of animosity or negativity, especially from other women. Plus, men’s sexual attraction is primal and physical, and I want to connect with people on a cerebral level as well. (For those of you without Word Of The Day toilet paper, cerebral = of the brain.)

So I walked around the bar meeting people, and as I did I became acutely aware of some narrowed male eyes looking my way. I thought back to a mentally abusive relationship from my past; I remembered how much “trouble” I used to get in when I talked to other people. “Clark” would get insanely jealous (not exaggerating) and accuse me of cheating on him with every guy I talked to. When he started abusing my cat, I knew it was time to get out. (That’s another story.)

Now, I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband who stimulates me both mentally and physically, an evolved man who supports my personal growth and my journey. But millions of women are trapped in abusive relationships with no allies to pull them out.

Point being, I realized that I need to use my “gift of gab” to reach people. Women who feel alone, men who are sick of the violence, people who want love to reign supreme again. So I will continue to draw attention to myself, but now I know what to do when I capture the attention.

I realized it was time to use my powers for good.

So I got out a stack of my business cards, and as I handed one to each surprised woman there, I whispered this in her ear:

Very soon I’m going to post an article about how men have had their chance to run the world and still haven’t unf*cked it. We love them, they’ve tried their best, but it’s our turn to fix this sh*t. I’m looking for my mama tribe; are you with me?

Every single woman except for one immediately either hugged me or gave me a high-five. Every. Single. One. And the one that didn’t respond kept glancing at the man she was with, which made me worry for her. When I told a friend about the one woman, she said what I was thinking: he might be abusive.

Do you know that one in four women lives with domestic violence? So it was actually more than that one woman in the bar that night who’d been victimized. Many of the same ones who had hugged or high-fived me are currently in abusive relationships, and they found the courage to have that one small act of defiance and freedom. That one moment in one night when they said No More.

I wish this for the millions and millions of women who are abused in our world simply because they are women.

No More.

Around the world, women and girls are killed, beaten, raped, often in the name of “honor” or a wrathful god. (This is still happening even in the U.S.) Women are burned with acid because someone accuses them of adultery, and often the “adultery” is rape.

I desperately yearn to unite all the world’s women in standing up and pushing back against our abusers with our collective hands up and say:

No More.

We need women in power to fix this f*cking mess of a planet. The modern world needs a hell of a lot more female leaders. Even an evolved man can be distracted by sex or power struggles because of the primal male, the inner caveman who is focused on either hunting or mating. But the female primal self is a nurturer, a caretaker, and a goddess. We are natural multitaskers, as has been proven by scientific studies repeatedly. And we are not easily distracted when we’re focused on a mission.

I know this because I am a mission commander. No, really, I’m a Naval Flight Officer, veteran, and qualified Mission Commander in the E-2C Hawkeye. So, this mama knows from missions. And lots of women do, actually.

Did you know that it was the women of congress that got us out of the government shutdown? Hell, if a small group of women can resolve that mess, can you imagine what all of us can do?

We can heal the world.

We can restore love as the ideal instead of power, acceptance as the currency rather than guilt, and individuality as a thing to be celebrated instead of shunned.

So isn’t it time that we truly embrace our power and step up to lead? It’s time to lean in on a global scale. And it can start with American women changing the face of our country. How amazing would it be if the U.S. became known as the kind, helpful nation? It would be so wonderful to be welcomed everywhere we travel rather than sneered at or insulted.

Women make up 51% of the American population, but we make up less than 19% of Congress. Let’s make our voices heard and get more women in there, dammit.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be posting about the female politicians out there that could take over this country if we support them.

Please please please say you’ll help me heal the world.

Comment with your thoughts or questions. And if you’d like to write for Move Over Men, I’d be honored to have you here!

Much love to you all,

Eve

20140203-225414.jpg

Photo credit: Vanessa Bryan Freelance Photography

I guess I’m a whip it out mom

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have probably said it. “I’m all for nursing in public, but some women just whip it out…”

And it baffles me every time. I mean, have you really ever seen someone do this? “I’m gonna feed the baby now – HEY EVERYONE HERE COMES THE BOOB! WOOHOO!” It makes us sound like Nursing Moms Gone Wild.

Here’s the thing. All I’m trying to do is feed my kid. I’m not trying to flash anyone. Honest. But my baby (and many others) won’t nurse under a cover, nor should he have to. It’s summer. In Florida. Y’all, it is effing hot. A nursing tank top is part of my daily outfit, so there’s going to be some boob showing while I’m feeding my boy. And that’s ok. Breasts are primarily for nutrition. Breasts are not sexual organs or genitalia. Breasts are loved around the world because they are the first thing we ever knew and loved.

Please know that the mother you see is only trying to nurture her baby with the food that is meant for her little one. Why should she be banished to solitary confinement so she can nurse? Why should she have to remove herself from social situations because other people aren’t yet comfortable with the normalcy of nursing? She needs to be with the rest of us, because that’s the only way people will get used to seeing it. That’s the only way we can truly re-normalize breastfeeding.

So next time you see a nursing mother, or any mother, please give her a smile, a friendly nod, or some sign that says “hey, thanks for doing what you do, and keep doing it.” And here’s the key: do that even if you don’t agree with what she’s doing. Because that, my friends, is how we will bring back the village.

Please tell me your story, and how much support you did or didn’t get. Let’s figure this out together and make things better for all moms.

Much love and purple to all of you.