The Birth of Listen Sistah

I was raised by a strong, black mother (and a great dad, but he isn’t nearly as entertaining). She was a powerful woman that everyone was drawn to for advice, care, nurturing, safety and love. My mother rarely addressed me by my name, Jessica. In fact, most of her sentences began with “Listen, Sistah…”. She was a fiercely spirited woman who was determined that I be well educated, well mannered, competitive and in charge of my life. Most of all, I learned from her that common sense is the answer to all of life’s questions. Problem is, most people don’t want to hear the truth, are in denial or have been taught to be diminutive and not speak up for themselves or others. That’s where I come in. Listen Sistah is about stating the obvious, sharing my opinion and telling you the way I see it. Just like my mom. Although this time, I won’t hear “Sistah…Ya Grounded”.

An Honest Letter to Moms with Daughters

I have read the letter from Mrs. Hall and I have read one of the many responses from a woman named Rebecca I have to say, Rebecca, you aren’t even in the ballpark.

Let me break this down for you. I have daughters and a son. I have very candid conversations with my girls about their responsibilities as a female. In a perfect world, these conversations would not be necessary, but let’s get real, ladies, it is most definitely a reality. When my son is old enough, he will understand this as well.

Ladies, whether you like it or not, our daughters ARE responsible for themselves, their behaviors and actions that may result in being sexualized by men. Blaming our “toxic culture” or the media can only go so far. If you are not willing to teach your daughter to have high self-esteem, good self-image and personal responsibility, then you are dealing with a time bomb. This is YOUR responsibility. If you believe that photos of your daughter in her underwear, back arched, standing in her bedroom with a pouty look on her face is a result of media pressure, you really need to wake the f*ck up. YOU are allowing her to contribute to this “toxic culture”. If you feel helpless, take away the phone, for God’s sake. Who is the parent and who is the child?

I believe we are dealing with a “toxic culture” of parents who are so careful not to upset or hurt the feelings of their precious children, many of Generation Y are turning into a bunch of spoiled brats that do not live with consequences for their actions, just parents who are most willing to point fingers at everyone and everything else they can blame.

The sexualization of women has been present since the dawn of time. The same rules apply. Cave boys didn’t bring home cave girls who wore their animal furs too short and tight. Today, boys are not going to bring home girls who twerk online. Whether we like it or not, we are the fairer of the sexes, which will always make us the target of the double standard. So, we teach our daughters not to parade her vagina around in public, kiss other girls for fun or dry hump a foam finger on National Television.

Here is a quote from Rebecca’s article:

Our boys MUST be taught these lessons. They must know that when a girl engages in sexually provocative behavior, her behavior does not give boys a “pass” to dwell exclusively on the girls’ sexuality.

The answer to this is YES it does give them a “pass” to dwell exclusively on the girls’ sexuality. If you put it out there, that’s what you get back.

The famous philosopher (okay, he’s a comedian), Dave Chapelle, once told a great story that I will paraphrase and share with you. He was in a club one evening and several girls walked by in skin tight skirts and tops exposing cleavage that pushed their boobs pretty much up to their chins. When the guys began to make comments about their figures, the men were met with the statement “Just because we’re dressed this way doesn’t mean we’re easy”. So, the next day, Mr. Chapelle went out dressed in a costume that resembled a policeman’s uniform. Soon enough, someone came along yelling “Officer, Officer, I need your help!” His response was “Just because I LOOK like a policeman doesn’t mean I AM a policeman”.

Do we understand each other?

Too Much Ger

I have to say that I am disappointed that I will not see Paula Deen on Food Network anymore. I liked her show. I’d just turn down the volume because, to me, her voice is equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. Despite the worst Southern drawl in recent history, we cannot deny that she is one hell of a cook.

Am I surprised by this story? Not in the least. This is a woman who was born in 1947 in Albany (pronounce AL-Bany) Georgia. Ni**er was probably the example for “N” in her childhood alphabet book, complete with a drawing of a little nappy, big lipped baby eating watermelon. So, when she was working as a bank teller, the bank was robbed and a black man held a gun to her head during the entire robbery. Did she have a right to express herself as she did by calling him the dreaded “N” word? Damn skippy, she did. I would have called him out of his name and his mamma too. Was it the best path of anger to take? Probably not. However, we cannot deny that people do say things out of anger. When are we all guilty of this behavior? That would be behind the wheel, my friends. I have been known to call people things that would make Katt Williams say “what the?”

Which brings me to the elephant in the room; Why are black people allowed to use the “N” word and nobody else? My response is that we should not. Our culture seems to be of two mindsets. Those who understand the pain that comes from the word and the generation that thinks it is an acceptable way to address one another. My mother was arrested and jailed on many occasions as she fought for our rights that so many take for granted.  That said, this generation is totally unfazed by niggah niggah niggah. Apparently, if you use the GAH pronunciation, it’s acceptable. Perhaps if Paula had only said nigGAH instead of nigGER. Too much GER, Paula. Too much GER.

Guide to an easy Pregnancy & Delivery

It’s early Saturday morning and I was just reading an article on Yahoo! entitled 10 Steps to an Easier Birth. I laughed out loud and woke up the family.

The first step, according to this article (which doesn’t name the poor misguided writer) is to massage yourself for 10 minutes every day. I suggest you go have a massage for 60 minutes! Throw in a mani/pedi for good measure. Your hands and feet, no matter how swollen, should still look cute. Which reminds me, go buy yourself a gigantic CZ diamond ring. Your normal rings won’t fit by month 6, so you might as well have a giant rock to stare at on your pudgy finger.

Other gems include Rehearse a Plan. Let me tell you about plans. God says “Ha!” My trip number two to the hospital was more like Formula One night racing. My husband suddenly decided that speed limits and road signs did not apply to him.

Here’s a good one. Follow a diet that makes the birth passages soft and slippery and an easy space for the baby to slip out through. 37 shots of olive oil ain’t gonna help push a watermelon out of your Who-Ha. Incidentally, don’t push too hard after the baby has been born. My doctor asked me to give one big push and he was hit with the equivalent of an exploding dye pack right in the face.

Last, but not least, Trust in Nature. Listen, I’m all for these Super Women who want to experience birth as natural as possible. Just kidding. If we’ve learned anything in life, it’s not to trust Mother Nature. She’s unpredictable and scary. By baby number three, I had this birth thing figured out. I scheduled an induction. First thing, I insisted we hook up the epidural. Next, I watched a little television, then, casually and painlessly pushed him out. My doctor actually sat on the bed next to me during delivery. Then, we just looked at the baby like, oh, he’s here. I was told that I hold the record for the most uneventful labor & delivery ever. Score!

My advice, eat what makes you happy. Keep your air conditioner on 50 degrees for the full 9 months. Tell people not to touch you. Buy handbags. Take naps. Play the tired pregnant lady card to get groceries carried, quicker seating at restaurants and to get out of going to functions you would rather skip anyway. You’ll have enough excitement after that little person arrives.

In Response to A&F

Last week, I read an old interview with the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, dated in 2006, where he basically stated that the store was only meant to cater to cool, skinny teens. You can imagine the backlash from those comments. Everything from videos showing people giving A&F clothing to the homeless, to Ellen DeGeneres giving Mike Jeffries the verbal beat down of the century.

Every retailer has a niche. Lane Bryant caters to larger gals, Gap to hipsters and bebe to the dreadfully tacky.  Mr. Jeffries made a wrong turn when he equated weight to the coolness factor. Somewhere in his misguided life, I bet there’s a little fat boy who wasn’t very well liked. Not because he was fat, but probably because he was just an asshole. Grown up Mr. Jeffries just hasn’t figured that one out yet.

Now, in defense of clothing size. I don’t know where this idea came from that we women should be able to wear whatever we want. It simply isn’t true. When a pattern is created, it is created with a form in mind. This is why there are different cuts that flatter different shapes.  A pair of short shorts in a size 6 does not translate well into a size 18. Nor should they. Pleated pants should be outlawed. Petit women should avoid full length anything. If you are over a size 20, bikinis don’t look good on you. You have every right to wear them, but face it, it’s not a good look, nor was the bikini designed for your body type. Spandex is a privilege, not a right. It’s as easy to dress like a skinny ho as a fat ho. The list is endless but keep in mind, the do’s far outweigh the don’ts.

This is not about positive self-image; it’s about the reality of knowing how clothes should properly fit your body and being conscious of correct styles that flatter your shape. You’re not proving a point to anyone by squeezing into booty shorts when the booty is hanging out all over the street.  This rule applies to all sizes. That’s not sexy, it’s embarrassing.

Listen, clothes are all about proper fit, not popularity. However, I can guarantee you will be a hit for all the wrong reasons if the top you choose pushes your boobs up around your neck.

Your clothing choice is your calling card; your first impression. Make a positive one.

Who Turned on the Blast Furnace

It’s 9:30pm, it’s barely dark, I’m wearing long sleeved cotton pj’s, socks, carrying a hand towel, it’s 44 degrees and the fan is blowing on high facing the bed. I know it sounds like a weird remix from The Blues Brothers, but welcome to Peri menopause.

It’s 9:30 because I am exhausted and plan my whole evening around my face hitting the pillow. The pj’s, not sexy but utilitarian. Someone needs to invent a pair made of that wicking material. Socks, because my feet are freezing… for now. They will eventually come off and join the others in the sock holding facility that is under my sheets. Now, the hand towel is the most important accessory in the nighttime ensemble. It gets shoved between my boobs to keep them separate and absorb the night sweat. I know, I’ve taken “hot” to a whole new level.

As I settle in for a good night’s sleep, I yell goodnight and I love you to my husband who is way across the California King. I notice he is wearing a hoodie.  Meanwhile, someone has apparently turned on the blast furnace. Thank goodness I have the oscillating fan set on high three inches from my face.

I drift off to sleep, 17 pillows strategically placed between my knees, behind my back and under my neck, dreaming of the days when I just rolled into bed naked, needing only a few hours of shut eye to fully function, crawling all over my husband like a jungle gym. With this comes a peaceful smile of being thankful I don’t have to keep that up. I slide my foot over to that man who is snoring like a lumberjack and a few hairs coming out of his ears, who is equally as content.