Category Archives: Personal Posts

The Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

By: Nicole Mclaren

            Your gender can indicate and in a way predict how much you will make in our lifetime. Truth be told that is not the only physical feature that can have an impact on your income, your race, nationality, sexuality, are some of the other things that could also do that. These things along with opportunities, social-economic status and community can play a large role in determining how much money you are able to make during your life.

Looking at women across different ethnicities, we each make less than our male counterpart. Asian and white men make the most with Asian and white women falling behind them. While Latino, Native Americans and African-American women make the least but are closer to closing the gender pay gap with males with the same ethnic background. This pay gap between males and females stays pretty much the same as education levels increase, which shows us that it is not the sole variable. The largest gap between the genders when looking at occupation is “Financial Managers” and “Software Developers”. Even controlling for other factors like education, job field, and race there is still a gap between men and women.

Many people dispute the fact that the gender pay gap is real and that it should be written off by other variables. To those people, I want to say that this utterly false. It is our duty to address not only the gender pay gap but to use these facts to address the other factors that influence income inequality. We must think about these intersecting variables and how they can have real implications on people’s lives.

Unless we do something to address these issues the gender pay gap is not going to close and women will continue to make less than men for another 50 years. That is a huge chunk of our lives that we are contributing to the economy as workers and not being fairly compensated. If you feel like you and your fellow women deserve to be paid equally I encourage you to get involved with local women’s organizations. You can start here by becoming involved with American Association of University Women (AAUW), they provide important education about women’s rights and also are politically active. I used their data to write this. Just click on the link for opportunities to get locally, politically involved or provide financial support.

Dusting off the char when you’ve gotten burnt out

Large black and tan dog with face smooshed on floor, looking exhausted
Today, this is definitely me.

When I was thinking about what to write before this weekend, I had a ton of ideas! There are some books to review about childlessness (some awesome, some sadly less so), a couple of movies I’ve seen recently that I want to recommend (Boy Meets Girl was stupendous, both in its trans* storyline and in its overall quality), and personal reflections about all of the political attacks that Planned Parenthood’s been dealing with lately (in a nutshell: our supporters are fabulous, but these kinds of tactics are more than tiresome.)

However, I got pretty sick on Friday after trying to burn the candle at both ends (and a little bit in the middle), and found myself thinking ruefully about the posts on self-care that we’ve written here in the past.

It’s always a lot easier to talk about how to do this kind of work instead of actually doing it, no matter how many times we trip ourselves up. And as someone with a chronic illness that flared up two weeks ago, I should be even more well versed in how important it is to take time for these kinds of things.

So I’m writing this post as a way to try and cement this lesson in my head, but also to help encourage anyone else out there who can find it all too easy to let this stuff slip away in the bustle of life. In particular, there are two quotes about self-care that I want to remember the next time I find myself here, and that I wanted to share:

Life should be touched, not strangled.
You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times,
and at others move forward with it.
Ray Bradbury

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.
Audre Lorde, via Everyday Feminism


Tagged , , , ,

Beating Burnout

This spring, anyone who’s politically involved has had a full plate, with Florida and a few other states being particularly busy when it comes to fighting bad bills and working to spread the word about rallies, SAAM and other actions. And when you pile that work on top of our everyday lives (as most of us do), the towering grey cloud of burnout tends to start looming.

It’s hard to pull back from this kind of work to take care of yourself, especially when there are a lot of really awful possibilities lurking on the immediate horizon. (Florida legislature, I’m looking at your Bathroom Bill and 24-hour Waiting Period as I type this.) But while you can motivate yourself for a while on the indignation that comes from the awfulness in the world, it’s not a stable long-term strategy.

So what is?

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.
Audre Lorde, via Everyday Feminism

Everyone’s different, but no matter what you do to rejuvenate yourself, the first step is taking time for yourself to actually do it. For me, a big part of this is consciously unplugging, whether it’s for an evening, a day, or sometimes (wonderfully) a weekend. If you’ve got calls, texts and emails rushing in, it can be close to impossible to really get into a space that helps you to build up your energy again. (Since some of those will still pile up while you’re not answering them, I tend to feel less anxious if I also set aside some time to sift through all that when I get back.)

So once you’ve carved out some time, what do you put in there? When I’m feeling run down, I tend to first turn to something mindless. I really like certain crappy reality TV, and watching Survivor or the Amazing Race online is pretty much guaranteed to not require too much brainpower. Vegging out can only do so much, though, but once your brain has spun down a bit, you can rev it up with something with a bit more meaningful content, like a good novel or movie. Hobbies where you’re learning something new can also be a good way to engage your brain while keeping it so that your only obligations are to yourself. (My current favorite one is DuoLingo, a free site for learning languages.)

For those of you who aren’t as fond of playing the hermit, spending time with friends where you aren’t planning or strategizing can be very restorative. As someone whose closest friends and family are almost all a few states away, it’s also really great to set aside time to catch up with them when I can really focus on our conversation. Facebook and texts are great, but it’s not the same as having a deeper, more centering talk with someone.

And no discussion of self-care would be complete without talking about sleep, water, food, and exercise, since they can make you feel utterly miserable when you’re neglecting them. The good news about being worn down, though, is that small changes can make a pretty big difference here. That may mean keeping your water bottle full throughout the day, or it may mean taking 5 minute dance breaks every hour, but you can almost always shunt something into your schedule that’ll help.

Tagged , , ,

Why Shaving My Legs During the Winter Sucks More Than a Hoover

I woke up to temperatures in the single digits this morning, which reminded me of this funny (but true) post from last year… 

many-bladesSo I had to shave my legs today and it sucked BIG TIME. Why? …because there were about 43 blades on the razor and not a single one could chop down the Redwoods I had been cultivating for about a week …because my Everest-like goosebumps hurt like hell to shave over …because it is literally 12 degrees out and I kinda need the insulation. If I don’t shave for the span of a week, my leg hair growth goes something like this:

Day 1: silky smooth, foxy legs
Day 2: fine grain sandpaper
Day 3: highly effective lint trap for fleece pajama pants
Day 4: sharp little blades waiting to slice anyone who dares touch (AKA Velcro status)
Day 5: Why haven’t I shaved? Do I shave now or wait three more days so I can make the “crossover” (leg hair turns soft)?
Day 6: wearing spandex or tights causes physical pain
Day 6 (evening): natural birth control
Day 7: Amazon Rainforest status, including three previously undiscovered plants species

Cold weather separates leg-shavers into three categories:

The Daily Shaver: AKA massive time waster
The Capris: special occasion coming up? that’s ok, just shave up to the knee
The Sasquatch: ’nuff said

Which kind of Winter shaver are you? I’m a Sasquatch until that deep-seated stereotypical feminine “ideal” creeps into my consciousness and I feel compelled to give into my role as a “woman.” Thanks for nothing, Winter, for the cognitive dissonance.

Tagged , , , ,

Natural Pain Relief During Labor

N0019821 A foetus at full term ready for deliveryFor many women, the scariest part of pregnancy is labor. It certainly was for me. I knew I wanted as little medical intervention as possible and hoped to have a birth at home with the help of midwives. I saw my first birth while watching a video during childbirth preparation classes. I don’t know what I expected it to look like, but certainly not THAT! The video talked about “waves of increasingly intense cramping followed by periods of relaxation.” Intense cramping was sort of an understatement, but I did end up having two natural home births.

I recently found an article suggesting some techniques for pain relief during labor. Some of these I tried with varying degrees of success during my two births. These three were the most helpful.

Have a support person

Having someone throughout the labor who you trust completely and who knows what medical interventions you want is extremely helpful. With my first birth, my husband was right by my side throughout. The midwives coached him when necessary. With my second birth he was trying to get daughter number one to sleep so the midwives were there to talk me through. When labor became intense, having someone looking me in the eyes talking me through the contractions and helping me focus on what was happening made all the difference. I found myself spacing out, forgetting why I was going through this! A simple reminder that the baby is almost here, everything I was feeling was normal, I was doing great, helped me calm down and get perspective. I found touch and physical nearness comforting as well. Massaging my back, belly and feet felt wonderful and helped me relax. However, some people don’t want to be touched at all. I could not imagine going through the experience alone.

Move around

Movement is distracting to me when I’m dealing with any sort of pain. During labor being able to walk, sit in a rocking chair, and change positions in bed was very helpful. Sitting in a warm tub or taking a shower was comforting during early labor. I felt more in control and could follow what my body wanted to do if I wasn’t restrained to staying in a bed. I gave birth in the squatting position both times.


Since most labors last for hours and both of mine started at night, being able to breathe deeply and slowly between contractions helped me relax and rest a bit. As labor intensified, counting my inhalations and exhalations helped me feel more in control and helped distract me. My support person helped me focus on breathing as well.

Each of us has their own individual birth experiences and deals with pain uniquely, but I hope this encourages people to realize this is an amazing, doable, life changing experience. I never felt so empowered as after having brought my daughters into this life in a natural, peaceful way.

Tagged , , ,

Why My 4 Year Old Needs Feminism

Last week I was driving my two girls across town when I announced that we were heading to pick up their Daddy for lunch. My husband works for the federal division of an engineering firm and the security is tight. So when my daughter suggested that we go inside to pick him up, I nonchalantly told her that we are not allowed to go in his building. She could have come to many conclusions as to why we couldn’t go in, but her suggestion was this: “Mommy, let’s dress up like men so we can go inside.”

My heart instantly broke into tiny pieces. She perceived his office, his career, his line of work to be a “men’s club” where women aren’t allowed. This is why feminism isn’t and shouldn’t be dead.

According to Merriam-Webster, the basic definition of feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

I find feminism to be a lot like Christianity in the sense that even though there are many interpretations, practices, and beliefs, the fundamental belief is the same. Like many other movements and belief systems, feminism has seen its share of outliers, or extremists, if you will. These extremists, to the dismay of REAL feminists, have a way of twisting that very simple definition above into ill-constructed practices of shaming, blaming, hurting, and other un-feminist-like behaviors.

Its tough practicing feminism in its truest form. We live in a society that doesn’t nurture it. Practicing Christianity in its truest form isn’t easy either, but it doesn’t stop millions of people from trying.

A real feminist doesn’t shame women for getting breast implants. A real feminist doesn’t think women are superior to or more entitled than men. A real feminist loves and values men. A real feminist doesn’t sling nasty names at a woman who enjoys casual sex. A real feminist doesn’t blame women for being stay-at-home moms, or working moms, or not wanting children at all. My point here is that a REAL feminist seeks EQUAL RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES. Rights and opportunities. Rights. Opportunites.


Until my daughter perceives her opportunity in every line of work to be equal, she needs feminism. Until she will get paid the same amount a man does for the exact same work, she needs feminism.

Have you seen the #WomenAgainstFeminism social media movement? If at its most basic definition, feminism means that men and women (and everyone else on the spectrum of sex and gender) should have equal rights and opportunities, how could anyone be against that? If you read the reasons given on #WomenAgainstFeminism for not needing feminism, what they really are getting at is that they don’t want to be judged. No one does.

There is absolutely no reason that humankind should not come together for equal rights and opportunities, so if it bothers you to call it feminism, let’s call it the ERO Movement (Equal Rights & Opportunities), and move forward. My daughter deserves the same rights and opportunities as your son.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Fun Friday: Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Sex Educator

Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Sex Educator:

10. You know how to spell

9. Your old yearbooks are stored in this box in your garage.

8. You can tell what a condom is made out of without even touching it.

7. You can’t wait until your kid asks, “where do babies come from?”

6. You know all the latest slang for sex, vagina, penis, etc.

5. Everyone thinks you have the coolest job ever . . . because you do.

4. There’s no sexual behavior that surprises you.

3. Your computer’s search history would make others blush.

2. Teenagers actually listen to you.

1. Your friends and family will send articles like “HPV and Oral Cancers” to you and say, “I saw this and thought of you.”

Tagged , ,

The Art of Listening

Today’s post comes to you from Zara Barrie, the Assistant Director of The SOURCE Theatre. In case you don’t know about the gem that is The SOURCE, visit this website


KT Curran (3rd from left); Zara Barrie (2nd from right)

I’m currently working on the seventh production I’ve directed for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida’s SOURCE Theatre. I’ve directed plays that land all over the ever-expanding spectrum of young adult issues; plays that head-on tackle teenage epidemics such as bullying, anorexia, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, and sexual assault. I’ve showcased these plays everywhere from prisons, detention centers, high schools, middle schools, private schools, public schools, community centers, groups of parents, churches, to thirty-something young professional sophisticates…the list is endless. Amidst the awesome diversity among our audiences, somehow the response to our shows remains (amazingly) constant. “I didn’t feel like I was watching a play, I felt like I was watching real life” is the most common reaction. Regardless of one’s socio-economic background, gender, race or age, audience members always leave a SOURCE production reflecting their life choices and determined to make an active, positive change in their lives.

I’ve been involved with The SOURCE for over a decade. Society has changed so much in the past ten years, it makes my head spin just to think about it. In that chunk of time we have experienced vastly different political climates, major changes in the public school system, a plethora of conflicting trends, new dangerous drugs constantly making their way into pop culture, ever-changing lingo, sky-rocketing use of technology, and the birth of social media which has established itself as the premier outlet for self-expression. With all these chaotic shifts in our country, SOURCE remains as powerful as ever. Recently I’ve decided to attempt to wrap my brain around what it is that WORKS about The SOURCE. After much head scratching and restless nights I think I may have come up with a conclusion.

The powerful impact of The SOURCE truly resides in the one constant, and that is, the collaboration between SOURCE artistic director/writer KT Curran and the young-members of The SOURCE Theatre. KT Curran is the deepest listener I’ve ever met. By truly hearing the voices of teenagers, she is able to write plays that are burning with truth, works of art so honest, they attain the unique ability to forever change the lives of the young people who receive the gift of seeing a SOURCE play.

Listening…it sounds like such a simple task, doesn’t it? Yet with each passing year of my life, I’m discovering how rare it is to come across someone who is able to leave their ego entirely at the door, and focus all of their being on hearing another person. KT is able to do this, effortlessly and without judgment. Through the beautiful art of listening, KT gives the voiceless a voice. Never have I come across a feeling as empowering and life-changing than the feeling of being heard.  Being heard affirms one’s self-worth in this world. It is not until a young person realizes their self-worth that they are able to change own their lives, and the world in which they live. Teenagers are our future, it is imperative they have a voice.

Visit The SOURCE Theatre’s YouTube channel so you can see for yourself! (These performances will knock your socks off!)

Tagged , , , , ,

VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood Makes a Difference!

Over the past few weeks, a group known as the Genocide Awareness Project has been visiting campuses around Florida. On February 11th, specifically, this group was at Florida Gulf Coast University. The major identifier of this group is that they compare abortion to genocide. They come to campuses paired with large graphic images. Those who were at FGCU recently were all Canadian students on their Spring Break.

Due to the graphic nature of this group and their message, many students were staying home from school. With aggressive volunteers and massive images, it is quite hard for students to avoid seeing these images. Tour groups and children in the day care on campus were exposed to this group as well, unfortunately.

Fortunately, this semester, the FGCU chapter of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood was able to have a table out on the campus which allowed for students to receive free information, condoms, and an invitation to the weekly meeting that was being held that evening. Despite the negative nature of GAP, students were not afraid to show their support for Planned Parenthood and even signed a petition that was put together by other students and professors to have the images turned inward in order to protect the students from such triggering subject matter.

Having a VOX chapter on campus is so so important! They provide support systems and information that students may otherwise not get. When GAP first arrived at FGCU several semesters ago, Planned Parenthood was able to have a table and gave out tons of t-shits to the point where looking across campus meant seeing a sea of pink shirts. VOX allows for a school to show solidarity against groups like GAP. At FGCU, students find that VOX is a place that they can talk about anything and everything without being judged. Education on issues like abortion and contraception are key and VOX is an amazing way to spread awareness!

Tagged , , , , ,

Balance With a New Semester

StudentNew semesters always bring new challenges. For students at any level, getting organized and fixing sleeping schedules can be an overwhelming task. For some, it can take a serious toll on one’s mental health in the first few weeks. It’s always important to remember that mental and physical health always come first.

As a college student, I find myself having to remind myself quite a lot to take care of myself. School, projects, papers, and work are a hard thing to balance so these are a few tips I’ve found that have worked for myself and fellow students:

Take an hour out of each day to unwind! Whether it’s watching TV, hanging out with friends, or taking a nap it’s important to take time to yourself so you don’t get too overwhelmed!

Planners are always your best friend! Write in due dates of projects, papers, and exams so that they don’t creep up on you. Getting organized early will always take loads of stress off of your shoulders throughout the semester, though it may be a fight in the beginning.

Finally, you can do it! You have survived everything that has been thrown at you up to this point so you will be able to do it again!

If you make sure to take care of yourself and stay organized then you will be able to do wonders as the semester progresses!

Tagged , , , ,