Taboo Topics

The Publicity of Caitlyn Jenner

How could I resist such a juicy tabloid post. It’s perfect, Olympic Male Athlete Bruce Jenner, transforms himself into a woman. How much more taboo can you get- it has everything sex, gender identity, fame, and every Progressive politician and celeb applauding bravery.

I am all about taboo, so since everyone is so supportive I’m going to take the dark side… bahaha… seriously. My concern comes from the minimal research and how to deal with gender identity. This concern comes from the fact that many transgenders commit suicide after castration. Identity is important. Without identity we wander aimlessly. My concern also stems from what is feminine and what is masculine. What does it mean to be female and what does it mean to be male?

I am, by all means, happy that someone can express himself/herself, however, I am bothered by the need to be one gender instead of the other. Especially when, like race, we have fought for gender equality. To be progressive, transgender defeats feminism and equality. It states there are genders and I am male or female, and one is better for me than the other. It says, I need to change my body, use silicon, photoshop, make-up to be a male or a female. Why do we need to mutilate our bodies to meet any form of self love, to say “this is who I am?” This is the opposite of self-love.

Self mutilation is a terrifying issue within the US. The most alarming part is we don’t even realize it’s a problem. In Africa, tribes conduct genital mutilation as a rite of passage into womanhood.  Americans are disgusted and spend millions fighting to stop it because it’s “wrong.” And yet in our own country, we choose to have labiaplasty and breast implants. We are mutilating our body for an idea of an image we think we want. To have to change one’s body image to meet an idea is setting ourselves up for failure.

Instead of discussing what we can change about ourselves, we should be politically discussing how to be whomever we want within our own bodies. Appearances, in dress and behavior, should be acceptable instead of gawked at and labelled. I would be much happier about all the publicity of Caitlyn (previously known as Bruce Jenner), if there was no change to his body, no hormones, no photoshop, just his natural body and her saying “I identify as an equal gender. I am both male and female. I do not have to be one or the other, I can be both.”

Please comment and lets discuss body identity.

It’s Taboo. Period.

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This photo by Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_) was removed from from Instagram because of “Period Blood”

It’s the most hated time for everyone. The New Scarlet Moon. The Monthly Spin Cycle. Nature’s Shark Week. For the single guys reading this, I’m talking about menstruation, PMS. One of the most taboo subjects in male society after mammograms and the “women poop too” conversation.

Having been there, I understand the apprehension. Guys don’t have the bodily monthly maintenance that women do (probably explains why we change the oil on our trucks). Looking back it doesn’t make sense why men, and society in general, view periods as such a frightening and taboo subject.

PeriodRecently, periods have become more mainstream. Tampon and Midol commercials are more prevalent, especially when you watch lifetime or gossip girl, sitcoms address it more, and Facebook abounds with memes about heroic guys buying tampons and chocolate for their significant others (single guys take note; if/when you get a girlfriend and she’s on her period, buy her Midol, tampons, and her favorite pastry. It’ll give you more credit than buying flowers “just because”). While the popularization and familiarization of periods is a good start, the stereotypical response from men is revulsion and vile. In part because it’s humorous to do so based upon pop-culture and the reaction of our mothers when Tampax promotes their structurally superior product on TV. It’s as if we’ve conditioned ourselves as a society to view PMS as embarrassing, therefore we sweep the “problem” under the rag- I mean rug. Like masturbating and pooping, all women menstruate.

What is it that makes uterine blood so revolting, that conversations about it are considered rude and inappropriate? Take it a step further, what is it that scares some guys shitless? It’s blood. It happens. Who gives a shit?

Please comment if you have any Taboo Period moments you would like to share.

If you appreciated this it was contributed by my dear friend Matt from thelonebullmoose.wordpress.com

Not all Women want Children

no-kidsA six-year-old boy hummed as the elevator went up seven floors. He was dressed nicely holding both of his parents hands. Most adult women would find this behavior to be overly-charming and fall into a baby-wanting frenzy, however there is a handful of women that would want to karate-kick the child in the back of the head for not shutting up. After which, they would scold the parents for not keeping their child quiet, because not everyone thinks hearing a child hum is adorable. These women don’t want children, in fact, they don’t even like children.

How could this be? Women are suppose to want to grow up and have children. That motherly instinct to keep the species alive should be tethering all women to the dream of family. Hence when a woman breaks free of this typical mold, it creates confusion and chaos. It’s so bizarre men, women and children can’t comprehend it. They makes comments such as “It’s just a phase”, “It’s different when it’s yours”, and “You can’t be serious. You’ll want them later.” This outrageous stance -women declaring freedom from precious boys and girls- is almost a crime against womanhood.

In general there are logical reasons to not want children. Here are 10:

  1. Children cost money.
  2. Children take considerable amount of time (practically a full-time job).
  3. There is NO guarantee on disposition, health, and behavior, responsible people who have major hereditary health might choose not to have children because they don’t want to pass along something that they have had to deal with.
  4. There are strict laws on how one can parent.
  5. Chances are children won’t move out at 18 or 26 or will move back in when they are adults.
  6. Why live vicariously through children when you can still live your own life.
  7. Have you ever looked at a family and thought- There should be regulations about who can have children and how many” Some people really shouldn’t have kids so if they choose not to support them.
  8. Babies wreck your body.
  9. She is not in a positive environmental position or society to raise a family.
  10. She just doesn’t want to.

Not wanting children as a woman is Taboo. It makes a declaration of freedom and power. A woman has decided to take her own fate into her hands and determine what her future holds outside of societal expectations. She has made the best decision for herself and her unwanted potential offspring. This is perfectly acceptable, but threatening. Women alone hold the power of carrying an embryo to term. Any other development of a child, such as cloning, is considered unethical. Men, while producing sperm, only play a small part in the reproduction process. Perhaps this is why the declaration of not wanting children is so outrageous for some. The woman is not fulfilling her “duty” to carry on the species. Ironically one woman (unless she was the last on earth due to a zombie apocalypse) choosing not to have a child is not an end to the species. Currently, the world is overpopulated and there are many homeless and starving children without families. Demographically, children make up the majority of the those currently living in poverty.

Women who do not want children are not causing the destruction of the species. They are seeing past society and into their own needs. This takes courage and strength. I don’t deny there are reasons for wanting children, but there are just as many reasons to not have children. In the end, we all need to think about what is best for ourselves and potential children instead of being quickly taken aback by an out-of-the-norm idea. Children are not for everyone and that is not a bad thing.

Women in Combat

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Why are women in combat a big deal? Women have been a part of wars and combat clear back to the bible. In American history, there are stories of women dressing up as men during the revolutionary war to fight. Even today, multiple countries allow women in combat roles. Alas the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave, restricts women from combat roles in the military. This is a revolving door and at the moment. The Pentagon is working on ways to politically allow women into combat roles, but there is much debate about the topic.


I find most debates are unfounded by statistics and research. Usually topics are thrown around with little to no thought put into them. They are usually general stereotypes with little to no knowledge or thought put into a solid argument. Women are weaker, women have periods, there will be sex or rape, the standards will be lowered, etc. I usually just shake my head and don’t bother commenting. However, as women in the combat roles falls into a taboo topic, I thought I would address it. I will state here that these are my opinions and thoughts on the matter and less about how the topics taboo.


The first argument presented is always women are physically weaker. Hence if we allow women into combat arms the standard will be lowered and everyone will be in more danger. I think this is the worst argument that I have ever heard come out of someones mouth. That is a general stereotype. If instead of being concerned about gender or race and instead focused on standards the correct people would end up in the job. There are incredibly fit females and there are incredibly unfit males and vice versa. If a high standard was set and maintained then I would feel safer and better with someone who met and maintained the physical standard. Whether it is a 12 miles in 3 hours 35 pound ruck march, a 5 miles in 40 minute run, 6 strict pull ups, or the current  male standard for the physical fitness test (for whatever branch of service, Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), an individual’s ability to physically maintain their performance should dictate whether or not a person is in the job, especially combat. The fact of the matter is that if people are qualified then they should be allowed to do the job they are capable of. If people are not qualified then they should not be in the job. Regardless, everyone in the military should be able to have the same training to instill equal skill and confidence because at the base level every military member should be an infantryman.


“Bears can smell the menstration” (Anchorman). The next argument that comes up is girls have periods, they can get pregnant and they can’t pee standing up! Yes, women and men have different anatomy. I know shocking! However, the difference in anatomy has rarely created an issue. There are many health risks in combat jobs, just like other jobs. When training or in combat their are going to be times when Soldiers are in the “field” (aka camping)  for a prolonged amount of time. How does a period affect women in this position? It doesn’t. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there and so have many other females. Women go to the field in noncombat jobs. Yet, we continue to have it brought up as a reason why women shouldn’t be in combat. The bathroom argument has never made sense to me. If your safety is important and you have to go, you’re going to go, just like anyone else. Fun fact, technology has created a funnel that allows women to pee standing up. Something else I would love to point out is, guys can’t stand up and take a shit; eventually a guy has to squat too. The body has normal functions and its not a big deal. If a girl isn’t ok with going to the bathroom in front of guys she’s probably not the one trying to be in the infantry. Yes, women can get pregnant, women can also use highly effective birth control and so can men. Got it, if a woman is pregnant she probably shouldn’t be in combat. I’m not going to argue that, but pregnancy can be prevented if people are responsible.


The third argument I am going to label professionalism. I believe that it encompasses mental, emotional, rape or sexual assault, and harassment. This, I actually believe is a valid argument. Not because women aren’t professional, but because there are too many men and women in these jobs that are NOT professional enough to put aside bias, stereotypes and pride, for the job.  It’s not the one professional is the hundreds of others that aren’t. Sadly, even without women in combat positions they are still not professional enough to be in the same job. These are the individuals, who break protocol, harass, haze, make bets, sleep around, try to look cool and are out of touch with their own importance, make it near impossible for U.S Soldiers to just be Soldiers and not gender, race, or sexuality. The only thing standing in the way of not just women, but sameness in combat jobs is true professionalism.


Regardless of all those points above, women and all Soldiers deserve the same training as men. To deny training to an individual for any other reason than they are simply unqualified by their own scores is to ruin our own force. Making individuals meet the same standard and allowing full training is the only way our military is going to get better. Politics and numbers need to be put aside and the best training needs to occur for everyone. If a military member can’t meet the standard at any moment (with exception for injuries, medical conditions, and I’m sure a handful of other reasons) they need to be relieved from their job. If they are unable to meet the basic criteria laid out for Soldiers then they need to be relieved from the military. This needs to happen regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or any other possible discriminatory bias people can create. War is no longer conventional. It is asymmetrical, there is no front line and every service member deserves the best training to protect themselves and the others around them.

Suicide Really Does Happen

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Magnet

Suicide.

The word by itself stands alone. I remember hearing speeches about it. I could hear people talk and I knew people committed suicide, but it never truly registered that people actually committed suicide. It never registered as a severe mental illness. It never registered as real. Then my husband committed suicide. The moment that someone you know, someone close to you, takes their own life,the reality finds its way in. There becomes an “aha” moment. The action becomes real and in its realness it becomes a true possibility. A true way out. A solution. People react differently to this new reality. This new idea, they too, could take their own life.

In general, when asked if a person has considered suicide the consensus is a quick and instant “No, I would never do that!” The truth is that everyone has considered it at one point or another. To say they would never commit suicide is to consider it and decide against. However, to say, “Yes, I have,” admits to a maladaptive way of thinking. An instant stigma defining the individual, forever, as unstable. To have considered suicide is not out of the norm, we all have. Why then, is speaking about suicide so Taboo?

The idea of suicide combines death and loss. To the person who commits suicide they will cease to exist or move on depending on their belief. The people left behind are consumed with grief, cast upon them by a deliberate decision of the person who is no longer there. This act is uncomfortable to talk about because of the emotions and feelings involved. There is excruciating pain on all sides. No one has a cure-all for someone who is suicidal in order to permanently prevent them from the idea or action, nor do we have a morphine fix for those grieving over a loss to suicide. Suicide is going to happen and people will hurt.

In a serious conversation about life and death, it is difficult to tell someone that we have or had a plan to end our life. No one wants to admit they are capable of something considered so irrational. Yet, the person in this situation is in severe pain and has rationalized a simple, though rather permanent, solution. The human being does not like to feel pain. If we each take a moment to think about pain, we have memories of when we were in severe pain, but we can not replicate the actual feeling of pain. When in pain humans find any way possible to remove the feeling of pain, many self-medicate- alcohol, drugs, food, cutting. There are millions of coping mechanisms that we have created to deal with pain. Suicide is simply another process to deal with pain. It is a very permanent solution and unfortunately one that people chose. The hope is for individuals to identify they are in pain and find a better way to cope for the long run. To do this a person has to open up to the idea that they are in pain and seek help. This is not an easy task for anyone. It initially creates vulnerability and shame, but over time allows for safer long term coping mechanisms.   

Survivors of suicide are the individuals who had a loved one take their own life. This is a difficult place to be because everyone grieves differently. There is no standard format of what to say or do in such scenarios. What one might say to a grieving friend for comfort might have the opposite effect on a different grieving friend. This makes it very difficult to approach someone who is grieving, especially when grieving over a suicide. An aspect rarely considered is how many people are affected by someone who has committed suicide. We meet hundreds of people and rarely do we know the background of those we meet. Careless comments are thrown around about suicide. In a daily conversation how many times do people put a finger gun to their head and pull the trigger or say I’d rather die or go shoot yourself. It happens more often than not. These comments deeply affect those who suffer from the loss of a loved one.

How do you react to someone who has or is considering taking his or her own life? While there is no foolproof action to take, this is a very difficult situation to be in. First, only the person who wants to end their life is capable of changing their own mind. Second, as a bystander there is no guarantee of the severity of the threat. People have used the threat of suicide to manipulate people and situations. They have gone as far as making an attempt to get their point across. There is no way to separate the two. All threats of suicide have to be taken seriously. Anyone who is considering the idea of suicide needs serious mental and behavioral help. To cast this responsibility onto someone is unfair, but those who are in these deep crevices of despair need help from others.

Suicide is taboo because it is an uncomfortable topic on every level, from the deceased to the living. There is no present solution. Yet, there are many who want to help. Suicide helplines, researchers, therapist, family members, friends, websites, survivors, and group therapy are all becoming more prevalent. Opening up to these atmospheres and people, lets both individuas who are contemplating their own death and those who have survived a loss know that they are not alone. They are not the only person to have considered and gone through pain. There is hope.

Shh… Don’t say that!

cropped-taboo12.jpg“Mom, that lady is fat.” A four-year-old grabs his mother’s hand and deliberately points to the obese lady in her unflattering sweatpants and an overly baggy shirt. The “fat lady” pretends not to hear, but it’s obviously too late. Her face is red and she is trying to look the other direction, avoiding embarrassing stares from bystanders. The mother instantly scolds her child. “Shh… Don’t say that! It is rude.” Trying to smooth things over, she apologizes for her child’s simple observation. The child, reinforced by his mother’s reaction, understands that he did something wrong.

As children we learn to communicate using words. We are operantly conditioned by our society to learn norms. Through reinforcement and punishment we learn what is appropriate to say, and more importantly we learn what not to say. Alas, we descend into words that are Taboo. Curse words, body parts, sexual words are used to be offensive and shocking. As we age, these words change into topics of discussion. How many times have we been told not to discuss politics or religion at work? Heard a parent dreading the “birds and bees” talk (because no one wants to say “the sex talk”) with their child? The controversial education of sex in high school or college? How many times have you been told not to express your emotions? If asked what you shouldn’t talk about on a first date, how many answers instantly pop into your mind? Finances? Personal problems? Past relationships? Family problems? The list continues.

Taboo seems to be ubiquitous. It is in our individual lives, our communities and even our government. The positive side of Taboo words is that it keeps everyone comfortable. No one gets offended. No rife of contention threaten communities. Taboo words illustrate emphasis during communication. The difference between your boss saying “Why did you spill the coffee?!” compared to “Why the *Fuck* did you spill the coffee?!” is very different, and very distinct. Even in our own lives “O’shucks!” just isn’t the same as “Oh Shit!” Taboo words have their place in our common language. They keep everyone at ease and allow us to communicate more effectively.

Despite the positive connotations with Taboo words and topics allowing our societies to function with ease, there are negative consequences. The most glaring example is sex. Sex is a natural progression in the majority of human lives, yet we treat it as a mystical unicorn. Sex education is protested. Parent’s dread the birds and the bees talk. Society yells abstinence until married, all in an effort to avoid having to talk about sex. The drawback is adolescents feeling the uncomfortable vibe, conditioning avoidance of educational conversations. Why is this bad? Teenagers are dealing with new-found hormones. They often find themselves in situations they are unprepared to deal with and no one to talk to. Teenagers can not get birth control on their own, unprotected sex leads to risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Opening up these Taboo topics for educational conversations can provide the tools to properly deal with and prevent real life events.

Taboo words are a daily part of our lives. From learning as a child what we should or shouldn’t say, we build on centuries worth of society norms. We learn when and where to discuss topics or bite our tongues. We keep the peace by avoiding Taboo words and topics. Nonetheless, complete avoidance creates complications in real life. Events occur that are outside social norms, but by opening up Taboo conversations we can facilitate resilience to traumatic events and the natural occurrences of life. 

Taboo, let’s talk about it…

TabooThe word taboo originates from Polynesian culture. Captain James Cook introduced it into the English language after his voyage to Tonga in 1771. It’s use has been widespread ever since.


The online merriam-webster dictionary defines taboo (also spelled tabu) as an adjective, meaning not acceptable to talk about or do.


The Britannica Encyclopaedia states taboo, or tabu, is the prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behaviour is either too sacred and consecrated or too dangerous and accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake.


Sigmund Freud defined taboo as ambivalent social attitude and in effect represents forbidden actions for which there nevertheless exist a strong unconscious inclination.


As I spend time researching taboo I have come to the conclusion that taboo is defined as forbidden to talk about or do. However, what is forbidden differs in every culture and the reason for being forbidden varies based on each society and its history. Societal norms come from years of tradition and change over time through wars, revolutions, science, religion, and many other evolutionary events. Even over time, some universal viewpoints remain taboo.


These topics are avoided to “protect” the community and individuals. In this avoidance we make a mistake. We make the assumption that if we don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist and won’t happen (e.g. failure, divorce, rape, suicide) or it will only happen when it is appropriate (e.g. feelings, sex, pregnancy, death). When it does happen, especially unplanned, no one knows how to properly respond. People are too embarrassed, ashamed, upset, stunned, and/or confused to discuss topics appropriately, inevitably making situations worse.


One of the keys to freedom and liberation is knowledge. Societal norms dictate taboo topics, forcing censorship upon the individuals within said society. The only way to overcome this is to discuss the uncomfortable and open your mind to possibilities (disclaimer: this does not mean do illegal things). We must take the time to appropriately address and discuss what is forbidden; must overcome the fear and stress that comes with discussing the uncomfortable, the forbidden. We cannot hide behind the facade of ignorance is bliss; we must engage the taboo to truly protect.