I was talking to some co-workers about childbirth today–one is pregnant, the other just had a baby. Yep, that’s right…I work with real actual grown ups. We were exchanging war stories and advice. The theme of the conversation was this: childbirth is really fucking hard. In fact, it is one of the most difficult–both emotionally and physically–and frightening experiences of one’s life. Sure, mad props also go to battles with cancer, recovery from devastating accidents, and overcoming horrific traumas. But childbirth is a universal ordeal…a majority of women deal with it in one way or another in their lifetime.

I went back to my desk thinking about this. I even briefly chatted with Janelle about it.

And then it occurred to me: why is it that any guy can treat any woman with disrespect, especially if she’s had a baby? Daytime talk shows are filled with men calling their baby mommas “sluts” and “bitches.” And then there are the requisite wife beaters (I’m not referring to the shirt) and cheaters. What the fuck?

On the topic of respect…what is disrespect? Some times it might be hard to spot, as excuses tend to camouflage it.

Let me give you some examples:

Oh, you want to call me drunk in the middle of the night when you know I have to wake up early in the morning? That’s disrespectful. I don’t care how drunk/confused you are. And even if it was a technological accident, you STILL owe me an apology.

And then you realize one call isn’t enough, so you dial my number six more times? Oh, yes, sir…that’s really fucking disrespectful. The eighth call better feature you saying “I’m sorry” seven times.

Let’s take it even further: Talk shit about me to anyone who will listen? Destroy all my belongings because you think I’m a whore? Try to frighten/intimidate my friends? Cheat on me with an imbecile? Well, dear, you are a dick (and a disrespectful dick at that)! There is no excuse for any of this. Everyone is capable of doing bad things. In fact, all of us do shitty things periodically. But if you respect me (or anyone else), you WILL apologize. Don’t use your guilt as a reason to treat me even worse. Any dubious logic you use to make yourself feel better about your behavior is not grounded in reality. This will transform my frustration/hurt feelings to hatred.

But worse…the worst misdeed of all: You had the balls to fucking lie to me, possibly on a fairly regular basis? I can’t even be angry about that…because you are just plain dead to me. Even if you spend every minute of every day lying to everyone else in your life, I’m not going to forgive you for that without a serious amount of groveling. Sorry, dude.

Let’s analyze this a bit more (in terms of my life, but feel free to list items applicable to you when applying this to yourself):

Things I have survived: cancer (it sucked), various episodes of child abuse, several really fucked up traumas that I will not detail here, drug addiction, the loss of several people close to me.

And I am proud of this: Always taking care of myself, paying my own way through life, and constantly holding myself accountable for my actions.

And then: I gave birth to one of the coolest kids ever, without a boyfriend/husband to hold my hand. I was in labor for three days. There was blood everywhere. My blood pressure dropped and I almost died…but then, I survived and I barely cried at all (I had to add the lack of crying because Dylan is always super-proud when she doesn’t cry after receiving a shot).

Furthermore: I am smart. I have a great job that I earned on my own. I am a decent writer. I am a super speed reader. I try to be as kind as possible to all living things.

No, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back for my accomplishments and strength. The point is this: I deserve respect. Putting out a crappy album and/or drinking yourself to death does not entitle you to walk all over me. I will not tolerate being treated as a doormat. The one thing that makes my blood boil is feeling as if someone smugly thinks that they “got one over” on me. I will tolerate your self-destruction, generally self-centeredness, and lack of motivation…but if you can’t treat me with respect, it’s over. I don’t want you as a friend or even a casual acquaintance. And I can assure you that you will never have the privilege of seeing me naked again.

So, my dear friends…ask yourself this: What amazing things about me deserve respect? Because I can assure you, no matter how much you downplay your accomplishments, triumphs, and generally fine attributes, you are worthy of only the highest level of respect from everyone. If your friends walk all over you or some dude doesn’t return your calls or your boss is just plain mean to you, it’s time for a paradigm shift in your life. You are too good for all of that.

I love all of you (unless you are a fuckface)!

P.S. Liz Phair tonight with JT!!!! I’ll be the mildly intoxicated one in the big hat singing along to every single song.


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