01/08/2017

GNDR | menstrual cups – a blessing or a curse?

(this is an unpublished article written for a sex-positive, educational platform)

IMG_0791

sure, cups are an awesome invention helping the planet, your wallet and your own vaginal health all at once, but perhaps they’re not for everyone.

based on the media coverage, it seems like all menstruating folks gotta love menstrual cups. but do they really? is really everyone so happy about this so-called wonder of menstrual hygiene? does no one else spend a lifetime trying to get that stupid thing in? is it just me who’s slightly terrified of the size of the cup (even though i have possibly the smallest one available on the market)? or… am i the only one who’s got problems with that silly silicone cup? suffering from vaginismus, i’ve struggled with using any form of menstrual hygiene you’re supposed to insert into your vag ever since i started menstruating. even putting the smallest tampon in my first year of menstruating was an incredibly difficult challenge, which i—thank god, because i am not really a fan of pads to be honest—eventually managed, so it took me ages before i felt brave enough to try the cup for the first time. i knew it’d be hard, but as so many people around me kept praising their menstrual cups so much, i still wanted to try it; especially as i am an eco-conscious gal who cares about the environment. long story short, i bought my first one from a tiny, local brand, and when it arrived, i almost burst into tears. i tried, tried, and tried some more, but no matter what i did, i just couldn’t get it in. i felt awful. i felt failed by my own vagina, once again. i happily resorted back to the normal-sized tampons which, by then, fit just fine and caused me no pain or anxiety.

i kind of wanted to forget about this whole menstrual cup mishap, but i couldn’t. being very interested in feminist topics, the discussion about cups seemed to be thrown right at me almost every day. even my Facebook ads were, for some reason, all about cups. my friend, a happy cup user, kept on giving me advice on how to insert and take it out and encouraged me to keep on trying (thanks hun), even though each attempt just resulted in more and more tears. years passed by, during which the pro-menstrual-cups movement has only been growing steadier. cups were now popping out of mainstream media, words of praise and fascination flying everywhere.
The menstrual cup is the best sustainable solution for everyone!
Not using the cup yet? Here are 10 reasons why you should start straight away!

cups, cups, cups. while i cannot deny that the eco part of my soul was very happy about media picking up on this alternative, eco-friendly solution for menstruating people, the i-suffer-from-vaginismus-and-i-hate-my-vagina-for-it me wasn’t that excited. in fact, i felt horrible. if everyone can use them just fine, why the hell am i not able to do it too? even though these articles and ads were meant to do good, they only perpetuated the “i’m broken” feeling of not being enough, of having a vagina that’s somehow faulty goods.

soon after I got more involved with feminist and queer groups that were—let’s put it this way—considerably more inclusive and progressive, i realized that it was not me that was wrong or faulty here – it was the very normative, almost ableist discussion surrounding the cups instead. the thing is, most often, cups are talked about in relation to “normal” bodies. any sort of disability, personal beliefs, or simply experience is disregarded as not so relevant, which, unfortunately, can cause of a lot of harm. once we include all these factors in the debate, the conclusion is clear – cups sure are awesome, but they’re simply not for everyone. and that’s fine too. let’s only hope that soon we’ll have other sustainable menstrual hygiene options so that literally any menstruating person can find whatever fits them, without destroying the beautiful planet we live on.

oh, and before i finish this off, here’s a little tip from me – don’t be like me and a) don’t order your cup online when you cannot see the size irl, b) don’t give up so easily. after almost three years, i decided to give the cup another chance after i saw a different brand on display at a local pharmacy, and, hallelujah, it worked out! when i later compared the two cups i had (see yourself on the pic above), the new one was almost twice as small and from a suppler, nicer material – so maybe it wasn’t all fault of my clenched up vag, but just a wrong cup from the very beginning?

24/07/2017

MENTAL HEALTH | care-and-safety-for-everyone kit

2017-07-24 13.06.28-1


“self-care” has been the it-word for years now, and something that has become heavily commercialized – companies have figured that it’s a great way to increase their profits by targeting people going through hard times because, heureka!, we’re made to feel great yet short-lived satisfaction from spending our money on things that don’t really help our health anyhow. think face masks, fancy candles, body oils, ice cream tubs, fluffy pillows and blankets, what-have-you. self-care kits are a big deal. shameless vanity is now hidden behind the word “self-care”, again, only available to those privileged enough (while it has been proven that the lower the social class, the more common mental illnesses are).

but i don’t wanna slam the whole concept of self-care here, not at all. self-care is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT (but shouldn’t require spending half your savings), no doubt about that. i think it’s great the fact that each person needs to step back and asses their own abilities, boundaries, and general state of mind is getting more and more discussed and encouraged, it certainly is a huge step toward wide acceptance of the reality of mental illnesses.

however, i don’t think it’s that good that we’re only focusing on the “self-” when it comes to caring. sure, it is important to finally let go of the societal pressure to be always 100% on and perfect and never allow yourself to fail, but only going for SELF-care is, um, selfish. imagine if we all only put our own needs to the spotlight and stayed completely ignorant to those of others – ugh, right? the world would be a horrible place (not that it’s not already). i believe that, just like it’s important to acknowledge one’s own limitations and seek comfort and safety, it is incredibly important to offer the same to the people around you. you know, just like that “no man is an island” bullshit – we oughta help each other. and care for each other, because only that way you can be sure that it will eventually be cared for you too.

but all this you-gotta-love-everyone-and-help-each-other is still actually not the point of my article. after a solid year of having anxiety, i’ve figured that i could ease the symptoms of an approaching/full-blown anxiety fit if i was equipped with things that could make the situation more bearable and less threatening. a list of things i always need to have in my backpack wherever i go to feel safe and prepared for anything that might happen. and then, at this year’s Black Lives Matter march, i realized that this little kit doesn’t always necessarily have to help me only, but can offer needed support and comfort to those around me, just like when my friend was feeling anxious and needed water to calm down, or when another one got hungry midst-march and i was able to pull up an apple and whole pack of cookies.

you know, we keep on talking about making public spaces safe(r) and meeting needs and demands of everyone, so why not transfer that to everyday life? why don’t we try to make all around us feel safe and cared for – and even if carrying a few things in your bag might sound stupid and not that important, trust me, such simple gesture of being able to offer someone in need something that can help them can go a really long way.

well, if you’re still reading this, congrats, you’ve finally gotten to the point of this post! as you can see above, i’ve selected a few items that are a must-have in my care-and-safety-for-everyone kit: 
bottled water – an obvious one, right?
snacks – anxiety and stress can often be linked to hunger, so make sure to pack some energy bars, cookies, fruit etc.!
tissues
antibacterial gel
mints/chewing gums
tampons – even when you’re not menstruating. even if you physically cannot menstruate. please always have a few menstrual products on you! (i’ve switched to the cup months ago but still always carry a few tampons in my cosmetic bags for all the menstruating cuties in need!)
pain killers
power bank – i love these little magical devices! there’s nothing worse than feeling a panic attack approach and realizing you only have a few percent of battery left, which makes you panic even more, because what if you won’t even be able to call someone for help? nah, it’s good to know you can have access to all important contacts no matter what
pepper spray – you never know. there’s too much violence in this world. duh.

this little set can help both you and your friends/family/colleagues/whoever you’re with in (almost) any kind of situation. it’s time we update the cheesy saying to “being prepared and sharing is caring”, what do you think?

02/07/2017

WORD UP | calling myself out

Photo 07-04-16 11 27 22 AM


it was a really, really long time ago when i was still updating this blog regularly. something broke down inside of me last year and i could no longer put my thoughts on the virtual paper, keeping all my angry blurts of anti-societal-norms rage to my Instagram account. i wanted to write, so many things were racing through my mind, but i just couldn’t. now i know that the thing that was keeping me back from running my blog was my depression. a few months ago, i finally decided to seek medical help and started taking antidepressants. i definitely want to cover that topic more (i’ve already wrote a lot about it on Instagram), but to keep it simple, after a while, pretty much all the things i used to like started giving me joy again. and now i want to write. i need to write. i really want to try and be regular at this again, because there’s still so much unsaid, untouched, so please wish me luck. but before that new era starts, i want to look back and address a few things.

i always say that starting this blogmore than 7 years agowas the best decision i’ve ever made (moving out of CZ was the second best). and most of the time, i really believe in that, but sometimes i’m rather like “ugh, why though”. the thing is, i hopped on this blogging train when i was 15. fifteen. back then, i wrote pretty much about everything that was happening in my life, and while i still stay incredibly open and tend to overshare online, it was a slightly different kind of here’s-everything-about-me.

i started this blog when i was 15, and now i’m 23. i literally grew up online, sharing my way from puberty to adolescence with god-knows-how-many people. and as my age was changing, my opinions were too. i am no longer the same person i was when i published my first article, because, frankly, my main goal back then was to get to the showroom of an unnamed fast fashion brand (lol, i know – but you have to take into consideration that i was a shy small-town kid with extremely low self-esteem, so that seemed like a promised land to me back then, the highest validation that i was “cool enough”) – while now i refuse to support (and haven’t done so for 3 years) any of such brands. i don’t share the same views and opinions as the 15 years old me did, not even the one that was 21 perhaps. i’ve figured everything, and especially activism, is a great learning process, which is perhaps never truly finished. and that sometimes it’s better to listen, read, and research, and not to talk so fast.

this leads us to the main point of this article – while i am happy i have been keeping this little online diary of sorts for so long, because, hands down, it has opened a lot of doors to me, allowed me to meet a whole bunch of great people with the same mindset, and definitely made me grow so, so much, a lot has been said that i feel the need to kinda fix now. to explain. to denounce, to redefine, to let go of.


so, here are some of the topics that i have either discussed or promoted here or anywhere else and have very different feelings about now:

1. minimalism

well, there was a time where i was pretty well-known for my minimalist views, images, interior design, whatever, wasn’t there (at least i never reduced it to simple aesthetics only, the so-called Scandinavian design, lol). i think i even wrote some of these stupid “how to be a minimalist” articles too? not so sure about that to be honest, but i do remember i’ve written “invest into something long-lasting and high quality instead of buying cheap crap” multiple times. oh lord.

while i still do live quite a minimalist life, mostly because of having a tight budget, moving several times a year and simply being the opposite of a hoarder, and while i still enjoy simple, minimalist spaces/things rather than something that’s bursting with colors, patterns, shapes etc., i’m also very aware that minimalism is just a bunch of crap. not minimalism itself, but the whole movement around it. this movement, made up almost exclusively of people who are well-off, preaching how it’s important to invest into good, well-made things, how we need to value design and manufacturing and quality and should therefore be happy to spend large sums for that, how we should just minimize everything, including our troubles and stress (don’t even get me started on the whole mindfulness movement, please) – speaking from an incredibly privileged position. as the years have passed, i’ve learnt that it’s been proven that poor always pay the most – simply because they’re never able to gather enough money to be able to invest into anything, and end up buying cheap items that prove to be more costly over the time. and we’re not only talking about high quality clothing, appliances, furniture and so on, we’re talking about not being to buy very basic items like food, toilet paper, cosmetics in bulk packaging which is pretty much always cheaper in the long run.

so, telling people that in order to save money, you gotta invest, and using that as a universal rule, looking down on people who do not “care enough” to invest, is just plain stupid. and i have to admit, i was like that too. when i got enchanted by minimalism, i was about 16, still living with my parents, coming from a slightly higher upper class, and even though when i was child, my family was pretty poor, i never really thought of things outside of my social class. i did not realize how different, how diverse, and how unfair the whole world is, and that a great movement like minimalism, a movement that cares about our nature as much as it cares about our wallets, was just a bunch of privileged crap.

minimalism, with its simple aesthetics contrasting with the high prices for products that are deemed “minimalist”, has become a way of showing how sophisticated you are, showing that you can afford to invest into quality and design. they say minimalism is timeless, but all i hear in that is that a looking away from people below our own class is actually the thing that’s so timeless, and that’s really fucked up. minimalism is a fancy fad made for the wealthy, and it is not accessible to majority of people.

i regret i failed to recognize that a long time ago.


2. healthy food/living

does anyone remember an article that was literally called “healthy ≠ expensive”? i do. god, how foolish was i! again, i was still living at my parents’ place, and though i did participate in the weekly grocery shopping and knew what was going on with our family finances, i had no idea what it meant to live on one’s own.

let me say it loud now – healthy food IS expensive. veganism IS expensive. access to healthcare IS NOT universal.

and again, those who are the most unprivileged are experiencing this the most.

i'm sorry i was such a little brat living in my own middle class bubble.


3. white feminism

i mean, i was never really shouting “yay, white feminism!”, of course. i started identifying as a feminist when i was 16, which was also the time when i first brought up the topic in one of my articles. that article was an all-girl mixtape, and i wrote a bunch of angry lines along that. *eye roll*. i found my way to feminism through tumblr. i don’t really know how it happened, but i think i discovered it through the riot grrrl movement and bands like Bikini Kill and Hole. the problem was, for a long time, i stayed exclusively within that tumblr bubble, within pastel-colored aesthetics, illustrations of heart-shaped sugar candies with “girl power” written over them, mixtapes and DIY zines, within “reclaiming femininity”, whatever that means. i’d write about catcalling, about how much discriminated women were, but that was about it. for a long time, i did not care to extend my knowledge, and that was a huge mistake.

after a while, i was asked to collaborate with Transparent CZ, and that was quite an eye opener. suddenly i realized there was much more to feminism than just my experience as a white, able-bodied, middle class, attractive cis woman. then i moved to Berlin in summer 2014 and finally stopped suppressing my pansexuality (even i knew i was not hetero since i was, like, 7?) and started identifying as queer. that broadened the topics i was researching more and more, and i began reading feminist works; i remember reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman on the insanely long car drive from Denmark to the Czech Republic, and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex on the everyday bus from my dorm to the uni in Reutlingen. then i started the Copenhagen uni and met a teacher who studied Gender Studies himself, who made a list of classic queer theory works for me, and that really kicked off my interest in queer academia, which i now, in fact, despise because of its stupid elitist way of writing, which prevents so many people from getting access to it (but more about that very, very soon!). i’ve been working with queer people/on queer projects, and i’m about to start a Gender Studies long-distance Master’s at the Charles Uni in Prague. i’ve met a lot of people, read a lot of articles and books, worked on a lot of things, and definitely learnt a lot. i no longer identify with the feminism i was talking about when i first started addressing it here, because it was incredibly cis- and hetero-normative, focused on a certain privileged group, ignoring race, class, sexuality etc.

i have to say i think that this is a natural process that everyone somehow goes through, i just vented it out a lot. we live in an age when everyone just shouts out how feminist they are, each brand sells tees and jackets and panties and what-not with “girl power” sprawled over them, and famous cis women who (slut-/body-) shame other women or only address problems that revolve around the gender binary (hello, Emma Watson!) are pronounced to be the ultimate feminist speakers. that is a form of feminism which i, unfortunately, used to support too, but don’t anymore. now my opinion is the following: let's just wipe out all the GRL PWR merch and focus on things that really matter, like social inequality, like racism, like discrimination of non-binary people, like ableism (which i think is still a topic too rarely discussed in all forms of queer and feminist movements), for example.

____________________________________________________

there’s a lot of other things i could address, but i guess i’m out of words for now.

the main point of this article was to make a few things clear before i continue with what (i used to) do. you know, people change, people grow, and that’s great. well, talk soon, i promise!