Friday, March 8, 2013

Diary of An Activist - Sometimes I Feel Like I'm Going Insane

I love being an author and an activist for women's rights. I love writing. Sometimes I feel like I’m going insane.

In my twenties, I studied acting. I pursued a career and was one of the fortunate ones. I landed a national television show and worked on it for seven years. The show didn’t make me a rich woman nor did it make me famous but it did make me feel really good. I got to work on a very popular show that my mother watched when she was pregnant with me, my grandmother watched and I started watching it when I was nine.

After almost a decade of studying acting, auditioning and doing all that one does while pursuing an acting career, I tired of it. I no longer felt the same enthusiasm I once had. When I look back, I can see that it wasn’t something I was born to do. I loved it at the time and I was good at it but there was something missing. Another actor once referred to himself as a “lifer” and I remember trying to convince myself I was one. I am not. In 1999, I decided I didn’t want it anymore and started a successful career in sales. The thought of sitting in another agents' office, having the same conversation I had in every other agent's office made me feel like I needed to take a nap. The idea of dealing with another photo-shoot for headshots—that every casting director would criticize for the sake of criticizing—was just too much for me to bear and I stopped trying to get work. I continued to work on Days Of Our Lives but when that gig ended in 2002, so did my acting career. I never looked back.

 Some of my many headshots....

Occasionally I would write something funny. Maybe an inspired email or a funny detailed account of a miserable vacation I had and I would share it with friends. They would always tell me, “You should be a writer.” I thought, yeah, whatever, and I completely ignored them.

In 2004, I set out to collect stories from people about how they lost their virginity. I thought it would make an interesting book for virgins and wasn’t sure if I could even get enough stories. In 2010, my idea became a reality and I saw it come to life in my first book, The Virgin Diaries. I honestly had no idea I would really ever be an author until I became one. It opened up a whole new world for me. The economy had tanked, my decade long career as a sales representative was not looking great and I moved from Los Angeles to Northern California to start a whole new chapter in my life, one that I never saw coming until I arrived in late 2009.

It’s funny to me that I avoided starting a blog. I was afraid of it. My first one was titled “What’s All This Fuss About Masturbation?” It was about the wacky politician Christine O’Donnell, and her idiotic statements about why people shouldn’t do it. My dad got freaked out because I wrote about masturbation. But almost everything I do freaks him out. Once I started blogging, I pretty much became obsessed with it and as you can see, I am doing it right now!

Anywhoo, once again, life handed me a surprise on April 5, 2012. I got an email from a woman by the name of Susan, after I posted my Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh From A Liberal Slut on her public Facebook wall. I had no idea this woman would not only change the direction of my writing, but she changed the direction of my life.  She founded Rock the Slut Vote and really wanted me to be the spokeswoman. I remember being floored. I discussed the idea with both of my parents and they were supportive and encouraged me to do it. So I did. One of the greatest thrills of my life was the opportunity I had to speak on the west lawn of the Capitol Building at the We Are Woman March in Washington last summer. It was a little scary but FUN and the fact it’s on my life’s resume makes me very proud.
I learned at the march, that the Equal Rights Amendment was never fully ratified into the Constitution and I also learned that 70% of women also don’t know this. When I found out, I decided I needed to take action and I needed to make younger women aware of this. I am in the process of writing a book for younger women on the importance of voting and women’s rights. I may even add chunks of this little diary blog to the book – ya’ never know.

When I moved to Northern California in 2009, I had a modest savings. I had a modest savings. I no longer have savings because I have dedicated my time and energy to a cause I feel so passionate about. I can’t seem to drag myself away from it. I literally fantasize about walking away from all of it. Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming, I literally lose my breath. What would my life be like if I went back to having only one Facebook account with just my family and friends, no Twitter accounts and no article writing? What if I just went back to selling stuff for other people, taking in a bi-weekly paycheck—that would more than likely be a fraction of what I made in a much better economy? I actually did have a job selling stuff and was fired two days before Thanksgiving in 2012. The economy played a huge part in me losing my job, as well as the fact that the products I sold are three times more expensive than competitors. In 2005, I had worked for the same company in Los Angeles and was a top sales rep. L.A. is a completely different market and audience than where I live now. Also, while I was busy being a “Liberal Slut,” my employers were voting and promoting Romney. Please note, I am not looking for pity. Just giving you the lo-down. I ask myself if I’m crazy. Why do I choose to try and convince young women, who feel there is no reason to be concerned about equality, that we have a huge war being waged against our rights? Wouldn’t it just be easier to walk away? The answer for me is no. It may be a daunting task and it may not turn out exactly to be what I want it to be, but I am compelled to continue. I love it and hate it at the same time. I hate that we are so divided, and I hate that this country is such a mess. I hate that some young women don’t even realize what’s happening, and I hate that there are women out there who actively fight against equality. I love knowing that the work I do, as well as the efforts of other passionate women working toward the same goal, will result in victory. We will get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified into the Constitution. We will fire the politicians who are hell-bent on eroding and stripping women of our rights, and we will be louder and more effective than the anti—feminist women who are lying to themselves and to the world about what feminism really is.
For as many emails and tweets I get from people calling me a c*nt and say that I should be raped and killed, or that I’m a baby killing whore, I get five times as many emails thanking me for what I’m doing. Those emails always humble me and make me want to fight harder. I will. I just felt the need to write all of this down because if I went outside and started screaming, they might throw a big butterfly-net over me and sedate me.

I am an activist for women’s rights. I am a feminist and I am a lifer.

Thanks for reading my rant/diary, and thank you Susan for helping me to be a strong and proud activist.