CIARA MORIARTY

graphic designer • illustrator

metoo, youtoo, and everyoneweknowtoo

Ciara MoriartyComment
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Since the #metoo social media flood I, like so many of my friends, have struggled with stomaching the sudden visual presence on my feed of countless people I know personally who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. There are people coming forward from all different walks of my life, all social circles, and all demographics. The age range is vast (18-70 give or take) and the sexual/gender identities are broad: female, male, straight, gay, bi, trans, cis...

It has greatly saddened me to to hear so many of my friends saying things like "I hesitated to include myself in this because I felt my story was not as bad as other people's." This is the point I would like to address first before anything else:

Your suffering should not be measured by the suffering of others.

What you experience and how it makes you feel does not become easier to deal with or less important when you deem someone else's experiences "more difficult" or "more important" based on some mainstream societal, patriarchal standard of suffering. This is not a "victim pie" we are all sharing. Your slice does not get smaller if you see mine as bigger. Unfortunately there is an infinite amount of suffering to go around, and it sounds like we've all had our fair fucking share. It's horrible, sobering, terrifying, earth-shaking. Please know that you deserve the space that is carved out for you in this conversation, no matter what you’ve experienced. If you feel you don't deserve it I believe that the fault for that lies in the hands of our society and culture. They have failed to make you feel seen and I am so sorry for that.

On a personal note, I have struggled with how this hashtag phenomenon pushed me to think about and relive the numerous times I was a victim of harassment and assault. I was agitated enough to recall things that happened to me so long ago that I had completely blocked them out. Things like:

- The boy in second grade who put his hand under my ass during church service and shushed me when I protested out of discomfort. Of course, I just sat there on his hand, looking at the crucifix thinking, "I guess this is something I deserve."

- The boy who laid on top of me in a deserted upstairs bedroom at a family gathering for what seemed like an eternity with his open mouth over mine trying to convince me that this was okay because it's what romantic relationships looked like in the movies. Again, I just laid there and took it, not knowing what to do or who I could go to to say that something confusing had just happened that did not feel right. I was ten.

- The high school teacher who would rest his hands on (and sometimes even massage) my bare shoulders almost every week during sophomore Chemistry class, and who would linger or look at me for a little too long all the time. I started making sure I always wore a cardigan or a sweater to avoid the skin to skin contact. He was a much loved teacher by my peers, but every time I was around him the pit of my stomach would turn and something inside me warned to keep my distance, which I did. I did not do well in that class.

- The coworker who would not take no for an answer when I kept refusing to go out with him. He never touched me, but it was as if he lived in that alternate reality where a girl says, "no," but what she means is, "actually, I'm just playing hard to get." He was relentless in his flirtations which I always turned down immediately and clearly. And yet I'd still come out at the end of a long day to his number taped to my bicycle with a note that said "Call Me." I would shudder, crumple up the paper, and just move on. Did I mention I was also his boss? Creep.

- Then there was that time when I was 17 and I started my very first real job at a company I had admired for practically my entire life. I had been hired as a part of a team that would be working under a man I knew only from a distance, but who had a reputation for being difficult (let's call him Steve). I welcomed the challenge, thinking the worst that would happen is that I'd be yelled at once or twice by him for doing some task incorrectly. I was very wrong.

ON DAY ONE, I was called into an administrative assistant's office (let's call him Bob). Bob asked me to sit down, and said he needed to address an accusation that had been laid against me. He said it was something that could potentially compromise my job altogether. My blood pressure sky-rocketed. Inside my 17-year-old bubble this job meant everything to me and I was not about to lose it on day one. Bob simply told me that an unnamed person reported that they saw a nude photo of me published in the latest issue of Playboy magazine. I was horrified. I'm sure my face has never been a brighter shade of crimson in all my 33 years on the planet. I honestly had never even held a Playboy at that point in my life, and was barely comfortable looking at myself naked in the mirror much less having someone photograph me in that state.

I immediately protested, saying the accusation was entirely false, and I demanded to know who the supposed whistle-blower was. Bob looked relieved and told me it really did not matter who the source was so long as the story was not true. I respectfully insisted he tell me the name of my accuser. If one of my coworkers was spreading rumors like this about me, I wanted to know who it was so I could deal the issue directly at the source. Much to my surprise, after I made it clear I was not leaving the office until Bob told me the accuser's name, Bob revealed who it was. It was Steve, my new boss. A 37-year-old man, and a person I had LITERALLY never spoken to in my life. My blood was boiling. I was terrified to the point of shaking. How was I going to navigate this?

At 17 years old, I certainly did not have the feminist arsenal of vocabulary or the confidence in myself to go to battle full throttle on this. But I decided to face it, nonetheless. I marched straight to Steve's office to confront him. I introduced myself (I may have even shook his hand to be polite), then told him I had just been made aware of his accusations. I naively asked him why he would say something like that about me. He stared at me blankly. "Because it's true," he said. Suddenly, I became frighteningly aware of how alone we were in this tiny space together. Before I could protest further, he stood up and went to the back of his office, grabbing a copy of Playboy off a stack of dirty magazines he kept there. He flipped slowly to a seemingly arbitrary page, and pointed to a fully nude girl that had blonde hair and big boobs. There I was at 17 being shown naked pictures of girls by a 37-year-old man who had recently just become my very first boss. Welcome to the fucking working world, little girl. There aren't many moments I can site in my life where I remember being that uncomfortable. I looked up at his face. He was smiling. He looked proud of himself. I felt sick. I didn't know what else to say so I just silently turned and walked out of his office, defeated. He had won whatever sick game this was and we both knew it. I had never played before, but I am certain he had played countless times with plenty of other young women.

I wish I could say that's where the story ended, but unfortunately there's more. After the awkward interaction in his office, Steve had clearly chosen me as the one on my team he could berate and abuse openly. At every opportunity he would raise his voice unnecessarily at me for things that were not my fault, and he would correct everything I did with relentless anger in his eyes.

I remember one time specifically where my team was put to a task together as a group. Just as we all got up to get to work after being given the assignment, Steve said he had a different job in mind for me and that I needed to stay behind in his office. Once the rest of my team left me alone with him, Steve told me I was to empty, clean out, and restock his medicine cabinet while he sat there next to me. It took almost 2 hours. I remember wishing I could have crawled out of my skin.

There was also a time when I got a terrible case of the stomach flu on the job (I'm talking violent uncontrollable vomiting. NO FUN). Steve saw me bent over outside heaving up my lunch and offered to drive me to see a nurse. Looking back, I am not sure why I had any trust left in my entire body for this man (stupid, naive, 17-year-old self), but I begrudgingly accepted his offer nonetheless. As we sat next to each other in his car, he broke the silence. "So....I was watching this soft porn the other day, and there was a girl in it that looked exactly like you." I told Steve to pull over immediately. I got out and walked the rest of the way on foot. Fucking asshole.

Obviously this story is upsetting for many reasons, but one of the worst parts for me, looking back, is that I did try to tell people what was happening. Most of my teammates were male, and I shared a few of the details with them as things were unfolding hoping they would act as my sounding board for where to turn next. Each one of the people I told said that it was just "Steve being Steve" and not to worry about it. Some laughed and said "oh yeah, that sounds about right." I even had to endure watching Steve be recognized for his “outstanding, exemplary achievements” in front of the whole company at one point. Each of these peer responses caused me to turn further and further in on myself about what had occurred (yes, just like that old 90s commercial where the woman keeps shrinking smaller and smaller as she is being harassed by her boss as seen at the top of this post), and eventually I just shut down completely about it. I blocked the sexual harassment side of the story from my memory, and actively spent time forcing myself to laugh it all off as if what he did was “normal” or “acceptable” behavior. Somehow making fun of the person he was made him seem like more of a clown than a predator, which felt easier to look back on than the actual truth.

It took me about 10 years to talk about this experience fully and openly with anyone. I have even in recent years shared the story with men I am close to who have reacted by, again, either laughing or saying things like, "You should be thankful he didn't actually touch you at all. Aren't you grateful you went through that and survived? Don't you feel like it taught you a lot?"

After taking a deep breath, I've calmly responded to comments like this by tearing pages from that feminist arsenal I mentioned earlier. Since I was 17 I've spent a lot of time building up my ability to speak in a level-headed way about sexual assault, gender equality, feminism, and other "tough subjects.” I no longer respond to ignorant giggles or "boy's club" comments with anger, because I know it is not the best way to communicate my point of view. The response is usually something like this: “No, actually, I am not grateful that I was taken advantage of by a much older man in a position of power. However, it did teach me a lot, you got me there. I learned to feel shame for something I had no control over, I learned to have a broad distrust of men, I learned that no matter how hard I work or how much I accomplish in life, my perceived value lies mainly in my looks, I learned to dislike my sexuality, I learned that men are in a big club together. They create this unbreakable circle of trust with each other, and no matter what another man does, his club comrades will always back him up and never rat him out.”

I will now spend my lifetime unlearning all that I was taught through actions of men like Steve.

Frankly speaking, even though I’ve trained myself to respond calmly in conversations dealing with the tough stuff, when I am alone and I think about the Steve story + all the other countless stories I’ve heard over the last week from my friends, I am fucking furious. I'm pissed off that men like Steve or Harvey Weinstein are out there living their lives, not owning the shame they should feel for behaving this way, and not being held criminally responsible (yet). I'm angry that I lived so much of my life being the one that felt like I did something wrong. Or I did something to "ask for it" (to quote FUCKING DONNA KAREN FROM 2017!!! Jesus motherfucking Christ). 

I hope for so many things to change after the emergence of #metoo. It's hard not to feel  trapped in a swirling tornado of shit (anyone else out there relate?). BUT for now here are three specific things that make me mad and I’d like to see change:

1. I hope that women everywhere stop throwing each other to the wolves, plain and simple (I’m looking at you, FUCKING DONNA KAREN).

2. I hope we find the strength as a society stop forgiving abusive men or brushing their abuses under a rug just because of their talent or accomplishments. And for Christ sake, stop supporting their work!

• Suggestion: Perhaps Casey Affleck should not present the award for best actress at the Oscars this year. Fuck tradition. Have some common decency and ask someone else who has not been accused by multiple women of sexual abuse. And stop seeing his movies.

• Stop seeing/acting in/praising Roman Polanski and Woody Allen films.  And for cryin’ out loud if you are still defending Bill Cosby in any way at all whatsoever, just stop.

• Stop supporting Donald Trump, a person who has openly admitted to participating in the harassment of women, and has had countless allegations of sexual harassment/assault brought against him between the 1970s and 2005.

• Perhaps the hardest ask of them all for America aside from the Trump thing: Stop watching football. You know, that multi-billion dollar industry that employs and re-employs countless men who beat their wives, assault people, and have seemingly no regard for the law or the rules of life in general? (Obviously, this is a generalization, but check out all these statistics about dudes on the NFL roster this season who have been found guilty of one or many offenses within the last year, month, week or even day! This site really breaks it down!) I know, I know… they changed their policy on domestic violence to be more strict in 2014, and yes, they have been enforcing this policy by dropping players sometimes. BUT there are still teams in the current season employing guys like Josh Brown and Ezekiel Elliott. Not good enough. Those guys should not be on any team's roster. Not to mention the fact that the league and it’s commissioner have been trying recently to strip players of their 1st amendment rights in addressing police brutality. So, just to be crystal clear: The league has no problem allowing abusive men to play in their league, but a major problem with those who are fighting to end abuses by police in our country? Consider this my official resignation from football fandom.

3. Lastly, I hope my male friends will own their part in this epidemic. If 90% of my female friends posted #metoo, then chances are very high that 90% of my male friends were part of the problem at some point in their life. They may have been the actual perpetrator of assault, or they could have been the "bro" that laughed at the sexist joke earlier this morning. No matter where you lie on the spectrum, my hope is that you own your story so we can begin to make some real forward progress here.

As my fave Brené Brown says "When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending."

 

THINX piece

Ciara Moriarty3 Comments

Howdy, all you curious folks!

Today I’m posting a detailed review of THINX, a period panty company that is “reimagining feminine hygiene products to provide support, comfort, confidence, and peace of mind”.

I'd like to start things out by setting the right tone. To do this I shall now quote one of my favorite authors, and an all around righteous babe, Brené Brown:

"I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few."

The conversation about menstruation is RIDDLED with this "inability to lean into the discomfort" that's associated with discussing the subject matter in full, leaving a lot of young women—and even some older, wiser ladies (myself included)—in the dark about what is truly happening with their bodies. Even though Brené might not have been referencing the period topic specifically, it is her wise words on vulnerability and shame that I keep coming back to whenever I see the bold and wonderful ads for THINX:

©THINX

©THINX

 It's like I can hear Mrs. Brown whispering "Lean in, girl. No shame." I remember how conflicted, confused, and upset I was about my period as a pre-teen/teen, and I am SO grateful that companies like THINX are starting to drag the "rag"—if you will—out of the darkness and talk about it openly. It's insane if you think about the fact that within an average lifetime women will have spent somewhere between 2,300 and 3,220 days on their period!! That's 6.5 to 9 years of self conscious nonsense that has got to stop.

With that in mind, I am giving a full and unabridged review of the THINX products I purchased. I encourage all of you (men and women alike) to read on. Please fight the squeamish feeling you might experience at certain moments in my review, and sally forth. We don't talk about menstruation openly because of a silly, out-dated stigma around this super normal thing that happens monthly in the female body. I am about to talk about my period openly, and I would hope that this might bring a few of my other fabulous lady friends to do the same. I mean DANG, I bleed constantly EVERY MONTH for 5-7 days, and I've somehow been led to believe there's shame in that. No thanks. I'm opting to "be the change"...or whatever. Alright, let's DO THIS.

My cycle is pretty regular. On most months it goes something like this:

Typical Day One: This is sort of a pre-period day for me. I'll have a little breakthrough spotting throughout the day, but usually no bright red blood or clots. I'll need a panty liner, or maybe a pad if things are a little heavier than usual.

THINX Day One: For Day One I bought the THINX high-waisted style. They are super cute, but I did have a few issues with them. After wearing them for a few hours I found the lace and waistband contained fibers that were a little itchy on my super sensitive skin. But they definitely did the trick as far as replacing any feminine products I was using on Day One in the past. I put them on in the morning, and wore them through the night, no problem.

The other issue I had with the high-waisted style is that they don't really stay put as well as the hiphugger style.

Typical Day Two: Within the first hour after getting out of bed, I usually experience what I will refer to from here on out as The Gush*. I have a feeling this label will resonate with my lady friends without much explanation, but for those of you craving more details:

The Gush is something that occurs suddenly upon standing after laying down or sitting for a long period of time. The opening of your vagina is no longer closed up by the pressure of sitting, and you feel a significant amount of blood and clots rush out of your body all at once. If you are laying down, things sort of work like a bottle with a small amount of liquid in it that is open but turned on the side. When you stand up, the liquid just comes pouring out. The Gush. You get it. Moving on.

On the second day of my period I'll go through 4-5 tampons on average, give or take a few depending on the kind of month it is. Lighter months might just be 2-3 tampons.

THINX Day Two: On this day I went with the original THINX product: The hiphuggers. I LOVE THEM. They have an absolutely amazing way of hugging your body, staying put so that when The Gush happens, you hopefully won't have any leakage. Going into this experiment, I really had anxiety about leaking, but this style really does work. I did not use any tampons for Day Two at all! It was crazy. I will, however, admit to taking more than a few trips to the ladies room to check on how things were progressing. During these trips I did quite a bit of personal clean up. Clots do not absorb and must be wiped away with toilet paper. Moving forward I think I would wear these underwear as a back up, and pair them with tampons or a menstrual cup just to be safe.

*SIDE NOTE: The Gush does not usually happen if I am wearing a tampon, which acts as a kind of plug. BUT it can also happen sometimes while I'm just trying to go about my day minding my own damn business. Not cool.

Typical Day 3: Very similar to Day 2, but I had a heavy Day 3 this month, so I ended up caving and wearing tampons throughout the day (I think I went through 3 total, with quite a bit of leakage).

THINX Day 3: For this day I tried out the sport style of THINX. My problem with this design is that, like the high-waisted style, it just did not stay cemented in place the way the hiphuggers did. They are also not at all as absorbent as the hiphuggers, which, to be fair, is how they are advertised on the THINX website. This was the dreaded day I experienced leaking. I was not super happy with these as an option to wear when I'm having a heavier day, even when paired with tampons. At this point in my experiment I realized that I should have just gotten 3 pairs of the hiphuggers. That said I'm certain the sport style will come in handy on day one, or the days after my period is pretty much over but I have some residual discharge.

Typical Day 4: The worst is over. I'll usually move to pads for this day. Full disclosure, I actually really don't like tampons anymore for a number of reasons (maybe I’ll do a separate post about my tampon woes), and I avoid using them if I can. I’m curious about menstrual cups but I’ve never used them, and would love any advice from those that do on the regular. If any of you ladies would be so kind as to answer this review with a detailed review of your favorite menstrual cup product, that would be awesome!!

THINX Day 4: I ended up switching back to the high-waisted style for this day (I hand washed them after Day One), and they did the trick once again, but after having tried the hiphuggers, I really wished I had an extra pair of those to use on this day instead!

Typical Day 5: Usually identical to day 4.

THINX Day 5: I had hand washed and dried the sport style at this point, so I wore them again. As predicted, they worked well after my heavier days had passed, and I was pretty happy.

Typical Day 6: Light spotting so I'll move back to panty liners.

THINX Day 6: My hip huggers were also hand washed and dried at this stage, so I wore them a second time, also. No problem. Once again, the hiphuggers come out on top! So comfy, and I felt super confident all day long.

CLEANING:

In the end I followed the wash instructions exactly, with one adjustment: I soaked them in a bowl of cold water first for a few minutes before I scrubbed. I found that this allowed for most of the staining to be lifted enough to make the rinse/wash process a little faster/easier. After I wore each pair twice (6 days of coverage) I threw them in the washing machine with the rest of my laundry then hung them out to dry. Pretty simple.

While this is definitely no problem for a lady like myself, I could see some folks not loving the bloody scrubbing you have to do. It's not bad by any means, but it takes a few minutes with your hands submerged in icy cold, bloody water to get the majority of the mess gone. I feel like the other online reviews I've read have oversold how simple the clean up is. To be honest I even had a few moments where that line from the musical Chicago kept playing in my head:

"It wasn't until later, when I was washing the blood off my hands, I even knew they were DEAD."

MY PURCHASE RECOMMENDATIONS: Get the hiphuggers! Don’t hesitate! They are the cat's pajamas! They have a great design that really raised my leak-free confidence no matter how heavy my flow was. Anywhere I'm seeing the "free bleed" chatter, I assume it's most likely only when people are wearing these bad boys. I think the other newer designs (high-waisted, sport, thong???, etc) will probably catch up in quality/design, but in my personal experience, this was the pair I loved the most and wanted more of. The sport style was my second favorite, followed by the high-waisted style.

THEY ACCEPT RETURNS!

You get 60 days to decide if THINX work for you or not. I will probably return the high-waisted style (They were $38!! Youch.) and exchange them for another pair of hiphuggers! We’re all different, and as such we’re bound to have varying experiences when navigating unfamiliar territory. I’m so grateful that THINX has a policy in place that allows room for improvement of their already badass product! This review outlines what worked for me, but try them for yourself and keep them ones you love, but return the ones you don’t.

THE TAKE AWAY:

Overall I think THINX—specifically the hiphugger style—are pretty sweet! There are, however, aspects of the products that didn’t work for me. There are a few folks online posting reviews claiming you can free bleed into these underpants all day and all will be well in the world. I don’t want to completely discount another woman’s THINX experience by any means, but my personal experience did not reflect the same “magical panty” sentiment. Perhaps some ladies with shorter, lighter, 3 day cycles can, infact, replace all other menstrual products with THINX with total confidence. I'm here to tell you that as a lady with a heavier 5-7 day flow, this is slightly false, and in my opinion these reviews create somewhat unrealistic expectations of the product's performance. On one of my two heaviest days, I was wearing THINX in addition to tampons, and I still had leakage. Granted I was wearing the sport style which offers less protection, but still. The fabric was soaked through, and I nearly ruined a really expensive pair of jeans. If I could have a purchase do over, I would get three pairs of the hiphuggers, and avoid the high-waisted and sport styles. Trust this little nugget of wisdom straight from the THINX site:

"THINX replaces panty liners for good, and can be used in conjunction with tampons and menstrual cups. You know your flow though, so we suggest testing your own limits."

I tested my limits, and found that free bleeding is NOT a good idea for me on heavier days.

To wrap it all up with a pretty bow, it's high time we stop allowing ideas that are literally centuries old dictate how we discuss periods. The only way a product like THINX can really take off is if we open up to each other and discuss what's working, and what needs improvement based on our personal experiences. So share!! Talk!! Let's arm the next generation of women with the knowledge we so desperately wish we had when we were young. Simultaneously we can also choose to support THINX knowing that they are actively driving the knowledge train forward through the development of a potentially game-changing product.

Please comment below if you have any questions about my review. I’m happy to keep the discussion going!