Monthly Archives: March 2012
There are times when I wish I could be one of those women content to accept that the world is unfair and that some people are more important than others.
If I could actually believe that, life would be so much simpler.
The problem is that simple bores me and unfairness angers me, especially when it’s perpetuated by people who use inequality to meet their own need for influence, power and/or sense of security.
Even though I hate discrimination of any type, my personal experiences are limited to dealing with sexism. And lately, we seem to be moving backwards on that issue.
Women are facing more sexist attitudes than we did when I was in my twenties. At least it feels that way. Maybe because when I was younger, I attributed personal slights to my being inexperienced. But now, I’ve got a whole lot more experience yet the attitudes and behaviors persist. And women are having to fight battles I thought we’d won years before.
Admittedly, I’ve been more passive than I should be.
Perhaps it’s because protecting myself has sometimes outweighed standing up for what’s right. Or perhaps it’s because sexism can be so subtle that people have made an art form of camouflaging it. Or perhaps it’s because the issues are just too confusing.
Take, for example, shoes.
I recently heard that a woman who wears high heels (but not too high) is taken more seriously in the workplace than a woman who wears flats.
As someone who would sleep in high heels if it were feasible, you’d think I’d find this piece of information encouraging. Not at all.
The whole issue is absurd. The height of a woman’s shoe shouldn’t matter at all as long as she can do her job. But apparently it does. And since women have a lot more choices than men when it comes to footwear, we are also more likely to make decisions that can distract from our skills and abilities.
The same can be said for words we use to describe ourselves. Take, for example, the word feminist.
There are those people who picture a feminist as a woman who hates men, doesn’t shave her legs, dresses like a hippy and has extreme points of view about reproduction.
Umm.. no. As a feminist, that doesn’t describe me at all.
I love men. I shave my legs. I wear make-up. I’m not an extremist on any subject, and I even let my daughter play with Barbie.
Being a feminist has nothing to do with how I dress or who I love.
It’s about taking time to question how women are being treated. It’s about ensuring that, when other factors are equal, women are given the same opportunities as men. It’s about pushing people to think about how fair they are being.
Would the salary be the same if a man had the job? Does a woman really have the same opportunity to break into the “good old boys’ network? Is the spouse’s employment relevant?
Ironically, as I was writing this, my daughter looked over my shoulder and asked, “What exactly is a feminist?”
“It’s someone who believes women should have the same opportunities as men,” I said.
“Duh,” she said in a voice and manner that only 10 year-old girls can get away with.
“Exactly,” I said. “Duh.”
And hearing that one word come out of my daughter’s mouth put the fight right back in me.
Watch out world, this feminist in high heels is on a mission to ensure life is more fair for her daughter.
“Our purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Dalai Lama
Monday, March 5, 2012
Like many Americans (and I hope most Americans), I was appalled when you turned a national debate on religious-affiliated institutions and contraception coverage into a personal attack on Sandra Fluke. Not only did you call the Georgetown law student a slut, but you went so far as to request sex tapes and claim that she was basically asking the government to pay for her to have sex.
Umm, no, Mr. Limbaugh, government coverage of birth control was not being discussed. The topic was actually about what can, or should, be required health-care coverage by religious institutions… not the government.
But that didn’t matter to you, did it?
And why should it?
Your job isn’t to provide accurate information or to engage the public in genuine debate about how to make life better for most Americans.
Instead, your job is to do the exact opposite. You don’t care about helping anyone but yourself. Your primary concern is about getting higher ratings and more money. And every time you say something controversial, you get more attention, which is all you really want.
You figured out the formula years ago and have been perfecting it ever since. You divide people by ridiculing others, tearing down anyone who thinks differently than your audience and twisting what liberals believe, think and do.
The problem is, your attitude and behavior are contagious, and other news media and internet sites have followed your lead. Attacking people has now become more common than engaging in real, intellectual debate about tough issues that have no easy, and sometimes no right, answer.
Because of this, a lot of people now find it acceptable to demonize others because of religious beliefs. Those who have fallen on hard times and need financial assistance are defined as lazy and undeserving. And lately, our country seems to be going backwards when it comes to women’s issues.
The American public now views politics as a matter of us-versus-them and is more interested in which side can score the most points than what will benefit our country. Attacking others is more important than considering possible solutions and compromise.
Worst of all, we’ve become a country where many think only of their own personal gain rather than about the greater good.
But like I said before, that’s not your concern. Your concern is about getting ratings, and you’ve accomplished that by making every political issue about personal behaviors and beliefs.
But I’m not going to call you out on your own personal behaviors, because that would be stooping to your level.
Instead, I simply want you to think about the real purpose of life. Is it to make as much money as possible while hurting a lot of people in the process? Or is it to make the lives of others better while building people up in the process.
I believe in the latter. I hope someday, you do too.
Sometimes, finishing a good book feels similar to ending a tragic love affair. From the beginning, I know it’s going to end, but I dive in anyway believing the pleasure between the covers will be worth all the pain of separation later.
My obsession with a really good book is often like being in the throes of a passionate affair: I think about it all the time, I ignore responsibilities so I can spend time with it, and almost every conversation reminds me of it.
That’s not surprising. My relationships with books have often mirrored my relationships with people.
While I have a lot of acquaintances, I’ve found that when I truly need support I generally fall back on the same trusted few people again and again.Similarly, I fall back on the same book or a favorite author when I just want to escape with a good read.
A good read, to me, isn’t an implausible plot that is moved forward with simple sentences and a lot of action. Just as I prefer complex, yet genuine, people, I prefer complex stories that can make me believe the unbelievable.
In other words, content is more important than showmanship, and flawed characters are more interesting than heroes who always say and do the right thing.
That’s probably why, as a girl, I just could never relate to Nancy Drew. As a lifelong mystery lover, I don’t recall having much issue with the plots of her books, but I definitely remember having issues with Nancy herself. She was too one-dimensional, and I could never relate to a girl who had it all: good looks, a boyfriend, a chic wardrobe, and popularity.
As an awkward kid who struggled with getting through each day without too much turmoil, I don’t know what bothered me more – the ease with which she went through life or that her perfection was incredibly boring.
I still don’t do boring or predictable well. And because of that, I’ve been known to play the field with a lot of books. I’ve even developed a reputation for dumping many before I make it past the fifth chapter.
But at least those books didn’t suck me in before it was too late. There is absolutely nothing worse than a book that gets me all excited throughout only to fail to deliver at the very end. I don’t know if the authors just don’t plan well, get bored with the writing process, or have to meet a deadline, but they seem to be meeting their own needs rather than that of their reader.
I’ve been encountering more and more such books lately. They start off with a well-developed plot and characters that capture me completely through most of the pages. But then, they end quickly by tying up all the loose ends in a neat package that leaves me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.
Such books used to leave me doubting my own judgement. But not anymore. Just as we grow with both our successful and our failed relationships, I’ve come to believe we can also grow with each book we read no matter how it ends.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I find myself completely immersed in my latest book. And just as with the start of any relationship, I have high hopes that it will be both satisfying and leave me wanting more.