Alienation: Ideology Fallout

right-wrong

I have been processing the state of our country since the 2016 presidential election results through media, the press and Twitter.

I am a Twitter addict. I left Facebook over the self-aggrandizing of its users and the dangerous Groupthink that it perpetuates. I now spend a lot of time reading Tweets that send me researching, digging, and always learning.

I read stories and watched videos of people protesting (along with opportunistic rioting) in the streets after it became known that Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States.

I didn’t vote for Trump; nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton.

Trump is just so offensive on so many levels that there was no way I could vote for him even through I am a registered Republican. I am pretty sure I would not have voted Republican even if the nominee had been a harmless, homogenized GOP insider.

Why? Because I have evolved politically.

I no longer trust the system that presented us with a corrupt, dishonest Democrat and a narcissitic, lying Republican as our two major party nomineees.

Even though I believe in the sanctity of life (yes, I am pro-life, but also pro-woman and believe a woman has the right to control her own body) and tend to be fiscally conservative, I strongly believe in LGBTQ rights, equal rights for all, that scores of oppressed people live in my state and country, segregation is worse than ever, we need affordable housing and and that access to education needs to be expanded.

I voted third party. I had to.

And so we try to process the outcome. I am still processing.

I am processing the fact that the mainstream media is still clueless regarding the part it played in Trump’s election.

I am processing the fact that the two major parties are so corrupt that there is no way the people will ever choose the best leader for our country as long as they are in power (yes, this is all about power).

I am processing the fact that many Democrats are focused outward at what the evil Trump will do to our country when they need to be focused on their own party and its corruption.

I am processing the fact that the GOP needs to be accountable to the entire country for not providing a viable candidate and allowing Trump to become the nominee in the first place.

We can all agree that this is serious stuff.

But is it the end of the world as we know it? I don’t think so.

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Brexit.

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Trump (before he was elected).

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Trump (since his election).

The level of division I am seeing between Democrats and Republicans is historical (since I have been old enough to understand — can’t speak to before my time).

I am seeing divisions between races, ethnicities, genders and religions that give me a feeling of unrest and insecurity as never before.

Anti-feminism is running rampant. Anti-Semitism, anti-gay, anti-white, anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-nationalist, anti-Christian, anti-______.

Everyone is against someone else. Battle lines drawn. Weapons at the ready.

Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Is your side made up of the good people? The intelligent people.

Is the other side made up of evil, malevalent people? No, they’re just stupid. Right?

Maybe the idea of a benevolent leader is a myth. Maybe there is no such thing.

The very nature of the power necessary to get elected to public office, the need for wheeling and dealing, money and influence ensures that no one we elect will be honest and dependable, immune from the intoxicating character-changing influence of victory that proves Lord Acton correct: “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

And then on a personal level, I can no longer speak to most of my friends and family about what happened (except the three sons who live with me and seem to be sane) without hurtful words being hurled.

Those who hate Trump are alienating those around them who do not think it is the end of the world.

Those who support Trump are alienating those around them who are afraid of what he can and will do with so much power.

[Anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton is in any way less dangerous or immoral than Trump is deluded. I am convinced that Clinton exploits the weak and oppressed to become rich and gain power. Or at least she did.]

The election of a U.S. president should not be treated as though we are electing the ruler of the universe. Trump will not rule the world.

Although presidential powers have been expanded to disturbing and unconstitutional levels starting with Bush and then with Obama, we still have checks and balances in our system of government.

What this election cycle should inspire in all of us is a desire to become informed, educated and involved. Too long have Americans been content to let corrupt politicians get rich and make their corporate friends even richer as long as there was minimal personal inconvenience and those politicians espoused the correct ideology.

Democrats frame their power grabs as social justice: protecting the poor, disenfranchised, and oppressed.

Republicans frame their power grabs as fiscal responsibility, individual freedom and, with righteous indignation, serving God (protecting religious freedom and the unborn).

Both present themselves as morally superior, self-righteous and dogmatic.

Those who believe evil incarnate was elected president on November 8, 2016 need to turn that focused anger on the government monster that IS destroying America and the world.

This is not about one man, but a people’s desire for a savior, a champion.

And this, in my opinion, is the most disturbing revelation of all: we Americans have abandoned our personal responsibilities as human beings, thinking that an ideology will save us.

Your ideology (and mine) won’t save America. But you might. I might.

How? By being open to talking to someone who appears to be on the other side. By being willing to admit that politics is about power, not helping people.

Helping people occurs on a local, personal level. It will never be accomplished by politicians. Deep down we all know this is true.

My advice: Be the solution to the problems you see around you.

Join the ACLU, volunteer at a local food bank, financially support a local cause that is actually accomplishing something in people’s lives (one person at a time).

Donate YOURSELF,  your time and your money in a way that directly affects others in a positive way.

Adopt an elderly person who has no family left. Be a grandparent to children in a military family whose extended family are far away. Start a program at a middle school that encourages kids to grow, mature, and learn something that the school system (or their families) cannot teach them.

Stop mourning, stop alienating others (and feeling alienated) and find some way to positively impact your own space, block, neighborhood, community, town, city, county and state.

Whatever your passion, give of yourself. Be there for others. Be personal. Be real. Be supportive. Love others actively.

One person can save the world. That person is you. That person is me.

 

 

 

 

Woman gamer harassed

I have been a gamer since 1980 when I purchased my first Atari console unit. I played Space Invaders, Pong, Circus and many other games for hours.

After purchasing my first PC in 1984, I played DOS games which consisted of text only or the simplest of games with limited graphics.

I purchased other console units for my oldest son over the years and always played games on those consoles (Sony Dreamcast, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc.).

My next PC had Windows OS which opened up the world of Myst to me and my kids. I bought educational games for the kids and played my own games while my kids sat beside me and helped me solve puzzles from the notes I took.

A decade or so later, I was introduced to the world of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). I joined the online gaming world and began to meet other online players. Some of them were women, but the majority were men.

In this world, there are men who play female characters and GIRLs: girl in real life.

I have made some real-life friends through online gaming, both male and female.

Within the online gaming environment you find all types of male players: protective types, kind types, gentlemanly types, socially-awkward types, controlling types, cliqueish types, macho types, quiet types, outspoken types, highly-competitive types, profane types and finally the really ugly types which portray a variety of bad male stereotypes: immature, unrestrained, abusive and sexually predatory (these behaviors are not exhibited exclusively by men, though).

In one game that I played for years, a new guild member started sending me private messages which started with this question: “Do you swallow?”

This was in response to the name of one of my characters which was inspired by a butterfly. What I thought was lovely and amazing, a male player twisted and perverted.

I reported him to our guild leaders and he was booted from the group.

This guy had started playing the game after a stint on Second Life, which is not a game at all, but actually an online community with an X-rated section for adults. I guess he thought all online games were populated by the same types of people. He was mistaken.

On other occasions, I have had character names twisted and perverted by male players in public chat (you can tell the guys who watch a lot of porn). I always reported any player who was obviously sexually harassing me. Many ended up banned from the game, not just because of my reports but because these people generally bring down the gaming environment to a low, base level which game developers do not want (especially subscription-based games where female players are valued).

Most recently, I started playing Blizzard’s first-person shooter game Overwatch. This team-based game is crazy fun, with a choice of 22 characters for each short match against other players.

There is attack and defend, capture and escort. After playing a set of matches with a 6-member team, you might find yourself playing the next set of matches with players from the other team. It is always a good idea to be a good sport after a match, a concept that seems to elude many players.

When I created my gamertag for Overwatch, I used a variation of my very female name. It was obvious that I was a female player.

Obnoxious male players have attempted to motivate our team with statements such as: “everyone get your dicks out.”

When I informed him that I didn’t have such equipment, he was not very nice.

Over the next few weeks, I found myself the subject of negative talk if I participated in voice chat and attempted to provide any leadership or guidance to my team. This negative talk was not just from male players, but younger female players as well. I was often teaming up with one of my sons who witnessed the behavior. It was an interesting dynamic.

If a guy offered the team leadership, he was usually rewarded with cooperation and thanks. If a female player attempted to provide leadership, she was often treated badly during and after the match.

When I reported to my other son that a male player had called me a “f***in bitch” after I called him out on his abusive chat, my son was upset but not surprised. As a male player, he was used to seeing and hearing such language. He had not, however, dealt with it directed toward his mother (you know, the argument that sexual harassment and/or assault isn’t a big deal until it could be your daughter, sister, mother, etc.).

I used this experience to try to educate my sons on what women must deal with in a man’s world, as gaming has been primarily male dominated for years. That is changing quickly. More and more women are populating the online gaming world.

I made a decision after yet another male player heaped abuse on me  to change my gamertag to something masculine.

For the last three weeks I have not had a single negative comment aimed at me. Not one.

Male gamers will argue that women who complain about the gaming world are just whining or being snowflakes or SJWs (social justice warriors).

The New York Times article SWSX Addresses Online Harassment of Women in Gaming is a disturbing read which I recommend to everyone.

There are YouTubers who regularly make fun of women who are trying to change the online, console, and PC gaming world so that such games do not perpetuate harmful attitudes, behaviors and stereotypes.

Indi game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn, and Anita Sarkeesian, social justice warrior who owns the Feminist Frequency blog and YouTube channel, are the favorite subjects of deniers of misogynistic and anti-femiinist themes in games. These women have received death threats and continued online harassment through Twitter and other forums.

Gamergate is the subject of many naysaying male gamer YouTubers such as Investigamer who mispronounces impartiality over and over (I know, I’m nitpicking) after gaming journalism was accused/exposed as being corrupt.

I understand that male players are just not going to see and understand what women endure in male-dominated environments because they are not on the receiving end of such behavior. I understand this. However, men need to learn to listen to female voices instead of denigrating or atttempting to silence them.

Polarizing men against women in the gaming world is not going to accomplish anything. Men and women must care about ending online harassment especially in the gaming world.

I know what I have experienced. I know that the harassment stopped when I quit using voice chat and changed my gamertag to one that is obviously masculine.

If women must disguise themselves as male players in order to avoid harassment, there is something wrong with the online gaming world.

If a female player challenges a male player because he is being a dick, her voice should be respected. If a gamer chooses to be a dick, he should expect to be called out for such behavior.

It is one thing to be upset during a game and expressing said frustration, it is another to attack a female player with the aim of humiliating and ultimately silencing her.

I have an announcement: men don’t rule the world anymore. You have to share the world with women, and this includes the military, politics, business, education, and, yes, gaming.

 

 

 

Conflicted Father’s Day

Father's day ecard from American Greetings

Source: Father’s Day ecard from American Geeetings

I remember one time sharing a moment with my sister. We both discussed how difficult it was to purchase a Father’s Day card for our dad.

All those cards about dad being there when we needed him, his sacrifices for the family, and all that love!

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was an amazing person. He rose from a childhood of extreme poverty to become a Naval officer and fighter pilot.

He flew thousands of people safely across the country and even across oceans as captain of a major airline.

He had cool toys like sailboats, houseboats and ski boats as well as motorcycles and convertibles.

Being with my dad was an adventure. But it was his adventure in which we occasionally were allowed to participate, always on his terms.

When he finally divorced my mom, he left us in Miami far away from extended family because that’s where he had wanted to live after he got out of the Navy.

He didn’t leave Miami immediately. He stayed for a few years because that is where he met his second wife (my first stepmother of three).

We were able to spend some weekends and holidays with him. He was a fun dad for the most part.

He had an apartment on Key Biscayne for awhile after he sold his sailboat. After he bought a turquoise-colored houseboat, he lived there. He went through a brief ski boat phase (I think that was between sailboat and houseboat).

Eventually, though, he decided he liked California better than Miami. I don’t know if he offered to move my mom and us kids to Texas where my mom’s family lived. I don’t think so. I had no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins close by. I met them a few times on rare family vacations to Corpus Christi (which is near where my parents had met and been married).

I grew up  in a single-parent home with a completely committed mother who worked very hard and gave us all that she could. We didn’t really want for anything, but my friends’ families moved to larger homes as they grew older while we stayed in the tiny starter home my dad has chosen for us in 1967.

My dad almost always paid child support. I know there were a couple of pilots’ strikes where he had no income, but he was not a deadbeat dad at all. He was just not a very involved dad.

He paid for my  braces and auto insurance. He even helped me out after my first husband and I got married, even though he disapproved of the whole thing.

He never went to any of the football games where I performed at half-time with my school’s dance team. He never helped me with my homework. He wasn’t there to teach me how to drive (though he let us steer while he was driving on occasion). I couldn’t call him up and ask for his advice about anything. He called us when he was ready to see us.

Bottom line is that I didn’t have a daddy. I had a dad with a full life that on occasion involved his children.

I have thanked my dad for what he gave to me and my siblings. He did more than a lot of fathers do these days. Dads get a lot of credit for being part-time dads (moms who are ambiguous about their roles are judged much more harshly).

I spent years wondering why my dad didn’t really like being around us much. I rationalized his nontraditional fatherhood by remembering that his dad abandoned his family; he didn’t have a good role model.

As an adult, I chose to accept a tenuous relationship that continued to be on his terms.

One time my father called the day before he was planning to be in the Connecticut area (he often visited friends on Long Island without contacting my sister or myself). He wanted to meet me someplace at 1 p.m. the next day. This one time, however, I was several years into my struggle with chronic Lyme disease, and was in the middle of a flare-up. I didn’t have the strength to drive anyplace and sit through a couple of hours in a restaurant. I said no. That was the last time I saw my dad. He never called to see me again.

So, while I wish Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads who have chosen to embrace their roles and be there for their kids, I continue to be conflicted about this holiday.

 

 

 

 

How Quiverfull Speech Can Crash Airplanes

Taylor Joy Recovers

planecrash

The Quiverfull/Patriarchy culture produces plenty of “how-to” books, such as Fascinating Womanhood, and Created to Be His Help Meet, to show women how to be the most “godly” wives and mothers they can be. Since I practically absorbed a ton of these types of books through my skin for the first eight years of our marriage, I noticed one thing they all had in common: they tell us how how to talk to our husbands with “respect,” “honor,” and “deference to his authority.” We learned how to use encouragement, childlike phrases, praise, focusing on the positives, and carefully worded requests to communicate within our marriages.

For example, in the book Fascinating Womanhood , a man is about to make a disastrous financial decision, where he could lose everything. The author encourages the wife to say, “It sounds like a good idea, and I can see why you’re excited…

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Wounds that don’t heal

IImprisoned Spring by Arthur Hacker (1911)Heartbreak and loss come in many different forms: the death of a loved one, rejection by a lover or spouse, abandonment by a parent.

As a wounded woman, I know what it is to hurt.

I won’t bore you with tales of woe from my childhood, but all was not well at home.

By the time I was a young adult, I had been exposed to some pretty bad stuff, much of it a result of our male-dominated culture (exposure to pornography, sexual predators young and old, and male criticism of my female form and personality).

I was bullied by other girls, all older and bigger than me. I was also bullied by my family.

By the time I was 21 years old, I had what was termed”a serious chip” on my shoulder.

Believe it or not, I was judged harshly because I was not all smiles and compliance all the time.  Because I tried to fight back. Girls shouldn’t do that, don’t you know.

I knew the world was screwed up even when I was young, but I never knew how to express my concern. It festered. It fermented. I didn’t understand my discontent.

By the time I was in my early 20s, I wore a pretty hard, protective shell designed to keep me from getting hurt.

And then I found a church that promised “inner healing.”

Was there a chance that I could be freed from the pain that I worked so hard to keep hidden away?

I found a husband who was supposed to be loving, caring and a positive expression of patriarchy.

I believed that in this relationship, those wounds would finally begin to heal. I was in a safe relationship, a safe place, finally.

I let my guard down and exposed many of my wounds to this man.

I trusted him.

He used his power to control instead of love.

This is not a cautionary tale. I am not advocating the growth of dragon scales as a way to protect oneself. We can never truly love others if we don’t allow them to love us. And no one can love us if we don’t let down our guard.

From a psychological point of view, I am most likely dealing with abandonment issues exacerbated by fear of rejection. In a nutshell, when my father left me and my family when I was 7 years old, it affected me profoundly.

Back in the late 60s, it was not common for parents to divorce. I grew up in what was called a “broken home.” I carried that shame with me everywhere.

Thinking back, when my father was home there was an awful lot of yelling and fighting. I’m pretty sure things got physical. I don’t remember much. I liked the quiet better.

I heard a lot of stories from both of my parents over the subsequent years well into my adolescence when I finally reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I eventually refused to see my father anymore. That estrangement lasted for about two years.

I got pregnant. I got married. I had a baby. I got divorced.

I needed the quiet.

When it wasn’t quiet, when there was conflict and discord, my wounds opened up and all the pain came flooding back.

Here’s the thing: we all have wounds. My wounds are probably nothing compared to someone else’s wounds. That doesn’t matter.

We are talking pain levels here and tolerance for pain.

In life, the good times are supposed to outweigh the bad times.

Everyone suffers. Everyone struggles. Everyone has pain.

The real issue is how much pain and how often. Does the pain ever stop? Are there respites from the pain?

For some people, the answer is “No.”

I didn’t understand the insidious nature of chronic pain until a few years ago after contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite. I ended up one of the small percentage of people who experience long-term symptoms. Mine include chronic fatigue and chronic pain. I know what it is like to live with pain all the time.

The physical bite site, the terrible wound that I had from that tick bite, did heal after three weeks of antibiotics. The cause of the initial wound (about the size of a softball) moved away from the bite site and penetrated deep into my body’s tissues and even my brain. There was no healing.

Too Much Pain

The other day, I woke up and realized that I didn’t have any noticeable pain in my body. I breathed deeply and smiled. What a happy day. I want more pain-free days. Who wouldn’t? I thoroughly enjoyed that day. But such days are rare.

There is more compassion for those who suffer from physical pain than emotional pain in our society.  If someone has a back injury and must take opioids, no one holds it against that person.

For those who suffer loss and are wounded by it (and how can one not be wounded by loss???), healing is supposed to take place over time, but there is an expectation of some conclusion where the person affected finds relief and can move on with no more symptoms of grief.

For most people, grieving a loss takes time and the support of loved ones. In most cases, the pain of the loss lessens until it is merely a memory with occasional bouts of suffering that abate after a day or so.

What happens when grieving doesn’t end? Sometimes the wounds just don’t heal.

What happens to those who never stop feeling profound and unbearable pain?

There are many different endings to this kind of story.

Many can find relief through mental health services: therapy, medications and lifestyle changes. For some people this works.

Some end in the body giving up and the person fading away (yes, people can die from a broken heart). Some end in self-destructive behavior that results in death. Some end in suicide.

For some people the wounds just don’t heal. For some people the pain never stops. The thought of living a life of never ending pain is unbearable.

But wait…

 

Even though many wounds don’t heal, there is hope.

And it starts with taking back one’s power…

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I wouldn’t have seen the double rainbow if I hadn’t gone outside

 

 

Nagging

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Actually, @BrianKelm, you are wrong (see links at bottom of post).

Men and women want to direct their lives, their days and their downtime. This is true for males and females, men and women, boys and girls. No one wants to be constantly reminded that they have failed to do something that someone else wants them to do. No one.

But let’s look at what constitutes nagging, which is a negative behavior typically attributed to women, especially wives, mothers and girlfriends.

“Nagging takes the form of verbal reminders, requests and pleas,” Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW says on WebMD.com. “It goes from a reminder to a nag when the person who is being reminded gets offended.”

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The rest of the WebMD article is filled with well-meaning advice for those who suffer from the horrible habit of nagging others to get what they want.

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I propose that the behavior that is characterized as nagging is nothing more than one person who does not have enough power in a relationship attempting to communicate his or her needs.

In many cases, this behavior occurs because one person feels an unequal distribution of responsibility and desires a true partner in life. But is it just that?

I think what we most often call nagging is simply female leadership and responsibility.

I propose that calling female leadership in relationships and the family nagging constitutes silencing behavior by men and women.

It is also a part of the effort to keep women as objects for men’s pleasure and use.

screenshot rules for women

Really???

This is a perfect example of male power being asserted in potential relationships, right? Men define what is considered desirable in women and women either toe the line or get no men. Except this is a woman. I admit that I am confused by this mentality.

In my English literature classes I marveled at the female writers who never married. For most young women, the idea of never getting married might seem foreign and bizarre. There must have been something wrong with Emily Dickinson; no man wanted her, right? She must have been ugly or difficult or mentally ill.

Nah, she was free to write and that was all that mattered to her (while she cared for her parents and their house, of course).

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears—
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—

-Emily Dickinson

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the only way a woman could have any power over her own life was to remain unmarried and have enough money (and an understanding father or brother or lover) to allow her some freedom.

What options were available to women when they had almost no legal rights, could not vote, could not own property and were not allowed to, in most cases, manage their own wealth.

What careers were open to women?

Men could legally beat and rape their wives in most cultures, and still can in some.

Fast forward to contemporary times. We have a man and a woman in a traditional relationship (this is just an example). In most cases, the man can do whatever the hell he wants without question or judgment during working hours. He has a career, might be the primary earner, so he must work long hours. He is unavailable the majority of working hours to handle the hundreds of tasks required to manage a family, assuming there are  children now. Those tasks fall upon his wife even if she works full-time outside the home.

Ask any man who has stayed home while his wife was the primary breadwinner what it is like to manage a family. I encourage you to ask a man because if you ask a woman, her voice has less weight and import to the discussion – that is a whole ‘nother blog post.

Here is an enlightening Huffington Post article from a male perspective about what it is like to be a man in a family and to stay at home with the kids: Douchebaggery and the Stay at Home Dad by Christopher Noxon.

“Must be hard on his manhood,” Noxon says. “Must make up for it in other ways.”

Noxon goes on to describe behavior such as turning “diaper changes into acts of performance art when company is around but who otherwise leave the dirty jobs to mom.”

And this is a big part of the problem: men have had a choice in what domestic tasks they undertake and women haven’t.

Watching old movies about poor women who have been left with a houseful of kids, it is common to hear the comment: “At least the kids and house are clean.”

Would anyone ever say that about a man whose wife ran off and left him with the kids? Of course not. How many times are men forgiven if their kids’ clothes don’t match, hair isn’t combed, and school lunch consists of a peanut butter sandwich and a soft drink (okay, single dad tropes abound here).

Single dads and even married dads often get a pass.

We all know that in the majority of two-income households women still do the housework, cooking, shopping and caring for children (yes, this is documented though changing slowly).

housework3_f

These are responsibilities, not just chores. If they are not done not only do the children suffer but you will end up with child services knocking at your door accompanied by a couple of cops demanding entry (Big Brother is watching).

Yes, this is the scenario that not only floats around in most female parents’ heads, but is also a reality.

So let’s talk about nagging.

In the majority of cases, women are carrying the load of family responsibilities. Most are also working full or part-time outside the home in addition to the full-time job of running a household.

There is a shit-load of stuff that must be done every single day. I can attest that this stuff is exhausting. I can attest that it all needs to be done the next day, too. Again, it is exhausting. It really never gets less exhausting (and is never fun or entertaining).

Let’s examine the common middle class family (and here are some lovely Tweets to help you with this mental picture).

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And then there are these words of wisdom from what looks like a teenage boy:

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These Tweets seem to be posted by spoiled, bratty teenagers and adults who still expect their mommy’s and women to do what? Take care of the family and household.

It is a parent’s job to prepare his or her children for the real world. This involves gradually increasing responsibility while teaching life skills.

In the U.S., there seems to be a problem with this process. Kids are spoiled and entitled and rarely work for what they possess. At what point do they learn how to deal with the responsibilities of an adult life if they are cared for well into their 20s.

Male children have historically been cared for well into adulthood, while female children were taught to care for themselves and others from a young age (I know I am generalizing, but overall this holds true).

We are living in the 21st century. We have equal rights, shared responsibilities, two incomes…

Right?

And yet, women are still taking care of the hundreds of big and small tasks that are required to maintain a household and care for a family.

wife going to bed tasks

By Becky Mansfield, YourModernFamily.com

Nagging?

Nagging???

Hell, women want men (and sons and daughters) to step up. That is what most women want. They want their men to be grownups. Do something that isn’t self-focused. Care for someone else without being reminded or told to do so.

Why does a woman have to ask a man (or a son or a daughter) to do anything? He or she should just do it.

Take out the fracking trash. Wash the dishes. Vacuum the house. Walk the damn dog.

I tell my sons that the goal is responsibility, not task completion.

One of my sons is responsible for two jobs that he does not do unless I threaten him with losing computer access. That makes me a nag, right?

No, it doesn’t. It makes me responsible for his jobs.

And for the Troglodyte young woman “Mimi” who thinks that the perfect woman should stop nagging and take care of herself and “be tight” for her man: what are you on?

screenshot nagging13

Women perpetuating the myth of nagging is just wrong.

Real men are faithful, responsible, take care of business, don’t treat their partners like servants and sex slaves, and aren’t entitled little boys.

Nagging??? That is NOT the problem.

I want to leave this blog post on a positive note. Thanks @JimParedes for Tweeting this:

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Town and Country Magazine’s article about this subject credits “nagging moms” with helping their daughters to be more successful in life.

A University of Essex in England study found that “the girls with moms who set high standards for them growing up were more likely to go on to college and earn higher wages,” Kristen Lauletti said.

Why is a mother’s leadership characterized as nagging in this article, though?

I think it is time to change the language we use to describe female behavior.

How the church silences women

shhh2I left the church, all churches, because of how the Christian religion views and treats women. I am just sharing this up front (if you haven’t read previous posts).

I have written many times about how the women in my church (and the pastor, who was a woman) used silencing behavior to shut me down, everything from intervening when I was trying to be honest with my husband in counseling sessions to handing me a list of Bible verses about “gossip” when I needed to talk to someone about my abusive husband.

There is something seriously wrong going on. It is common for women who are in bad marriages, some abusive, some not, to be pressured to remain in those marriages no matter what. It is a duty, marriage is sacred, it would be a sin to divorce.

Let’s first talk about the sacred institution of marriage. This is a doctrinal thing. Marriage is mentioned in the Bible, and it is likened to Christ’s relationship to the church. From that analogy, marriage has become primary while the people (and their children) in that marriage are secondary.

“God hates divorce!!!!!!!!”

God probably hates a lot of things, but I don’t think divorce is at the top of his list.

This is a symptom of a much bigger problem. People (individuals) come last in the Christian religion.

Yep. They do.

When duty, or doctrine, is more important than relationship, then you will end up with dysfunction of some kind. And those who put the marriage before the people in that marriage are being dysfunctional. They are encouraging dysfunction. They are perpetrating dysfunction.

I have declared to anyone who wants to listen that I reject the Pauline letters in the New Testament. I think they run contrary to the teachings of Yeshua (he was Jewish, and his name is NOT Jesus — I know, picking at gnats).

Women must remain silent in church. Women must obey their husbands in everything. Women must wear head coverings. Women must wear dresses. Women must…

This is all legalism. Paul was a legalist.

In all of the years that I tried to relate to and communicate with my husband, he often told me that I needed to submit: over and over and over again. He never quoted the verse that commands husbands to love their wives as Jeshua loves the church. He never quoted the verse about how a man who does not care for his family is worse than an infidel.

I was told that it wasn’t my place to discuss _____ (fill in the blank), how I should not do this or do that, how my prayer life was even under his purview.

But when spiritual leaders in a church use the same silencing behavior on their congregations, you end up with a bunch of unthinking, repressed people.

Do you know one of the leaders in my old church stood up and said how much she hated running into this one woman she knew because she was always so down and negative (this was the same person who shut me down with a sheet of scriptures on gossip when I needed to confide in someone).

Dysfunction is prevalent in Christian relationships because of the fear of truth. There is a fear of honesty. There is a fear of reality.

“Don’t interrupt my religious moment with your unpleasant reality, please!”

“Oh, your husband is abusing you? Your reward will be in heaven. You must do your best to submit to him anyway.”

“Shhh, women should be silent.”

The judicial system, encouraged by our Christian heritage (patriarchy in general), permitted husbands to rape their wives in the no-so-distant past.

A man who beat his wife was justified in the last century.

Hell, women didn’t even have the right to vote until 1920, and then civil rights, rights over their own bodies and personal life decisions, took many more decades.

Men rant about how unfair the judicial system is because they say it favors mothers in divorces. Have they not looked at history where a hundred years ago women had almost no rights at all? Children (and their mothers) belonged to fathers/husbands.

Women had to remain in bad marriages if they wanted to keep their children, not be homeless, and have any kind of financial support. There weren’t even many professions available where women could support themselves. Women still make a lot less than men today.

Inequality is ugly.

Why are men threatened by women’s rights? I do not understand why men are threatened by women who use their voices.

And religious men can be the worst. Actually, let me correct myself: religious women can be the worst. I wonder if there is some underlying fear that if a friend has justification for leaving her husband, she might question her own marriage. Things start to get shaky and undefinable when women have autonomy and self-determination. There is a loss of control.

Oh, and here we are: control.

Silencing women comes down to the need to control. And when the church (which is the corporate body and its individual members) silences women, it is exerting control over them, control that it should not have.

What if we let women speak and then decide for themselves? Would the world come to an end?

The justification for Paul’s letter, the historical context — at least what I was taught — was that women would just stand up and speak when gathered in the early church.

Gasp! Choke!!! Oh no!

Some kind of directive was necessary to keep them under “control.”

And today, the church silences women by insisting that they wear dresses, defer to their husbands, defer to their pastors, defer to… well, everyone. Heck, women should speak quietly and not make trouble. Women should…

Silencing behavior. Control.

How long will women put up with such ridiculousness? How long?

For those who are still skeptical, I challenge you to explore gender equality in the Christian religion. The Junia Project is a lovely place to begin.

I challenge you. What do you have to lose? Control?

The silencing of [abused] children

I saw this in my Twitter feed this morning. Of course, it intrigued me as I am focused on silencing behavior right now.

tweet wapo silencing children

This story by federal prosecutor Sarah Chang exposes society’s role in the silencing of abused children.

“Psychiatrists say the silence conveys their sense of helplessness, which also manifests in their reluctance to report the incidents and their tendency to accommodate their abusers,” Chang wrote as an explanation for why children in the videos she watched were often silent, showing little emotion.

It makes sense that these children would feel helpless. The very people who are supposed to care for them and keep them safe are the ones accused of abusing them. What power do children have in such situations?

But why do so many of these wounded, betrayed children remain silent?

But in reality, a voiceless cry is often the most powerful one.

Their abusers are master manipulators. Threats of losing even the abusing parent to prison is often enough to silence a child. That parent might be abusing that child, but he or she is the only parent that child has.

Fear of further loss silences victims.

Chang goes on to describe law enforcement officials, prosecutors and defense attorneys who judge victims based on their emotional responses to questioning.

“Silence can be the most devastating evidence of sexual abuse; it can be the sound of pain itself,” Chang wrote.

Some people close to me have suffered sexual abuse as children. Disclosures were made to me in confidence, in quiet times and in privacy. There was no emotion.

There was shame. There was self-condemnation. There was self-blame. There was little healing to be had because they just didn’t want to talk about it.

What was my part in this silent suffering? Did I bring up the abuse at a later time to offer further comfort? I must be honest and admit that I didn’t. I did not know what to do.

I carried some of the pain with me from that day forward because that is just how I am, but I don’t think I helped even a little bit.

Does society silence the abused? That is a very good question. What do you think?

Women silencing women

Mbathroom_grafitiany women rage against the silencing behavior of men.

A huge battle is going on in the House of Representatives, who want to de-fund Planned Parenthood. That is silencing behavior at its worst.

I have written about how abusers silence their victims, stealing a woman’s power from her little by little until she has virtually none left.

But how many of us, women who believe women should be able to use their voices freely, silence other women?

Is some feminine speech okay and other feminine speech not okay?

What about women who use profanity or talk about sexuality? Is that type of speech okay? What about women who use speech that may be considered vulgar? How about women who use religious or spiritual speech?

Who decides whose speech should be spoken and heard? Religious leaders, sacred texts, family members, the majority of the people in society, our government, civil rights activists, atheists, feminists, and any other –ists you can think of?

Now we are touching upon morality and the myth of the virtuous woman (thanks Dr. Eva Jones for making mythology relevant to real life).

I was using the restroom in my local grocery store chain a few weeks ago and saw some writing on the wall.

At first I just saw the words, “You’re a lady so act like one. Thank you.”

To be honest, those words offended ME.

What defines what a lady is? Are all adult women supposed to be ladies? Why does anyone need to act like anything that they aren’t?

“…refined, polite woman” is the definition of lady one online dictionary provides.

Are tomboys immoral? Should women all wear dresses and speak in soft, lowered voices?

But then I saw that a lot of the words on that wall had been scratched out. I was subconsciously aware that the larger, symbolically louder, words had been in response to some kind of bathroom graffiti. I didn’t really consider the significance of that response until today.

A woman used that stall in that restroom, saw words written by another woman, and decided that they were not appropriate. She scribbled over them, making them unreadable.

One woman silenced another woman.

The unreadable words had been judged unladylike, and therefore, they needed to be silenced.

This goes both ways folks. If someone scribbles “Jesus loves you!” on the bathroom wall and another woman, who is an atheist, scribbles over it to render it unreadable, the atheist is using silencing behavior.

Women with different value and belief systems, with entirely different world views, silence one another every day. Is it possible that this behavior might be what is hindering social evolution in this country?

I wrote a research paper for an English course over a year ago which addressed free speech on college campuses. Most of us who are old enough are aware of what happened on the UCLA – Berkeley campus back in the 60s. Liberal voices, many from outside the campus, were being used to try to effect change. The powers that be, conservative and defensive of the American Way of Life, decided that those voices needed to be silenced. The fallout from that period hindered open discussion about a lot of important issues for decades.

The creation of free speech zones, banning outside groups on the Berkeley campus, controlling what printed material was distributed on campus and more led to a stand-off and arrests. Years later we have access to classified information that revealed the presence of the FBI on campus due to concerns over communist influences.

Fast forward to the 90s and inversely, traditional (often conservative) speech was limited by way of speech codes (the SCOTUS found these unconstitutional). Liberal influences wanted to change conservative ideologies and prohibit speech that could be harmful to women, minorities, and gays.

The problem with this approach is that by silencing people, unwanted attitudes are reinforced, not changed. They just go underground and form even stronger, sometimes more fanatical subgroups. As the persecuted ones, they are ready to do battle for what they believe is true and good.

The end does not justify the means. In the case of silencing others, the means can backfire horribly.

What is the answer? I have a potential solution.

Someone scribbles something about an explicit sex act on the bathroom wall. The next person who enters the stall doesn’t like the content of the message (sarcasm mode coming: her delicate sensibilities are offended); instead of erasing or scribbling out the offensive speech, she writes something encouraging, beautiful, something that represents her point of view in a respectful manner. Why not?

If one woman’s speech is morally superior to another woman’s speech, this should be obvious to anyone who sees them side by side, right?

[I know that writing on a bathroom wall is actually vandalism. This is a hypothetical situation, and is being used as an example of women respecting the voices of other women. I am not encouraging people to write on bathroom walls.]

Many who are conflicted about the feminist cause are conflicted because of seemingly militant, aggressive women who silence the voices of men (and other women who are not as militant or aggressive).

I know what you’re thinking: Have you ever tried to convince a man that he was wrong about something?

It is often like hitting your head against a brick wall to try to get through to a man who has it all figured out: authoritative, conservative, deeply entrenched men who believe they were given the keys to the kingdom because of their maleness. Yes, I have dealt with this, a lot!

How many men will turn around and ask the same question? (Lots of male heads nodding assent to this one. Women can be stubborn and intractable, too.)

Again, what is the answer?

Free speech, without the silencing behavior.

When there is no silencing behavior, power is not shifted from one group to another. Each person and group retains their own power. I love this!!!