Happiness According to Jax

I recently began babysitting a 3 year old named Jax. Here’s an excerpt from a conversation we had yesterday while playing on the family’s backyard play set:

Jax (turns around after climbing halfway up the slide): “Daddy says I’m silly. But I don’t want to be silly. I want to be…happy.”

Me: “I think you can be both! What makes you happy, Jax?”

Jax: *loud sigh* *pause* “Only food.”

I think he’s on to something.

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Can I Please Just be Pissed and Positive?!

Do you like the pseudo-alliteration in the title?! I’m so clever.

So, lately, I have been feeling really agitated about my breasts and ovaries. Not my actual breasts and ovaries, guys, chill. They are fine.  It’s more about the fact that I have them and how I’m increasingly aware of how I’m treated as a result.

I have always been a feminist (believe men and women are equal, see fabulous Aziz quote I shared in yesterday’s post) but I have become more increasingly aware of both overt and microaggressions against ladies.

I think this uncomfortable feeling intensified when I woke up a few weeks ago, excited to go jogging. I hadn’t been jogging in so long and I was motivated. I was feeling awesome. I was ready.

I put on some workout clothes and left the house. It was pretty busy with going-to-work traffic, so I had to wait at the corner of my street before crossing. While doing so, a man in a passing vehicle looked at me with an expression that made me beyond uncomfortable and said “heyyyyyyy sexy.” I felt so gross. I didn’t want to be outside anymore. So I turned around and went home. I was so angry. Genuinely pissed that I couldn’t just go running without someone deciding it was okay to look at me like that and say something.

If you wonder what I was wearing, I respectfully posit that you are tacitly part of the problem (an oversized sweatshirt, no makeup and gray exercise pants, by the way). If you wonder why I couldn’t just ignore it, you haven’t been worn down by people thinking they have a say over how you look and dress, what you should and should not take as a “compliment,” and what should and should not make you feel unsafe in the world. Many women know exactly what I mean.

A few days later, I was walking to my car from class and a guy yelled from a carful of co-ed’s “Nice ASSSSSS.” Just, no. I AM JUST TRYING TO LIVE MY LIFE. MY ASS IS NOT HERE FOR YOU TO COMMENT ON. IT IS JUST TRYING TO HELP ME GET BACK TO MY CAR.

So, what exactly am I mad about? Who am I blaming for these feelings of agitation?!

Well, first off, the way boys and girls are socialized is an issue. We are conditioned from a young age to think about what boys do and how girls look. Even the compliments our parents give us as wee tots often demonstrate this: “Peter, you are so smart! Look at that puzzle you put together!”, “Amelia, you are so pretty.”

It doesn’t stop when we grow up. When my husband has introduced me to various people (at church, old friends, etc.) one of the first things they say to him when I am out of earshot is “She is beautiful!” Granted, they do not know much about me upon first being introduced, but do we ever question this almost knee jerk reaction? Not really, because it is accepted right now that how women look is the chief thing that is praised or disparaged. Maybe if people didn’t consider me pretty, this wouldn’t be what people immediately mention to my husband. Maybe, my looks wouldn’t come into it and they might ask about my interests! I should try the raccoon eye. Heroin chic doesn’t get many comments in the church crowd.

Do not get me wrong- your parents, strangers in this instance, etc. mean well. They are just going with the socially conditioned flow. But the socially conditioned flow won’t change until we start challenging this ideology and people start behaving differently to change the social atmosphere… it’s all perpetuating, ya see?!

I would further note that the pornography industry as it stands today (often one of the first introductions to sex young’un’s, particularly boys, have nowadays) is a HUGE contributing problem. Seeing women not really participating in sex but rather being “done” is a basis for some pretty harmful ideas. Current porn is not the “nudies” of our parents’ generation. This fast-paced, just bend ’em over action that is typically clipped to be the average length that is takes a male to orgasm is something far more insidious. It sexualizes and objectifies people. Time to disentangle sexuality and sexualization, shall we?! Because they are different. That’s a bit of a bunny trail though (perhaps a post on that soon).

Food for thought: isn’t the fact that some pornography is categorized as “female friendly” indicative that the majority of porn produced is NOT “friendly” to or “for” women?

Furthermore, many wives and girlfriends I speak to whose husbands habitually use porn are deeply hurt by this. Some men respond to this well- they want their wives to feel safe and comfortable and value that above the habit. Others suggest it is their wife’s fault for being “insecure” or not having sex with them enough. The latter responses suggest a huge lack of respect for women’s agency as human beings and suggest their (the man’s) feelings matter more that their spouse (the woman’s) feelings on the matter. Patronizing in the literal sense of the word. Also, the idea that women will always have lower sex drives than men and say no to their partners’ advances is making an assumption. Talking directly to your partner about your needs and their needs is important. I asked a friend if her husband (who used the frequency defense) had told her he would like to have more sex. In their case, the answer was no. Making excuses for behavior that makes your spouse uncomfortable seems pretty disparate from the whole “partners” thing. Also, in 70% of divorces, one partner was a habitual porn user. Correlation is not causation, but interesting nonetheless.

Honestly, porn culture contributes to my feeling unsafe in the world. Before I hear someone say (or adopt the idea) “porn isn’t harmful to women” I urge them to, I dunno, talk to some women about it. I have met a lot of women who didn’t even know it was okay to not be okay with porn. I literally have heard these words “Well if I don’t go along with it, I’m going to sound insecure and I’m not going to find anyone.” Shit. Another thing that suggests to me that we live in a culture where what is acceptable for women (even how they feel?!?!?!) is largely dictated by men. If you are tempted to pull a “Well, that’s their own fault. Be your own person!” I must say, isn’t wanting to be accepted a human need? Isn’t what makes women “acceptable” deeply ingrained in our culture? Detente.

Men who are reading this post, take heart. I’m not spiteful toward you (unless you have harassed me on the street, in which case, GRRRRRRRRRR to you, sir). However, it is crucially important than you examine your own views, the views of men you know (ie: your friend catcalls a woman or makes a rape “joke”… what do you do?!) and be a critical consumer. The critical consumer bit is imperative. It’s sad to shape your habits and/or your values around narratives that are crafted to line others’ pockets (porn is just one example of this, making little boys and girls seem like vastly different creatures is another… Read “Cinderella Ate my Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein for more on this).  I think it is important for everyone to do these things (examine your views and be a critical consumer) not just men.

Fellas, it is not inherently bad that you have male privilege.  You were born into it. Like I was born with ovaries and breast tissue. Like I was born white. But it’s important to realize you are in a position (haha, anyone?! Not funny?! Okay…) to use your inborn privilege to help the matter. What you do with the privilege and whether you challenge or perpetuate the culture is where you become part of the problem or the solution.

Women, educating yourself and being aware is important for you too. And always remember that payback and progress are different things.

I could go on and on and on about this, but I will rather suggest some articles and videos I found helpful. These are meant as food for thought and not Bible truth.

This article was interesting,

I liked this article a lot.

Sexuality vs. sexualization looked at here.

GQ thinks you should stop watching porn. They tell you why here.

Must watch documentaries: “The Bro Code” and “Sexy Baby” (it’s on Netflix, ya’ll).

My recommendation is to watch “The Bro Code” if nothing else. 

Friends, this very long blog post is drawing to a close. Basically, I periodically feel very exposed and unsafe in the world (and have actually had experiences far more traumatic than catcalling) because I have XX for my chromosomes.

I feel positive that together we can move in a better direction. But sometimes I’m pissed at society and anyone who diliberately chooses to look the other way, ya know?!

(Note: I know I am referring to cis genered, heterosexual, long-term relationships here as this is what I am most familiar with. I have not spoken to gay or transgendered friends about this. Furthermore, I do know that some women are habitually into mainstream porn, too. I think it is similarly unhealthy in their case but that is beyond the scope of this post).

I Love Some Distruction on a Tuesday 

Hello, my karacters! (Hmmmmm… I don’t like that greeting. Now I know…) 

I hope you all had a beautiful weekend. My heart and thanks are with all of those who have served our country or have loved ones who have. 

Oh, funny story. Sam the dog ate my phone this morning. Thanks, Sam. I fed him, took him out, went into the bathroom, came out 2 minutes later and my phone was laying beside him, mangled.  See below evidence. 

 I am thankful to my mother-in-law (and a man named Kareem at Verizon) who helped me quickly remedy the situation at no cost. I now have a new phone and renewed hatred of Sam’s love of anything that goes “crunch.” The dog needs a hobby that doesn’t involve distruction. 

Anyway, I did not have a chance to post yesterday. It was a long, strange day.  However, as a little Tuesday appetizer (plastic free! You hear that, Sam?!), please  see this zesty quote from Aziz Ansari in anticipation for tomorrow’s post. 

 

Love to you all on this sunny day! 

I’ve Got Nothing 

Do you ever have those days when you look at the clock, convinced it must be bedtime, and it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon?!

I’m absolutely having one of those days. I had lofty plans of posting one of the many much more worthy posts I’ve been drafting. But it is not to be.

Instead, I am snuggling with this guy.  (And binge watching Investigation Discovery shows. Has anyone seen “Disappeared”!? Addicting. )

  This is Sam, our Boston Terrier. We rescued him from a kooky shelter that is very vocal about homeopathy for animals. I forget the name of the place, so I make a new one up everytime I mention it. My go-to’s are “Paws for Jesus” and “Paws for Palimony.” Someday when I have more energy I’ll share more about Sam. He is quite a character.

I hope you have an excellent weekend!   Here’s to better posts next week!

What the f*&^% ?! Wednesday

Welcome to “What the F* Wednesday?!,” basically a rant about something I think should become extinct. Some will be frivolous pet peeves, others will be more serious matters but I hope you have fun reading these Wednesday posts regardless. Today’s subject matter comes to you courtesy of Facebook. Here we go:

PEOPLE WHOSE FACEBOOK WALLS PRIMARILY CONSIST OF REPOSTED,SOMETIMES OFFENSIVE, BUT ALWAYS ASININE “SHARED” ITEMS FROM OTHER WEBSITES NO ONE CARES ABOUT…. I am talking to you.

GET OFF MY JOCK.

In case you aren’t fortunate enough to have your “friends” (who are actually just individuals who were once in my life and now are dead to me) post this type of material, I have taken the time to save some actual posts that have been shared and my reactions to them. Perhaps you will enjoy the experience more secondhand.

what the f post 1

Um, no. Also, what does that even mean? You strategically place pornographic material across from a reflective surface?! That makes a lot of sense. Double the fun?! You think your face looks like a porn star’s?! Newsflash: NO ONE INVITES PEOPLE TO COME OVER THIS WAY. #byefelicia

what the F post 4

That’s neurologically impossible, but if it weren’t, that would explain a lot.

what the eff #2

There is a reason for everything and sometimes the reason is um, YOU. Or that you think you are able to accurately assume how much others can handle in their life in relation to yours. I’m sorry you feel like a cartoon woman in a burgundy dress on a blustery day, I assume that’s the worst, but puh-lease. You don’t know my life.

what the f #3

Here’s one of my all time faves. ANYONE WHO IS NOT LIKE ME MUST BE ILLEGAL AND I CANNOT ACCOMDATE THAT. GET OUT. Last I checked we were teaching elective foreign language classes that barely teach you how to have a conversation in schools, so the only thing that’s being forced on anyone here is your ignorance, sir or madam.

  Have you seen anything “shared” lately that caused you to kind of go “WTF?!”Let me know in the comments.

P.s. I would never make light of someone sharing posts to raise awareness about things that are important to them. This is meant in good fun 🙂

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have discovered so many wonderful things in the past month or so. I feel it is my duty to share them. Besides the weather in New England gradually getting warmer, here are some things that have made my life a bit better this month:

READING…

the-girl-on-the-train-coffee1edited

“The Girl on the Train”: Oh. Em. Gee. If you liked “Gone Girl”, you will LOVE this book. I certainly did. It’s a page turner, to say the least. I enjoyed that it was set across the pond. An interesting thing my husband, Mike, pointed out is that British suspense is a lot more intellectually intriguing because guns are outlawed there. Hence, pulling out glocks left and right isn’t how the crimes go down. This is a good point. I also suggest this book because, while thrilling, it’s less disturbing than “Gone Girl.” It also speaks to the power of observation and how lives can be impacted by people we have never met. Go get this book now if you are looking for something to read.

“The Goldfinch”: I read this at the beginning of the year, I confess. It took me quite awhile as it is a bit over 700 pages long. This well crafted work of fiction tells a story alive with perspectives on the human spirit and art. It is wonderfully written, which is no surprise because it won a Pulitzer prize. However, the plot does drag a bit in places. It could have been approximately 150-200 pages shorter, but definitely worth a read.

I also tend to find good recommendations here.

WATCHING….

netflix

“The Queen of Versailles”: This documentary, available on Netflix, is a fascinating look into David Seigel and his family’s endeavor to build a 90,000 square foot home modeled after Versailles. The documentary changes it’s focus when the 2008 economic crisis throws a wrench in their plans. His wife, Jackie, is the primary focus of much of the documentary. I found her to be super interesting. She has a background in both computer engineering and modeling. Though her lifestyle has been over the top, something about her is very endearing.

 “Broadchurch”: This British crime drama is stunning. The plot kept both Mike and I on the edge of our seats. I am not proud to admit this but we watched the hour long episodes back to back. Straight through. Life is short and I have no time for shame. I also don’t have time to wait between episodes of such great programming. This show about a boy murdered in the small town of Broadchurch calls everyone in the small town into question and casts people near and dear to the family in a suspicious light. I realize the previous sentence is really long, but I get so excited when I talk about this show Ijustkeepwritingokayyougetthepoint. It is on Netflix. Do not delay.

MAILING…

mailb

Outgoing: my Mother’s Day cards. FINALLY. I have them in my purse to mail tomorrow. I had purchased them before Mother’s Day, but such is life. Everyday should be Mother’s Day, amiright?!

Incoming: Birchbox. So good. You sign up for $10 a month (women) or $20 (men). Women’s boxes come with 4-5 samples of great products. Men’s boxes come with a couple of products and a small accessory/gadget (think a good razor or a trendy bottle opener). I have really enjoyed getting this box each month. I look forward to it and have discovered some products that I really like. I’ve found the samples last much longer than I expected they would, so you can really get a feel for the products.

BEGRUDING…

deflategate

… nuff said.

What TV/books/stuff are you liking lately?! Comment and let me know!