Tag: Feminism

International Women’s Day: The Ironic Wisdom of Learning to Keep My Mouth Shut

“Deeds not words.”
– Suffragette slogan

Becoming aware of how much criticism is heaped on women for their life choices is depressing. Becoming further aware of how much of this criticism stems from other women is downright devastating. For me personally, realizing how guilty I used to be (and occasionally still can be if I don’t watch myself) of this behavior was humbling.

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I grew up in a culture that has highly defined gender roles and a lot of codified expectations for women and girls. I’ve written about the dress codes here, which also touches on the expectation that women “should stay home,” that they should be the primary caregivers to children, and uncomfortable echoes of rape culture. I’m no longer in this culture or ascribe to a lot of those values in the same way. But being out here in wider society as opposed to a small religious group isn’t necessarily easier when it comes to the pressures heaped on women.

Unmaking a lot of the lessons I’d been taught about gender and femaleness from a young age took and still takes a lot of work. In either constructing or reconstructing my own views on gender and the female experience, I’ve had to critically examine not just the views I was raised with, but also the knee-jerk reactionary views I sometimes developed in response to opinions that reminded me of my childhood culture. As fiercely committed as I am to supporting other women and claiming my feminism, I still have a lot of work to do.

Unmaking your own critical tendencies is a hard line to walk. I have just as many opinions about  how to live as anybody, but what I have made a dedicated effort to do in the past few years, is simply decline to judge most women’s life choices. From sex to education, childbearing to careers, I’ve come to the conclusion that how other women choose to order their lives is almost entirely none of my business. Where another person’s choices do not affect me, or does not impact my ability to make my own choices or my legal rights, what I have learned and try awfully hard to practice is the age old wisdom of keeping my mouth shut.*

I’m not talking about politics or policy in this post, what I’m speaking of here is the personal criticisms or judgement we casually fling at women who chose to work full time, stay home with children, hire help, use professional childcare, ask family to babysit regularly, have multiple sex partners, practice celibacy, eat paleo, eat vegan, eschew social media, take selfies, wear short skirts, wear hijab, read Talmud, read romance novels, do bodybuilding, not exercise at all, go into military service, go into nursing, have an abortion, decline to practice birth control, grow their hair long, wear their hair super short, be atheist, pray at the Wailing Wall, have tattoos, cover their skin from neck to ankle…

The list is quite literally endless. It often feels like we can’t win for losing!

Instead of picking apart, examining, or even stressing about other women’s choices, what I’ve committed to is supporting their choices better. They may bear no resemblance to the choices I’d make for myself, my marriage, my family, or my career; I may even disagree outright with her positions. But where her choices work for her, break no laws, and cause no harm, the onus is on me to stand up for her decisions the way I’d hope others will stand up for mine. The world is still plenty hard on women. I’m convinced it will get a bit better if we are easier on one another.

And the only control I have over that goal is starting with my own behavior. I like to think I’ve gotten better, and I like to think I’ll get better still.

Amy Poehler popularly summed this up in her book Yes Please with the phrase, “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.” This idea is full of generosity and, dare I say, grace.

*I separate this from political activism/engagement, it’s worth noting. I put my money and my time where my values are.

Weekend Links: The OK Ladies Now Let’s Get in Formation Edition

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

In case you missed it, the Womens March on Washington (and sister marches around the world, including the one I participated in in London) might have made some records. The coverage is still coming in and it’s amazing to see — more amazing to have participated in. You can see some my images here, but this is a story worth following and watching. To say nothing of joining in. Welcome to the Grab Back.

Oh yeah, and the US has a new president who doesn’t seem to be “pivoting” from his campaign persona in any way. Shock, surprise. I watched his inauguration because I’m a citizen and think it’s important to support the process of free government. The new First Lady looked absolutely lovely, and I thought it was gracious and correct for Secretary Clinton to show up in spite of how awful I expect it felt. The speech was Orwellian, but bang on from the tone of his campaign. The next day I laced up my shoes and hit the streets to make it clear that he was not elected with a mandate and I will be supporting the issues that I care about with my time, my money, and my voice. Because again, I think it’s important to support the process of free government. This is how it works.

Here are your links, kittens. Tell me what you got up to this weekend.

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I found this piece at Politico a very timely read. It opines that President Trump’s hostility towards the press may be a blessing in disguise. If the traditional lines of communication between the administration and the media are clipped, the press can and should (this writer argues) fan out to the myriad unofficial lines instead and take up the opportunity to do more and more extensive investigative reporting.

Also, what did the administration do on Day 2? Malign the press in the face of documented facts and figures, and talk a lot about himself in his “reach out” to the CIA.

Don’t let anyone say the Women’s March doesn’t matter. 2.9 million participants is not a “tantrum.”

An interesting piece on the physical logistics of changing over an administration.

An important reminder about some of the realities of race and privilege, especially when it comes to assembly. I for one, know I can do better and I intend to.

This SNL from Asiz Ansari was great and nicely nuanced against hysteria. We’ll be fine and the people ultimately set the tone for change, and if yesterday is any indication…

Shut up and take my money.

A bit more fashion levity and some street style.

STOP. I swear every time I read an article like this, my heart breaks a little. I know there are more important immediate issues, such as the civilian lives in the crosshairs right now, but this hateful and deliberate dismantling of human history is also hideous

Album of the week: Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
― Margaret Atwood

Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay classy about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really doesn’t like women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No. Next to no one in this country is running through the streets with “Down with women!” signs or stroking cats evilly in a dark room somewhere, contemplating wrapping us in burkas.

I mean that as a culture, women are often instinctively reacted to as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors and wage equality to work leadership and our own health and care, we are not considered trustworthy in making decisions, telling truths, or seeking advancement. Suspicion and wariness are often the default. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.

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I did not vote for Secretary Clinton because she is a woman, though goodness knows I found the idea of the first female president breathtaking. I don’t think most people who voted against her did so because she is a woman. But I do think the culture and undercurrents about and towards women played a significant role in how she was perceived and treated by media, her opponents, and a lot of the electorate.

As women, almost every day, we see examples and stories of how our ambitions are threatening and (worse!) unattractive, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic or selfish, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted. And I cannot help but see much of this inherent distrust in how Secretary Clinton was viewed and treated in this election. Her ambitions were unseemly, her cautiousness weak, her outspokenness offensive, her experience invalid, her whole candidacy insufficient and suspect.

Am I partisan? Yes. I have seen examples of sexism throughout my personal and professional life, and in the lives of women and girls I know and respect. These experiences of course inform my point of view and my politics.

But I don’t necessarily think that means I’m wrong.

*This post expanded on comments left on a Broadside post

Weekend Links

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ”
― Roseanne Barr

Hi, kittens. This week’s links post is short but brought to you mostly by a big heaping dose of Lady Rage. Sit back and let it wash over you.

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First and foremost, Trump. I’ve long been baffled by his candidacy, actively dismayed in fact. But the whole garbage fire situation boiled over this week when lewd comments that frankly should have surprised no one, given his decades long public personality/persona, found their way into the light of day. Shock, surprise. Writing this, the fallout is still coming down, but at the end of the day, I’m more disgusted that this is what’s getting people to publicly distance themselves from his campaign. Not his racist comments or other sexist comments, not his strongman attitudes or attempts (or success) at demagoguery, not his statements flat out contradicted by fact checkers, his own previous public comments, or other world leaders…but this is the deal breaker? Being lewd/about a married white woman? You could not have encapsulated all of the conversations and flaws about our current political cycle and society, from gender and race, to rank and privilege, better if you tried. Political America, check your priorities.

Utah stikes again, but the cheerleaders strike back. #supportyourlocalgirlsquad

I enjoyed The Girl on the Train, but it lacked the same punch for me that Gone Girl did. This piece on the genre of women hitting back violently against the world/patriarchy and why it’s not going away anytime soon is worth a read.

How on earth is one supposed to be a woman in public these days?

A dive into the psychology behind victim blaming.

Book art. Because we needed something pretty.

And lastly, a touch of humor because FINALLY the questions will be answered!

 

Feminism and Facebook Facepalms

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.”
― Shirley Chisholm

Facebook, your standards on acceptable depictions of the female body (as discovered when researching image regulations for a client’s social media posts) trouble me. I think we can all agree that bathroom selfies need to go, but out of the three (of four total) images depicting women, the bottom left image is the one showing the most inappropriate amounts of skin? Really?

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Friday Links (New York Times, Edition)

“I don’t think intelligent reports are all that hot. Some days I get more out of the New York Times.”
– President John F. Kennedy

It’s been a busy week, as you may have suspected. I’m afraid that makes for an even busier Friday, so here are your links. Share anything else worth reading, plus what you’re getting up to this weekend, in the comments and enjoy high summer!

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Had to wait an extra day to get it over here, though the original is currently winging its way to me thanks to friends.

Headline of the week.

Teri, over at The Lovely Drawer, has shared another design freebie: beautiful desktop wallpapers.

Interesting story about an unexpected sumo wrestler.

Marvel is changing the comic book character Thor to a woman and certain parts of the internet reacted to the news…internet-ish-ly. Luckily the blog Texts from Superheroes had the perfect response.

Art remixes where new and old subjects and pieces are mashed up beautifully. (Warning for pearl-clutchers, nude forms are present!)

This video of a person playing with a platypus is exactly what it says on the tin and much cuter than you’d think. Almost makes you forget those odd beasties have poisonous spines!

A giveaway I assume most US based minions will want to know about.

Interesting development from Amazon, what do we think about this? Janssen, our resident book aficionada needs to weigh in!

A Facebook friend, moderator of a freelancer forum I belong to, and a writer herself penned this hugely useful piece on the realities of how to do your taxes when you work for yourself.

I could never persuade Jeff to this, he’s all about lofts and modern space, but I’m currently house-lusting over this 14th century home.

And, the biggest news for me personally, in case you missed it, I wrote an op ed for the New York Times that was published on Tuesday. It contains my perspective on Kate Kelly’s excommunication, its place in the “Mormon Moment,” and what I feel to be the larger implications for the church. It was not easy to write, and it was very scary to share, but I’ve been really overwhelmed at the positive and sincere feedback I’ve received from it. A huge and heartfelt thank you to friend and Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly (unrelated to Kate) who urged me to write a piece after many emails on the subjects of Mormonism, feminism, and religion in general, and who helped me to place it.