when the status quo frustrates.

What We Teach Our Kids

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I have an adorable little nephew. Kid sister has spawned with her husband, and the random result was a little boy that has my sister’s nose and chin, and my brother-in-law’s everything else, only in miniature form. He’s cute, even though he also cements my desire to never have children*. Since it’s not my rugrat, no pictures will be forthcoming (sorry guys).

This kid has been interesting to watch, though. Not that he’s done anything especially newsworthy to anyone who isn’t his family (ah, look how he smiles, and gurgles and coos!), but how people react and change because of him. Kid sister has always been a little flighty- she never really was capable of focusing for more than ten minutes, she was bubbly and she had a sort of laissez-fare attitude towards safety**. Now, she seems to have become extremely cautious. She wouldn’t leave her kid with our mom for an evening out, she’s apparently memorized a whole host of books on child development, and she runs and worries over every little bump and fuss. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, especially the research and effort she put in the kid, just weird. I never believed that “Having children makes you more mature” – I’ve seen too many really immature parents- but apparently there is an anecdata point in my little sister.

Also, I find it interesting how at three months the kid has already been exposed to demonstrating that he is a “boy”. They dress him up in tough little clothes, and I hear how “strong” he is, even though he’s actually adorable more than strong. His parents don’t know what to make of me, I coo to him “Who’s going to grow up to be a radical feminist- you are, you are. Yes, you’ll respect women and I’ll let you cry” and they start freaking out (despite the fact that what the kid most likely hears is “abada da da da auntie’s playing with me *giggle*). I keep telling them I’m going to send him a pink onesie, though they know it’s a false threat (I hate pink- it’s more likely going to be purple).

Finally, the parents are not raising him any particular faith (yet- my guess is they’ll probably cave and end up taking them to church when he’s older) but my mom’s already singing him Bible songs. So far, he’s one of the random babies that hates being song to***, but my kept trying to with songs like “Jesus Loves You”. After listening to this song again, I wonder why we teach this song to anyone.

For those not familiar, this song reads as follows:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

There are more lyrics, but like most songs, it’s the first verse and chorus everyone remembers. Simple lyrics, simple melody, a staple of most churches to brainwash little children. Kids, believe this because we repeat it four times! What’s that you say? Generally when someone loves you they demonstrate it by being there for you and not being imaginary? Yeah, but, look- repetition! And, a book says it! What’s that? You have a book that also says that trains can talk and that sky is falling? Those books are just fiction. My book is right (despite having no evidence backing that one up) and also, remember, you’re really weak so you better cozy up to the strong guy. Seriously, this is actually a pretty twisted thing to teach young children. My only hope is, hey, my sisters and I all heard and sang the song and we came out okay- probably the little rugrat will too.

*Eww, eww, fluids. Yuck. Also, it was a hard pregnancy on Kid Sister and I like my sleep too much. Oh, and money.
** For example, jumping out of the barn on to the trampoline, lighting tons of stuff on fire, cutting everything she could get mother’s scissors around, you get the idea.
*** Though for whatever reason, seemed to enjoy my unique song “Eating Various Baby Body Parts”. The lyrics were pretty much as follows: “Look at little baby toes. Yummy, yummy baby toes. I’m going to gobble them up!” This was accompanied by me grabbing onto the body part in question, and then during the “gobble them up” part fake-eating them. Repeat for other parts like fingers, belly, knees and ears. The kid thought it was hilarious, judging by the way he giggled and moved around. So I guess my songs are only actively more disturbing.

Things That Are Different and Things That Are the Same

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The wild-eyed woman-hating that apparently characterized this year’s crop of Superbowl ads got me thinking–what do people who make a point of denying that wild-eyed woman-hating really exists in America have to say about it..? Nothing, as far as I could tell–and I don’t blame them; there isn’t much they could say, though I speculated that maybe one or two would capitalize on it as a much-needed backlash against all dem bitchez! or possibly note that the characterization of men as mindless Neanderthals that frequently accompanies ads denigrating women is pretty insulting to men, too.

But in the midst of my aimless perusal of Men’s Rights-type sites, I stumbled across this article: 10 Lies Men Tell Themselves in Order to Stay in Abusive Relationships with their Wives or Girlfriends. I was struck by how very many of the Lies Men Tell Themselves appeared to be very similar, if not identical, to the Lies Women Tell Themselves in Order to Stay In Abusive Relationships. Perhaps not a dazzling revelation–abuse is abuse, regardless of the demographics of the abuser and abusee–but then, that’s also too simplistic of a statement to make. Some forms of abuse really don’t happen much without pre-existing factors that facilitate them; for example, while both parent-on-child and child-on-parent physical abuse does occur, it occurs far more often in the former case due to size disparity, economic imbalance, psychological dominance overwhelmingly in favor of the parent, etc. etc.

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Why Virtue Really Is Its Own Reward And Other Stupid Cliches That Actually Have a Grain of Truth In Them

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

So, as most everyone knows by now, I recently got divorced because my husband left me for his ex-wife. Now, what I haven’t shared globally is that my husband actually left her about a month after he left me. (No, he did not move back in with me, nor did I stop the divorce proceedings–sorry, folks, but one must draw the line somewhere*, eh?) I did give him a hand in moving out, though, for the simple reasons that I was both (a) free and (b) had an SUV in which he could transport his belongings. Now, this moveout took place on a Monday afternoon, when his ex-wife/soon-to-be-ex-roommate was still at work–perhaps not too suspicious in of itself, but when he asked me to park out of sight behind the building and then proceeded to start shifting items at a pace that could only be termed frantic, I did feel I had to ask, “Uh, D?”

“Yeah?” he puffed, wrestling a hamper of haphazardly piled clothes into the back of my Jeep.

“…she doesn’t know you’re moving out, does she?”

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Monogamy what?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I was chatting on the phone with the kids’ dad this evening and he was complaining that said kids don’t open up emotionally and/or about their personal lives outside the home to him as much as they do to me. (Lemme make this clear, though–they hardly treat me like “Dear Abby!” What he meant was, they occasionally cough up a detail in my direction of their own accord as opposed to never coughing any up in his.) I pointed out to him (as delicately as possible) that my demeanor was perhaps more open-minded and nonjudgmental than his was, which he grudgingly admitted was likely true. However, he stated mulishly, you can’t give them advice on how to be a MAN, you know!

Well, no, I agreed–I give them advice on how to be a human being, as best I can–it’s true that I never try to advise them on how-to-be-a-MAN. The conversation then shifted to giving them relationship advice, especially our seventeen-year-old, and I found us unfortunately returning to the how-to-be-a-MAN meme in the form of “–and then I told him, you know, that we’re not naturally monogamous–that it’s all religion that’s forced that on us.”

“Um,” I said, “I’m actually pretty monogamous. By nature. I mean, that’s how I’m happy. And certainly I don’t feel that way based on religion–”

“Oh, well,” said the kids’ dad. “I meant MEN. Women, you know, are programmed for serial monogamy, and men are programmed to–”

“–spread the seed, right!” we chorused together. This disconcerted him long enough for me to invent a hasty excuse to get off the phone before I either burst out laughing right in his ear or started yelling at him for attempting to imprint my precious offspring with some evo-psych bullshit that he doesn’t even understand the feeble biological underpinnings of in an attempt to justify to himself why he probably wants to screw around on his wife–! (pant, pant!) But no, they’re also his precious offspring, you know–I don’t get to interfere with whatever ideological crap he wants to feed ‘em. All I get to do is present my opposing viewpoint to them, which I made a huge mental note to do ASAP.

…but it brought back to mind a recent post on Feministe about monogamy–well, about nonmonogamy really and the consensual practice thereof. (Nonconsensual nonmonogamy is otherwise known as cheating, and I think we all already know how I feel about that, right?) I am totally on board with consensual nonmonogamy, just like I am totally on board with pretty much anything and everything emotional and/or sexual that consenting adults want to practice amongst themselves.

However, I don’t agree that nonmonogamy is somehow more feminist than monogamy, which the blogger in question was more or less contending, though I understand why someone might take that stance. As I said in comments:

I would say traditionally that relationships (between men and women) were structured specifically so that the women were monogamous and the men were nonmonogamous–the main cultural variant was whether or not the men were openly nonmonogamous or applied a thin veneer of pretend monogamy to their nonmonogamy. This relationship was clearly structured to go against feminist views, but it wasn’t the monogamy that was the problematic structure, it was that only one gender was expected/forced to practice it (and on the other end, there was often a great deal of social pressure for men to practice nonmonogamy even if it went against their personal inclinations as well).

It does lead me to try to understand better my own definite preference for a monogamous relationship, though. Firstly, do I feel the same degree of need or desire for monogamy on both an emotional and a sexual level? or am I more definitely monogamous in one of those than the other? Secondly, what is the basis for both preferences? Is it something I can really, logically define, or is it an irrational conviction that I’m unable to defend logically but am still passionately attached to? (An example of the latter would be a belief in Creationism.)

I will figure that out and post a “Part Two,” but in the meantime I’d love to hear from any of you out there: Are you by preference monogamous or non, and why? What do you think about the intersection of monogamy and feminism? Harking back to the phone conversation I had with the kids’ dad, do you believe there are any genuine, inborn differences between the genders in terms of tendencies towards or away from monogamy? Shout it out!

On being crazy, but not so crazy they lock you up

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I haven’t yet managed to get entirely back into the swing of things, though I am doing my best…but lately I’ve been reading the news, and other people’s blogs, and instead of getting all fired up and leaping upon my keyboard like a starving panther as used to be my usual inclination, I just close the browser window after I’m done reading and go do something else instead. I’m too tired and too sad, I suppose, about recent events in my personal life to be able to care about much that is going on outside it.

I was actually doing better a few weeks ago than I am right now–my recovery from my personal disaster porn got slowed and mangled since then, because the cause of said disaster porn, about a week after he walked out of my life, decided that what he really wanted to do was walk right back into it.

If you haven’t ever seen Torch Song Trilogy, you should–it’s a fabulous movie. And one of the best scenes in the movie is when Arnold, the main character, is in his dressing room (he’s a stage performer) and his ex-boyfriend sneaks in to talk to him. The ex-boyfriend (who had dumped Arnold unceremoniously about six months before) starts off making small talk, which is patently ridiculous given that he hardly just happened by the club Arnold works at, but finally manages to get to the point, which is that he’s conflicted and crazy and halfway to suicidal but can’t stop screwing himself, the woman he supposedly loves, and Arnold whom he also supposedly loves, over and over and over (literally as well as figuratively, too). Arnold offers to give him a ride home and the ex-boyfriend scurries out the door to wait outside on the curb for Arnold to pick him up–then Arnold turns to the audience and says:

So what now, huh?
Look. If I take him back now, knowing all I do,
maybe I can make it work…
With a little understanding.

Maybe a SHRINK.

I could just drive him home,
And then I could say, “THE NEXT TIME
YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO SAY I LOVE YOU TO SOMEONE,
SAY IT TO YOURSELF AND SEE IF YOU BELIEVE IT.”
That would go over his head.
I think it went over mine.

I could sneak out the back
and leave him waitin’ out in the cold.
If I start in again,
who’s to say he’s not gonna keep this shit up, right?
I don’t know…

Wouldn’t that be a kick in the rubber parts?
I love him.
What are you gonna do?
But do I love him enough?

The movie doesn’t show what Arnold ends up doing that night, though soon after that Arnold meets and falls in love with someone else (a very young and adorable Matthew Broderick, as it turns out–I never really found Matthew Broderick compelling as a love interest in any movie I saw him in, til I saw this one). But the point is pretty clearly made–

You can’t save anyone else from destroying his own life–the only person who can save him from destroying it is him. It doesn’t matter how much you love him. It doesn’t even matter how much he thinks he loves you. The only thing you’ll do, if you let your love draw you into his cycle of self-destruction, is destroy yourself right along with him. Unless you’re crazy too…and I have seen that before, oh yes; I think we’ve all seen a relationship dynamic like that at least once in our lives. Or perhaps not everyone has; if you haven’t, you’re fortunate. It’s very ugly and painful to watch.

My advice: Don’t love someone like this. If it’s too late for you–say, it’s a family member that you bonded to emotionally when you were too young to know any better and you’re stuck with the bond now, or the person in question is a very good actor and lured you into love before the strain of hiding how damaged he truly is became too great only months or even years into the relationship–untangle yourself from his life as quickly and as thoroughly as you can. Offer him help, if you’re so inclined, but only do so from a safe distance. And just try to get over it as best you can.

Uh-oh…

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

…I was hoping this wouldn’t happen for a LOT longer…

…yes, it’s true. I actually feel the faintest of desires to have sex.

(Warning: TMI)

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Sorry–I Refuse To Hate Men, And None Of You Can Make Me Do It No Matter How Hard You Try

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

“Men are dogs,” said my previous ex-husband to me, as we were driving out together to meet my current ex-husband at the bank to close our joint account.

“No, they’re not,” I said.

“Yes they are,” he said, very firmly, staring straight ahead at the road. “You need to stop thinking everyone’s like you, you know. You always do that. You did that with me, too.”

“You wouldn’t have done something like this.”

“No,” he agreed. “But I take marriage very seriously. Clearly he doesn’t.”

Obviously true and inarguable, so I let it go. But I didn’t forget that conversation, nor could I erase something my current ex-husband said to me since our parting of ways:

Him: I think your feminism may have been part of the problem.
Me: How so?
Him: When you said your divorce lawyer told you that you must have a problem with self-respect to have allowed yourself to be treated this way. That really bothered you.
Me: Don’t you want me to have self-respect?
Him: (pause) In some ways. Sometimes.

The above theme had cropped up earlier as well, in the month or two before we separated–of course, I wasn’t aware at the time what was triggering it, that his ex-wife had moved up here and they were conspiring together to get rid of me (maritally, not literally, of course!). In short, he mentioned on several occasions that what he really wanted was someone who would do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted without interference from such concepts as her own self-respect or personal desires–my efforts to please and placate were clearly underwhelming, and he just as clearly believed that such a woman was indeed out there just waiting for him. (Again, since I didn’t know about the eager availability of his ex-wife–who I should probably point out, didn’t actually consistently perform to that standard while they were married, which is why they separated repeatedly and finally divorced–I found his assurance on the subject bewildering. Not anymore, obviously.)

But the thing that troubles me is that both men do think that this sort of behavior is simply something that’s endemic to men, to the gender male of H. sapiens. Now, you’ll never find me arguing that there aren’t a large crop of asshats running around the planet at any given point in time–but I just can’t really bring myself to believe that all or even most men are secretly (or not so secretly) this particular brand of asshat. Some, sure. But so are some women–I’ve met them. And I would definitely agree that society and culture (pretty much all of ‘em, even worse in other cultures than in ours) set men up to be more likely to be this sort of entitled, domineering, sexually uncontrolled brand of asshat.

But I still can’t really believe that menarejustlikethat! I especially reject that they are like that as an inborn trait–I have no patience for that brand of evo-psych. But I also reject that they are all like that as an acquired trait, too. I reject that most of them are like that…men are people, not badly programmed sexbots. (Well, okay, except for Dennis Prager.)

But my first ex-husband and my current ex-husband aren’t the only men who’ve made these statements to me. Over the years, many many other men have made similar statements to me–about the inherent selfishness, sexual obsessiveness, immaturity, etc. that is the essence of malekind. I’ve always rejected them as blanket statements or even as reliable generalities.

So am I being stupid, to assume I know better what men are than all these other men who’ve argued with me about it? Many men have treated me with respect and consideration during the course of my life–am I to believe, as all these other men always insist, that it’s because I’m desirable and it is done solely to enhance the possibility that I might someday accidentally trip and fall on top of their waiting dicks? That it’s all an act to get me where they want me (emotionally and often, legally bound to them) so then they can reveal what they’ve really wanted all this time..? Gad, it’s all such a stereotype–must I buy into it?

Sorry–I still don’t. I still think it’s more likely that I just haven’t been careful…though I’ve gotten more and more careful with each spouse, and put up with the subsequently revealed repellent post-marriage-ceremony bullshit for shorter and shorter durations each time, clearly, I simply haven’t been careful enough in my choices.

On a kind of funny side note, I now have an saved email archive full of ex-husbands declaring (post-divorce!) what a wonderful, special woman I am, and how sweet and kind and beautiful and caring and intelligent and strong and–! I do have a good, positive relationship with the first ex, and I may well have one with this one, too, if he chooses that. It’s very peculiar; I’ve never really witnessed the like. Either I’m really something spectacular, or they want to keep the hope alive that I might put out again someday when they’re desperate and alone–I just can’t decide which. :)

Divorce

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Anybody remember back in November, when I announced I was getting married?

I bet you can guess what this blog is about…oh no! you may cry. Or you may laugh, given that all my sarcastic predictions of “looking for my next ex-husband” have indeed come to pass–only seven months after our marriage.

I thought about not mentioning it here–I mean, who really wants to read about my personal life, especially when it’s a trainwreck..? But then, I thought, eventually everybody IS going to know and this will totally spare me having to repeat it multiple times to multiple people–whoever doesn’t read this, if in future they ask me Hey, aren’t you married..? I can just hand ‘em the url and move on with my life.

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Musing on Flirtation

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I don’t flirt. No, I really don’t. It is a behavioral dynamic of mine that has frustrated many of the single young female party animal types I have gone clubbin’ with throughout the years (and possibly any number of men, though I have no direct complaints to verify that hypothesis as I do in regards to the ladies). In a funny kind of way, it’s a lot like being a voluntary nondrinker in a crowd of drinkers–some of them earnestly try to enlighten you on what you’re missing out on (and get really pushy about you “giving it a try, c’mon!”), some of them simply roll their eyes in amused contempt at your perceived prudery and/or cowardice, and the rest actually get angry at you at the moral judgment of their behavior that they have decided your refusal to engage in the same behavior must be demonstrating.

There are several reasons that I don’t flirt. One, I am by nature a reserved and introverted person. I can be warm and outgoing–it’s a skill I have perfected over the years, to the point that, now, I am generally laughed at if I happen to mention in passing that I am indeed desperately shy and have been my entire life. I had to develop these skills–they are a prerequisite for succeeding in America, land of the worshipful regard for the Good Team Player. However, it exhausts me and I am always quite tense and cringing inside, regardless of the perfection of the facade I present (the unmistakeable signs of social anxiety, as I’m sure all my fellow-sufferers are desperately familiar with as well). So, flirting is simply another level of a type of social interaction that I have had to force myself to perfect and engage in for going on decades now–clearly, hitching it up another notch when I don’t have to is not going to appeal to me.

Two, I don’t dare flirt. It is highly inadvisable for me to ever do anything to encourage a man to think that I might possibly have any carnal interest in him whatsoever, now or ever. On a really regular basis, my mere presence in the visual field of a man–the fact that I’m (a) physically nearby and (b) breathing and (c) not immediately going elsewhere–is enough, apparently, to give him hope that I might possibly want to have sex with him someday. If I so much as make eye contact, more than half the time, that’s enough to have him practically jump into my lap and start telling me all about the business/boat/truck/stocks/house/etc. he owns and/or what great shape he’s currently in the process of getting into. (And God forbid I should crack the smallest of polite smiles.) I really, really don’t dare do anything more that might possibly be construed as encouragement. And no, this is not just a problem in bars or dance clubs, as one might suppose–I just started a new job and it’s already starting to rear its irritating head there as an issue. (Aside: one would think that the fact that I am clearly being paid to hang out there might be a clue that I am not actually wondering around the job site just hoping to stumble across my dream man, but apparently, the hope in some breasts never dies.)

Three, I have very strict internal standards in regards to fidelity, both sexual and emotional. If I am in a relationship where we have both agreed to be exclusive, I can’t be morally comfortable with even the appearance of myself giving any romantic or sexual encouragement to another person. I know that a lot of folks are devoted to the “fun” of flirting and will likely take deep offense at the idea that there’s any real harm to it–but honestly, I’ve seen it turn out to be harmful in the vast majority of situations where the flirtation goes both ways. (Admittedly, not when it goes one way only, but then, what you’re doing by flirting with the unresponsive is being an irritating jerk–this is regardless of your gender.) I am not opening that door, thanks but no thanks. And it must be admitted that I have spent the vast majority of my sexually active years in one “exclusive” relationship or another. Flirting has come up when I have been uncommitted and therefore free to do whatever I want, but if I am aware that the would-be flirter is involved in one himself (and he quite often is), the same strict standards will not allow me to engage in that behavior with him. I can’t bring myself to knowingly encourage behavior that might be damaging to someone else–there are plenty of unattached men in the world with which to fulfill any flirtatious desires I might have. There can be no justification for engaging in it with someone at another’s expense.

What do you think of flirting? Do you enjoy it, and if so under what circumstances? Are you unusually good or unusually bad at it? Has flirting ever gotten you in trouble, either with others or with yourself? Share, share!

(This is all Hugo’s fault, by the way.)

Nice Guys (TM), summed up.

Friday, December 12th, 2008

From the always-brilliant XKCD

It’s always good to know that I’m not the only one thinking about S-E-X

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Hugo has a post up about sex education in colleges and Amanda has another about something called a “Pirelli calendar,” which involves what I have come over the years to recognize as “bullshit sexual buzzwords:” “glamour photography,” “artistic nudes” and “pushing the boundaries of (fill in the blank).” That last one, especially–”pushing the boundaries” tends to mean “I’m gonna to do something disgusting and/or retarded and then I’m gonna say it’s A-R-T and if you don’t get its A-R-T-N-E-S-S, then I suggest you strive harder to be worthy of your amazing new clothes, Ms. Emperor!” Reminds me of the brouhaha over the broad who videotaped her menstrual clots at Yale not too long ago. Such pioneers!

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Why gmail’s targeted ads are superior to hotmail’s.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

So your ex, with whom you thought things were unresolved, sends you an email to let you know he resolved them while you weren’t paying attention and he hopes the presence of his new girlfriend at his party won’t stop you from attending. Gmail apparently has no keywords that target ads to the “we’ll always be friends” boilerplate, and even if they did they’d be off to the side. However, my ex uses hotmail, so right under the last sentence where he makes some effort to pretend my feelings still matter, I’m informed that I can “Be the filmmaker you always wanted to be—learn how to burn a DVD with Windows®. Make your smash hit”

Actually, the absurdity is helping a little.