Imprison the Inconvenient Women

In these tumultuous times, I think it is important for women not to forget their history.  It hasn’t been that long since a man could have a female family member committed to an asylum for most anything, including a perceived display of female sexuality.  Being a pregnant single woman would be one of many reasons you could end up at the asylum.

This post, Sex and the Asylum: Imprisoning Inconvenient Women , at dirtysexyhistory is a must read, if you are interested in history, feminism or women’s rights.

Your Words Are Not Okay Samantha Bee

Alert: post contains the word cunt

Sometimes I really do wish I lived in a cave.  If you hadn’t heard, comedienne Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt”.  Samantha Bee claims to be a feminist.

Growing up in a religiously conservative family there was always this background thread of women hating other women.  These sorts of women still exist today, the menfolk are fabulous, but the womenfolk are often prone to irrational, emotional mood swings, blah, blah, blah, you know because of our hormones and menstruation.  I really don’t expect much of these people.  If I hear they have daughters, I shudder.

But when I hear a woman use the words feckless cunt to describe another woman, I also shudder.  I am not crazy about the word cunt to describe the body part.  Using it as a gendered insult is another thing all together.  Most women in my world get that.  Maybe I do live under a rock and those in the know pepper their conversations with the word cunt.

Samantha Bee should know better as a feminist.  As the mother of a daughter she should know better.  All the feminists who rationalize and justify her use of the word cunt should know better

If she doesn’t like Ivanka Trump, surely she can resort to other word choices if you call yourself a feminist.

I have tried my best to teach my children that using words like cunt to tear  someone down is not okay.  Again, using the word as a phrase to attack is different than using it as a word to describe a body part.

Sad, sad, sad.

 

Thoughts on Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month in the USA.  I have no idea how long that has been a thing.  I found myself with many questions.

I saw a list of  “badass women in history” somewhere.  I saw lists of poets and scientists and politicians.  I saw women lament that we’d have more poets, scientists and politicians that were female if only women hadn’t been held back.  While that is a true statement, it infers that women only somehow had value if they were a published poet or had won an election.

Shouldn’t Women’s History be all encompassing, and include the stories of all women? History is all around us.  I’ve been researching my family tree.  I have ancestors who were recorded as not being able to read or write on Federal Census records.  I have ancestors that stayed at home, ancestors that worked as stenographers and servants.  My grandmother had an eighth grade education, started work in a factory at age 13, and worked on and off throughout her life.  She didn’t work to achieve a lofty career goal, just for economic survival.

If you look far back enough you have an ancestor that lost a child to illness.  A mother in my family tree lost a child very young to gastroenteritis.  Perhaps your grandmother or great-great grandmother had a child that was afflicted by polio, a disease that we successfully immunize against today.

You can go to a museum and find out what your ancestors wore.  What they fixed for supper.   Some of our ancestors killed the chicken themselves.  No tidy prebutchered packages of chicken in the old days.  For some having a gun was a necessity, you may even have a great great grandmother who resorted to shooting whatever she could find for supper.

My mother will never be a published poet or recognized artist.  She has more of an artistic streak than I ever will  though.  She taught herself to play famous pieces on the piano and sometimes the guitar.  She’s painted many watercolors, perhaps just too flowery and feminine to every gain recognition.  She’s attempted to master Viennese pastry and authentic Mexican cooking.  She’s embroidered.  She made dresses for my sister and I were little.  She could make a beautifully decorated birthday cake. Just because her works weren’t seen by the world doesn’t mean they don’t matter.

My mom is just a bit older than Hillary Clinton and grew up just miles away from her.  My mom had a less priveleged background, so even if she hand wanted to be world famous there were more barriers.  Women at my mother’s high school were discouraged from enrolling in certain classes so they woudn’t take spaces away from the boys.

I’m part Polish.  I know the challenges my family faced 100+ years ago coming from Poland to America.  More difficult though is determining what was going on before they came to America.  While the famous Pole Marie Slowdoska Curie was gaining recognition as a scientist what challenges did ordinary women face during that time?

History is about the ordinary women, not just the women who were badass or world famous.

Girl, you can’t leave

An old post, Window and Walls, that received some new traffic is the inspiration for this post.  I used to have a blog that mostly talked about religion and gender where I talked about my experiences growing up in a conservative, religious household.  My father’s family practiced what an Old World brand of Catholicism.   Between my mother and father an assortment of rules governed a very narrow path I was allowed to walk.  The rules weren’t always explicitly stated, you had to figure them out for yourself, and the rules could change at any time.

What I say here is more from an insider’s standpoint and a discussion of gender roles.  If you didn’t grow up in a religious conservative household you may not have the context to appreciate the bizarreness of this world.  It applies to men and women in these circles, not to men and women at large.

After high school, I did attend college.  I quit and eventually moved back home.  I found a job that paid well enough for me to live by myself.  I’d always known, being a girl, different rules applied to me.  I’m not sure that it was explicitly said many times, but in the back of my mind, I knew that even though I was an adult, I was not “allowed” to move out.  Of course in forbidding me to leave, they had to marginalize me in every way.  Marginalization is a common tactic to get the womenfolk to follow the rules.  Sometimes, though, it is the mothers who are the most cruel of all.

It sounds truly bizarre, but when I did eventually leave, it was almost like running away from home, like I had planned a jailbreak.

My parents didn’t view me as a fully functioning adult.  Besides dropping out of college, I didn’t quite get their reasoning.  Looking back it seems even stranger.  I hadn’t become pregnant before marriage, no criminal record, no drug use, no tattoos, weird piercing or hair colors.  I’d experimented a bit with alcohol, but hey my dad was an alcoholic.

The view that women aren’t fully functional adults until they marry is a common one is some religious circles.  Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years though, if I had classmates were brought up similarly, I didn’t know them.

One day years ago, I ran into groups online that seemed a lot like my parents.  I found the viewpoints more typical of some Protestant groups, but there are some Catholics that have these strange viewpoints as well.  They might fall under the label of complementarian, fundamentalism or red pill.  Men are alphas or betas.  The red pill women of course are all married to alphas, per their own definition of what an alpha is.

The religious conservatives are very concerned about gender roles.  They have an assortment of influences that guide their lifestyle. John Piper is notorious for spewing nonsense about gender roles.  Their leaders are always men, and just like the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins, well boys will be boys.

They tend to be hyperfocused on gender roles, sex and marriage.  Other parts of the bible such as Matthew 25:35-45  seem to mean little to them.  On one blog I came across, a woman was essentially reproducing someone else’s copyrighted materials to sell and she seemed clueless that this was stealing.

These people make up their own rules about what is acceptable for each gender.  Appearance is very important for women.  You must wear dresses or skirts, not gain weight or let yourself go. Curiously though, the same rules don’t apply for the menfolk.  They can roll out of bed, not bother shaving, not bother tucking in their shirt, wear jeans and attend church right along with the women folk who must wear be properly primped and dressed.

I find it funny appearance is so important for the women, but not for the men.  My mom and dad weren’t fashionistas but there was a minimum code of formailty for a given occasion I think that has been lost today.  Modesty is sometimes important, because dontcha know if a man behaves inappropriately towards you, it is probably your fault for dressing the wrong way. If you don’t think our culture dresses right, that is fine.  I’ve been mixing it up with public school parents for years, some of the menfolk could improve their appearance.

A woman’s weight is tremendously important.  She should have gained only a few pounds if any since high school.  Conversely, men perhaps gaining 50 pounds since high school is A-okay.  My high school age son is not quite 6 foot, it is hard to imagine putting 50 pounds on him and calling that normal.  Of course when the men folk are concerned it is only about a woman’s health.  Maybe they should visit a cardiac rehab unit and compare the number of men and women…what you wouldn’t want to be logical?  When they are done comparing the amount of men and women, they can start comparing the ages of the participants.

Many that advocate these ultraconservative ways haven’t practiced what they preached, so why would you listen to them?  They’ve been divorced a time or two, had children by different fathers/mothers etc. etc.  One of the more curious examples is a woman who married a man who had a child out of wedlock and insists that he was some super in demand alpha.  I’m not sure what universe she lives in, but of the people I grew up with, no one was looking to marry someone who’d had a child out of wedlock.  I don’t mean this as cruel statement, just more of a statement of fact amongst the Catholics I grew up with.

Only a red pill man can install a ceiling fan, and only a red pill woman can bake a pie, according to the red pill adherents.  The rest of us are simply too dumb to take our gender roles seriously.  Never mind that my husband has done significant remodeling in the houses we’ve owned.  I guess he doesn’t know the rules, as he would rather eat glass than ruminate and cogitate over such issues.  He is more of a doer.

Halloween, under the tag of feminism

I often scroll through the wordpress tag of feminism to see if I find anything interesting. Sometimes the opinions of other women will surprise you.

This post has various thoughts on Halloween.

Costume suggestions suggest emulating accomplished women “be a doctor, not a nurse, it  isn’t like their scrubs or stethoscopes are different”.

I’m nurse.  I just found out I’m not accomplished. Nor am I a quality inspiration for a Halloween costume.  Who knew?

Rule Book

When I was a child I remember having very strict notions about what was FAIR.  I think I also had some strict notions about what was just, even if I couldn’t have articulated the concept.  Of course fair as a child might center on trivial issues like each child at the birthday party getting the EXACT same sized piece of cake.

When I was a child I had the notion of an invisible rule book everyone followed, because that would be FAIR. One person would receive the same penalty for a crime as another.  The teacher would step in when she saw someone bullied.

Going to Catholic schools growing up I believed our leaders tried their best to ensure the public school system ensured equality of opportunity for all who passed through its doors.  When my own kids started public school, I saw that wasn’t quite so.

I believed my Catholic public school neighbor would stand up for me when his friend shouted “Dirty Catholic” across the street, when he saw me walking home in my Catholic school uniform.  I believed my parents would intervene somehow in the situation.

I believed that people wouldn’t selectively turn their heads away at the injustices of the world.

Of course little by little I realized my rule book was an imaginary work of fiction in my own brain.  If I got myself in a tizzy every time someone didn’t follow my rule book, I’d go crazy.

Recent events in the US from Charlottesville to the Las Vegas shootings to Harvey Weinstein make me sad.  That rule book in my head just won’t stay quiet.  No answers, just sadness.

I remember after 9/11, crying all the time when I watched the news.  Eventually I had to stop watching TV for a while.  Turning off the TV might be okay, but someday we need to pay enough attention to get our problems figured out.

American Hypocrisy

A few years ago, there was a regular visitor to my workplace, a VIP kind of a guy.  I never did understand his presence in our workplace.  He expected people to stop what they were doing and cater to him.  He often exhibited many strange behaviors.  If you complained about him to your supervisor you’d get some really odd responses.  Odd responses from people that considered themselves very openminded.

I generally found the guy disruptive and an asshole.   One of my odd experiences with him was him entering my “office”, and me finding him there, looking at information that was supposed to be kept confidential.  I complained, and was essentially gaslighted by my supervisor.  I must have misunderstood, he’d entered the office by mistake, he wasn’t trying to look at confidential information.

He kept being an asshole and no on stopped him.  Fast forward a few years and he is asking others how he can take pictures of female employees with his phone.  He makes lewd remarks loud enough for others to hear.  He calls female employees vile names. Not too long after that he is finally banned from our workplace.

When others complained about his behavior they would be told they were taking things too personally.  Administrators don’t seem to care.  I live in a place that calls itself progressive.  People voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

While I’d never been the target of the VIP guys lewd comments, the whole experience makes me feel dirty.  Especially the administration’s long term attitude of gaslighting the individuals who had complained about his behaviors.  The two people I directly complained to about him were women.  Go figure.

Fast forward to this Harvey Weinstein business.  It all strangely reminds me of old VIP guy.  People know about his behaviors and don’t challenge him.

Now that famous people are coming forward to denounce Harvey Weinstein, something seems to stink to me.  Surely many people knew about his behaviors before, but chose to deal with the devil anyway.  People are anxiously waiting for Hillary Clinton and the Obamas to denounce him,  as if they believe these individuals care about the Harvey Weinstein’s  behaviors.  Hillary and the Obamas took money from him, they made their deal with the devil.  I have yet to hear if they will return contributions given to them from Weinstein, like other individuals have done.

People give opinions about Harvey Weinstein, but sort of jump around the Clinton issue.  They might denounce Trump and rightly so.

Those who jump around the Clinton issue, I find strange.  It is no good for Harvey Weinstein to be a sexual predator, but we totally avoid the fact that Bill Clinton was also a predator…this I cannot understand.  Especially when so called feminists can’t put Bill in this camp along with the Donald and Harvey.  It makes me sick.

I voted for Jill Stein in 2016.  November of 2016 was as close as I ever came to wanting to move to Canada, not that it would necessarily be a better place.  I hope in 2020 we can find some worthy candidates free of baggage.

 

Charlottesville Riots

Here in the United States, white supremacists came to Charlottesville, Virginia to rally around their cause.  In the violence that happened during the event, one woman was killed and many injured.  I personally know no one who supports the cause of the white supremacists.  In my circle of friends and acquaintances many of expressed horror and disgust over the actions of the white supremacists.  People are saddened that these nasty individuals are considered a representation of the United States.

As we grieve and are saddened by the events, I have questions.  If we really want people to be on equal footing, what small things are we doing on a daily basis to help achieve this.

I live in a very liberal university town.  My children attend/attended public schools.  I attended private schools growing up.  So perhaps I was a bit naive, but I thought the public school system represented equality of opportunity.  I thought everyone from the superintendent to the school board members to the principals to the classroom teachers were on board with this concept.  I was very wrong.  In my community those from disadvantaged backgrounds have little voice in the system.  Many parents who have kids in the public school system want a system where the rich get richer, and their kids are separated from those they considered the lowest of society.

I’m always surprised that we are horrified by the events of Charlottesville, but we turn a blind eye to other, smaller forms of prejudice.  If we want things to get better, we all have a role to play.  That means getting involved in local politics and state politics as well on a national level.  It means showing kindness to everyone.

Something I will never understand having recently traveled to another part of the country.  What jerks still make and sell Confederate flags?  Who the heck would dress their kid in a tshirt with a Confederate flag.

Summer Snippets…Modesty

On my errands today, I several women overdressed for the summer heat.  I just can’t understand why women are told they must dress in layers of clothes because of their religious beliefs.

To make matters worse, one woman was with a man wearing a short sleeved shirt and shorts.  I thought I would have heatstroke looking at these women with their headcoverings and extra layers.

I went to a Catholic school for grades 1-12.  There was always a dress/uniform code that had modesty in mind.

I can tell you, for all those who advocate modesty, dressing a certain way does not guarantee that people will treat you differently or have a better opinion of you.

I’ll keep wearing shorts.

Teaching Your Children

We teach our children many things. Some things we teach directly, like how to tie their shoes or how to ride a bike. Children learn by watching our behaviors, whether they be positive or not. We teach values to our children, perhaps hoping they will travel the same path we do in life.

I was reading a blog post from a dad who expressed the thought that traditional femininity was something his young daughter should be taught, and he would be active in the teaching process. By traditional femininity here I mean notions such as women should have long hair, women should strive to look conventionally attractive and they should cultivate sweet demure personalities. The girl growing up in this household would have little freedom.

I was brought up in a religious household where there was a certain brand of traditional femininity was taught. It was especially focused on females having little freedom, even as adults.

Growing up, I would often bristle at the things I was taught. For the most part I wouldn’t express it though. Having grown up in a household where a certain brand of femininity was taught, I realized certain things. These things wouldn’t have to apply to femininity alone, but anything you might think is important to teach your child. Your child will:
1)Buy into your value system
2)Maybe adopt some of your values but not others
3)Totally reject your value system

If your child doesn’t buy into your value system, eventually they will go their own way, no matter how hard you have tried to make them conform.

Some things my parents taught me I eventually tossed aside. Some other things they taught, though were definitely good life lessons.
Some of these include:
1)The value of reading and the library…My parents were both readers in their own way. My mom especially loved the library and we went there often as children. There was always a bit of excitement hoping you would find a hidden treasure.
2)My parents believed in making do. There was never a big rush to buy a new car, or other expensive purchases, even though they could afford it.
3)They were impeccable with their finances. They were both good investors. They would be horrified to pay a bill late. Of course due to hard work and some luck they tried to live their life together in a way that there wouldn’t be any worry. I realize that despite hard work, many people still have a hard time financially.

Now just because they had these values doesn’t mean their children necessarily grew up with the same values. I would say I am good with reading and making do. I don’t think my husband and I will end up with the same kind of nest egg when we reach retirement, but we do try to do our best. My sister, has probably destroyed her finances entirely in part due to her alcoholism.

Some things you might think are just common sense, things that everyone teaches their kids. Years ago, I went to visit my sister, long before I knew she struggled with alcoholism, and some things shocked me. She had many things stored at room temperature that you would normally keep in the refrigerator(at least at our house). I never asked her about it, but it was definitely a what the heck moment.

My husband and I have values we hold important. We hope we’ve taught our children well enough to be kind out in the world. Some of the smaller stuff though, it won’t be the end of the world if they change their mind.