Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Weakness Thou Art a Woman

During his speech at a New Hampshire rally Donald Trump entertained yet again.  And, yet again, demonstrated why he is not, in my humble opinion, presidential material.

I don’t want another establishment candidate, nor do I care for having my ears tickled and being told just exactly what I want to hear, nor am I particularly politically correct. However vulgarity, misogyny, and a lack of conscience are not exactly high on my list of qualifications for the next Commander in Chief.

“The other night in the debate,” he told thousands in Manchester, “they asked Ted Cruz a serious question: what do you think of waterboarding? Is it OK? I thought he’d say absolutely, and he didn’t. And he said, well, he’s concerned because some people –”

A woman near the front of the crowd interrupted. “He’s a p—-!”

Trump admonished her for saying “a terrible thing”.

“You know what she just said?” he asked. “Shout it out, because I don’t want to say it.”

“You’re not allowed to say that,” he continued. “I never expect to hear that from you again.”

Trump paused, looked out at his election-eve audience and leaned into the microphone: “She said he’s a p—-.”

The audience cheered – shouting “Trump! Trump!” – before he gave the woman a mock admonishment and returned to his rambling, more than 45-minute speech.

Let’s forget for a moment that what he’s discussing here quite possibly qualifies as a war crime.  That he would waterboard and “a hell of a lot worse.”

No.  I can’t.  I can’t forget that.  He knows waterboarding isn’t okay.  He’s quite well aware it’s tantamount to torture and he’s okay with that.

Yes, ISIS is cutting off the heads of those who dare to oppose them.  Not only those who oppose them, but those who just don’t quite believe the same way as them.  It’s barbaric.

So, in an effort to stem that tide we’ll, what, become barbarians ourselves?  But I digress.

What else might we expect from a candidate who would like to punch a protester in the face? He might be the biggest supporter of the Second Amendment, but the first one can go to hell.  I’ll admit that protesters can be rude, obnoxious, and annoying.  That’s kind of what a protest is.  But it doesn’t sound like he’s too keen on people dissenting.  If he has protesters removed and wishes to punch them in the face now, what is going to happen to our right to disagree and protest his actions if he’s President? Twice, I digress.

Trump has clearly demonstrated his sexist tendencies.

Let’s get something perfectly clear, just because you aren’t opposed to women working and even not opposed to them earning a lot of money doesn’t mean you aren’t sexist.  Women, as demonstrated by the female rally-goer, can be sexist, too!  Because isn’t that funny?  Hilarious, actually?  Ted Cruz is the equivalent of the slang word for the female genitalia he’s so weak.

I’m watching all of this unfold in disbelief.  I understand that a lot of Americans are angry.  I get it that many people don’t feel like their government is working for them anymore.  I’m just hoping against hope that people don’t let that anger cause them to vote with their emotions instead of logic.  That desire for a savior has cost us too much already.


82 Comments

There are compliments and then there are compliments

***Edited to add:  This post is intended to bring awareness to the subtle sexist subtext(say that three times fast!) that permeates society.  It is not intended to slay or skewer anyone for having questions.  This issue is complex and confusing and we are all conditioned by our cultures and subcultures. 

In the last post Professor Taboo asked the following question:

Can women please list for us hetero men 10-20 appropriate ways to verbally (and non-verbally) compliment them intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically that THEY find acceptable and uplifting? Please do not leave any of the four areas out.
Thank you! 🙂

My initial reaction to the question was…angst.  How hard can it be to compliment people without being sexist?  How hard can it be to compliment a woman without it being sexual?

My initial reaction as probably reactionary because we had just been discussing how to treat “scantily clad” women in a bar.  And then I was asked if it was sexist to wolf-whistle at a woman in a short skirt.  So when the question was asked I was viewing it in that context.   As if he were asking, “Well, if we can’t wolf-whistle, and we can’t cat-call and we can’t tell you you’re hot, just what the hell can we say?”

Turns out that’s not so much what The Professor was asking.  I think many men do want to know what is and isn’t appropriate.  Sincerely.

Many things sprang to mind when I thought about what my answer to that question is.  I didn’t come up with 15 or 20 but here are a few that immediately entered my mind:

1.)  Wow!  That’s really your color.  It brings out your eyes.

2.)  You’ve got a great sense of humor!

3.)  You’re a very interesting person!

4.) You’re intelligent.

5.) Your smile is infectious.

6.)  You’re very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

7.)  I like your work ethic.

8.) You’re so easy to talk to.

9.)  You’re a good listener.

10.)  You make the world a better place.

Some of these require that you have an actual conversation before you begin complimenting.  Some of these can be conversation starters.  ALL of these apply to any gender.

Immediately following Professor Taboo’s question Swarn Gill left a couple of comments.  These are prime examples of how to compliment a person in a way that is uplifting and positive but which carry no hint at a hidden agenda:

You are an interesting person. I’d rather just sit down and have a conversation with you!

And:

You are a much better writer than I am which is both annoying and great a the same time, but somehow just reading what you have to say has me completely agreeing but also going off in all sorts of directions.

Both of these comments made me feel really good about myself.  It let me know that I have value and that I’m appreciated as a person.  Not as a person of the female persuasion but as a person regardless of my gender.

About the wolf-whistling and cat-calling.  Just. Don’t.

This may come as a surprise but most women do not dress to attract men.  [Most] women dress for other women.  It’s a daily competition and most women would rather be complimented on their dress by other women.  It just means more.

[Most] women also dress for their own comfort.  I’ve been known to wear a dress above the knee or shorts.  I live in South Georgia.  Otherwise known as hell in the summer time.  If I wear a tank top and shorts it isn’t to attract a man.  It’s because I’m freakin’ hot.  And I don’t mean the way I look.

Wolf-whistling and cat-calling – especially from someone I’ve never met- is intimidating.  It’s presumptuous.  You might think that I’m stretching it to say that it’s not that far a hop to rape but when a man does that it shows that he’s aggressive.  It feels more about power than it does about complimenting anyone.  If a man would wolf-whistle or cat-call a woman he’s never met what else might he do given the opportunity?

When giving any sort of compliment the foremost thing should be sincerity.  Don’t say things you don’t mean.  It’s patronizing.  Think about what message the other person is going to get.  Don’t be superficial about it.  Show the person that you’ve really taken the time to notice what is important to them.

The important thing is to treat people with respect.  This is how we can address the more subtle sexism and misogyny that permeates society.


80 Comments

Missing the Point

70mb film, uppercut select

Is that a whole forest over there?  Or is it just trees?  I can hardly tell the difference.

I, myself, have been guilty of saying that political correctness can go too far. It can be taken to extremes.  But is it political correctness that is taken to extremes or is it that we are trying to tip toe around delicate issues to the extent that we don’t want to hurt anyone’s wee wittle feelings at the expense of honesty?

My last post shone a spotlight on what it means to miss the point.  It is easy to spot sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc….etc…etc…

…in everyone else.  We tend to have a gargantuan blind spot when it comes to ourselves.  I am no exception to that. Oh, how I wish I were.

We often try to justify it when we say or do something inappropriate, hurtful, or uncouth.  When we’re called out on it we get defensive and immediately begin the damage control. Human nature rules the day.  When we say it or do it we want everyone else to know how “not racist” or “not sexist” or “not homophobic” we are.  We’d never!

But we just did.  How to reconcile momentary lapses of judgement with personal character…well, that is the rub, isn’t it?

Are we missing the big picture?  The broader concept of what’s being said is completely lost the minute we begin rationalizing our own behavior.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.

These posts are not meant to either endorse nor condemn any particular lifestyles or life choices.  These posts are meant to highlight both the blatant and subtle sexist and misogynist undercurrent that permeates society.

Let me make this clear if I haven’t already.  I think men are as much a product of society as women are.  The way they were raised, the messages we receive from the media and advertisements, the systematic undermining of minority groups and those perceived as weaker – all of that plays into the dynamics of society.  The top dog wants to stay the top dog all the while protesting that they endorse equality.

Oh, yes, we endorse equality.  As long as it doesn’t diminish our own privileged place.  But wait, equality might just mean that privilege isn’t so much a privilege anymore.  It might mean…we are all of equal value as individuals.

This is an easy concept to say one is in favor of.  Yes, on paper that looks like it should, in fact, be so.  But what about individually?  Do we, with our own sense of entitlement, push anyone who dares gain an equal footing back down? Are we, individually, missing the point?

 


131 Comments

Can the Frogs Get Out of the Pot?

In my last post I talked about the excesses of male privilege. It might have come across that I’m averse to affection. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m a hugger. I like to give hugs and get hugs – appropriate hugs. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.

The trouble is casual sexism and misogyny often go overlooked. Women look the other way when there are catcalls on the street. Or when they’re told to, “smile, it’ll get better.” Or when the joke is at the expense of their gender. All because they don’t want to appear as though they don’t have a sense of humor, or can’t take a joke, or a compliment, for that matter.

A compliment is: “That’s a nice dress”. A man who works here in the office with me told me one day that I always dress so classy. I didn’t take that as a pass. He wasn’t looking me up and down. I didn’t get the impression he was undressing me with his eyes. I didn’t think it sexist or misogynist. I politely smiled and said thank you. Because, yes, I can take a compliment.

Not only can women take compliments, but we do, indeed, appreciate appropriate affection. Appropriate affection can be a touch on the shoulder – not a massage. Touch and move on. It’s nice to know a person cares about you. An affectionate greeting with a small, friendly, hug is appropriate. Sliding your hands below the waist down to the small of a woman’s back and not letting go is not a friendly greeting.

I know that what a person looks like is the first thing we notice as human beings, but don’t rate us solely on that score alone. We’re tired of comparing ourselves to airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models and trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. We look in the mirror everyday and instead of seeing beauty we see flaws.

To the men out there, you no longer need to wield a club and drag a woman by her hair to your cave. We aren’t pieces of meat on display at the market. We aren’t property to be claimed. Think about the scenarios in which you are involved. If it were happening in the reverse would it be uncomfortable? Creepy? Inappropriate? If it would be then it’s uncomfortable, creepy and inappropriate. Period.

To the women out there, it’s time for us to stop glossing over misogyny and laughing along with sexist jokes. When we do that we’re only sending the message that it’s okay; that it doesn’t bother us; that we accept unequal treatment.  We perpetuate misogyny and sexism when we seek to profit from it. We need to send the clear message that inequality is a problem and we’re not going to take it anymore.

Casual sexism and misogyny may not seem ‘that bad’.  It doesn’t have to be ‘that bad’ to be wrong.  Isn’t inequality a good enough reason to address these issues and make them better?  It is the only way we’ll ever climb out of the pot of boiling water.

I do see progress over where we were even twenty years ago.  It is slow, but it is progress.  Sometimes, though, it seems like two steps forward and one step back.  Thank you to all the male readers who expressed concern and compassion over these issues.  Perhaps there is hope after all.

Well, this sermon hasn’t been three points and a prayer, but how about a poll(thanks for the idea, Roughseasinthemed) and a song?

 

I also want to open up the comment section, not only to discussion about the content of the post, but to any woman who would like to share her story.  Not to make any men uncomfortable, but sometimes it helps just to be able to share it, even anonymously.


33 Comments

Give it All You’ve Got, Ladies!

I’m a ten-year-old trapped inside a forty-two year old body.  I’ve never understood that to do something “like a girl” meant to be weak, to give half an effort.  Just what the hell is dainty?

Everyone should feel at home being themselves in their own skin.  If you can’t feel comfortable in your own skin you’ll never feel comfortable anywhere.

I’ll admit that the message of what it means to be feminine, to allow the man to be the strong one and not show him up, had it’s hooks in me for a time.  A long time.  But even then I’m pretty sure I was doing it wrong.

I’ve always been mechanically inclined.  I’ve always loved to use circular saws, and miter saws, and wet saws, and power drills, and the blower, and the mower.  Tools are not gender specific.  They don’t know if they’re in the hands of a man or a woman.  A man can wield a Hoover every bit as effectively as a woman can.  The Hoover doesn’t know and it doesn’t care who switched the power on.

I’m not particularly athletically inclined.  Neither are a lot of men I know.  That doesn’t mean when they try they’re doing it “like a girl”.  It just means it’s not their forte.  So what?

In everything I try to do I give it 100%.  I don’t care if I look stupid.  When I run I run hard.  When I throw I throw hard.  When I punch I punch hard.

To the women out there; don’t let being a woman make you feel weak or inferior.  Do what you want to do and do with everything you’ve got.  To the men out there;  if you’re intimidated by a woman doing it “like a man”, get over yourself.  Either get better at whatever it is or accept the fact that women are exceedingly capable of most anything we set our minds to.

Women:  Do you typically hold yourself back in order to make a man look good?

Men:  Do you expect a woman to behave like they are incapable so that you can feel better about yourself?

What a load of rubbish!  Why on earth would any man want a woman to hold herself back, to waste her talents, to squelch her passions?  I, for one, want a partner who gives all they’ve got to whatever they’re doing.  I want him to succeed and to dream big and accomplish it.  Why would a man want anything less in his partner?

 


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IPV: Adjust Your Sails

inthestorm

I wanted to end this series on a positive note.  It’s hard to do that with a topic which is the source of so much pain.  It’s depressing, frankly.  I thought about doing a post about making a safety plan if you intend to stick it out, a strategy for coping with ongoing abuse, and an exit plan if you want to leave.  But those have all been done before.  I’ll leave some links if you need them.

There are just really are some things I want to say to you if you find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind.  Whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual abuse the result is devastating.  It erodes self-esteem.  It corrodes hearts.

It is not your fault.  No matter how many times you’ve heard, ‘if only you wouldn’t…make me so angry, or make me worry, or be so selfish, or be so stupid [insert your own].

Embed this in your memory.  Affirm yourself even if no one else does.  Know this:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Kathryn Stockett, The Help

You are important. You are valuable.  You are irreplaceable. You are priceless.  And because you may have forgotten I want to tell you:

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.

There is nothing wrong with you.

Listen, I do not know you.  But I am you.  You are not alone.  Things can get better.  Nothing will change unless you do.  You can do it!  Learn to trust yourself again.

If you need help or just someone to talk to you can email me at deconstructingmyselfdma@gmail.com

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http://heleneltaylor.com/planning-a-safe-escape-from-an-abusive-marriage/

http://www.respect4women.org/what-is-abuse/the-cycle-of-abuse/

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/dealing-with-emotional-abuse-how-to-stop-emotional-abuse/

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


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Intimate Partner Violence: We Get By With a Little Help

 

You probably already know even if you don’t know that you know. You know something isn’t right.  You suspect. Every time you invite your friend out they decline.  They never spend time with others if their spouse isn’t there.  They always defer to their spouse.  They spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their life looks perfect.

things we wish our friends knew but are too afraid to say out loud

Please listen to us.

We need you to listen to us.  We need to learn to trust because, frankly, we’re not sure we can.  Don’t take that personally.  It’s just that the most intimate relationship we have has taken that away from us.  The person we were supposed to trust with everything ruined that.

We’re not likely to just come out and say that we’re being abused.  Hell, we may not even know we’re being abused.  It may have gone on long enough that it’s our normal.  And even if we know it’s hard to admit to someone else.  We don’t even want to admit it to ourselves.  Just be there.  Ask probing questions but don’t pressure.  Listen as much for what we’re not saying as what we are saying.  We need a lifeline.

Please don’t tell us what to do.

We may seem confused.  We are.  But the last thing we need is someone else telling us what to do.  It is likely that our abuser controls most, if not every, aspect of our lives; from how long we spend in the bathroom to what clothes we wear.  Ask us what we want.  That encourages us to think for ourselves. We may not remember the last time what we wanted even mattered.

Please don’t judge us.

If we ever do get up the courage to tell you we need affirmation.  We don’t trust our own judgement.  There were some things that I had to be told were abuse.  Because I’d grown accustomed to it I didn’t realize what was even happening to me.  Coercion is a subtle, but destructive, tactic.  I had to be told that’s a form of rape.

Understand if we’re not ready to leave.  Understand if we never get ready to leave.  Don’t push us to get the hell out no matter how much your mind is screaming “get the hell out”.  Don’t assume it’s because we’re weak.  Encourage us to get help, certainly, but if you push us to leave we will cut off contact with you.  We can’t do that until we’re ready.

Don’t judge us for not leaving.  Leaving is an admission that it’s happening; that it’s real.  We likely told ourselves that this would never be us.  We’d never let this happen.  Likely we’ve denied that it is – to ourselves and to you – in a lot of subtle ways.

Please don’t look at us with those eyes.

Don’t look at us with those knowing eyes; the eyes of pity.  Don’t look at us like we’re a victim.  We don’t want to be victims.  Please don’t treat us like we’re victims.  Please just be normal around us.  Don’t make it awkward.  Talk to us about something else.

Please don’t give up on us.

I know it must be so hard to watch your friend stay in a situation you know in your heart of hearts is dangerous.  It must be awfully tempting to give up on us, to turn away, to throw your hands up in disgust, and just walk away.  Please don’t do that.  Please reassure us that you are there.  Give us a place to go.  Even if we don’t leave permanently we may need temporary shelter.  Please tell us that we can find shelter with you.

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October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)