I have so much to be grateful for today, not least of which are these guys:
I’m actually in Toronto right now so I have a lot to be grateful for. My family are here. My sister has made a beautiful home away from home for us, literally considering my family’s comfort and wellbeing in building her own family’s house. We’re grateful to be made to feel so at loved & at home here every time we visit.
I’m also here to visit and cheer up my mother, who has been trapped inside with hew own injury, a broken lower leg, since February. I’m grateful to have my mother still with us, and grateful to have a strong bond with her. My sister and I are both close with our mom, another relationship we’re lucky to have.
I’m also grateful for the family I have here to visit: my sister and I have a good relationship as adults, and I adore her daughters, my nieces, who are like little sisters to Ben (grateful for that, too). They’re beautiful, brilliant, strong, free creatures, each of whom displays emotions and intelligence in equally high amounts. My brother-in-law is a wonderful guy who is just fun to hang out with, as well as a great husband and father. My sister has a beautiful family, inside and out, and I’m so grateful to be only two hours away.
I’m listing out all this gratitude right now because it’s just hard to feel grateful for all these blessings when my foot looks like it lost a bar fight to someone a lot meaner:
From last night: my foot looks like a bloated drunk who got severely beaten up
I’m really trying for gratitude here, in the form of, “I’m grateful I’ve never had an injury worse than this”, but it hurts today after all the activity and exertion yesterday and I can’t go down stairs properly and anything that isn’t being trapped in bed with my foot up causes the fluids to rush back in a very painful way.
Still, the practice of gratitude does make me feel slightly better. Over the past year, I started using the Best SELF Journal: a daily entry in which I start and finish my day by listing 3 things I’m grateful for. Sounds like something out of an archived Well and Goodarticle (“The Buzzy Reason These wellness Gurus Start Their Day with Gratitude – And How You Can Too”). It is, however, a legitimately proven tactic to improve mental wellbeing, so I have added it to my mental toolkit to deal with my depression.
Gratitude may not make up for missing out on physical activity, which is on the list of the Big Things That REALLY Help With Depression. Walking or running outside are big needle movers for mental wellbeing. It’s therefore extremely tempting not to be grateful for anything when I’m on Day 5 of hobbling about and don’t know how long this is going to take because I can run again without fear of messing my foot back up. The challenge is pushing past that self-pity and finding ways to be grateful that are not depending on my physical status.
The last few months of open conversation around sex and power have been both enraging and illuminating. It has been like flipping on a light switch to see horrors that were only barely camouflaged by darkness, that we all knew were there. It is the way we have now shone lights on the society we have built, the way we have encouraged male and female roles to the point where men are expected and encouraged to prey on women who feel trapped.
This is a many faceted discussion, and it will be a long one. It will take years to identify all the points at which behavior is conditioned towards inequality, and begin to change it. But for right now, I’d like to just look at three minutes of the conversation, in which Aidy Bryant sums up how she constrains her behavior in order to make her statements palatable to men:
“I, like most girls, have been taught to be accommodating and nice.”
“I’m trying to keep it cool and chill so I don’t come off like a shrew!”
“That’s a straight up sports reference for the boys!”
Yes. That, right there. That is the behavior that women are expected to adhere to. We put, “I think,” or “I feel” in front of our statements to appear non-threatening. We do not negotiate hard enough or push for what we want, because we don’t want to be seen as threatening. We try to take up as little space as possible.
What angers me about this is that this is the behavior I learned and taught myself. It doesn’t come naturally to me, to shrink back, to be quiet. It comes naturally to me to be loud and vocal. I don’t “feel” something is right, I usually know I’m right, and I’m ready to argue it. And yet, over the years, I’ve considered it a positive to have learned how to polish my behavior to be nicer and more accommodating, less aggressive, more passive. I have tried to be quieter. I have tried to take up less mental and physical space in an attempt to be more likable, less threatening.
Perhaps I was better off unpolished after all. Perhaps I placed too much value on the idea of what acceptable adult female behavior looked like, a series of gender constraints and tropes that are just incongruous with who I am. Now, I’m just furious that women are expected to function within these lines and boundaries, and, worse, that so many of us still think we have to adhere to these unwritten guidelines of being nice, being accommodating, and never speaking up to make anyone else remotely uncomfortable.
I don’t like this. I believe in making people uncomfortable when they deserve to face some sort of social consequence. As an example, last week at a bar, my friends and I were discussing a play we had just seen. A drunken boor kept coming over to hang over one of my friends at the table. She was charmingly polite to him, hoping he would go away. I ignored him entirely and continued talking because I didn’t think we needed to be polite to him – he was in our space, uninvited, and distracting from the conversation. His response to this was to announce that I was “the Professor”, a lecturer, and yell that I was lecturing about something boring. (I was comparing the play we had seen, Mankind, to LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness). I wouldn’t participate in the female accommodation of a rude man, so I was labeled with something sexless. Then he came back to the table and grabbed my friend’s ass because she was nice to him, and he thought he could get away with it, even though he was a drunk slob and she’s about a zillion levels above him on the social attractiveness scale.
This wouldn’t be a big deal (other than the entertainment factor when we had him kicked out) except as a metaphor for male response to female behavior: if you are nice, you are inviting sexual behavior. If you are kind, you are open for grabbing. If you are neither nice nor kind, you are neuter, devoid of the femininity that is the only coin of value in these social transactions. I am certain that the “neuter” response a lot of men respond to me with has just as much to do with my size as my behavior – I’m literally the size of most guys at five-ten – but this has happened to me my entire life. If I challenge someone, if I am not nice and accommodating, I am no longer feminine. I can be dismissed, because femininity is of the utmost value in these kind of low-meaning, public interactions.
I spent ten minutes at my next workout getting this out of my system, beating a punching bag at the gym while muttering, “take THIS patriarchy!” All the years I’ve tried to behave in a more female manner so I would receive a positive response from the world. All the times I’ve been dismissed for not being female enough. All of it from men who have no right to assign or deny any woman her value, and yet who feel they have the right to judge us. I thought about that and it gave my jabs and hooks even more power – enough that I think Paul looked slightly worried when I came out and headed over to the leg press.
This is a minor offshoot of the greater conversation we’re all having right now, about the way our society has formed to give men this ultimate social power over women, and how women are punished if they try to step outside subservient behavior. We’re all engaged in this question of how we re-write our everyday social transactions to be on equal ground, because right now it feels like every encounter between the sexes is one where men have the advantage, and choose to take it. My quibble with gender roles is minor in the scope of what many women have experienced, and what they are now brave enough to voice and share, one by one.
And yet, my quibble is part of the foundation that leads women to be taken advantage of, over and over, without recourse. It’s the invisible barriers. It’s the rules that say we must shrink back, or be punished with labels, insults, social consequence. It is a small piece in the scaffolding that is holding up our society in this inequal structure. Perhaps if we change the way women feel comfortable behaving, and reward those women who choose not to be nice, choose not to be accommodating, we will be one step closer to the balance we need.
I just jumped in on the Canadian political situation, and SRSLY? WTF?
WTF is WRONG with Stephen Harper, people? I don’t get why everyone seems to be such a big fan of this coalition idea. I KNOW he’s a Conservative, but when you get down to it, he’s basically an American Democrat. He’s not wasting everyone’s time with social conservatism like the Republicans do, which is why I hated them so much. Harper is a fiscal conservative, which means he runs Canada like a business. What is so horrible about this leader that Canada needs a fucking coup?
Look, I KNOW Harper’s record isn’t that great. I know that he’s been against same sex marriage in the past, but he’s not bringing that into the federal courts, is he? I know he was for Iraq, but he rescinded that when he realized the Bush administration was totally wrong to go in there. He’s against legalization of marijuana, but that’s totally overrided by his pro-decentralization stance: decentralization of power will allow the provinces to make decisions anyways. But he’s not trying to ban abortion, or promote bringing more church into the state, or anything like that. So what did I miss here that makes him so evil?
In fact, according to my sister (I admit, she did the research for me), Harper has placated the Quebecois by recognizing them as a nation, saving us all the time, energy and money that was going into that black hole of a schism. He’s been trying to beef up trade between Western Canada and non-America countries, like China. He’s been REDUCING THE DEFICIT, which, in Canada, is a small miracle. Harper once said that Canada is a second tier Western European welfare state, and it looks like he’s actually working to make Canada a REAL WORLD FINANCIAL POWER. Hell, he even displayed a set of real balls and claimed the Arctic oil. Go to hell, Russia!
So now there’s this coalition, and there’s arguments that a coalition government would be OMG SO AWESOME, and that the Conservatives have lost the faith of the people, and etc., etc. Well, here’s my opinion, which no one asked for, but I will volunteer anyways.
1. WTF are you people THINKING getting sidetracked with this stupid coalition garbage right now??? SRSLY! To me, it’s a horrible display of irresponsibility to set up a coalition that includes a separatist party, and then threaten the ruling government with it, AT A TIME WHEN WE’RE FACING THE BIGGEST CRISIS SINCE THE FUCKING DEPRESSION. If the coalition leaders were responsible adults, they’d focus on getting work done, instead of trying to grab Cabinet seats. In the States, we call it “bipartisan efforts”, and we suck at it. Canada should know better.
2. THE COALITION IS DISINTEGRATING ALREADY!! It doesn’t have a leader – Stephane Dion is stepping down! CBC said today that it can’t even hold together until January Why the hell would we want this coalition to rule the country?
3. The big economic stimulus plan is to bolster forestry and auto industries? I’m sorry – is it still 1985? Because this is 2008, Coalition members! Now, if they said that they were going to focus on making the auto industry produce hybrid cars that would actually sell, and on improving tree farming and conservation of forests, I’d buy it. I want specifics, not this vague, “oh, well, we might pump money into this sector or that sector”.
4. STOP YELLING YES WE CAN, DAMMIT! Good LORD. The Conservative party ARE NOT THE REPUBLICANS. They’re just fiscally conservative! To quote the Daily Show, socially, they’re the Gay Nader Fans for Peace! KNOCK IT OFF!
5. I did not vote for the Coalition. I am one of the voters that voted Conservative. I also voted assuming that, should the Conservatives lose the faith of the country, then a new election would be called so the people could decide on a new government. Nowhere in there did I agree that it was OK for a party who did NOT have the most seats, to effectively rule Canada. It’s never happened before at a federal level, and it’s doubtful it would be a real coalition. More likely it would be the Liberals. Who were voted out. In 2006. Stephane Dion LOST the election. It seems wrong to me to put him in without one. It’s TECHNICALLY democratic under the law, but it seems more like a bloodless coup. All smotherings.
Can someone PLEASE explain to me why this is happening?
The Pizza Hut commercial with Jessica Simpson just came on. Y’know, the one where she sashays in, singing that godAWFUL song about how, “these bites were made for poppin'”, while the poor teenage boy at the table tries desperately to hide the boner in his pants.
ROOMATE: “I thought this commercial was a bad dream. But the fact that I am seeing it again proves that it was not.”
This commercial is wrong in more ways than I can count, but let’s just start with the obvious:
1. It’s PIZZA HUT. There are few food substances I can think of worse than this. It’s nothing but white flour and fat! Pork fat! And now, they’re adding extra fat to the white flour crust in the form of “poppers”! NUGGETS of fat!
2. It’s JESSICA SIMPSON, who is the white flour and pork fat of the entertainment world! She is a crust of fake tan, covered in a gooey layer of inane chatter, and topped with silicon lips and tacky clothing, served to the public in a box of extreme PR.
3. This commercial makes Jessica Simpson seem more like Mary Kay Letourneau.
Overall? This commercial rates as high on the household “if only it WAS a nightmare” chart as the Paris Hilton Carl’s Jr. commercial. Which, my roomate points out, would be much more apt if it was for Wienerschnitzel.