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Friday Five 4

My mother is one of my favorite people. She is tough and moody and full of both wonder and practicality. She is the reason I have such a soft place in my heart for Emily Gilmore, because some of Emily’s lines could have come straight from my mother’s mouth. Today, I am highlighting items from the Internet that reminded me of her when I read them.

  1. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Simone Biles. She does not abide foolishness, and that includes the foolishness of being told what to do with her face. When asked why she wasn’t smiling during the judges’ positive feedback, she replied, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” I love her so hard.
  2. Mom Lesson #453: It’s okay to be mad; it is not okay to act like a banshee and pitch a fit on the floor when innocent people are just trying to get their grocery shopping done without incident. Kristen Bell and my mom would get along.
  3. While I’m not sure my mom would be comfortable with the idea of my attending Pride at all, she would insist that if I must that I at least Do. It. Right. If you’re going to try to be an ally, do the work of listening to what that means.
  4. I enjoyed and related a lot to this article on Gen X getting caught in the middle of Boomers and Millennials. My mother would respond with a combination of “Suck it up” and “Well, make them pay attention.” Yes, mother. I’m not sure why they call their generation the Silent Generation. That does not describe either of my parents accurately at all.
  5. I don’t know why this reminded me of Mom. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. This certainly doesn’t resemble her at all. Swear like a Mother.

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Friday Five2

I didn’t strike on International Women’s Day, because reasons and also because today begins a series of days off to celebrate my birth month. I am getting my hair chopped today and treating myself to my favorite shampoo that I never buy because it’s hella expensive. But happy birthday to me. And so today I thought I’d bring you places I love/will love and recommend that you check them out, too, as well as a couple of gems from International Women’s Day that I particularly enjoyed.

[These are all Denton-y or Denton adjacent. Sorry, folks who live afar.]

  1. Salon LaPage – Everyone here is awesome, but I especially love Meredith. I’m picky about hair, so once I found her, I pretty much followed her wherever she went.
  2. I’m so excited about trying Kimzey’s Coffee. I am a sucker for a cute coffee shop. There may be a post about it if I loooove it.
  3. There will be brunch at Abbey Inn on the square. I think I want steak and eggs benedict. Or maybe chicken and waffles with bacon pepper gravy. Or maybe I just go multiple times so that I don’t have to choose just one.
  4. Karen Gonzalez via The Mudroom – My Single Life or Why I Love Women’s Day.
  5. And some ridiculous levity from the Reductress – 4 Men Named Kyle Who Have No Idea There’s A Women’s Strike.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

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Friday Five2

I got sucked into the Internet this week, and I was not my best self. It will surprise no one here that I have many opinions with lots of passion and intensity, and that’s why I don’t Facebook actively because as it turns out, people are not so much persuaded by being overwhelmed as they are driven to drink and binge-watch on the Netflix while avoiding my texts.

Ahem.

To that end, the first two links I have are some tips on being in spaces with people who get your dander up (like me, perhaps) and how to do the work of getting past all of that and still have meaningful conversations.

  • How to Survive in Intersectional Feminist Spaces 101 via CrossKnit – This is a great place to start if you read the title of the post and said, “What do those words mean?” or if you have a negative view of what those words mean to you. It’s also a great refresher and reminder to those of us who think we know everything. Keeps us humble. Also, her follow-up post makes me howl with a weird mix of respect for her for owning up to things that people confronted her with, self-recognition, humility, glee, gratitude, and inspiration.
  • How to be a friend to the LGBTQIA+ community – from GLAAD and from Carlos Maza via the Washington Post archives. Absolutely engage in these behaviors yourself. But if you see other people engaging in these behaviors and your behavior gets called out as a result, know that it’s not really about you but rather their desire to support and defend people they see being mistreated.

More things for your reading enjoyment/thought provocation/action-taking:

  • Obama via The New England Journal of Medicine discusses the dangers and irresponsibility of repealing the ACA without something workable to replace it.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates via The Atlantic – My President was Black.
  • DeVos is not a suitable candidate for Secretary of Education. Here are a list of Senators who are key in making a decision on DeVos on Tuesday (first numbers are their local offices; 202 numbers are their D.C. offices). If your senator is listed, give them a call, but if not, call one of the others:Susan Collins (ME) 207.622.8414; 202.224.2523
    Lamar Alexander (TN) 615.736.5129; 202.224.4944
    Lisa Murkowski (AK) 907.586.7277; 202.224.6665
    Johnny Isakson (GA) 770.661.0999; 202.224.3643
    Orrin Hatch (UT) 801.524.4380; 202.224.5251
    Richard Burr (NC) 336.631.5125; 202.224.3154; 910.251.1058; 828.350.2437
    Michael Enzi (WY) 202.224.3424
    Dr. Bill Cassidy (LA) 202.224.5824
    Pat Roberts (KS) 202.224.4774
    Tim Scott (SC) 202.224.6121
    Rand Paul (KY) 202.224.4343

And a bonus post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, including a remembrance of how it all started.

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Saturday was awesome. I’m not generally a march person. I don’t do crowds well; I get panicky. But it was local (so, familiar) and I went with friends who would have understood if I’d needed to run away for a bit. I attended the women’s rally in Denton, had lunch with some friends afterward to talk about it, and then met for decadent waffles and coffee with another friend who had her reasons not to attend but was eager to hear the reasons I did.

Yesterday, however, was one of the days I had to get off Facebook to retain my sanity.

It wasn’t all bad. I had several friends who posted why they chose not to march. While wow, we’ve had very different life experiences and disagree about a lot of things, I respect that, just like I do, they do not shy away from the responsibilty of acting according to their convictions. I even clicked “like” on a couple that were particularly well reasoned and eloquently stated. I’m thankful that they shared.

Then there were the others – some original, some reposted from another source. They listed lots of reasons they didn’t march, but they also listed many disrespectful assumptions about us marchers. And most of them ended with some version of the condescending sentiment, “Oh, but go ahead and have your little march if it will make you feel better. Bless your hearts.”

 

Incredibly, many of the people posting these messages are some of the same people I see calling for unity. Hmm. Maybe it would be more unifying if they listened and tried to understand the positions of others instead of automatically dismissing them as stupid and whiny. Just a thought.

More to the point, I get that people feel compelled to explain why they didn’t march. After all, I often feel compelled to explain why I don’t do something others see as important. It’s very human to want to be understood and to feel defensive when we’re not. As one who marched, let me assure those of you who didn’t that you don’t owe me an explanation. We all have different work to do, and if this march wasn’t part of your work, then that’s your decision. I am happy to listen if you want to explain anyway, but you owe me nothing.

[Aside – your other friends who marched may feel differently. Don’t assume I speak for everyone, because I do not.]

If you do explain, however, be careful. There is a thin line between “This is why I didn’t,” and “This is why people who march are stupid.” And most of the posts I saw in my feed crossed that line from disagreement right into disrespect. I understand the draw. I’m certainly not innocent of it. Acting petty is super gratifying – cathartic, even. Some of my favorite people are petty by default. And it is a whole lot easier to dismiss people who disagree as unintelligent or uninformed or just plain unlikable without going to the trouble to listen long enough to discern if those things are true.

The problem is that when we choose to take the low road by insulting whole groups of people, there are probably going to be people who read or hear it whom we would claim to love and respect as individuals and who also happen to fall within that group. It lands on them just as if we had said it to their faces. If you are fine with this, well…you do you. On some level, I get that, too. I’m certainly working through some of my own feelings of betrayal and anger, and I hope Jesus and I work through them soon, because they are hella stressful. I want you to have space to work through it, too.

Just know that, if you posted one of those messages, it landed on people you call friends. It landed on me and my friends (which frankly, is more offensive than it landing on me. How dare you. My friends are awesome, and you would be lucky to know them).

If that’s the message you meant to send me – that you neither like nor respect me – then okay. Not everyone does. So…why are you here? Stop torturing yourself. Unfriend me, unfollow me, and stop reading. Life is too short, and the steady rise of your blood pressure with every word you read is making yours even shorter. Save yourself. Just go.

If, however, that isn’t the message you intended to send, let’s see if I can help us work our way back from it.

First, full disclosure – those calls for unity? I’m not even close to there yet. Before you get judgy, I want you to reflect on our time in the Obama administration. Think of how long it took you to say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s our President, and it’s still our country, so I’m going to make peace with it.” How long did it take you to get rid of the opposing candidate’s yard sign and take your “I didn’t vote for this Obama-nation” bumper sticker off your car? How long did it take for you to stop posting snarky and often hateful memes poking fun at the First Family on social media, and how long after that did it take for you to stop liking those memes or finding them funny? When voicing your opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan (which is an opinion you have every right to voice), how long did it take you to stop calling it Obamacare and refer to it by its actual name, the Affordable Care Act?

Was it two months? Six months? A year? Eight years? Be honest.

Take that measure of time, add it to January 20, 2017, put it on your calendar, and mark it as the first day you have any moral ground whatsoever to ask me for unity. You may get it well before then, on account of my annoying, stubborn idealism and the inconvenient fact that achieving the goals we marched for – freedom for all – will ultimately require some semblance of an all. But in the meantime, stop asking people to do what you yourself could not.

Second, while I don’t owe you an explanation either, if you are still reading (and good on you – this is a long one), I’d like to tell you why I marched. It’s possible that you might even find something here to agree with, and I suppose that’s a start.

The equal rights we allegedly all have on paper are not fully practiced in reality. Equality is not just a legal issue; even more than that, it is a heart and attitude issue. Lack of a heart and attitude for equality is still a big problem in our country. I marched to protest that reality.

We just swore in a man who, through all his years in the limelight and throughout his campaign, actively displayed a heart and attitude of inequality. He has disparaged women, people of color, military veterans, people with disabilities – basically, anyone who has ever appeared to disagree with him. And he’s not dumb. He has been in the public eye his whole life, and he knew exactly what he was doing and exactly the effect it would have. He knew his open ridicule would embolden other people to act out their similar hateful biases in more extreme ways which he could then publicly denounce, passing himself off as reasonable by comparison. He will make promises and tell people he is on their side, and then betray them to get what he wants. Then he will turn around and ask them to be friends again and pout (or tweet) when they understandably decline. As long as I’ve known who he is, these have been his signature moves. This is not friendship or leadership; it is a cycle of abuse that he has, to date, shown no intention of breaking. I protest that.

If he were to want to show intention to turn over a new leaf, I’d be happy to see it. A good way to do that would be to enforce the equal rights we are supposedly guaranteed by law. You know, instead of threatening to repeal those laws or to cut funding/defund agencies that exist to protect them. I protest that, too.

I marched to be part of an audio-visual reminder to the president and the country that, while he may have been elected by a different group of people, upon taking that oath, he works for all of us now. An across-party-lines calling for that is a unity I could maybe think about starting to get on board with.

Barring that far-fetched possibility, the march also served as a not-so-subtle reminder that those who oppose inequality, particularly the inequality that laces the president’s words and actions, are not the small, docile, silent minority he would like to believe we are.

And finally, I marched in repentance for white feminism. White feminism is a larger discussion but for our purposes here includes all supposed freedom work that pursues one group’s freedom at the expense and exclusion of the freedom of others, particularly the freedom of women of color. I can believe we still have to protest this shit, because we cannot free and oppress at the same time, and that’s what a lot of the work of white feminists has done. It has tried to take a step forward by pushing others back. Freedom and oppression are opposing forces. No wonder progress has been slow, because much of it simply has not been progress.

On Saturday, I know we did a whole lot of getting things right. The rally in Denton seemed peaceful and inclusive. Having said that, if someone told me that they were excluded from it, I would believe them, because with its roots in white supremacy, white feminism is pervasive as hell. I marched in recognition that we still have so much work to do and that a lot of that work was created by our own selfishness.

Marching isn’t the only thing we’re doing, or even the most effective. Of course it isn’t. I know a lot of people who didn’t march because they were doing important work elsewhere at the time. That’s great – more power to them!

The march did spark hope in me again. If you are one of the people calling for unity, and you truly want it, this should give you hope that one day I’ll get there, too.

 

 

 

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Really, this is just an excuse to show off my new floor.

“If you lost about fifty pounds, you’d have guys lining up to date you. Heck, I might even be one of them.”

 I looked at the slice of pizza in my hand as I tried to pick my chin up off the floor. Had he really just said that? I decided to give him a chance to recant. I raised a warning eyebrow. “What?”

 He didn’t get the hint. “Yeah. If you lost some weight, you’d be the perfect girl. Totally date-able.”

 I performed a quick mental search of the backlog of our conversation up to that point. Had I asked his opinion on how I could be more attractive? No. Had I inquired as to why the guy I was interested in wasn’t going for me? Nope. Had I accidentally hit on him, inspiring him to make it clear that he wasn’t interested in being my next crush? Definitely not.

 I suppose I could have returned the attack. I could have pointed out that it certainly wouldn’t have hurt him – skeletally and scientifically speaking, of course – to drop 50+ pounds himself and that doing so might just be the answer to the knee and back problems he was always complaining about. You know, since we had entered into the unsolicited advice portion of our dialogue. Apparently.

 But this was not random street harassment that could be dealt with and dismissed with a stunning display of pettiness. This was my friend, who allegedly cared about me. He probably thought he was being helpful. He probably even thought he was paying me a compliment about what an awesome human I was.

 It was not helpful. It was not a compliment. And unlike comments from strangers who could be dismissed because they didn’t know me, coming from a friend, it was personal.

 I was so appalled, however, that I was unable to completely remove all the sass from my reply. “No, what I need to lose are the misogynistic jerks in my life who think a girl has to be thin to be lovable.”

 The conversation got really awkward after that.

 This is one of the stories I like to tell when people ask where I get my confidence. They usually aren’t looking for the real answer, particularly if the question is part of a conversation about beauty or dating. They’re not really interviewing me about my greatest strengths. They don’t want to hear that I love my intelligence and my wit and my loyalty, or the fact that my cooking has brought tears to people’s eyes (because they enjoyed it, to be clear). They don’t even really want to know how much I’m obsessed with my adorable feet or how I’m really growing to love my arms. They want to know how I – a fat girl – could possibly think so highly of myself, particularly in a society that does not statistically share that opinion about the rotund.

 Where do I get my confidence? By standing up for myself. By calling a lie a lie, particularly when it was a lie that – until I heard it spoken aloud and realized how awful and wrong it sounded – I had secretly believed myself.

 I get confidence from friends who remind me to fight the lies. Since I have been trying to lose weight (19 pounds down, btw), I have had several concerned friends affirming their love for me and making sure I remember what the changes I’m making in order to work toward this goal will do for me (lower my blood pressure/calm my blood sugar levels down/allow me to run without snapping my small-boned twig ankles) and what it will not do for me (make me even more fantastic and worthy of the space that I take up in the world, because according to us – and really, who else’s opinion even matters at all? – I’m already there). I have good friends.

 I also get confidence from reading books like Shrill. Lindy West is hilarious. I particularly liked her chapter on how she answers the confidence question. This is a book I’ll be buying so that I can read it aloud at parties. I highly recommend it for people of all shapes and sizes.

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Schooling

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Shiny.

I still have all my old textbooks from grad school. I suppose I will as long as I still refer to them from time to time. Or until I decide with absolute certainty that I’m not going back to grad school.

Some things are never certain.

As I toy with the idea of getting the PhD, I find myself thumbing through these particular books more than the other more general tomes (although who doesn’t love a Saturday night picking through quantitative methodologies?). So if I do go back, at least I’ve finally picked a field. Baby steps.

I subscribed to the journal Feminist Theory the first couple of years after I graduated. I wanted to make sure that I kept up.

Then I discovered blogging.

You know what feminists – particularly emerging feminists – are really good at? Blogging. As a medium, it lends itself well to flushing out concepts and working through identities and ideologies.

I know this month is supposed to be about shelves and books, but my reading life would not be as rich without many of the blogs I read.

Here are some of my favorite feminist blogs:

Hollaback – committed to ending street harassment

Bitch media – media analysis and critique

Feministe – some great pieces on intersectionality – they’ve had some structural changes recently – be patient

Black Girl Dangerous – Mia McKenzie, y’all

Feministing – what the next wave of feminism will be talking about

TransGriot – trans news 

The Pursuit of Harpyness – come on – that name alone – poetry and progress news

There are so many more, but these are the ones that make me want to get that degree and be a professional feminist.

I’m writing 31 Days of Shelfies.

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This Friday, “five” is more of a guideline than a rule. Here is my online week in snippets:

1. Of course, I am upset about Cecil the Lion. Dentist Guy, an apology is not enough. I need you to get a whole new personality and do some jail time. I am fascinated by the outrage over the outrage. On the one hand, it’s okay to care about multiple things. That’s a thing humans can do. Caring about Cecil doesn’t mean that we don’t care about abortion (although I do feel compelled to question people who say they’re against abortion and want to shut down Planned Parenthood altogether, as knowledge of and access to affordable contraception – both of which are services they offer on a more comprehensive level than any other agency – is positively correlated with both lower teen pregnancy rates AND lower abortion rates), and it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the lost human lives that are also eating up my news feed. On the other hand, if you are sadder over a lion than you were over Charleston or Chattanooga, that’s a problem and you need to fix it. Don’t know where to start? Clicky and start here. And Roxane Gay is my favorite person this week – “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.”

2. I am heartsick over the death of Samuel DuBose. I suppose I should feel happy that it seems it is being dealt with, but all I can feel is heartsick. I am heartsick over the death of Darrell S. Murphy. I’m tired of these ridiculous deaths and the extreme, systemic prejudice that is at the root of them. I can’t stop listening and cocoon myself in my privilege, though, because desensitization is worse than heartsick.

3. The sheer volume of misinformation and baseless conclusion jumping on Facebook this week (or any week, for that matter) is exhausting.  The one that sticks out most is a Buzzfeed post making the rounds about a 17-year-old disgruntled ex-JC Penney employee claiming body shaming because they asked her to go home and change before her shift.

My annoyance is threefold.

First, this is not body shaming. It is an employer asking an employee to represent the company the way the leaders of the company want it to be represented (which, by the way, is what employees are paid to do). The issue is not that they thought her clothing was bad; the issue is that the clothing violated their dress code for employees on the clock. Aspiring feminist children – while I applaud you standing up for yourself, don’t just throw out hot button terms (especially ones that aren’t relevant to your situation) and run away. That makes you look uninformed, not brave.

Second, if real change is what you are going for (and if you’re going to use the label “feminist,” I’m gonna need real change to be your goal), there are concrete ways of getting that done. Don’t like their dress code? Draft a petition, complete with well-reasoned arguments that go beyond “I should get to do what I want,” to have it changed. Schedule a meeting with your manager to talk about it and see if s/he can put your ideas before someone who has the power to actually do something about it. Leaving in a huff and quitting without proper notice makes you a bad employee, not an activist.

Third, don’t sell out for clickbait and squander your chance to make a good point. There are elements of this story worth being upset about. She could have called for the need for better training resources so that others in the future could avoid the embarrassment this incident caused her. Because under the false bravado, that seems to be what she’s really upset about – she got in trouble for something that she didn’t know was against policy. She wasn’t trying to defy the company’s standards; she just wasn’t properly trained regarding them. And that’s a problem JC Penney should want to resolve. You can’t just hand part-time employees – of any age – a manual, tell them to read it on their own time, and realistically expect to be able to hold them accountable for it. That’s terrible management. She also could have focused on the actual discriminatory practice of sending her home while letting the guys get away with violating the policy. That’s the point I personally would have made. But I would have stayed and made it. Now, all that’s going to come from this is her fifteen minutes of fame from being the subject of a Buzzfeed post. What a waste of a golden opportunity.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO REQUIRE SPEECH AND DEBATE FOR HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE STUDENTS. So that they learn how to make an argument and stand up for themselves and others in a way that actually makes a difference and so that they grow into voting citizens who also know how to do that.

4. I love Cara Delevingne. I loved her awkward interview, and I love John Green’s defense of it.

5. How do we INTJs defy our stereotype of being narcissistic know-it-alls? By being open-minded and wanting to hear all the things from all the people, even if we disagree with them. YEP. Also, the line “indisputably aware of their own intelligence” made me giggle. Also yep.

6. And finally, this is the thing that made me laugh the hardest this week – Glennon Doyle Melton’s post “I’m Not Sassy, I’m Suzanne.” In related news, I need this mug.

What stories stuck out to you this week?

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