Tag Archives: Feminism

Being a Woman in a Man’s World: My Thoughts on Hillary with a Pinch of Pat Summitt

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“The man’s world must become a man’s and a woman’s world. What are we afraid of?” – M. Carey Thomas

I have been working on this piece for quite some time. I rarely shop out my ideas, discuss in detail, but something wasn’t quite right with my thoughts. Maybe, I felt that my thoughts were a little controversial or maybe, writing a post that was (kind of) in favor of Hillary, a person I am not fond of, was actually quite difficult.

But as I talked with several people about the public relationship between Bill and Hillary and how it has shaped America’s view of her, and consequently caused the American people not to see her in a positive light. I was met with the same resounding response that points to a simple fact for most people:

“I just wish she had made it here (the Presidency) based on her own merits”

“I think Bill being President has everything to do with her getting close to becoming President”

“She wouldn’t even be the nominee if it wasn’t for Bill”

And so on. Each person I asked was a Democrat. Their responses perplexed me. As humans in this vast and complex world, we are unable to write our own story. Who is to say had Bill not become President that Hillary wouldn’t have risen to the Presidency, to be successful in politics, or affecting change in this country. For this we do not know, but I find that most people think, Hillary is here solely based on her husband.

It’s not even a matter if people think she’s a liar, corrupt, or made mistakes as Secretary of State – it is because, if she makes it to the White House, it will be on the coat tails of her husband.

But I think it’s more than that.

It could be her desire for her own fame and success that has fueled her to the Presidency or it could be her commitment to serve this country. But you know what, if she was a man, it wouldn’t matter.

Hillary is being unfairly judged, because she is a woman. I know people have made this point over and over, but I, an outsider, wanted to make this point again. Because, despite my strong dislike of her, I am flabbergasted by the disrespect Hillary receives from members in her own party.  People still have more respect for her [enter all the bad adjectives you can think of] husband.

How many Presidents of the United States of America made it, because they were white males, from an affluent family, and they just so happened to end up in the White House. There are few Presidents, who earned the spot every step of the way. In general, there are far more people who were given a little help to get where they are today, so why are we holding Hillary Clinton to a different standard? Why do we as women give men a break, but don’t quite do the same thing for women? Is it because we have to be better? Or would we prefer to just work double time and allow men to work half of the time? Not to mention…. infidelity and cheating in marriage sometimes seems so commonplace in America because of the over sexualization in this country. How many of you, who’ve experienced betrayal in your life or in your family, could imagine experiencing infidelity in the public eye at the highest office in America, and for the world to see, not just America, and bounce back from it? How many of you after being completely embarrassed and disrespected, could then decide to run for a public office in the state of New York, one of the most media hungry places in America? How many of you all could face that kind of fire and win, and continue on.

Yeah, her hunger and need for the spotlight might fuel it, and I don’t really care, because to me, that is a tough thing to do and she should deserve a little more respect for her tenacity. Respect that we would easily be given to her if she was a man.

Now to preference who should be respecting, if you have ideological differences with Hilary (as do I), then by all means, you are free to disagree/dislike/hate her and make claims along those lines. But there are women, young and old, black, white, blue and green, who furiously supported Barack Obama, that struggle to support Hilary or diss her for no good reason in my opinion.

I would like to just make note, that Obama’s rise to the Presidency, although historical in its own right, the differences between overcoming the obstacles of race versus gender are actually drastically different. As a black woman, I can tell you the preference and deference black men with less abilities get over me time and time again from women is not only maddening, but sad. The blunt truth is that it’s happening simply because they are men. The long and short of it, women want to support men. It might be biblical. I get it. But we represent over 50% of the population and continue to allow men to make decisions that affect our lives and bodies, and yet, we struggle to view women in a positive light for being strong, dominant, and unafraid.

And I must pause here, because Pat Summit passed away last week, one of my favorite sports hero and I believe she was one of the few women, in the public eye, who was strong, dominant, and unafraid – and she had our respect completely. There is no question that her success and rise to popularity were forged with her own blood, sweat, and tears to be successful as a coach in women’s college basketball and to win Olympic gold. But she was the best of the best in a woman’s world. Many wanted her to cross over to coach men, whether in college or professional sports. But as I write about Hillary, I wonder if not crossing over was one of her best decisions.

One reporter shared:

“More than once, Tennessee’s athletic bigwigs considered asking Summitt to coach the men instead. With each crash-and-burn, it became more obvious that men couldn’t handle this particular job and that Summitt would be the safest hire available. She considered it but kept turning it down.

I think women should help women,” Summit said. A good reason, but there was a better one.

I wouldn’t want people to think I looked at the men’s game as a step up.”

It wasn’t. But it remains a concrete ceiling. If it were glass, a woman could at least see the path to coaching a men’s team. Imagine the fun, if Summitt had decided to burst through it. ” (Source)

And maybe we should take a lesson from Pat’s book.

  1. Women should be helping women.
  2. Let’s stop acting like their “world” is a step-up.

I must say this article is really less about Hillary, but my views on how women should go about supporting each other. Let’s try to hold each other to the right standard and support them in the same way we support men. Let’s stop holding ourselves to a higher and more unrealistic standard, and stop burdening ourselves for no apparent reason. We make mistakes, we are human. If we aren’t forgiving our fellow women then we probably aren’t forgiving ourselves. And trust me, men are not thinking twice about it, and moving on to the next thing.

M/P

Can We Talk about Consent?

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“There is no policy too sensitive to question, and no subject so taboo that you cannot even mention it”  – Lee Hsien Long

I can tell you I feel a little uncomfortable writing about this, but it continues to be a problem. I was appalled by the case of pop singer Kesha, who is unable to get out of a contract obligation with her producer who,according to the pop star, raped her and the biggest takeaway is that they think she is lying. (source). Of course, the court doesn’t say that explicitly. The article states:

“The judge said that granting the singer’s request to nullify her deal would undermine the state’s laws governing contracts and the court couldn’t do that.”

The court wouldn’t make a person stay in a contract if they believe she was in harm or danger. But they obviously think she is in no harm or danger, and just wants to get out of the contract, and using her lady parts as an excuse. She probably had sex with him to advance her career. Of course. Oh, wait, did I mention she is considered a party girl, and sings about it? (source). To me, this is saying that her consent doesn’t and didn’t matter. What people and what the judge believes, is all that matters. And that is why I am here.

I want to write about consent, because there are not enough of us, who have never  been sexually assaulted, talking about the issue, talking about our close calls. That’s right, not all women, but a lot of women in my generation, may have hung out with a guy who we thought was cute, and we had no intention of having sex with them. We may have kissed a little too long, but we got the courage to say that we didn’t go any further, they got it, and they stopped. Not because they are superheroes, because that’s what you are supposed to do. The thing that cannot be highlighted enough, is that we are in control of our bodies, and when we are with a guy this should respected no matter what. Now, Amber Rose gave an example a couple of weeks ago on Tyrese and Rev Run’s show on Oprah’s network that might be a little too raw and uncut so people would easily disagree with her. She takes it all the way to the point that even if you’re naked with a man, and then you decide to not have sex, no is no. And the reality is why it isn’t enough? Now, I have discussed this with several people, men and women, and I find that they think Amber Rose’s example goes too far. That if you allow yourself to be naked in front of a man, what do you think he is going to do?

Here, look at the clip.

If you think that a guy should just be able to have a go when they’re naked, what is different when they are clothed? If a girl tells a guy she wants to have sex with clothes on, and changes her mind, what does having clothes or not having clothes on make a difference? To some extent we are saying men have no control of themselves and we should let them have a go anywhere or that the women deserves it? I think they need to exercise some self-control, we let them run some of the most important parts of our lives and country.

So let me take it out of that extreme example.

When I was in law school, my first year, I had a boyfriend. We were still getting adjusted to a long distance relationship. He was slightly the jealous type, but not when we were in the city, in fact, he wasn’t clingy at all, so when I went off to law school, I thought he’d be fine, no problem. Well, not so much and when I would go out, he was one annoying person even when I was just trying to hang with my girlfriends. So one day, I was tired of it, and slightly stressed out about law school and we were fighting quite a bit so I went out with a few girlfriends. I met a guy, a tall, dark and handsome guy, and I may have had too much to drink, and at the time, I wasn’t much of a drinker so when he asked to come over, I was flattered, and hesitantly gave him my address.

After we left the bar, he came over and we were having good conversation, but the alcohol was waning. We eventually started kissing, but my mind was already changing. Talking to him, made me miss my boyfriend at the time. I forgot to mention, even though I invited him over, this was the first time I had ever done this. And I remember how I felt when he tried to push me further and I wasn’t feeling it. I was terrified, and I realized I potentially put myself in a dangerous situation. Why? Because here was this man who was 6’2”, maybe 6’3”, in good shape and everything, and I was worried that he could make me do anything. Eventually, he got the picture with no problem, and went and slept on my couch till the morning. As I laid on my bed, I prayed and was extremely thankful. Because the reality is that it could’ve went really left. Like, it really could’ve been me, and it would’ve been all my fault, because I let him in. But no. The guy accepted my non-consent, and that’s what missing in the conversation. There are plenty of men who understand what no is, so the ones who don’t, they don’t get a pass. THEY DO NOT GET A PASS. If I was in a similar situation, with a guy who didn’t accept my no, why would it be my fault if I am subsequently was raped. (Feel free to explain otherwise in my comment section)

So with any movement there is always a need to allies. I find that a lot of advocates involved with sexual violence are people who have experienced it themselves. What about all the women who have made it through without being attacked? Regardless if you have been in a situation such as myself or you have had sex with one person your whole life, we need more people (men and women) who have never sexually and physically assaulted, especially those who have gone out on a date, and said no.

And then there’s this thing called….VICTIM BLAMING…

It’s one thing when men victim blame but I see a number of women who victim blame, like WHAT?!?! But do you know why? Because it hasn’t happened to them. And that’s the problem. A women who is snatched while walking to her car is the same as the person who is just making out with a guy she likes who doesn’t understand no. We have to stop making concessions for certain situations. We have to continue to push what consent really is, and make sure our boys and girls, men and women get it, therefore, we must continue to talk about it.

More than anything about us understanding consent, there is a special place in hell for women who make up allegations about rape. On March 13th, ESPN will premiere it’s 30 for 30 documentary called, “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke Lacrosse Team rape scandal. I am not by any means speaking to anyone’s innocence and guilt, but the whole situation didn’t help women at all. This isn’t an election where Hillary Clinton wants all the women to support her. Anyone could be in the position of being physically assaulted. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re just one experience from it happening to you. Regardless if it’s sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or anything else. Just because it hasn’t happen to you, because for every women who is victim blamed is one more validation that we are the problem and aren’t control of ourselves and our experiences.

M/P

Oh Me, Oh My: My Journey To Get In Touch With My Inner Girl

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“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I just got off of vacation and I really wanted to write about my experience and all the things I learned, but my mind decided to fight me and make me write about something, I promised I would never write about, but here it goes. Beauty. Fashion. All the things girly. Yeah, I never imagined writing about anything around the subject, because there are so many more pressing issues in the world, but as I delve into the evaluation of feminism or just simply watching how Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are being treated differently as women, I can’t help but think on these things to some degree. This is what makes a woman, we are layered, and even when we try to avoid certain experiences they sometimes still seem to creep in on us. What we look like still matters just as much as what it’s in our mind, if not more so, unfortunately. So I am in the middle of a feminine revelation, or shall I say transformation. Yes, America, the #1 tomboy has started doing things a little different and I feel compelled to kind of talk about it. I promise at times I was annoyed in writing this…How dare we be defined by a social norm. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s just say I have subscribed to the notion, that being “girly” is a thing and it looks a certain way.

So I have a lot of girly friends. Why? I am not sure and I really don’t know why, opposites attract, maybe? I am a bona fide Tom Boy, and I have a number of really good guy friends too. Not to mention my brothers and I are really close and they taught me everything that I know about sports and in fact, I always love to brag that I know more sports than the average man.

When I went to college that was the first time that I had to face the reality that I didn’t do a number of things that normal girls do. (Well, actually the first time I had to really deal with this is when I was 11 and was mistaken for a boy), but for the first time living with women other than my mother was a culture shock.

Now, of course, there are no absolutes, but there were a number of things, girly things, that I didn’t do. I won’t mention them cause who wants to be that transparent. To further take me down the road of girliness in college, I joined a sorority. Sometimes, outside of the amazing relationships that I’ve built, how did I manage that? Sometimes I used to feel like an impostor when it comes to “girl” things. What is a purse, why were heels even made, make-up – that’s for clowns, right? I used to feel like life would be easier if I were a man. And not because of the obvious benefits men get, but my personality, demeanor and my likes and dislikes used to be very much geared similar to that of a typical male. Heck, GQ is still my favorite magazine (I mean the articles are good and it’s full of half-naked men). I couldn’t even name more than 3 woman magazines.

So over the last few months, I decided to pamper myself, doing things like maintaining my nails, wearing make-up regularly, keeping my eyebrows on point, being dutiful in cooking and cleaning around my place, and diligently eating healthier and exercising. Oh, and my hair has been on point (most of the time). Growing up, with the exception of hair, things like this I was never taught to focus on. It was always about education, be strong, and fight for your rightful place in the world. I have never gone shopping with my mother, nor have we have ever made a trip to a nail salon or things of that nature.

*Enters my first real relationship (with a boy)*

So to only complicate the situation, the first guy I dated, was very much high maintenance. He would always take longer to get ready then I would. He definitely liked a kind of women who was well manicured, done up from head to toe. Over those 7 years, I tried to do it. I failed miserably over and over. We were in a long distance relationship after I left college (thank GOD), and I would go through a mini-transformation every 3 months when we would see each other. I would always tell myself, I would keep my nails done, hair laid, but nope, that rarely happened. I was never comfortable. I never enjoyed getting done up. It was very robotic to me.

*end of my relationship*

So 7 years later, I was free, the inner tom boy came back with a mad vengeance. I still liked to dress cute and do my hair occasionally, but I think over the following year or so, I rarely touched make-up, didn’t keep my nails looking decent, or even appropriately put jewelry together. For a period, I was going through the loss of a relationship so I wasn’t being horribly judged, and since I wasn’t really dating, I got several passes. As time went on, I wanted to start dating again, and I befriended some new male friends who provided me with a new perspective (that I am not sure I agree), but for the purpose of this article, it is the thesis statement and basis of this article.

This idea that most men (heterosexual) do like women who keep up a certain maintenance, because they can’t help but be visual, and it’s not from a place of shallowness, but why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself together and healthy?

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This “maintenance” involves maintaining healthy habits with exercise and maintaining certain “feminine” social norms (yes, I’m cringing as I write this). I personally feel like I should be able to do whatever the hell I want, and I should be accepted in that matter. But I decided to think I was wrong, and started making small changes, and began this transformation, and guess what I found.  I have completely different interactions with the opposite sex, with men I know and men I don’t know. But even more so I have different interactions with women too, even in my professional space. I have worn make-up more often to work, and see the differences in the interactions, and it’s puzzling to me. What does this mean? Am I not the same person, behind the make-up, clothes and nails?

When I used to look at famous people, who after hitting a certain level of stardom and maybe were a little over weight, they ALWAYS lose weight if they can. The reality is that people treat you different, and if I am not saying it directly, they seem to treat you better. Yes, I said it, and whatever that might look like to you. And I get that, but I was just raised differently. That the external just means less. That focusing on my appearance says nothing about you. I have met a number of women who focus on all those things, and not much else, and when they gain a little weight or circumstances make maintaining that look difficult, they are lost, and obsess over their appearance, because their interactions rise and fall based on their appearance and it’s sad.

I was fortunate not have to deal with these issues for a very long time, and I am very happy that it only took me 3 months out of my life, but I, like most women have to at some point in their life, wrestle with the social norms of femininity as it relates to being a women and what it means. I will never forget the first time Hilary Clinton ran for President and they were having legit discussions about pant versus skirt suits in regards to her “femininity”. It. was. disgusting. (and let’s not forget, I am not a Hilary Fan, unless you attack her womanhood, homey don’t play that). But I will tell you all this, I have enjoyed getting my nails, getting to have a “nail” lady, and trying new things with makeup and getting compliments from men and women alike.

But what I have learned, which I am sure many of you all guessed, but that it’s really about balance and there is no right answer. You can go overboard with anything, focusing too much on your outer appearance or you can look so bad that no one wants to be your friend. But it really is more than that. That this journey is one of the million things that makes our experience as women different and AWESOME. We produce strong young men and women, because we have to juggle so many different norms. That men don’t get to have the complicated and interesting life that women get to lead. Yes, I just said that. That we have to challenge ourselves, question ourselves more than they do especially in 2016. There is still a struggle with roles for women in the workplace, in the home and in relationships. Whether there is a spiritual component or not in your thinking, women are questioned about the way they parent, the fact they have no kids, are we too emotional or not having enough emotion, so that we are considered a bitch, and the list goes on.

I will never subscribe to this idea that I have to look a certain way to get the attention or affection of a man, but being pampered, getting in touch with my inner girl was and IS nice, but it is my friends, not mandatory to be kick ass. Being kick ass is just what women do whether you are or not in touch with your inner girl. So just do that. Kick-Ass!

M/P

 

 

 

How Ignorant is Your Bliss (The Monday Fits)

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“I say there is no darkness but ignorance.”   William Shakespeare


It’s been a while since I’ve been actually upset for a Monday Fit, but I am today and I have been fuming for quite a bit. I posted only a quote from Ms. Virginia Woolf last week, because I hadn’t quite formed my thoughts into my brain, because all I could see was red. One of my goals with my blog is to write about a variety of subjects, ideas, and perspectives, but lately, I find my life experiences lead me to similar subjects in a new way. Someone has gotten me all fired up again about fairness when it comes to women, and why feminism is important. I know, you’ve heard me say this, but this story is a little different. Unfortunately it seems thay when we focus on a minority for too long, there is always that one person asking, “What about the majority group”, are we being unfair to them”:

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As if the majority needs a helping hand, puh-lease. So I was out to eat with several people to celebrate the release of a fictional novel. During this celebration, a person, who was female ( unfortunately),  began discussing that many of the stories nowadays involve only female heroines. If you look at the recent obsession with Katniss (from the Hunger Games series) or Veronica (from the Divergent series), among many others, that is correct. These novels are geared towards young girls, but have taken the nation by surprise and are international sellers. Even the beloved Vampire love story, Twilight, for most of the series was written through the eyes of Bella, the female teenager at the beginnging of the story. But as this lady was pointing out this fact, she said, “Where are all the stories for young boys, they need something to read”.  My mouth dropped instantly, I kind of gave the “what the heck” face, and with my most controlled voice, I barked back with, “Are you kidding me, I mean a few recent stories, isn’t compared to the focus of young boys over the last, I don’t know, one hundred plus years…” then I paused looked at the table of 11, some were not in ear shot, but the few people who were listening in, I kind of got the sense that I was the crazy person at the table. So I ended with the, “maybe it’s just me, but there are plenty of stories about young boys, there’s no comparison”, and preceeded to drop the discussion. Cause the way my brain is set up, I just don’t do ignorance.

Now at the time, my statement was just as un-researched as hers, but I knew I would do my due diligence. But facts or no facts, I truly thought it was reasonable to think that her statement was absolutely ridiculous. As a woman, in my opinion, it was even more ridiculous. But the part that gets me most upset, is that I was the only person upset about it. Just off the top of your head, if you just think about the last 20 years, the most famous novel for kids has been none other than Harry stinking Potter, whose popularity is unmatched.

I promise that I don’t like to get passionate or angry, but you see what I have to deal with at a table full of educated people, especially in this information age. It amazes me what people don’t know, so I am going to show you the information that is out there but we’d rather be ignorant. In my little search, I found some interesting statistics involving children’s books, comics, and movies.

 Children’s Stories

In 2011, results from a study published in “Gender & Society”, called Gender in Twentieth-Century Children’s Books. The study looked at Caldecott award-winning books, the well-known US book series Little Golden Books and extensive book listing the Children’s Catalog. (source) The study released stated that, “children’s books are dominated by male central character”, and the research has found the gender disparity was sending children a message that “women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys”.(source) Looking at almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000, the study, led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University, found that males are central characters in 57% of children’s books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters.(source) Male animals are central characters in 23% of books per year, the study found, while female animals star in only 7.5%. (source)

The study goes on to say that the gender disparity came close to disappearing by the 1990s for human characters in children’s books, with a ratio of 0.9 to 1 for child characters and 1.2 to 1 for adult characters, it remained for animal characters, with a “significant disparity” of nearly two to one. So there has been progress, but guess where it was happening, “The study found that the 1930s to 1960s, the period between waves of feminist activism, exhibits greater disparities than earlier and later periods”. (source)

And you wonder why I say feminism matters….

 Comics

Although I like comics, I rarely read them, but as I was looking into gender disparity in publications I happened upon this gem, called “Women in Refrigerators”. If you haven’t heard what this is specifically, feel free to look deeper.  But it was “a website that was created in 1999 by a group of comic book fans that feature a list of female comic book characters that have been injured, killed, or depowered as a plot device within various superhero comic books, and seeks to analyze why these plot devices are used disproportionately on female characters. (source) Gail Simone, the named founder, was  sick of seeing “superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator.”

 What’s interesting after Simone and the the group started women in refrigerators, of course, there was backlash. Now I am all for the critiquing of new ideas, so if their premise about women being disproportionately mistreated in comic books was wrong, let’s hear it. Well , much to the delight of Women in Refrigerators,  “Dead Men Defrosting” was created to show that not only is it not true for men, it’s quite the opposite.  Comic fan John Bartol explains, “In cases where males heroes have been altered or appear to die they usually come back even better than before, either power-wise or in terms of character development/relevancy to the reader.”

 Simone also responded to this criticism by saying, “First, there’s [always been] a larger selection of male characters, so a handful killed made barely a ripple. Second, they didn’t seem to be killed in the same way—they tended to die heroically, to go down fighting. Whereas in many cases, the superLADIES were simply found on the kitchen table already carved up.” (source)

Now this interested me, because it opened my eyes a little about not just looking at the surface of who is being feature more, men or women, but also what content is being written about them. oh, there is more…

 Movies

The Bechdel Test, coined in 1985, by American Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. In some tests, the requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added. Originally conceived for evaluating films, the Bechdel test is now used as an indicator of gender bias in all forms of fiction. Almost half (50%) of all contemporary films fail the test, and critics have noted that the test is most informative when applied in the aggregate, because individual works may pass or fail the test for reasons unrelated to sexism. In film, a study of gender portrayals in 855 of the most financially successful U.S. films from 1950 to 2006 showed that there were, on average, two male characters for each female character, a ratio that remained stable over time. Female characters were portrayed as being involved in sex twice as often as male characters, and their proportion of scenes with explicit sexual content increased over time. Violence increased over time in male and female characters alike. (Source)
So what’s the point?
I think we do ourselves a disservice that when a group of people are
disenfranchised and we choose to highlight, focus, or put all of our
energies on that group, those actions are criticized. I would agree
that focusing solely on any one population or subgroup is bad. If all
the ivy league schools started only accepting minorities and completing
shutting out every single white person who applied and did this for years, of
course it’s clear, this is wrong. But if the ivy leagues selected minorities in large amounts, say 50% of the selected applicants, there would be some unhappy people and the credentials of all the selected applicants would come into question. Because the reality is most people are uncomfortable with the majority
(by number or by power) being overshadowed by the minority.
I would go as far as to say that’s with males that are successful in
predominately female occupations or whites that are successful in hip
hop music, both of those examples are hugely discredited in relation to
the majority in the field. And I think we are even more uncomfortable with segments of the population that have been disenfranchised for longer periods of time such as women or African-Americans.

So as a few women put the “pen to the pad”, and created stories about heroic young ladies, there really is no need to even consider the increase in women in novels as it relates to men.
What it really speaks to is that even WOMEN are afraid to be focused
on, to take the focus off of men, to show how awesome and amazing women are, and that’s the real tradegy. That’s what this whole leaning in phenonmen is all about, even if we stop the men from “holding us” back (whatever that means), we
still choose to hold ourselves back. Let’s not be ignornat, cause this
ain’t bliss.

The Monday Fits: First World Faux Pas All Around

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As the year closes, there a number of different topics that I find bubbling up in my mind. But what I find that happens all too often, are the issues that are most important, where the passion overflows are closer to “first-world problems” than pressing matters. You know the problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders roll their eyes. These really trivial problems are often seen on Facebook or Twitter, and can be viewed on this website  Here, and the posts kind of look like this,  “I have too much cash in my wallet and it hurts my butt when I sit. #FML #FWP”.

So what topics am I talking about? For one, feminism infiltrates my mind on an everyday basis ( and I write about it too) as I am slowly trying to find a way to conquer the world. More specifically, as a 28 year old, with many friends getting married, having babies, and a divorce here and there, it is difficult not to talk about the social constructs that try to govern my life, and every other female’s every move.  These social constructs cause a room full of professional women in their late 20’s and early 30’s to have intense conversations about marriage, to have or not to have kids, and how it affects our work/home lives. At times, depending on your profession and your regional location, there are certain expectations placed on you either explicitly or implicitly. I find it frustrating as I maneuver through my professional career, and want to decipher and analyze…and there is a but…

When I sit down to write about this, i feel conflicted, as there are so many problems elsewhere, such as #blacklivesmatter, airplanes disappearing, Boko Haram, and Ebola is not quite gone yet, and not to mention there are people fighting for their basic freedoms (click here). Not to mention I had a recent conversation about how Americans’ views on feminism can also be considered a first-world problem.

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Yep, that’s what was said. But as the conversation continued, I slightly understood the point; reaching perfect equality between the sexes is the goal but perfection is unobtainable. Therefore, if we never made another advancement for ourselves, and women were only capable of reaching the heights that have currently been made, there are some pretty awesome people running companies, industries and governments and compared to many other countries that would love to have some our successes and freedoms. However, it is not enough for us (i.e. maternity leave – click here), and it shouldn’t be, but we can’t become too consumed with these type of problems that we don’t take the time out to look at other problems surrounding us. That is why the critique of the people involved in the protests surrounding the #blacklivesmatter still bothers me to this day.  People complain that millennials are not involved and when they are, they criticize their actions. (Of course, there are always bad apples in a bag). If we, Millennials, have the capacity to have an opinion and to take a position, we should stand for what want… but there are so many critics ABOUT everything from every side, criticism is the true cash cow in the country these days.

Let’s review a couple of stories from this week, where a number of people were in arms about something: “‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts Banned From High School Basketball Tournament” (source) , “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Stands His Ground After Offending Christians On Twitter” (source), and “Hundreds Turn Their Back on de Blasio at NYPD Officer’s Funeral” (source) . Now I am sure, at least ONE of those stories offended almost every one of my readers, but honestly, I am offended that in each situation there was so much push back. In each situation, there is a group of people who feels disrespected, and I completely understand that, but what happened to the first amendment. No seriously, what happened to the First Amendment? I get that critics have the right to speak back, as much as the people who take the original actions, but at times its as if the reaction gets more play than the original action.

In the story of the high schoolers, a girls and boys basketball team wanted to wear the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, and were not allowed to participate in a tournament unless they agreed to not wear the shirts. All the boy players agreed to not wear the shirts, except one who stood his ground, and the girls squad were not able to field a team, because most of them refused to be told not to wear the shirt! This is exactly what we should be fostering, is young people speaking out. The fact they wanted to shut out these kids voices is a problem. It may be a first-world problem, but the struggles within their communities are definitely not first-world problems, racial inequality should be less amongst an educated nation. But the reality, America with all of it’s first world problems, really does have a few third-world problems in certain areas that need to not go unnoticed: gun violence, wealth inequality… and of course, criminal justice.

“We all know the U.S. criminal justice system is flawed, but few are likely aware of just how bad it is compared to the rest of the world. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That’s significantly worse than Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000 citizens), China (121) and Iran (284). The only country that incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than we do is North Korea. The U.S. is also the only developed country that executes prisoners – and our death penalty has a serious race problem: 42 percent of those on death row are black, compared to less than 15 percent of the overall population.” (source) 

We definitely have a lot of first world problems that seem trivial, and unimportant in the scheme of things, but we have some major problems that are pretty Third-World in THIS country, let’s not shut out our millennial voices, OR for the simple fact our right to free speech and expression shouldn’t be a problem.

 

The Fight For Our American Dream

Web

A·mer·i·can dream

noun
  1. the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.

The origins of the American Dream are unknown, but this underlying theme has lasted with America for over 200 years dating back to the colonial time period. It is engrained in the very fabric of this country. And there are some people who believe that we all have the same road to the American dream and that all we need is hard work, determination, and initiative. For the most part, this is true, if you do these three things, it happens. But the reality is that we don’t all have the same road, because we don’t have the same starting place, never have and to be honest, we never will. But that’s okay. Is Warren Buffett’s achievement of his American Dream any less than Oprah’s, probably not; every son of an investor/congressman did not have his successes. But let’s not act like Oprah’s pursuit of her American Dream was not more challenging. No one is saying being born into a certain family is wrong, but we cannot negate the fact that there are some challenges certain groups of people have to face. That is what diversity is all about, and learning to first understand those differences actually helps us move beyond them, but do you know what doesn’t:

ignoring that these differences exist or

separating ourselves based on these differences, because we only need to be around people who “understand” us.

No one will understand you, if you don’t tell them. When I hear people complain about close-minded people, and that it’s not their job to bring diversity to them, you should ask Martin Luther King if he would trade you jobs…. I can hear him now, “All you had to do is talk to someone, maybe several times, be a little uncomfortable, and make an honest effort to help make them understand, and you couldn’t do that, WHAT?”

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Since I began blogging, I have not written directly about diversity, because it’s what I do in my day job, but I find it so improperly defined and viewed in America that we will never fix our problems with race, sex, or religion if we continue to separate ourselves or act like if we ignore it, and it will go away.

So what does the American Dream have to do with this?

Women often have a different road to the American Dream, and when, we as women embrace the differences it makes reaching the goal easier and more attainable. That’s really what feminism is truly about, it’s not that we want to be separate, but our ability to reach the American Dream is just different, and that’s okay. And we have to keep talking about our struggles and successes. I came to this idea, because there continues to be so much talk about feminism, I can’t help but think about it on a regular basis. As a young single woman, with a good education, and no kids, I think about it quite often, whether it’s other people’s perceptions I face, the questions I have to answer to, and the seats I’ve been told to take, and wait my turn. I can firmly say I believe that my life experiences would be very different if I were a man. I don’t think this is true for all women. There are areas that we, as women, have successfully navigated without as much trouble. However, I believe there are areas that we are still forced to break the glass ceiling, so yes, I believe feminism is part of that answer.

So I ask myself, why DO people have such a problem with this idea of feminism. And then it hit me: The American Dream. That’s what we are all striving for, as Americans. Achieving the American dream is different for each person, but to some extent everyone has dreams of success, and this success looks very different for each person, it could be measured in money, family, fame, notoriety, respect, salvation, or even legacy. The idea of the American dream dates back to the beginning of our country’s origin. Settlers came to America for their freedom and to be successful in their own right.

Now the reality is that for people to really obtain and achieve the American Dream there has to be a reasonable amount of people not reaching for it or failing to obtain the American Dream. Over the years, the number of people trying to reach for the American Dream has increased as America’s population has grown, and the number of different groups  striving for a seat at the table has also grown. As the numbers increased, those who had already achieved the American Dream were skeptical, presented challenges to the new groups every step of the way… we can look back to the Germans, Catholics, Italians, African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics, women and so on. And I’m not just talking about majority who are not cooperative, minority groups can become just as combative, because someone is trying to take a piece of their pie. Now I am not saying that these people feel threatened because they are racists, bigots, or sexists (although some may be), when someone is crouching on your territory, it is only natural to have a negative reaction.

That’s what I would say about the reaction to Emma Watson’s speech at the United Nations a few weeks ago. Here you have a young lady, fresh out of an educational institution, using her influence to create an initiative “to galvanize one billion men and boys as advocates for ending the inequalities that women and girls face globally”. (Source) Sounds, positive, right? Yet, there was such a negative reaction to her speech. Why? She was asking a whole segment of people to give up a little piece of their pie, and not just in America, but around the globe. And that’s the problem. Most successful people, especially women, didn’t ask, they just did it, even if they had to climb insurmountable obstacles. So let’s embrace the idea that we are not all given equal opportunity, but we are given an opportunity, and no one will give it to us. What we do with the opportunity, is really up to us.  The opportunity to continue to break barriers, and change the minds and hearts of those around us, is in our hands.

If we just look at a microcosm of women, you see a variety of differences that are truly beautiful. We have different dreams and goals. There are some of us who want to be the next CEO of a major company, or handle the small, quaint shop in a little country town; there are some of us who want to reach the highest point in their career while remaining a good and attentive parent, or taking care of the family and the household full-time. What none of us want to be inhibited from is pursuing our destiny, our American Dream.  But we must not ask for it, we must take it.

M/P


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FLAWED: Society’s Critique on Beyonce and Feminism

Bey, Politics, and Feminism “Okay, I promise I’m not a feminist. Well, I mean I am a feminist based on the definition, but I don’t want to be called a feminist, because I’m not a man hating, over-sexed, abortion pushing, I need my birth control free kind of woman,” – For starters, feminism has never been about any of those things, and if you think it is, just stop reading, and go read a history book. Many of those stereotypes have manifested based on actions of a small minority, and many men (and women) choose to focus on negatives and improperly define what a feminist is. However, what’s more frustrating are women and feminists who limit what the definition of a feminist can be;  No one group or person should define what feminism is for everyone.

Cues Beyoncé

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Beyoncé’s performance at the VMAs introduced feminism into everyday conversations on a whole new level for this generation. One of the reasons I personally find the conversations about feminism exhausting at times is everyone wants to start from a different place or definition, including the stereotypes listed in my introductory paragraph. However, the generally accepted definition is simple and straightforward: “feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending a state of equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women.” (Link)

Feminism isn’t something new, and Beyoncé calling herself a feminist is not new for her. Growing up with Beyoncé, and despite what people want to say, Beyoncé has always been a feminist in her mind, chipping away at the barriers that she faced as a talented black female who embraces her sexuality. Do I like all the images she puts out? No. But does it make her any less of a feminist? Not necessarily.

For a young black woman coming out of Houston with a pursuit of being a star, she has undeniably helped define, establish and defend a state of equality for women who want to be in her position. Too bad it doesn’t apply to everyone, and appeal to everyone, and it shouldn’t. Just like Sheryl Sandberg, a woman I deeply admire, doesn’t have the same view of what being a feminist is, as her experiences are very different from mine, and there are parts of “Lean In”, that I don’t agree with, but I don’t go stomping around saying she’s not a feminist.

Feminism can’t mean the same thing for each person, and we shouldn’t expect it to. Feminism isn’t a cookie-cutter word that can be applied in a perfect little box, and I know that I am not the first person to say that, or have the thought. But yet, we find our selves trying to apply it. Isn’t that why the second-wave of feminism started? Women were tired of their life’s sole purpose was finding a man, becoming a stay at home mom who was dependent on their husbands. Well, there isn’t a problem with being a stay-at-home mom, the problem was that they wanted ALL women to do just that; it’s the same as requiring ALL women to work and not allowing women to stay in their home and raise their children. Its ridiculous, right?

Now I am not trying to over simply feminism as if there weren’t principles that shaped and defined the three movements and some of those principles still reign true.  However, I think feminism has to take a different course. Women are a diverse group of people, and reaching that equality is not the same for all of us. More importantly, we need to stop focusing on what a feminist should look like, and rather seek and find answers for problems that continue to keep us from obtaining equality in certain areas, like… the lack of women in politics.

There is no denying that there are not enough women in office in our state, and national offices for either party. Regardless of whether the numbers of the men to women ratio is contested, when you LOOK at the numbers, it’s quite depressing.

Let’s spit some facts for real quick from 2013: Link

  • Only 18.5% members of Congress are women
  • 20 female senators, or 20% (16 Democrats, 4 Republicans).
  • 79 female Representatives, or 18.2% (60 Democrats, 19 Republicans).
  • In our state legislatures, only 24.1 percent of the legislatures  [Now, that’s for the entire country,  in case you missed it.] Colorado has the highest percentage of females in state legislative office with 41%, while Louisiana has the lowest at 11.1%.

And if we look internationally, in 2014, the United States ranked 84th in worldwide female leadership, which is 15 spots down from 2008 when we were ranking 69th, so it seems like we’ve gotten worse. (Source: Inter-parliamentary Union of Geneva)

The numbers are clear that women are either not running for office or simply not winning elections.  And it is mostly because we can be our own worst enemy. Women candidates are more likely to be scrutinized (by women), receive less donations than their male counterparts (from men, and yeah, women), and generally, have more commentary about their work/life balance; when men are not asked or questioned in that manner at all. Now clearly there are women, who successfully run for office, and win, so why does it matter that we need more women? The age old response is why not have more? But it’s true. We as a sex are in denial that it is okay for us to be less represented. We should be encouraging woman to speak out and up, and actually support them, and it has nothing to do with taking anything from men, but we should want it for ourselves.

For this article, I braved the internet to read “Women against Feminism”, and I’m all for free speech, so no, I don’t think the site needs to come down. But I do believe many of the responses were disturbing, because some of these women are truly misinformed.  There are women day-in and day-out whether in their professional, social, or at-home life that are not treated equally, fighting for their piece of the pie, because there are still real barriers. Just look at Beyoncé?

Beyoncé, love her or hater her, is such a force to be reckoned with, conversations about her success should be able to occur that don’t implicate or attribute a large part of her success in some form to Jay-Z.  Many blame her good girl gone bad switch was based on his corrupting; that her star power would not have reached heights without him; and he truly IS the businessman. And this all may be true, but Beyonce was writing lyrics before she met Jay-Z, Beyoncé’s bank account is bigger, she’s the one performing at the Super Bowl, for the Presidential inauguration, she can sell out her own shows, and can release an album with no publicity and sell millions; yet, we have to find some way to give Jay Z credit some for her success, and all we attribute to Jay-Z’s crossover to mainstream is that Beyoncé changed his sense of style and living habits. And when I say we, I mean these are comments from women, some from feminists! This is because we are systemically flawed.

Women, we have to take what is ours and be proud, and shouldn’t have to be concerned what men or even feminists, are going to say. But most importantly, let’s not put feminism in a box either, because we will never reach equality hiding. Beyonce doesn’t and shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

M/P