More Pithy Observation

Why is it that so many people think that for a woman to be self-actualized and equal — in the workplace, in the home, in her sexuality — she has to act like a man? I don’t see how sleeping with a bunch of men and ignoring them later makes me any stronger or wiser. I don’t see how shattering the glass ceiling by working ridiculous hours and ignoring my children gives me any sort of independence. I don’t see how ignoring household chores and letting my children care for themselves before they really understand who they are offers me freedom. So often what is held up as equality isn’t equal at all, it’s reduction of the female self to an outdated patriarchal view of how the world ought to operate. And I’m simply not on board with it.

That’s all.

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Blue Valentine

I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out.  The thing was depressing and I could not get into it.  I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it.  Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video.  I’m glad that I did.

Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship.  It brings back memories.  Funny, they caught  the things in the beginning that would go wrong later.  Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight.  The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you.  You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster.  In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew.  I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work.  At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.

The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too.  There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster.  She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning.  The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu.  The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy?  What the hell, indeed.

There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them.  However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy.  I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in.  Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it.  Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that.  I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway.  One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.

Mail Order Bride

I went from nothing to do to too much to do in the space of a day.  It’s weird how life can go like that.  I’ve been working at this costume shop for a little extra cash before I leave this island.  It’s so boring most of the time, I can hardly stand it.  Yesterday there were a lot of customers, but most of the time, it’s sitting around staring at the piles of stuff in there.  The shop is crazy stuffed with costumes and junk. Some of them are so beautiful and elegant, but others are so crappy, I can’t imagine anyone will ever touch them.  A few days ago, just to ease the boredom, I started combing wigs. The place is filled with wigs, hundreds of them. They are fun to comb.  I like the transition from crack whore tangles to silky smoothness.

Finding costumes for people can be fun, especially people who are willing to get into it and find something interesting to wear.  Some of them though, can be so yuck. Today, for instance, this toady little man came in with his wife.  She was Thai, her body childlike and tiny.  He was short, heavyset, in his early 20’s, with tatoos on his arms.  He wanted her to have a “sexy” costume for work on Halloween. I did not ask what “work” was, but gathered from things they said that it was in the sex industry.

Nothing the woman tried on satisfied the man. Most of our smallest costumes were too large for her and the children’s costumes weren’t sexy enough (um, yeah).  So she’s putting things on and taking them off and anything that looks good, he says no.  He kept talking on his mobile phone, acting self-important to be doing so.  She’s looking through things, finding stuff she likes, taking it to him, only to have him shake his head no, vetoing costumes as either too big or not “sexy” enough.  At one point, the other girl who works in the shop and I were chatting about Whole Foods Market.  We laughed because I called it Whole Paycheck.  I said, That store is so expensive.  It’s a total ripoff. Toady Man, upon hearing this, walks over by a rack of clothes and, honest to god, pulls out a wad of cash and starts counting it right there in the store!  He peeled back fifties and hundreds, counting the wad several times to ensure we saw how much money he had.  What a fucking idiot.

I giggled to the other employee and rolled my eyes. After a bit, he went outside to talk again on the phone while his wife shopped.  We finally convinced her to try on a cute and very short Egyptian, Cleopatra style dress.  It was kind of plain, with a gold cord that wraps around and around.  We accessorized her with a snake hair ornament, arm bands, strappy sandals, and a fantastic brass neck piece.  She looked pretty amazing, considering every other item she had attempted to wear made her look like a child trying to dress as a hooker.  She even seemed excited at the possibility, a happy glint in her eye apparent for the first time since she had walked in the door nearly an hour previous.

Dressed and smiling, pleased at last to have found a costume that seemed to show enough skin for her husband while looking cool at the same time, she walked out for the verdict.  We heard voices, his raised, hers contrite.  Minutes later she came back into the store and told us he did not like it. She apologized as she removed the jewelry and costume and put back on her clothes.  No problem, we told her.

After they left in their giant black Escalade, I could not stop thinking of that horrible man with his wad of money, obscene car, and mail-order Thai wife whom he sought to dress in as slutty an outfit as possible.  Everything about him made me cringe.  He was desperate to show just how important he was, how much more money he had than us pitiful costume store employees who complained about the cost of Whole Foods.  His wife seemed unhappy, trying desperately the entire time we were in the place to please him, but he would have none of it.  Yuck.  He was reprehensible.

Thinking on it later, I realized that she is likely in a quite precarious position.  Married as she is, if something happens and she is no longer married to him, she would probably have to return to her native country.  I realize I am speculating, but it is easy enough to imagine this being less than desireable for her, a means for him to control everything she does.  Marriages like this one are legalized sex slavery.  If she doesn’t want to return home, this man has control over her, it’s as simple as that. Anyway, I don’t know the whole story.  I could only take away my observations, and what I saw was pitiful. I hope this woman achieves in her life all she desires.  I hope for her sake if her story is as I imagine it, she is able to find a way to live her life in spite of her husband and find happiness.  I wish her well.

Smitten

I’m completely smitten.  Okay, here’s an aside.  How is it that a person who reads as many books as I do, who loves words and word origins, who loves language actually, can have gone through life and not known that smitten is a past participle of smite?  How is this?  I am completely pitiful.  I should have known this.  I knew its use as an adjective, as in struck with a hard blow, grievously afflicted, and very much in love.  I knew these definitions.  I did not put together that the very much in love use was metaphoric for being struck.  Cupid’s arrow and all that.  I make these discoveries that there are so many things I do not know.  Sometimes they seem so obvious, I wonder how it is I came this far in life and did not know them.  It’s like driving down the same road every day your entire life and suddenly noticing a gas station that has been there for years.  Duh.

Missing is So Unkind

What possible biological basis can there have been for us to evolve a mechanism that allows us to feel like a limb has been removed when we miss another human being?  Is it truly only the mating sequence? Why couldn’t our biology be content to know another mate will someday take the place of the first?  Or is it that in ancient times if our mate died or was lost to us, we couldn’t easily find another?  Is that it? Maybe it is something else.  Whatever it is, I just don’t get it.

Perhaps it is some other mechanism that has simply gotten stuck in the missing another human category.  Maybe we’re supposed to feel serious missing when we lose an actual limb because losing an actual limb could pose a serious detriment to our ability to hunt and gather.  It would impact our ability to find a mate. Perhaps the two are juxtaposed in some manner in certain brains.

I know I am not the only one like this.  I watched this film last night called My Blueberry Nights.  One character, rather than live without the person who left him, drives himself into a tree.  This after drinking himself into oblivion every night for months.  Yep, his limb missing mechanism was severely out of whack. And the woman who left him realized after he was dead that she missed him like a missing limb as well.  So her missing limb mechanism was juxtaposed onto her missing partner as well.  Maybe I’m onto something here.

I am going to see the person who I miss in a little over a week.  Ironically, I am feeling his absence more acutely as his visit draws closer.  It is like knowing he will be here, that he is somehow within reach, makes the desire more visceral.  I have to fight myself NOT to send him text messages telling him how much I miss him and all the things I want to do with him when he gets here.  I have to force myself to be here and now, focus on my legs, focus on my arms, recognize they are actually in place and I do not require a prosthesis.  I can do this.  When I do this it is easier.  See brain?  Limbs intact.  Man will arrive shortly so stop thinking about him so much.

Then he calls and I’m listening to Woody Herman sing about being in love and clouds having silver linings and his own melancholy without his dear, the piano tinkling perfectly in the background, and I feel that old familiar pull in my belly.  Gads, missing is so unkind.

Lowering the Glass Ceiling

See this piece on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-m-gardner/lowering-the-glass-ceilin_b_128346.html

I would like to take you on a journey of the imagination…

Imagine that Sarah Palin is not a woman, but a man.  We’ll call him Mr. Palin.  Mr. Palin has been mayor of a small town in Alaska, and governor of that state for less than two years, a state whose entire population is less than that of most US major metropolitan areas and in this position.  In this position, Mr. Palin is being investigated for questionable conduct.  Imagine that he obtained his passport within the last couple of years, and that he considers foreign policy experience living next door to another country.  Take it further and imagine he believes the earth was created in a few thousand years, that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans, and that creationism should be taught in public schools.  Suppose also that this man believes women should not have the right to choose, and that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits.  Imagine Mr. Palin hunted moose from a helicopter and sought removal of environmental protections for polar bears. Imagine he has no knowledge of financial markets, the cold war, weapons systems, or Middle Eastern history.  Imagine all of this and more.

If this were true, and Sarah Palin were a man, would he have even been on the longest list of potential US vice-presidential candidates for any political party?  It would be unthinkable.

Why are the standards for this woman running for vice-president so much lower than they would be for a man?  Shouldn’t the standards be the same?  To determine whether someone did not get a job because of something other than merit, simply slip whatever that person is not into the position in your mind and ask yourself whether the same standards would apply.  If there are disparities in the standards required between two people seeking the same position, it is quite likely that discrimination is occurring in some form, even if it is allowing someone to be worse at something in an effort to pretend there is no -ism taking place.

Here, we have a woman running for vice-president who is grossly underqualified.  Those who support her claim that her position as a vice-presidential candidate is evidence of women shattering the glass ceiling.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Allowing her to take a position for which she is not qualified and giving her extra points for being a woman is the ultimate in sexism:  it is using gender as a qualifier rather than merit.  Beyond the obvious arguments against her abilities, her position as a vice-presidential candidate assumes on some level that a qualified woman could not perform the job.  Sarah Palin’s place on the Republican ticket does not shatter the glass ceiling, it lowers it.

My Response to a Comment

Some person commented on the letter I posted written by Lyra Kilston and Quinn Latimer.  In the letter, Kilston and Latimer make several statements about Sarah Palin.  They then ask that those who agree Palin is the wrong choice for VP and that she is not representative of women send them a statement to this effect. It was their intention to take all such statements and create a blog with all of the statements they receive.  I posted the letter because I fundamentally agree with the premise that Palin is wrong for VP and wanted to allow others who agree to add their voices to the mix.

The commentator stated that I lose “credibility” when I publish something that isn’t the truth.  On that point, I agree.  If I am asserting something factual and it is wrong or inaccurate, I lose credibility in my assertion.  I also agree that I should fact check something before I publish it.  (Incidentally, I did check to ensure the purported letter writers had in fact written and disseminated the letter.)  However, my issue with the commentator and the reason I am responding via blog post is to point out that I did not allege anything other than that I agreed with the letter writers.  How could I fact check my own opinion or lose credibility when I have not attempted to persuade anyone of anything that would require my words be reliable?  I have little doubt that the comment writer intended that I somehow lose credibility by agreeing with persons she claims make inaccurate statements, yet I reassert my original assertion:  I agree with the letter writers.  No one should have any reason to disbelieve this assertion.  Does anyone think that in posting this letter I might actually want Sarah Palin for vice-president?  I seriously doubt it.

The fundamental point of the Kilston Latimer letter is that Sarah Palin is wrong for the vice-presidency and that although she has a vagina, she does not represent American women.  They wanted to create a statement by women saying as much.  Because I find Palin’s positions on a number of issues to be completely reprehensible, I wanted to add my words to this statement.  I wholeheartedly believe that Sarah Palin is the wrong choice for vice-president of the United States.  She may not have taken the steps necessary to successfully ban books in her library, but she asked what would happen if she tried (per factcheck.org).  Yet her position on certain books is the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned.  Her lack of education and experience, her methods for management, her perspective on the environment, her religious views, her previous actions while in office as mayor and governor, as well as so much more all compile to create what I perceive as a disaster should the unthinkable happen and she and McCain are elected.  If there is any doubt as to my credibility in holding this opinion, I hope this post puts it to rest.