Stupid Girls: The Kardashian Phenomenon & How It’s Ruining Modern Women


While eating lunch with a friend at work last night, we had the bad luck to catch about three minutes of the Kardashian show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or whatever the heck the name of that show is.  In any case, we both agreed that our IQs had been lowered just in those few short minutes.  Thankfully we had the good sense to cut off the TV before any more brain cells were lost. Kim Kardashian

I’ve railed against what I call the Kardashian Phenomenon on this blog before, but today I feel like I must address it again, this time as a central theme.

What, you may ask, is the Kardashian Phenomenon?  It is, in my mind, the phenomenon in the modern world in which certain people have become celebrities for no apparent reason whatsoever, other than being wealthy.  Since Kim Kardashian is easily the best example of this phenomenon, I’ve named it after her, although Paris Hilton certainly gives her a run for her money. Kim K marriage cartoon

For years I’ve been trying to figure out why anyone gives two hoots about what these “women” are doing with their pathetic lives, & I’ve yet to unravel the mystery.  As one of my favorite rock stars, Rick DeJesus (lead singer of Adelita’s Way) so eloquently stated in an interview a few years ago, “You’ve got these amazing rock singers, & the reality TV stars have now become more famous than the biggest rock stars in the world.  It boggles my mind that America is letting that happen to rock music.  It boggles my mind that Kim Kardashian, who has no talent at all, is more famous than Brent Smith, one of the best singers probably ever to live . . . You’ve got someone like Kim Kardashian — these people, they do nothing!  There’s no talent.  What’s their talent?  Getting f***ed?” (for the entire interview, see  http://www.rockedition.com/interviews/artist-interviews/interview-with-rick-dejesus-of-adelitas-way/)  Forgive me if that sounds crude, but it is truly the reality of the matter, & the world needs to face it!

Rick DeJesus, lead singer of Adelita's Way & author of the brilliant quote above

Rick DeJesus, lead singer of Adelita’s Way & author of the brilliant quote above

This entire phenomenon makes me cherish even more a certain P!nk song called “Stupid Girls.”  I actually didn’t know the song when it was released back in 2006, but a friend of mine introduced me to it sometime in the past year or two, & I instantly fell in love because it seems as relevant now as it was when it debuted. pink stupid girls

[As an aside, one could argue that P!nk might not be the ideal role model for young women, but she’s certainly a hell of a lot better than any other female pop star of the past two decades (other than perhaps Taylor Swift who has sadly crossed firmly into the pop arena).  I particularly like P!nk’s songs about female empowerment such as “So What,” “U & Ur Hand,” (although it kills me that she didn’t just name it “You & Your Hand”!!!) & of course “Stupid Girls.”  In a world where most female pop stars make themselves out to be little (if anything) more than sexual objects, P!nk has certainly taken a different approach.  To this day when a “man” makes me feel uncomfortable by staring at me or making indiscreet remarks, the words of “U & Ur Hand” run through my mind & make me feel just a little bit less marginalized.]p!nk

If you don’t know “Stupid Girls”, here’s a sample of some of my favorite lyrics from the song:

What happened to the dreams of a girl president?
She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
They travel in packs of two or three
With their itsy bitsy doggies & their teeny-weeny tees
Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
Oh where, oh where could they be?

Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back
Porno Paparazzi girl, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl
Maybe if I act like that, flipping my blond hair back
Push up my bra like that, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl

I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in
That will never be me
Outcasts & girls with ambition
That’s what I wanna see

Disasters all around
World in despair
Your only concern
“Will it f*** up my hair?”dumb blonde

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think all women need to be CEOs, doctors, lawyers, or anything like that in order to avoid being “stupid girls” or part of the despicable Kardashian Phenomenon.  Clearly not everyone is meant to have such a career.  It’s really not about a career anyway; it’s about a mentality, a mentality that worships women who are famous for doing absolutely nothing, other than being wealthy.  And it’s not even like these women are wealthy because of something interesting THEY didlike writing a novel, becoming an athlete, or running a company.  No, girls like Kim Kardashian & Paris Hilton are wealthy because they inherited their money from their fathers!  Yes, they may have expanded their wealth based on their ridiculous TV shows, sex tapes, & other “ventures,” but I dare someone to tell me how any of these things has added any real value to the world.  You’re kidding yourself if you think they have. commander-in-chief

I consider myself a feminist, but I’m not so worried about having a female president, although that would be nice (but I’m not about to vote for someone just because she’s a woman), as I am about what the Kardashian Phenomenon is teaching girls & young women about our society.  Little girls who grow up seeing their moms, aunts, friends, & other role models watching the Kardashian show or other such trash are surely being sent some rather screwed up messages about the definition of success, especially as someone of the female persuasion. feminism-is-not-a-dirty-word

When I was growing up, all the way until I went to college, I was very sheltered which definitely has its advantages & disadvantages, & I do plan to raise my kids a bit differently in some ways (& not so differently in others).  But I will say I am so glad that I did not grow up in the era of the Kardashian Phenomenon, although Britney Spears was certainly bad enough.  Indeed when I was a little girl I dreamed of being a writer, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, & traveling the world as a National Geographic photographer.  Sure I wanted to be pretty, & trust me, especially as a teen, I spent hours agonizing over my appearance sometimes, & I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  After all, we think nothing of guys spending hours in the gym honing their physique in an attempt to attract girls’ attention.  (For the record, it is often very obvious which guys are kicking ass at the gym just for the sake of the ladies & which ones are there because they truly care about looking good & being healthy for their own sake as well.  And the latter are far more attractive!) little girls with dreams

But the point is my greatest goals were never about becoming rich or famous, marrying a millionaire (or even marriage at all), or becoming some kind of sex symbol for America.  It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with being rich or famous or even with being a sex symbol in some way.  After all, if you do become rich & famous for whatever reason, as long as you’re not Godzilla, you’re probably going to become some kind of sex symbol whether you like it or not.  It’s just the way the world works & that’s not necessarily bad; it’s just human nature.

Lzzy Hale has certainly become a sex symbol in the rock community & one can easily see why.  But that isn't why she's famous.  She's famous b/c she is an insanely talented singer & guitarist . . . who just happens to be pretty hot too. :)

Lzzy Hale has certainly become a sex symbol in the rock community & one can easily see why. But that isn’t why she’s famous. She’s famous b/c she is an insanely talented singer & guitarist . . . who just happens to be pretty hot too. 🙂

Again, the point is that girls (& boys) need to grow up with greater ambitions than becoming the next Kim Kardashian or owning countless designer purses that cost more than some people’s monthly wages.

So, ladies, I beg of you, if you want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, stop watching the Kardashians.  Stop spending a thousand dollars on a purse (unless you REALLY have that kind of money to blow & nothing better to do with it).  Wear as much or as little make-up as you like, but either way do it because it makes YOU happy, not because of who it will attract.  And if you own Paris Hilton’s book or any of the countless magazines featuring her or Kim or any other such idiots, kindly throw them in the fire or the paper shredder & watch your IQ soar.'Hello, how can I offend you?'

If by chance I’ve offended you, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry.

**P.S. Here’s the link to P!nk’s “Stupid Girls”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR4yQFZK9YM

This is Why You’re an Asshole


Let me preface this rant by saying that I am NOT one of those annoying women who think all men are evil or out to get them.  I’ve known far too many truly decent caring men in my life to write off the whole gender as sick & depraved.  My husband & many of my male friends & family members are proof positive to me that plenty of truly good men do exist in this world.  But to that certain segment of the male population who do NOT fit that description, this letter is for you.  (To clarify, this post was inspired by events that have happened to me or to friends of mine who have described those events to me.)women not pieces of meat

Dear Sir,

I know you are probably nowhere near self-aware enough to wonder why so many women think all men are assholes.  Or why you might in fact actually deserve that title, but I’ll take the time to try to enlighten you today anyway.

You, sir, are an asshole because you greeted me, a potential customer in your restaurant, with the singularly annoying phrase “Hey, girl.”  Now if I knew you personally, or even if I were just a frequent customer whose face you recognized (meaning I too would recognize you), I can assure you I wouldn’t think twice about this greeting.  But when we are both strangers to each other, far be it from you to assume such a level of familiarity with me where none such exists.self respect

You, sir, are an asshole because the moment I walked into the room I felt your gaze upon me, undressing me with your eyes without even trying to hide it.  I’m fully aware that I cannot control what goes on in your mind, just as you cannot control what goes on in mine, but you CAN control your eyes & they do not have to continually stare at me or at any other woman just because we were unfortunate enough to cross your path today.  I’m sure you’re not self-aware enough to realize it, but your staring & the knowing glances shared with your equally disgusting peers are really quite intimidating, not to mention annoying.  Perhaps you DO realize it & that is one reason you partake in such behavior . . . You’re an asshole either way.'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

You, sir, are an asshole because although you probably don’t even know my name, the minute I said hello you felt it necessary to make a joke that implied that I was desperate to sleep with you.  There was never any chance of such a thing, but even if there had been, you’d have erased it all now anyway.  Get over yourself.  There is nothing more unattractive than a man who thinks he’s God’s gift to women.

You, sir, are an asshole because I heard you making comments about my body as I was leaving the room.  As my manager & someone who’s never even been nice to me at all, you do NOT have such privileges.  And I WILL call you out on it, & if that makes me a bitch in your eyes, trust me, I couldn’t care less.

You, sir, are an asshole because I heard you call the last girl you hooked up with a slut, but you slept with her too, so what does that say about you?

You, sir, are an asshole because you think it’s your God-given right to touch every woman who crosses your path.  Newsflash: it’s not.respect

Just to be clear, if you are friends with a woman & for some reason you should find yourself fantasizing or otherwise thinking about having sex with her, that does not automatically make you an asshole.  That just makes you a human being.  (Trust me, women think about sex a lot more than most of us would care to admit.)  I think it’s only natural to feel a certain amount of chemistry with your friends of the opposite sex because relationships really are just friendships “on steroids” so to speak.  As with anything in life, it’s all about what you do with those thoughts & feelings.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, here’s the underlying theme: any time you assume too much familiarity with a woman you really don’t know that well, you’re probably being an asshole.  As much as I hate to admit it, although mentally I know we are equals, physically I know I am not a match for you.  Trust me, I don’t live my life thinking of all men as potential rapists & murderers or anything so absurd as all that.  BUT I cannot change the fact that biology has made you bigger & stronger than me, & thus I expect a certain level of respect because of that.  (Actually it has more to do with just being a fellow HUMAN BEING) . . . In other words, if you’re my friend, if you have proven to me over time that I can trust you, then our interactions can assume a level of familiarity that would make me uncomfortable if we were strangers.  (Just to be clear, it’s really not all that different with other women.  After all I don’t mind a bit if my female friends ask me questions about sex or their bodies or whatever, but I’d be pretty horrified if a woman I don’t know at all asked me such things.)not all men are jerks

A side note to any ladies who are reading this:

For the love of logic, please let’s stop tolerating such indecent behavior from those select men who behave in such ways as I’ve described today.  And please let’s stop whining that all men are evil & only interested in sex when most of us who say such things do everything in our power to attract only the worst sort of men.  And I’m calling myself out on this one, but please let’s have the guts to stand up for ourselves when we do encounter a true asshole.

At the end of the day it all comes down to self-respect.  I for one have far too much of it to tolerate this bullshit.

Good day.

Breaking Stereotypes


Last night I was fooling around on YouTube as I often do, & in the process I discovered what to me is a new band: Motionless in White.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are a metal band based out of Scranton, PA & are fronted by a guy named Chris “Motionless” Cerulli who draws inevitable comparisons to Marilyn Manson.  As I always do when discovering a new band, I starting Googling the band & its lead singer, looking for interviews & such to familiarize myself with the band & to better connect with their music.  I soon discovered that despite the rather gothic appearance of the band, the lead singer is actually “straight edge” & is well-renowned for the fact that he has never smoked, drank, or used drugs & has no interest in such things.  In case you’re thinking this must be one of those Christian or pseudo-Christian metal bands, let me assure you Motionless in White is anything but that.  (On the other hand they are not Satanists either despite what some might naturally assume based on their appearance & the sound of their music).

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

chris motionless

From what I’ve read, Chris Motionless isn’t gay or transgender, despite having long hair & wearing a lot of make-up. How’s that for breaking stereotypes?

What struck me the most about this band is not only their unique sound but the lead singer’s ability to break stereotypes.  This led me to ponder my never-ending fascination with people who break stereotypes, whatever they may be.  As the Nigerian novelist, poet, & professor Chinua Achebe said, “The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement; it is this.”  Indeed the world is very complicated & it’s not so shocking that society has created stereotypes to try to make sense of such a complex world.  And yet, the result of such stereotyping is that we often miss out on the joy that can be found in embracing the complexity of this world & the people around us.

chinua achebe quote

As some of you may know from reading previous blog posts, I grew up in a very small town in Virginia.  One of the saddest things about small towns is that stereotypes are so ingrained into the fabric of society that one can quite easily feel stifled in such places.  Over the past eight years since I graduated from high school I’ve often pondered the irony of how I graduated with some 140 odd students, the vast majority of us having been together in school since kindergarten or at least 3rd or 4th grade.  The result of this is that we all assumed we knew each other & often assigned each other to stereotypical roles & groups without much of a second thought.  The reality is that most of us knew next to nothing about each other, only what we THOUGHT we knew because we’d “known each other forever.”  I suppose this phenomenon occurs everywhere to a certain extent, but I daresay it’s worse in small towns where stereotypes can often be magnified due to the naturally insular nature of such places.stereotypes

In any case when I went to college I was immediately gratified by how so many people I met broke a lot of the traditional stereotypes I grew up around.  One of my best friends in college was a girl who had been an athlete in high school, yet she loved classical music, opera, & classic literature.  What also gratified me was finding that everyone I met didn’t naturally assume I was a boring nerd who couldn’t possibly be interesting, funny, or attractive.  Instead of being regarded as weird or dull because I’m naturally intelligent, people often seemed to find this intriguing. How gratifying!

As I’ve matured as an adult I continually find myself attracted to those who break stereotypes in one way or another.  Whether it’s a football player like Arian Foster who writes poetry & studies philosophy or a rock star like Chris Motionless who eschews drinking & drugs or some of my elderly patients who have iPads & are very adept with technology, I’m naturally drawn to those who somehow “break the rules” of what they’re “supposed” to be like because of their age, race, gender, or profession.

Many people probably wouldn't guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

Many people probably wouldn’t guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

At the end of the day, I consider myself fairly average.  When I say that I just mean that I’m not someone you’d look at twice in the grocery store, & yet I like to think I break a few stereotypes myself.  Today I thought it would be empowering to list a few of those & in doing so encourage my readers to think about the stereotypes they break in their own lives.  So here are a few ways in which I break the “rules of society.”

  • I love rock & roll & metal but I have no tattoos & no piercings, aside from standard earrings. I am not opposed to such things, but I just have no personal interest in them for myself.  When I go to rock shows, I’m often one of the only people without tattoos or piercings & who isn’t dressed in all or mostly black.  For some reason or other, I am often immediately assumed to be a “nice girl” & thus people are often shocked to find I like such heavy or “dark” music.  I resent the implication that people who value compassion & kindness can’t enjoy rock music, so I always enjoy the look on people’s faces when they find out some of my favorite bands are FFDP, Godsmack, & Halestorm.
  • On the other hand, when I go to country concerts, I’m always one of the only people not wearing cowboy (or should I say cowgirl?) boots. I’ve never owned a pair & don’t care to.  There’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just not my style.cowboy boots
  • Despite the fact that I grew up in a very rural area, I have only been fishing once & have no real interest in going again. I’ve also never been hunting or “mudding” & don’t particularly care to try either one.
  • Despite living in the South my entire life, I do not like sweet tea or gravy.
  • I’m an introvert who strongly prefers the city to the country.  When you really think about this, it’s actually quite logical because the anonymity of the city is far more suitable to an introvert like me who detests the idea of constantly having to make small talk.  In a small town everywhere you go, you see someone you know & thus feel compelled by some social construct to converse with them.introverts cats
  • I’m strongly considering becoming a mom in the next year or two (or three), but I love heavy metal & have no plans to stop listening to this music just because I have kids.
  • Sex, drugs, & rock & roll is a phrase that exists for a reason. But as much as I love this kind of music, I’m married to my first & only boyfriend, have never experimented with drugs or smoking, & drink alcohol only in moderation.  (Additionally there is a hell of a lot more to rock & roll than just sex & drugs, & if you don’t think so, you’re missing out on a lot in life.)
  • As much as I hate wars & violence, I am a strong supporter of gun ownership.  There are a whole host of logical reasons for this, but this isn’t the time or place to go into all that right now.gun-rights
  • I was a straight-A student in both high school & college, but I never once stayed up all night (or even half the night) studying for a test or final exam.
  • I’m a female who loves science & math, yet I also love literature, music, & history.
  • I’m a humanist & thus I don’t believe in moral absolutes, but despite what some people might think, I DO have moral & ethical standards for how I live my life, & I will teach them to my children someday.
  • I identify myself as a feminist because there are still plenty of places in the world where women do not have even basic human rights, but I do NOT hate men & I don’t think men automatically have an easier time in life.
  • I have no idea what happens after death (to be truly honest, NONE of us does because we haven’t been there), yet I volunteer with hospice & seem to have a special talent for caring for patients & their families at the end of life. Where most see only grief & suffering, I see a chance to make someone’s final days as painless as possible, to give that person a peaceful exit from this world, & to assist the family throughout this entire process.hospice

At the end of the day, I think we all break at least a few stereotypes in our lives, even if we’ve never given it a lot of thought.  Because stereotypes can be so damaging, I think we all could benefit from taking a few moments to think about what kind of stereotypes we break in our own lives as well as to examine the prejudices we might hold towards others due to common stereotypes in our society.

To end this post, I’ll leave you with a few quotes about stereotypes that I find very empowering & perhaps you will too.

Reducing a group to a slur or stereotype reduces us all.”   ~ DaShanne Stokes (author & human rights activist)

If you’re struggling to fit me into a box . . . Then build a bigger box!”   ~ Serina Hartwell (novelist)

P.S. If you want to check out Motionless in White, I’d strongly suggest starting with Reincarnate off of their latest album of the same name: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVQC3bx_AXs

A Letter to My Fellow “Man”


Dear “Sirs,”

I walked into a pizza parlor today & immediately I felt your eyes upon me.  As I made my way to the counter to place my order I could feel your stares just as strongly as if they had been your all too grimy hands.  And just a few days ago I had a similar experience at another restaurant when I stopped in for breakfast on my way home from work.  That time you had me surrounded.  Two of you in front of me in line, two of you behind me.  Then you found your way to a table & I found your leering eyes upon me every time I looked up from my own table.  I left feeling dirty & used even though you never touched me or even spoke to me once.

These are just the two most recent episodes of such behavior that I’ve observed.  Sadly these things happen far too often & not just to me & not just in America, but in every tiny town & every major metropolis & every culture in every nation on this planet.  I think it’s safe to say that women all over the world will concur with me that such behavior is offensive, intimidating, & simply degrading.

'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

I’d find all this unwanted attention a bit less shocking if I were dressed in clothes that scream “Look at me!” but I never dress like that.  Miniskirts, booty shorts, & low-cut tops have never been my style.  While I firmly believe both men & women have the right to dress however they choose within context, there is no doubt that our attire does send certain messages about ourselves, whether we realize or want to admit it or not.  (When I say within context, I mean that wearing a bikini to work is clearly unacceptable, unless maybe you’re a model.)  This is not to say that leering at women who choose to dress in more “provocative” attire is acceptable, but at least it is a bit more logical.  In the end though, the burden of responsibility falls on the person who is committing the crime.  And in this case that burden falls squarely on the shoulders of you “men” who have probably never stopped to think twice about how your leering at every unfortunate female who crosses your path might make said female feel.

Maybe this situation wouldn’t be so distressing if I had some means of seeking revenge upon you.  If I could make you as uncomfortable as you make me with your leers & snarky smiles, I’d be happy to try to turn the tables on you & give you a taste of your own medicine, so to speak.  But sadly if I were to leer at you with even half the lust with which you leer at me, you’d probably just be flattered & text your equally sadistic buddies all about it.  Let me be clear in saying that I do not buy into the age-old argument that sex is inherently demeaning or degrading to women.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But your eyes tell me quite plainly that you view me as nothing more than a sexual object who exists for your pleasure, & this too could be nothing further from the truth.  In reality I am a human being with dreams, hopes, goals, aspirations, & yes, even sexual needs & desires, just as you are.  But that last bit doesn’t justify your treating me as nothing more than a walking vagina with tits & an ass.  Trust me, we females enjoy checking you guys out too, but by & large we don’t view every man who walks by as a piece of meat to feast our eyes upon.  And even if we did, we could never threaten & intimidate you the way you can us because biology is pretty simple & we are as a whole not as physically strong as you are.

women not pieces of meat

I know you probably think you’re doing me some kind of favor by paying attention to me, but your twisted logic isn’t fooling anyone but yourself.  The only thing you’ve accomplished is making it very obvious that you’re so far below my taste in men as to not even be a blip on my radar (not that I’m looking since I’m married, but that’s beside the point in this scenario).  You’re probably not so self-aware as to realize this, but your leers are just a power-play, a way to make you feel stronger when deep down your sense of self is weaker than you’d like to admit.  Real men who are confident in themselves & their ability to win an intelligent well-rounded woman don’t need to stroke their ego by intimidating women with lustful stares & winks at their friends.

And just in case any of you guys happen to be smart asses, no, the answer to this predicament is not me staying at home or putting on a burka to go out in public.  The answer lies in you learning to have some self-control & self-respect which will then enable you to show respect to others.

End message: We’re all human beings here.  Yes, we all have sexual desires & needs but that’s no reason to be disrespectful.  Get over yourselves.  Get your own act together.  And get your dirty eyes off me.

Sincerely,

A woman with too much self-respect to put up with your BS any longer

I Am Not Mrs. John Doe


Twice in the past week or so I have received mail from my alma mater (as in my college) addressed to me in the following format: Mrs. My Husband’s Name, e.g. Mrs. John Doe.  (I don’t like using my or my husband’s full name on this blog so I’ll just stick with the John/Jane Doe format for the purposes of this blog post.)  Receiving mail in such a format from family members wouldn’t be too surprising.  But I for one found it odd that my college addressed mail to me using my husband’s name.  Being the analytical sort, this turn of events led me to think about what it means to be referred to as Mrs. John Doe & why this entire idea has always struck me as a bit odd.

To preface, it would behoove me to address the first issue: taking my husband’s last name.  When I got married, I was at first quite determined not to change my last name.  I wasn’t doing it out of “feminist protest” or anything as dramatic as all that.  I just frankly didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the paperwork involved in changing my name especially since I had just received my nursing license a mere two months (probably less) before the wedding.  In all honesty, I just didn’t feel like dealing with it.  My husband being the wonderful supportive man that he is left the decision entirely up to me.  He confessed that he would be flattered if I chose to take his last name & we both agreed that for the sake of simplicity, especially if we had children in the future, it would probably be wise to have the same last name.  But he felt that this was a decision I should make on my own & he told me many times that he would not be offended if I waited a few months or years to take his name or even if I chose to never take it at all.  My husband isn’t the type to say things just to please or appease me (I couldn’t abide a man who did) so I knew he absolutely meant it when he said he’d support me in any decision I made regarding the name change.  That meant the world to me then & still does.

Wedding Cartoon Name Change

For months I pondered the idea, trying to decide if the hassle was worth it & if taking my husband’s last name was indeed some kind of surrender to the patriarchy.  Eventually after about four or five months I decided to go ahead & adopt my husband’s last name, one reason being I really liked the flow of how my name sounded with my original middle name dropped & my maiden name substituted as my new middle name.  I thought it sounded more professional & succinct.  On a less superficial level, I decided that as my husband had so wisely pointed out, this decisions is an individual one for every couple.  Essentially it means different things to different people.  To me taking on his last name was not giving up an important part of my identity, so in the end I decided that FOR ME adopting his last name was NOT surrendering to the patriarchy.  It was simply me admitting that I don’t want to give our future children a hyphenated name that will become even more ridiculous if they get married & try to combine it with their spouse’s name some day.  Could you argue that my husband could just as simply have taken my last name?  Sure.  Is it sexist that I know he wouldn’t have considered that?  Maybe.  But at the end of the day I think we have MUCH more important issues to worry about, so that’s a post for another day, if ever.

What I am trying to say is I think it is each woman’s (or man’s) individual decision if she wants to change her name or not when getting married.  No one should be judged based solely on their decision to adopt or not adopt their husband’s (or wife’s) last name.  I fully understand that some women see changing their name as an affront to their identity & humanity & I respect that completely.  I also realize that there are plenty of women who are/were so incredibly excited to take on their husband’s name that the idea of not doing so has either never crossed their minds or strikes them as totally ludicrous.  I respect that mindset as well even though I admittedly do not understand it.  The point is society should be open to & tolerant of both choices as well as the  more radical choice that a husband take his wife’s name if he so chooses.

woman+deciding

 

All of this brings me to the point of this entire post.  Though it took me some time & thorough deliberation to actually change my name, I do not mind having my husband’s last name.  In fact I rather enjoy it now.  HOWEVER, long before I even met my husband, when I was just a child, I always found it odd that women could be referred to as Mrs. John Doe.  Even as a child I understood the subtle implications of such references.  Referring to a woman as Mrs. John Does implies that her only, or at least greatest, identity is in being John’s wife.  Furthermore it implies that a wife is interchangeable because Mrs. John Doe could be anyone, literally ANY WOMAN ON THE PLANET.  I take no issue with Mrs. Jane Doe because it is specific to me & thus addresses my own unique identity.  But Mrs. John Doe annoys me greatly for the reasons I’ve just listed.

marraige name change

If you’re a family member or friend reading this & you’ve ever addressed mail to me as Mrs. John Doe or know that you may do so in the future, please don’t worry.  I won’t write you off or be PERSONALLY offended in any way.  Trust me.  I am just interested in questioning the status quo & why as a society we still find it ok to address women in this fashion.  (I find it particularly ironic that my COLLEGE has addressed mail to me in this manner.  Anyone else find that a bit odd?)  I’m sure some people reading this will think I’m wasting my breath going on about issues that don’t amount to a hill of beans.  (Which is a countrified way of saying they don’t matter, if you’re unfamiliar with that phraseology.  I have to show my roots every once in a while, right?)  I know there are far more important “women’s issues” on the table today.  But this is a subject that I’ve pondered for literally years.  As previously stated, even as a child I found the Mrs. John Doe concept to be a bit disconcerting.  Keep in mind I was a child who played with globes, maps, & encyclopedias for fun, but nonetheless it begs the question that if even a child can see that something is a bit off with this terminology, perhaps we ought to at least question it a little?

question marks

To the ladies out there who are reading this (married or not), how do you feel about this matter?  Does being referred to as Mrs. John Doe bother you?  (If you’re not married, does the idea of it bother you?)  Why or why not?  To the males reading this, what do you think about this subject?  If you think I’m an incontrovertible bore for writing about such matters, that might be fair enough but I think this is something worth at least discussing.  (Hint: sarcasm.  I could never be boring, don’t you know?)  And I’d love to hear my readers’ opinions on the matter.

Can We Please End the Gender Wars?


I must preface this post by saying I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else.  I’ll explain why later.

I’ve been coming across a lot of articles lately talking about female privilege/disadvantage vs male privilege/disadvantage.  See this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/isla-sofia/2014/04/18-reasons-why-the-concept-of-female-privilege-is-insane/

& this: http://thoughtcatalog.com/mark-saunders/2014/04/18-things-females-seem-to-not-understand-because-female-privilege/

These articles are both a bit superficial to be sure, but they are excellent examples of the genre so to speak.  If you don’t feel inclined to read the articles, what the whole idea boils down to is this: grown adults are arguing over whether being male or female is harder.

The reason I started this post by saying I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone is because this past weekend I was quite literally in tears telling my husband that I wish I were male so I wouldn’t feel the insane pressure to choose between family & career when thinking ahead to having children in the next few years.  And the sad truth is in those moments I truly meant it.  My generation of women was sold a great lie when we were told we could “have it all.”  No, I’m sorry, we really can’t.  Yes, we can have great careers & also be great moms, but do not think for even a minute that no matter which option(s) you choose you won’t have to make tremendous sacrifices that your male counterparts more than likely will not have to make as parents.  For example, if a man has a high-powered career & decides to have kids, it is unlikely to have a huge effect on his job.  Yes, he may feel greater pressure to come home earlier to be with his children or to stay in one city rather than move around from place to place in search of promotions.  But overall I think it’s safe to argue that having children is less likely to have a net negative effect on a man’s career.  (I know some women who are reading this are probably thinking “But aren’t you happy that you’re the one who gets to create life, nourish it in your womb, & quite literally feed it?”  Umm, on some level I guess I am, but mostly I just think about how painful & distressing that sounds!  I guess I am too practical for my own good.  I know in time my motherly instinct will kick in & I’ll probably laugh at myself for ever wishing I were male.  But I’m not quite there yet.  Be patient with me.)

gender scales

Aside from raising children, there are other situations in life in which I think quite seriously about how I wish I were male.  The times when I’m standing in line at a restaurant & some creepy man behind me is checking me out & making me wish I were not only male but invisible.  (It doesn’t really matter what I’m wearing, by the way.  Certain men look at all women like meat regardless of their chosen attire.)  Or when I can’t open a jar & my husband isn’t home to do it for me & I feel so incredibly weak & ridiculous.  Times like that.

However, I’ve said all that to say this: Can we stop fighting over who has it harder in life?  The reality is that life isn’t fair.  But it’s also not a competition.  Life is hard for all of us, regardless of our gender, race, or anything else.  As one of my favorite high school teachers used to say, “Life’s not fair, I’m not nice, get used to it.”  (Or maybe that last part was “get over it.”  But the point is the same regardless.)  I am wary of writing this because I don’t want to sound like I’m saying we shouldn’t discuss the issues brought up in the kinds of articles I referenced at the beginning.  Reproductive rights, divorce, victim-shaming/blaming in relation to rape or sexual abuse, & other such issues are extremely important & should not be tossed aside just because life isn’t fair.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to rectify some of the inherent unfairness of life.  Indeed I think it is the ethical thing to do as truly alive, enlightened human beings.

life isn't fair

However, in the end there are some things men & women will always be inherently better at or more capable of doing than the other gender.  For example as much as it grinds my gears that teenage boys half my age are stronger than me even though I might work out just as long/hard as they do, it’s just biology.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  I’m sure very few men would admit it, but to a certain extent some fathers must be jealous of the fact that women share a certain closeness with their children that men never really can simply because we’re the ones who give birth to them.  Furthermore even good men have to deal with the fact that women often see them as inherently dangerous.  A friend of mine told me a few months ago that it really bothers him that when he is jogging he’ll often cross paths with women who give him this desperate “please don’t rape me” look.  On the other hand I’ve been one of those women (in similar scenarios), & it sucks to know that there are plenty of situations in life in which you’re dependent on the man or men you’re with being decent individuals in order for you to not get hurt.  I know that must sound melodramatic but it’s true.

Basically what it comes down to is exactly what I said before.  Life is hard.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.  There are certain inherent advantages & disadvantages to both genders.  Actually I would argue there are probably very few that are truly biologically inherent.  Most of the privileges & disadvantages both genders experience are things society has constructed & therefore can theoretically be changed over time.  This is why I remain hopeful that the world can become a better place for all of us, even in the face of the horrible situations that women (& to a certain extent men) face in certain parts of the world in which equal rights for all is far, far from the reality.

life ins't fair but it's still good

So my plea today is simply this: can we please stop the battle over who, men or women, has it the hardest in life?  (At least in the Western world.)  Life isn’t a competition, belive it or not.  Instead of whining, can we focus on the real issues at hand like poverty, raising children, & reducing sexual violence?  Like I said, this post is as much for me as for anyone because I know I am quite guilty of whining about my gender from time to time.  After all I spent half this post explaining why I sometimes wish I were a man.

However, in the end, life is hard for all of us.

But it’s also beautiful, thrilling, & way too amazing to spend whining about something so completely beyond our control as our chromosomes.

(As an addendum, this post is in no way meant to be insensitive to those who are born feeling they are the “wrong gender” &/or are transgender.  That is an entirely different scenario which is not at all pertinent to what I’m discussing here.)

 

Why the World Still Needs Feminism


Recently I’ve encountered the argument that the world, especially the Western/American world, no longer needs Feminism.  Or worse yet that Feminism is actually working AGAINST the interests of women.  I’m ashamed to say that these are thoughts that actually crossed my mind many years ago as a misguided teen.  I thought that since women can now vote, own property, run for public office, own a business, & get divorced without ruining their entire lives/reputations, then Feminism had accomplished its goals & was no longer needed.  Ah, how short-sighted & naive I was.  Growing up I got the idea that Feminism had its place decades ago but had outlived any real purpose, so that modern day Feminists were just crazy man-haters whose only goals were tearing down men & families, relishing in abortion, & generally promoting evil.

Somewhere along the line I realized this was a grossly exaggerated stereotype of what is actually a small minority of Feminists.  As I’ve grown up I’ve also realized there are numerous reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  For the purposes of this blog post (as well as my blog in general), Feminism means the promotion of equal RIGHTS for both genders with a particular focus on achieving equal RESPECT between the genders.  I’m in no way arguing that men & women are identical or that all “gender roles” are wrong.  And I’m not here to throw a pity party because I was born female.  (There are days when that is tempting but it would be an unproductive activity anyway & thus a waste of time.)

Here are, in my mind, the greatest reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  Notice I said the WORLD, which includes both genders, not just women.  I say this because I believe Feminism seeks to empower & promote the betterment of all people of all genders not BECAUSE of their gender but because of their shared HUMANITY.

Feminism1

The world still needs Feminism . . .

  • Because there are places in the world where women still cannot vote, drive cars, own property, run a business, or get divorced, even from abusive husbands
  • Because there are places in the world where women are stoned for having sex outside of marriage, even if they were victims of rape or abuse
  • Because even in the “enlightened West” there are still way too many men who think it’s ok to make sexist remarks in the work place
  • And because many women still don’t have the courage to stand up to these jerks
  • Because rape apologists still exist; because even in the most blatant  horrific cases, there are still idiots who seek to blame the victim
  • Because there are places in the world where female babies are preferentially aborted simply for their gender
  • And because the people who do this have serious REASONS for doing it . . . because those societies have structures that make it such that having a female baby really is putting the family at a disadvantage
  • Because even in America many people treat daughters as more work or more difficult (See:https://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2014/02/27/the-burden-of-a-daughter/)
  •  Because maternity leave in America is quite possibly the worst in the industrialized world
  • Because the majority of workplaces do almost nothing to cater to women (& men) with young children
  • Because women still spend entirely too much time tearing each other apart & judging each other for every little thing, not realizing that we are all sisters on this Earth
  • Because abstinence-only education still exists despite the research that shows how ineffective it is & how it contributes to a high rate of teen pregnancy
  • Because way too many girls are still growing up with the idea that their bodies are something to be ashamed of &/or something to be hidden for fear of tempting men

feminism is for men too

  • Because way too many women expect men to pay for everything on dates
  • Because it’s still acceptable for boys/men to insult each other by calling each other “pussy,” “sissy,” “little girl,” etc as if being female were the worst possible scenario in life
  • Because women still have to “be careful” at night & never walk alone in a dark place
  • Because if you do any of these things & God forbid something happens, people will say “What was she thinking?  She should have been more careful” as if that excuses bad behavior on the part of the offending male
  • Because there are women in the world who still have no access to birth control, sexual education, or even school
  • Because a Google image search of Feminism still produces memes that say Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, become lesbians, & practice witchcraft
  • And because there are still people who believe such nonsense
  •  And because there is a need for posts like this