Yet another post about feminism

Note: This post does not attempt to convince you to vote for any particular person.

Over the last few weeks the political circus has reached a pace so fast and loud that it is dizzying.  Attack ads on the television, blog posts and newspaper articles online, friends talking and arguing with each other. . . it’s all starting to make my head hurt.  I love following politics, especially during presidential election years.  I love listening to the different points of view, considering what kind of people (not class, kind) would vote for which candidates.  I almost always know exactly who I will be voting for within a hot second of candidates announcing themselves, and it only takes me a few minutes longer than that to make my reasons coherent.

I love reading about this stuff, watching the news, listening to NPR coverage of events and results.  I enjoy conversations with people about their points of view, whether or not they align with mine.  I think dialogue is integral to both democracy and true understanding of the issues.  I usually care more about the respect involved in the conversation than the actual point of view shared (with a few exceptions.  Basic human decency and a lack of bigotry are required).  I was raised to have points of view of my own, to discuss them openly, to ask questions, and to try to make the most informed decision that I can.

All this brings me to the point of this post, and the reason that my blood has been boiling more often than not for the last week: feminism.

Yeah, ok, this is yet another post-Steinem and Albright feminist post.

Part of what has prompted me to seriously consider feminism and what it means to me were the horribly badly planned and misguided comments by these two incredible women.  They proved that even the most idealistic and determined advocates make mistakes.  I am terribly disappointed in them, but I also do not believe that they are forever discredited.  This situation is not what really started me thinking though.  What started me contemplating feminism, and how rife with conflict the whole movement is, is Hillary Clinton.

Since the beginning of primary season, let’s say since last summer, I have been trying to understand why people are so anti-Hillary.  While I understand certain reservations about her, the most constant complaint has been “She’s so sleazy.  I don’t trust her.  How could I, after those emails and Benghazi and ohmygoodness I can’t trust a woman who would stay with her husband after a situation like that!”  Instead of listing actual problems with her stance on issues, like they would with a male candidate (and I hear an awful lot on that front about Bernie), people bring up her personal life and actions that have been proven to be in the public sphere because the far right wanted to discredit her.  I don’t know about you, but those don’t seem like real reasons.  In fact, they have nothing to do with policy or qualifications.

They have to do with how people view women.

When, in 2007, it was announced that the Bush administration had used email accounts through the RNC (a probably misguided but not illegal thing to do), there was no big scandal.  The news hit the cycle, and people basically shrugged it off.  They had used the wrong email accounts, emails were lost, and it was in conjunction with the surprise firing of U.S. Attorneys.  There was no major media backlash.  Sure, it was 2007 and the great internet machine had not fully reached the roar that it is at today, but just looking at the coverage from major media outlets and newspapers is proof enough.  It was given a nod, it was a minor hiccup, and it was done.

Now, compare that to how people responded to the Clinton email issues.  As the article I linked to above points out, the brewhaha surrounding Clinton was not about legality.  It was a political stunt aimed at discrediting her.  And as much as I would like to think that people can and would see through that, it appears I am wrong.

People, both men and women, feminists and not, are eager to dismiss Clinton as “scary” and “untrustworthy” and “fake” because of actions totally typical in American politics.  Not that political wordplay is ok, but when men do it it’s not hauled out on the mat for a beating.  When men pander they are rebuked for it, people dismiss them, but that’s that.  The only pandering I have seen that caused anything close to this sort of commotion was Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, when he couldn’t keep track of what he believed in.  And even then it was more comical than a breach of trust.

While trying to process all of this I have witnessed friends falling into the sexism inherent in the anti-Hillary camp.  I don’t care if you agree with her or not, if you would vote for her or not touch her with a ten foot pole.  All I care about is that people treat her with the same respect they would treat a man.  The fact that she is where she is today is incredible.  She is of an age where her accomplishments are extraordinary.  As much as women my age feel like we have to work hard to scramble through life because of men ignoring us, women Hillary’s age had to fight even more.  She is an impressive figure, and I applaud her tenacity and persistence.  The people shouting anti-Hillary rhetoric the loudest are the people who base their opinion in sexism.  Instead of realizing that they don’t trust her because we as a society do not trust outspoken, strong, “ambitious” women, they claim they don’t trust her because of emails.  Instead of acknowledging that her thorough entrenchment in DC politics is because she is excellent at politics as it is done in America, people say she is terribly untrustworthy simply because she is a politician.  And yes, politicians have a penchant for not saying what they actually mean and not following through, but that is a common problem.  She is no worse than the rest for that.

I have read several articles about feminism and Hillary Clinton today, but two of them resonated with me.  One is pro-Hillary, one is pro-Bernie.  Both are respectful, pertinent, and fervently feminist.  Both understand that not everyone agrees with that point of view, yet both refuse to back down from their stance.  But, most importantly, both amplify just how ridiculous it is to be anti-Hillary because she isn’t trustworthy.  She comes across as not trustworthy because she is good at what she does.  Good for her.  She is incredibly successful.

It makes me sad when I see people declaring they will never support Hillary Clinton for reasons that are so quantifiably not reasons.  Say you don’t like that she supported the Patriot Act, say you don’t like the Iran sanctions, say you don’t think her plan for making college affordable is feasible.

But please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t say it’s because of the damn emails.

 

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Me-ness, and the adult fallacy

Do you ever have one of those moments where, through the fog of stress and anxiety and frustration, you have a moment of clarity? A moment when you are so grateful for being yourself as opposed to someone else you just start crying? It’s such intense relief that you don’t know if you’re happy or sad. You can’t tell if it’s good or bad, and you don’t know what to do with the feeling. There’s nothing left but to be intoxicated by your own essence. And then, once the feeling passes, you go back to the stress. There is no respite, just more dealing with people.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult, and whether or not I can do it. Every so often, far more frequently than I would like, I end up in situations where I am cast suddenly into that relief of being myself. For a variety of different reasons that I won’t get into here I have recently found it necessary to put on my grown up face more often than not. Even my own bedroom isn’t safe from adulthood. I’ve had more conversations that required maturity, forethought, and responsibility in that room than anywhere else. Not the fun relationship conversations about future children and new living arrangements, not even conversations with my wonderful fiancé. No, the outside world is increasingly invading my personal space and childish ways.

Emails and Facebook messenger are ruining my immaturity. Maybe I should stop responding to things that are toxic to me in my bedroom, so that at least it can be a safe haven. Maybe someday I will have a communication blackout when I’m in there. But for now, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to think and talk about, and the only place I can relax fully is my room. This means that often I sit in bed and respond to stressors. I know, I know, that is NOT good. I’ll work on it, I promise. Maybe realizing that is a sign I’m a grown up. I know my mother would say so.

I hate how often that woman is right.

I always used to think that being an adult meant that I would know things and be sure of myself and not worry. Whenever I say that in my mother’s earshot she laughs at me. I used to think that being an adult meant remembering to do laundry before you run out of clean underwear, and always remembering to brush your teeth. Clearly, I would tell myself, because I’m terrible with the former and not super great at the latter, I couldn’t POSSIBLY be an adult. According to many people I think of as grown ups, however, this inability to consistently have clean underwear and teeth is a common problem. That alone makes me question much of my childhood. Anyway.

Being an adult sucks. There is no magic point where you pass from child to grown up. You just slowly start to have to do things to make sure you don’t die, don’t smell, don’t freeze. And you have to talk to people you dislike, and work with them, and not be passive aggressive toward them. Instead of saying “Look here, jerkface, you’re wrong. You’re being manipulative and whiney. You’re expecting us to bend over backwards for your paltry needs. Screw you and the ass you rode in on. No, I didn’t call you an ass, do you seriously not realize that that’s another word for donkey? So dumb,” you have to be polite and civil.

Apparently, being an adult doesn’t mean you have all the answers. It just means you know enough to realize that throwing a temper tantrum and yelling at people who deserve it won’t be productive as you want it to be, even if it is satisfying.

So tonight I am grateful. I’m grateful that I’m not a whiney dipshit who thinks the world revolves around them. I’m grateful that I can be reasonable, and that my sense of self worth has nothing to do with the people around me. I don’t need to tear other people down in order to feel happy and successful, and I can (usually) stop people around me from being that unkind to others. And to get what I want I don’t have to lie or manipulate.

Thank goodness for maturity. Thank goodness for self respect.

But adulthood can take a flying leap.

 

Remember me? A new year with a continuing me

Oh my goodness, where to start.

Hey guys, if you’re out there. I’m not dead. In fact, I’m very much the opposite. It’s been an absolutely insane few months though, and at points in there I felt like I was drowning.

Grad school is hard, man. No, I’m not surprised by that, but it’s staggering how much energy it takes. But, here I am on the other side of the semester, grades in hand, and another three weeks of vacation before the new semester starts.

And I already have a to-do list for the new semester, on top of my lists for life. Oh, and wedding planning? Apparently I need to do that too. Hah.

Excuse me while I go panic in a box somewhere. Maybe I’ll run away with the Doctor and save the universe instead. That would be less stressful than life these days.

While I was gone from this here blog thing so many things happened. I continued fife and drum, kept up teaching the munchkins (sort of, that tapered off there), went to school, celebrated my roommate’s birthday, celebrated my Dad’s birthday, dealt with every day relationship stuff while the lovely fiancé worked full time and also went to school….

**He’s my hero. He works so hard, doesn’t complain about it, and gets basically no sleep. I admire him so much.**

Anyway, lots of stuff went on. And now it’s a new year! I’m so excited for 2016, I can’t wait to see how it tops 2015. And, let’s face it, 2015 was a pretty epic year for me.

I learned how to say no and change my mind, despite pressure to stay the course. I went on tour with MCV, and connected more with reenacting as a hobby. I started a new grad school program, I freaking got engaged! I feel more a person as a whole than I ever have. I’m more sure of myself, my opinions, and my direction than I ever have been.

So, for 2016, I’m actually making 1 resolution: make goals for myself.

Yes, my resolution – a type of goal – is to make goals.

I’ve never been one for making goals, and when I do I swiftly drop them. I don’t follow through, or find a better way of achieving what I want (or I decide what I wanted doesn’t actually matter and settle for laziness). This time is different. I’m going to create goals that allow me to grow and enjoy myself as a person. For accountability’s sake I’m going to post them here, so that at least I can look back and see how things go.

So, in no particular order: Beff’s goals for 2016

  1. I am going to follow the Tone It Up New Year’s challenge. I’m going to devote the next 8 weeks to working out and clean eating. I’m going to nourish myself with sweat and veggies, and maybe even lose the weight I’ve put on since beginning the whole grad school fiasco 1.5 years ago
  2. I am going to read more. I used to read all the time, but as school has become more demanding I have read less. By the end of high school I hadn’t read a book for fun, start to finish, for over a year. But I love reading. I love how I can lose myself in different sorts of stories. So this year I am going to read at least 20 books for fun.
  3. I am going to keep my living space tidier. For my fiancé’s sake and my own, we need more organization and space in our room. I can learn to better do my part and put my stuff away!
  4. I will write blog posts more frequently. While writing a blog is not integral to any of the things I do in my life right now, I do enjoy having an outlet. I missed writing these last four months! Why should I neglect to keep up with something I enjoy??
  5. I am going to actually complete my master’s degree.

SO here I am. 2016 is going to be a great year!!

Hey friends….

I woke up today really grumpy. Why? I didn’t get a lot of sleep for the second night in a row. My body is attempting betrayal, and I’m not taking kindly to it. Thank goodness for a fiancé who doesn’t mind being woken at 3am for a hug.

Anyway, sleep deprivation aside, it’s been a while since I posted here. It’s not for lack of topics. I have a lot of thoughts every day. Just ask the fiancé – every day when he gets home from work I have a new tirade. Really the problem is I have too many thoughts, too many ideas for posts, and too many feelings to adequately express myself in a coherent manner. If I post something controversial I want to at least discuss it in a coherent, conscientious, and considerate way. I feel very strongly that people should engage in healthy debate. How else could anyone understand another’s point of view? And healthy debate is impossible without respect for opinions other than your own. I have been afraid that I can’t express myself properly so, instead of writing something inflammatory that I don’t mean…

Let’s talk about this instead.


Yup. I cut my hair. It’s all gone. It’s pretty great actually. I am still getting used to it, but gosh I can’t sing this cut’s praises enough! I feel free. Absolutely free!

Why did I cut my hair? Well, I’ve been eyeing a number of beautiful pixies on several celebrities. I was jealous. I was green with envy. I felt trapped by my hair, bogged down and suffocated by it. I couldn’t shower in under 10 minutes simply for dealing with the amount of hair I was shedding. I couldn’t sleep because I had to find a way to pile my hair on my head to keep it out of my face. I’ve had longer hair than before this chop but for some reason this summer it was too much. So away it went.

I regret nothing.

I was worried that I wouldn’t feel pretty, that I would look chubby in the face (why was that what I was worried about?!?!?!), that it would be difficult to manage. But, as it turns out, not only do I feel pretty and not chubby in the face at all…
 I feel pretty effing confident and badass. And this is the easiest hair to style. Ever. No blow dryer, no curling wand, no pins and clips and hair spray. Just leave in conditioner with a little hold to it. Comb, run my hands through my hair, and bam. Hair is styled, Beth looks like a person, off we go with our wonderfully present cheek bones we never knew we had.

I even look like, dare I say it…. a grown up. New hairdo, new Beth, just in time to start school.

Look out world, it’s go time.

Yup

Patriotism

Patriotism is complicated.

Some people seem to think that being a patriot means you follow blindly. You support your country without question, you show no discontent or criticism, and you soldier on. A united front of sheep.

I disagree with this view. How can you truly love something, be it a person or country, if you can’t see it’s faults? How can you claim to be proud of your country if you refuse to constantly improve it? The most important part of patriotism is seeing when something is wrong. Seeing when something needs to be fixed. One must be willing to admit failure or fault in order to truly love something. Blind following helps no one.

I’m re-watching “The Newsroom”, an HBO masterpiece, and it has one of my favorite opening scenes ever (see it here). It makes me think about all the things I wish were different about America, and all the ways in which our government is set up to allow us to fix it when it needs a tune up. You wouldn’t refuse to take your car to the shop if it stopped working properly because you love it… You would bring it for a tune up, make sure it’s all working, and replace the radiator. Countries should work the same way.

Patriotism is hard.

Patriotism is complicated.

Outrage

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that many people didn’t believe the women who came forward about Bill Cosby until he said things that implied he did, in fact, rape those women.

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that the instant Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the front of a magazine, the media instantly switched into the rhetoric always used on women. She’s not in her twenties, and she appeared in a pretty one-piece/corset-y thing. Oh the horror. Oh I forgot, she also has a few wrinkles and wasn’t 100% airbrushed. How dare she appear her age and also look fab.

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that I have to, after trying to express these feelings myself, get my fiancé to stand up for me sometimes… because my voice just isn’t enough. Thank goodness he listens. Thank goodness he doesn’t speak for me unless I ask him to.

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that marines were killed last week, on U.S. soil, and there is still no real implication that gun laws will change.

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that marines were killed last week by a man with a name in a different language, and that means he is clearly a bad guy in the media. If he had had an english name, I wonder how the media representation would be different. (Note: I have not done much research into this situation, so please take these words at face value and do not say that I am in support of murderers because I believe that everyone should be represented equally in the media.)

I want to take a moment to express my outrage that I had to write that note in my defense, because people these days are so quick to declare others anti-American, freedom haters, or extremists.

I want to express my outrage that relations between the U.S. and Cuba have changed, I believe for the better, and after so many years of no real diplomatic relations… no one seems to be paying attention to the fact that things just changed. I can find things in the news, on facebook, on twitter, about what celebrity wore what dress last weekend, but I have to actually look hard for a tidbit about Cuba. That’s backwards.

I want to express my outrage that, as a twenty-something woman, I get more well wishes because I am recently engaged than I did when I was accepted into graduate school. They are equally life-altering. They are in my eyes equally important. And as happy as I am to graciously and happily, with a big goofy smile, accept congratulations on my engagement… why is an impending marriage more important than the education required to create a career? Is my worth so very tied up in whether or not I am attached to someone? How might this congratulational (new word, made it up just now) imbalance be different if I were gay? Would my worth be tied up in my relationship status if I were permanently attaching myself to another woman?

I want to express my outrage that I have so much frustration. It’s exhausting. It’s like shouting at a piece of concrete. It’s like trying to mold water. It feels like no matter how many people try and change things for the better, they never change.

They will change some day. I hope I live to see it.

Being a grown up

Growing up is weird.

When you’re little your parents clearly know everything. They’re never scared, they have all the answers, and know how to untie those knots you accidentally made in you shoe laces. When you have a nightmare, Dad gets next to you in bed and rubs your back until you fall back asleep. When you’re sick Mum stays up with you while you’re crying because your ear hurts. They are the end all be all of the world.

Then you get a little older. You realize that sometimes when Mum gets angry it’s really because she’s sad and scared. You realize that Dad doesn’t actually know everything, because he helped you get the wrong answer on your homework. Despite these imperfections, they are still incredible to you. You know that they still can take care of you.

And then you’ve graduated college, you don’t live with them anymore, and you have your own experiences and content knowledge. You can see them age, them and your grandparents, and you can help them with things that you never dreamed of. You can be a productive part of conversations, even providing answers for them. And all the while you can’t figure out why it all feels so weird. Something feels off. And then you realize…

It’s because suddenly they’re not the magical heroes they used to be. You’ve figured out the secret to adulthood, the secret they kept from you as long as they could: being a grown up doesn’t mean you’re never scared and know everything. It actually means being scared and not knowing a lot, but carrying on anyway.

Being a grown up is overrated.

Feminist Fatigue

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

atentdeadYou may have noticed that blogday has been missing for a couple of weeks. I have no excuse for this – I wasn’t moving house (thank goodness – I’ve already done that 5 times since starting this blog) or on holiday or ill or anything special at all.  Well, I had a few exams and was prioritising revision, but if I am brutally honest with myself the revision was a blessed excuse not to write.

I didn’t write because…I had nothing to say.

Not that there wasn’t anything going on in the world that I could have written about, or that nothing made me angry, or that nothing happened, or either that I didn’t have any ideas to write about. I just couldn’t get my brain in the right space to sit down and write. It all felt too huge, too complicated, too pointless, too much of a struggle. With…

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