A Direct Response to Those who Say Women Had No Right to March:

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Social media has been abuzz with opinions in the past few days, mostly involving the women around the world who chose to march in response to, what many assume, is the election and inauguration of Trump. While I would never deny many of us are left feeling disenfranchised by the surreal reality of what’s transpired, let’s get one thing clear, he is not important enough alone to warrant these marches. He’s just gasoline on a pile of smoldering discrimination many experience every day.

For those, including women, who say women are not discriminated against in the US, there is apparently a disconnect between realities. It’s undoubtedly some level of privilege that allows some to say “I’ve never seen this or that”—a privilege many would love to live. However, to be clear, one person’s reality does not mean it is the realty for all. We cannot know what every woman in this nation experiences by glancing through our own windows. To be understood fully, we have to look through all the windows from every level—a task only possible by listening to the qualitative data—the voices—so many like to deny, or worse, squelch. Maybe some have never been mistreated or disrespected as females in the US, but some have. To say we American women have it made as a whole is a damaging misconception at best, a despicable lie at worst.

Here’s the truth many would like to shove off the playing field we call protest:

If you have never been humiliated, belittled, or damaged by the process of reporting a rape within the US, you do not get to say women & women’s rights are important here.

If you have never been slut shamed for wearing the clothes you choose, or worse, been blamed for your own sexual assault because of them, you do not get to say women are held in high regard.

If you have never been denied a medically necessary abortion because a group’s religious beliefs interfere with the process of medical care, you do not get to say women always have the right to choose.

If you have never tried to attain a promotion or raise in a male-dominated field without being told to “get in the kitchen, “ being forced to flirt, or being forced to perform sexual favors, you do not get to say women are treated equally.

If you have never had to fight your insurance company to cover preventative tests, like pap smears or cancer screenings, while insurance is regularly covering Viagra for impotence, you do not get to tell women their lives matter.

If you have never been forced to either abstain from sex or get pregnant, even in the context of a marriage, because you can’t afford the birth control your insurance won’t cover, you do not get to say women have the same choices as men.

If you have never become pregnant as the result of a rape, and then been forced to give your rapist visitation rights of that child, you do not get to tell women they have the same control as men.
If you have never reported domestic abuse, only to be asked what you did to make him mad, you cannot say women have equal protection.

If you have never had to fight your employer for maternity leave, a clean, private area & the time to pump breast milk for your child, you do not get to say the workplace is “woman friendly”.
If you have never had to tell a man you have a boyfriend to stop his advances because “I’m not interested, “ or “No” were not enough, you cannot say men value women’s opinions.

This is just a short list of the discrimination women face in the US. It doesn’t even begin to touch on intersectionallity, or the discrimation felt by other ethnic and religious groups. No, it’s not Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, or India. No, we do not have honor killings and female genital mutilation, although those things happen in the shadows. However, the argument that we don’t have it as bad as them is as ridiculous as saying someone with lung cancer shouldn’t complain because someone with brain cancer has it worse. It’s still cancer, which is exactly why women rose up to meet the occasion.

We stand and fight because a man who not only openly scoffs at, but promotes the degradation of women and other minorities represents the cancer that has lived so long within this country. Trump isn’t the only problem. It’s everything he represents. Sure, maybe he is a good businessperson. Maybe his failures are fewer than his successes, but it’s how he became successful we should worry about. The way he speaks, the way he openly degrades, women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and people who live with disabilities is sickening. To allow his presidency to become a larger reign of terror is to let us all implode.

You see, we don’t march so we can have casual Fridays, free cable, or even because we don’t like the word “pussy”. We march because when he says “grab,” “wall,” or “register,” we know what that connotes: assault fascism, and the end of the freedoms so many of us have fought for—not just for ourselves, but for ALL.

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A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

Joyeux Fête Des Pères!

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It’s Father’s Day—

There are men I could bash for doing it wrong—some fathers who never see or speak to their children, aren’t there to support them emotionally or financially, and are seemingly so caught up in their own lives they barely recognize the lives of the people they chose to create. However, I will not concentrate on them.

Instead, I want to take this time to recognize the ones who do it right. There are so many men who are terrific parents and mentors to their children, and even the children of others. Some of them father with the help of a spouse, and others are going it alone. Either way it’s no easy task. In order to parent, one must sacrifice, give, and work more than they’ve ever thought possible.

I’ve seen men being amazing parents for a long time, but they rarely get credit. The most common word associated with “Dad” is “deadbeat”. Anything else gets swept under the rug. But I’ve seen it firsthand. Men everywhere making sure their sons and daughters are cared for in every sense of the phrase. Men setting the example of being a good human being. Men treating their significant others well so their children can follow suit in their own relationships. Men giving up the single life to raise a child on their own. Even though we don’t see it in the media too often, they really do exist.

Being a father is as difficult as being a mother, only with a little added tinge of difficulty. Socially constructed man code tells men they’re not nurturers. It tells them to be despondent and disconnected. It tells them to never show emotion. Increasingly though, men are defying and rewriting that code.

Men are stay-at-home parents. Men want to take paternity leave. Men want to be active in their children’s lives just like moms, and more and more they’re making that happen.

So, to all you dads out there, especially my son, I applaud you. You are helping to make the world a better place. You are helping to raise responsible, compassionate human beings who know there is no reason for lack of love because of gender. You are raising a future generation who will one day look back and say “My dad was always there for me,” and that, fellas, makes all the difference in the life of a child.

And to all the moms out there who are acting fathers for the men who won’t step up, Happy Moms Doing It All Day to you!

(Imagae source:http://www.jardinierdedieu.com/article-priere-pour-la-fete-des-peres-118496788.html)

You Don’t Have to Choose: Clean House & Happy Kids

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Writing is work, and since the old proverb is true that money doesn’t grow on trees, I’ve been dedicating most of my time to my fiction writing of late. Once in a while, though, something comes along that crawls up under your skin, forcing you to write about it so you can rid your mind of the toxins. Such an article made its way into my pores tonight.

I’m not a fan of either/or stories, usually. Life proves with increasing frequency that rarely is “either/or” the way things actually are. There are generally many explanations or solutions. Thus, most of these stories are just some false dichotomy built around (or sometimes for) drama.

When I clicked on this little piece written in a man’s point of view, I thought I’d be happier by the end. The letdown was not dissimilar from a bad date.

Writing for The Washington Post, author Clint Edwards’s article “I Blamed My Wife for a Messy House. I Was Wrong For Many Reasons” seemed to have the potential of being rather insightful.

I wanted to read about a man who not only shared in the work of raising children, but also in keeping the home. To be fair, he does hit on that aspect, at least a little. He says he started washing some of the dishes after realizing the heavy workload carried by his wife, a stay-at-home mother. He even says he began to be more aware of his children’s development.

Kudos, I guess. Call me crazy, but I thought most dads did that sort of thing nowadays.

Sure, most of the time women carry the greatest part of the burden in the household as far as raising children, cooking, and keeping house. Maybe in decades past men weren’t helpful in the home, but I think that climate has changed significantly, even from just a decade ago.

I’m not honestly here to argue the finer points of gender roles in anyone’s home, though. What really bothered me was the point Edwards laments that having a messy, disorganized home is quite acceptable.

I refute that idea completely. Why? Let me tell you.

I raised three sons. Part of that time I worked a full-time job. My home was still never disorganized or dirty. I didn’t have the time of day for disorganization. “Messy” made me late. “Dirty” made me edgy. Our home was clean, neat, and organized so we knew without question where everything was, and there wasn’t a need for last minute cleaning if guests were coming. We were ready.

I say “we,” because we were a family, but I happened to have a husband who wouldn’t have lifted a finger to wash a dish or pay attention to our children any more than he would’ve volunteered for a superfluous rectal exam. Not that he shouldn’t have—don’t get me wrong, I deserved more help that I received. However, I did it. My kids learned to clean up after themselves, and no one suffered.

I had time to attend sporting events, band concerts, and school functions. Believe it or not, even though I took time to wash dishes, I was still able to potty train my 3 sons—a feat the author’s wife, apparently, is unable to perform.

This whole concept of one not being a good parent if they have to take time to clean their home makes no sense at all to me, and this woman didn’t work outside the home, either.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I had time for all my children, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and even time to myself.

It isn’t about life being one or the other. It’s about being organized enough to make things work. Granted, sometimes that means enlisting help—and listen up men, if you’re not already helping, you should be. However, while being a stay-at-home mom is more than being Peggy Bundy circa Married with Children, eating bonbons and watching Oprah Winfrey, it is also not impossible.

Edwards says his wife would rather not be the type of mother who pays no attention to her children or herself, making it sound as if those stay-at-home parents who do find time to keep the household in the kind of order that prevents our neighbors from thinking we should be on an episode of Hoarders, are neglectful parents who also make no time for ourselves.

I call it hogwash.

Sometimes the kids have to come before scouring the tub, but generally speaking, what parents learn to do best is multi-task. Yes, that may mean you will sometimes be tired. That may mean your kids will not have your undivided attention throughout the day. It will probably also mean the kids need to pitch in to clean up their own little messes, but what’s the harm in that?

Keeping house has been part of human life since the advent of homes. Humans build a space to accommodate their family, and someone has to keep it clean. What humans are also champions at doing is complicating very simplistic situations.

Are we to believe that homemakers, no matter their gender, have life harder now than say in the 19th and 20th centuries? With all the new automated machines we have it harder? Now that we put dishes in a dishwasher or clothing in the washing machine and walk away until they’re ready to be removed instead of washing laundry on a washboard or dishes by hand in a sink—both which used to require also carrying water, I am to believe a person who stays home with their children is overburdened? Doubtful.

Here’s the real truth: Our lives have become so much easier we fail to organize properly, and we complain at even small efforts.

Rather than letting work pile up, women (and I say “women” because in the past it was traditionally women who were doing the work in the home) used to keep on top of things because they knew that pile of dishes or laundry would be impossible to tackle if they didn’t. Now, it seems so easy. “I’ll get that later,” but later never comes. By the time someone decides to jump in, the house is a disaster.

It isn’t either the house or the kids. Both can be attended to nicely, but it will take a slight bit of effort. Not the effort our foremothers were forced to put forth, mind you, but a little organization and time dedicated each day to housework can save so much trouble and embarrassment. While you’re at it, enlist the kids. One day they’ll be adults, and unless you want to clean their homes for them, it might be a good idea for them to know what cleaning looks like. Life isn’t all trips to the park, even though we wish it could be. The little ones won’t hate you for spending the time to clean the house. In fact, they’ll probably appreciate it in the long run.

(image source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-clean-the-house-7/)

Let’s Get Real About Sexual Abuse, Gender and Perception

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I think it’s time we quit projecting boys who are sexually abused as men. They deserve the right to say they feel victimized, too. Let’s have a real conversation about sexual abuse, gender, and perception. You can find my article, Innocence Lost: Sexual Abuse, Gender, and Perception by following the link to The Well Written Woman site.