Thursday, August 29, 2013

I want you to know

- vicarious resilience is real
- "the monster at the end of this book" is actually a complex life lesson
-chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Golden Grahams are things I never want to get tired of eating
-Hell exists for a reason and its going to be full.
-"self-righteous" is synonymous with "pride". See previous bullet point.
-the most amazing, phenomenal, and wonderful people I know are those who have made mistakes and are trying to make repairs.
-Heaven will be full of people who have made mistakes. See previous bullet point.
-I'm not sure I understood when people told me grad school would be hard. Beyond thinking work, beyond sweaty work, I think emotional work is the hardest of all.
-I know strong people, I have incredible friends.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Class has begun. Its the last year of grad school. I'm doing an internship, being a therapist, taking classes, singing in the choir, playing the organ at the temple, taking care of the children that I have taken care of for 4 years, trying to maintain friendships and doing some freelance editing for an opera magazine.  Busy.

I'm actually still reeling from the stuff that incited last week's post, and trying to figure if and how those friendships should proceed. The wonderful thing is, there are more than just those men in the world, and I have dear friends who have been kind and supportive in the face of all that. Of course, that only serves to make those saturday men look even more like the braying donkeys that they are. I suppose my conflict over that mess is that I know I deserve an apology, and I know I won't get one. So wanting or hoping is wasted energy.  But I mostly want and hope because I wish they would make some effort to redeem themselves. I want some evidence that they are at least making efforts to be better people. But if I raise the idea of an apology, it becomes a demand or an expectation that may or may not be met, and becomes a sort of currency in the relationship.

I recognize I'm being a total "girl" about this. But isn't that the issue? There's nothing wrong with me being a girl. There's nothing wrong with me wanting or expecting to be treated as an equal. There's nothing wrong with me hoping my friends act like better people.

And it is certain that they know. I'm not playing the silent treatment game or the "I'm fine" game. I made one of them aware of my own feelings about the whole mess. His response was to tell me I was overreacting.

Here are my thoughts: Women are strong. So strong that entire civilizations have made efforts to oppress them.  They have been reduced to sexual objects simply because the men who have come to run the money part of life do not fully grasp the emotional and physical strength of a woman.  I think it scares them.  I think it scares everyone. And little girls everywhere are being raised to believe they are weak.  Because if they know how strong they are, they will change the world. When a woman's ability to be loving and nurturing, to be emotionally strong in the face of soul wrenching and near death pains, to feel and overcome things rather than numbing themselves and dwelling in the filth, when those abilities are given the weight they merit, the love of power and money diminishes. When people find strength in loving, forgiving, nurturing, money becomes the tool that it was intended to be.  An exchange system. Nothing more. And all those men who have spent all those years grabbing at wealth in order to have power and control are left with things. Just things. There is no love in things.

It's the biggest conspiracy of all. So big, people who participate have no idea they are systematically destroying their own daughters. Click on the website and laugh at the brides for sale.  Use scantily clad women to sell hamburgers. Shoot the little girls who are going to school.

We live in a world where this all happens. And the self-righteous American, appalled at some distant story of foreign female torture says "I don't oppress" right up until they turn on their TV, where the only women who aren't portrayed as sexual objects are portrayed as nagging housewives.

Yes, I'm angry.

But there is a real question here. You see, I can talk about how women are stronger because they have a deeper and more pronounced ability for nurturing and loving. If I'm really going to demonstrate strength, if I'm really going to embrace the feminine, if I'm really going to change the world, then I have to find a kind and loving approach to expressing my distaste for their behavior. I don't get to throw a tantrum, I don't get to yell and scream, I don't get to punch them in their noses. Which brings me (finally) to my question.

How do I drive home the point?  How do I appropriately address the fact that their behavior was inappropriate? How do I convey the hurt that they caused? How do I model appropriate behavior? How do I show a better way? How do I demonstrate strength, love, nurturing as the more desirable power? How do I teach them to act differently?

Luna asked a brilliant question. She asked what I wanted. An apology? A gesture of remorse?  I thought about it. What I want is a conversation. I want them to know. I want them to be better.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why are you single?

The Scarlet S.  If you are single, you must be miserable. Why don't you fix that?  Choose to be happy, merry, married? Is it a choice?

People say some thoughtless things. My brother once told me that the reason I was still single was because my standards were too high. People do thoughtless things. Like the co worker that wanted to set me up with her son's friend because she thought I was "accepting" enough to like him despite his prison record. Clearly, these two had conflicting opinions of me. So I could choose to believe one, or choose to believe that other, or choose to believe neither...
Or I could choose to take it in, think about it, weigh it, wonder why someone's opinion would be as it it, accept the accurate, reject the inaccurate, and strive to display a more honest representation of myself.

So the other night I was at dinner with a group of men. Friends. Acquaintances. Seriously attractive, successful, single, Mormon men. Leaders in their communities and congregations. Every time I am with this group of men, I find myself wondering how I get to be the one girl hanging out with them.  We are not in the same league - physically or socially.  I'm telling you, they are pretty. And confident. And successful. And so very everything that I was told in Young Women's I was supposed to want. What are they doing having dinner with mousy awkward me?

That's a question I have never been able to answer.

But on to dinner. The conversation turned to mail order brides. The smart phones got turned on and suddenly, there were the websites.  That's right, among the wonders of the internet are actual websites where you can order a wife. Cataloged according to age, weight, height, location, cost. With pictures!  And profiles! All for your browsing enjoyment. They started passing around pictures, mocking. Making guesses as to what is wrong with each one. This one is probably high maintenance.  This one is ugly.  This one says she wants a family. How ridiculous.

I've never felt like such a piece of livestock. Try to be cool.  To speak up means to be high maintenance or a bitch. Speak up and you are a "feminazi".  Stay silent and you agree with them. Stay silent and you let it happen. Stay silent, and you perpetuate the problem.

Well, how am I supposed to act?

These guys would never actually use the website for purchases. They would never actually participate in human trafficking. They would only sit in a restaurant and mock the women who place themselves up for sale.  What kind of a life must these women have to choose to sell themselves?  What do these men know of their pain?

And these men sat mocking them.

Objectifying is as old as humanity itself. Women are guilty of it. Men have made an industry of it. Women tease with it. Men live in it. Women wish they could be so callous. Men march on buying and selling and mocking. Do you have any money? You can buy anything with money.

Too harsh? Oh that you could have been at that table with me. Perhaps I could have had a friend.  A fellow woman to stand with me, a chivalrous male to defend?  An ally?  I was alone at that table, so you will just have to take my word as to what it felt like. I was the three legged disease ridden cow at the county fair. They could talk like this around me, because I was the most certain loser. I was the hideous joke that best just be understanding because even the women selling themselves were worth more than me.

Do you know what I wanted to do?  I wanted to indulge them.  I wanted to invite them to start rating the women, and then to create a pricing guide. She is a 10?  How much would you pay for a 10?  How much for a 4?  How much for a 2?  Oh good, now that we have this established, let's rate a few more women. Where does your sister fit on this scale?  How much for her?  How much for your mother?  How much for me? Is this still funny? Is this still a joke? Have I taken it too far yet? When do you think you took it too far?

And the world keeps asking them "Why are you single?" And the world keeps asking me "Why are you single?"

Here's the deal.  I'm not going to name names or give identifying information here. That's a level of cruel and shaming that I am unwilling to engage in. But I swear if one of my friends ever goes out with one of them, or shows an interest in one, or so much as begins to flirt with them I will giver her every gory detail.  I will warn her. I will point her to this blog entry and I will plead with her to stay away. My friends are better than this. They are worth more than this.

I was right about one thing. We are not in the same league. I was wrong about one thing. They are not worth more than me.  My brother was right about one thing, my standards are high. But he was wrong as well. I think perhaps that my standards have not been high enough. I may be a chubby, unattractive, poor, and socially awkward 36 year old woman, but I am so far out of their league. As long as we are going to quantify people, and value them on some scale or another, they may as well know: I am so much more.

I was done playing the dating game a long time ago. It was always a miserable awful experience and I was frankly eager for the day when I was deemed "too old" for that scene. But until last night, I hadn't thought to be grateful for my singleness. You see, I can be happier on my own than I could ever be bound to one of them.  I will travel the world, I will serve the people around me, I will be a mother to every child that comes into my office, I will have a closet full of shoes just because I can, I will be responsible for my own salvation without having to drag someone kicking and screaming behind me. I will sing in the choir, I will cherish every friendship, I will eat cheescake, and I will resist every urge to ever question my worth again.

So, in case you want to know my answer.  Why am I single? What I am is happy with what I am. Why should anyone deserve more or less?