Cruel and unusual treatment

It is if you think about it. What is done to women in this country is cruel and unusual. The expectations we place on them. The assumptions we make of them.

I have an opportunity to write a guest blog on a site focused on gender equality. I have been considering what to write about for the past week, and my mind keeps going back to balance and what bullshit that is. And then this article pops up:

The Invisible Workload That Drags Women Down

Yes.

This is it.

And it’s not okay.

While this article is a funny read, it’s also very real. There are days when I’m overwhelmed by the volume on my to-do list. I just want to cry, or give up, but realize rationally that will just take up more time I already don’t have and it won’t check anything off my list. My other half helps sometimes, but when he nudges me for recognition, I resent it. And frankly, I feel justified in resenting the hint. (Really, I do say thank you and I appreciate it quite a bit, but I also recognize how we all want to hear it more often.)

Here is a quote from Should Women Thank Men for Doing the Dishes?:

Enter the awkward concept of gratitude. It’s awkward because many women frankly resent the idea that men should be thanked for doing the work they’ve always been expected to do. The resentment is personal and it’s political. It’s personal, because every woman who comments on these issues has had a man in her life that didn’t do his fair share. And it’s political, because the debate is fundamentally about the balance of power between men and women as groups. In fact, research shows that men will withhold gratitude as an expression of power over women.

I have a hardtime visualizing myself as who I am: an independent women who earned a goddamn PhD and started successful non-profit while working full-time and raising kids. Most days I daydream about being a caregiver. Not just for my own kids, but for others’ kids too. I shouldn’t fantasize about that!

I’m not saying caring for children isn’t noble, and let’s be honest, it does not get the recognition the profession deserves. Saying it’s hard is the understatement of the year, but that’s not my only lot in life nor should it be any woman’s! I may be the trash woman, the maid, the cat-vomit-wiper-upper, the laundress, the cook, and the primary child caregiver at home, but is that all I am made of?

No.

But what is it we tell women?

Can women visualize themselves as successful professionals? Maybe not. It’s no secret that dressing for success is real. Studies have shown what you wear impacts your performance. There was even a study done about girls playing dress up and the effects of lab coats on their career aspirations. But what if the aspirations are there, and the jobs aren’t?

The lack of quality jobs to allow for flexible work schedules or working from home is embarrassing. There are some smart-as-sin women out there who are doing data entry from home. Why? Because it was the only work from home or flexible gig they could find. What an absolute tragedy.

Just about all of the women in that room planned to combine careers and family in some way. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.

Let’s talk child care. There is no denying it is heavily shouldered by women. Arranging for child care is even seen as a woman’s responsibility. Really. Let me explain.

How many times have you heard, “Want me to watch the kids for you?” come out of someone’s mouth? That person is probably almost always male. I at least know my husband saying, “Mind if I run up the street?” is never followed by “Want me to watch the kids for you?” from me.

A search on npr.org for stories in the past year about “child care” returns stories where women and children are only depicted in the illustrations.

How is it we expect women to reach for that brass ring when they’re wearing a suit made of lead? Many of us still do it, but the climb is more strenuous than it should be.

While it would be wonderful if you would read all the linked content, please, at minimum, do read Why women still can’t have it all. It will begin to solve all of the world’s problems.

Sticks and Stones and the Internet

A couple weeks ago Chris and I went on a drive in our new car. The kids were with Grandma and we just enjoyed the journey. During our drive we discussed many things, including an upcoming project of mine that will make me more visible online.

Chris argued that by putting myself out there in any way and by simply being a woman, I am opening myself up to the unfortunate side of the Internet. He hates this side of the Internet, totally thinks I shouldn’t let this stop me, but just wanted to warn me. I told him I wasn’t worried because my focus isn’t anything, even seemingly, controversial. He replied, “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. It’s just because you’re a woman. And smart. They hate that.”

I don’t get why people feel justified in harassing other people, on or off the Internet. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, he’s right.

tumblr_m3mmexwzdP1r93hr6o1_250

By just having thoughts in my head, I’m controversial.

This underlying and sometimes blatant hatred of women just because they’re women and smart is…well, I just cannot put it into words. I honestly cannot comprehend any possible reason for such a stupid perspective. Why would someone hate anyone for being smart? Having opinions? Or even just existing?

You want to know what else bothers me? This thought that what happens online isn’t real. Last week I read an amazing article that expresses what is real and constant for many women in our society.

John Oliver breaks down the reality for women on the Internet with a little bit of humor.

For god’s sake, you’d think the way the people are lashing out at these women, they were axe murderers or even Hitler himself.

What happens online doesn’t stay online. This harassment affects our every day lives. By continuing to dismiss and accept these crimes against women, the oppressive power will persist on the Internet just as it has in society for thousands of years.

Not Just Words

Recently I attended the MoCPA conference and several of my fellow educators and I were talking about how we hear new music. I usually just browse Amazon. Others said they use Spotify, so I thought I would give it a try.

I played the Today’s Top Hits playlist a few times and liked it.

Yesterday while I was working out, I decided to try something new as my gym playlist was a few weeks old.  After listening to that 5 days per week, I really needed something fresh to get me moving again. I tried the Power Workout playlist.

To be light would be saying I am not a fan. For the full truth, read on.

Daily I encounter stories of offensive language and acts being perpetrated against fellow human beings, especially children, people of various ethnic and racial origins, and women.

In these songs on this playlist I was playing to motivate myself through my workout, I heard women being referred to as bitches [sic] and pussies [sic].

These are just 2 terms out of the number heard in daily life today that should never be used to describe other human beings. Shame on Spotify, the artists, and all the people who help these terms and others continue to pervade society.

Girls Against the Grain

Women’s issues are always on my mind, and I am always eager to hear what other feminists (and opposers) have to say. My ears perked up a couple weeks ago when a story came on NPR about Marissa Mayer’s second maternity leave.

On a professional note, she did double the amount of paid maternity leave for Yahoo employees, yet she did away with telecommuting.  She also built a nursery next to her office to use with her four month-old son. Yes, she is a CEO of a very large company and arguably works more hours than the traditional full-time employee. But does her clout and wealth allow her certain benefits not afforded to other working moms? Yes. Does taking only a few weeks of maternity leave and working throughout set presidence for other women taking maternity leave? Unfortunately, yes.

While any woman should be able to do what is best for her personal situation, in this country, society groups women together when considering what women should do. It is as if we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves. We are judged for taking time off. We are judged for asking for flexible work schedules. We are judged for bringing our children to conferences or work. We are judged when our children get sick. We are judged constantly, regardless of what the laws state.

Unsurprisingly, men with children are rewarded in the workplace while women are reprimanded.

I loathe the whole lean in crap circulating right now. As if women cannot be multiple identities at once. We can work and be mothers if that is what we want to do. Marissa Mayer, as well as other women, should not be admonished by the public for only taking a few weeks of maternity leave. We, however, should recognize as a society our role in women’s issues, including paid maternity leave and support of working mothers.

Find out more:

Political Science Baby Ban

Managers avoid hiring women to avoid maternity leave

Could ‘Free the Nipple’ be working against equality?

Could inviting women to fight for equality harm equality? I think so. Especially if it suggests women fight for their rights to be able to go topless by going topless.

I know the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign is about the principle of owning our bodies; I, however, am with Alyssa Milano. There are other women’s issues we need to tackle first: breastfeeding rights, maternity leave, sexual assault, wage equality, and reinforced gender stereotypes to name a few.

From the wikipedia page on the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign:

Conversely, most states in the US note either explicitly or implicitly that any kind of exposure of the female areola is an act of indecent exposure and therefore a criminal offense. Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington are the only states whose laws expressly differentiate breast-feeding mothers from performances of “public lewdness.”

Only about 1/6 of states in the U.S. even differentiate between breastfeeding and other displays of the breasts. Online services frequently delete pictures and videos of women breastfeeding, yet allow other graphic, arguably inappropriate images and videos.

Honestly, friends, we have some work to do and I’m not sure how running around topless will help.

Crying Wolf

It is very hard for victims of sexual assault to come forward. Some even struggle to tell those most dear to them for many reasons. We are individuals and struggle differently with those terrible things that haunt our lives.

Chris recently had someone troll him on Reddit. I say troll because this person has attacked him, unprovoked and repeatedly, for what he believes. Chris believes people who come forward about sexual assault or rape – regardless of gender – should be supported. While there are people in our society who do tell lies, we should not allow those to tarnish our humanity.

Yes, we all have recently heard of stories about people falsely claiming sexual assault or rape. Those instances are disheartening and deplorable. It is sad those people may feel they are doing justice to the cause by essentially crying wolf. People who have been sexually assaulted or raped live with that experience each day. It is a shame some people choose to embellish their lives with these harrowing experiences they truly know nothing about.

In regards to societal norms, we women culturally are so often asked to forgive or ignore the misbehaviors of others. Sexual assault and rape are never ok and should not be ignored. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or rape, encourage them to speak up. Nothing is more isolating than silence.

Pocket Equality

Today needs an exorcism. Why? The f!cking pockets on women’s clothes!

Pockets on women’s clothes, for those who know, seriously suck. They are always super tiny, unless on man-shaped clothes. Why can women not have clothes with a great fit and actual pockets?! These particular pockets on my pants today BARELY fit my 4 fingers in them, and I’m rather petite.

This morning I dropped everything at different times of the morning due to said tiny, useless pockets! I dropped my debit card. Then my keys. The best: my iPhone. My phone went under the car so far that I couldn’t even reach it while lying on the ground. I had to back the car up during the morning rush in the parking garage, block traffic, grab my phone and park again.

So…these pants I’m wearing, they’re going in the trash today at 4 pm, simply because they are so frustrating.  Women’s pants make us carry everything in our hands, thus not being able to move fluidly, shake hands easily, and have to bumble and fumble if we have to open a door. Carry a purse? I hate that too.

Somebody, somewhere, start a pocket equality movement!

 

 

 

The Cloak of Invisibility Allows Gender-Based Violence

You can be an asshole on the Internet, but why?

On Monday I began listening to Invisibilia’s most recent episode, Our Computers, Ourselves and finished it yesterday afternoon.

The second half of the show strongly resonated in my mind. As the story goes, this commuter train rider was tired of rude commuters so he started a Twitter account where he’d post pictures of the infractions in attempt to shame rude people on the train. His crowd shaming efforts soon turned shameful. Not only did he post pictures of rude behavior, but he began being rude himself – the worst was posting a picture of a woman with terrible acne scarring and making a snide remark. When word about this Twitter account got out, his followers skyrocketed.

I’m sure there are other situations like this. Person is a jerk. People are fascinated by the tragedy. Jerk gets an audience.

Why are we as society so fascinated with the negative?

Why is it ok to say these things on the Internet?

The Internet is full of trolls. (See: This American Life “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS”) I theorize the troll to person ratio is 4:1. They will troll on anyone for any unconceivable reason. Even worse than the trolls are completely heinous dungeon dwellers. These individuals find it completely acceptable to threaten women, often with vicious, violent acts.

Gender-based violence is nothing new. There are still people in society who will say such comments or threats to a woman’s face, but the cloak of invisibility people feel the Internet provides seems to turn down the volume on the super-ego and unleash the unbridled id.

Unfortunately it seems to take a rally cry, hash tagging and a bunch of blogging to hold social media venues accountable for reacting to gender-based violence. For now, most offenses still receive boiler plate responses that include phrases like:

Just like when we are interacting in a public space we may overhear conversations that are offensive…

This same platform chirped further about how users can find such content “frustrating”. Yes, being told to “go get raped” or “get raped with a broken bottle” is totally frustrating, just like this rush hour traffic.

It is never ok to suggest or threaten violence against anyone. This plague of gender-based violence is open for everyone to see and affect. The best cure for a bully is an ally. Stand up and be an ally against gender-based violence. Don’t give the assholes an audience, report their heinous behavior, and their soapbox will cave in.

Expectations of Me

The topic of women has always been rather interesting to me and been at the front of my brain recently with topics such as sexual assault on college campuses, Gamer Gate, and harassment of women in tech frequently flickering across the media.

There are certain issues women run into more than our male counterparts while being us. Women often juggle and are judged. Our male counterparts who juggle are commended. What a terrible disservice to both genders.

Women are often told to “lean in” – I implore you. Tell me to “lean in”.

Try it.

This disgusts me how frequently I hear women telling other women to “lean in” or saying that they “leaned in”.

Women are not children’s punching bags. We don’t lean one way and remove ourselves from another direction of our lives. We are also not gyroscopes tilting involuntarily with the birth of a child, pursuit of a new career, illness, going back to school, etc. We grow in knowledge, interests and depth.

I am frequently baffled by the interpretations of others (women, men, media) of what women should do, be, are doing, etc. I was listening to TLDR this morning, catching up on some of my podcasts, and listened to “Episode 45”. I then listened to “Episode 46”. Please listen to these. Also see Quiet, Ladies. @wadhwa is speaking now for more explanation.

Most fascinating is the hack that finds fame in riding on the coattails of women.