Sneaky Misogyny, Modern Parenting, and Aggressive Side-Eye

I recently had a male friend tell me “I would want daughters instead of sons so I could teach them to be strong and self sufficient”.

This rubbed me the wrong way and came off as misogynistic immediately, but I didn’t fully realize why right away.  Maybe because we’d just been talking about  which animal we’d most like to be and I was thinking about otters.

The response felt off to me, but “sneaky misogyny” can be difficult to detect.  It was a backhanded compliment from someone in an entitled group.  In a culture with so much institutionalized and internalized sexism, a kind remark full of ingrained misogyny can be harder to detect.  I doubt my friend fully realizes why this would make me feel so uncomfortable, as I didn’t fully realize it myself right away. Otters are too slippery to be trapped by gender norms!

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After some reflection, here are the issues with this statement:

Implying that you don’t have to teach sons to be strong and self sufficient

If you would rather have daughters instead of sons because you want to teach them to be strong and self sufficient, you obviously perceive a difference between either how strong and self sufficient men and women are inherently.  This might imply men do not need this education, therefore you want to have daughters so you DO have someone to teach to be strong and self sufficient.

You don’t have to teach females to be strong any more than you have to teach males to be strong. Women are inherently strong and capable of self sufficiency, just the same as men.  As I do not have to remind anyone who has tried maintaining a serious relationship with a male, strength and self sufficiency are not necessarily inherent, constant male traits.

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Implying that men are better than women

Assuming women must be taught to be strong and self sufficient puts the blame on the daughters for being female and, thus, weaker and less self sufficient. If one assumes these are characteristics a male already has, but a female must be taught, you are basically saying you want to make your daughter more like a son.  Pretty much all parents, even the crap ones, want their children to be good (whatever that means to them); to be successful, rich, healthy, smart, “not like my mother”, valuable.  If a parent wants a child to be more “like a man”, it means the parent sees being a male as being more “good” and more valuable instead of viewing certain characteristics as more beneficial.  If someone valued a trait, they would want to teach it to all children equally.

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Implying that women need a strong man to learn from

 In this scenario, a male is playing hero to his female children because of an ingrained notion that they need his help in this arena more than a male child would. It is condescending.  I don’t think I really need to go on about this one.

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Implying that the impetus is on women to deal with cultural sexism

Wanting to have daughters over sons because you want to teach them to be strong and self sufficient might imply that there is such a huge difference in teaching these traits to men and women that it is the top reason you would choose to have one gender over the other.

Unfortunately, we live in a sexist culture that harms both women and men, and it IS valuable to teach all children about the sexist pressures, assumptions and expectations of both men and women and how they are harmful.  It is valuable to teach all children the hurdles that they and their peers – male and female – will have to face, how to successfully navigate their world without prejudice, and how to begin to better the culture.

To acknowledge that one believes that women less frequently or less inherently exhibit strength and self sufficiency and simultaneous believe that the best way to help your female children with this is to teach THEM how to be different and not to seek a remedy to the source of the problem places the blame on the children.  If one believes there is a clear difference and also identifies it as a problem, one could just as easily say they would prefer to have sons in order to teach them how to be more supportive, nurturing and encouraging of strong, self-sufficient women.  To focus on teaching women to overcome a situation in which the cards are stacked against them is to further the ingrained sexism of the culture.  “It’s your fault you’re female, it means you are weaker, but I can help you.”  The white, hetero, cis, straight, able-bodied, upper class, educated male to the rescue, because everyone else obviously just didn’t work hard enough or have the right upbringing.  If this kind of thinking doesn’t make you side-eye so hard that you need to call your optometrist, you’re probably comatose.

We need to correctly place the blame on the socialization and cultural environment that oppresses women and harms both genders. Parents can teach a human child of either gender how to navigate our current culture in a way that benefits and supports everyone and changes it from the inside for the better.

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Mass Shootings, Yin Yang, and Challenging my Internal Patriarchy

I am overwhelmed by the number of shootings by angry, young, white males in our country.  At first I blamed the “entitled brats” for their actions, but the issue is deeper than just misogyny, racism or entitlement – although those are obviously big contributing factors.

Our culture is good at creating a sense of entitlement, even if the methods seem innocuous.

In exploring the underlying cultural issues, I found the Taoist Yin & Yang incredibly helpful in describing our current imbalance in the natural human dichotomy of gender.  This may seem hokey to some, but I think it’s a great tool to look at our cultural climate.

The imbalance of Yang over Yin is so strong in our culture and everyday lives, that I can see it in my own mind and in my own struggles.

In fact, this whole line of thinking has led me to an interesting conclusion: The most effective way that I, personally, can challenge our flawed patriarchal system and foster change is to challenge my own Yin Yang imbalance. 

This is work that I have known I needed to do for years.  I’m incredibly harsh with myself and mentally aggressive, but realizing that doing this work is actively addressing this issue may be the motivation I need to enact real change in my own psyche and in those around me.

There’s your synopsis.  Unless you’re ready to TLDR out – read on for the deets!

Schism by Kelly McKernan

 

Entitled Psychology and the Illusion of Control

Do we each deserve to be happy?

No, but neither do we deserve to be unhappy.  This is the only succinct answer I have to such a loaded question.  Skipping passed the snag that is defining ‘happy’, to assume we deserve anything is dangerous. 

Life is not about what you deserve, what is owed to you, what is your due, what you’ve earned.  As many readers have probably experienced, even if – in all fairness – you have earned something, there is no guarantee that you will get it.  You did a favor, but no favor was returned. You followed the diet, but lost no weight.  You worked hard and bought a house, the house burned down.  You were kind to someone, and received only bitterness. Not fair, but real.

To assume that we deserve anything and that we should expect it to be given to us, is to assume that life is fair and governed by absolute rules that are never broken.  Expectation is often unrealistic and breeds disappointment.

Fairness is a fairy tale about a world we can control – a land where each goal has a clear set of requirements that, once fulfilled, will consistently make you reach this goal.  This fairy tale land is a video game.  Shoot your bow 20 times, increase your archery skill 1 point.  If you think shooting a real, live bow 20 times is automatically going to make everyone one point better…  you didn’t have to take archery in high school.

She’s done this more than 20 times…

I don’t like this reality any more than anyone else.  I have fairness in my  DNA.  My mom told me that, even as a 6 year old, I demanded that games be fair, even if the imbalance was in my favor.  I have constantly struggled with the fact that life isn’t fair and that no karma fairy is following me around making sure I get my due and everyone else gets theirs.

But the second we think things are fair, we think we are entitled to equal and opposite reactions. I give you 10 kind points, you give me 10 kind points.  

Some men buy into this ‘fair’ system so much that they believe being ‘nice’, having the right job, or saying the right things will necessarily lead to sex.  If they do the right things and don’t get sex?  Apparently that means all women are horrid, hateful people who never hold up their end of the bargain and deserve to die.  Obviously this is the extreme end of the spectrum, but the fact that some people literally believe this is…  indicative of the fact that our culture is seriously imbalanced.

When entitled men feel that they deserve to kill whomever they want just because the life they wanted didn’t show up on a silver platter…  what are we teaching these individuals as children?

If we could teach each other to live in a state of openness and gratitude in which we accepted the truth that we are never owed anything, we would be pleasantly surprised at how much we were given instead of disappointed by how much we are still owed.

I’m definitely still working on this mental shift…

 

Yin and Yang

Quick rundown on Yin and Yang for noobs:

“Everything contains Yin and Yang. They are two opposite yet complementary energies. What does this really mean? Although they are totally different—opposite—in their individual qualities and nature, they are interdependent. Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other; they are never separate. For example, night and day form a Yin-Yang pair. (Night is Yin and day is Yang.) Night looks and is very different than day, yet it is impossible to have one without the other. Both create a totality, a complete whole” -http://www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/yin-yang-theory/

The Yang (the masculine, active, aggressive, hot, hard, creative, logical) is so strong in our culture that it is completely out of balance with the Yin (the feminine, passive, receptive, cool, soft, nurturing, feeling).  Our culture prioritizes excessive hard work, aggressive and monetary success, independence, incessant progress, and marginalizes self care, simple and appreciative success, interdependence, sustainability. 

We have become so out of balance that just staying home from work if you’re sick is seen as weak, and selfish instead of responsible and healthy.  More masculine individuals especially (and I include myself in this category) might even be afraid to let on that they’re sick as simply being susceptible to an illness is “weak”.

With the dual imbalance of excess Yang AND deficient Yin, this aggressive capitalist version of Yang has become a caricature of itself.

The Yang should be about creation, but it has become destruction.  The masculine overconfidence that fosters innovation has instead created entitlement.  The Yang’s energy and expansion has turned into frenzy and greed.  We live in the constant hot, hard daylight of Yang without the balance of the cool, soft and restful nighttime of Yin.  We are burning ourselves out and never allowing ourselves to feel and heal.

We witness individuals struggling with entitlement dealing with their frustration in the most aggressive, active, hard, isolated ways.  The Yang is not comfortable with submission, compassion, or with confronting one’s emotions.  The Yang is comfortable acting, asserting…   killing without a real motive apparently, if there is no receptive, empathetic Yin to balance.

The Yin and Yang of World Hunger by Deevad (Deviantart)

Each individual carries a balance of Yin and Yang that may change moment to moment, so this isn’t to say most people in our culture are on that end of the spectrum.  Neither is Yang evil.  A wild, imbalanced Yang is destructive the same way a wild, imbalanced Yin would have it’s own problems.  But I think it’s appropriate to use the Yin Yang example to describe some of the most unhealthy, destructive traits of our present culture.

 

Taking Down the Monster from Within

This is where I get about as spiritual as I ever get.  This is the deepdown, vulnerable part where I say “Hey, this feels true to me and while I can’t back it up with a handy study, it resonates with me and hope it resonates with another.”  But my truth is my truth and will never be exactly the same as someone else.

Within my own mind, my masculine, Yang voice is very strong.  It tells me that my Yin is weakness.  It tells me that I have no inherent value without creating something and that if I have an opportunity to be valuable in some constructive way or another and fail to do so, that it reflects on my self worth.  It fails to understand that resting, feeling, and filling myself, make me more receptive to others, more creative, more healthy, more balanced.

That’s the status quo talking.  That’s the hyper-aggressive, hot, hard, flawed, unchecked Yang.  That’s the “you can buy happiness if you work hard enough to afford our products” marketing.  That’s the fear-based information of a news industry built around profit.  That’s the mentality of a capitalist culture more interested in the contents of your bank account than your heart.

Sentry by Kelly McKernan

If I can learn to quiet this inner aggression and tap into my Yin, I can balance my mind.  I can practice self-care, rest, intuition, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness for myself and others.  If I can achieve this balance in my own heart, I will enter all my interactions with the outside world from a more holistic place without so much aggression, fear, defensiveness and close-mindedness.  I can change my presence and energy from dividing and judgmental to healing and inclusive.

This is where I was about to reference Ghandi’s “Be the Change…” quote.  I Googled it for accuracy and discovered it’s a false attribution:

Gandhi’s words have been tweaked a little too in recent years. Perhaps you’ve noticed a bumper sticker that purports to quote him: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you first come across it, this does sound like something Gandhi would have said. But when you think about it a little, it starts to sound more like … a bumper sticker. Displayed brightly on the back of a Prius, it suggests that your responsibilities begin and end with your own behavior. It’s apolitical, and a little smug.

Sure enough, it turns out there is no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation. The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Here, Gandhi is telling us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand, but there is no suggestion in his words that personal transformation is enough. In fact, for Gandhi, the struggle to bring about a better world involved not only stringent self-denial and rigorous adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence; it also involved a steady awareness that one person, alone, can’t change anything, an awareness that unjust authority can be overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.

This more accurate quote mirrors perfectly my belief that, while shifting my internal dialogue and energy is absolute integral for the health of my self and my community, my responsibilities do not end with myself.  I 100% DO NOT mean that I have a responsibility to change someone else.  That sounds close enough to missionary work to make my skin crawl.  However, it means that I cannot simple change my inner balance and then seal my little balanced world off from the rest of existence.  If my hope is to help those in my community feel more balanced, more healthy, more grateful and less disappointed, less victimized, less isolated, my personal balance must be part of the system.  My heart could be a filter and accept the aggressive, Yang-based pressures, the entitled attitudes, the fearful and defensive actions, and meet them with the cool, soft, understanding Yin within me, returning compassion, healing, gratitude.

This is next level enlightenment and true Ghandi-like behavior.  I do not expect to attain it in my lifetime (expectations are the root of entitlement, remember), but certainly it is worth trying for.

Our culture is imbalanced and divided, and I am trying to start the shift toward a Yin Yang balance in one of the most difficult places I can think of: my own mind.

Entropy by Kelly McKernan

The Hymen is not a Membrane, The Mythical Clitoris, and Other Phallusies

No I cannot claim ownership of that gorgeous pun.  “Phallusy” was coined by Fei Cai over at The Thought Erotic.

In the article, “The Myth of the Hymen: A Social and Medical Mystery“, Cai reveals that the Hymen is not a membrane covering the opening of the vagina.

Whoa!  Newsflash!

This makes complete sense to me.  Whenever the hymen came up in conversation, I would remark that I must have lost mine quite early since I never remember having a closed vagina.  Turns out… that’s because no one ever did.

The Hymen is apparently the ring of tissue just around the opening to the vagina, inside the labia majora and minora.  When we are children, the ring is rigid, like a bunch of rubberbands.  This makes complete evolutionary sense.  Until puberty, nothing should really be going in or out of the vagina.  No menstruation heading out, which should mean no semen coming in since there are no eggs to fertilize.

A narrower opening to the vagina would keep out bacteria and foreign contaminants.

Illustration credit: Theresa Lii

However, just like repeatedly using a rubberband starts to wear it out, the hymen begins to loosen up as girls walk, run, dance or just try to learn weird choreography from Nicki Minaj videos.

For me, I know some personal exploration definitely added to the weakening of my hymen tissue, as is likely the case for any girl with an ounce of curiosity and her own bedroom.

By the time a girl begins to menstruate, becomes a woman, and begins having sex – the hymen should present pretty much no problem.

Heard that rumor that sex the first time hurts and “There will be blood!”?  This is another place where I had to tell people, no that’s not true for me.  The first time I had sex I was comfortable and 100% into it.  I took the lead so I could figure the whole deal out.  It was great.  There was no tearing and no blood.  I have heard a lot of stories on both the pain and pleasure side of things.

Yes, many women experience pain and blood during intercourse the first time, but the hymen is likely not to blame.  It’s more likely because they aren’t properly aroused. The stigma, the shame for women, the lies we’re told that it will hurt and that you are dirty after – that all adds up to a lot of stress.  In a fight or flight mode like that, the body isn’t really gearing up for a great round of sex.  The vagina is not lubricated, the cervix is not raised.  **See Addendum on Imperforate Hymen.

A really excited guy who is finally getting to seal the deal is likely missing the foreplay section, which doesn’t help matters either.  With no lubrication, the walls of the vagina are often torn – resulting in blood and pain.  Additionally, if the cervix doesn’t rise up as it does during arousal it increases the chance that the tip of the penis will slam into it – which feels exactly not great and the opposite of sexy.

Where did this myth come from?  Why thank you religion, patriarchy, and a complete lack of modern anatomical awareness.

This is a topic I’ve talked about quite extensively – the need of male-dominated societies to control the female body.  Historically, it seems that men were so possessive and so afraid that their chosen woman (of the moment) would bear another man’s child, that they made up complete lies about female anatomy.  Our ancestors’ patriarchal society told women that if they lost their virginity they were unpure and would die alone with no one to take care of them (also that they weren’t allowed to support themselves for the most part – kind of a fucked up catch 22).  A lot of this has to do with control and was perpetuated by many different societies and religions.  Custom dictated that a virgin would bleed on their wedding night – some areas even required hanging the sheets outside the window in the morning for everyone to see.  Because this is literally not a thing that should happen very often if you make your new wife comfortable and a little aroused, a lot of red wine ended up on a lot of perfectly good sheets. Hopefully they used it as a toast the night before and didn’t waste whole bottles.

Trouble finding the clitoris? This kind of nonsense meant they hadn’t even had a proper look at a vagina before or were so threatened by the idea that they couldn’t prove virginity that they made up a total lie.  Let alone ever getting close to finding or becoming friends with the clitoris.

Here’s the thing, ladies.  Virginity has literally nothing to do with your purity, your value, your womanhood, your respectability, your morals, or your standing in society.

This goes for men, too.  Sex does not make you a man or a woman. It is not shameful.  It doesn’t not bring you glory.  It just makes you a person who has had sex before. Whether your first time was painful or pleasurable, was with someone of a different gender or not, whether it was oral, anal or vaginal…  these things make no difference in terms of who you are.

I know for the most part we’ve moved past the “women have to wear a veil in church to show their shame for original sin”, “women speak when spoken to” shit as a society… but we’re STILL PERPETUATING MEDIEVAL MYTHS ABOUT THE HYMEN.

I have friends in medical school who had never been told this and were still operating under information that someone made up in the dark ages.

At the risk of getting off on a tangent when all I really wanted to talk about was my vagina…   this is an excellent reason that we still need public services like Planned Parenthood trying to disseminate (this pun is mine) solid information.

At the risk of getting even more on a tangent…  even if you are pro-life, you should support Planned Parenthood.  They do very few abortions – they have more male patients than they do patients seeking abortions (not getting, just inquiring).  A not a dime of government or tax money funds them.  These are cases that would be handled by other doctors at other hospitals were PP defunded.  Defunding Planned Parenthood would limit  access to free and affordable prophylactics, unbiased information, cancer and STD screenings, and regular health exams – which will absolutely INCREASE THE NUMBER OF ABORTIONS, unplanned pregnancies, terminal cancers, and STDs.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox.  Back to the beautiful vagina.

Good information about our anatomy can lead to better communication, better first times, and better sex in general.

Who doesn’t want that?

 

** ADDENDUM **

It has been brought to my attention that I may have breeze over a condition that will make sex painful no matter how aroused, ready, and intentional you are.  An imperforate hymen fails to perforate during fetal development (insinuating that the hymen does, in fact, perforate before birth), fully obstructing the vagina. According to the ever reliable wikipedia, the frequency of imperforate hymen vary from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 females.

I learn something new every day!

Vulnerability, Seattle Freeze, and How to get a Turtle out of a Blackberry Patch

Hey.  Are we almost friends?  Do you enjoy my company and sometimes think we should be better friends, but feel we don’t quite connect?  We probably would connect if I showed myself to you and paid more attention to who you are.  We probably would hang out if I allowed myself time.

This isn’t the Seattle Freeze, this is my struggle with vulnerability and self acceptance.

This is my armor, my turtle shell: I people please and show you who I think you want instead of who I am.  I use my empathy to anticipate your needs and keep you comfortable and attend to you instead of listening to how you feel and who you are.

You tell me you’re hungry?  I feed you wonderbread all night and say, ‘Aren’t I a good friend for feeding them’.  But there’s no nutritional value.  I didn’t ask why you were hungry, or how that need felt to you, or if you even wanted to eat something, or what you might want.  I didn’t relate to you a time when I was hungry and let you know I understood how you felt.  I hit the accelerator and tried to be the hero.  I frequently miss the chance to create a connection and dive into the deep end of placation like there was a hundred dollar bill at the bottom.

I didn’t mean to breezed past you and miss something pivotal.  Maybe you have felt I’m aloof or oblivious or uninterested.  Maybe you’ve even thought I didn’t like you, that I thought I was better than you.  It would hurt me if you’d thought that, when really I was concerned about how you felt about me.

I people-please and keep myself overly busy because I struggle with accepting that I have value on my own.

I always believed that having free time was shameful; I should always be working, practicing, doing.  More with less.  Efficency, productivity, success.  I leave myself in an empathy deficit.  If it feels like I don’t have energy for you, it’s because I don’t even have energy for me.  Because I don’t think I’m allow to give myself down time – I’m only as good as my added value.

America doesn’t make that tendency easier – where more with less is our unofficial motto.  We get less paid time off, fewer vacation days, fewer sick days, less maternity and more stress than any other developed nation.

My gender doesn’t make it easier either – I know many women who complain of trouble finding authentic female friends.  I think the struggle to be authentic is difficult for both genders, but for different reasons.

I know that I started to people-please more in puberty when suddenly my favorite activities (climbing trees, collecting frog eggs, and building forts) became unseemly, too loud, and unattractive.  When I realized it was not okay to be myself, something changed. The world was suddenly a blackberry patch, and I added more armor to my arsenal.  I suppressed my vulnerability, emotions, feminine intuition as weaknesses.

My need for outside approval out-paced my need for self approval.  I began to lose my ability to get lost for hours alone in the woods with myself – completely and blissfully unconcerned with anything else.

While I am a product of my environment and past, vulnerability is a muscle that I need to strengthen if I want to push past that barrier into deeper, authentic friendships and I deeper, more authentic relationship with myself.

A wise woman once told me, “A friend felt she needed her armor like a turtle in a blackberry patch.  I asked her, ‘What are you doing in a blackberry patch?‘”.

My blackberry patch is partly of my own creation.  I can learn to slow down and allow myself time to reconnect with myself.  I can remove toxic individuals and situations from my life as I am able.  I can restructure my attitudes and thought patterns.

I’m working on meeting every moment with true authenticity and openness.  I want to start presenting myself and what I believe with intention and time.  If I can just show up and be me truly, rejection will feel like disappointment and not like shame.  If I can really hear someone and give them empathy, a lack of connection will feel like a truth and not a failure.  If I can accept and understand who I am, I won’t need to prove my value to you – I’ll just need to show it.

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I’m waking up.  If we’re almost friends I’m about to allow myself the opportunity to be real friends with you.

Hi.  I’m Alissa.  How are you?  Really?

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For a Sister: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s okay to not be okay.

Every drama of human perseverance and achievement starts with some poor person, full of passion and talent, with no outlet, scraping by at a an unfulfilling job.

Small apartment, maybe eating cereal straight out of the box for dinner – handful after handful – leaning on the kitchen counter staring into empty space above their cheap linoleum floor, wondering what they’re going to do – they’re not okay. They’re unfulfilled, underutilized, unhappy – an underdog.

Bradley Cooper practicing his hundred mile stare in limitless. He may look like he has no idea how to turn his life around, but he’s about to discover something* that will change his life forever. *It’s drugs. Don’t do drugs like BC, he def dies in the end with a melted brain

Your current situation does not reflect the depth of your talent, passion or character – and that’s not your fault.  You do not reflect your situation, your job, your housing.  You are you.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating, that doesn’t mean you won’t doubt yourself.

I do know hard work goes a long way when you’re in a rut, a funk, a low spot, on that last ledge before rock bottom.  But I also know that you can become your own worst enemy if you work hard enough at it.

Knowing that you’re capable of more than you’re currently doing can quickly turn into manic, wasted efforts to do it now or paralyzing doubt that you’ll be able to later.  A desire to do great things one day can turn into disappointment that those things aren’t being done now.

Impatience and pressure can send you flailing against your situation, wasting energy sending out stacks of resumes to jobs you don’t really want instead of waiting for something that truly grabs you.  You become a caged bird flapping madly at a closed door where it will do no good.

Lack of opportunity can feel like your own inability to change your situation and inspires self doubt, hopelessness, and depression.  When we need something to change so badly, it can become paralyzing to try to enact that change for fear of failure. This caged bird is so scared it won’t even look at the door so it can avoid ever having to recognize that it is closed.

There are a ton of ways to make a bad situation worse by getting in your own way.  Sometimes you’ll feel like your own worst enemy, like the only thing holding you back is you, that you’re somehow broken and will never be able to get off your own back.

Think of it this way:  If you have gotten this good at being a roadblock for yourself, how good could you be at something else?  If you’re the best person in the world at getting in your own way, think what you could do if you directed all that effort at being the best dancer, political volunteer, sidewalk chalk artist, repair technician, stylist, youtube celeb, charity haunted house coordinator…

If you’re frustrated that you’re not doing more, it’s because you know you can.  Keep that belief alive by reminding yourself that you can work at and excel at something, even if it seems trivial.  Remember that if you can master juggling while you’re “just a fry cook”, you may be able to juggle multiple cases as an environmental lawyer one day.

Stay strong and realize just how much energy and direction and dedication you have in you, even if it’s not going toward something you dreamed of doing.

Life may have you in a bit of a cage, but find something you can work at there to keep your wings fresh.  Life has a way of opening doors at unexpected times, and those who are flailing or avoiding may miss it.

You’re not okay.  That’s great.

If you’re not living to your full potential and that bothers you… that’s a great prognosis for your future.  A springboard has to depress before it can launch, and the further it depresses the bigger the force it comes back with.

Once you find something you love, an opportunity to do what you love, or an opportunity to do something new that you end up loving, how great is that going to feel when you look back to all those nights alone in your subpar apartment eating cereal out of the box, leaning on your counter and wondering what you’re going to do.  What are you going to do?

I love you – you have a lot in you.  Your current situation does not reflect the depth of your talent, passion or character – and it’s not your fault.  Finding somewhere to direct all your energy is very hard, but I believe you will.  Breathe, let life flow, and you will come to a place that does reflect you.  When you get there it will mean so much more than anything handed to you or shown to you.

Empowerment, Periods, and What Innovative Underwear Can Do for the World

Empowering women to fulfill typically masculine roles is not necessarily empowerment. Giving equal value preferentially to women who conform to male societal norms still idealizes the patriarchy and marginalizes more feminine roles. This is not progress, this is assimilation.

Just check out this headline from Fortune.com:  When competing in a male-dominated field, women should ‘man up’

When we begin to value the nurse, the construction worker, the nanny, the researcher, the librarian, the mechanic (or… in dance, the lead, the follow), when we value the direct and aggressive among us as well as the quiet, the nurturing, the artistic, the domestic, etc. equally regardless of the specific gender, then we will find empowerment and equality.

When we recognize that a healthy society requires all sorts and stop glorifying a narrow subset of masculine traits, that will elevate each of us and bring us closer to that healthy society.

There is no human who truly fits any stereotype or category. Many women fulfill stereotypically masculine roles because it matches their personality. That is exactly where they should be. However, I see and feel false empowerment and pressure to assimilate to achieve success in our society.

This is not empowerment.

On a similar note….
Menstruation is not shameful! Across the world people treat periods as a dirty, ugly topic that should only be discussed between women in the privacy of their own homes.

Women all around you are having their period right now! Perhaps you’re one of them. I am.

Societies are so ashamed of menstruation that many girls in low income areas or nations don’t have access to tampons and pads. This literally leads to them dropping out of school when they hit puberty and contributes to women being unempowered.

Becoming a woman is not shameful. Refusing aid to those in need because you are squeamish, that is shameful.

Luckily, activists like Elynn Walter are helping bring education and innovation to poor areas in Africa, helping support the education and empowerment of girls.

This is a really cool project, I recommend you read more about it: People Are Finally Talking About The Thing Nobody Wants To Talk About