From the Readers-Solving Problems

Reader Maurice Barry of Duck?  Starfish?…23 commented under an older piece about advice for the men in our lives.  In his comment, he reminded me not to stereotype all men, and that he  appreciated the reminder to mind his manners.

He has actually written a related piece, in an effort to comment about male and female friendships, familial loyalty, and men’s tendency to problem solve.

The post begins with

“One of the things that women find most annoying about men is our desire to fix things that, maybe, do not need to be fixed.”
and includes
“Because we [men] often obtain our ‘power’ from our ability to effect change we figure that is the best response, namely to actually do something; to fix whatever is wrong. What we fail to realize is that what is sought is not a solution. Frequently the solution is known and other times one is not required. What is needed instead is support and understanding.”
This is simple and beautiful.  I love that Maurice understands this, and I’m glad that he posted it where other men can learn from his wisdom.

Here is the link to the rest of the post.  Check it out.  It involves Ireland, the War, and some awesome relatives.

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Awful Assumptions about Teenage Girls

UPDATE: If you want to contact Seventeen, email editor Bernadette Anat at mail@seventeen.com.

Seventeen

Confession time: I love magazine quizzes.  So when I found a Seventeen quiz that  which TV character I am, I took it.

The very first question asks me what my favorite class is.  My options are lunch, English, Film Production, Art or Drama.  Science, Math, Shop, or anything that doesn’t involve creativity or emotions is not an option.

The next question asks me about my dream date. Do I envision it at a coffee shop, a gallery opening, a comedy show, a concert, or a candlelit dinner?  Assuming that I actually think about this, none of these options are realistic for the pimply-faced sixteen year old boys that the readers are pursuing.  Seventeen, setting young women up for perpetual disappointment.

The next question asks me which yearbook superlative I’m most likely to earn.  My options include most likely to appear on idol, best dressed, most artistic, biggest flirt, or most likely to succeed.  I get excited to see that we’ve finally acknowledged academics.

Still thrilled to have possibility of a career, I click on the next question.  Do my friends depend on me for relationship advice, gossip, “fun, spontaneous plans,” jokes, or listening skills?  I’m mildly annoyed that this is the second question about what other people think of me rather than my own perceptions of myself.

The quiz continues: What is my favorite website?  Is it Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, Perez Hilton’s blog, or Pandora?  I’m surprised that Facebook or Twitter aren’t options and extremely annoyed that there is no option for a news site.

Seventeen’s final question inquires after my other magazine subscriptions.  Do I read Vogue, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone or Marie Claire?
At sixteen, I read Time and Newsweek, and I currently subscribe to Ms.  Sensing that none of the above contain quite the same content, I settle for Rolling Stone, the magazine with the highest words to picture content.

While asking which TV character I was most like, the quiz assumed that I was into emotions, fashion, music, and dating boys, traditionally girly interests.  It didn’t ask me about my dreams, career aspirations, and values.  Either way, the quiz would have been wrong; I’m sure that even if Seventeen had asked about careers, Feminist blogger would not be a career option.

I end up as Mercedes Jones, the sassy, black soul singer on Glee.  (Because that’s not stereotypical at all.)  Mercedes, although a problematic character, captured my emotions best in her self-written number, “Hell to the No.”

This quiz makes it sound like teenage girls are all about their friends, their relationships and fashion.  It reduces the wonderful, complex young women they are into melodramatic, entitled mall rats with daddy’s credit card.  No, Seventeen, your readers are more than this.  They read smart magazines, have goals, dreams and want more than the latest printed reincarnation of skinny jeans.  They like all subjects, not just the creative ones.  They want to travel, to dance, to start their own businesses, to change the world.  Believe it or not, they care about more than their crush on the cutie in English lit (stop being so heteronormative while you’re at it.  Your readers aren’t all attracted to boys).

Seventeen is one of a few magazines that caters to teenage girls, and they have a unique opportunity to address the issues that teenage girls face, not to just write a one page insert about them and then show new shoes.  It’s a shame that their quizzes and content perpetuate stereotypes about girls instead of helping them.  But that doesn’t bring in ad revenue, does it?

Time for a Party-Picking a Theme

College Party Themes are Terrible

Toga party

Toga party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My roommate and I want to host a party.  So we found many suggestions for party themes.  They fall into four categories: Non-offensive but overdone, Sexist and Offensive, Just Plain Offensive, and Just Because it Rhymes, It Doesn’t Mean that it’s a Good Idea.
Non-Offensive, but Overdone Party Themes
You can find these in every depiction of college life ever.
  • ABC parties
  • Letter parties
  • Rubics cube parties
  • High School Steroeytpe parties
  • Blacklight parties
  • Decade Parties
  • Toga Parties
  • Movie Themed parties
Sexist and Offensive Party Themes 
These parties provide two options for costumes, one a slutty female costume, and the other, a powerful male complement.  They inevitably have the word “Ho” in the title.
  • CEO’s and Corporate Ho’s
  • Pimps and Ho’s
  • Kingtuts and Egyptian Sluts
  • Lawyer Bros and Prison Hoes
  • Lifeguard Bros and Surfer Hoes
  • GI Joes and Army Hoes
  • Gangsters and Flappers
  • Golf Pro’s and Tennis Hoes
  • Pirates and Wenches
  • Yoga Hoes and Workout Bro’s
Just Plain Offensive Party Themes:
These parties are built on stereotypes of cultures and treat these cultural trends as novelties, instead of real people’s lives
  • Crossdress party
  • Colonial Bros and NavaHoes
  • Fiesta Party
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • White Trash
Just because it Rhymes, Doesn’t Mean it’s a Good Idea Party Themes 
These party themes are either pointless, mix unrelated things or have unsavory implications.
  • Bathing Suits and Cowboy Boots
  • Kegs and Eggs
  • 80’s Lady or Pagent Baby-Three words-Honey Boo Boo.
  • Guys in Ties and Girls in Pearls
  • Black Out or Get Out-Because nothing says fun like alcohol poisoning.
Roommate and I aren’t big on drinking and want to host a party that doesn’t emphasize drinking and is still fun, clever and creative.
Any ideas for a fun, inclusive and novel party theme?  Tell us about your best parties in the comments.

Dear Men, 12 Pieces of Advice for the Men in Our Lives

Film still from the famous restaurant scene

Film still from the famous restaurant scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Update: I thoughtlessly posted this, not realizing how heteronormative it is.  My apologies.  The piece was intended for the clueless daters of any gender who prefer to date those that identify as women.

  1.  Aretha said it best; RESPECT.  Respect us, our bodies, and our opinions.  Also, remember that we are more than the sum of our reproductive organs.
  2. Women do not communicate directly.  We communicate in a more round-about way, designed to allow for disagreement without conflict.  So when we say, “Gosh, it’s late and I’m exhausted,” we mean that it’s time to call it a night.  Take the hint.
  3.  Learn to read body language; if you try the sneaky overarm movement (and believe us, we know you’re faking that yawn,) and we slide away, take the hint.
  4. Don’t call us crazy.  Unless we’ve torched your car, shaved our hair into designs of goldfish, or attempted to eat the cat.  Those are crazy actions.  Yelling at you because you’ve been dodging our calls and we just found out that we’re pregnant does not give you the excuse to say “B****** be crazy.”
  5. The exam did not rape you.  You are not going to have forced sexual intercourse with the other players in xbox live.  All you are doing is enabling rapists to get away with rape.  So stop.
  6. Our periods do not invalidate our emotions.  They just diminish our ability to tolerate things.  Besides it’s not like men don’t have hormonal cycles, either.  Ironically enough, PMS is an influx of testosterone.
  7. Women are not monolithic entities.  What makes one woman happy may not work for another woman.
  8. Women do not owe you their attention, time or affection.  Even if you have been her friend forever, you are NOT entitled to her love.  So stop whining about the Friend Zone.
  9. Women generally like sensitive men.  That does not mean, whiny spineless symphocant.  It means a man who stands up for himself, is respectful, and understands how to communicate.  The whole whiny spineless slob versus the puppy kicking, womanizing jerk is an arbitrary binary.
  10. Some women don’t want to have sex with men.  That does not mean that they just need the Right experience (aka with you.)  That does not mean that they will fulfill your fantasies.  So stop asking them that.
  11. The same goes for women who do want to have sex with men.  If they have not expressed any interest in sex with you, don’t ask them.
  12. Saying something offensive is like stepping on people’s toes.  Sometimes you did it intentionally.  But most of the time, when you step on someone’s toes, you didn’t mean to.  But you apologize anyway because regardless of your intent, you hurt them.

What do you think?  Is there anything else I missed?  Leave advice in the comments!

One in Four

A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interp...

A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Prevention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of National Domestic Violence Month,

One in Four

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Violence

     Statistics state that one in four women will be subjected to Domestic Violence in her lifetime.  I often vacillate-am I the 25%?  Or am I over-exaggerating my experiences?

I never labeled my experience as Domestic Violence.  Not at the time.  Was it toxic?  Absolutely.  Do I have culpability in the death of our relationship?  Yes.  Was it acceptable that I felt scared of my boyfriend?  No.

Domestic violence is behavior that harms the other person in the relationship.  It can be verbal, emotional, sexual, or financial.  It includes the use of threats, gestures, glares to maintain a constant atmosphere of fear.  Behaviors that engender fear include

  • Shouting (Check)
  • Hitting Walls (Do doors count?)
  • Displaying Weapons, stalking, (no, no)
  • Prolonged silence-(I’m not sure on this one.   He would get scarily silent, but most stories talk about enduring the silent treatment for days, and I never received that.  Then again, most studies in domestic violence aren’t focused on university students, and assume that you live with your intimate partner. With him, the silence came between bouts of rage, so it was terrifying, but maybe it only felt prolonged.
  • Destruction of objects, injuries to children or pets. –(The wine bottle survived its trajectory across the room.)

Regardless of whether it met the definition of abuse, would I ever have reported his behavior?  No.

I’d like to think that he had, had he hit me, I would have left.  But I don’t know, and that’s what haunts me.  I think of myself as strong, but I allowed myself to be treated with such disrespect.  In hindsight, I almost wish that he had hit me.  It would have made forgetting and breaking up easier.  It’s hard to justify a breakup when you truly loved the person and the behavior felt vaguely justifiable.  Even if he had hit me, however, I would have never reported him-it was too trivial to matter to file a police report.

And I am not alone.  43% of women surveyed about their experience with domestic violence never reported it because it was “too trivial.”  Thirty eight percent said that it was a family issue that ought to be resolved internally.  7% sought to avoid humiliation, and 13% did not report for fear of triggering more violence.

And it’s hard to admit that that is you, that shriveling, shaking sad girl who accepts the endless barrage of insults thrown at her without offering a single word in her own defense.  The activist rendered mute.  That’s you and nobody wants to see that in a mirror.

__________________________________________________________________

To this day, I’m not sure that my experience counts as domestic violence, but I have no doubts that it has affected my life.  Anyone with advice or similar experiences, feel free to share in the comments.