Archive | November, 2011

Explaining the Patriarchy

30 Nov

In the constellation of things that are hard to explain, patriarchy falls somewhere in between “quantum mechanics” and “proper semicolon use.” Although I haven’t found a magic patriarchy-explaining bullet just yet, I have found a magic bullet explaining the experience of “waking up” to it in the form of one of my Very Favorite Comics, Sinfest:

Click here to see it all embiggened and in its natural habitat.

If you saw the move “The Matrix” when you were young and impressionable, like I did, and you’re also one of the “lucky” people who’s been awakened to the wonderful world of profound injustice in one way or another, this comic probably resonates with you.

The plain definition of patriarchy is a system run by and for men, but in practice it’s so much more than that – it encompasses sexism, racism, ableism, and too many other -isms to count. There are Feminism 101 blogs that do an adequate job of explaining some of the basics, but if you really want to jump in feet first you should probably go check out I Blame the Patriarchy.

If you want a well-organized and pocket-sized approach to learning about patriarchy, you should probably read “The Dialectic of Sex” by Shulamith Firestone. This book pretty much changed my life.

If you have found a good way to explain patriarchy to the Uninitiated, please do let me know in the comments.

On Winning: Magazine Quizzes, Self-Knowledge and Being Bossy

29 Nov

While I was holed up over the Thanksgiving holiday (it is a family tradition to barricade ourselves in a tastefully decorated bunker designed to withstand 9 out of 10 potential apocalypse scenarios for several days while testing the limits of our sanity), I flipped through pages and pages of O, the Oprah Magazine. My mom stashed them under the guest bed so that I’d have some light reading to pass the time after my daily gavage.

Me, on a good day.

In one of the O’s, I found a little magazine quizzie. Amazingly, it was not designed to help you determine your flirting style, or choose which thigh is the fattest. It was supposed to tell you what your passion is, or your life’s purpose, or some such equally ridiculous thing. It starts off innocuously enough, asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up, and then requires you to recruit a friend to figure out your strengths, etc. Naturally, as I was alone in the dark in a room, I skipped all that and went straight to the “what motivates you?” part, where it became immediately apparent that I am insanely competitive.*

Now, this may surprise you, gentle readers, as I seem pretty laid-back, right?** I despise team sports, which are normally a refuge and an outlet for the hypercompetitive. I don’t work on Wall Street or in sales, but nevertheless, my motivate-y quiz’s results don’t lie: my main motivator is not, as previously suspected, forging deep friendships or amassing huge quantities of money, it is Accomplishing Impressive Things and Kicking the Asses of Others. Perhaps it’s tied to my misanthropy. Who knows. I do suspect there is a grain of truth in there, though I am a titch disappointed my results didn’t show that my main motivator is a quest for Truth with a capital T.

In any case, since I’ve been thinking about my List of Doom and motivation in general, I’m now stuck with the task of finding worthy competitive opponents for My Life. Thing is, I can’t compete with just anyone. There needs to be moderate enmity. It’s most effective when tucked behind a façade of friendship. In short, my relationship with my Competitrix needs to be a little… twisted.

Little-known fact: I am obsessed with LiLo.

Example: Back in school, one of my friends and I had a falling out. Before we patched things up, we were in a math class together. I aced the class, in large part due to the fact that I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing me fall behind. Twisted, right? Whatever. This is the internet. Judge if you want, but you’re the one sitting alone in a dark room reading this.

Anyway. I don’t have fights of that caliber with a lot of people – and therefore suffer a dearth of worthy foes. This is probably a good thing, but barring participation in the classic competitive arenas of team sports, sales, high school or foot races, I really have no idea how to compete. There is always the whole “competing with yourself” idea, which seems to have worked out well enough for my burgeoning running habit, but it so far has failed to deliver any brag-worthy achievements – no marathons, no relay races, no real visible notches other than a pretty damn efficient cardiovascular system.

Barring claws-concealed competition with frenemies, one motivator I’ve found no shortage of over the years is The Naysayer: people telling me I can’t or shouldn’t do something. Nothing like proving an a**hole wrong to make you feel alive, am I right? Examples and their results:

     Challenge: “You can’t be a vegetarian in Southern Oregon.”
     Results: Was veg for 10+ years.

     Challenge: “You’re a girl. You can’t run alone on the streets. Especially not when it’s dark out. You will definitely be raped and killed.”
     Results: Ran 8 miles a day at O’Dark-Thirty with no incident for years. Then got a gym membership to continue doing same, but near a heater.

     Challenge: “You can’t get into an Ivy League school.”
     Results: Done.

Some recent/pending challenges:

  • “You’re not built for upper-body strength, and will never do a pull-up.”
  • “Ballet is an impractical skill.” “You’ll never catch up to people who took lessons in childhood.”
  • “Your meetup groups are stupid and laughable.”
  • “You can’t take an aerial class because of your back injury.”

What kinds of things have people told you you couldn’t do over the years? Did it motivate you to do them anyway? Who do you compete against or with?

*Actually, the results were “you are highly motivated by Influence and Accomplishment.” Translation: I’m bossy and I like to win. Duh.
**More likely: I like to think I’m laid back, but in actuality am not laid back at all. Case in point: I once had some roommates that redecorated the living room without consulting me first. I had to be carefully talked down from throttling them with the full force of my lack of upper-body strength.

Day Seven: Gold star for me!

21 Nov

Starting with Friday, I spent the weekend doing Scary and Challenging Things, some of which were on my List of Doom:

No. 56: Take a hip-hop dance class:

After my epic failures at taking dance classes in the past few weeks, it’s understandable that I almost didn’t go to this class on Friday. I had to drag my mopey self out of my safe, safe bed to go out. I posted several apocalyptic tweets about how 100 percent sure I was that it would be a horrifying, humiliating experience. Not so! Teacher lady was super-awesome and friendly and so were the other students. We danced to Michael Jackson. Or rather, they danced, I stumbled around and, miraculously, was mostly able to keep up.

Also: Forcing internet strangers to sign up for stuff with me is, as it turns out, an excellent way to trick myself into doing things that are terrifying. Also it helps with goal No. 38 (below). Although technically I suppose I could cross this goal off my list now, I think instead I will modify it to “go to hip hop class every week until I can dance like a crazy mad dance fiend.”

No. 38: Organize one meetup per month

Above dance class was attended by two shiny new members of my dance meetup group. Yay! One of the people I’ve known for years, the other was a brand-new to Portland beginning dance enthusiast. WOOT! The internet truly is a grand place. Afterward we went to Produce Row and had fancy drinks. Fancy!

No. 72: Go to Barre Method class

On Saturday I got up relatively early and went to a Bar(re?) Method class. It was absolutely divine. Usually I hate the Pearl, but apparently yuppie jerkalopes sleep til noon on Saturdays so I managed to find a parking space easily, and only got hassled by one middle-aged botox victim in a North Face technical jacket with a tiny dog on a leash.

The bar studio was amazing. The people at the front desk were actually friendly and gave me a tour instead of looking at me like I was an alien (which sometimes happens when you are a new person at a fitness or dance studio – go figure). Then I got into the classroom: Plush carpets! Clean mirrors! Personal attention! Very few other people! Amazing workout! Still sore! Going again Tuesday! Seriously you guys – the teacher remembered my name AND that I have a back injury AND remembered to tell me about modifications for stuff that hurt. YAY!

No. 43: Go on 52 hikes

Sunday: I rounded up the Special Ladyfriend and the Roommate and we went trek-trek-trekking. I had to wear three pairs of pants to stay warm and I almost popped my leg fully out of its hip socket, but we made it a full 4/5ish miles through the woods, merrily kicked our way through giant piles of leaves, and only saw three or four other people, all smiling, mostly with adorable dogs. Dogs! Yay! This means I have only 51 more hikes to go…

In conclusion: Go me! Also: Please say nice things in the comments! It will keep me motivated to do other things from The List of Doom. Like visit y’all. And send y’all postcards.

20 ways in which I am not an adult

18 Nov
It was too hard to find a picture
of a girl child in a business suit.
This saddens me.
  1. I sometimes replace an entire day of meals with cookies.
  2. Right before I bought my car, I wandered around the house, cash in hand, yelling “Who wants to dance for me?! I want to make it rain! Dance for me, minions! DANCE!”*
  3. I wear contacts, but don’t carry solution with me. The space in my purse that could have solution in it instead has leftover gum wrappers, three pairs of defunct iPhone headphones, an empty prescription bottle, and various types of identification the government recommends you don’t carry with you.
  4. I have a mobile mini-bar. (It could be argued that this belongs on The Ways in which I am an Adult list.)
  5. I still think getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night is a perfectly acceptable way to Get More Done.
  6. I think diet rock star is delicious. This is probably related to No. 5.
  7. Novelty candy-infused alcohol amuses me.
  8. I force people to make a big deal out of my birthday.
  9. I once replaced dinner with four martinis. OK, more than once.
  10. I own several pairs of impractical shoes.
  11. I refuse to purchase one of those douchebaggy bluetooth things, even though the headphone bit that comes with my phone keeps breaking, and my favorite time to talk on the phone is while driving.
  12. I forget about produce I have in the fridge, until it spoils.
  13. It takes me an inordinate amount of time to get around to making doctor’s appointments.
  14. I think a trip on a Green Tortoise bus would be deeply entertaining.
  15. I play sophomoric party games.
  16. I cannot perform amortization calculations accurately, even when presented with a handy chart.
  17. I am a terrible single-tasker.
  18. I feel it is entirely reasonable to blow huge wads of cash on theme parties.
  19. I think dead baby jokes are funny. I know they’re not, but they totally are.
  20. My filing cabinet is very disorganized. And contains craft supplies.

In what ways are you still a kid/teenager/generally irresponsible?

    * No takers, sadly.

    20 ways in which I am an adult

    16 Nov

    Why? Why not, is more like it:

    1. I have a mortgage and a lawnmower.
    2. I have a cat whose vet bills I pay all by myself.
    3. I have a car in working condition, that I bought myself, with cash.
    4. Grown-up disguise!
    5. I have a full-time job with benefits.
    6. I plan my meals a full week in advance.
    7. I have automatic debits from checking to savings.
    8. I have automatic debits from paycheck to 401k.
    9. I got into graduate school all by myself, and will pay for it all by myself. 
    10. I have a mobile mini-bar. (It could be argued that this belongs on The Ways in Which I am Not an Adult list.)
    11. I throw parties where, sometimes, I don’t even drink.
    12. I host potlucks.
    13. I occasionally play matchmaker.
    14. I make small talk about home improvement projects.
    15. I have not occupied anything in the past six months.
    16. My socks always match.
    17. I carry an umbrella in my purse.
    18. I own several pairs of practical shoes.
    19. I can detect very small percentages of cashmere and silk in clothing by feel alone.
    20. I have matching furniture.
    21. I have matching curtains, and a bedskirt. 

    What makes you feel all grown-up?

      PS – My friend D is going to write a handbook on how to be an adult. She is the best person for the job, because 1) she has more than one mortgage, 2) she has an MBA and 3) she is awesome.

        101 Things in 1001 Days: Day Zero

        14 Nov

        As promised, I made a list of 101 things I want to do in the next 1001 days. You can examine it thoroughly here. Also it now has a permanent home up in the top nav bar on this site, (where the “About” page is). Some of the stuff is super-easy, like:

             No. 88: Go to the beach

        …but some of it is super-hard, like:

             No. 93: Do 100 push-ups

        Most of it, though, is just middle-of-the-road, been-meaning-to-do-forever, but just-haven’t-gotten-around-to-it type stuff, like

             No. 61: Find the perfect black shift dress
             No. 30: Be vegan for one week
             No. 28: Visit family and friends in the Bay Area
             No. 1: Take a ballet workshop in January

        I will be updating y’all on my progress on The List, more for my benefit, but if you don’t hear an update in a while feel free to chastise me. Motivation is key, eh? Otherwise I’ll just have to bribe myself. So hop to it!

        Weekend Open Thread: 101 Things in 1001 Days (11/11/11 edition)

        11 Nov

        There’s this thing I’ve been meaning to do. It’s called 101 Things in 1001 Days. Basically, you make a list of 101 things you want to do in the next 1001 days (nearly three years), and then you, you know, DO THEM. I started working on a list way back when guest blogger Mel began hers, and then I got distracted.

        So in an attempt to get back on the Getting Things Done train, and to celebrate today’s date of 11-11-11 (numerical alliteration, whee!) this weekend’s open thread theme is Things You Want To Do! Here’s how it works: You post the Many Awesome Things you want to do in the comments section, and then I promise to post my list on Monday. Deal? Deal!

        Some various questions to get you started/inspired:

        • What do you want to do with Your Life? (easy questions first! yuk yuk)
        • The next five years? Fifteen?
        • The next 15 minutes?
        • Where do you want to be ten years from now?
        • What do you want to do this weekend?
        • What do you want to do before you die*?
        • What is your biggest, baddest most secretest talent you wish you had but don’t?

        Happy 11/11/11 everyone, have a wonderful weekend!

        *Oh my my, how things have changed since 2006.

        Not funny, Facebook: Sexism and homophobia from your friends and family

        7 Nov

        What would we do without Facebook? Well, for one, we might never find out which of our “friends” are complete and utter poopheads. And for that, Facebook, I thank you. My news feed has, oddly, found itself somewhat fuller-than-usual with illogical anti-gay or sexist rants of late – go figure. A sampling, presented for your derision:

        The above is one of those “link-sharing plus commentary” posts. It points to the heartwarming story of a lesbian couple being named as reigning monarchs of the homecoming court.

        Here is the text from the offending (white, male, cisgendered heterosexual) Facebooker:

        If this trend continues society will be the biggest loser and women will be the second. If gender does not matter why stop here how about making the Olympics only the best in each event regardless of gender. Honoring the difference between men an (sic) women make (sic) women safer expressing femininity men better men by honoring those differences.

        Like most hate speech, the rant makes little to no sense. “[gender roles] make women safer“? Last I checked it was way harder for women to run away from would-be muggers/rapists while wearing heels. Just saying! Additionally, I wonder if the OP noticed that both women in the photo are wearing dresses and full makeup? Looks like some pretty damn well-performed femininity to me. Maybe he’s wearing asshole goggles.

        And how about the second part of that “sentence”: “expressing femininity men better men by honoring those differences“? Wait, what? Maybe if I took whatever hallucinogen this dude was on when he typed that and forgot everything I learned in grammar school, that sentence would make sense.

        The best response I’ve heard so far is from Rebeca Arellano, the whip-smart teenager crowned Homecoming King at the high school in the news story:

        For all the girls who think tradition should be continued: go back to the kitchen, stop having sex before you’re married, get out of school and job system, don’t have an opinion, don’t own any property, give up the right to marry who you love, don’t vote, and allow your husband to do whatever he pleases to you. Think about the meaning of tradition when you use it in your argument against us.

        Today’s runner-up post is brought to you by the “girl-on-girl violence” club:

        Transcript:

        “Yes, I’m a woman. I push doors that clearly say PULL. I laugh harder when I try to explain why I’m laughing. I walk into a room and forget why I was there. I count on my fingers in math. I hide the pain from my loved ones. I say it is a long story when it is really not. I cry a lot more than you think I do. I care about people who don’t care about me. I try to do things before the microwave beeps. I listen to you even when you don’t listen to me. And a hug will always help. Yes, I’m a woman! Re-post if you’re proud to be one, come on ladies..(heart emoticon)”

        I can’t decide which is my favorite kooky stereotype. Is it the finger-in-mouth, head tilted “I count on my fingers in math” statement? Because oh ho ho, that is one helluva knee-slapper! I mean, MATH IS HARD, AMIRITE ladies!? Re-post if you’re proud of your inability to count past ten!!

        Or is it the nonsensical “I try to do things before the microwave beeps”? Like, what kind of things? Do you set the microwave to five minutes, and then try to run a mile? Or is it something more sinister – an entire life, perhaps, dictated by an evil beeping kitchen appliance – you get up in the morning, and try to put your pants on before your microwave announces “Beep. TOO SLOW, slowpoke. Now suffer the wrath of the EVER-EXPANDING MARSHMALLOW PEEP! Muah ha ha ha!!!”

        Got your own jerk Facebook
        posts? Email them to me
        and I’ll probably post them:
        adventuresinmediocrity@gmail.com

        Most of them just sound like slightly amusing, somewhat sad things that happen to everyone now and again – who hasn’t pulled or pushed a door the wrong way? What the hell does laughing when trying to explain something funny have to do with your genitals or gender performance? And what the hell is WRONG with these Facebook people?

        What’s the worst post you’ve ever seen on The Facebook (or any other social network, for that matter)? I’m sure these two are tame by comparison. Oh and – if you’re into screencapping, take some screenshots and email ‘em to me at adventuresinmediocrity@gmail.com (adventuresinmediocrity (at) gmail (dot) com), or tweet ‘em at me @mediocreventure. Be sure to include how you’d like to be attributed, if at all.

        Weekend Open Thread: Street Harassment Edition

        4 Nov

        It’s Friday, so it’s Weekend Open Thread time! Talk amongst yourselves about whatever you please in the comments. I’ll give you a topic: Street harassment! Yayyyy! Some questions to get you started:

        • What is the worst thing someone has ever said/done to you on the street/in public?
        • What’s the funniest?
        • Is there any kind of street harassment that’s OK or tolerable?
        • Have you ever fought/talked/holla’d back to a street harasser? What happened next?

        Feel free to talk about whatever you want, save doing violence to other commenters, or me, or cute widdle puppies like this one:

        Amusing lesboslang

        3 Nov

        Cruising around the internet, one encounters quite a bit of entertaining slang. Some of it is geared toward the gay, lesbian and otherwise queerly-inclined folks. A selection, presented for your amusement:

        Hasbian:  One who used to be a lesbian. Often can be counted among the Five Allies in Queerland.

        Lesbient: A stoner lesbian. “Ent” comes from the tree people from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famed Trilogy of the Rings, in case you didn’t know.

        Lesberina: This is pretty much what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a kiddo. Just guess the definition.

        Lesberjack: Urban Dictionary defines this as “a woman who wears plaid to clearly identify herself as a lesbian.” Clearly, though, nowadays, if one isn’t careful with accessorizing, one could be mistaken for a Mere Hipster.

        Lesbaru: A Subaru, driven by a lesbian. Urban Dictionary says this has to be a late-model Subaru, but can be driven by any woman. I disagree, Urban Dictionary, particularly since Subarus in the Pacific Northwest are driven by pretty much everyone. Related: We also need a word for Lesbian Pickup Trucks. Ten points to the first person to come up with a clever moniker for that.

        Lesbionic: Again, I disagree with Urban Dictionary here. They define it as “something pertaining to two female robots or cyborgs who are emotionally and sexually attracted to each other.” Since there’s no such thing as robots, clearly what they meant to say was a lesbian with bionic superpowers. Duh.

        What internet slang did I miss (no offensive stuff, please)? What slang do you use in your own social group that the internet doesn’t know about yet? Tell me in the comments.

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