Me Too 2

When I was a senior in college, I had an assignment to write the most frightening experience I had ever had in my life. I wrote about a high school trip to New York where someone pounded on our hotel door in the middle of the night, and we did not know what to do. Scary for a 16 year old, and it must have been something similar to what my classmates wrote because our professor discussed with the class that he did not get the quality he expected, assuming we had never been in life threatening situations.

Except I had. I was. And like then, my mind sometimes can’t comprehend how frightening those months really were.

I was stalked. For several months. By an ex-boyfriend. It became so terrifying that I was convinced it would end in my death. And still today, I believe that if certain people hadn’t acted on my behalf, Campus Safety and the Dean of Students, I would have been killed.

It started with his cheating on me, breaking our engagement, and leaving me half-mad with grief. Once I started to recover from my first heartbreak, I did seek him out to talk and to let go. I didn’t want to hate anyone; I wanted to let it go.

Only he took that as I still had feelings for him.

He sent me e-cards with hearts, sent me messages and emails, invited me to the movies and Disneyland, things we had done as a couple. I ignored the messages and declined the offers. He started parking his car on the street, so that I could see it every time I walked to or from campus. He started eating his meals at the same time I did with my friends. He sat across the patio, staring at me, leaving only when I did.  We didn’t notice until I left to use the bathroom, and a girlfriend noticed he got up too and ran to catch up with me to keep me safe. He began appearing near my classrooms. (Honestly it was weird because he could never remember my schedule when we were together.)

But the most terrifying thing was his body language changed. He walked different. He stood different. He moved different. Even at the time of events, I could not describe what was different, but I knew it was different.

When I told him I could not talk to him any more after a few nights of crying 2am phone calls, he left me notes, describing me as his one true love and how I don’t care about him. Advice from older friends told me to tell him to leave me alone in plain, clear language. When he refused to answer the door, I returned those notes written in plain, clear language, “I don’t want to be your friend. Don’t call me anymore. You’re not my deal.”

That night as I sat alone for dinner in the school cafeteria (God, where was everyone). He walked by and whispered, “Bitch.” At first, I was angry and wanted to tell him off, but then thought, “Fine, I’m a bitch; now leave me alone.”

Except he didn’t.

My dorm had doors that opened to the outside, and I tended to leave mine open for the fresh air and for friends to pop in. I was working on the computer, not minding the outside, when he walked by and threw a note into my room. That sign of aggression freaked me out. The note read: We need to talk.

The phone rang.

I let out a little scream.

I answered it. Hello?

“Fae, we need to-”

I slammed the receiver down. The phone rang and rang and rang and rang. It went to voice mail. Then it rang and rang and rang and rang. It went to voice mail. It rang and rang, and I grabbed my backpack and keys and ran the hell out of there. I scanned the rooms and found one of my friends’ lights on. I pounded on the door and told her what happened. I stayed with her until my roommate came home. When I finally returned home, I had several voice mails, emails, and messages waiting for me.

At lunch, I told my circle of friends, “If I disappear, tell them that Crazy Stalker Boy is after me.” I explained the situation; I told them where to find his parents’ number and address. They already knew what his car looked like. We all knew where it was parked.

I thought he was going to kidnap me and kill me.

I told my friends, “Sunday nights, he escalates.” They decided that someone would always hang out with me Sunday nights. They decided that I was no longer allowed to walk anywhere I alone. I was to call someone, no matter the time, to be escorted anywhere. The boys of the circle volunteered to be first call.

So I told this story to my counselor. Never telling him that I thought I was going to be a statistic. Never telling him I was afraid for my life. Never telling him I needed help. I told him the story of how I talked to my friends and how they had decided to help me. I remember literally saying “I told them that if I disappear.”

Somehow I don’t think my brain, my mind, myself could accept the possibility I was in mortal danger. Maybe it was a defense mechanism to keep me safe and alert, to keep me from freezing.

Luckily for me, my counselor was also the entrance counselor. He saw every student who is asking for services. He saw them 3 times before assigning a counselor for them. So he knew who my Crazy Stalker Boy was because that kid had asked for services. My counselor put two to two together and immediately called the Dean of Students.

What I learned later, within the hour, Campus Safety was notified and was tasked to find Crazy Stalker Boy and bring him to the Dean. The Dean laid into Crazy Stalker Boy, telling him he was no longer allowed to contact me in any capacity for any reason. The Dean threatened Crazy Stalker Boy with explosion.

I was called in and told that Crazy Stalker Boy was dealt with and that I was to let Campus Safety know immediately if anything happened. I was encouraged to tell the RAs and my bosses at the law school. I told everyone. All my classmates. All my professors. One tried to say he didn’t want to hear it, but I told him anyways. I told all the people who I worked with. I figured the more people who knew I was in danger, the more people that could help me.

Crazy Stalker Boy was silent for two days but left his car where I would walk. I considered walking another route, but all other routes would put me in isolated or dark areas. My friends walked with me. Campus Safety began to take their lunches at the table Crazy Stalker Boy was sitting.

Then he messaged me. I saved them and notified Campus Safety.

Then Sunday happened.

My phone rang. Crazy Stalker Boy didn’t get out a full word before I hung up. He called again, leaving a message that he was coming by to give him my notes on Italian that I gave him. I didn’t care. Keep the damn notes. I called a friend, and she came over.

Twenty minutes later, he was at my door. I told him to go away, and he said he wouldn’t until we talked. I told him to leave. He put his foot down where I couldn’t shut the door. He leaned over me. I told him to leave. My friend jumped up and asked if I needed an RA. I said yes.

She ran out of the room. Another friend across the way called out to her, asking if everything was alright because he had seen the Crazy Stalker Boy walking over and decided to stay there, monitoring the situation. She told him no. He called Campus Safety.

The RA came and told Crazy Stalker Boy to leave. He refused. So the RA asked to borrow my phone. I asked him in. The RA called Campus Safety.

After a few minutes, Crazy Stalker Boy left, walking down the hall. At the end, he turned and shouted, “I’ll be back.” I dissolved into nervous giggles.

Campus Safety came. The police came. I was encouraged to sleep somewhere else that night and to get a restraining order. My friends called each other, discussing whose room was the safest. The Dean called me and explained that he was kicking Crazy Stalker Boy out of campus housing and would expel him for one more infraction.

It didn’t end there. But that was the worst night.

I got my restraining order with the help of my best friend, who arrived back from study abroad the next day like a knight in shining armor. Though Crazy Stalker Boy showed up at the hearing and his parents got him a lawyer who fought successfully against a permanent restraining order.While I didn’t hear from him for almost 2 years, he found out where I lived with my boyfriend and left a box of chocolates and a horrid love poem with an email address to write to him. Then a few months later, the day after my wedding, I received a gift from him, a gift left on my parents’ porch. 3 months later I received an envelope of pictures of me entering the church in my wedding dress.

That was when my father called his parents and told them to get a hold of their son or he would.

But I went years feeling panic whenever I saw the same make, model, and color car that he had. I did not register for baby gifts because I was convinced Crazy Stalker Boy found out about my wedding through my registry. He tried to contact me once in the early years of Facebook. I blocked him and hid my profile so well that few can find it. For years, I wondered what I would do if he came after me again. Like I said before when I talked about the MeToo Movement. I’m lucky.

At the first hearing (there were four), when the judge asked Crazy Stalker Boy why he was bothering me, he answered, “Because I need answers.”

Answers to what? I can only assume to why I wouldn’t take him back. Clearly I should want him back. I must have been pining away for him. I must be waiting for him to get over his new girlfriend and come back.

Then when I didn’t want him back, when I clearly stated no, when I refused to talk to him, he decided to push and push and push. Because persistence and not empathizing is how a man wins a woman. He repeatedly left messages saying he loved me and wanted me back and then became angry that I wasn’t returning his calls. How could I care for someone who ignores my boundaries and wishes?

His lawyer described him as a kid madly in love with me. He was 20; he was stalking me. His lawyer said I was playing games and encouraging him. I never did. But I know girls who were friendly to their stalkers, trying to befriend them and convince them nicely to leave. When I proved I was clear about my responses, the lawyer changed the goal post, saying Crazy Stalker Boy wanted the engagement ring back. Here’s your damn ring; choke on it. Then his lawyer said that the school was too small and that I was making it hard for the boy to live his life or do anything. I was a distraction.

In a patriarchal world, I am the prize for one man’s desires; I am the siren that drives one man insane. In our culture, he is a boy because he is a 20-year-old, middle class, white boy, who doesn’t know how best to win his love back. I was crazy for being afraid, and I must be encouraging this behavior. I should reward him for that.

So yeah.

Me too.

Me too

2 posts in one night, Fae? Weird.

Well, I wanted to talk about something, and then I had a bad couple of days…. but we’ll get to that in another post.

I want to talk about the Metoo campaign.

When it first started trending, I was so proud of the women responding. Some of those women on my Twitter and Facebook feed have rarely told their stories to people. Some of those I was surprised would actually publicly admit that they too were sexually harassed and/or assaulted. And I wanted to stand with them, but I’m one of the “lucky” ones.

I remember sitting in Women’s Self-Defense in college, cross-legged, in the small gym, listening about the statistics on sexual assault on women in the United States. Then I heard 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in her life time. I was in class with some friends. And I already knew who the 1 was. And it wasn’t me.

As I grew and learned and listened and consoled, I counted. One woman was raped by an ex boyfriend, and when others heard the commotion, they ignored it and called her a liar afterwards. One woman was told that he took her out and she owed him; she complied out of guilt and fear. Another woman was drunk; he got her drunk; he plied her with drinks all night and got her drunk. One girl was fooling around with a boy, and then he forced her to have sex, pinning her down, and then he told her it was her fault because she made him hard. I know women as young girls who were fondled sexually on the knee of their relatives. Another woman waited until the guy she wanted was drunk and in bed before jumping in; I gave her hell for it.

And I was never the 1 in 4.

With every story from a friend, with every new article I read, I wondered how was I so lucky.

Why was I so lucky?

Was it because I always wore shorts or jeans? Was it because I always walked tough? Was it the rumor in high school and college that said I had no moral code to keep me from damaging a male’s favorite body part? Was it because I was straight edge? Was it because I grew up with boys? Was it because I was never last at the party?

But it was luck.

I walked home alone in the dark. I walked miles to my apartment alone after 10 pm. I was alone in dorm rooms and houses with boys. I’ve ignored my warning instincts. My warning instincts have failed to warn me.

But I was lucky. I’ve been playing Russian roulette, and every time that bullet wasn’t mine.

So I didn’t type Me too into my feeds.

Until I thought about all the discussions I had with boys and men about sexual harassment.

No, it’s not because the guy was unattractive or too old or too young or too drunk or didn’t dress right or didn’t look like he had money or a job or a nice car. No, it’s not a compliment. It will never be a compliment. It was never attended to be a compliment. Yes, if a very handsome, well-dressed, just-the-right-age guy said that to me in that way, it would still be sexual harassment.

At the age of 11, some guy, about late 20s, early 30s,  followed me around K-Mart, trailing me, stalking me, waited until my parents were a few yards away from me before leaning over me to whisper in my ear how tasty I looked.

That feeling I had at that moment is what I compare all “compliments” to. I felt small, weak, and helpless. I felt dirty, defiled, and disgusted. I felt naked, naughty, and guilty. I felt shame. I. felt. shame.

For what? Even at 11, I did not know why I felt violated and why I felt it was my fault.

This moment would happen over and over.

I didn’t wear dresses in high school and college because every time I did, some guy would sexually harass me.  I can’t even count how many times guys would yell or whistle from their cars. In college, I had to walk by a construction site every day, and when one of my guy friends learned I was trying to avoid the walk (which I couldn’t; that’s the only way to get home) and why, he walked me home every day after that.

When I was young, working at an operator, I wore short shorts to work, and an employee would always sit near me and look at my legs, just stare at them. One day he waited until I was on a long phone call and asked if he could touch my legs. I mouthed what? with a slight head movement. He took it as a yes and caressed my leg. I nearly gagged. As I write this, my stomach lurched. He disappeared so I couldn’t confront him later. But I wore jeans after that. I changed my behavior so a guy wouldn’t touch me.

And I can hear guys now, well you didn’t say no; he didn’t know better; at least he asked; you shouldn’t have been wearing short shorts either. Boys, could you please imagine some stranger sitting next to you in a public place who just caressed your bare skin without your explicit consent? Creepy, right?

And I thought my days were over. I didn’t have to worry about jerks like those man-children. I was a mother. I always had a child on me. I was a teacher. I was always with children.

Then a few months ago I took the boys out for ice cream at a fast food spot. As we ate out food, an older man came over and asked if he could give me a compliment. I assumed it was about the boys. They were doing amazing. Then he leaned over and whispered, “You look deliciously gorgeous.” And that disgust/shame/dirty/violated feeling hit me. And I was too ashamed to do anything.

Then he left, and I grew angry. How dare he cat call me in front of my boys! I should have ripped out his tongue. But I was ashamed. For that man’s behavior. He made me feel shame for being a woman. When I related the incident to another guy, he answered, “He thought he was giving you a compliment; he meant no harm.” Bullsh*t. You know how I know? Because he whispered it. He whispered it instead of saying it in a regular voice and tone. He knew he was going to make me uncomfortable. He wanted me to feel uncomfortable that’s why he used the word “delicious,” why he whispered it.

Yes, I’m one of the lucky ones who has never been sexually assaulted. But I have been sexually harassed. I know the feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, filthiness because some man-child thinks he owns my body for those few moments. As I tried to explained to my male allies, we know these words aren’t for us. We know we are just a piece of meat to be ogled, an animal to stalk and hunt, an image to masturbate to. We know the difference between a guy giving us a compliment and a guy cat calling us.

I know this piece is just preaching to the choir. But I had to say it.

To all the men and women, boys and girls, who have been sexually assaulted and/or sexually harassed, I stand with you.

Hey is that a soap box?: Sugar Babies and Daddies

Are you kidding me?

 

Did any one watch Good Morning America and the sugar daddies?  I wanted to write on their board, but I had just too much to say and I get a little PG-13 when I note the difference between sex and love making.

 

First off, we women need to make a pact.  If he’s married, we’re not interested.  Women are too competitive with each other, too leery of each other, to worry about some chick is going to take our man, even if we don’t want him.  Now if my husband found a cute little thing that makes him happy.  Fine.  Give me the divorce, half your stuff, and the kids and go have a nice life.  Spend as much money on her as you want, but don’t you dare think you can get away spending the family money to buy access to some nineteen-year-old’s twin bed.

 

Second, let’s be honest, little sugar babies.  You’re whores.  You are.  If you want a guy “to take care of you” and you fuck him (yes, fuck because it ain’t love making) to thank him or because you feel obligated, then you are a prostitute.  Now don’t feel too bad.  I know lots of girls who felt obligated to fuck a guy because he bought them a nice dinner or gave them something.  Granted, I was taught just to pay for the next meal, but I can see where you might get confused.  The difference between sugar babies and the ordinary girl is the ordinary girl isn’t looking for a guy “to take care of her.”  And if this is the road you girls choose, diamonds aren’t your best friends.  They don’t resell as well as you think.  Take a cue from your foremothers; the best courtesans received property and houses deeded to them.

Third, any woman, who had a good dad, would never ever call a guy a “Daddy” or a “Sugar Daddy.”  It turns my stomach just to think of it as I remember all the times I called my Dad, Daddy before I was cool enough and old enough to shorten it.  Once my husband joked about it after I had left my job to raise Tornado E.  The moment the word “daddy” left his mouth, his face contorted, and he said that it was a poor joke and one never to be mentioned again.  I looked over at the baby who would one day call my husband Daddy and quickly agreed with him.

 

Fourth, you girls who fuck as a thank you, you sugar babies, you all are making the rest of us look bad.  Most of us can’t be bought, not for a lobster dinner, not for a diamond ring, not for a vacation to the Bahamas.  But this will perpetuate the myth that all a girl wants is a guy’s wallet, and really, some guys aren’t even worth that.

 

And I promise I will make sure my boys aren’t the fools, who pay for love, that they aren’t the idiots who believe they can have it both ways, that aren’t the jerks who take advantage of the situation because that’s one of the many jobs of a mom, to raise the good guys.

Flanagan vs working moms and housewives

The problem with Caitlin Flanagan’s The Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing your Inner Housewife is Flanagan demonizes both working and stay-at-home mothers.  She wants to be considered fulfilled and important by being a working mother, but she also wants to create a home atmosphere where she stays to cook dinners and be there for her family.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have it all.  The problem lies that she holds working mothers in contempt because they miss that close bond with their children and believes stay-at-home moms are selfishly demanding me-time from their families, not caring to do the housework or even the mother work.  She believes in a simpler time when housewives were competent, content women who knew how to make a house a home.  This time never existed.

 

Her first look at the culture of marriage is through the bridal magazines, and she sees a world of inflated dreams crushing the very union of marriage.  She’s right.  But she tends to blame feminism for killing the wedding ceremony, leaving the American culture without any understanding of what the ceremony actually means.  Feminism did not kill weddings.  Materialism did.  Watch just one episode of Bridezilla, and you’ll understand that there is something very wrong with the institute of marriage.  Flip through a bridal magazine, and it will whisper of elegant dresses, extravagant dishes, and exotic locals.  The wedding industry cajoles, seduces, pushes weddings to be ever bigger because that is their business, to make weddings a significant occasion with a very significant price tag.  It is the savvy marketing that appeals to the very selfish, self-centered, greedy part of our society.  It is the dream that every girl is a princess, and every bride should have her dream.  Flanagan is right is laughable to see these women walk down the aisle in white dresses, forgetting that this is to symbolize virginity, but Flanagan forgets the white wedding dress only came to popularity with Queen Victoria’s wedding, when before any beautiful dress would do.  We are losing our bridal rituals, but we aren’t losing it to feminism.

 

While I have already discussed Flanagan’s views on the sexless marriage, I will just touch on them briefly.  Flanagan believes women are refusing sex in a passive aggressive way because they are doing all the work.  Because it’s the women’s fault for doing all the work, it is her problem to fix and mend.  I don’t agree at all. I think it’s a two person problem; therefore, it should be fixed by two people.  Another problem with this chapter is her first mention that if men started doing the housework like we women would like (cleaning up the crumbs after the dishes, putting notes in with the kid’s lunches, ironing curtains), men would be demasculinized in our eyes.  Ha.  I know plenty of men that help out with the housework, and they are still very much men.  I would almost bet they are getting more sex than the men I know who don’t help around the house.  Not only can we not keep our men satisfies, we apparently can’t keep a clean, orderly house either.

 

While Flanagan assumed stay-at-home moms could satisfy their men more than working mothers, she believes both women fail miserably when it comes to making a house a home.  Working mothers just pass on these chores to cleaning women, and so does the average stay-at-home mom.  Well, that was news to me.  I can’t even think of another stay-at-home mom that hired a cleaning person (well, except me, for three months after Tornado E’s birth at the insistence of my husband and his administrative assistant.  I fired her as soon as I could figure out how to run the household with a baby).  It is here that I realized the Flanagan is not an average stay-at-home mom, but that she had the means to do more and that she didn’t actually understand the plight of ordinary women.  According the Flanagan, stay-at-home moms go to the movies, the spa, to book clubs, leaving the house work to others, not even knowing the price of milk.  I am certain that most women, especially those who stay at home, do their own house cleaning, do the shopping with a budget, mend shirts, and all the other day to day things that Flanagan loves but never does.  She doesn’t understand the tedium of housework because she never did it.  She NEVER did it.  At this point, Flanagan should be fired as a sage for housewives.

 

Then Flanagan moves on to discussing child rearing.  After a chapter discussing the use of nannies in Victorian England, she then has a chapter about her nanny hired to take care of her sons because all the other stay-at-home moms have one.  Really?  Another interesting fact.  From the look of the blogs out there, most of us can’t find a decent sitter for a measly night out with or without a husband much less another set of hands to take care of the children five days a week.  In this chapter she talks about how inadequate she feels with her babies, and thank god her nanny is so good.  The rest of us mothers out there have felt our moments of inadequacy deep to the soul, and we dealt with it and moved on.  We were the ones that took care of the sick child, changing the sheets, bathing the child, calming the child, not someone else.  Flanagan also mentions how she wanted someone in the house to make it loving and warm, like her mother used to do.  That’s your job now, Mrs. Housewife.  We all miss our mothers taking care of us.  We make the bed so that we can return to it feeling warm and clean.  We cook cookies to eat the dough and have the smell run through the house because it reminds us of home.  Flanagan does not understand the desperate act of mothering. 

 

 

Flanagan is looking for a reason why she feels incompetent.  She finds it in the fact the feminism robbed women of home ec and the knowledge that we would be homemakers, important and loved.  She sees that mothers run after their children, taking them to every activity that can be crammed into their children’s lives, paying homage to the domestic goddess of Martha Stewart, and becoming addicted to organizing and decluttering.  Again I see these as symptoms of materialism and advertising.  Nothing can sell a parent better than the threat that their children may not be using their full potential; hence why many kids have several activities on their plate.  But this has been happening for some time.  My brothers and I were in scouts, volleyball, basketball, softball or baseball, swimming lessons.  If we could have afforded it we would have had music lessons.  My father and his siblings all took various music lessons and did various sports.  The fact that Americans have raised this to a new level of fanaticism is just yet another marketing scheme, trying to take money from parents who are trying to make prodigies or at least make them well-rounded enough to get into a good college.  As long as these activities are done to moderation, then why not schlep a kid around because we are yearning for a better life for that child. 

 

As for Martha Stewart and organization, I feel that Flanagan is right to believe this is a call for a simpler time.  Martha Stewart shows off peace and beauty as unattainable as that is in a house full of kids.  We yearn for a more organized home that runs efficiently leaving us time to redecorate, bake, or just plain relax.  It just makes sense that a busy mother would want this.  But I doubt that every household in those bygone days looked like the Cleaver’s or the Nelson’s.  Kids back then were much like kids today, tornadoes.  I think we set the bar too high to expect a perfectly manicured house while raising sweet, smart, clean kids.  Even my grandma didn’t believe in keeping an immaculate house unless company demands it.  Really Flanagan is living in a different world than what the rest of us live in, one with hired help.

 

The vary essence of this book is Caitlin Flanagan not realizing that housewives back then felt the same way as stay-at-home mothers today.  She even quotes Erma Bombeck as saying she went to see Betty Friedan just to get out of the day’s house work, but Flanagan fails to realize what Bombeck said.  To get out of the house work.  In Flanagan’s mind those fifties and sixties were a time where women were competent and confident in their roles of housewife, not minding the tediousness of the chores that had to be done and redone every day.  Flanagan is looking to understand why she isn’t like that, and because she lost her mother before her boys were older than five, Flanagan never had the same talks that I had with my mom, where my mom admits to being just as confused and anxious as I am.  Flanagan wants to be like her mom but fails because she doesn’t understand her “inner housewife.”  Maybe she doesn’t understand it because she’s never done it.  She instead vilifies all women in what they are trying to do, encouraging them to give up on their dreams of having it all and sending their children to private universities.  I guess Susan Jane Gilman is right.  We’re all the fashion police.

 

Housewife! Kill me!

I’m sorry; I was just planning on getting out of the blogging world and calling my parents when I happened on a couple of posts that made me go WHAT!  Now I tend not to argue with people on their own blog; it is their own opinion.  Who am I to say they’re crazy?  Then we come to Faemom’s House of Insanity, and I have complete editorial power.  (Though I don’t mind if you call me crazy; I believe I’m one foot there with the other on a banana peel.)   But I just read some one referring herself to June Clever because she had cookies and milk ready for her kids, which is awesome, but they were from refrigerated dough.  And another blogger was extolling the wonderfulness of the book The Hell With ALL That: Loving and Loathing Your Inner Housewife by Caitlin Flanagan.

 

Ok, first off, you’re not June Clever for baking refrigerated cookie dough.  You just aren’t.  You can use it to make people believe you are, especially guests, but don’t for a minute believe it.  I have bought the refrigerated cookie dough when I’m jonesing for chocolate chip cookies and only need a dozen to get through.  I’m freaked out because for a wholesome (yes, I actually used the adjective “wholesome”) activity the other night, the boys and I made cookies from scratch.  Add that to the “bone” necklaces I’m making them and some friends for Halloween and that I’m making costumes, I am seriously stepping towards Cleverism.  I prefer to be more like Harriet Nelson from Ozzie and Harriet; she had spunk. But I digress, I made cookies from scratch with my boys.  Mainly because I didn’t want to turn on the TV and my mom’s copy of Martha had an awesome recipe for cowboy cookies.  And they are heavenly.  Trust me, the irony of baking cookies from a Martha Stewart magazine is not lost on me.

 

Next.  To Hell With All That is a very bi-polar book, and I planned on making a better post on it because it needs to be written.  I haven’t read the book in six months, so I have to reread it to give you all a real gist of the matter.  But let me just say while I was nodding in agreement, I started getting angry with the book.  Apparently the author puts the everyday housewife crap on a pedestal.  I mean like taking out the garbage and vacuuming and taking care of sick kids.  Basically all the crap we hate to do, and usually the stuff our husbands take for granted (but I bet some of you have really sweet husbands that think you’re totally a goddess for doing it, that’s just not all of us).  Well, it turns out the writer had (and probably still has) a maid and used to have a nanny until her kids went to school.  Are you F-ING kidding me?  You’re going to tell me to embrace my inner housewife when you have a maid and a nanny?  You had some one else to clean up vomit and wax your floors.  And I shudder at the term housewife, and I’ll explain in the latter post why she loves it.

 

Ok, I promised I wouldn’t get in to it until I reread the book, but it is obvious that I need to.  So after I finish the one I’m working on, which may take a while because it’s around a thousand pages, give or take a hundred (don’t worry, amazing writer, page turner and all), I’ll reread To Hell with All That and give a full report.  I promise I’ll even admit I’m wrong if I like it the second time around.  And I have only admitted that twice in my marriage.

Hate Speech

Just a thought before I relieve Tornado S of crib duty, I was looking at the fastest rising blogs on WordPress, trying to figure out what makes them so popular.  Good writing?  Knowing people?  Better tags?  What?  And I came across “American Women Suck,” the third fastest rising blog.  I prefer that you don’t seek this guy out because he just wants attention, which he’s getting.  He’s whole blog was hate speech toward women.  Just nasty, cruel pictures and writing, making women look just like monsters.  Nothing made sense, pulling statistics and facts out of his ass.  And on one hand it’s really sad because obviously this guy has been hurt many times by “women.” (I have quotation marks because I know guys who swear they lost a job to a woman but have no proof.)  I mean this guy must have had a horrible mother and a horrible wife, but get over it and realize most women aren’t like that.  On the other hand, it really pisses me off that people have a place to spew their hatred.  What if my kid came across that?  Why would anyone want to read that garbage?  I really think that WordPress should make hate speech blogs private.  What a jerk.

Men’s chores: A Conversation

I bet you think it will be between my husband and I, and you would be wrong.  During my daily conversation with my mom, I mentioned how I asked my husband to fill up my SUV that he was borrowing.  Amazingly enough he didn’t forget, and I was very glad.  (Which in a way is kind of pathetic that I get excited that my husband does something I asked)  Any ways, the conversation:

Me: . . . So he actually filled the tank.

Mom: You know, Pauline’s (a friend of my mom’s) husband always fills up her tank. 

Me: I know, Mom.  (Can we feel a lecture coming on?)

Mom: And your dad fills up the Mustang about 95% of the time.

(And here I thought he did that just to get away and be on his own for a little bit.  My dad’s a lone wolf.)

Me: I know, Mom.  It’s just I feel that who ever is driving the car, when it hits an eighth of a tank, can go fill it up or at least replace the gas they use.  My problem is he has left the car on empty when I’ve had the kids.  So it’s nice that he filled up the tank.

Mom: Well, we just think it’s a husband’s chore.  (silence)  What are you thinking?  (Is it that obvious?)

Me: I was thinking that you raised me to believe that there were no men’s chores or women’s chores.  They were just chores that needed to be done.  If the dishes needed to be done, then someone would do it.  If the garbage needs to be taken out, someone will have to do it.  You taught me to do “guy” chores.

Mom: (pause) I was a good mother, wasn’t I?

Me: Yes.

Feminism and Motherhood

“Don’t call yourself a feminist.  I hate feminists,” said my college friend with disgusted horror.  A boy at the table said, “Yeah, call yourself an equalist, someone who stands for the rights of everyone.”  I was confused; did I not work my ass off for four years get scholarships and an entrance into an university?  And I find people like this here?  I looked over at my best friend, who shrugged and started bobbing his head to music only he could hear.  By the rhythm, I guessed it was Spice Girls and realized he was not going to come to my aid, not because he agreed with the other two people at the table but because he didn’t want to waste his time on petty arguments when he could think of something happy.  (Please don’t confuse this with stupidity.  My friend is wickedly smart, an environmental scientist, who could solve math equations that took three pages to solve.  He just finds political talk boring, except with me.)

I sigh and turn to the boy.  “You don’t believe in equal rights, so don’t get cocky.  You don’t believe in gay marriage or any gay rights because they’re ‘special rights’ (Yes I did use my fingers for the quotes).  You’re homophobic and suppressing issues.  We all know it.”  With that said, I turned to my girl friend.  “I guess you’re right, feminists are pretty scary.  They’re women who think for themselves.  But isn’t it nice to go to college and have a career?  Isn’t great that we can have our own bank accounts and houses?  Gee, it’s swell that our husbands don’t have the right to beat us?  And I love wearing shorts and jeans, don’t you?  (yes, she was wearing jeans.)   So you might not like feminists for some crazy belief that they hate men or are dikes, but without them, we would not be here.  I gotta get to class.” 

I was reminded of this conversation as I read some blogs were women wrote that they didn’t consider themselves feminists but Sarah Palin motivates them.  Well, I’m glad they found some woman to motivate them.  Lucky for them, none of the liberals are going to be pissed off that Palin is a working mom, or that she had a child so late in life or that her teenage daughter is wrong to be pregnant and even keep the kid, or that Palin is a faminatzi.  Because that’s feminists have fought for those choices.  They keep fighting for choices for both men and women.  And also lucky for the newly realizing conservative feminists, no one is going to call them men-haters because they like a female politician.

But back to motherhood.  My mom was a feminist and her mom and her mom.  Actually, there hasn’t been a weak-willed woman in my mom’s side in living memory.  And my dad, well, he did marry my mom, but he was a feminist too.  And the stories I hear of my great-grandma, well, she was steal and silk.  My mom made sure us kids understood the value of choice and that we couldn’t judge anyone.  It wasn’t our job.  She raised us to love justice, hate injustice.  She was like every other mom out there, wanting her kids to be better than she and her husband.

As for me, I’m a mom of two boys (so far).  I, who taught her favorite babysitting charge that boys were bad.  I, who wouldn’t date in high school because “boys are like apes.”  I who claimed the only uses for a guy were killing spiders and sex.  What do I teach my boys of feminism?  Well, first I’ve got to stop making all those jokes about men.  But I grew up with brothers, so I know their inner workings.  Second, I have to show them what is expected of them as men.

I have to show them that it’s ok for guys to do work in the kitchen and go to dance class.  I have to show them that you can watch football and take care of children.  I have to show them that we respect people’s feelings and opinions.  I have to show them that it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be strong. it’s ok to kick someone’s ass who’s being an asshole (when the need arises).  I have to be a strong woman, illustrating that women can fix a sink and dinner, wear make-up, or choose not to shave her legs.  I have to teach them to include everyone and not to make fun of someone who is different, whether she’s a girl or he’s a different religion.  I have to teach them that relationships are important and your partner’s feelings are just as important as theirs.  And finally, I plan to scare them with the thought of teenage marriage if they get a girl knocked up and she decided to keep the baby.  I have to teach them there is nothing they can’t do.  Every night I pray that they will be smart, strong, sweet, and the good guys.

I stay-at-home with them, and that is my choice.  One day I’ll probably go back to work, which most stay-at-home moms have to work at some point or another.  That will be my choice too.  That’s what feminism is really about: choice.  It’s working so everyone has a choice in their own lives, just like democracy. 

In the end, we’re all trying to make sure that our kids are better than we are.  My boys have dozens of various balls and a kitchen.  They have arrows and swords and baby dolls and stuff animals.  They play with my make-up brushes and my purses.  They were their father’s shoes and hats.  Granted Evan will climb into any heels he finds laying around.  They play with fairies, King Fu Panda, and cars.  We read them books about girls and boys.  So I think they’ll be pretty well rounded.  But if they think they’ll become sexist pigs, they learn they’re never too old for their mother to discipline them.

Laundry day

What an awesome title right? 

So laundry is the complete divide that separates the genders in my household.  Laundry day is fraught with political and sexual tension, and none of it is the good kind, as I try not to smother any one with a pillow.  (anyone = husband)  As I live in Southern California, I have to divide my laundry up to do at night so that I don’t send my electric bill sky rocketing and spend a small nation’s budget.  Friday night is the grownup laundry night.  And the same argument that has been going on for years will pick up again.  At least, we’re getting better at making fun of each other.

It started when I moved in with my husband.  (Bad Catholic, shacking up before marriage.  Engagements can fail!)  I had noticed that he only did laundry when he HAD no more clothes, and since his best girl friend owed him a large favor, she had been doing his laundry for a year.  That deal had expired a month or so before I moved in.  Before that, it turns out, his ex-girlfriend was doing his laundry.  Honestly?  (Note: I can’t complain of the sexism because in college I convinced guys to iron for me because I didn’t know how.)  It turns out my husband HATES doing laundry.  I can understand that.  I loath cleaning the floor.  But because we chose to be adults, we have to suck it up.

After a week or so of living with piles of clothes everywhere, everywhere, I said enough.  Which lead us into a huge fight, he then left in an angry huff.  Awesome.  So I was pissed, but I wasn’t going to live like this.  I piled all his clothes which turned into a small hill about five feet tall.  And I did his laundry.  I was oh-so careful.  I actually read the labels.  I used cold, hot, warm.  I separated into actual piles.  Due to my then-single husband asking a friend who was a stay-at-home mom, my husband did own a top of the line washing machine and dryer.  (Note: If by some horrible, twisted chance my marriage does fail, I plan to take them with me and the testicle I won from my husband in a bet.)  It took me three days to do it all and a  crazy high dry cleaning bill.  The last night as I gently folded the gentle cycle load, my husband came by and looked at the shirt I was folding, then preceded to lose his mind.  Apparently it was a hundred dollar shirt that he preferred to by dry cleaned, not washed, even though the tag said gentle wash.  I was still in shock that some one would spend a hundred bucks on a shirt.  I was just out of college where I was poor and starving and had 20 bucks to spend a week after bills and such.  After our tempers cooled, I labeled each of the three laundry hampers (yes, he actually owned three laundry hampers), laundry, dry-cleaning, and gentle.  I made up the new rule whatever is in those baskets will be treated as such and it won’t be my fault.  Yep, we have laundry rules as well as penis rules.

That was the first rule I installed in the household.  The next rules surprisingly were also about laundry.  It seems that my husband was led to believe that laundry included picking up all the dirty clothes, wash them, dry them, fold them, and put them away.  In his understanding of laundry, these tasks are ALL done by the person who does the laundry, the wife.  And that was the beginning of the trouble because I was raised by feminists.  (My dad actually does the laundry . . . and the dishes . . . and the ironing.)  OK, I get that I can do the washing, drying, and folding.  Oh, and in the beginning, I did laundry; while, he did the floors.  (That deal is looong gone now.)  But I am not his servant to pick up after him and put away things after him.  Still do this day we don’t see eye to eye on this.

So laundry rules as follows:

  1. If it isn’t in the hamper, it’s not getting washed.
  2. It is the owner’s responsibility to put the clothing in the right hamper.
  3. It is the owner’s responsibility to put the folded clothes away.
  4. The husband takes in the dry cleaning because he doesn’t have two toddlers to help across the street and out of danger as he carries a hamper of dry cleaning to the dry cleaners.

Things did become complicated when Evan was born.  Before he was born, I could go on strike.  So you had your buddies over for poker and didn’t clean up before or after, fine, the beer bottles will stay there.  Oh, you want to invite your best friend and his family over for dinner but the house is a mess.  Guess, we’ll clean together.  What?  You don’t have any clean underwear left?  I guess you could always pick a dirty pair of the floor, but forget about any bedroom play tonight.  Thst’s just gross.

Then Evan was born, and we couldn’t live in squalor.  Besides it turned out I liked living in a clean house, and that I enjoyed organized mess where I knew what paper was where in a stack.  So after a month or so picking up after my husband, I was ready to kill him (and let’s not forget I was the only one getting up with the baby).  So I bought a plastic basket, put his name in large letters on it, and left it on the hearth.  When I find something of his in the common areas, I throw it into his basket.  If the basket gets overflowing by two feet and we have company, I dump it on his side of the bed.  I just ignore the bedroom, making sure I have a clear path to the bathroom and a clean space for the boys to play as I get ready for the day.

So tonight I’ll do laundry.  As I try not to be a complete bitch, I’ll warn my husband and gather the clothes next to the laundry hamper, believing he just might have thrown them and missed.  Meanwhile, I plan on teaching Evan how to put his clothes and toys away.  Damn if I’ll let this habit be multi-generational.