Sacrifices

“In order to want to get married and have children, young women must be willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and maybe even their gifts, and most young women don’t seem to want to do these things. They also must learn to be a help meet to their husband and serve him by learning to have a meek and quiet spirit if they marry. They must learn to sacrifice their body, time, and energy to raise godly offspring which is difficult. Yes, marrying and bearing children requires a lot of sacrifice that many young women have no desire to do these days, sadly. (It’s heartbreaking to me.) Instead, they would rather sacrifice their time, money, and energy for a career that may keep them from marrying and raising their children, if they do have children.”
-My least favorite blogger, 9/13/18

I’m sure no one is surprised that this was written by my least favorite blogger. Yep, I continue to read her posts periodically in order to find inspiration (more like irritation) for my own writing. An unlikely spot for a feminist to find writing prompts! Funny enough, in the post I grabbed this excerpt from she used an image of the space shuttle to represent “women’s trajectory towards worldly success.” It’s like my least favorite blogger wrote this with me in mind. Well, here’s my response. Are you out of your freakin’ mind, lady? Why must women sacrifice the gifts that God gave them just to get married and have families? Men don’t have to do this. They are allowed, or rather encouraged, to use the full extent of their talents out in the world to earn money and support their loved ones. But for some reason fundamentalist Christian women are taught to ignore their innate abilities to submit to a man and raise as many children as that man desires. This is an archaic way of thinking, not just in 2018, but for at least the last century. Why would God give females intelligence, skills, and passions if he wanted us to ignore them? Why aren’t we simply born with the bare minimum needed to be wives, housekeepers, and mothers? Because not all women are meant to walk the same narrow path! To prove this you don’t even need to look outside the Bible for all of the examples you could ever need. Of course, everyone has to make sacrifices during their lifetimes, but there is no reason that women need to set aside everything that makes them unique in order to have a man put a ring on her finger. Fortunately, even among the usual comments praising my least favorite blogger for her assertions, I found plenty of other women who objected to the restrictions laid out in her blog post. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • 9/11/18: “Sometimes God’s plan doesn’t include marriage or it’s not in the time frame of early 20s. I’m certain that God wouldn’t advocate for simply marrying someone just to stay home and not be in the workforce, instead of waiting on God’s best. You can’t claim to speak for God and say that everyone who’s not married is simply seeking their own way…God designed us with different gifts and talents, hence there is no cookie cutter age for a life plan of marriage.”
  • 9/13/18: “If your only message as an older women is to tell younger women their only calling is to serve a husband and bear children than you’re putting your own God in a box. What he calls a woman to do is between Him and her.”
  • 10/1/18: “Only God can tell an individual what His will is for them, so nobody can possibly know what God has planned for someone else’s life. Not all women are called to the same thing. God does not call every woman to marriage and kids, and I can definitely see how it would be off-putting to many women for you to say that you know exactly what God wants them to do with their lives. You can’t know God’s will for anyone but yourself.”

Luckily I know that my least favorite blogger has no way to enforce her beliefs upon every woman of childbearing age. Ladies who disagree with her can rest assured that they won’t be locked inside their homes with only a mop and bucket to pass the time. Nothing can force them to use their brains only for keeping their houses clean and their husbands happy. In this day and age females have nearly limitless options so never let anyone tell you otherwise!

Virtual retail therapy

I wrote a number of blog posts about items I purchased as retail therapy in the first half of the year, but since then I’ve been trying to stop that trend. Not only is retail therapy expensive in the short term, but I have some longer term events and goals that I need to save for. However, I am still prone to bursts of emotionally-fueled web browsing, which leads to filling up my online shopping cart with all sorts of things on my favorite sites. However, when I get to the point in the process where I actually have to make a monetary transaction, cooler heads prevail. I remember that I don’t need any of the items I compulsively clicked on, I remember the reasons why I’m trying to save money in the first place, and I clean out my cart without spending a dime. This method has been pretty effective, but I haven’t been 100% successful, especially since I’m a sucker for a good sale at Old Navy or cosmetics recommended on Buzzfeed, but in general my spending is way down these days. Instead, my Amazon wish list has gotten to be about a mile long, and my folder of bookmarked webpages is growing by the day. I still have my moments of weakness, of course, so thank goodness for generous return policies! I’ve ordered articles of clothing that either don’t fit properly or look terrible on me so they’ve been sent back. No harm, no foul. On the other hand, some items (specifically dresses) have turned out to be beautiful and I giddily added them to my wardrobe. Oops. At least I’m going to be well dressed this fall! I’ve also splurged on some unnecessary (but ultimately wonderful) beauty products. I seem to keep finding extremely tempting things that way. (Maybe the solution to superfluous spending is taking a Buzzfeed break? Something to think about.) For example, a tube of retinol night cream that may or may not be making any difference on my nearly 40 year-old face. I’ll let you know when I finish using the whole thing. Same goes for some E.L.F. Vitamin C serum that I ordered. I use it everyday, but I have no idea if it’s doing anything. I’m a sucker for these beauty trends that might ultimately be placebo effects. Most recently, I bought a bottle of way too expensive magnolia and pear scented Crabtree & Evelyn body lotion that turned out to be so great that I stocked up when it went on sale a few weeks ago. At least that wasn’t money wasted! Still, I’m attempting to curtail all needless spending so that I can save the money for bigger things. More on that in a future post. Here’s hoping I can be stronger than my trigger finger when I’m inclined to buy something I don’t need.

P.S. But with all that being said, the one thing I’m not actively attempting to restrict is 2019 race registrations! There’s no way I’m going to deprive myself of the physical and mental benefits of running!

Follow your instincts

Earlier this year a woman posted in the Seal Beach Facebook group to warn residents that her daughter had been followed down Main Street and into several different shops by a man she didn’t know. Her instincts told her that there was something off about the situation so she pretended to take a photo of the man, causing him to quickly flee the scene. Fortunately for this young woman the story has a benign, although unsettling, ending. And most of the folks in the Seal Beach FB group agreed that she was lucky and had handled the situation well. For the most part, our little town is incredibly safe and I have rarely been fearful for my security. But to reiterate that dangerous situations still happen, even in our sleepy beach community, I told a condensed version of a story where a man followed me in the grocery store parking lot late one night. (I’ll expound on this is a separate post.) Here is how the FB comment section unraveled afterwards. (Note: Last names have been removed, and I have edited the comments somewhat to keep the narrative as brief and to-the-point as possible.) The bottom line is, follow your instincts and believe women when they say they have been targeted!

  • Lauren: “I had a man follow me out to my car in the Pavilions parking lot one night. Fortunately I saw him and got in my car quickly and locked the door. He stood next to my driver’s side window and waved at me. I believe he was just asking for a handout, but I didn’t give him a chance to say anything. Once I got home I called the store and told them about the situation.”
  • Josh: “Personally, I’d rather enjoy life and deal with situations as they arise and not be on constant alert, believing everything is a threat. Terrorism works because the actual harm is statistically small (3k people died in 9/11; 35k people die every year in car accidents alone), but the emotional reaction ruins people’s lives, ruins entire economies. Bad things happen, but not very often, statistically, and media that implies that bad things happen all the time is, in my view, salacious and manipulative.”
  • Lauren: “Unfortunately as women we have to be vigilant or we are vulnerable. Take a look at the comment I made just before yours. I was not a victim because I was alert, recognized the situation, and got myself to a safe place. Others are not so lucky.”
  • Judi: “It’s easy to feel this way when you’re a man. You have no idea what it’s like to be a woman – we have to be ever vigilant and aware. That’s not to say we have to live in fear and paranoia, but for us, the threats are very real. Sex trafficking aside (which is also an increasingly growing threat) – 1 in 4 (or more likely 1 in 3) women are sexually assaulted in their lives. Don’t deny or diminish our experience as women, you really have no idea.”
  • Josh: “You should become aware of any sudden increase in immediate physical risk to you (or your family). But that is not the same as ‘increased vigilance,’ which I am thoroughly against. Increasing vigilance decreases the threshold for threat detection. This might seem safer, but you pay for it. First, you live a more stressed life. Second, you run a higher risk of false positives. If everyone becomes hyper vigilant, society as a whole suffers. Seriously, if you want to actually minimize your risk of harm and not just make yourself stressed: be extra careful crossing the street and never ever drink before driving.”
  • Lisa: “Josh, first of all, I’d like to address your lack of grace. This was a warning, which is a reminder to be ‘more aware.’ Your comments have intruded and quite honestly lacked any compassion to this topic. Secondly, because you’re a man does indeed make it feel ‘minimized’ by you. Obviously you have a right to feel the way you do and have your judgements but because the nature of this awareness is scary – is not the right time to blast your thoughts of ‘mass hysteria.’ Sir, I have been prey to this type of situation and also was a victim of a mass shooting! There is no harm in saying keep your eyes, and ears open, and look for your exits. If you disagree, then give grace and get off the thread. This I guess, doesn’t apply to you.”
  • Lauren: “Josh, you have every right to live your life in whatever way you wish. And so do we. The fact is that you cannot understand the female experience if you aren’t one. I don’t live my life in fear, especially in Seal Beach, but I am still aware of my surroundings. And it has served me well.”
  • Josh: “I will not raise my daughter to live in fear. You are welcome to do as you like, of course. Sharing my view is no more or less intrusive than you sharing yours. Cheers and may reason prevail over emotion.”
  • Lauren: “And may real-life experiences open our eyes to what is actually going on around us.”
  • Judi: “Josh – I do actually understand what you’re saying and to some extent, I can agree on certain points, but you’re off base to not acknowledge that sex-trafficking and also generalized threats to women and children are very real. You may be able to assess risks based on statistics and even empathize with a person’s experiences in life, but that doesn’t give you the authority to speak to the experiences of women in the same way I – as a white woman – can’t speak to the experiences of a black man navigating life in our society. There’s a difference between being aware, knowing our individual risks, and being smart about how we handle those vs. living in fear. I’ll opt everyday for the first two for myself and to teach that to my children. My husband and I were discussing this recently when we parked at the mall. We parked in a not-well lit structure at dusk. I told him that if I were alone, I never would have parked there knowing I’d be returning to my car after dark. That really gave him pause and he said he’s never given any thought to where he was parking based on lighting or the time of day. Exercising caution about where I park and teaching my daughters to do the same is being aware of our risk and being smart – not living in fear. There’s a difference there that you don’t seem to be delineating between. Why wouldn’t I want to become aware of a sudden physical risk (one that may cause me harm), as you suggested, than use extra vigilance and take precautions to not end up in that situation in the first place?”
  • Mark: “Josh, big difference between ‘situational awareness’ and being ‘paranoid.’ I would suggest you get up to speed with human trafficking numbers. The vast majority are young women, and it’s a lot more than 100. California, Texas, and New York have the highest numbers. San Francisco and San Diego top the cities in CA. It’s real, and it’s getting worse.”

I believe her

“In an effort to preserve my sanity I have been using Facebook mostly for photos lately, but today I have to say something. What kind of message are we sending to the females in this country by putting a man on the Supreme Court who has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct (at the very least) by multiple women? How many young girls are watching this unfold and deciding that they will never report sexual assault because of how Kavanaugh’s accuser was treated? How many young boys are realizing that they can get away with bad behavior because a judge on the highest court in the land was given a free pass and a guaranteed job for life? This is a step backwards for our country. Maybe several steps. It makes me sick.”
My 10/6/18 Facebook post

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that on October 6th Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. This was in spite of the fact that he had been accused of sexual assault by three different women, one of whom was brave enough to publicly identify herself and testify in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after the judge’s nomination. For hours Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was grilled by Senators and prosecutors about the details of a night back in 1982 when she says a drunk Kavanaugh trapped her on a bed with his body, groped her, tried to undress her, and covered her mouth with his hand so she couldn’t scream for help. They were both high schoolers at the time. The two boys in the room laughed while a helpless Christine was terrified that she was going to be raped or accidentally asphyxiated. Very fortunately luck was on her side and she was able to escape the assault without more severe physical consequences, but not before she suffered deep emotional scars that would affect her for life.

A lot of people (mostly Republicans who were eager to get Kavanaugh’s position on the Supreme Court secured) dispute this accusation, especially since the event happened so long ago, but Dr. Ford took a polygraph in August and she was determined to be telling the truth. As a woman who has been taken advantage of by men, and who knows a number of ladies who have been raped, I believe sexual assault reports. Or at least take them very seriously until there is evidence to the contrary. In our patriarchal society males have a majority of the power and can get away with all sorts of nefarious deeds with minimal consequences. And sexual crimes are rarely prosecuted even if they are reported to the police in a timely manner. Even with physical proof gathered by a rape kit, or even eyewitnesses, it usually becomes a “he said, she said” situation where a rapist can lie and go free. All the while, the victim who was injured, both in body and soul, has every aspect their behavior during the assault, as well as their life in general, raked across the coals in order to discredit them. The deck is stacked against them from the start. I came across this comment on a blog post that disputes this ridiculous practice.

“When somebody says their car got stolen, nobody says ‘Well, let’s wait until we have all the facts’ or ‘Well, you really shouldn’t have parked it in a bad part of town or ‘You’re not just saying that because you wrapped it around a telephone pole while you were drunk, are you?’ But when a woman comes forward and says she got raped, she gets hit with ‘Did you scream?’, ‘What were you wearing?’, ‘Did you come on to him?, ‘Oh, come on now, he’s a pillar of the community, he wouldn’t do that!’, or ‘You’re not just saying that to get him in trouble, are you?’ Or, more likely, most of the above.”
-Blog comment from A Guide to Sexual Assault Claims for Bible Belt Evangelicals

And we still wonder why women don’t report sexual assault! Because more often than not, nothing happens to our assailants even when we do! This needs to change. We need to believe women when they tell someone they were raped or attacked. We need to take all accusations seriously even if they seem unlikely. We need to make sure that there is no backlash against the victims (unless they make a false report, of course). We need to ensure that adequate consequences for sexually aggressive behavior are levied on the men that use women against their will for their own selfish pleasure. This should not be a partisan issue. Everyone, both Republican and Democrat, should find rape repulsive and want it stopped. Unfortunately the behavior of certain groups makes me think otherwise. They would rather protect their “chosen one” rather than force him to admit that he acted like less than a gentleman when he was younger. Heaven forbid he have to take responsibility for his actions. And since the Senate disregarded Dr. Ford’s testimony and (narrowly) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court he doesn’t have to. Tragic.

P.S. In situations such as this you’ll hear the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” a lot, especially by the deniers However, that concept only applies in criminal trials. Brett Kavanaugh’s wasn’t applying for a job at a fast food restaurant – he was nominated to fill a lifetime position on the highest court in the land. His personal life was as free to be scrutinized as his professional life.

Feminine wave

I purchased a lot of dresses and skirts over the summer, mostly because I like the way they make me look and feel, but also because they are comfortable and stylish in the heat. But then I realized that they also make me feel more confident in my less that ideal body at the moment. (As always, it’s a work in progress. My exercise routine is great at the moment, but my diet is terrible, and my sleep is just plain atrocious. So there’s still progress to be made.) I originally wrote about this feminine overhaul back in April as part of my retail therapy series. I’ve worn those Old Navy swing dresses that I wrote about in that post many times, for work and on the weekends, and I’ve added to my collection as well. I now have a number of beautiful dresses which make me feel pretty and at least slightly fashionable. Trust me, I’m not trying to keep up with the younger/thinner/cuter, ladies at work, but I always seem to have a more positive mindset when I like what I’m wearing. And most of this new apparel was inexpensive (from Amazon or Uniqlo) which is a major plus. (Not too long ago I realized that I need to cut back on my emotional (but never completely frivolous) spending, but that’s a topic for a separate post.) However, some of my new clothes have cost a bit more money. Earlier in the summer two of my close friends helped me select three dresses at Ann Taylor and Loft, during a fortunate sale, and I found a beautiful black shift dress for presentations at work which was sadly not marked down at all. But it was too perfect to return. I’ve learned that money can sometimes buy small slices of happiness.

As far as the existing clothes that were clogging up my closet even before I purchased anything new, I am starting to make some strides. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am never going to wear a lot of the dresses that were previously in my wardrobe. They are currently two sizes too small, and I don’t want to torture myself by gazing at them wistfully anymore. So I decided to get rid of the colorful shift dresses one way or another. So far I’ve given three to a friend, after a visit to the dry cleaner, of course. It’s good to know that they will be worn by someone who will appreciate them. My next stop will be a consignment shop or two to see if I can sell any of the remaining pieces. They are all high quality, semi-pricey dresses in great condition, but who knows if they have any resale value. I guess I’ll find out. The final avenue will be pursuing a donation to Dress for Success, a charity that provides professional clothing to women in need to wear to job interviews, and when they are newly employed and getting back on their feet financially. I can’t think of a better way for my old dresses to be used to make the world a better place. Plus, I’ll feel a lot better when I reduce the clutter in my life as much as possible. I’m trying to purge not only the negative thoughts from my mind, but also everything unnecessary from my house. I have acquired way too much stuff over the six years I’ve lived here and it’s getting a bit overwhelming. I have my retail therapy spree in the first have of the year to thank for a lot of that! It’s time to start scaling back again, but this time while wearing a dress.

Only the beginning

“My personal conversation with my body hasn’t yet progressed far enough to the point that I love what I have. It’s a process, I know, but frankly, I want to spend as little time as possible thinking about my arms and legs and the way the fat on my back folds when I’m not paying attention at the beach. I just want apathy – to feel nothing about my body at all, to be merely grateful that it functions as I require, that I put clothes on it (when forced), and food in it when necessary (surprisingly often!). Love, like hate, requires too much active effort for something I don’t even want to deal with.”
-Scaachi Koul

It’s no secret that I have less than loving feelings for my body. In fact, I’m undoubtedly its worst critic. I am rarely happy with how I look, much to the detriment of my self-esteem. This is something that I am working on. (Yesterday morning I gave myself compliments as I was putting on my makeup.) Specifically, I wrote about focusing on my successes rather than my failures not too long ago, but it’s (unsurprisingly) an uphill battle. I keep trying to remind myself of the progresses I’m making at the gym and with my running, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to obsessing about my weight and the size of my clothes. Fortunately, taking a break from the 6-week fat loss challenge that ended last month was very beneficial. I kept exercising as much as I had been before, but I worried less about strictly following the diet plan and posting pictures of every single meal and snack for the trainers to comment on. This greatly reduced my anxiety and allowed me to focus more on my overall health. The Monday after the fat loss challenge ended I weighed in at the gym and I had only lost 4 lbs, but I had also lost inches on just about every measurement. That was encouraging. Not that I kept the progress going since then, in fact I’ve regressed a bit, but it’s good to know that if I can find the energy to work hard enough I can eventually get where I’m going. It just might be a long road with a number of obstacles along the way.

Unfortunately my life, and the world in general (more on that soon), has been a bit rough these days so very few things seem positive. But I know that at some point I will find my equilibrium. My first priority is to get my physical health under control. Speaking of which, I have another sleep study scheduled for this coming Friday to determine whether or not I have narcolepsy. The Klonopin prescription that my neurologist gave me a few weeks ago doesn’t seem to be making much difference so we’re taking the investigation to the next level. My first sleep study was no picnic, but I can endure another one if it means that I might get additional answers into what’s going on with my crazy brain. It’s so hard to take care of your body the way you should when it’s causing you so much trouble. However, I am doing a few things in the realm of self-care to keep my spirits up while things are not all sunshine and roses. I have added an extra day at boot camp every week (which means I am sore almost all the time), and I’ve started running more (which my feet and legs are having to acclimate to again). In fact, my workout buddy and I have started running from her house to the gym (~1.75 miles), completing a boot camp class, and then running back. It can be grueling, but I know it’s extremely beneficial across the board. Then when I get home I’ve been pampering myself with some probably unnecessary, but refreshingly indulgent beauty products. I bought some Kiehl’s shower scrub at the airport on my trip to Portland last month, I got a bottle of way too expensive Crabtree & Evelyn body lotion with some leftover Amazon credit, and I’ve been applying Vitamin C serum to my face every morning. These things might not make any real difference in the health of my skin, but the routine of nourishing my body is soothing when it feels like so many other areas of my life are in chaos. But I know it won’t always be like this which helps me get through the hardest days. I’ll get to where I need to be. I just don’t know when!