Who is a Feminist? And who decides?

My daughter and I have a running argument. She believes that, within reason, any decision a woman makes is a feminist decision, as she is taking control of her life and her destiny. I disagree. I think any decision a woman makes that objectifies her, or belittles her, or degrades her, is a valid decision, and she has every right to make that decision. But that doesn’t make the decision a feminist decision.

Take Stormy Daniels. She is a porn star who has sex on screen for money. Her body, her choice. I have no issue with is, and it’s not mine to have, regardless. But is her choice a feminist choice? I don’t think it is. But still, I think her choice is more of a feminist choice than the one the aforementioned Meghan Markle made. She, lauded as a great feminist and humanitarian (although I don’t see evidence of either) made a choice to give up her life, her vote, and her voice. I think that is her choice to make, as well. But again, is it a feminist choice? I don’t think so.

Examining some female characters in TV world, why does everyone laud Shonda Rhimes as some great feminist, creating shows that highlight the strength of women? Is it because the women have as much sex as the men? Is this considered feminist nowadays? Then why does every character in Grey’s Anatomy hook up with a more powerful male, depending on them to help them get ahead and get them out of trouble? Meredith was with Derek, her boss, who gave her opportunities others didn’t have and got her out of serious trouble when she crossed lines. Even, literally, being her Prince Charming, fishing her out of the sea, dead and blue, and getting her to where she will be brought back to life. Sigh. How romantic.

Christina Yang used Burke for similar reasons, although at least she helped Burke too. But when he left, she fell apart. Joe Wilson is with Alex, her boss, who, again, gives her breaks and helps her when she gets in any kind of trouble. Callie marries George; she is the more powerful one, but she is absolutely a mess when he leaves. Lexie ends up with Mark Sloan. The strong female, Addison, is rejected by Derek for a much younger, more naive and adoring woman. Miranda Bailey, strong and in control, is given a nervous breakdown. And don’t get me started on the crazy sister, Amelia Shepherd. She is simply a basket case.  The only females relatively unscathed by men or Shonda are Arizona, who is a lesbian, and April Kepner, who had her own host of issues, but at least didn’t depend on men to protect her.

So again, why is Rhonda hailed as a great feminist writer? I think she plays into the most destructive patterns in society: that women are weak; we need men, or princes, to save us; we let emotion get in the way of work; we fall apart easily. I think Rhonda has added to the idea that feminism is having as much sex as we want and nothing to do with being valued for our skills, rather than our appearances: our faces, our ages, our bodies. Is that wrong of me to make that judgment? I don’t think so. We all need to examine this idea and the ramifications of treating girls like princesses or dolls and how it manifests in adulthood.

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Feminism, 2018 Style???

I sometimes used read about the royals in England. I find them an interesting sociological study. It is an oddity, an anachronistic family and “Firm,” as they supposedly call themselves, who live off the largess of the British taxpayers. They are secretive and mostly silent. Their worst nightmare is to become celebrities, to seem worried about popularity, all the while worrying about popularity. I don’t think anyone would ever call the women in the royal family “feminists,” even the Queen, who has been in her position for over 60 years. They can’t speak out about topics they are interested in. They have to stick to non-political, noncontroversial topics. They bow and curtsy to those “above” them. That’s why I was surprised when Meghan Markle, a woman who calls herself a feminist, married into the family.

 

Now love her or hate her, Meghan Markle had a full life before meeting Prince Harry. She had a career, steady, not a high voltage acting career, but it seemed to pay the bills. She had a marriage behind her and had just ended a live-in relationship. She had some humanitarian interests, although not the deep interests her very devoted fans (rabid?) claim she had. Most of what she did seemed performed to be showcased on her blog or her Instagram account. But she did have a full life, with a career, friends, some interests and passions.

So why would a woman who went to an excellent university, and had a full life, give it all up for a relationship with a man she only knew for one year, a trans-Atlantic affair, a poorly educated man whose very existence speaks to heredity and privilege being the only important qualifications for his standing in society? It doesn’t make sense.

You can talk about the idea that Meghan seems to have thirsted for fame her entire life, since she was an 11 year old girl, and Harry gave that worldwide fame to her. Fair enough. But what did she give up? Meghan can never again speak freely about any topic that interests her. She has to follow Kate and William when walking, and curtsy to Harry’s nephews and nieces. Is this a choice a feminist would make? I’m not talking about a feminist deciding to stay home and raise her kids. That is seen as a valid choice for any woman. I’m talking about giving up your life, subjugating your life to the will of the Queen, who can tell you exactly what events you will do and what topics you can discuss. How is this a feminist choice?

And even more interestingly, Meghan’s (rabid) fans are on sites such as celebitchy.com, praising Meghan for holding a pen at a meeting, while saying the most nasty, condescending, mocking things about her sister-in-law Kate at the same time, all the while praising Meghan’s feminist cred, and claiming to be feminists themselves. Really? Is this how feminists talk about one another?? Wrinkled skin? Paunchy jaws? Wiglets and wigs? A bad mother? The hypocrisy of Meghan’s fans is almost cultlike, and really startling. It got me thinking about feminism and what it means and how it manifests.

This is the first in a series of how we view feminism today. Are we hypocrites when we call ourselves feminists and criticize choices other women make? Is there a definition of feminism. I would like to examine who are considered feminists and why? Public people in politics, the entertainment industry, even characters on television who are called feminists, but who don’t seem to act that way. I

I would love your (respectful) feedback and for you to join the conversation.

I Quit Drinking 8 Years Ago

I quit drinking any alcohol 8 years ago on August 12, 2010. I wasn’t a staggering around “drunk,” but I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and it had the potential to get worse. I totally missed my quit day this year. I quit smoking on May 12, 2004 for some of the same reasons.
Not all people who quit drinking are what we call “drunks.” We have a ton of misconceptions around drug and alcohol abuse. But alcohol has a powerful negative effect on the body – worse than any other drug. It ages you, ruins your skin, rots your organs, it is horribly toxic. I never regret stopping and I will never drink another alcoholic drink again. That is the way that worked for me, to say, “I will never drink again. It does NOTHING good for me.” A day at a time gave me too much wiggle room and no one should judge how you quit, if you do. We are all totally different creatures.
Since stopping, I found my creativity, my spirituality and my soul. Life is tough for sensitive people – it is, no lie. Alcohol acts as a film between people and the pain of the world, a temporary balm. But there are better ways to deal with the pain of living that bring great joy, as well.
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If you need help, please reach out. I am always happy to share what works for me.

The Mediocre Man and the Box Dwellers: A Short Story

The Model of Mediocrity and the Box Dwellers

A Parable

There once was a man who wanted to be a leader. He attained a leadership job but found it very hard. People wouldn’t follow. You see, the man was mediocre in every way. In fact, he was the “Model of Mediocrity.” So he had to find a way to get followers.

The man decided that he would stay in his teeny, tiny little box at work and at home forever. He loved his box!! It was warm, safe, and protected from the outside world. Person by person, he invited people into his box with promises of grandeur, protection and warmth. Little by little, the sycophants, the outsiders, the weak, the scared and the “yes” men joined his teeny tiny little box. The teeny safe little box was getting fuller and fuller.

The Model of Mediocrity was so happy!! Yes, there were those who wouldn’t join the rest in his teeny tiny little box, but the man trained his Box Dwellers to ignore them, marginalize them and mock them. It was working so well, well enough that the Man and the Box Dwellers were able to ignore the outside world: the falling numbers and failing bottom line. It was worse every year. The Model of Mediocrity knew these things, but promised the Box Dwellers that he would keep them all safe from harm as long as he was in charge of the teeny, tiny little box.

But then a person from the big scary Outside World came knocking on the box. This person wanted to help the Box Dwellers get smarter, stronger, more like their colleagues in the outside world. The Model of Mediocrity went out to chase the Outside World person away, but immediately failed. So he then told his Box Dwellers that this scary Outside World person wanted to destroy the box. Wanted to smash that box into tiny smithereens and harm every single Box Dweller. They were scared. And then they were mad so they came up with a plan.

The Model of Mediocrity armed them. He armed them with muskets, swords, cannons and lies. He sent them charging out against the Outside World person and all those people who wouldn’t get in the box over the years. They charged and they charged: some were harmed, some might die. All while the Model of Mediocrity planned and plotted, safe from harm, hiding in his teeny, tiny box.

Time passed and the Box Dwellers fell off one by one. Some passed away. Some were injured. Others left due to age and weariness. Some actually found that the scary Outside World person was nice and kind and only wanted to help the Box Dwellers escape the box that the Model of Mediocrity had coaxed them into. Finally, the Model of Mediocrity found himself with a mostly empty box. He was scared. He felt alone. He knew that his Mediocrity was no longer valued, and he thought of ways to move on. He finally did, dragging his teeny, tiny little box with him to the next adventure.

A new way of relating

I have spent this year working on a new way or relating to others in conflict. I have several friends who have helped me do this in a very stressful situation this year. And I have relearned a saying that I have not mastered yet – and may never master. It goes like this and is from Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, a book I must read before the end of this year. 

In between the stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies all your power. 

I always have given away my space, my power, by reacting right away. I have learned this year, through great struggle, to sit with the anger, discomfort, fear that have made me give away that space in the past. That the situation will still be there in a minute or an hour or a day. That letting it sit and giving it time gives you a better perspective on an appropriate response or no response at all. I have also learned, through doing this, that sometimes silence is more powerful than anything I can say, and says more about what I think than anything I can say.

This has been one of the most painful years of my life. The feelings for me that had previously been kept under a false politeness have broken into the open. Blatant hostility is not easy to sit in the midst of, but I have done it. It helped that the sources of hostility are not people I have trusted or wanted in my life regardless of what this year brought. We are on different levels of the universe plane: just ships passing in the night. So I didn’t suck in the dislike, etc. But it still wasn’t comfortable to sit with.

Every day, the Universe teaches me another lesson. Painful though they have been, I am grateful for every one.

Still thinking of great meal down on LBI

I wrote this review on Trip Advisor after a meal at Yellow Fin Restaurant on LBI. It has gotten some bad reviews recently, which I don’t understand. It is expensive and noisy, but the food was spectacular!

My mother and I went as a special night out, as we don’t see each other that often. We made a reservation and were seated immediately. We started with the fried tomato topped with guacamole and lump crab meat – spectacular!!! I had the halibut, served on a lovely lemon beurre blanc sauce and what seemed like a carmelized yucca, topped with lump crabmeat. The halibut was cooked more skillfully than any fish I remember: flaky, moist and delicious. My mother had seared tuna on mashed potatoes with bok choy, served in a very delicate sauce. The mashed potatoes are generally wasabi mashed potatoes, but she got regular mashed potatoes. She almost licked her plate clean, but I convinced her it wouldn’t be polite. 
We split a piece of key lime pie for dessert – it was creamier than the usual key lime pie,but absolutely outstanding – tart without being puckering tart, with a crust that held its own. Really an excellent meal!! 
I recommend this place highly. The only negative is that it is tight in there and very noisy. A few times I had to yell for my mother to hear me, but it is a holiday weekend, so it is probably not quite so packed most nights. The restaurant is also pricey, but worth it.

When down on LBI, give it a try! It is really wonderful!