Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let's Get One Thing Straight; Obama Doesn't Hate Stay at Home Mothers

I was content to let this fiasco blow over, because it seemed so painfully obvious that the comment in question was being taken out of context. Debate is still raging, however, and so I'm going to go ahead and swoop in to settle it. Obama doesn't hate stay at home mothers. He doesn't think being a stay at home mom is a bad decision. He thinks being a mother period puts women at an unfair disadvantage, and he's RIGHT.

Leaving the workforce to care for your children is, in many ways, valuable and irreplaceable. Neither you nor your children can ever get back the time spent apart. However, it does put the stay at home parent at a significant financial disadvantage.

Stay at home mothers tend to be poorer, less educated, and younger than working mothers. On top of which, finding a job after being a stay at home parent is more difficult. Even if you were educated before staying home, you can find your degree obsolete, or find that you're competing against candidates with much more experience in your field for jobs. Employers don't tend to look kindly on multiple years of employment history gaps, and that will put you at a disadvantage as well.

Obama's remarks also touched on the bullshit standard (ahem, excuse me, difficulty) of working mothers' time being undervalued. When a child is sick, mom stays home, often without pay. When a child is born, mom stays home, often without pay. When a stay at home mother needs to enter the workforce, childcare is often cost prohibitive, meaning she will earn less in wages than she will pay out in child care. All of that adds up to less stability for women.

Why don't dads take time off of work when kids are sick as often as mothers? Why do so many women have jobs where they are forced to make the choice between a day's pay and being home with a sick child? Fixing these inequalities helps create more stability for women in our economy, and that serves the whole economy well.

Finally, it must be said that because stay at home mothers are already younger, poorer and less educated than their working counterparts, they are in the precarious financial situation of being completely dependent on their partner for money. Should their partner lose work, become disabled, or die unexpectedly, finding a job that will support the family is going to be immensely difficult for the majority of stay at home mothers. And that doesn't even take into account that financially dependent women are subjected to more abuse than women who earn their own money.

The facts don't lie. Being a stay at home parent is an amazing gift for the family. It is also a significant financial risk. Being a working mother is also an amazing gift to the family. Yet women are incongruously disadvantaged when it comes to childcare costs and sick time. I personally know women who had to go into debt to finance just a few weeks off from work to have their babies. Bullshit.

Women deserve better than this, our country deserves better than this, and we can do better than this. Stop blowing up about out of context remarks and start making positive changes for the women who give so much to our society.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ISATNUDOGAM Awareness Month

You see? There's a goddamn ribbon for everything.

I officially dub October "I'm Sick and Tired Nigh Unto Death of Goddamn Awareness Months" Awareness Month. For the sake of brevity I will refer to it as ISATNUDOGAM Awareness Month (pronounced "I sat nude oh gam"). Here I will be discussing all the myriad ways awareness months do anything but benefit me, personally, other people with anxiety, and society at large.

Your Day 1 ISATNUDOGAM trivia:

I, and virtually all other people on the planet, already know that breast cancer exists, is prevalent, and destroys lives. We do not need to be more aware of this. In fact, being more aware of it makes me, and a lot of other women, freak out about our boobs for no goddamn good reason. Do you have boobs? Do you like boobs? Then do something useful about breast cancer, and encourage women to breastfeed for longer, eat well, exercise, and freaking SHUT UP ABOUT BREAST CANCER ALREADY, OR THE BOOBS WILL BE OFF LIMITS BECAUSE I WILL BE CONVINCED THEY ARE CONTAGIOUS WITH CANCER.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Reasons I Can't Have Sex with my Husband Every Night

I recently read an interesting article by Meg Conley on the Huffington Post website. I can't deny that many women probably could benefit from her words, but I found them... off.

So here are five reasons that advice struck out with me. Five reasons I can't have sex with my husband every night.

  1. He doesn't want to every night. And, honestly, I don't know very many people who do. In her piece, Ms. Conley describes not having sex every night as "like turning down a zero calorie but as delicious-as-creme-brulee dessert". Creme brulee is freaking delicious. Eating it is very enjoyable. Eating it every single night may, for some people, become more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. I love creme brulee, but sometimes I want to watch The Office and fall asleep in peace. 
  2. Pressuring someone who doesn't want sex every night, or having sex every night out of some sense of duty, can result in someone (or everyone) feeling like nothing more than a piece of meat. Sex is work. It's not like running a marathon, but it takes emotional vulnerability, putting another person's needs first, mental effort... It's awesome, I think we can all agree, but if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right, and unless you're just naturally inclined to daily sex, it could end up being an empty experience.
  3. Sex is so much more gratifying when the moment convalesces organically. If you're feeling like you need more sex with your partner to make positive changes in your relationship, by all means, go for it. If you don't feel like you need to have sex every night to be fulfilled, why try to force it?
  4. Being tired, feeling unattractive, or needing a different kind of connection are all valid reasons not to engage in sex with your partner. I felt a little like Ms. Conley was dismissing these as "not good enough". I respectfully disagree. I do not think the onus is on the partner with a lower libido (which Ms. Conley falsely assumed is almost always the woman), I think a happy medium needs to be reached so that everyone is having their needs met. If your partner doesn't want sex as often as you, do something to change their minds. If you want sex much less than your partner, figure out how to meet them halfway. Talk about it, be honest, figure out ways to make each other happy. 
  5. Having sex every night as a way to make your partner feel loved, appreciated and valuable puts a lot of pressure on your sex life. You should have a whole arsenal of ways to make your partner feel loved. And you should feel loved all the time, not only when you're having lots of sex. 
The whole article seemed a little sexist to me. I've written before about how relationship advice articles are disproportionately aimed at women, and this was no exception, and was bothersome to me. There is no normal as far as frequency of sexual encounters in long term relationships. If you're an every day kind of person, have sex every day. But please, don't force it, and please don't think that just because your partner is a man and you're a woman that you need to bump up the number of times you copulate in a week. Instead, talk to your partner. Are they happy? Do they feel appreciated? If not, what can you do to help change that?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Boobs for Peace is an Awesome Argument

These women decided to exercise their rights to bare breasts in protest of the recent influx of people exercising their rights to bear arms by walking around with weapons in threatening positions.

What I find so freaking funny about this video is:
  • The dudes in the video seem to have absolutely NO comprehension of how parallel the two groups are. "You're provocateurs! Why do you have to have them out and uncovered? This is offensive!" Yeah, dip, a lot of people think the same thing about you carrying a loaded automatic weapon at low ready through crowded city streets. 
  • The women's point being argued with breasts is so freaking perfect. 
  • The editing to make fun of their bodies just makes me think they have no counterargument for them, because they CAN'T counter argue them without invalidating their own points.

Look, your right to bear arms is important to me. I don't have a problem with open carry. I have a problem with idiots making people uncomfortable to prove a point that doesn't even need to be made, least of all in Texas, precisely because they are being provocateurs, and seeking attention. That's why the counterargument with boobs is so perfect.
What do you think?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't Think the Rich Benefit from Public Assistance? Think Again.

I see this topic pop up all the time on various forums, in my Facebook newsfeed, in discussions with family. Those darned poor people, leeching off the gubment. Why can't they just get a job? I don't want to pay for their poor decisions.

Oh yes, you really do. And here's why.

Depression Era Poverty, Resurrected

You've probably seen some pictures of what was going on in this country during The Great Depression. You probably have some idea of what it was like to be poor before welfare was a thing. If not, it isn't hard to imagine. You're a person who, for whatever reason, cannot pay for food or shelter. That's it. There's no help for you, you just can't buy food or shelter. Sometimes churches will take you in, sometimes you get lucky and land a shit job that will pay you next to nothing for hard, often dangerous, physical labor, but mostly you just languish, panhandling for your dinner, until your luck changes or you die of exposure, preventable illness or starvation. That happened in this country. Even scarier, it could happen again.

If you're a parent in that situation, you're likely to be separated from your children, your family torn apart, because people take pity on innocent children. There are places for them to get a full belly and a roof over their heads, and you want that for them more than anything. But they don't take in whole families. That's too much of a burden, and would just be encouraging you to be lazy.

Bad things happened all over the world in a time before welfare. In Shadows of the Workhouse, Jennifer Worth chronicles the struggles regaled to her by her elderly patients during her time as a ward nurse in London's East End. Horrific is the only word I can use to describe them. As in America, orphanages were available for the children of the destitute, but it meant a life of neglect, abuse and the destruction of families.

Mrs. Worth tells the story of a young couple, beginning their lives. They and their two children lived in a tiny apartment, barely scraping by on his salary as a dockworker. When tragedy strikes, and he is killed at work, there was nothing for it, but for his wife to leave their two young children unattended at home while she earned a living cleaning offices.

When the mother in this story fell ill, she couldn't seek medical care. Nor could she afford to miss work. She slipped and fell while carrying a bucket of mop water down a flight of stairs, and froze to death in the puddle at the bottom, unable to move in her weakened state.

The fate her children suffered was, in some ways, more tragic and awful. They were resigned to the protection of the workhouse, wherein they were separated, neglected, abused (including being flogged nigh unto death), and used for cheap labor.

And if you are cold hearted enough not to care too much about the very real tragedies of families living without a safety net, think about what it meant for the wealthy.

Laundry, Laundry Everywhere (and Shit and Pandhandlers and Barnyard Animals)

The price of living in a civilized, clean, relatively happy society is paying to uplift the destitute.

Even for those who could afford their necessities, exposure to abject poverty was a daily occurrence. On your way to buy food, on your way through the countryside for a Sunday drive, on your way to work, on your way to buy medicine for your sick child, you'd have seen people living in conditions that we would not tolerate today. Filthy children, running naked and barefoot through the streets. Women and older children hanging laundry on any line they could rig up, chickens and ducks and goats, even larger livestock like cows were commonplace in the poor sections of town.

And it reeked. Raw sewage, body odor, the stink of chicken manure and the products of slaughter, poor waste management and the inability to pay for electricity, running water or indoor plumbing meant a serious lack of sanitation available to the poorest of the nation. I'm certain that when the wind blew right the Governor could smell the poorest of his constituents.

The clever poor folks, or those able to obtain transportation, made their way into the wealthy sections of town in order to panhandle. You know that uncomfortable moment, when the panhandler on the corner makes eye contact, and you know you're going to have to tell them you don't have change? Every day. You'd have to do that every day without welfare. At every street corner.

Poverty is uncomfortable. Not just for the poor, for society as a whole. Even if you resent the poor, even if you believe that their own bad decisions have led them to this crossroads and it is not your responsibility to bail them out, you still want to pay for their necessities. If you don't, you can look forward to a lot more of this.

The ghost of destitution past haunts us, still. We can go back to that. We can cut away the safety net, you can keep your welfare tax money, but are you willing to pay the price?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's ALIVE! The Resurrection of the Irreverent Mother

Hello, all! I've been inspired lately to begin writing more. It's really something I enjoy, and something at which I excell, and if no one wants to read my blog, well, their loss. Like Frankenstein's Monster, I am bringing it back to life.

I've got a couple of other things in the works as well. I'll keep any interested parties updated. Here's to new beginnings!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Relationship Advice: Not Just for Girls Any More!

I've been seeing a lot of posts, mostly from religious-based bloggers about how to be a good wife.  While I think these suggestions are excellent and you can never go wrong being a supportive spouse, I find the lack of "How to be a Good Husband" posts disturbing.  It smacks of sexism to me.  Admittedly, I'm a pretty radical feminist, and my opinions are colored by my own religious experiences, which were most definitely sexist and marginalizing toward women.  So this kind of stuff tends to stick in my craw a little.  Still, I think a little balance is required here.  So the following is a list of ways to be a supportive PARTNER (not all committed relationships are marriages).  These are aimed at both genders.

1.  Be honest.  If something is bothering you, speak up.  Don't assign blame, but approach the problem with solving it in mind.  "I'm having trouble understanding why you have been less affectionate lately.  I have some suggestions for ways to help us both get what we need."

2.  Don't expect more of your partner than you expect of yourself.  It's not his job to provide ALL the romance.  It's not her job to give ALL the back rubs.  Give as much as you get.  If you want more, give more and then ask for what you need.

3.  Don't expect LESS of your partner than you expect of yourself.  If they're abusive, mean, hurtful or irresponsible that is not your fault and it is not your job to pick up their slack or absorb their abuse.  Seek professional help for these problems or leave, because it's not healthy for anyone to be in an abusive relationship.

4.  Offer praise regularly.  Everyone needs a shot in the arm sometimes.  Some people need to be complimented on their looks, some need to be told they're awesome parents, some need appreciation showed for their hard work.  Find out what makes your partner glow inside and try to keep them glowing.

5.  Offer only constructive criticism.  "This tastes terrible!" is not constructive.  It's not even nice.  "Next time it could use a little more salt," is much better.  If you don't know what could make the problem better, see #1... go in with finding a solution in mind.  "I don't know what made it taste badly to me, show me the recipe and maybe I can critique it for you."

6.  Find common ground.  Everybody is different.  You won't share all the same interests, you won't like all the same music, you won't enjoy all the same shows.  But find something that you both enjoy and do it together regularly.  If you can't think of anything you both like, try something new!

7.  Put your focus forward.  Its nice to reflect on all the fun you had when you were first in love, but that time is past.  Now is the time to create new memories, not try to live in the old ones.  There is so much to be gained from living in the present.  The truth is you may never feel like teenagers in love again, and that's okay.  Because now you get to feel like 20,30,40,50,60 somethings in love.  Create happiness for today instead of trying to REcreate happiness from yesterday.

Bottom line, just try to be a decent person to live with.  Male or female, in a relationship with a man or a woman, married or otherwise. 

What makes me qualified to offer this advice?  A decade-long relationship with a single person with nary a breakup.  And that relationship began when I was 15.  And I've read a bunch of relationship books.  And I've had some tough times and huge disagreements in my marriage.  And I've changed a lot since we got together.  So yeah.  Not a relationship counselor, but I've got some experience under my belt.