I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: feminism

How Many of Us?

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All of Us

Dear Republicans.

You have been warned. Women speak!

Sisters persist. Resist.

How many of us women have been ignored, dismissed, silenced, repressed, suppressed, censored, banished, exiled, sacrificed, raped, stabbed, killed?

How many of us women have felt it too dangerous to speak? To ask, to question, to complain, to expose, to change, to object, to confront, to agitate, to resist, to fight. To be angry. To stand out.

We hang on to our good girl ways. Afraid of being scolded. Smiling, quiet, obedient, following the rules, excelling at the rules, working within the system. Little flickers of resistance emerging in safe outlets. A poem here. A prayer there. A whispered secret message to a daughter.

We all are brave. Just living takes guts. But some have that extra bit of courage to be bold. Heroines. Each generation gets bolder, with more support, and more examples of different women being different.

When our soul can’t stay quiet. When safety is worse than the battle. When we have nothing to lose. When fairness is compromised.

When our children’s future is jeopardized.

Then we speak. Now. We must speak. All of us.

We will persist. Resist.

I am with her. And her. And her. And her.

Sacred Privilege

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Sacred Duty

This is me. At around 7:45 on the morning of November 8th. Exhilarated! I was so thrilled to have voted for Hillary Clinton, the woman I was so sure was going to be President that I insisted on documenting the historic event with a photo. I am wearing my most patriotic Clinton-esque red pantsuit jacket.

Quaint, eh? About as quaint as the Clinton-Kaine pin my daughter gave me to commemorate the occasion. I carry it around as a talisman, but I worry that it’s just a kitschy souvenir.

My hand is on my heart – pledging allegiance – and showing off the ring I am wearing. My mother’s ring. She was with me that day.

It is from my mother that I got my political grounding.

My mother was a Democrat. On Election Day, she would take me with her into the voting booth and show me how it worked. I felt very grown up, very excited, and very proud. It was a sacred privilege, voting.

My mother was the first feminist I knew. She was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine. Literally. She got every issue of the magazine as long as it existed. It’s one of many many magazines that I grew up with in a household where words mattered. No wonder I made a career in magazines.

My mother believed that women were equal to men (actually, I think she believed that women were better than men) and that I could be anything. ANYTHING! She encouraged me to go to Bryn Mawr College so that I would be with other intelligent and serious women who wanted to make a difference. We women wanted to matter. I wanted to matter. To make a difference. To contribute something important to the world.

Sometimes I feel like Hillary must feel. Hard-working, over-prepared, focused on the details, only to be bested by some guy who shoots from the hip. Haven’t we women all been there? When will it stop?

This election was the first election my mother was not alive and did not vote. It seemed fitting that it was the first election in which my daughter could and did vote. Continuing the democratic lineage. Excited and proud.

It is a sacred privilege, voting. Have we forgotten how fortunate we are to live in a democracy? Did we take voting for granted? Our vote does matter, doesn’t it?

Doesn’t it?

The shock that such a selfish and cavalier man could beat such an experienced and intelligent woman has left me with no words.

In the five weeks since, I have reflected on how I want to handle this mind-boggling reality. I alternate between outrage, fear, disbelief, and attempts at patience and optimism. A Democrat, like my mom, I tend to be pragmatic and centrist, always a diplomat, never particularly active. Careful to try to understand both sides and all points of view. Too conflict avoidant to be provocative.

When I am optimistic, I wonder if the outcome of this election is just what we needed to shake us all up. To create a constructive political movement that will lead to positive change.

The week of the election, the Dalai Lama appeared in my dream. He counseled me to distinguish between being concerned and being caring. It’s all about caring, he told me.

Wise words, don’t you think? Being concerned is intellectual and kind of negative and judgmental. Being caring is active and personal and hands on. Caring is positive. I think of that every day. How can I be positive, constructive and caring in an impactful way? What kind of example do I want to set for my children? What political legacy will I leave them?

For now, I have decided to choose and focus on a few issues that are meaningful to me and that honor my mother and her political legacy to me.

  • Women’s Rights. Particularly reproductive freedom. I am Pro Choice.
  • Freedom of the Press. I never thought I would feel the need to fight for the First Amendment.
  • The Environment. After all, if we destroy our world, then it doesn’t really matter who is President, does it?

I don’t quite know all the ways I will act to support these issues. I am not used to feeling that it is imperative that I act. I do know that I will keep caring, peace, and kindness top of mind – like the Dalai Lama.

And, I will not take our democracy for granted. Believing in democracy is not quaint. Voting is a sacred privilege. It is our sacred duty to protect our democracy, our right to vote.

Win Hillary Win!

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I Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

For me there is no other candidate. Win Hillary Win! My support comes from a deep-seated, intuitive place. I don’t have a bunch of statistics at my fingertips. I don’t know every bullet point on her platform. I’m educated and I read the news, but I’m not particularly political and I shy away from arguments, conflict avoidant, not trusting my knowledge of the issues to be better than my opponent’s. I usually rely on: “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Which doesn’t get me very far with someone who is more versed in the nuances…or more skilled at arguing. And with someone who is very persuasive, I can find myself seeing their point of view and shortchanging my point of view.

It’s easy to wave the flag for Hillary with other women I know who support her.  But it’s more difficult to champion someone or something with an adversarial audience.  I tend to not speak or hide what I think.  So, at the risk of alienating my more progressive friends and readers and at the risk of alienating my more conservative friends and readers, it’s time I come out clear and strong, no hiding what I think: I support Hillary and can’t wait to vote for her.

They say women like me are part of Hillary’s core support: white and middle-aged. And it is said in a disparaging way. You know, like soccer moms. Yes. That’s me. White and middle-aged, and I’m still driving a mini-van. I support her. I’m right on trend. Right smack in the middle of my demographic. No apologies.

They say we support her because in our lifetime we’ve seen how hard women have had to struggle to make the gains we’ve made. Indeed. In my industry (the dying magazine industry), I see brilliant, hard-working women run magazines, brilliantly, at companies run by men. It’s discouraging.

They say younger women don’t consider themselves feminists. That the feminism of my day is an unnecessary and old cause. Hmmm. Let them work for a decade and get back to me. I am a feminist.

My mother was the first feminist I knew. She was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine in 1972, when I was 10. She encouraged me to be proud of being a woman and to think I was capable of doing anything I wanted. I dreamt of being President and couldn’t wait for a time when a woman was considered equal to or better than a man at being our Commander-in-Chief. I’m still dreaming and waiting, not convinced that time has come yet.

I plan to vote for Hillary. Because she is a woman. Apparently, it is anathema to support a woman just because she’s a woman. It discounts her credentials as an outstanding candidate. It’s the height of sexism. Nonsense. One reason I support Hillary is because she is a woman. She’s had to be more organized and better prepared and more experienced. She’s had to deal with the sexism, the barbs, the challenges, the defeats. She’s a mother and a wife. How can it not matter that she is woman?

She fights for issues I care about: women and children, reproductive rights, education, gun-control. She is the most experienced candidate at representing the United States internationally and nurturing international alliances. She is, dare I say it, pragmatic.  She will do a good job. She will bring a sense of mission to her role and, dare I say it, be a great President.

Oh, and her hair is looking good! Damn! You got this Hillary!

Photo Credit:  Doug Miller/The New York Times

I Know Where The Girls Are

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Proud To Be A Nerd?  Shhh, Don’t Tell Anyone.

I am a nerd.  I am the daughter of nerds.  I am married to a nerd.  A nerd is one who probes an esoteric subject deeply and values quiet alone time to pursue intellectual endeavors over social, athletic, or more popular mainstream pursuits.  The derogatory interpretation of a nerd is someone who is on the fringe, socially, and who is athletically inept.  With the rise of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and The Big Bang Theory, nerds everywhere have come out of the woodwork proclaiming their virtues with pride.

Along with the upward trending of nerdiness, there has been a significant increase in girls excelling at math and science.  Natalie Angier reports that girls now make up an equal percentage of applicants to a math/science magnet school and nearly an equal percentage of girls get accepted into the program.  This is fantastic progress!  BUT, a much lower percentage of the accepted girls actually attend than of the accepted boys – thus perpetuating the disparity between girls and boys who pursue an academic program and later a professional career in math and science.

Angier and many others wonder why, despite their clear aptitude for and interest in math, more girls don’t continue along the math and science path.  Really, this is a mystery?  I know where the girls are.  They are socializing.  (As they should be!)  When the social pressures kick in to high gear in the teen years, the girls are busy sorting through how to be young women.  They want to fit in.  While they remain smart and ambitious, their interests expand.  Girls tend to be equally good at “verbal” subjects as they are at math and science and frequently gravitate toward paths that overtly help people, like healthcare and education.

To fit in, there is much more encouragement for girls and pressure on girls to be attractive and social.  It takes a lot of time and money to learn how to do this well.  You have to be connected into popular culture, watching television, videos, the internet.  You have to shop and experiment with your look.  You have to hang with your friends, either in person or virtually.  Being social significantly cuts into the 10,000 hours it takes to become great at a subject or activity.

There is much more prestige accrued to a girl for being attractive and likeable than for being a math nerd.  Indeed, a female math nerd still is likely to be looked on as an anomaly.  She may be liked and respected more than in my generation, but she is still a bit weird.  Just look at Amy on The Big Bang Theory.  Who would you rather be:  nerdy awkward Amy or sexy funny Penny?  Exactly.  Even Amy wants Penny.

My father was a physicist and I did everything I could to feign disinterest and lack of aptitude.  The math and science teachers in my day were beyond boring and dry and there was absolutely nothing cool about continuing with math and science.  So I didn’t.  Even though I was good at math and science, it was easy to follow a different path.  I was a reader and a writer and became an English major.  It wasn’t until I took Calculus for non-math majors in college with an electrifying professor who made math fun and relevant that I wondered if maybe I hadn’t been snookered down the wrong rabbit hole.  I would have been a wonderful scientist.  Quiet, patient, creative, and insightful.  (Ah, the path not taken.)  Even my mother, a scientist, discouraged me from a scientific career, arguing that it was hard to balance family while running experiments.  Well, it’s hard to balance family with any demanding career.  Sadly.

My daughter is a nerd.  She excels at math and science.  Her father is an engineer.  We have championed her interest in math and science.  She had a terrific female math teacher in 8th grade who was a wonderful role model and her Physics teachers are young and hip.  She likes Physics!  Can you believe it?  Physics!  Her math teacher wants her to take a computer programming course.  Yes!  Go for it girl!

She has dutifully started the groundwork for the college application process, declaring her interest in a math major.  Recently, however, she whispered to me, “But Mom, what I really want to be when I grow up is Guiliana Rancic.  How does being a math major prepare me for that career?”  How indeed?  I swallowed my gut reaction, “Stop watching stupid fucking television!”  and tried to put myself in her shoes.  Guiliana is adorable, if too thin (geesh there I go with the weight judgement again), and she has a great job.  Hey, I want to be Guiliana.  Why wouldn’t my 17-year-old want her job?

How do I convey to her that there is only one Guiliana and that there are many intriguing and challenging opportunities in math and science?  How do I tell her that as a journalism and communications major, she’ll be one of a bazillion girls who wants a job in fashion, entertainment, and media?  How do I convince her that she’ll make more money and have more professional prestige in math and science?  How do I reassure her that she will be more likely to meet an intelligent and respectful partner who values her intellectual capabilities and her personality, as well as her beauty?  How do I encourage her to see the potential to help many people in a meaningful scientific career?  How do I help her identify her dreams and realize them in a rewarding way?

In spite of the tremendous strides women have made and society has made in embracing and celebrating women, their interests and their achievements, I believe that women still need money and a room of their own to be freer from chores and to have the space and quiet, the support and security, to pursue their intellectual ambitions.  To be proud nerds.  As long as popular culture glamorizes fashionistas and housewives instead of mathletes and scientistas, we will all be shortchanged.

Photo is from a fansite for The Big Bang Theory.

I Can’t Hide My Chocolate

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The Liebster Blog Award

I doubled my followers (from 29 to 58) – thank you OM – last weekend.  One result of this greatly expanded readership is that my blog was nominated for the Leibster Award – thank you Erin.  I am thrilled.  Completely and totally thrilled.

But, as usual, it took me a while to accept and enjoy this much appreciated appreciation and to express how I feel:  I am SO EXCITED!

When OM respectfully asked permission to reblog my post, I hesitated.  Oh no, that would mean people would read what I wrote.  Umm, isn’t that why I am writing?  To say what I don’t always have the nerve to speak, to say what other people are thinking but don’t always have the nerve to speak, to connect.  I cautiously agreed.  An assortment of thoughtful people read what I wrote and commented.  I was touched.  And a little freaked out, ready to go into hiding.

When Erin enthusiastically nominated me for the Leibster Award, I was exhilarated.  I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life!  Finally, recognition for my greatness.  Then I researched the award and saw it referred to as like a chain letter.  I groaned.  Oh, it’s just a stupid marketing ploy.  (Full disclosure, my day job is: professional marketer.)  That is what happens every time I get excited.  Someone belittles my enthusiasm, my achievement, and I let them.  Which results in my need to hide or quit.

If I don’t allow my truth to emerge, my excitement and passion, how do I connect?  When does life begin?  At 50, it better begin soon.  Now is as good a time as any.  No more hiding.

The Leibster Blog Award is a clever way for new bloggers to gain readers and to share blogs with their readers.  The “rules” are straightforward:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
  2. Answer their 11 questions.
  3. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers.  And comment on their blog.
  5. Ask 11 questions for them to answer.

I am a rule-follower.  When I cannot follow the rules, I do not participate.  I want to participate, but I cannot follow the rules.  Here goes.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. My Myers-Briggs score is I-N-F-J…heavy on the N.
  2. I got into significant shop-a-holic debt at Nordstrom, which took years to pay off.  Although now debt-free for years, I am terrified of shopping.  My wardrobe is getting shabby.
  3. I adore our pet parakeet, Cooper (named after the island in the BVI where we woke on Christmas morning to an amazing double rainbow.)
  4. As a girl, I read Little Women as often as my son has watched The Big Bang Theory.  Louisa May Alcott was my writing and feminist role model.
  5. Speaking of feminism, I am a feminist.
  6. I love Daylight Savings Time and am so happy in the Summer time with sunlight and long days.  SADD is real.
  7. My favorite yoga pose is handstand.  Thank you Jill for teaching it to me.  It makes me as happy as sunlight and long days.
  8. I hope my children suffer less and find what makes them happy.  I hope they will want to spend time with me when they are adults.
  9. I ate Grilled Artichokes with Shitake Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese for dinner Friday night, with a side of Broccoli Rabe.  It was delicious.  I am eating less meat.
  10. I weigh 122 pounds, less than I weighed when I got married nearly 20 years ago – I am absurdly triumphant about this, even though my disordered eating is a reason for my current thinness and I am intellectually aware that thinness does not equate to happiness.
  11. I eat dark chocolate every day.  (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my fall back option.)

Nominations

I am struggling with the nomination aspect of this award “assignment.”  Who should I pick?  What will my picks reveal about me?  What if my readers think I made poor picks and judge me accordingly?  Exhausting.  I find that many of the blogs have well over 200 followers and those with fewer are inconsistently posting.  So, continuing on my theme of not precisely following the rules, here are a few blogs that I find noteworthy for one reason or another:

Boho Chic Cafe:  A young woman exploring fashion and food.

Cafe Casey: She posts about teaching, parenting, and life.  She has honed her sarcasm and writes dialog with her son in a pitch-perfect way.  Her musings are always honest and on target.

Clotildajamcracker:  Her drawings are amazing.

End Picking: A fellow struggler with anxiety and skin picking.  I have deep sympathy.

The Gifting Whisperer:  She understands the beauty and importance of gift-giving in this uncertain world…and that the best gifts don’t always require money.

Tamina’s Turn:  Lovely and fun writings and photographs about movement.

This award is reminding me that it’s okay to be proud and excited to be part of a thoughtful community.  Thank you.

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