How do real FRIENDS behave?

I’ll answer that: not even remotely like the cast of the 1990s/2000s tv series ‘FRIENDS’.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

The cast of the show deceive one another intentionally all the time. Have you ever noticed that? They lie to each other so often that it’s actually more surprising when they don’t. Count the lies in an episode sometime; the times they fail to tell each other something they should have, or say something different from the truth, or let each other believe something to try to ‘get out of trouble’. That’s not common in the real world, at least not in the circles I’ve been in.

Another huge fault is that they rely so heavily on snark and sarcasm. Snark and sarcasm have been popular for a long time, but I feel they’ve had their day. They were funny occasionally when used by a person with dry wit and a good sense of humor, and a sensitivity to what constitutes ‘going too far’. But snark for the sake of belittling people and tearing down their self image is SO toxic. Yes, I’m using that trendy word ‘toxic’ because it’s so accurate in this situation.

And then, there’s the much talked about ‘Ross and Rachel’ affair. Basically, a toxic push-pull hot-cold dance of disrespect and ugliness mixed with heat and attraction. Yuck. And an entire generation of people who’ve watched this have ‘learned’ through watching that if you are ‘on a break’ from a romantic relationship you can justify sleeping around; that it doesn’t matter how you treat people as long as you are hot and they can see that; and that lying and manipulating won’t turn people off to you. I can say without hesitation that all of these ‘lessons’ are lies. People get hurt by those behaviors, it does not matter if you’re hot if you treat people hurtfully, and people avoid people who lie and manipulate.

The best friends I have had have behaved as such:

  • They show up when they say they will, they don’t make excuses or prioritize something flattering (like a date, sex, or a party) over our friendship.
  • They are honest and ALSO kind. They don’t say whatever it is they think just for the sake of ‘honesty’, but they don’t ever deliberately try to deceive me or anyone else.
  • They respect my feelings and speak well about me whether or not I am present. They don’t favor sarcasm over consideration of my well-being.
  • They don’t use sex appeal to get what they want (applies to romantic relationships, of course, but also that friends don’t flirt with my significant other).
  • They let me be myself and respect that, no belittling. They don’t assume that an apology will just fix everything, they actively treat me well at all times.

I wonder if NOT watching the reunion show would send a message that friendship actually means something to me? Thinking they wouldn’t notice. HOPING they right some of the many wrongs the series perpetuated (see the end of this post), but I won’t hold my breath.

Reasons a person might watch despite the above: curiosity is one factor, and there were cute moments in the show. The first two episodes were the funniest. Clearly I watched enough of it to know more than a thing or two about the show, however I deeply object to its inaccurate title. And, I have more respect for my own well-being and favor taking care of it over following a trend I don’t like, so if it isn’t better I will certainly not watch.

You could say I’m feeling good about being a good friend to myself.

Photo by Tim Douglas on Pexels.com

Other issues with the show, especially that relate to feminism:

  • sexist, chauvinist attitudes by men and women.
  • hypersexualization; like, men are always ready for sex all the time and intensely eager and obsessive about it. And women are always sex objects and should dress as such or get made fun of.
  • body image problems; are the main characters ever more than a size 4? I mean, maybe Phoebe at some point but very briefly, and she looks heavier in comparison to all the other people who are too skinny. Media portrayals have been shown to correlate with eating disorder prevalence (anorexia and bulimia, particularly, which can both seriously and permanently damage a person’s health).
  • Ditziness of women compared with mansplaining know-it-all attitudes of most of the men.
  • None of the women have careers in science or computers, math, no STEM representation.
  • NO people of color as main characters. Unforgivable, especially in a city as diverse as New York! ‘FRIENDS, the Iowa version’? Sure, all white. But in New York?? Are you freaking kidding me??
  • Disrespecting, humiliating, lambasting anyone with mental illness.
  • ‘Othering’ of people who don’t fit the preppy, trendy, yuppie status quo.

And more. Comment if you can think of more, or if you agree, or if you won’t be watching the reunion show. Or if you have a positive story about friendship– I’d really like to hear some of those right now!

Being a Mom is Not Your Only Option

(A white and privileged viewpoint)

I just wanted to be a voice to those today who haven’t considered options for their future other than parenthood. You may think “Well, that’s just what you do. You graduate from school, maybe go to college, get a fulltime job, get married and have kids, more or less in that order.” That doesn’t have to be the only way we go through life.

There are more than enough people on the planet at this point, and procreation just does not need to be a priority. In fact, some people have said that having one or fewer children is the only way to prevent catastrophic climate change (ie. air that is too toxic to breathe, heat that we can’t survive through, no plants in existence, no more humanity). This means one biological child at most, and adopt or foster the rest if you want more.

But beyond even that, there are many other pursuits in this life that are worthy ways of spending one’s limited time. Consider the life of Oprah Winfrey: she overcame so much and spends her life giving back to others and spreading wisdom and goodness in the world. She does not have living children. Diane Sawyer, Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Steinem, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, and many more also achieved so much, perhaps due to not having children. With more time and more money, and the potential for a lot more good sleep, and focus to develop your dreams and skills, what could you achieve in this world? Look to history, to inventors, innovators, writers, explorers, anyone who inspires you!

And really ask yourself, ‘what is it that I’m good at in this life?’ Are you good at activism for human rights or the environment? Making uplifting music? Helping people with their problems? Doing research and figuring out new ways to heal people? There are a million different things you can do, and bring your own experiences and thoughts and motivations to. I want to invite you to comment: what life pursuits interest you OTHER THAN parenthood?

There will be future posts about parenting, for sure, mothers in particular, and all the sacredness wrapped up in that. But for now, think about this: what are you really good at, or interested in? What do you want to do with the limited time you have? What do you want to change about the world, while you’re here?

I’m feeling good about expanding our horizons.

Healthy Relationships: Conversing about Ultimatums (because #metoo)

There is so much good going on lately, with #metoo storming social media and providing a succinct way to show solidarity as well as start a conversation and show the need for change.

As a facet of that movement, I want to urge parents to tell your daughters (ok, and your sons) that anyone they might date who tells them ‘do this, or else I will break up with you’ needs to break up with that person On The Spot. No second chances. Relationships based on ultimatums are unhealthy. Let your young women know that no relationship is worth going against their values. Having a relationship doesn’t transform you into a worthwhile human: you have always been so very worthy of good and you always will be.

I want to urge parents of boys as well (ok, boys and girls), please tell your sons to avoid Ever issuing an ultimatum to anyone. Saying ‘do this or else’ is to try to force someone to bend to your will and that is so inappropriate no matter what context, but especially in a relationship. If you are unhappy with the way dating is going and you have tried mature ways of working it out (you may have to ask an adult to give you mature ideas, that is a good and normal thing to do!), then break up. You can respect a person’s limits by breaking up, but not by threatening to break up. Honestly, you’ll find another relationship. If you hold out for one in which you know that your non-negotiables will be met, then you will be able to work through the challenges together.

I know deep in my bones this is a vital conversation to have.

When one person grows up socialized to think they hold all the power, they wield power. Relationships are not about wielding power; they are about communication, staying true to yourself, and respecting the other person’s limits. They’re about a million things, really, but in a healthy relationship all of those things are kind and good.

 

I’m feeling good about parents and mentors nurturing respect through this conversation.

Public Displays of Resistance

Involvement in politics in general may not initially seem to be a ‘feminist’ issue, yet I assure you it is. As women are human, and human rights are currently under attack, this is our issue. I believe in what is posted here:

https://www.splcenter.org/20170814/ten-ways-fight-hate-community-response-guide

And this portion of it is what inspired this post:

“Goodness has a First Amendment right, too. We urge you to denounce hate groups and hate crimes and to spread the truth about hate’s threat to a pluralistic society. An informed and unified community is the best defense against hate.

You can spread tolerance through social media and websites, church bulletins, door-to-door fliers, letters to the editor, and print advertisements. Hate shrivels under strong light. Beneath their neo-Nazi exteriors, hatemongers are cowards and are surprisingly subject to public pressure and ostracism.”

So here are some ideas on one method of resistance: T-Shirts.

Social Justice (using recent slogans such as ‘black lives matter’)

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

Stop Calling them Alt-Right

Silence is Violence

Love thy Neighbor (no exceptions)

Love thy Neighbor (with list)

There is no ‘They’

And no matter what, focus on the positive! Focus on what we Can do. I’m feeling good about wearing my views on my sleeve.

PLEASE POST POSITIVE ACTIVIST T-SHIRT LINKS HERE. Also, buy and wear them! Or even better, make them!! It’s national thrift store day, so buy some blank t-shirts and t-shirt paint or plain black ink or bleach and write something good! Then share your photos!!

Identity

Before beginning, I’ll mention that this is not JUST ‘feminist’. It’s humanist. It’s personal. I read this article and I had to join the conversation: https://medium.com/@jen.margulies/white-supremacy-is-bad-for-the-jews-lets-be-bad-for-white-supremacy-f8abf374353d

 

I am a cis-woman. My heritage is Norwegian, French, German, Scots-Irish, and some other nationalities in smaller amounts. I am an immigrant. I am married and childless. I have a chronic illness that has made life difficult in many ways over the years, including depriving me of consistent employment. I consider myself a proud American, from a beautiful land where there are many amazingly-cool people and a wealth of cultural experiences. This is a land that I want to protect. I advocate for the environment, eat organic when I can, and reduce consumption of goods in my own corner of it all.

I grew up surrounded by Jews whom I love, as well as wonderful people of many other backgrounds. Many of my friends over the years have been gay, trans, adopted, or had a mental or emotional illness. I am a freedom fighter in that I stand up for the marginalized, for goodness, for what is right. I was also the target of bullying for many years, not by my Jewish friends nor Thai nor Jamaican, but by the kids who attended a mostly-“white” “Catholic” school. I put Catholic in quotes there for a reason, because their behavior was anything-but Christian, and actually many of them did not even identify as Catholic nor attend church. I don’t demonize “white” people either, because I’ve known so many good ones, especially my grandparents and my parents. My grandfathers were both loving, progressive-minded men who fought for the Allies in World War 2, one of whom lived with PTSD for the rest of his life. My grandmothers were both strong, loving women who lived with chronic physical illness while raising children and doing other amazing things.

Accepting people as they are is the essence of Love, and Love, as I was taught, is the essence of God. That brings me to another important identity; I’m a Christian. But there’s no faith that is based on Love that I reject. In other words, all faiths that are based on Love, I consider myself part of. In that sense, I am also Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, Taoist, Yogic, Muslim, and more. If you ask me what I know about each of these, the answer would vary. But I have faith that they are good. Yet as with any faith, there are those who misuse it to ill-purpose and unfortunately prejudice some people in the process. Sadly, some people choose to set a bad example of what it means to be Christian, or otherwise.

Hate is the primary evil in the world. I was taught growing up that our mission as Christians is to rout out hate and spread love, sewing the Kingdom of God (which is to treat others with love and goodness) in the hearts of everyone we meet.

I’m not trying to lead a movement. I’m sharing who I am, what I believe, and Love as I understand it. I hope that Love takes root in your heart.

One Voice in a Million: You Ain’t Takin’ That From Me!

Love this song: Natasha Bedingfield ‘Strip Me’. About finding a voice and nourishing it.

Today I’m sharing with you that I struggle with this feeling sometimes; I’m just one small voice and what can I change?

But I stand up for my one voice, and look to inspiring examples of people whose one voice, whose insistence, whose decisions change things for others. This video from ‘Clevver News’ mentions that Emma Watson in the live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ film coming out March 17 of this year is interpreting her ‘Belle’as being an active princess. Belle is that way in the cartoon version as well; active. She’s shown running through fields, riding her horse, exploring a castle, evading wolves in the forest, and saving her father. She inspired me growing up. I can’t tell you how many fields I’ve run through, sometimes with the song from the movie in my mind! “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell!”

The video states that she didn’t want to wear a corset, and that her Belle will be wearing boots rather than the ballet flats worn by the cartoon version. I love that. I’ve always been a boot-wearing girl, ever since I was little. They are just more comfortable for me. While I didn’t perceive the cartoon Belle as wearing a corset, I think it’s an important decision in the live-action film to encourage women and girls to be healthy, not just to cave to expectations. A lot of fantasy films show women in corsets, which influences our culture toward ‘beauty over comfort’ rather than the healthy reverse, comfort over beauty. As well, people who participate in cosplay (or, dressing in costumes worn by particular characters from media) will have a healthier model to emulate.

Natasha Bedingfield’s song likewise asks ‘who am I if you strip away all the outside stuff’ (referencing fashion and makeup through the visuals of the video), and it’s an important question to ask ourselves. It’s crucial to our happiness (as well as to women’s rights) to seek our inner selves and know who we are without all the ‘dressing up.’ It’s vital to be ‘ok,’ as the songwriter asserts she is, without all the trappings.

I think everyone’s ability to choose who they are and how to express themselves is a treasure. Value your own treasure, make the choices that validate you as a person and support your own values.

If I’m too afraid to make a different choice than the popular choice, then I’m not changing anything. However if I make my own choice regardless of what other people are doing or saying is ‘the thing’, then I have power to be me today.

You ain’t takin’ that from me! (and neither am I.)

10 Months

It’s been 10 months since I last published a post on this blog. I’d considered closing it down, removing it from the internet. Not for any particular reason other than that maybe my fire had gone out. Understand, I was really quite happy (and am still, in other areas of my life). I’ve been really busy in a good way. And I felt less need to make change. But I kept this blog, live and on the internet.

There are so many things that I’ve written for it that I value. And of course I continue to believe in the worth of women. Yet I had stopped believing for awhile that continuing to strive for change was necessary. Things seemed so good!

With the recent election came a wake up call. Are some people so desperate that a woman wouldn’t run the US that they elected someone with no political experience and plenty of major flaws? Or maybe that has nothing to do with it. I’ve been busy doing other things important to me but some of those will take a temporary sideline so I can do some work for change. Writing doesn’t always feel* like the most practical work, however if it gives good people hope then it finds its value there.

I’ll write again.

 

*feelings are not facts!

Start Doing Things the Way You Want Them Done

This is a bold statement, I realize that, and you have excuses why you “can’t” but I assure you, anything you want to do, you Can do.

Are you one of the people in your organization at work who deals with who is paid what amount? Go in and look at whether there are male and female employees there who are doing the same work. Even-out the pay between them.

Do you want to read books where the default pronoun is ‘she’? As in, “when any human feels they are capable of a task, she will complete that task with confidence” or myriad other examples. So write those books. Write those blog posts.

Do you want to fight rape on a real and personal level? Take reasonable precautions; Don’t invite people over until you know them really well, avoid getting completely intoxicated, and when your friends mention ideas of theirs that you think might put them or you in a dangerous situation, speak up and tell them so! Respect your instincts. Practice speaking up for yourself on all kinds of things, so that you make it a practice of making your needs and intentions clear.

And then my favorite: Do you want to see media that *respects* women? Create it. Create movies that don’t question female power and agency; they exhibit it. Create advertisements (even unofficial ones!) that show healthy women whose features aren’t obscured by makeup and don’t bother to call attention to the fact. Calling attention to something makes it increase, as it is the focus. So create the world as you’d like it. Show these strong and beautiful ideas of yours with confidence and abandon!

And keep it positive.

How to block numbers from calling your phone….

So this post is not exactly what it advertises, because in order to block the numbers, you have to have done this First. So read carefully.

Go to:  https://www.google.com/voice

If you have a gmail account and are signed in, this will be much easier. Follow the prompts to sign up for Google Voice and ask for a New number. When it asks for “area, zip code, or city…” type in a real area-code. It took me a while to understand what it was asking. For example: “920”

If you have any reason to be giving out your phone number to strangers (for example, you own a business and receive calls from clients) this is a great way to be able to block numbers if necessary, but also have texts and calls forwarded to your phone.

BE SAFE, women! Just because we’re awesome doesn’t mean we’re invincible!!

Emma Watson Introduces He For She Solidarity Movement

UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson speaks eloquently and powerfully on unifying the gender equality movement.

Not only so that women have equal rights Everywhere in the world, yet also so that men can be free to be sensitive and all can respect ourselves for who we are. She says it beautifully. Please do watch and leave a comment here or on her twitter: @EmWatson

Support the movement by your actions. Be one of the ‘inadvertent feminists’ she speaks of. Take action here via the #HeForShe website, as well.