Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sexual Harassment and Assault

(disclaimer - I know a lot of men have suffered sexual abuse, but the vast majority are women, so I generalize here)


Every day brings new announcements - of which men are accused of sexual abuse and harassment.  They range from a kiss in a rehearsal and a picture of almost groping to the very worst - a man accused of undressing and seducing a 14-year-old.  What horrible behaviour.  How can men act this way.  OUTRAGE!!!  And we should be outraged.  This IS horrible behaviour.

None of this is new.  This is old news.  These are things that happened 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.  And they happen every day.  I doubt there is a single woman who hasn't actually dealt with some form of sexual harassment or prejudice - whether she was aware of it or not.  Some cases far worse and far more traumatizing than others.  But this is normalized behaviour in our society.  Normalized by men and women alike.

I've been fired for "histrionics" - or was it the fact that I broke up with my boss?  I was told by a professor that the knee showing through the tear in my jeans was appealing (I don't remember the exact terminology - "sexy" maybe).  A fellow graduate student when he first met me thought I was too bubbly and vacuous to ever finish my degree.  I actually wondered why another professor in our department hadn't hit on me - he had hit on a lot of other female students.  Was I not appealing enough? (that crazy way of thinking comes along with all of this).

I remember having sex in tears with one boyfriend of mine because he was drunk and just wouldn't let up - is that rape?  I said no, he just didn't listen.  One night with a different boyfriend I woke up in the middle of sex that I never agreed to.  Is that rape?

Wake up, people.  The problem is not the individuals that are (finally) being called out.  The problem is our society.  Men were moulded to be in positions of power - women were moulded to raise children and be at home - or at least take 2nd place behind men.  World War II saw a lot of women enter the workforce, and when the men came home, a lot of women didn't want to give that up.  So the American ideal was created (you know, the car, the house, the white picket fence, the housewife) in the 1950s to try to get women back into the home.

The Women's Liberation Movement could be seen as a reaction to that post-war push to put women back into the house.  The Movement started in the 1960s and 1970s.  Do the math - that's 50-60 years ago.  Women started fighting for equality in the workplace FIFTY to SIXTY years ago.  That fight for equality led to a passive-agressive push from men trying to maintain their power and control.  And what is a really effective way to control other people?  Through sex.

Women have been trying to advance in the workplace for a long time.  But to do this, they had to put up with men, who were in control of their jobs, and they had to put up with their advances.  OR THEY WOULD GET FIRED.  It so pisses me off when people ask why women are only now coming forward - because there is a mass movement, because there is support.  An individual going against the system is likely to lose - likely enough that it isn't worth risking a job.  But when dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of women come together to share their stories, it is harder to shout them down.

We have all known this to be a problem for decades. "Radical Feminists" were discounted and shamed because of their "radical-ness" - or because they were an easy target for the controlling population.

Need proof that this has been going on forever?  Popular culture is a great place to look.  Just off the top of my head, remember "9 to 5"?  A great movie and song from 1980?  37 years ago.  We knew it was a problem then.  The movie grossed $103.9 million dollars and is noted as the 20th highest grossing comedy (according to Wikipedia).


The outrage that I see on TV from pundits and talk show hosts makes me even more outraged - you've all known about this crap forever!  But you are acting like you haven't done it yourself, or experienced it in some fashion.  This is not new.  You should have been outraged years ago.  But everyone accepted it and put up with it enough that it kept going.

I say this fully knowing that it is true because I wasn't aware of it when I was younger.  I once sat arguing with a young man (when I was in my 20s) that I hadn't experienced any sexism in my schooling or in my life to that point.  I was wrong.  Really, really wrong.

Hopefully the tide is turning and people are now realizing that there is true inequality and misogyny endemic in our society.  That would be nice.  It would be nice to be starting a career right now and knowing that you didn't have to put up with such crap.

So women, tell your stories.  Share.  Let the world know exactly how unfair our culture has been to us.  Let's get this worked out so that perhaps, one day, we will all just be equal.

Just a note - not all men are misogynistic - I married a great guy who believes in equality and I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life.  So for the good guys out there - I'm not ragging on you - I'm raging on our society as a whole.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Racism from the point of view of White Privilege

Tina Fey did a brilliant piece on Summer Weekend Update this week.  You can find it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMnHcEGRWoA

It was funny.  It was pointed.  It was brilliant satire.  And, of course, people are mad about it.

At the very end, she suggests ignoring racists.  Don't show up to protests.  And she is wrong, of course.  But it doesn't take away from the brilliance of what she was saying and the way she connected with my demographic:  the privileged, liberal White woman.

I feel helpless.  I feel hopeless.  Being Canadian, I have absolutely NO control over what happens in the United States.  I have no vote, I have no input.  But I am affected, because our white supremacists get a boost from yours, and our right-wing extremists, feed off of yours.  What happens in the United States ends up happening here.  We have our Obama right now.  I hope to hell we don't get a Trump.

I've seen a couple of things this week that bothered me.  The complaints about Tina Fey, and THIS article in Harper's Bazaar where a black woman tells all of us privileged whites how we have no clue and should just basically shut the fuck up (or perhaps she can educate us all):  http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a12014607/white-liberals-response-white-supremacy/

This woman is taking the well-meaning tweets of famous people using their powerful voices to say that this is not the kind of America they want to live in, to say that they don't have the right to want to help because of the situations they were either born into or that they fought their way to gain.

Let's face it, she criticizes Ellen DeGeneres - a woman who is VERY aware of prejudice.  Who understands how a career can be threatened by being born a certain way (gay) and having no control over that - and having to hide from society because of it.

All of this hate and anger (including the anger that has arisen in me) is not going to help anyone.  If people of colour (or LGBTQ, or First Nations or any other minority - including women in general) don't accept the well-meaning support of people not in their social group, they are perpetuating intolerance, too.  If someone is trying to help you, accept it.  If they don't understand things the way you do, explain it to them.  Don't shove racism back in their face.  That won't help.  Don't be mad because of the life someone else has.  Make yours better - fight hard to get it.  That's life.  And please understand that some of us who now really do appreciate the privilege they live in, did not necessarily grow up that way - and might understand more than you think they do.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Anger - TABOO!

It amazes me.  Almost finished my 49th trip around the sun and I still come to really basic conclusions about life and myself on a regular basis.

Last night it was this:  "I am allowed to be mad.  And I don't have to check with other people to see if the situation warrants it".  I don't have to justify it.  I also don't have to express it, but I do have to process it.

We, as girls, are taught by our society (through our peers) that it is not nice to know a lot.  I have a reasonably high IQ - which may mean nothing, but it is the only standard measurement we have.  Mine stands hovering around 132 (just tried a free online one and it says 141 - but they are notoriously high).

When I was an elementary school student I was a bit of a know-it-all.  I've talked about this before.  I was kind of like Hermione Granger.  I knew stuff that other people didn't and I understood things more quickly.  And even when I was wrong, I still thought I was right.  This tends to piss people off.


So, in an attempt to have everyone (or at least some) people like me, I tried not to piss people off, and, in turn I tried to not get mad at them.  Because there's no faster way to get someone mad at you than to be mad at them.  But if I did get mad at someone, I tried not to.  I tried not to express it.  I tried not to be obnoxious.  I tried not to feel it.  And I would always try to get others' opinions on whether I was justified to be angry.  The only exception to this was my sister - she got the brunt of my pent-up anger.  Sorry, Sis!

I still do this.  If I get mad at someone, I want to know if the situation warrants it.  I ask other people.  I want to know if I'm reacting properly (also has something to do with misperceptions caused by depression and anxiety).  And I try to deny it - tending to believe that it is my mood disorder that is causing me to be angry, not the actual situation (which, sometimes, it is).

Well, you know what?  I do not need to ask other people if I'm allowed to feel angry.  I am.  It's a natural emotion and I'm allowed to experience it.  I'm allowed to process it.  I don't necessarily need to express it, but I need to allow it.

Almost 50 years on the planet and still learning - that's what this life shit is all about.

BTW - while I am writing this, flowers and a hug arrive at my door - an unspoken apology and forgiveness.  Life is always interesting.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Struggles with depression and medication

No one wants to be on medication.  No one with depression / anxiety issues wants to be on medication.  Without exception, everyone I've ever talked to about it has either put off getting on medication, avoided taking it altogether, or really struggled with the need to take pills.

I am included in this list.  When I am feeling well (due to the drugs) I try to lower my dose.  When I gain weight on them, I want to get off of them.  When I read articles like this one from Scientific American, I think that I shouldn't be taking them at all.

I've been taking Cipralex for a while now - a couple of years - maybe 3 or 4, I can't remember.  It works most of the time.  But like most of the drugs, I've ended up increasing my dose and I worry about having to continue increasing it until it no longer works.  I was taking one pill for a while, but then needed to increase it to 1 1/2.  But then I gained weight.  So in the summer, when things were brighter and easier, I went back down to 1 pill.  And I was fine.  As the sunlight decreased, the fall got colder, and I was feeling crappier, I increased it again to 1 1/2.  And then I noticed that the heart palpitations I had experienced 6 months earlier came back with the extra medication (an emergency room visit, 24-hour Holter monitor, and echocardiogram were required to test them out).  So I cut out the extra half pill a couple of weeks ago.

On Thursday, after freaking out at my husband and stressing my son from the argument that we had (which does not happen when I'm actually feeling well), and having a night of crying a few days before, I realized that I need the extra half pill.  But I can't live with the heart palpitations.  So I am likely going to have to change meds again.  Can't live with them, can't live without them.

The only time I've been able to go without medication in the last decade was about 2 1/2 years ago when I wasn't working.  I had a few months when work just didn't come in.  And I felt well.  But if I want to make money, I need to be on medication (no matter what Scientific American says).

Medication does not cure the problem.  It covers it up - much like taking an Aspirin covers up a headache.  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) do not help your brain make more serotonin.  They don't fix anything - but they make life livable.  The only other way to make life livable would be to completely change my lifestyle - and that of my family.  And that might not even work.

My own opinion after dealing with this issue (it's always been around, and it is absolutely genetically predisposed) is that our Western culture exacerbates the problem.  Too much data input.  Not enough quiet and brain rest.  Inability to deal with quiet and brain rest.  TV, Internet.  Too much.

And our kids are going to have it worse.  As the parent of a 13-year-old boy, it is almost impossible to control the amount of input they have - especially when I am depressed and having a hard time dealing with anything at all.  So it keeps increasing and perpetuating itself.

The answer?  A great deal more self control and parenting control than I have at the moment.  So it's medication - making sure the meds are balanced, and then taking back control of the things that have gone out of control while not feeling well.  A constant tide of issues that you have to ride like a surfer.

Again, I am not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I really don't want that.  But I want people to know they are not alone, and of those who don't have the issues to possibly have more understanding for people they know who do.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Changing my View

Last night I vented.  I blogged out my anger and fear.  And then this landed on my Facebook feed (watch it, it's not that long and really listen to his words) - sorry tried to embed it by got something else, so check out the link:


I know a LOT of people find Russell Brand hard to take.  But just listen to him.  He is the wisest flawed human being I have heard lately.  

And this came into my vision as well:  


The lesson I gain from these two things is this:  We need to start taking care of each other.  We need to start loving each other.  We need to change the mindset of anger and hatred.  We need to figure out how to do that, and if we can do that, then the system will change.

All of the poor and disenfranchised need to feel better about things.  Trump isn't going to do that - but maybe the fact of Trump will motivate people for real, positive change. THAT I cannot control.  Neither can you.  What I can control is my mindset.

First off - and this sounds ridiculous, but it's not at all.  Pray for Trump.  Pray hard.  Pray that he gets influence from above to do the right things for everyone.  Pray that his focus on himself switches to actual concern for people who are in hard times.  Pray that the people he chooses as his advisors do positive things for the good of all.

Second - be active.  Do SOMETHING.  Support what you want to see in the world.  Send money to the causes that you view as important.  I personally contribute monthly to the Suzuki Foundation and 350.org.  But the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and any number of other wonderful charities exist out there.  Put even a small amount of your money into a good cause to help other people.  

Suggestions welcome, but for any of you out there who are feeling helpless, I recommend getting involved in some fashion by volunteering in your community.  Share love.  Accept people who aren't like you.  There are hundreds and thousands of places that need help.  Local hospitals, animal shelters, libraries, food banks - get out there.  Meet other people.  Help the hopeless.  If each of us did just a little of this, it would make a difference.

But most importantly, set aside the anger.  Set aside the hate.  Choose to send positive energy into the world, not negative.  

I'm going to try.  I'm not perfect, and it is really easy to take the low road.  But I'm going to try to take the high road this time.  For the sake of my soul - for it shall whither under the oppression of hate.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tears ... finally!

It's November 10, 2016.  Two days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.  I can barely stand typing that.  I can't comprehend it.  I honestly didn't believe it could happen.  I felt in my bones that it wouldn't happen, but it did.

Tonight I cried.  I got fucking mad and then cried.  Two days it took for me to actually get over the shock and get to mad.  It started with two people on Facebook telling me to forget about it.  Telling me to let go and go for a walk.  I will, but not until I understand this a little bit better.  And I'm talking about understanding the psychology behind it all.  Then I was reading many women's posts - the ones who are in shock.  They've been crying for 2 days.  They feel it too - the fact that the history of the Women's Liberation Movement isn't yet finished like we thought it might be.

The reason I got mad was not because the American public voted this ass into office.  I got mad because I thought:  "If Hillary Clinton were a man and had acted and said exactly what HRC had, she would have been elected".  People would have seen Hill Clinton (the man) as a superior character with great preparation, ambition and a stellar political career.  I thought:  "If James Comey hadn't pulled that ludicrous stunt 11 days prior to the election, HRC would have been elected".  I thought:  "If the popular vote decided the election, Al Gore AND HRC would have been elected".  And I thought:  "Well, that's it for the American action on climate change ... we're fucked more now than we were a week ago".

I will give you this much - if he doesn't continue being the same person he showed himself to be during the election, we may have some hope.  But I don't think a skunk can change his stripe.  So the rest of this is based on what I understand his character to be.  Let's hope I'm really wrong.  Let's hope there's a human being under that orange facade.  If ever I wished to be wrong ... it's now.

Last night, a friend of mine stated that "at least he's pro life" - well, honey (I'm still her friend, I generally don't ditch my friends over a difference of political opinion), if he is in charge of that country, WAY more people are going to die in a lot of different ways.  The odd abortion is going to look like peanuts in a field full of corpses (going too far?  I might not be).  He's going to be WAY more of a war monger - given his wanting to increase the military so much - and that means lots of people are going to die.  Environmental emergencies will be more frequent than they would have been had America continued acting on climate change and more people will die.  And not just in the US.  Hillary wasn't pro-abortion - she was pro-choice.  Wanted women to be able to control their reproductive system as they and their doctor and their God chose fit.  If you don't like abortions, don't have one.  But don't cause a woman to give birth to an unwanted child just because you don't like the thought of ending that life long before it has begun.

I am mad because I thought as a society that we were getting over the whole sexist thing.  And it is now terribly, blatantly obvious to me that it is alive and well and still controlling our society.  Some people who are sexist don't even realize it.  They just don't like HRC.  Well, I'll tell you (general American public) - most of you feel that way because she just doesn't fit the idea in your head that you have of how a woman should behave, look, speak.  Turn this around.  Imagine Hillary Clinton being caught saying sexist, abusive comments about men.  She would have been crucified.  Trump paraded all of Bill Clinton's abusers out before a debate - but 12 (TWELVE) women came forward to explain how Trump had treated them and he called them liars.  And people BELIEVED HIM - both about Clinton's women AND his own.  WTF???

I'm really mad because my son is tied up in knots.  He asked if Donald Trump was going to use nuclear weapons - he is truly frightened that this is going to be catastrophic.  I don't think it is, but it kills me that he feels that way.  I'm not one to shelter my son from the news - but right now I wish I had.

I understand wanting change.  But choose a change agent who actually has scruples, morals, a good education and an understanding of how the world works - when one is available and a viable candidate (no, Bernie wouldn't have won - he leans far too close to the Socialist end of the spectrum - but I'd love to have him as a leader - maybe in a couple of decades a Bernie will be viable).  Don't choose a guy who is simply going to be used as a tool for the worst people the Republicans can put forward.  Guilianni?  Christie?  That Alt-right newspaper guy?  You (the people who voted for him) think these people are going to bring change and root for the poor, the working class.  You drank the orange Kool Aid, kids.

I've never seen a group of people buy such lies before.  I'm sure there are historic examples, but in my lifetime, this is the worst.  He's lied about everything.  And people bought it.  Which takes me to the education system.  It has failed.  It would appear that a large number of people can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie - even though we have more information at our fingertips than anyone else in history.  They can't tell between reality TV and reality.

A change is coming - but it's not the one you wanted.  And it certainly isn't going to be for the good of the many.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Glutened!!

Okay, so today I had some symptoms of Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease.  I couldn't for the life of me think of what could have done this.  Which makes me question if I actually have a problem or if it's all in my mind.

Then I remembered that a couple of nights ago I had some cottage cheese - a very small amount.  I found out on a website the Dairyland cottage cheese can be contaminated with barley gluten.  Previous to this I thought that my symptoms were coming minutes or hours after exposure.  This time it was 2 days.

And it really does seem like I am dealing with a reaction to microscopic amounts of gluten.  It's really rather ridiculous - and if I wasn't living it, I really don't think I'd believe it.