Being Taught Your Place in the Gender Roles Game

How many times have you heard, “You’re a (insert gender here), that’s not how you’re supposed to behave…”? “Boys will be boys.” I even roll my eyes muttering “boys…” at my children. It’s a conditioned reaction that we’re just used to. The gender roles are very clear. Women tend to women things and men tend to man things. That’s just how it’s supposed to be.

I have been given awful looks when I mention that as soon as it was age appropriate, I taught my older son to do laundry. “But, he’s a boy…” Yes, but he’s a boy that’s going to be self-sufficient. His wife will thank me. I’m not going to do my adult son’s laundry if he never gets married nor do I think his wife should be forced to do it. My younger son now helps with laundry for the same reason. I get the same awful lectures when I mention how I’m teaching my older son to cook. I give the same reasons of self-sufficiency. How do I know he’s going to get married? I don’t believe in marriage so why should I force him to be?

I thought we had moved away from these ideals of traditional roles, but they still seem alive and well. “Why did you fix your screen window? You should’ve waited for your husband to do that.” Why should I have waited? It never would’ve gotten done and I wanted to be able to let fresh air in without bugs. I’m more than capable of it. My Mom never taught me to be demure. Or maybe she tried and my Dad told me to ignore her. I don’t even remember. But I definitely don’t remember ever wanting to be a princess waiting for a Prince Charming. Though there was a time when I wanted to be Phoebe from Mystic Quest. My Mom taught me the basics of sewing. I could hem pants, patch clothing, and fix buttons. My Dad, Mom, and older brother taught me how to cook. My Dad taught me about tools and bought me a tool set for a Mother’s Day present shortly before my husband and I bought our house. I was fortunate that my parents never really pushed those roles on me, though I have no idea how to mow a lawn but I’m not sure if it’s because they thought I was too weak as a girl to do it or because I’m so clumsy that they didn’t want to bother. It’s probably the latter.

I don’t believe in teaching my children about those traditional gender roles. Sure, they see that Mommy works from home and takes care of the kids while Daddy goes to work. Mommy cooks supper for everyone. Mommy is the one that comforts everyone while they’re sick and Daddy does yard work. Daddy handles the pest control situation of removing dead mice that our cat destroys or killing the earwig that scared Mommy out of the shower. But I will teach them everything that I can to turn them into modern men. They will be able to do their own laundry, and even offer to take care of their partner’s as well. They will learn to respect women, that they are not there to be their slaves. They will not raise their hand to a woman or disrespect them when they say “no”. They will learn about consent. They will learn that being manly isn’t about knocking a woman down or “putting her in her place”. Women are not to be controlled or manipulated just like women should not control and manipulate men. Relationships are partnerships, not ownerships.

My boys will learn to be self-sufficient, respectful men who are going to change the world for the better. I want them to know that being sensitive and compassionate isn’t a weakness. That Dads can cook, do laundry, and take care of babies. That around the home, there’s no such thing as “man’s work”. That in the real world, they need to respect a female boss just as they would a male one. My hope, is that other parents do as well. There is such a focus on “teaching little girls”, but I feel like there’s not enough about “teaching little boys”. All kids should learn to take care of themselves. Girls should know as much about cooking as they do about fixing a pipe in the kitchen (within reason; some jobs are better left for professionals). Women shouldn’t have to wait for their husbands to fix a clogged toilet or a cabinet door. Kids should all have a well-rounded education in “how to function and be self-sufficient” no matter what their gender is.

 

 

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I Watch for Talent, Not Politics

Over the weekend, the talk of the town was how dare/how brave Taylor Swift was for finally speaking out about politics. How she has lost/gained fans for voicing her opinion. How awful/great celebrities are for using their platform to brainwash/inspire the masses. Taylor Swift is a disappointment/true role model for the masses. You can easily circle the way you feel on the topic. I, personally, take a route of “I don’t really care” and “This has no real impact on my life”.

I love Ron Swanson GIFs. Spare a few Gir (aka: the Best Part of Invader Zim) GIFs, I only use Ron Swanson GIFs unless I couldn’t find the perfect one. I usually do and it makes me very happy with life. One time, like usual, I nailed a perfectly timed Ron Swanson GIF on a political post. A family member responded back with “too bad he’s a total liberal IRL”. My response: “I don’t care what he is, Ron Swanson is hilarious. I watch things to be entertained and if I’m entertained than I don’t care.” A person’s political ideals outside of the context of a show has no impact on whether or not I like them. Do I dislike Kanye’s music and personality because he is Pro-Trump? Nope, I dislike him because I think he’s an arrogant, jerk and I think his music sucks. Do I hate “Last Man Standing” because Tim Allen is a Republican? I dislike it because it’s a rebranded “Home Improvement” only less funny. Do I agree with everything John Oliver believes politically? Nope, but I die laughing every time I watch his show. I didn’t want “Newsroom” because I found it preachy and poorly written. I don’t agree with a lot of Tom Selleck’s politics, but I love him in “Blue Bloods”.

Maybe I’m just weird, but I like to watch things that entertain me. I get enough of politics everywhere else in the world. That’s not to say I don’t like watching sitcoms address serious topics or express opinions. But I want to be entertained while they are doing it. The opinions themselves have no impact on me. (I suppose, to a point. If someone does something completely off the rails, like spewing hateful comments or proudly displaying their Nazi gear I may be less inclined to want them to support them in anything that offers financial gain.) In general though, I don’t care. I barely listened to Taylor Swift as it is, aside from maybe 1 song (unless I’m working out. She does some great high energy music.) Will I listen to her more now because she made a political stance? Nope. It has no effect on me.

Now, if Taylor Swift had gone on a tangent about how anyone who was a Republican should be lynched and white people should be ashamed of being white and formed a group that was just as hateful as the KKK but was violent against people who didn’t agree with them, then yeah I would totally be all about destroying her career. But who cares? I love seeing comments from 65 year old people going “Well Taylor Swift just lost this fan”. Seriously, you probably didn’t even know who she was until either your grand-daughter idolized her or you saw the article on Fox News about being outraged for her spreading the liberal agenda. On the other side, “This grandma is going to start listening to Taylor because she’s so brave” because of the praise from the left-leaning media. No… no you won’t. This won’t affect her career at all. In fact, more kids may like her because some households will actually ban their kids from listening to it and if Mommy hates her then I have to do whatever it takes to listen to her. Because we’re a divided nation that can’t separate opinions and entertainment.

She never said to only vote Democrat. She never said that you had to vote the same way she did. If people bothered to read what she said, she made a clear case on a fundamental level why she was voting the way she was voting. She used facts and said “She voted against this, this, and this and doesn’t stand for the same things I do”. She then went on to say that you should vote for whoever candidate best represents your ideals. If you’re going to go political, that’s the way you do it. You encourage people to vote however they want to, but they have to vote. They have to vote for their ideals, whatever they may be. Hers in this case happened to be Democratic. I don’t see them complaining too much when Republican celebrities do the same. In fact, I remember they applauded celebrities for their “bravery” when it suited them.

Am I more inclined today to listen to Taylor Swift than I was? Nope. I wouldn’t have even known had it not been plastered all over the news or social media. A celebrity is just as entitled to have an opinion as everyone else does. Should they tell their fans that they need to listen to them or stop being a fan? Absolutely not. That crosses a line. That shows they are interested in spreading an agenda. Telling people they need to go out and vote and then mention who you are voting for? I do that all the time. I don’t care if the person that listens to me goes out to vote and votes a different way. It just matters that they vote based on facts and conscience. This election season, go out and vote. I will vote for Republicans and Democrats on my ballot, based on the job they have done in the past and if they align with my beliefs just like I’ve always done. Maybe things would be a lot better out there if people did the same.

Today’s Controversial Political Post: The Supreme Court

I’m a writer. I’m a student of literature. I’m not a Poli-Sci major from an elite school. I’m just a writer with an opinion. That’s a scary thing to be in such a divisive world today. While some pass their opinions (often ill-informed ones, at that) off as facts, I very clearly point out that I write opinions. If I had to separate myself from personal bias to write a piece, I could easily do so unless I’m told to write something that is absolutely against my beliefs. I won’t lie and I won’t lie about something I so passionately believe in. These scruples are what led my journey away from the world of journalism.

Today, I’m theorizing based on my own opinions about the recent events in the Supreme Court. I’m theorizing what I think the Supreme Court should do and be. Opinions. These are opinions that you don’t have to agree with. I’m certain that some will be angry and post about how I’m just a dumb writer, a pawn for the liberals. I’m not a pawn for the liberals. You may have a point with the “just a dumb writer” thing though. I concede that point.

I watched part of the Brett Kavanaugh testimony. I watched enough to pick up on tells, where he was obviously lying. The thing about writers is that they have a keen eye for observation, something very useful when you are delving into creating characters. Every sip of water, every bit of body language sang like a bird. I won’t argue whether or not he did it. If he did, he has no place on the Supreme Court. (If you want my opinion, my instincts tell me he definitely did it. Still opinion.) This is about whether or not he was lying, which I could say with a fair amount of certainty that he was. When asked a question he was nervous about answering, he sipped from his glass of water. In the short time I watched, he easily drank 3 bottles of water. (exaggeration, but that was a lot of water.) He resorted to yelling and evasion tactics when he was trying to avoid the lie. Then when he lied, his face contorted. He lied. I don’t think that innocent people can’t lie. But a Supreme Court nominee is held to a higher standard, as should anyone in such a powerful position including our President should be held.

If this was a temporary position of power, I probably would let the lying thing slide. It’s not. The problem with the Supreme Court is that it is a lifetime appointment. If he goes through, we will have a (again, my opinion) questionable human being who doesn’t seem to have any concern about the law on the seat of the highest court in our country. If the people of the Republican party were smart about this, they would have cut their losses as soon as they found out (potentially months ago) rather than back a sub-par choice. They would have found someone better fit for the position. I would have respected it if they did that. The Supreme Court justice is not supposed to represent a party; they are supposed to represent the constitution. More and more, the job that they are supposed to be doing is coming down to party lines much like the rest of the country. It’s not supposed to be that way. It wasn’t intended to be that way. This fact makes it even more important to consider maybe not having lifetime terms.

The end result, and I could be very wrong here, is that they push Kavanaugh through and rile up the masses. Some, not as logical as I am, would be pissed based on the fact that Occupy Democrats told them to be pissed. Me? I’m bothered because I think he is unfit because of how this whole thing happened. The masses will fight and any Republican that was teetering on the edge of losing will probably lose. In fact, that may be exactly why they are rushing this anyways because they know that things may not be looking so great for them right now and they need to get a guy in before midterms take place. Ultimately, this could be a huge downfall in a country were people are already getting bored with the current way things are getting done.

As an independent who has been very vocal about my stance on getting rid of the 2-party system in place, this does make me a little happy to watch the world burn. Maybe now people will realize that maybe this 2-party system isn’t working out, that neither party gives a crap about. them. 3rd party candidates might not either, but at least then you have more viable choices than some talking head from one of 2 parties. I hope Kavanaugh doesn’t get confirmed not because he was nominated by Trump but because I want someone that is trustworthy, someone who upholds the law of the land not a party’s agenda. I fear that Kavanaugh is a party man, not a law man.

Just a Girl’s Opinion on Question 3

I don’t like to get too political here. Why? Because I have enough stress in my life, I don’t need randos on the internet telling me what I think and why I’m wrong in an aggressive manner. If people were more polite, engaging in thought-provoking discourse rather than slinging whatever awful words first pour from their mouths, I’d consider it. Sure, I broadly discuss things without the intention of convincing people to think like me. I don’t voter-information-2018want people to think like me. I want people think. For themselves. Without caring about what other people think.

Today may be the day that I change that. Yesterday, we received our election year booklet of information: the Massachusetts Information for Voters booklet. The one that discusses what’s going to be on the ballot and the for and against arguments for each question. While I keep debating whether or not I’m going to do a series on these with my opinions (OPINIONS, not facts. These are 2 very different concepts.), I had to say something about Question 3:   A subject that I feel very passionately about and will stand up for every single time.

To brief people who may not be aware of it, Question 3 addresses Transgender Discrimination (rather, Anti-Discrimination). Unlike most questions, something that I think was made to confuse voters purposefully to deceive them, a “Yes” vote actually leaves the current law alone. The “No” vote undoes a very important piece of this law: prohibiting discrimination against Transgender individuals. In short: If you feel as though people should use the bathroom for the gender they identify as, then you want to vote “Yes”. If not, you want to vote “No”.

I know how I very clearly stand on this topic, so I could have utterly convinced someone who doesn’t agree with me to vote a certain way through misleading text. Instead, I clearly expressed that “Yes” keeps the bill as is, while “No” repeals this anti-discrimination section. See? I did it again.

If you have followed my blog, you know how I stand on the issue. (See: It’s All About the Bathrooms) I’m very much pro-itsnoneofmydamnbusiness. If no one is getting hurt and it doesn’t have any effect on me, I really don’t even think about it. Am I pro-life? Absolutely. Would I get an abortion? Not a chance because it’s not something that I could do unless there was some very extreme circumstance. Will I judge someone who does? Absolutely not. It’s not my business. I support the right to choose because I thought that being American, you had freedoms or something.

mvimg_20181002_075413I bring this up because I did the responsible thing. I read the booklet. I read the laws in great detail. I closely read the for and against arguments to help. I have never, ever had the reaction that I did when I read the “Against” argument for Question 3. Yes, I have included it here. I was incredulous. Stunned. Normally the arguments are articulate, straightforward about facts. This was hate and fear mongering. The “In Favor” argument was dripping in sarcasm, saying phrases that I would have used like “Sexual assault is already illegal”, “lets transgender people use the bathroom, which we all need to use”. I’m in complete awe over this “Against”. Complete. What does waxing have to do with using a bathroom? If a person doesn’t feel comfortable waxing a body part on another person, that’s their choice. See, freedoms. I don’t understand what that has to do with a trans woman sitting in a stall, doing their business while minding their own business.

First of all, I’m pretty sure a sex offender doesn’t care about things like “laws”. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be on a sex offender list. Unless they weren’t caught. Unfortunately, there are no “sex offender” only bathrooms. They do know that men/women can sexually assault people of the same gender, right? So this law wouldn’t affect that. In fact, had an incident happened where a trans woman assaulted another woman in the bathroom, I’m sure it would have gone national as a way to show just how dangerous transgender people who need to pee really are.

I have made this argument before. Should there be “LGBT” bathrooms, ones that are separate but equal? That is something that has worked very well in the past and I’m sure we should seriously consider this. (Total sarcasm, in case you didn’t get that.) Obviously all transgender women are into women since men can only be into women, so this is a very serious issue. Since that’s the case, maybe lesbian women shouldn’t be in the bathrooms with straight women either because who knows what’s going to happen. They may share… lipstick. The horror! Can you catch trans like you can catch gay, through touch or a fabulous shade of red lipstick?

I will fight for people to live their lives in a peaceful manner every time. I fully support the LGBT community. I fully support my friends and family within it. I’m voting “Yes” on Question 3. I don’t care how you vote; I just want you to be aware of facts not someone telling you scary (and ridiculous) stories for the intention of deceiving you based on their own personal bias.

 

Just Breathe

I say this far too often on a daily basis. Before, I would say it to myself. Now, I have to say this to myself and my youngest son. Sometimes, when I use this affirmation for both of us when I’m trying to pass it off as using it just for him. I’m okay with that if you are. When breathing doesn’t work, I shrug it off until I get my 15 minutes alone in the shower after my workout. Crying in the shower is the most effective approach. If anyone asks, I could say I just got soap or shampoo in my eye again. It happens a lot naturally, so it’s pretty perfect. I’m a clumsy person.

My son doesn’t have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. He has a “sensory integration disorder”. I’m certain that if I mentioned it to my doctor, which will probably happen at his yearly, that he would get the diagnosis. My own experiences, in addition to everything I learned in college in my child development/teaching/psych classes, make me very certain of it. He picks his eyelashes and eyebrows out and sometimes pinches himself. After suggesting that he didn’t do these things, he started to obsessively pick his nose. As disgusting as that was, it was better than the alternative. I chose to pick my battles. He freaks out over seemingly bizarre things, like when we were fixing a light in the house he suddenly thought that the house was falling and going to explode. (Anxious with an active imagination? He is my boy.) I answer “What happens if…” questions all day long. I’m not an expert, but the signs seem pretty clear to me.

In the past, he had crying fits that, no exaggeration, could last for up to 4 hours. Sometimes longer. The original thought was these were caused by his inability to communicate with us. (In my book, “A Special Place for Noah”, these parts were true.) It was stressful. If my husband and I didn’t have a strong bond before having kids, I think this would have easily broken us. He had another neuropsych eval, got a diagnosis of sensory integration disorder, and that was that. It was never mentioned again. His anxiety was just caused by being overwhelmed by his surroundings. He’d grow out of it when he was around 6 or 8 they said.

He’s 6 now. The past few days have been rough. Going to school causes tears suddenly, reverting him back to those fits from back in preschool. He won’t let go of my leg. I’m no longer allowed to walk with him behind the school due to “safety concerns for the other kids” (which is funny considering they cut back on attendants outside) so I have to leave him right before the back. Instead of leaving, I stand there while my 6 year old cries and won’t let go of me. This has caused the new part-time VP and one of the paraprofessionals to have to take him back for me. Every day he’s fine until that point. He has focusing issues in school and has had more of these moments in class.

This leaves me in a terrible position. I know this needs to be addressed. My worry is that too many doctors jump straight to drugging my child. I’d rather solve the problem as much as possible without medicine. I’m not anti-science. I’m pro-vaccination. I’m anti-potentially giving my child medicines that could actually alter his brain’s chemical makeup while it is still developing. How many studies have been done on the end result of medicating young children? I mostly manage my own anxiety issues through my work and through my hobbies, like exercising and knitting/crafting/art things. Being able to focus on those things occupies my mind so I don’t have to medicate. I don’t want a zombie for a child. I want my child to be as active as he’s supposed to be. I want to do whatever I can for him. But I’m at such a loss right now.

Now, it’s a waiting game. I have to meet with the teacher, scrounging up what I can from his old IEP in case she couldn’t find it in his records. Maybe listening to her and figuring out what his trigger is to help him cope better with it. (It’s my experience that you can’t avoid everything that makes you anxious, though I do this as often as I can get away with. I’m an emotionally unhealthy person. I’m okay with this too.) His physical is scheduled late due to a new system at the office, which caused me to be too late to schedule his appointment even though it was 6 months out like normal. Hopefully he lasts until November. I have to hope that maybe a switch will just flip again like last time, where it suddenly stopped happening. Instead, I have to sit around worrying about what I’ve done wrong. Did I not give him enough attention? Do I spoil him with too much attention? Was I too strict? Was I not strict enough? That’s what we do as parents, isn’t it? We sit there and blame ourselves when it’s really just how they are. We all have to adjust. In fact, parenting is equal parts constantly adjusting and psychological warfare (which I also say is a huge part of marriage as well).

The point is… all of our kids have their own issues. You could sit down quietly about it and pretend your kid is perfect on social media and feel alone about it. Or you could talk about it as much as possible. My kid may not have issues as serious as others, but he has them. He’s smart, sarcastic, lovable, and funny but he’s anxious and compulsive and impulsive. He may get judged for his actions. But he’s mine. And I love him.

They Tell Me It’s Voter Registration Day

I have been registered to vote since I was 18. Our civics teacher, I’m not even sure what the name of the class actually was but it was a popular one for the seniors, handed out voter registration forms to class. Prior to that, we took a quiz about our political ideals to see where we fell in the grand scheme of Republicans and Democrats. I, not surprisingly, fell someplace in the middle of the void though it seemed I leaned more left due to my stance on “social issues”. That obviously meant I had to register as a Democrat as a young almost 18 year old. He handed out the registration papers to the class to take the knowledge that we had just learned from that ideology quiz to register to vote. If you weren’t 18 yet, the registration would kick in on your birthday. It did. Maybe a week after I turned 18, I got my card in the mail to confirm that I was now a registered voter. I’m pretty sure I said “cool”, then threw it away. I didn’t vote in that first election, or the first several after that.

For a long while, I didn’t understand the need to vote. My 1 vote didn’t matter. In Massachusetts, even if I wanted to vote for a Republican candidate, my vote ultimately wouldn’t have mattered. The state 9/10 times goes Democrat anyways. My voice wasn’t there to be heard. My first election I even bothered with was when Obama was first running for president. There wasn’t anything too significant about it, but I felt pressured by everyone to go to the voting booth. It would be an experience at least, so I did it. I nervously entered into the booth and was clueless as to what was going on. I didn’t know much about Obama, but I knew that there was something about Sarah Palin that I didn’t like and that I thought McCain was up there in age, so I didn’t want her as president. But I didn’t know anything about Obama either. Biden seemed like a cool dude, and I decided to go with that. So I did.

It wasn’t until after that first election that I decided to actually care about voting. Things mattered more. I knew my ideals. I quickly learned that no one else in politics does, only voting where the money tells them too or who whatever news channel they watch tells them to vote. It was  still is pretty disgusting to me. I decided from then on that I would only  vote my conscience, because I wanted to be okay with myself and my choices. I vote across party lines, voting for the person I honestly could back. I wanted to believe my defense of voting for a politician, not stuttering over talking points someone told me to say. Soon, I realized that I didn’t want to back a political party. I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton. I thought they were both shady criminals that had no business representing our country. Turns out, I was probably right on both fronts even if no one wants to take their blinders off to see that.

I don’t want to support a party that sweeps things like violence against women under the rug. I don’t want to support any party that tells me if someone is one way, I should hate them (spoiler: I’m referring to both of them). I don’t want to support a party that believes guns have more rights than people do. I don’t want to support a party that is more concerned with celebrity star power than it is about doing the right thing. I don’t want to support A party.

I’m completely against the 2 party system, which has only caused harm to this country. Today, on National Register to Vote day, I’m changing my current affiliation to Independent. I’m not the Democratic party of today. I’m not the Republican party of today. These 2 parties just want power, not change. They want to tell us what to do with our lives, based on their own ideals not ours. They are life-long politicians who are more concerned with lining their pockets than being concerned with the people who voted for them. The only way that this will change is if WE change it. I choose to be the Independent party of tomorrow, which is exactly what this country needs. They need more people to stand up, not more to follow them blindly as they take us to a place I have no desire in going.

And She Said, “I Refuse to Change”

I typically caution anyone who interacts with me that I am who I am. If that’s an issue, it doesn’t bother me; that’s not my problem. I wish I could say that this was because I’m 34 and I’ve learned who I am. No, I’ve known who I am for a long time. My epiphany came at some point in high school when I just decided, “who really cares?” I said whatever I wanted, and if people didn’t like that they could choose not to hang out with me. I refused to change. Correction: I still refuse to change.

The belief that I have to fit into some ideal norm bothers me. This takes any autonomy away from me. Just assuming that you are one way and I have to be that way too is a terrible assumption. I’m never going to fit in at any office place. I may never fit in outside of the house, working in my own little corner of the world. I’ve always been much more successful at things when people just let me be and do things my own way. More often than not in those cases, I exceed expectations. I don’t fit into any normal box. I can’t manage a store or an office. Hell, half the time I can’t even manage my own household and I’m supposed to be a “supermom/stay-at-home goddess”. My house never looks like a museum. In fact, I can guarantee that even if I do clean it to the best of its ability, it will still just look like a house that has 2 boys and a man-child. Part of being confident is knowing these things and being okay with it. My house isn’t a museum; it’s a home where my boys and dogs run around and play, leaving a trail of Legos, candy wrappers, and chip bags. Yes, my kids eat junk food. I’m a terrible mother.

I’m okay with it. I’m okay that I just turned around to see 100s of Nerf bullets on the floor. I’m okay that my teenage son wasn’t listening to me so I shot him with a Nerf gun to get his attention. I’m okay that I’m 6-year-old spent an hour screaming about how I was the worst mother on the planet because despite my telling him not to do something, he did it 5 more times and he ended up losing his computer time. I’m okay that people lecture my parenting or decide that just because I can’t keep a house clean after the tornado and hurricane known as “my children” come home, I’m somehow less than. I’m okay that people think because I stay home that I’m not actually working. That my streaming video games is just me playing around, not as part of a way to build up my brand because it’s not easy being noticed as a writer and you need every little bit of attention that you can get.

I refuse to change my shortcomings. In most cases, there’s nothing that I can even do about them. They are part of my personality. I’m sarcastic and abrasively rude. I go crazy if I’m not using my mind to create something. These are things that make me who I am. And I’m not that bad. Maybe.