What I’m reading & watching this week, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti, and Mudbound on Netflix. Fantastic, thought-provoking, and worth your consideration.

  • Before I get going, I dig this writeup on garden shoes vs. gardening shoes. Heh.
  • Quote of the week (Samantha Bee) – “If you say you’re a feminist then fuck like a feminist.” I admit, when I first heard about the story involving Aziz Ansari acting like a total prick on a date, I somewhat rolled my eyes because I had experienced this – as most women I know – many times in the past with me. I mean hell, as girls and women we have all been RAISED to be prepared to defend ourselves from men, whether it be via self-defense classes so we don’t get raped walking home from school/work/grocery store/bar/church/wherever (how many “men’s self defense classes” are being promoted out there to keep men safe from all the big scary women hiding in the bushes waiting to attack them or following them out to their cars in a dark parking lot?), and learning “tips & tricks” to providing polite and/or clever responses to men who try to push us / shame us into sexual acts on a date (or in the office, or simply walking down the street). It’s always been OUR job as women to protect ourselves from men, and in much of our culture, frankly laughed off in that same “boys will be boys” way. And so while the argument goes in relation to Aziz Ansari that “this wasn’t sexual assault, so this wasn’t relevant”, Samantha Bee and others bring up the important point that the #MeToo conversation is not just about rape or sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s about bringing attention to the CULTURE where men are encouraged to push women all the way to the ‘everything but actual rape’ moment, that if they just wine & dine and verbally and/or physically coerce her, that it is okay to pressure a woman to go down on him, to get in any way physical with him. Men are not being raised to listen and women are being give the same two options from youth through adulthood, the old “slut/prude” option. I remember when I was in middle school – and this was the mid-80s – and I heard the word “virgin” for the first time. The double-edged sword of a question that no girl could not answer correctly.
  • And, oh yeah, read this while we’re on the subject of #MeToo.
  • Something that’s always irked me is the self-righteousness I’ve seen in certain individuals who promote their “off grid”, “sustainable” lifestyle that, while they may not be on the electrical grid, still fully utilize fossil fuels for cooking. And while the term “off-grid” can (similar to the term homesteading) mean many things, encompassing quite the spectrum of lifestyles, to me it has to be aligned with all things eco-friendly, which gas/propane fuels definitely are not. When I envision off-grid living, this is the beautiful example that comes to mind.
  • Is it any wonder that women our age possess a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money?” Amen to that for me as I, now 44, cross the border from ‘early’ to ‘mid’ forties. (How the fuck did that happen btw). And with money and age, the concept of midlife crisis arises in my thoughts. Now yes I hope that my technical “midlife” is not for another 10 years but still. Most research on midlife crisis (and the accompanying cultural focus) is slathered upon men. But did you know that women’s happiness has been found to dip to its lowest around the age of 40 (men at 50)?  Did you know the divorce rate for us GenX’ers parents was actually HIGHER than it is for couples now? Check out this article on The New Midlife Crisis – or, basically, food for thought for women who are in our 40’s today. I’ve written about Bag Lady Syndrome here and here, and I honestly thought it was just something I was weird about, but it totally makes sense that it’s related to my age, as while I’ve always been scrappy enough to make things work, I’m in a place these days where if I’m without client work for one week, I start perusing the want ads to see if there’s a backup plan I should contemplate. The article talks about the cost of college and how it’s jacked up, and I get it – when I went to college it was $2500/year. Ten years later when I tried to finish that last year of schooling online it was $10,000/year. And that was not even some fancy school (I’d been forced to turn down Reed admissions because of it’s $20K annual pricepoint back in 1991…from what I’ve heard it’s now almost triple that.). And while I’m fortunate in that I always have 3-5 months’ of living expenses in my bank account now at any given time, I know that my safety net is actually my large credit card limit should I need it – not some huge retirement account. Enough to retire? Ha! I don’t even have one year’s salary saved up, because my savings I did manage to scrap together after paying off my student loans and home equity loan all went into attempting to become a parent. And then you see women’s magazines who think they are telling “stories of inspiration” by telling us how a millionaire executive left her career to follow her passion and write children’s books. So relatable (not). The article also goes on to talk about our generation going through fertility treatments right around the time we’re expected ‘to be leaning in’ in our careers. We have doctors tell us we should “ask a friend or sibling to be a surrogate” who clearly don’t realize that, at 44, our friends and siblings aren’t exactly at the prime reproductive age (case in point: my brother’s KID turns 30 in March). “When you turn and look back down the years, you glimpse the ghosts of other lives you might have led. All your houses are haunted by the person you might have been…I wake up in the middle of nearly every night. I think of all the things I really should do, or absolutely should not have done, until either I’ve cycled through my full list of regrets or it’s time to get up.”

So on that note? Props to the women in their 20’s giving some badass inspiration to all of us. And so with that, one of my favorite driving songs…turn it up…


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