Better Late Than Never

On August 15th I started the Orientation Workshop for the University of Phoenix. Here I am, an almost-twenty-five-year-old mother of two and now a freshman in college.

I haven’t done homework in almost seven years. Though, if we’re honest, it’s more like ten years. I just haven’t been assigned homework in seven years.

So far, here are some of the things I’ve learned about being a college student, or at least, participating in an online program for a higher education:

  • There are still incredibly stupid people in your classes.
  • You still have to fabricate inflated responses when you could be so succinct as to answer in 5 words or less.
  • Scheduling time for your schoolwork is a lot more difficult; not only because (I imagine) there are far more demands on your time than there were as a high school student, but because there isn’t even a set time that you’re supposed to attend class.
  • The syllabus is even more important than ever before and it’s quite handy to print it out and keep it as a reference tool.
  • The orientation/informational/instructional videos are extremely lame but also extremely useful.
  • Classroom forums don’t have even an 8th of the functionality that makes other forums or threaded discussion interfaces useful and/or easy to navigate, but somehow being able to use special colors and fonts is a function they do have. (Priorities, right?)
  • Class participation and attendance are far more work than they are in a traditional classroom setting because your responses/activities/whatever are counted and tallied each day to add up to your participation, whereas in a classroom, you could basically snooze your way through that part of your grade via osmosis.
  • Sometimes, reading your classmates responses and posts (since you have to reply to them for credit) will be beyond painful. And to wrap the list up, here’s an example:

This what i think of short texing;will be long texing words is much hard and much slower to get to the point.What you want to say and it is can used for beening code words were are parents or kids and say that we lost are phone they wouldn’t know what were saying.

There really aren’t words for that sort of abuse of the English language. Everyone makes mistakes, but dear god, that is simply atrocious.

And I’d Thought I Was Heartless

Some time ago, I wrote the following entry on another blog after seeing a friend’s entry about losing someone.

Its… odd for me. Seeing entries about people who care.

A friend recently lost someone. Not a lover or family member, or a dear friend. But someone she knew for many years, and cared for. Not a peer, either. The person was older, an authority figure of a type.

I don’t know what that’s like.

I’ve lost people that were closer to me than that. I didn’t cry. I didn’t really even mourn.

Just over a year ago (Mother’s Day weekend) my now-husband lost his grandfather. He was bereft and I had absolutely no idea how to comfort him, what to say. Mostly, I awkwardly held him and gently rubbed his back while he grieved.

I felt nothing. I never do.

I’d like to say that it is shock or numbness as a self-defense tactic, but the truth this, that there are only 5 people I would actually be hurt to lose.

My husband, my sons, and my parents.

For them, I would cry. I would grieve. I would ache.

No one else touches me.

I might cry for my best friend. I honestly don’t know. So, at most, 6 people would inspire pain. Everyone else can go to hell, I guess. >.>

No wonder I’ve been called heartless.

Regrettably, life has proven me wrong. His name was Adam Lavasseur. He was introduced to me through my friend Tanya, whom I met via an online blogging community back in late 2007/early 2008. Adam and Tanya went to college together and were absolute best friends. They spoke every single day, multiple times a day. Tanya and I used to talk and see each other that much, but I moved 3,000 miles away and since then we’d lost contact. Adam, or AP, also used to talk that much, but sadly, over the past two years our communication dwindled and eventually fizzled out to virtually non-existent. We maintained a “Facebook friendship” and occasionally commented on each other’s doings, but that was the extent of it.

On August 11th, Tanya told me what happened. I didn’t believe her for a minute and even chastised her for playing such a cruel joke. I just… I couldn’t comprehend how something so horrible could be true. Then she told me how it happened. There had been a collision with a semi. That she’d seen him only hours before it happened. And that’s when I knew. He really was dead. It was like I got hit in the stomach with a sledge hammer. I hurt. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I cried for three days. For the first day and a half it was virtually non-stop. After that, randomly throughout the day I would burst into tears or tears would just begin streaming down my face without any other indication, as if my eyes had sprung a serious leak. Even now, 3 weeks later, I’m tearing up as I write this.

Adam, you are sorely missed.

Rape Culture, “Othering” and Why “Feminists” Aren’t Helping

Warning: This will most likely offend you. Feel free to navigate away.

Today I came across an article reposted on the blog of a friend of mine, originally written by the infamous BitingBeaver, whom you may or may not be familiar with, and whose blogspot address is no longer functioning. I do not know where she “went” or why, but I do know that Archive of the Biting Beaver is “perserving the writing of BB for posterity” as “another project of the Antiporn Activist Network.”

Let me begin at the beginning; not too horribly long ago I came across another blog entry written by Shakespearessister about Rape Culture which you can read here. When I read the title, “Rape Culture 101” I thought to myself, “What the heck is that? What have these kooky anti-male raging feminists come up with now?”

I began the article with a determinedly “this is going to be a load of crap,” outlook. I no longer had one when I was done. To Shakespearssister’s credit, the article, from what I could tell was reasonably well-researched and from fairly reliable sources. I clicked on every.single.link. and read everything on every link. Until 30 seconds before clicking on her blog entry I had never even heard of Rape Culture.

She talks about we tell women not to get raped over admonishing men not to rape.

That we dilute the significance (and more importantly the atrocity) of rape by making jokes about it or using it in causal expressions such as “I got raped at the ATM.”

She goes on and on, it’s really quite a long (and impressive) entry, and I found myself agreeing with nearly every point she made. While her views seem a little extreme, as a victim of rape and sexual abuse myself, I can see how and why these behaviors and problems in society not only ignore rape but perpetuate it. I’m even guilty of some of them myself (particularly rape jokes like the ATM comment).

But the more I thought about it over the course of the days to follow the more I wondered. And the angrier I became. The final straw was when I came across the above mentioned article by the BitingBeaver, and once I had that soaking in with my marinade, I blew my top. (Enough metaphors for you?)

BitingBeaver asserts that strippers and prostitutes all hate every single one of their clients. That they resent them and being purchased. I believe that, I really do. I’d never really considered it because I’ve never been a sex worker, and I’ve had a friend or two over the years that want to be an exotic dancer. Now, I understand that a lot of the women in the employ of these professions are doing it because they can make a lot of money quickly and with no qualifications beyond having been genetically lucky enough to have a visually pleasing arrangement of chromosomes, or as BitingBeaver says it, “selling the only thing they had of value in this society.” She goes on to say how horribly they are treated, how they feel about it, and so on. She then asserts, that they don’t have any choice in the matter saying, “How much ‘free will’ does a 16 year-old have when she’s been kicked out?” Well, now. There’s a problem there. Either women are equal and therefore are choosing to apply at a strip club or work as a hooker instead of going to a shelter, getting on welfare and trying to find a waitressing job or work at McDonald’s flipping burgers, or they aren’t and are being forced into this by the big, evil, powerful man, and have no choice. You cannot be simultaneously equal and blameless. If you’re that helpless, if you couldn’t go work at McDonald’s and had to dance naked because you have nothing else “of value,” like a mind or two capable hands, then what are you complaining about? You don’t have anything of value and have less to offer to society and world than a man does.

Please understand, you’re ‘othering’ yourself.

I’ve always said that I am not a feminist, and to that I hold. I believe we are all humans, yes, and therefore we have unalienable rights as such, but I do not believe that women, in the majority, deserve equal rights. Now before you rip my head off, let me say it is because of this principle and this principle alone that I hold that belief:

With equal rights comes equal responsibility.

In order to deserve equal rights you have to be willing to make the same sacrifices and take on the same responsibilities as those that are already entitled to whatever freedom, liberty, or privilege you desire. In this case, women desire to be treated as men are; to have the same freedoms, pay, legal rights, access to the same jobs, etc. Well ladies, that also means that in order for you to deserve those things, you have to be willing to do what every man must do upon reaching the age of 18. Sign up for the selective service. The draft.

Now, I don’t want to be drafted. I don’t think any woman should get drafted. And therefore, I don’t think that we should have equal rights.

What I do believe is that this “sameness” of gender identity is confusing and honestly oppressive. Men and women are not the same unilaterally. There are differences. Differences which should be embraced and celebrated. Is a woman just as good as a man? Yes! Is a woman just strong, capable, intelligent, and responsible as a man? Definitely! But women are not men and men are not women.

My real problem with this comes from the five years I spent as a Marine Corps wife and my experiences with women in the military. See, what peeves me about it is this: women want to do the same jobs as men, but currently are not allowed access to some of those jobs. Such as being infantry, also known as 0311 or a “grunt.”

While women are allowed access to jobs that can and do put them into combat situations, they are not allowed access to jobs that are centered around combat. This is because as a general rule of thumb, women are not capable doing the things that are required of a person with that job. A woman would not be able to pull a wounded comrade out of the line of fire while burdened with a full combat load, and nevermind if he has his own gear as well.

Women have different physical fitness requirements for being the the Armed Forces. Different run times, different pull-up standards (flexed arm hang anyone?), different height and weight ratios. This is because women are physiologically different than men and cannot “fairly” be held to the same standards.

Well, ladies, you cannot have it both ways. Either you’re different than men and cannot do everything they can do, or you’re exactly the same and can do everything they can do. Men cannot bear children or nurse an infant. We can’t pull men clear of danger.

Allow me to clarify: Are there some women out there that can do every job a man does at least as good or better than the men doing it now? Of course there are! And I have absolutely no problem with allowing women that can meet the proper standards to perform those jobs. But don’t you dare put an inept and unqualified woman in that situation. I wouldn’t want a man there that couldn’t do the job either, and he wouldn’t be allowed to go. So if you don’t want a “case by case” basis for it and you want blanket access to those jobs, then you need to have the one, uniform, physical fitness standard.

The other qualm I have with feminists occurs less often than the glaring flaw in their logic above, but it still happens enough to irk me endlessly.

The feminists that come down on women who use makeup, perfume, hair dye, etc. Anything that falls under a “beauty products” label. What that comes down to is saying that in order to be a feminist we aren’t allowed to smell nice or use lipstick. Well if that’s coming from a desire to make women the “same” as men and thereby open up access to things like being a grunt in the United States Marine Corps, well, that’s great and all, and I admire your purpose, but kindly go kick rocks. I don’t want to be a Marine, I don’t want the draft, and give me back my Clinique before I cut you. I don’t want to be a man. I fail to see how you’re being a realistic feminist if your goal is to make women into men. Seems more like maybe a “male-ist”? Not everyone has the same beliefs, that’s why we have laws protecting diversity, so please don’t try to take mine away.

Here’s usually where they begin to argue that using cosmetics feeds into the misogyny created and controlled by men to make women more beautiful and appealing because their own job is to be lovely and produce heirs.

Cosmetics have been around for about 6,000 years, so to claim that all women who subject themselves to beauty treatments, makeup, hair removal, cosmetic surgeries, and similar practices have been brainwashed is not only liken to asserting that we are lesser creatures and more susceptible to such behavior programming techniques, but also to obstinately ignore the precept that it is possible for two people to perceive the exact same event and still have interpreted it differently and/or to have reached different conclusions.

At what point does being assertive of women’s rights become forcing women to avoid any practices that they themselves may enjoy? For an example, there seems to be a definite trend that men prefer women who practice some form of genital hair removal, be it a little or a lot, instead of allowing the body hair to be au naturale. To pretend that all women who remove this body hair do so entirely out of a desire to be “attractive” or to please their male mate or attract one is asinine. There are women who practice this behavior for their own preference, independent of the want or desire for male attentions.

My point is basically while the feminists have a point about the problems in our culture, their solution is to blame men and take no responsibility. Well, the simple truth is even if we assume that men are driving the crazy train, we’re letting them. So sitting around bitching about what’s wrong (although admittedly raising awareness) and pointing a finger at men isn’t helping solve anything and it certainly isn’t taking responsibility for your own hand in it. Sure, men have unrealistic expectations of beauty, but women are cooperating with it, allowing themselves to be distorted to reach those things as well as killing themselves trying instead of saying, “Hell no, we won’t go.”

To me, that means a partial blame on women as well. And you cannot convince me that the makeup fiend at the local Sephora buying all the mascara she can find is being “raped” into making that purchase. At some point, it becomes ridiculous. At some point, you’re essentially saying that because men exist, they are raping us.

Don’t mistake me and think that I’m saying rape victims are to blame, or women in abusive relationships are equally at fault. No, never. But not every woman alive has some sort of Stockholm syndrome for the beer commercial during halftime. At some point, she makes a choice. She chooses to either buy into the unrealistic beauty images or she choosesnot to. Either we, as women, have the same capacity to make independent, intelligent decisions to govern our own lives that men do, or we do not. To claim that we are helplessly caught in this tumult created and directed by men is to “Other” ourselves.

Also, I like lipstick.

I am the Change

I’ve always been political.

When I was a child I believed what my parents believe and I believed it with the fervor and dedication of any new convert. I listened to their reasoning, their evidence, and I trusted their judgement. Of course, these were the same people who taught me Bible stories as history, not even a belief structure. Faith did not exist. This was fact.

Noah made an arc, and stuffed all the animals into it, in pairs. Jesus was born on Christmas. Absolute truth. It was the same with their politics. Just fact.

There wasn’t even a hint of the possibility of the existence of other beliefs. I had absolutely not a single clue that anyone felt any differently about anything. Politics, religion, music, etc. My life was very much like The Giver in that everything was one shade.

So, everything new I’ve experienced, every differing belief, behavior, or political standing has been an utter culture shock. Sure, I saw a lot of these things on television, but I was taught that TV is fake, so I dismissed all the shocking things as make believe. Democrats and atheists were as real to me as Planet of the Apes and Star Trek. Probably less so because my parents are big fans of science fiction and fantasy, so those were regarded with pleasure, approval, and a level of respect due a favorite.

And here I am. Almost 25 years old. A mother of two sons. I’ve lived on both coasts, driven through a good slice of the southern portion of our nation, met I don’t even know how many different people, been married twice and divorced once. My world experiences are more than triple what my parents’ collective experiences are, were, or ever will be. To say I’ve seen and been through a lot is a gross understatement.

My parents are still the same. Sure, they have Blackberries now and a rather large plasma TV, but their ideology has not changed even the slightest. Mine has been completely reformed multiple times. So needless to say, my perception of them has changed quite a bit as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents very much. They’re the only blood relations I have left in this world. But they could not be more wrong about so many things. I’m sorry, but liberal, conservative, or anything else, racism is wrong. Discriminating against people based on anything besides absolute, resolute and willful stupidity is wrong. Quite frankly, stupidity is the only thing that anyone has the ability to change. I don’t mean retardation, I mean being ignorant to the point where you don’t want to be informed. You cling desperately to your out-moded and incorrect belief and refuse to even entertain the idea of something new or better.

Just as it has been with giving women the ability to vote, civil rights, and everything else, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equality is coming. LGBT people are just that. People. To tell someone that they cannot marry is to tell them that cannot love, which is to tell them that they are less than human.

Homosexuals aren’t destroying marriage, they’re saving it.

But I digress, my original point was simply this: I’ve always been political, but as I’ve gotten older my beliefs have changed. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me on everything. I don’t really expect anyone to agree with me on most things. But someone, somewhere agrees with me on a thing or two. I’m willing to be that no one is going to listen to me. I don’t care if anyone does. But I’ve gotten to the point where I cannot be silent. I must say these things. Eventually, people will join in.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

It Can’t Be Both Ways

This morning, my mother sent me this email (graphics removed because they’re annoying):

Now this is customer service!

GOOD MORNING, WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, a Christian nation, land of the free and home of the brave.
How may I help you?
Press ‘1’ for English.
Press ‘2’ to disconnect until you learn to speak English
And remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ
And the American Soldier.
One died for your soul,
The other for your freedom.
 If you agree.. Keep it going
2012 IS COMING A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves! I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!!
Let?s Take a stand!!!
Borders: Closed…
Language: English only…
Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights!!!
Drug Free: Make a drug screen mandatory for anyone on welfare and/or food stamps!
NO freebies to Non-Citizens!We the People are coming
Only 86% will send this on.
?Should be a 100%?. What will you do?

So here is what I sent her in reply:

Don’t send me this shit.
Having a religion is a lot like having a penis. It’s great to have one, it’s great to be proud. But when you whip it out and start shoving it down people’s throats, it becomes a problem.
Also, this isn’t a Christian nation. This is a nation based on religious freedom.
The top part of this email says that we’re Christian only, then the bottom says our culture should be the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? I know this is a reference to the Second Amendment, but here’s the problem: religious freedom is on there too.
As for “Drug Free”? I support the legalization of marijuana.
DO NOT SEND ME YOUR IGNORANT TEA PARTY PROPAGANDA ANYMORE.
Remember, I voted for “the nigger.”

Now furthermore,
I support a revolution. This government has outlived its usefulness and cannot be corrected from within the system. It needs to be replaced.

I support the legalization of marijuana. For more reasons than I can count, it’s the right thing to do. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain to you why. If you want to understand, I suggest researching it somewhere other than Fox News.

I support gay marriage. As someone once said “Or as I like to call it, marriage. Because I parked my car this morning, I didn’t gay park it.”

I support religious freedom. That means I can be whatever I want to be and you can too. It doens’t mean you get to scream at me about Jesus, but it does mean that if you do, I will politely tell you to go fuck yourself. And keep your shit out of our schools. If you want Christianity in schools, then go to a private school. You can’t afford private school? Then get off your ass, parent your children, and teach them yourself. All religions are mythologies not theories and therefore should be taught as such. I want my children to be taught that facts are facts and fairytales aren’t real.

I am also quite frankly terrified at the concept of “86%” of people passing this hate-spweing ignorant piece of filth on when it should not only be erradicated from the face of the earth but the people that passed it on should get a sound caning and the original writers should be shot. What? That’s inhumane? Actually, it’s better than prison. Fine. Gas. Whatever.

Also, I’ve pretty much had it with not only this nation’s governing body, but about 98% of the population, so you can all kindly go kick rocks and leave me alone until I can get out of here and move to Canada.

If I seem hateful, well, I’d apologize, but I am. As I said, I’m absolutely sick about everything this nation has become. Don’t misread me; there was always corruption and ignorance, but everything that was wrong, everything that made this nation sick or weak has been allowed to fester and now those same wounds are infected and the pus they are spewing out is filled with ignorance, stupidity, and a general disregard for anyone but themselves and their own narrow-minded, discriminatory, sin and hellfire dogma. The Jesus they cite as a reasoning to not allow the things they oppose is not the Jesus in the book they refer to. The man who preferred the company of lepers and whores? Jesus, who said you should turn the other cheek, not bomb them until they submit? These people, who tout about how we need to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights while continuously voting for people who not only initiate and continue unconstitutional wars, invasions and occupations, but who also constantly enact unconstitutional legislature here at home? They rave about freedom while refusing to vote for policies that would give us freedom and constantly vote for things that take it away so they can be “safe.”
No. No, I’m sorry. They don’t deserve anything but my resentment.

The Last One Was Bad Enough

In an article from the  Huffington Post I found the following:

Bachmann formally declared her candidacy for president of the United States in the key early primary state of Iowa last month.

“We can win in 2012 and we will,” she said in launching her campaign. “Our voice has been growing louder and stronger. And it is made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It’s the peace through strength Republicans, and I’m one of them, it’s fiscal conservatives, and I’m one of them, and it’s social conservatives, and I’m one of them. It’s the Tea Party movement and I’m one of them.”

Ms. Bachmann… I know it’s been a bit since you attended a learning institution, so maybe you’ve forgotten, but:

1+1+1+1=4

I prefer my Presidents to have the ability to count accurately. The one that couldn’t formulate a proper sentence was bad enough. Thank you.

On a further note, as stated in this article,

“She has terrible migraine headaches. And they put her out of commission for a day or more at a time. They come out of nowhere, and they’re unpredictable,” says an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign. “They level her. They put her down. It’s actually sad. It’s very painful.”

These migraines are reportedly stress induced. I’m sorry? You have a stress-induced incapacitating medical condition and you want the most stressful job in our nation?

Let’s take a look at some of our more recent Presidents. First,  Former President William Jefferson Clinton.

1993-2001

Now, let’s look at Former President George W. Bush.

2001-2009

What did that man have to be stressed about? It’s not like he wasn’t getting his way time after time and getting away with murder, but I digress. Now, let’s look at President Barrack Obama, who hasn’t even completed one term in office yet:

2009-2011

In the last election, detractors from Senator John McCain cited his age, wondering if he would just meet the end of his life expectancy, and here is a satirical article implying saying that the stress from the job (as well as a view of cleavage) could cost him his life before his term was up, raising concerns then about the competency of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin to fill his shoes.

If the effects of the stress of the job are a cause of concern for one candidate, they should be for all candidates. Especially ones with a condition that could possibly cause he or she to be unable to perform their job in a time of crisis.

Mama Has a Potty Mouth

I curse. A lot. But I’ve realized several things about this as I’ve gotten older.

  1. It really isn’t very lady like, no matter how you feel about feminism or gender roles, uncouth is uncouth.
  2. It’s an irresponsible choice to swear (especially excessively) once you have children.
  3. It’s even more irresponsible once those children learn to talk.
  4. It doesn’t help you communicate anything more clearly except that you’re crude.
  5. It is very rarely appropriate, let alone truly needed.

So lately I’ve not only been attempting to actually stem the flow of profanity as a whole, but to also substitute profanity for other exclamatory phrases that are much less offensive. For instance, I might say “You scared the ever-lovin’ muffin stuffin’ out of me!” instead of the few choice words I’m sure anyone could come up with in about a heartbeat.

Do you have any substitutions for swear words that you use?