When gratitude goes bad

Among the many things that have been clawing at my brain lately, there’s this renewed passion for expressing gratitude among my friends and acquaintances on Twitter and FB.  And you’d think this would be a good thing, right?  It’s good to pause and reflect on the things we’re grateful for.  I support the idea in theory, but in practice, it’s been making me twitchy and uncomfortable.  Too often lately, I’ve been seeing people I’m connected to veering into “I’m grateful for this aspect or trapping of my privilege.”  Day after day, it’s one privileged statement after another.

It’s quite off-putting.

Continue reading “When gratitude goes bad”

A defense of internet ‘outrage culture’

I had someone in my life recently belittle some of my feminist rhetoric and turn my anger at social injustice into an attack on him as a person – he was being a defensive white male, and referred to the “echo chamber” of the internet as a bad thing repeatedly in an exhaustingly long email all about how the patriarchy actually worked just fine because women participated in it therefore it was good for them, and that he’s one of the good guys and why can’t I just not say things that hurt his feelings?  He seems to think that people participate in any sort of online discussion in which strong feelings are involved are simply reverberating anger for anger’s sake.  (Ironic, considering some of his online activities.)

And the whole time, through the verbal argument and the novella of outrage-diarrhea he sent me when I dared to display anger (oh, the irony!), I was just like…


Continue reading “A defense of internet ‘outrage culture’”

I’m okay with looking angry in photos (and in life)

Today at work, we did pictures for our team’s micro-site on the university’s larger site.  As I usually do in business related photos, I didn’t smile.  Because why should I?  And a little bit because I look like an idiot when I try to smile in photos, but mostly because why should I?

Not all of my male coworkers smiled.  I was the only one whose lack of a smile was commented on, and I was told, “You look angry.”

And I said, “That’s fine.  I’m okay with looking angry.”

Because I wasn’t, and I don’t believe that I do, but I’m okay with people interpreting a woman not smiling as she must be angry.  I mean, I’m not really okay with it, but I’m okay with making others uncomfortable by refusing to be a grinning idiot in photos, when I’m not comfortable presenting myself that way.  (And FTR not all people who grin are idiots.  That’s just how *I* come across.)

So I’m cool with you thinking I look angry.

Continue reading “I’m okay with looking angry in photos (and in life)”

Yes, fat phobia enabled Jared Fogle. For those of you who don’t get it, here’s how:

Well, the idiots came out on my last entry about how fat phobia played a role in the Jared Fogle situation.  Mostly I got a lot of “but he was thin when this happened so that makes no sense!”  *sigh*

At some point, we’re going to have to discuss people who take life very, very literally and are unable to make connections or analyze cause and effect, and whether this is willful ignorance, or just plain stupidity.  But we won’t do that today.  Today, I will gift the clueless among you with an outline of how fat phobia indirectly opened the doors of many schools to a man who shamelessly and unabashedly preyed on children.

So speaking of children, let me phrase this in a way that most of us can understand.  If fat phobia was a fairy tale, Jared Fogle would have been its hero, it’s shining white knight, the guy who beats all the odds and now wants to get out there and show all of us that we, too, can be just like him.  That we can be our own fairy tales, and have our own happy endings.

But like most fairy tales, it turned out to be total fiction.

Continue reading “Yes, fat phobia enabled Jared Fogle. For those of you who don’t get it, here’s how:”

“Did fatphobia enable Jared Fogle’s predatory behavior?”

The Frisky asks this question in a recent article, and I think they’ve spoken out about something that’s not being said, and needs to be said.  You can read it here – it’s a fairly short article, and here are four of my favorite lines:

  1. Because in our culture, the most morally pure thing a person can do is lose weight.
  2. No matter who does it, or what their methods are, weight loss is is consistently described as “inspiring” or “a triumph.
  3. This deification of those who lose weight is a natural offshoot of fatphobia.
  4. There is no link between body size and morality, full stop.

I’m glad someone said it, and I hope more people say it.  Because fat phobia did contribute to making Jared Fogle wealthy, and it allowed him to gain access to minors for the purposes of exploiting them.  Ultimately, Jared Fogle is a child predator, and predators such as him come in all different shapes and sizes – but I do think we need to take a hard look at how fat phobia contributed to the idealization of this man, who then turned that into an opportunity to exploit minors.  He would have been a predator no matter what, but the fame and autonomy he gained by simply losing weight gave him greater access to more children.

Confession: I’m one of the people whose identity was exposed in recent adult website hacks

As the Ashley Madison hacking data becomes available and people are gleefully cackling over the continued exposure of Josh Duggar’s secret activities, I feel the need to speak up.  My my data and my identity, as well as my husband’s, was recently compromised in a similar hack – the hack on Adult Friend Finder which occurred earlier this year.

Continue reading “Confession: I’m one of the people whose identity was exposed in recent adult website hacks”

Discriminatory practices in graduate school requirements

I’ve just had a very bad experience with my soon-to-be-ex graduate program – namely, that they put in place a requirement for first quarter grads that is both unnecessary and discriminatory.  While I could possibly tolerate this one requirement in this one quarter, it would be shortsighted of me to do so, because it tells me that the underlying culture is not one of inclusiveness and diversity, as the school preaches, but one that rationalizes a potentially uncomfortable experience with “we want to push you outside your comfort zone.”

The requirement in question is a 3-day, 2-night retreat to some sort of retreat center at 9,000 ft altitude where the agenda is “top secret.”  However, the packing list, a few photographs, and a review written by a past student indicate that a lot of physical activity is required.  They say they can accommodate disabilities, but remain firm that EVERYONE in this college MUST go on this retreat in order to receive a degree from said college.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I discovered the requirement by accident.  Nowhere on my program’s microsite does it mention that this is part of one of our core 1st quarter classes.  Nowhere in the description of the course is it mentioned.  I noticed a weird three day block on my schedule, and found an alternate course description on another program’s microsite that described the trip – vaguely, anyway, as apparently not knowing what’s going to happen is part of being pushed outside your comfort zone and team building plan that they have that’s supposed to make all of us bond and teach us important life lessons.

I immediately contacted the college and told them that given my medical conditions, surprises are not okay and I need to know what the activity agenda is, as well as what sort of food is available, how it’s prepared, and what accommodations can be made.  I got nothing in return except “But it’s a requirement!” and some very dismissive, “Oh don’t worry, they can accommodate anything, it’s no big deal.”

Except it is a big deal.

Continue reading “Discriminatory practices in graduate school requirements”

Let’s talk about fat women who talk about being confident

One thing I’ve been happy to see recently – and particularly over the summer months, when people tend to wear less clothing – is fat women proudly posting pictures of themselves in bikinis and shorts and crop tops, proclaiming through pictures and words their love and acceptance of their bodies.

What I have not always been so thrilled to see is the reaction.

I expect comments to range from “thank you / good for you / this is inspiring” to “ew gross fatties are just the worst.”  But there’s a certain type of comment that’s not blatantly hateful, and that’s the “if you’re so confident you wouldn’t have to tell us all how confident you are” comment.  And that’s the comment I want to address.

Continue reading “Let’s talk about fat women who talk about being confident”

Let’s talk about white men

Apparently this is a sore subject for some of the people in my life.  And since, like many women, I don’t always feel heard, and sometimes feel like all I encounter are defensive reactions, a good use of this space is to talk about how race and gender issues seem to upset some of the white men in my life.

I expressed to someone yesterday that I’m fearful of white men in particular.  The response I got back was that white men aren’t the problem, and that “gender isn’t even the problem.”

Continue reading “Let’s talk about white men”

Close encounters of the potentially dangerous kind

Or, Don’t Be Stupid While Hiking:

DSC_0274 - Copy

That, my friends, is a rattlesnake.  We came across him while hiking on Sunday; he was sunning himself on the path and was not particularly inclined to move.  When we became insistent that he let us pass, he answered us with a shake of his rattle (not shown, unfortunately).  But he did grudgingly retreat back into the tall grass on the side of the path, and we got by unbitten.

There have been stories in the news lately about people trying to take selfies with wildlife, including rattlesnakes and bison.  And as someone who lives in an area where we get outdoorsy tourists, let me just say…DON’T FUCKING DO THIS SHIT.

So many people mistakenly think that bison are slow and that rattlesnakes are easily detectable.  Fact is, bison are fast and mean, and they will gore you.  Rattlesnakes can make noise, but are often silent until you’re right on top of them.  I very nearly stepped on the one in the picture – the only reason why I didn’t was because I was keeping an eye on the path so I saw him before he decided I was a threat.

Given the state of our healthcare system, I wouldn’t risk the hospital bills for the sake of a damn photo.

Also, if you come to Colorado, don’t play with prairie dogs.  Yes, we know they’re cute.  But they also carry bubonic plague, and while the chances of getting it are low, if you do, it’s a bitch to treat.

Don’t go above treeline when there’s lightening.  The trick to not getting fried is not being the tallest thing on an open patch of ground at a high elevation.

Watch for falling rocks when driving or hiking or climbing in rocky, mountainous areas.

And stay on the damn path.

Now, let me tell you a story about the time my father-in-law and I nearly got ourselves killed…twice…by doing three of the things I just mentioned.

Continue reading “Close encounters of the potentially dangerous kind”

Close encounters of the potentially awkward kind

Holy shit, y’all – yesterday as I was innocently wandering campus, I saw someone I haven’t seen in years and had no particular desire to ever see again.

In my last post I talked a bit about Love in the Time of Cholera, and how I once had my own personal Florentino – someone who thought he was in love with me but wasn’t, only I managed to get rid of him.  And no, it wasn’t him.  It’s been 3 years since I saw him, and I have no regrets.  But it got me to thinking about people who are no longer in my life, which was a topic in the back of my head…

…and then BAM! – one such person was suddenly right in front of me.

Continue reading “Close encounters of the potentially awkward kind”

Literary cravings

A few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, I absolutely *had* to reread Love in the Time of Cholera, which I no longer had in my possession.  A quick trip to a bookstore remedied that, and it has been reread.  This week, it was Washington Square, which led to Daisy Miller.

These aren’t books I typically reread – the only one I’d read more than once was Daisy Miller, and I’m reasonable certain I haven’t read that one since college.  (Though I did once see a passable movie version.)

My relationship with   Love in the Time of Cholera has definitely changed.  The first time I read it, I loved it, except for once small piece that was really infuriating.  Now that piece infuriates me less, and other parts bother me.  But I understand it differently now, and while there are things in it that are bothersome, I see the points Marquez was making.  I won’t wax poetic or offer in-depth thoughts, but I will say that even though this story takes place in another time period and another culture, I see threads of truth in it from my own life and experiences.

Not to mention that I had my own personal Florentino for years, until I finally shook him off in 2012.  (And I don’t plan to run off with him on a steamboat when I’m in my 6os.)  So rereading it now that I’ve managed to remove that person from my life, and I’m older and a bit more cynical about love and relationships, the story began to sing to me in ways it didn’t the first time.

I see Washington Square in a more feminist way than I had before; same with Daisy Miller, which is how I read it in college, but the years have brought with them a deeper understanding.  There’s a lot more going on in Daisy Miller than I remembered.  Or perhaps I never saw it there the first time; it’s amazing what we miss when we lack life experience, and amazing how some writers are able to create such subtly that you can read the same book over and over and see something new each time.

Same with any art form, really.  Maybe a year or so back, I started listening to early 90s Tori Amos again, and what her early catalog means to me has entirely changed.  It’s interesting, because I remember listening to these songs on repeat all through the early and mid-90s, but by the time I was in college, I had stopped.  I haven’t been drawn into her work that much since Abnormally Attracted to Sin, so I turned back to Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink.  Remembering what that music meant to me as a young teenager who was struggling rather badly emotionally, and here I am now in my mid-thirties, remembering that person…it’s like crawling inside a ghost of yourself.  But I crawled back out again and listened to these albums start to finish, listened to them like it was the first time, and they’re completely different now.  And I love that.

I’m not sure why my brain is suddenly demanding that I turn back to things that, in some cases, I haven’t thought about in years, but I’m following the cravings.  I’m indulging them.  I’m curious to see where they lead.