Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Want to be a Feminist...


As a “stay-at-home mom” I know I don’t fit the mold for the modern “feminist” and to be straight, I'll never go marching around in a knitted vagina hat, mostly because I find them a little tacky. (I feel coarse for having even typed the “v” word into my blog post. Ha.)   

Since today is #nationalwomensday, though, I wanted to dust off a little something I wrote fervently last year after finishing Julia Baird’s book “Queen Victoria.” She has powerful insight into the life of a woman in the Victorian Era.  I believe it is important to remember where we came from to understand where we are going.  So, I took the liberty to bullet point a few of the examples from the Victorian era which really showcase why feminism desperately needed to happen. Read them if you will. I want us all to be reminded how far we’ve come…


ON MATERNITY LEAVE AND WORKING CONDITIONS FOR THE WORKING CLASS:
  • Women were not granted child care or maternity leave and had to return to the factories soon after birthing their babes to work their long shifts on their feet. Forget postpartum care. Babies were sent to what Charles Dickens called  “ignorant hireling nurses" who managed 8 or 9 babies at a time by keeping them drugged. Concoctions called "Soothing Syrup," "Mother's Quietness," and a laudanum-based potion meant the quiet homes of the poor reaked with narcotics. Infants were given opium to stop their crying, and many babies lost their appetite and starved as a result. Mothers were blamed for working long days in the factories and leaving their children with strangers. But what choice did they have? (p. 13). 

ON PROPERTY RIGHTS
  • Women were not given property rights when divorcing, nor any rights to their children. Prince Albert's (Queen Victoria’s husband) own father was a notorious cheater. When Prince Albert’s mother had an affair, her husband divorced her, never allowing her to see her two sons again. This was a common response in the Victorian Era. A man may cheat, but a woman? Never. Even if women inherited property, it now belonged to their husbands so if a husband chose to divorce her she was left with NOTHING. 

ON CHILD BEARING
  • Women were not to enjoy sex as it was strictly their duty to their husband.
  • Chloroform was discovered as a pain reliever for child birth but doctors hesitated to allow it in case it should make a woman have overwhelming sexual desires during labor which would be most embarrassing. They also believed childbirth was painful for a reason, so why relieve it? 
  • ”I think you cannot really wish me to be the "mamma d' une nombreuse famille" but I think you will see would be great inconvenience a large family would be to us all, & particularly to the country, independent of the hardship and inconvenience to myself; men never think, at least seldom think, what a hard task it is for us women to go through this very often. " - Queen Victoria wrote this in defense of not wanting a large family while trying to manage the crown… she went on to have nine children. Her body suffered greatly from having her children so close in age but her husband had little sympathy for her postpartum recoveries, often chiding her to keep a more level-headed approach to life when she complained of the hardships of child bearing. When she passed, a medical exam showed she had a prolapsed uterus, the result of so many births, and the reason she was unable to walk in her later years. 

ON PROSTITUTION 
  •  "Fast" Women were blamed for many things in Victorian England: loosening of moral codes, the masculinization of ladies, and an epidemic of venereal diseases that had crippled the British Defense forces in India and in England. By 1864, almost a third of all British troops were admitted to the hospital for syphilis or gonorrhea. It was not the soldiers who were blamed but the women. The army simply needed clean prostitutes. Laws could arrest any women thought to be prostituting and made to endure humiliating examinations. And so, "hunting the whore" meant that the workers not the clients were blasted from parliament and pulpits.
  • Men regarded prostitutes as essential to the social fabric of society. Tolstoy even said, "It seems that this class of women is essential to the family under the present complex forms of life."
  • "It seems hard, ma'am, that the Magistrate on the bench who gave the casting vote for my imprisonment had paid several shillings a day or two before, in the streets, to go with him” said a prostitute who was being punished for having been punished.

ON ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN IN GENERAL 
  • Hannah More wrote that boys were praised for a "bold, independent, enterprising spirit," girls were not, and and such spirit should be suppressed when discovered. Girl should be taught to give up their opinions betimes and not pertinaciously carry on a dispute, even if they should know themselves to be right... It is of the greatest importance to their future happiness, that they should acquire a submissive temper and a forebear go spirit."
  • Women were believed to be innately inferior. Charles Darwin wrote in 1871 that natural selection meant women were lesser than men. He conceded that “women were more tender, intuitive, and peregrine and less selfish’ but added, “some, at least, of these faculties are characteristic of the lower races, and therefore of a past and lower state of civilization."
  • “In intellectual labor, Man has surpassed, does now, and always will surpass women, for the obvious reason that nature does not periodically interrupt his thought and application. " The Anthropological Society of London 1869 on the subject of menstruation. 
  • Sarah Stickney Ellis wrote in 1843: it is quite possible you may have more talent, with higher attainments, and you may also have been generally more admired; but this has nothing whatever to do with your position as a woman, which is, and must be, inferior to his as a man."

WE’VE COME SO FAR BUT...

We still need justice for women in countries who are treated as property, or worthless. Justice for better paying jobs and positions in the workforce... and don't get me started on maternity leave. (Clearly I'm passionate about maternity leave seeing as I'm on year five of my own.)

Our modern working class women are often left with little choice of whether or not to return to work because the majority of maternity leaves in this country are still unpaid.  Research shows it would be better for society if women were given better maternity leave options so that they could bond with their babies, producing healthier family units. 

A CALL TO ACTION...

Let’s raise strong daughters who know their worth and capabilities. Let’s teach them to have a voice and use it with courage. Let’s remind them they have a place at the table. 

Let's instill in them that the  "flaunt-it feminism"  of the modern era isn't real feminism.  Why does a woman exposing herself in nude/semi-nude pictures with a hashtag #feminist prove anything?   Our daughters will not be a generation empowered by removing their clothing, but by demonstrating their character.  Ladies, c’mon. Let’s women up and get some class here. 

May we raise a generation of women who pursue their dreams with dignity, boldness, and self-respect, who never forget to stand up for weak and give voice to the voiceless. 

Much Love, 


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Monday, March 7, 2016

Chuck It: A New Old Way Of Living.

I washed my phone in a load of laundry one hopeless Saturday morning a few months back. I thought, "Oh, sheeeet!" (because it was a load of sheets, of course) as I pulled it out of the washer, fully emerged in non-allergenic, scent-free detergent and water.

When a bag of rice for a day, then a week, then a month, didn't make the magic apple sign flash across the screen, I gave up, and gave in to carrying my husband's flip phone around for the purpose of sending good old fashioned T9 texts and making emergency calls. (Side note: I used to think T9 was easier than touchscreen, but, take it from a chronic mistyping, auto correct queen, with fat thumbs, it's not).

While I thought I was simply giving up a phone for a week or two until a new one was emailed, uh-hem... I mean mailed to me, that simply didn't happen.

Because, I grew to find that I was responding to my "By the Seaside" sound alerts like one of Pavlov's dogs, conditioning myself to live for the sound of an electronic device, and when it was stripped from me (another sheet pun), I found life was simpler in a way I'd secretly really missed.

All of the time I'd spent mindlessly browsing social media in moments of lull to relax and check out, the constant responses to text messages and phone calls to stay connected, and the keeping up with notifications and emails to stay informed... I began to see how much time I'd been wasting living in a glass world of 3 x 5 inches.

It all had felt so normal until it was gone, that world I'd chosen time and time again over the real one I was living in.

You know where I am going with this deeply profound blog post, right? I am supposed to write something really nice about living in the moment, not comparing yourself to others on social media because it's all staged, and then you'll say, "That was a nice reminder."

But, of course, you'll go on mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed as you were doing before you browsed through this post, and move on to why Susan Q. refuses to vote for so and so in the 2016 election, or why Tom T. is so excited about his new job.

So, here's my plot twister!

I don't really want to inspire you about why social media is hurting "the moments" of our life.

I simply want to tell you that you are ruining your life.

I know, because I was ruining my own,


Something I did that was really living in the world, My phone was dead, I didn't miss it.

If you are *that person* surrounded by friends or family right now and you are choosing to sit on your phone instead of being in the moment, I want to take your phone and CHUCK it across the room. And, if you are a teenager, I want to slap your parents and tell them to wake up and put restrictions on it. I want them to make you get outdoors and explore the world around you because you are young and sprightly and full of energy and life is just waiting outside your fast texting fingertips.

Woah, it just got violent up in here, didn't it?

The truth is, I am starting a CHUCK IT initiative.

When I find I am choosing my phone over my family, I am chucking my phone (lightly, on carpet, of course) and breaking the phone trance.

When I find I am wanting to post a certain thing to look cool, I simply don't post it.


I look really cool here. I didn't post it on social media, though, but my sister did ;)

When I find I am checking out on social media before bed, I am asking myself, "What could I be doing that would be good for my mind, my soul, my relationships?"

When life is busy and noisy,  we crave an alternate world to escape to. I feel it just as you do, friends, but I simply cannot live any longer wasting long sessions of checking out in an alternate world that leaves me feeling empty or emotionless.

 I am choosing to read more. To pray. To reflect on the day. To Journal. To talk. To write. To do old-fashioned things that our ancestors did before this alternate world was always at their fingertips.

I know we argue that social media connects us to others, and I agree it does, but only just a little bit, because when people choose to only show the best glitz and glam of their life on their feeds, then they are feeding you the perception that all is well and dandy, and what good friend settles for that as truth? A good friend digs deeper than the surface, a good friend connects in more meaningful ways than pushing a button on their phone...

I like a little social media in my day. I always probably will. I check my Facebook once a day for five minutes. I scan my emails, and try my best not to be rude and actually text people back.

But, mostly, these days, I try my hardest to take part in my own initiative, and when it's putting me in that trance, I CHUCK IT.

I will not waste all of my precious brain cells, my family memories, my fleeting hours, on a 3 x 5 screen, and I hope you will not either.

Will you join me?

Chuck that thing.

Let's get back to living.

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