VWW- Compliments

Part of the backlash of the Brock Turner rape case was responses from men declaring they won’t commit rape. Thanks guys, but that is about as useful as me saying I won’t levitate since I had no intentions to do so in the first place. Then there are the blogs and comments about the good men attempting to enlighten the not good men about the realities on everyday sexism. I applaud your efforts, but that is a brick wall you are talking to. Besides, you are going about it all wrong.

One of the commonly used arguments for harassing women is that the perpetrator is only trying to give a woman a compliment. I have seen many content pieces where these good men are stating that they don’t want to compliment anyone anymore because women have so many men approach them and behave rudely. That banner is being taken up by the not good men as a claim of victimization. “Oh, now we can’t even compliment a woman anymore?” Read that with the correct tone of whining, disbelief, and hyperbole. You know the one.

I would like to point out that the issue isn’t that women don’t like getting compliments, but rather how too many people have forgotten what a compliment is. So we are all on the same page, Webster’s definition of the word Compliment is as follows:

  • an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially :  an admiring remark
  • formal and respectful recognition :  honor

Looking at that we can derive that the not good men that catcall and harass women under the guise of compliment have the admiration part down. Usually for a body part that is sexualized. They have seemed to ignore the part about esteem, respect, and honor. If you wouldn’t walk into a family gathering and tell grandma she has “a nice ass, no wonder grandpa wanted to tap that shit. But bitch, you should smile more,” then you probably don’t want to say that to a stranger. Note the part of the definition that states a compliment is formal and respectful. It’s important.

Want to know how to give a good complement? Watch how women compliment each other. Example:

Hey, that is a great top. I just love the color.

Oh, thank you. It’s new.

It’s very flattering. And it looks really comfortable.

Yes, it is. The material isn’t clingy at all.

Well, it looks great!

Thank you.

Have a nice day

You do the same.

Take a moment to compare that to the following:

Hi baby, how you doing today?

I’m fine

You need to smile more honey, you look so much nicer when you smile.

Silence

Don’t you want to give me a smile?

Silence and looking away

Bitch, don’t let it go to your head. You’re not that hot. You should be grateful I gave you a compliment.

Can we see the difference here? OK, I know you are thinking that is fairly extreme. You would be incorrect, but let’s examine the two scenarios.

The first one focused on an object, the wearer’s top. There was an expression that identified an admiration for it and why, the color. It was met favorably so then the conversation continued to point out other positive attributes of the item. Notice they were still talking about the top. The top looked flattering, not that it flattered any specific part of the wearer’s anatomy. Then the compliment was stated again and they wished each other well and went about their individual business.

Notice that there was no implied quid pro quo in that dialog. It was positive comment given with the intent of making the other party feel nice. The giver got nothing in return. It was polite, respectful, and there were no strings attached.

Now the second example started off with diminutive pet names that should only be used by people who have a certain level of familiarity. Right off the bat that will put someone on the defensive. Then there was a command issues. You need to smile more. This was then met with refusal to acknowledge. The command was then changed to a pleading request and a second rejection. This was then met with hostility. The entire exchange was a type of gas lighting designed to get something for the person giving the compliment as opposed to showing respect or admiration for the person receiving the compliment.

Still confused? OK, there are many subtle clues you can look for to see if your compliment is being well received or crossing over into harassment territory. Did the person answer you with a pleasant and friendly tone? If so then you can proceed. If not, perhaps your opening should be more general and to the point. For example, I like your sunglasses. Are they not responding and/or looking away? Do they have a strange expression on their face? Are they turning their body away from you or trying to create space? Are their eyes moving quickly around the room as if they are attempting to determine the fastest exit plan? Answering No to all of these means you are doing it correctly. Answering yes means you fucked up.

And should you respond with venom when you have crossed over into the creepy guy zone? No. You should acknowledge that you have made them uncomfortable. An example “Oh, I didn’t mean to offend you, my apologies.” That’s it. That’s the end. Don’t try to justify or clarify. You’re sorry and you will now demonstrate that respect by silently moving on with your life and no longer bothering the other person.

 

 

Critical Thinking- You Are Doing it Wrong

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What we are deficient in his critical thinking skills. There’s a lot of talk on the Internet and all these blogs about privilege.  White privilege, male privilege, white male privilege, female privilege, CIS privilege, ad nauseam.  Perhaps it is a larger issue that affects our society. Maybe it’s some sort of cultural inherent behavior that were taught from birth. Personally I think it’s a failing of our schools and the curriculum

No one in this country is taught how to think critically. Logic is something they cover briefly in a math course, usually in high school. I’ve sat in boardrooms with CEOs and VP’s that are not capable of finding a root cause to an issue. Highly experienced professionals that can’t tell the difference between an opinion and a fact.

Example:  There was a minor fender bender involving two forklifts. Both drivers were following company policy, drug tested, and came up clean. So now everybody meets around the boardroom and tries to discuss what happened, what went wrong, and how do we fix it.  I was informed that the root cause was carelessness on the part of the driver. No one could illustrate how they came to that conclusion or find any supporting documentation. They thought about it and they put themselves in the drivers position and they came up with they just weren’t paying attention

No one went out to the site of the incident, no one took pictures, no one looked at the dock area. They just stated their belief firmly and emphatically. Because surely, if they stated their opinion enough times with enough emphasis it would become a fact and everybody would just accept it because of their position of authority.

Enter me: Demanding to have documentation and photographs evidence. You can all imagine how well this was received! Heaven forbid I say “perhaps there was an obstacle that prevented them from seeing the other driver, let’s go look.” I was told we couldn’t because it was a few days ago and now the dock looks different and here I go again with my logic saying let’s look at the cameras from the date of the accident. It took a good 20 minutes to convince people that we should look at the film footage and actually view the incident as it was occurring. Turns out there was a large pallet in an intersection and it was blocking the view of both employees.

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Sounds like we found the root cause. Okay, now we have to come up with some sort of corrective action. That one was easy, we will just move the pallet. Great! Now what are we going to do about a preventative action to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? Apparently, insisting that we don’t overload the dock is pure blasphemy. It seems the only acceptable solution is that everybody be more careful when the dock is overloaded and their view is of obscured. I pointed out the deviation in investigating our incident or record keeping would not be an acceptable solution to a government agency. That was met with a whole bunch of eye rolling and sighing. And remember, I’m dealing with VP’s and CEOs who are rolling their eyes and sighing at me. And let’s not even discuss the one manager who was outright hostile to my suggestion that they might need to make some changes in their operating procedures to ensure the safety of their employees.

So back to my original point. This is what’s wrong with people in our country and our culture. No critical thinking skills. We have a population of “educated adults” who can’t think logically. Grown people who cannot tell the difference between their opinion and a fact. Experienced professionals who think that just because they don’t agree with the law or regulation that’s enough to ignore it.  Some days I feel like my entire professional life has been spent trying to convince upper management that it would be much easier, faster, and efficient to just comply with the regulation then it would be to find ways to get around it. And all of this because I’m dealing with people who can’t draw a straight line from A to B to C. Large groups of people who cannot seem to make the connection between cause and effect

We can make the argument that this is a cultural phenomenon due to privilege. Of course that may be true and in some cases it probably is. The solution to this is to introduce critical thinking and logic into our school system. It’s really hard to justify putting down one group of people to raise up another when you’re using logic. Once you understand the difference between your opinion and the actual data presented to then you, you’re able to make much more concise choices. My mantra at work for the past 15 years has been this ” It is not my opinion, this is a regulation. You don’t know what my opinion is because it’s a relevant.” I just can’t understand why when something is a government regulation and I show them where it is written that they then go “Well, do we really have to do that?” Yes, yes you really have to do that and you have to do it right and you have to do it consistently and you have to train everybody to do it. Yes, you do even you even though you are a VP, even though you’re a CEO, and even though you’re a white male. Nobody cares,you still have to do the right thing. You still have to follow the law.

Not Today

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Today isn’t going well. Sure on the exterior is look s fine. I’m dressed and at least minimally presentable as a professional adult. I showed up on time, or at least close to it, I have my work, I am pretending to perform my work (I’m really writing this).

Under the surface I have a dull and muted sense of defeat. Where it came from I have no idea.  It’s one of those days were all the small and insignificant things go wrong one after the other. I forgot to make lunch, I’m out of cat food, the button on my last pair of clean pants is missing, I have no matching socks, the kitten chewed the cord on my straightening iron, I’m out of gas, I can’t find my wallet in my bag, my tires are low on air. Fuck it! I just want to drive to work.

I would really like to crawl back into bed pull the covers over my head and sleep for a few more hours. But that isn’t going to happen, so I’ll settle for driving. Just drive. But what should have been simple turned into a 40 minute delay. Damn it!

So now I’m at my desk, I’ve had my coffee, I participated in a conference call, I was pleasant but for the most part silent. My give a shit has broken down. You are out of supplies? I don’t care. You are missing paperwork? I don’t care. Do I have anything? Yes I do and I need it by next Monday. The answer? OK, I’ll get you something. I want to scream that a vague reply of “something” simply won’t suffice and I need details, but I don’t care.

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I’m hungry and have access to food. Food I usually enjoy, but I don’t want to eat. I’m just not interested. It would take too much effort. And what’s the point? In a few hours I’ll just be hungry again. Might as well wait a few hours and see if food is more appealing then. I can’t even muster the motivation to reflect upon why I don’t care. I don’t care enough to warrant the effort.  

Today I am a pile of flesh taking up space and wasting precious time. Perhaps I will look back and be angry of all the increments of time that passed, moments of limitless opportunity that I squandered. I probably will, but not today.

 

Expiration Date Approaching!

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I feel like I am approaching my expiration date as a woman. Sure, we tell each other woman are attractive at all ages, but who are we kidding? In this declining civilization with its emphasis on the perfunctory aesthetic the desire for superficial expressions of worth have gained significance in the social strata. Whether the fault of changing values, the sound bites media sensationalize, or the internet and social media removing our human interaction the result remains that there is an increasing amount of value placed upon outward appearance. This is true for both men and women. Though, as usual, women bear the heavier burden as historically they were nothing more than property and an extension of a man’s wealth and status. To have an attractive spouse and /or daughters was a symbol of prosperity. Much the way we view cars today. Think that has changed? Just look at fashion or gossip magazines. It’s still all about the outer package. We may propound ourselves to be more enlightened about such things but the truth is we still judge women more harshly than men in regards to physical attractiveness. Agree or disagree, my point is that I am approaching my expiration date. How do I know this? The amount of young men who approach me for the Cougar Experience.

Young men, vital and alive, exploding with the promise of the unknown future. These men approach me with all the bravado and pomposity that their egos and some alcohol can produce. They come up to my table, they interrupt my conversation, and they think that I will be impressed by their rudeness. They know that I am older than the girls they normally approach. I am some mythic beast, a gauntlet thrown down before them, K2 that needs to be conquered. I am an “older woman.” I’m not sure what bawdy stories get passed around among the post college young adult males about the sexual prowess of older woman but I can gather from their demeanor the tales have grown to epic proportions. This is not an attraction borne out of biochemistry and pheromones. It’s not a vestigial evolutionary instinct. No, this is an entirely socially constructed bucket list challenge and I am their target. They are going to bed this cougar and live to tell the tale complete with embellishments and photographic evidence of flesh wounds endured at her hands.

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It makes no difference to these young men that I have no interest in their quest. I just want to enjoy my meal, my show, the book, my coffee. But alas, I am confronted with a fine specimen of masculinity at the height of its potential, complete with the confidence that only comes with either youth or the privilege of white male mediocrity. I am inundated with flattery and blatant lies, they pretend to fall at my feet and adore me with false worship thinking, incorrectly, that is what I want. They know my youth is fading, to their eyes it is already gone, they believe the honeyed words with make me delusional enough to believe that they have an actual interest in me. They cannot comprehend why someone teetering on the edge of obscurity and staring into the abyss of middle age and looking down the barrel of the loaded gun that is menopause would deny myself a night of adventure with an exuberant creature such as themselves.

But they know little of women. They are cavorting with what are still girls. Young women who are still playing games, who have time on their side, who haven’t yet settled into their own skin. These girls have not blossomed into women. They have they physical presence of a woman, but not the internal fortitude. The cougar hunter hasn’t developed they skills of honesty and vulnerability, they can’t balance guarding themselves with being genuine. They can only replay the schema that has generated results for them in the past. They know not what a woman wants from a man. And not a man of media construct, but a man who can vanquish his own demons as well as the demons hiding under the toddlers bed at 3 am. A man who knows how precious time is and that to waste a moment of someone’s time is a crime too heinous to consider. A man who understands that being inebriated is not having fun, who understands that enthusiasm is the best gauge of consent, who respects the space and decisions of another person. A man who is discreet.

No, the cougar hunter will get nowhere with me. The posturing, the genuflecting, the capitulation to prescribed gender norms is usually diverting. But not enough to waste an evening. Not enough to try to get them to leave, because the youth never understand when they have overstayed their invitation. Not enough to revisit the unskilled encounter that all women remember too well from their own youth. Nor do they understand how unflattering it is to be singled out as approaching antiquity from the perspective of the youth obsessed culture. I enjoy watching them try though.

Perceptions and Patronizing Assholes

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I find myself stuck in the middle of the age divide. And believe me, it is a divide between “young” and “mature”. There seems to be no middle ground. Professionally I find that men, though occasionally a woman or two, which are older than I am are shocked to find out my age. The response is always “I thought you were much younger.” Why? Because I am immature? No, I highly doubt that with my attitude. It’s easier for them to dismiss my ideas and authority if they believe their perception of me as young. If I am young I can be inexperienced. If I am inexperienced I can be challenged, dismissed even, as not understanding the nuances and inner workings of any given topic. If I’m older and therefor wiser I have the experience, the log time if you will, to justify my position not only in the company but at the table. If my age is known and therefore my experience I can’t be written off as a “girl,” just some kid that is full of idealistic philosophies with her head in the clouds dreaming of boys and puppies and unicorns. If they see me as a peer they have to regard me as an equal with my feet grounded and heels dug in ready to work. It creates cognitive dissidence and they hate me for it. So the only thing left is to go after my appearance. That I’m not pretty.

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I’ve never been pretty. Not in the mass media, magazine photo shop, female sexuality as commerce sense that has been shoved down our throats as a minimal standard of female worth. I have zero fashion sense, I can’t and won’t wear heels, I hate make up jewelry and nail polish. My hair is brushed but rarely styled. Though I can totally rock a bun! I know the image that conjures is a frizzy haired hag in mismatch, ill-fitting stained clothes clomping through the halls but the reality is that I am presentable. Clothes are clean, pressed, and of neutral color and pattern that they all work together. Shoes are simple, comfortable, and practical. Skin is clear and clean, hair is clean and brushed. Generally this is the same criteria applied to the men. Do I look like I put effort into it? Nope. But I do look acceptable.

Back to pretty, I’ve never participated in the soul sucking, self-depreciating, time killing mania that is pretty. Not to say that the individuals that participate are in some way inferior. I mean, if you find some intrinsic joy in curling your eyelashes and waiting for paint to dry on your fingertips who the hell am I to criticize? But I’ve never been interested. I’ve got shit to do. Things to learn, books to read, fun to have. I can’t worry about my hair or if I am carrying last year’s handbag. The distance between pretty and me has always been a gaping chasm I never bothered to try to cross. As I approach my best by date it gets farther and farther away. Currently it’s just a dot on the horizon, so far away that I often look at it and wonder if it’s really there. I’m confident in who I am and what I do, the contribution I make and I shrug and move on. Pretty doesn’t concern me, pretty is irrelevant.

 

VWW-Lalochezia

Lalochezia:

the emotional relief gained from using abusive or profane language.

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Ah, profanity! What joy it does bring to my life. And release. Yes, there is something about letting out a strong of curses that is incredibly cathartic.

Stubbing your toe isn’t as bad when you can exclaim “Shit, Damn it!” As opposed to a restrained “Oww!” Though personally, I have found that the profanity doesn’t increase with the severity of the injury. At a certain point you plateau and swearing no longer provides an effective outlet. Breaking an ankle, lots of swearing. Smashing head with resulting arterial bleed, no point. I think it has to do with the adrenaline released into your bloodstream.

Now for everyday stress there is nothing like profanity to provide you with a little reprieve from the mass of humanity surrounding you. Someone cuts you off? Call them a selfish motherfucker. Bob waits until the last minute to inform you he dropped the ball on the big project? Go in your office and call him a cock juggling douche canoe. The company declares there won’t be any raises or bonuses this year? God damn mother fucking son of a disease riddled whore!

Does it fix anything? No, of course not. But it does allow you a reasonable way to release your anger. Then you can take a deep breath and get on with life. So go on everyone, let it out. Get creative. It’s gonna’ make you feel just a little bit better.

 

The Baron Sends a Minion…

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Too often is this in my head!

I recently encountered one of Baron Von Fruitroosters minions. Oh, he seemed normal enough but that was only a facade meant to draw me in.

The dialog was polite and slightly witty. He explained that he was new in the area due to business and was looking for suggestions for food, etc. That quickly devolved into him expressing his desire to attend a swinger club and demanding requests for my sexual preferences.

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Starts off well, then this happens

This loser got a strong dose of the radioactive nipples! Of course I had to monologue first.

Really asshole? You are a 55 year old man, not some college kid. Show some class! In what universe is a grown woman going to listen to your slobbering, mouth breathing demands for sex and just rip her clothes of and give it to you? Why do you think that your existence and the fact that you paid me attention should equate utter gratitude and acquiesce from me? I’m a person, not some convenient hole that exists for you to get your dick wet. Manners!!

He then became indignant. As if he was owed something for the initial two minute conversation that wasn’t offensive. Clue-by-four asshat, you are not owed pretty, or my time, or access to my body. You are owed nothing but the common courtesy you have failed to show me.

I’m busy. I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with your inability to interact properly with other adults. Hitting him with the nipple lasers was a public service, really. He has been shrunk down to binary code and captured on an app on my phone. I still haven’t figured out what to do with these bottom feeders once they are in the phone. Suggestions are welcome!

Small Talk

i-hate-small-talk-1-638You know you have gained weight when someone you haven’t seen in a while comments. It’s always the same comment casually dropped into the polite small talk.

“Lost some weight, I see.”

You know that isn’t what they mean because when you actually have lost weight its the opening statement and always exclaimed with gusto.

“You’ve lost a ton of weight! You look so good!

 
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OK, what did I look like before? And really, a ton? Sigh.

My size has been my albatross my entire life. Sisyphus had his boulder. I have my scale.

 

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The struggle is real!

 Several years ago I eliminated scales and mirrors from my house. All I have is the mirrors in the bathroom and one to see the back of my hair. They are all shoulder height and up.

 I did this so I would stop the unhealthy obsession with size and appearance. It worked. I focus more on the nutrition and source of my food than I do the fat and calories. It’s reflected in my blood work if not my BMI.

The most surprising result of not having mirrors is how much happier I have been. I worry less about what I look like and how other may perceive me. Removing that vanity focused my attentions on my character. The kind of person I am and my behavior became something I processed as opposed to who found me acceptable to look at. I gained confidence. I grew comfortable with the traits that made my who I am. My body was a conveyance that I maintained. It didn’t happen right away, but it did happen.

Not that insecurities didn’t wiggle their way back in, because of course they did. I would see my reflection in glass walking past a store, or in addressing room mirror and think, “Crap! Less fro-yo and more kale!” Or a photo of me would appear and I would wonder if I really looked like that. But those moments were fleeting.

Then someone tries to slip that backhanded compliment into the conversation and all of the B.S. comes rushing back. The insecurities, the self loathing, the feelings of not being good enough. And you spend the night balancing on the edge of the tub looking at different parts of your body. Analyzing them. Scrutinizing each part and finding it wanting. When will we stop doing this to ourselves?

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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

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My local farmers market reserves spaces for local craft vendors each week. On a recent visit I came across a booth from a local woodworkers club.  They had a large selections of pens made from bullet casings. Not only were they functional, but beautiful art work as well. Immediately, I imagined one of these pens on my desk at the office.

I have a bit of a reputation at work. It’s where Underboob shows herself the most. Left to my own devices my personality leans toward the introverted. Days, no weeks, could be spent in solitude quietly plugging away at my tasks. Unfortunately, I am often asked to collaborate with upper management. They like to discuss and brainstorm and do many other things that include lots of buzzwords and never really result in action.

Now, I am a list maker. I have lists for everything. My lists have lists. I constantly create outlines and flow charts in my head . There is nothing more satisfying than to cross off the final item on a list and dispose of it. Well, maybe chocolate but you get the point. Make the list, organize, prioritize, and plow through it. That’s how I like to work.

I’m also socially awkward and deficient in the filter between my brain and my mouth. You know those uncharitably and often inappropriate thoughts we all have? My mouth tends to blurt them out long before I have a chance to censor the thought. And I have little patience for dithering over nuances when we could just solve the problem and thus cross it off our list. I don’t like meetings and I don’t like working with a team.

As a result, it’s me that HR comes to at 9 AM on a Tuesday and asks to help them hide a body (it was hyperbole, I swear!). I’ve often reminded people (VP’s) when they are impeding any actual progress with their egos how I work with pathogens. Not that I would actually kill anyone, but my morality is flexible enough to inflict them with a nasty gastrointestinal ailment. Men just don’t watch their drinks. Really, I would love to experience the privilege for one day the confidence of a mediocre white male in a position of authority. What is that like?

Back to those really cool bullet pens. They were lovely. At first glance simply looked like any other executive pen. It would have been a welcome addition to any desk. I picked one up and it felt nice in hand, well balanced with a comfortable grip. Over time I imagine the combination of wood and metal with the oils in your skin would create an exquisite patina. Then I imagined what my coworkers would think. Those pompous, overconfident, self-assured executives trapped in a conference room for an hour watching me take notes with a 50 caliber shell casing. It’s almost as good as shrinking them down with radioactive nipple lasers. Almost.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Not only do words have more power, the written word is eternal. Just think of how much more fun it would be to create those immortal words with a universally recognized symbol of violence. I just love the concept. I regret that I didn’t buy one. I’ll have to remedy that.