VWW-Cavil

Cavil

to raise trivial or frivolous objections

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Hmm…kind of like the apoplectic rage over not specifying which particular holiday I hope you enjoy this season. As if I am supposed to just know what holidays you celebrate just by looking at you. I mean, if Trump has his way we will all be wearing identifying symbols. Hell, I wouldn’t put it past him to brand people. But I digress.

Point is, I don’t know your faith of choice or if you have chosen not to have one.  Personally, I don’t want to just assume that Christian is the default setting for humanity. And I don’t understand why wishing someone a joyful holy day of a different faith is so horrific. I mean, I don’t celebrate Kwanza. I don’t even have a firm understanding of what Kwanza is (something about a harvest, but before climate change what were they harvesting in the snow?) However, if someone wishes me a Happy Kwanza I say “Thanks, you too!” Because it will be Kwanza whether I celebrate or not and I would rather be happy than not.

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So in order to be inclusive (what would Jesus say!!!) we have Happy Holidays. It pretty much covers everything that happens from late October to early January. Sounds better than have a happy whatever… But that isn’t good enough for some special snowflakes. Nope, they want me to be able to derive from- what?- that they are a member a of a certain religion, have knowledge of that religion’s holidays, and make the appropriate statement of well wishes.  And they say the millennials are entitled!

Listen, ain’t nobody got time for your shit! Get a grip, tuck away your privilege, and accept the well wishes in the spirit they were given. And Happy Holidays!

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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.

 

Blood Flow

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It occurred to me that most miscommunication is a direct result of only seeing things from your own perspective. As such, this might contribute a great deal to the so-called battle of the sexes between men and women. So here is the thought process that set this off.

I was pondering a date I had where I had mentioned to the man how I don’t like grocery stores. I explained why; that they have too many choices, most of them are not food, I don’t like being advertised to, my dislike of branding, etc. He heard none of that. What he heard was “I have never been to a grocery store.” Not sure where he got that or if he thought I had been raised in a cave as opposed to the American Megalopolis that is the Northeast, but he was convinced I just hadn’t seen a grocery store.

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So that is where he chooses to take me. Now when we walked in and he grabbed a cart I should have bolted. There is something wrong with us women at a social level that we swallow our instincts for self-preservation in order to not offend, but that is a rant for another time. Anyway, he pushes the cart through the doors into the produce section. Here he begins his tour of the fruits and vegetable and explains organics to me. (He works in IT, I’ve spent the past 18 years working in food manufacturing specializing in regulatory. I know organics). It goes on like this through each aisle. He was explaining it to me and showing me boxes and cans like I just arrived from behind the Iron Curtain.

He was so full of himself and his ability to enlighten me to the horror that is American consumerism that he failed to notice my utter disgust, mainly at him but also at his dietary choices.  He saw no reason not to multi task and was doing his shopping on our date. Oh yeah, he is a winner. After we check out and I help him load his cleverly disguised corn-based food like products into his car he says “I’d really like to take you to dinner sometime.” Really? Then maybe you should have done that instead of ignoring my comments (truly, it’s like I wasn’t even speaking) and acting like a white knight that saved me from my ignorant peasant life of Supermarket free-living. I bolted and was grateful I didn’t mention I am not in the habit of watching television. I shudder at what that would have been like!

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The Mansplaining statue at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX (of course!)

Back to perspective. This is what I have come up with. It’s a flawed theory that assumes many erroneous, though commonly held misconceptions. However, these are integral to my theory, so go along with it.

It is widely accepted that the male of the species only have enough blood to operate either the brain or the genitals (thank you, Robin Williams). Being a marvelous feat of evolutionary hydro engineering I can kind of see how this correlation without causation myth has come to be ingrained in our culture. And since our cultural beliefs do in fact influence our behavior it’s not that much of a leap to use this as my hypothesis. So, yes, I think this is crap but that isn’t important. What matters is that a vast majority of people do think this is valid. They accept it as fact and weave it into how they perceive the world around them.

What I began to wonder is that if men believe that they only have enough blood flow to successfully operate either the brain or the penis do they then project that belief on to women? Do they think that women only have enough blood to operate either the brain or the tits? And if so, given that the tits are always demonstrating the same tensile strength, does that justify the long-held belief that females are of inferior intelligence? Is that why men are always trying to explain thing to us?

Indoctrination

I have never been a fan of romance novels. It always seemed like granny porn, something older women read to fantasize. At one time I would buy used romances based on the absurdity of the cover at a thrift store, read them with a group of my friends, and make fun of the passages. Nothing like hot, moist, loins ignited with the flames of desire to get us all into a good belly laugh. If we ventured beyond that we would poke fun at the horribly simplistic depictions of interactions between the genders. The men were always in a position of power, often some sort of misunderstood outlaw or unjustly vilified criminal and the women were always some sort of victim, either a hostage or a forced marriage or some sort of dilemma that implies subservience. At some point the female protagonist always attempts some show of defiance or independence in an attempt to remove herself from the situation at hand only to find that she is really in love with the man and thus succumbs to her fate proving that love makes everything better. Apparently, even Stockholm Syndrome.

Tell me this doesn't send a message!

Tell me this doesn’t send a message!

So why do so many women read these things? I think the bodice ripping romance has become the modern parable in that it reinforces for women the lessons we are taught as small girls about accepting rape culture. That’s a bold statement, I know, but hear me out. Remember being very young on a playground and a boy teases you, pulls your hair, pinches or hits you? Remember crying because either your feelings or actual body were hurt? Remember being told by an adult that the boy did that because he liked you? Remember thinking that made no sense at all? I’m pretty sure we all remember that.

This is probably our first indoctrination into rape culture. Being told to accept physical and emotional abuse from a peer as a sign of affection is ludicrous. If an adult woman said a man was hitting and belittling her we wouldn’t say it was because he loved her. We would tell her she deserves better and to get away from him. But little girls are taught to accept that kind of behavior and encouraged to do so with as little objection as possible. Not only does this encourage girls to internalize that boys will cause them pain if they are admired, but also that boys are not capable of processing emotions. Has anyone ever stepped back and thought about how insane this is?

This is just one big self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys will be boys is a permissive encouragement to young boys to continue to be more physical and less verbal in their expression. Not only does it give boys license to be more physical, it also discourages them from verbal expression. Additionally, it enforces a sense of male privilege in allowing boys to solve their problems by corporeal means. Girls are taught to accept this as not only a matter of course, but a compliment. They shouldn’t cry or make a fuss when they are hurt or bullied by boys. That’s just what boys do. It’s how boys express themselves. Girls need to learn how to change their instinct to protect themselves from assault, be it verbal or physical, because the nature of boys can’t be overcome. And that’s just the way it is.

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This belief is so pervasive in our culture that it is perpetuated without thought. Sure, we say things like “Use your words” and “Don’t hit girls” but we don’t really back that up. “Use your words” is for situations when being combative is frowned upon. Like the classroom or the grocery store, places even children know they have to fall in line. But once they are let loose on a playground, the natural habitat if you will, those rules no longer apply. “Don’t hit girls” is generally given to mean don’t hit them in anger. You can indeed use physical force to express your superiority, because boys will be boys after all. And children understand this, even if they can’t articulate it. They hear what we say and see what we do. They learn the lesson by witnessing who gets rewarded for what specific behavior regardless of what the rules are explained to be. They learn very early that the game is rigged.

Sooner or later people become more self-aware and gain critical thinking skills and the ability to question. Here is where the romance novel comes into play. It’s not alone and I don’t mean to get down on a single genre of writing. There are several cousins that assist romances in reinforcing the cultural code of male privilege and rape culture. Romantic comedies, fashion magazines, television, music, and on and on. There is always a subset that works towards sustaining the status quo. But the general form of the romance novel as stated earlier is simply that men are in positions of power, they take what they want, women will grow to like it, and it’s sold to us wrapped up as a love story. So how is that different from telling a five-year old he punched your arm and ripped the head off your doll because he likes you?