“You Push Back Too Much.”

I was told that at work the other day. Have you ever noticed that men are rarely told such things? When’s the last time a man was told,

  • You’re being hysterical.

  • You’re rocking the boat.

  • You’re overreacting.

  • You have strong opinions.

  • Just shut up and take it.

  • I’ll tell you when you can speak.

  • You’re taking things too seriously.

  • You’re too emotional.

Men are allowed to defend themselves. Their anger is tolerated. They can interrupt. They can explain. Their opinions are welcomed. It is assumed that they’re intelligent, rational, and have earned their confidence.

No matter the injustice that is dumped upon the head of a woman, she is expected to be quiet. She is always getting just what she deserves. She was asking for it. She is mentally off for being angry or upset about poor treatment.

Just for having the nerve to defend myself, I’ve gotten all that push back and then some. And I’m the one who pushes? I’m so pissed off right now. But that’s probably because I’m a girl. Perhaps I should just lie back and think of England.

Anger

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A Few Thoughts on International Women’s Day

First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.

But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?

Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
  • Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
  • Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
  • Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
  • Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
  • Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
  • Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
  • Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.

The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.

I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.

Happy Women’s Day, indeed.

happy-womens-day-greeting-card_m1nzs5do_l

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Sneaky Grief

I really thought I was doing fine. I had stopped the daily crying thing. I’d go longer and longer periods without thinking about him. I’d even look heavenward and do some joking quips now and then, and smile.

The outside observer would assume I was coping well. I was doing all the things I needed to do. Nothing looked different. Move along. Nothing to see here.

I did occasionally watch my friends and family who were interacting with me as normal and think, “Wow. They can’t see it. I’m profoundly changed, will never ever be the same, and they can’t see it.” It’s as if your entire house is the same except for the basement, which has been completely and utterly gutted and is showing evidence of fissures which, granted, have been patched, but are still there. Visitors to the upper floors would never know, but the structure is not what it was.

Chuck’s death, without a doubt, is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. So it was silly of me to think that I’d gotten over the worst of it in a few months. I was just distracted by the stress of house hunting and packing and moving, so I had shoved my emotions into a little corner, and I guess the pressure had been building up.

I’d gotten past the worst of the move, and was finally transporting my dogs from the old apartment to the new when the dam broke. I suddenly realized for the first time that I was moving to a place that Chuck had never been and wouldn’t know. There’d be no memories of him there. And… I know this is silly, but it hit me like a ton of bricks: How would he be able to find me now? How could he come to me when I needed him? I was officially and completely and utterly and profoundly alone for the first time in decades. I wailed, “I can’t do this alone! I’m frightened!” I never use the word frightened. I hate the word frightened. It’s such a spineless, wimpy word.

Needless to say, I did not react well. Hysterical panic attack would be putting it mildly. I called one of my best friends, crying and probably incoherent, and bless him, he listened. Unfortunately he’s not the type to say “There, there, everything is going to be all right,” or, “I’ll be right over.” I really could have used that, but he’s not a coddler. But he listened. And that gave me just enough strength to pull my silly self together and complete the drive to my new home, where I hugged my dogs fiercely and fell into a profound and much-needed sleep.

Grief can be sneaky. You might think you have conquered it. You might believe you’ve wrestled it to the ground and you are now standing triumphantly with your foot on its chest, but when you least expect it, it can still rise up and punch you right in the gut.

So I guess the trick is to learn how to take a punch. If I do that, maybe someday grief will get bored and quietly slink away, probably without me even realizing it for a long time. Oh, I’m sure it will still make brief visits every now and then to give me a nice forceful backhanded slap, but hey, it sure beats a daily beat down.

UsAtTheBeach