Monday, July 28, 2014

Picture of the Week- 10 Years!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quote of the Week- Their Eyes Were Watching God

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer"

"Mrs. Bogle who was many times a grandmother, but had a blushing air of coquetry about her that cloaked her sunken cheeks. You saw a fluttering fan before her face and magnolia blooms and sleepy lakes under the moonlight when she walked There was no obvious reason for it, it was just so."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today's Inspiration- Bjork & PJ Harvey perform 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' | BRIT Awards 1994

Ten Ways I Try to Curb my Own Girl on Girl Judging


We all know it's wrong, and I bet most of us do it everyday in some form or another. When we critique other women or compare them to ourselves, we only reinforce priorities (your beauty/ age/ whatever) that are built to hurt us. When a woman or girl insults another female, it only gives others (specifically XY-bearing others) the assumption that it is alright to say the same things about all women, and that just sucks. Because, in case you are a gentlemen reader, it doesn't. Let's all shake off some internalized misogyny together.

I accept these habits as problematic more and more each day, but it doesn't mean I am getting any better at correcting myself or my thinking. I can be doing really well one second, and then as soon as someone gets on my bad side, I will tear them to shreds (mostly in my own head) until there is just nothing left. I can see a friend's idiosyncrasies as beautiful and interesting, but if I am not a fan of you (almost always because I feel you have wronged my family member), I can criticize you with equal detail and flair. I am pretty sure that left to lash out at the world, I could spew some eviscerating nastiness. This isn't something to be proud of (and honestly, I'm not), but I want to acknowledge it because there is no easy way to reprogram myself, and I still haven't figured it out. I hate when I catch myself making those comparisons, but stopping would be a feat of incredible willpower. I need some strategies, because I genuinely believe in the power of radical acceptance and positivity.

I think there should be a new law of femalehood. Every time we encourage women to be kinder to each other or to cut the comparison, we have to give an idea of how you do that. You can't just shut up, because conflict is fine (really, it is!) and just thinking it doesn't make it any better anyway. If you still think about these things, you may not have hurt the other person, but you are still destroying yourself (because we all know, every insult we hurl reveals and feeds our own insecurities) I have found a couple strategies that work, so I am going to share them. But I want to hear your ideas, because I can still use the help!

10. Actively list the positive things about someone (including yourself)-When I feel sour toward someone, I try to make a list of things in my head that I like about them. With anyone I know, I can list off 10 things I think are really great about them. Obviously, some are more superficial than others, but you have to start somewhere. You should be able to do this about yourself too.

 9. If you can’t come up with 5 things about someone, maybe it isn’t worth your while to think about them? Or you need to go talk to them, because you will come up with something. Be welcoming- There are a few women who every time they posted something on facebook, I would roll my eyes (really, Pennsylvania is not part of the South, the rebel flag is perhaps not actually a thing you need to post daily). So I blocked them, not because I disliked them, but because I was actually encouraging my own nastiness, and I needed to just cut that cord. When it isn't digital, I try to make a point to get to know the person better, because just being welcoming can really change your perspective on someone pretty quickly.

8. Be honest with yourself about what is girl on girl nastiness, and what is just genuine personal or ideological difference- It is dumb to suggest you have to agree with someone or like someone purely because they have a vagina (almost as dumb as to suggest you don't get along with 50% of the population). I am never going to be a fan of Michelle Bachmann, just because she is a woman. At the same time, because our differences are ideological, I can make a clear delineation of what kind of criticism is appropriate (I don't need to be knocking her clothes or family life for example).

 7. Say something kind or complimentary to another woman once a day for a month- The Boy makes fun of me for complimenting a woman's nails or jewelry when we go out to eat or shopping. I also try to give a lot of positive feedback and insight when I talk to the women that I love. I try to compliment people often, not because it does me much good, but because I think it is just nice to hear someone thinks something about you or your choices is great. I mean, that's the whole point of the lady positivity blogs. It takes some guts to do and not feel like a creeper (I don't always succeed at that part), but don't you like getting little compliments? I feel like if everyone shared a little more love with each other, we might all feel happier. Plus, it just continues the efforts to think positively about people, which is a powerful and infectious outlook.


6. Stand up against slut (or prude, or dork, or whatever) shaming- Let’s all just cut some words from our vocabulary and it will be kinder to ourselves and others- “fat” “needy”"real"- I HATE the term "real" as in "real women have curves" because I think it plays into standards that we need to get rid of.  On the same end, I am guilty of making assumptions or using language that isn't helpful or kind. Body-related language isn't the only culprit here, but it might be the easiest to identify. I don't think I am one to slut shame (power to you guys), but "undisciplined" or "lazy" might be ones I could think more about. Also, we (meaning I, at least) need to be less afraid to call someone out when they are using this kind of language- it doesn't have to be aggressive, but it is worth having the confrontation.

5. Getting too attached to our own choices or trying to validate them with others' failures- Can anybody say Mommy Wars? We all have to make a ton of choices everyday about how we want to live our life and the standards we set for ourselves. What you learn as an adult is that adults never actually know for sure whether what they are doing is right, you just try what you think will work or what has worked before. Even scarier, there are so many arenas (like parenting) where you will never know for sure that you did the right thing (staying at home, breastfeeding, baby carrying, losing weight, etc), because you can't see how the other option would have played out. You will never know without a shadow of a doubt.

 That is a freaking scary thought, and I can see the temptation to use comparison with other parents/ adults to feel better about the choices you made. But here is the thing. People make their choices with different priorities, so even if someone's choices wouldn't fulfill your priorities, it doesn't mean it wasn't the perfect direction for that individual. It is false comfort, and it is destructive. Deciding that mom is lazy doesn't make you a harder worker. Deciding that mom is vain doesn't make you a better mom. The Mommy Wars brings out the absolute worst in people, and this is why- judging other people's parenting choices doesn't make your parenting any better or truly assuage any of your deepest concerns. It just kind of makes you a bully. Mommy Wars is the easiest place to see this at work, but I think even if you don't have spawn, you can recognize this behavior.

4.Surround yourself (as much as you can) with things that uphold more realistic standards of beauty. Be Creative- When we compare ourselves to those 5 perfect and symmetrical women all of whom are models and movie stars (damn you Charlize Theron and your golden J'dore gown), we all fail. Most of us aren't statuesque or we aren't symmetrical or able to spend hours with a trainer a day (in their defense, if your job is to be good looking, kudos to them for taking it seriously) This failure can be a weird comfort, because we can judge just about anyone against those standards and they will lose. But so will we. I don't think there is anyway to totally avoid these things, but we could all do a better job than we do, stop giving certain magazines our time and attention, add other things to our cultural diet to create a stronger sense of balance. Read more blogs, fewer celebrity sites.

3. Commenting is not caring. Care actively and show up- Now more than ever, it is really easy to feel like you are "being there" for someone by just commenting from a distance on how they are doing. Even worse, we love to show "concern" from a distance. If you are really worried about the person, show up and help. Our lives, more than ever, seem to become this public thing that people who know and love you and people who you've never met have equal access to, but that is a bunch of nonsense. Both connections are fake unless they are based on real presence and communication, so be the kind of person who does the work, or just shut up.

2. Whatever your own “thing” is, work on letting it go- I know that for me, I have never been a big fan of my belly and I feel very uncomfortable being the center of attention. I worry that I am a very selfish person. For these reasons, I always have thoughts on how other women handle these same issues, but I have to stay aware of the fact they are my own. The more I can be cool with them in myself, the less I need to see how everyone else is handling them. Your criticism has patterns. If you are having trouble shaking off these habits, try tracing the patterns instead. It will teach you a lot more about yourself than the trendiness of crop tops (though seriously, why are they back? Are scrunchies coming next?).


1. Don’t accept comparison compliments. From Anyone. - Comparison is the thief of joy. We all know it, but do we believe it? I can remember once while working at church camp, the male staff gave all the girls a numerical score of attractiveness, and my 16 year old self thought this was totally fine, and even felt flattered that I fared pretty well. Craziness! When someone tells us "She is less creative than you" or "You have prettier hair" it isn't a compliment. It;s insulting to everyone involved. Don't accept it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today's Inspiration- The Guerrilla Girls

 Since we are focusing on female friendship this week, I have been thinking a lot about feminist collaborators and the art they make (this feels all the more relevant with the womenagainstfeminism hashtag that is killing my soul).  You can't talk about feminist collaboration without talking about the Guerilla Girls. This group of anonymous female artists (they wore the gorilla masks to hide their identities) formed in the mid-80's to bring attention to the race and gender inequality in art institutions. A specific show at MoMA- "An International Survey of Recent Painting and Scultpure"- claimed to display the most important and comprehensive sense of where contemporary art was going, but less than 10% of the artists shown were women. The Guerrilla Girls started by producing posters like these:

 When the Guerrilla Girls began, these kinds of points weren't being made in any systematic way, and they made the treatment of women within the arts impossible to deny. You can read plenty of speculation and rumors about who the artists in this (continuing to work) collective are, but the truth is that the group has probably expanded and changed over the 3 decades it has been working. You can read about their 30 year retrospective (as well as their current projects) on their website-

This political and artistic group has changed the art world because it is a collective effort. These women can be seen as a singular complaining voice because many work together (and their anonymity maintains their symbolic status- they stand for all excluded female artists). They are credited with "sparking dialogue, but you can statistically seen that things have gotten better (if not good enough). I know they spread to various cities, as I just read about the Seattle contigent showing up for a show at CoCA in 1996, and they also seem to have grown into 3 separate groups with diverging goals. To me, their work speaks to the power of collective feminine efforts and how they avoid the tokenism and accusations of narcissism that female artists still regularly face. And their masks are awesome.

6 Things for the Last Two Days

1. Actually talking to people in antique stores- You know what people who own antique stores love doing? Discussing antiques! Also, giving a lot of advice. A LOT. Still, I was proud of the Boy for asking, because usually we would never do that kind of thing.
2. Getting More Paint Testers- Bahahaha nothing makes me happier than those little cans of possibilities. What I would really like is just a house with one square foot per color, but I think that might be a lot for the robot I am married to. Will go do the actual testing today, now that the room is partially cleared out.
3. ABBA- ABBA took over all the playlists on our XBox music, and I do not know how this happened. For the record, X Box music is never something I am all that grateful for, and about 10 times through Money Money Money, you will agree with me that Microsoft needs to step up their music game or get out forever.
4. The Nostalgia Tour- Six years ago, The Boy and I lived in an under 500 square foot apartment on the edge of Microsoft Campus for a summer. It taught us a lot. Things like living together is not like visits between college students, and you can't expect that same level of attention to be sustained. Things like you should not eat ice cream and safeway cookies every night unless you want to gain a lot of weight very quickly. Things like how to not cut the tip of your finger off with a meat slicer. Yesterday, when I visited The Boy at work, I walked around to our old haunts in that very small circle, and it was pretty fun. We genuinely have come a freaking long way since then, so it was neat to go back.
5. Fox stuff- I am currently obsessing about stuff with foxes on it, and Carters has really cute fox onesies for boys. I keep almost buying it, then not, because I don't need to be buying baby clothes yet, right? Let's not get carried away. Still, it is really cute stuff.

6.  Malala in Houston- Ack, I just love this. Rosie strikes again.At the same time, we could think a little more critically about Americaness. Is Malala a US figure or just a global one? It's a tricky question.

Picture of the Week- Bite of Seattle