Category Archives: Feminism

  • Spurring Action

    Years ago, I read about some study on crying, comparing how frequently women cry compared to men. I think the number back then was six times per month for women compared to only once a month for men. I remember that at the time, immediately on hearing the stats, I scoffed. Big. time. WTF, people. There is no way I cry that much in 30 days. And in typical fashion, Bubbey stepped right in to challenge my reaction: “You definitely cry six or more times per month. You cry just watching things on tv!” Say what? That shit doesn’t count!!! Ok fine, if watching something on tv counts, then fine. Yes, sometimes I get emotional when triggered.

    Fast forward to now, and well fuck, last week was a rough one. I must have doubled the monthly average. My trigger(s)? Four days of the fricking Democratic National Convention. Admittedly, since my days at FMF (when I was just a young pup in my 20s) I’ve def stepped back A LOT from politics. When I was at FMF, I was all in: I wrote for the organization’s daily news wire; I crafted letters that constituents emailed to their elected officials; I petitioned in front of the Capitol calling for greater access to emergency contraception and broader abortion rights… I was in it hard. But those days, every time I saw my parents, we argued (mostly about how damaging Republicans were for women and minorities). I was angry every. damn. day, and I was always fighting with someone about something (Johnny was also living with John and me at the time). I even had heated email exchanges with haters who wrote into the organization, complaining about my advocacy emails and other stances to which they disagreed. Back then, I cared so much that it exhausted me. After I left FMF and we moved to China in 2003, I realized just how much I needed that break and distance. Now that I’m forty though, I’ve realized that I’ve shifted to the opposite extreme, to the point of not even wanting to debate politics with friends.

    So last week, I watched most of the big DNC speeches… So many of them moved and inspired me. I’d been comfortable in my stepping away and in NOT engaging, but as I listened to Michelle Obama and Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and so many others, a part of me couldn’t help but feel ashamed by my inaction and lack of participation. Our voices DO matter. And change happens powerfully when people who have less at stake join in supporting and advocating for people who have everything at stake. So how do I re-enter this treacherous zone without losing my shit? I honestly don’t know. But after I got over feeling disappointed in myself (yet again), I decided that I need to start volunteering again. Last time when I was unemployed for an extended period, I helped the local job center with training and computer lab support. When I lived in China, I used to volunteer with animal rescue orgs. When I lived back East, I taught English to adult immigrants. What happened to that person who cared AND acted?

    So I contacted the local day labor center to learn more about volunteer opps with teaching and tech assistance. Even though this isn’t a direct way of defeating Trump in the upcoming campaign, I’m going to view it as a beneficial first step towards reconnecting with things that matter to me.

    Meanwhile, some interesting articles I’ve read:
    Re: Hillary Clinton for President. Sexism is REAL.
    Reconciling the differing roles of spouse vs. daughter: Melania and Ivanka
    A reminder to be less judgey

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  • Mind Racing

    I’ve been thinking about so many different things lately… the most common theme being that it is fucking hard to be a woman! A few weeks ago, I watched some videos from the VMAs. There was all this hype about Britney Spears’ performance so you know I HAD to watch that. I mean, first, hats off to anyone who retains that level of longevity in show business. Pop culture is a fucking fickle beast, so staying relevant takes a huge amount of discipline and hard work. Even if I’ve only liked a few of her songs here and there (same with Madonna), I still gotta give props for her insane dance moves. I just think about how I’ve taken two low-level Groupon dance classes, and shit, I can’t even imagine the amount of dedication, coordination, and physical exhaustion her fitness requires. So yeah, obviously, she’s an amazing performer. That said, I’m still a frickin’ prude-ass and shit, her show made me uncomfortable as fuck. All the sexy outfits and gyrating movements… I mean, it should come as no surprise that shit made me cringe. And then I stumbled on some other YouTube videos containing commentary lambasting Britney for being a “whore,” for glamorizing strippers or whatever. And it got me thinking again about how you just can’t win! Honestly, who the fuck knows where that exact line is… the one that separates empowering/confident/sexy from trashy/degrading? On one hand, she’s an entertainer and people seem to clamor for her style and delivery of entertainment. She’s just “knowing her audience.” On the other hand, is she adulterating young, impressionable minds? What message, if any, is she sending? I have friends who give me crap, bc I watch the Kardashians. I don’t agree with every damn thing they do, but my friends give me shit bc they insist that no legit feminist can support Kim, esp given her penchant for naked selfies, her immodest overexposure (literally and figuratively), and most importantly, given her ascent to fame due to a sex tape. Can feminists support Britney and Beyonce? They prance around in some pretty risque outfits and are also quite active (overexposed/self indulgent) on social media. Are they acceptable bc their sex tapes were kept private and also bc they have “real” talent, whereas Kim’s media savvy and business acumen don’t count for crap? Ultimately, here’s the thing: we are all hypocrites in this life; we all do things and act in ways that are incongruous. Why? Bc we’re not fucking robots!

    For example, here’s an easy disconnect: I’m feminist, and I wear makeup. Yes, I wear makeup partly bc I don’t like my natural look, partly bc I don’t feel “beautiful” by society’s standards, but also bc I derive enjoyment from experimenting and playing with makeup. I’m feminist and instead of being completely independent and self-sufficient, I’m currently a homemaker who has dinner ready for Bubbey when he gets home. I’m a feminist, and I do nearly all of the housework, regardless of whether or not I’m working outside the house. I’m feminist, and I spend substantial hours and dollars studying images of women (er, objectifying women), most of which are heavily Photoshopped and/or where the women are made to look totally different from how they naturally appear. I invest in superficial things like makeup, hair color, self-tanner, clothing, shoes, accessories… When I watch award shows on tv, if I’m honest, I’m more interested in the fashion and the makeup than in the women’s professional craft/work. I do all these things and yet, I’m a feminist bc I support the policy/advocacy of social, economic, and political equality for women. Are we there yet? Clearly, not. And I’m sure me falling into these existing gender roles and cultural constructs (if even by choice) doesn’t exactly move the needle at exponential speed, but you know what? I’m not perfect. I do things that conflict all the time, and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. I don’t live in a utopia. I still engage in society and sometimes play by the existing rules and yield to the current pressures.

    I don’t know the exact history of the Kdash sex tape– was it leaked deliberately as some stunt masterminded by the mother, or was its reveal accidental? I don’t know, but that sex tape does NOT get to define her forever. She’s not peddling that tape around 10 years later, telling people, “Hey look at me, watch me in this video!” Yes, she takes nude selfies but that’s not ALL she does. Could she be less self-absorbed? Sure. So could all of us. For me, I watch the Kardashians, bc I am intrigued by their family dynamics. I’m impressed by how the entire family has parlayed negative publicity into so many different business ventures: makeup lines, clothing lines, shoe lines, the show, a book, product endorsements, design/artsy portfolios, etc. Yes, I absolutely think Kylie is growing up way too fast for a teen, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how she and Kendall have handled the Bruce-Caitlyn transition. Would I be so supportive if my father made those changes and choices? Hellz no! Would I be able to see the bigger picture of his happiness and place that above the public circus and humiliation? These girls are not even 20 y/o! That’s some serious shit to grapple with. If you really strip away the glitz and glam, in the end, they battle similar issues that I battle: cultivating friendships/relationships/marriages, hustling for work (let’s just admit, they understand PR and media), and making choices/decisions despite the criticism/judgement within and outside their circles. I can’t relate to Kim’s desire to have kids to the point of undergoing IVF, but that’s a very real struggle I have witnessed among my friends and colleagues. Then there’s the long-term unconventional relationship between Kourtney and Scott. Yes, both are annoying as fuck but in any relationship, esp a long one, when do you know to keep plugging and when do you throw in the towel? There’s also the topic of mother-daughter relationships. I’ve always found the “mom as your BFF” concept to be odd but it works for some people. I’m curious to know if Kris really is the mastermind behind everything, or is she just the ESTJer getting shit done? Finally, with Lamar and Rob, how do you love people who are self-destructive or addicts? Maybe that’s the thing about me and entertainment. I always see the us in them. No matter how different our lives and settings are, I see similar struggles and emotions. Humans are fucking complicated man, and you can’t just put people into neat little boxes.

    And that’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about: the whole media shaming thing. Obviously, the Cincinnati zoo incident was disturbing as fuck. And I will admit, my very first gut reaction was, “Come on, people. Keep an eye on your fucking kids!!” And that’s probably due to my own bias against people with children. But at the end of the day, no one wanted this to happen. I mean, hell, life is unexpected and unpredictable. Who would have expected that my sis-in-law and her beau would go to a wedding last summer and only she would return? In retrospect, it’s easy to say he shouldn’t have drunk so much or he shouldn’t have been a smoker or he shouldn’t have jay walked, blah, blah, blah. Well, shit happened and you have to go from there. The 4 y/o somehow made his way into the pen and rather than getting upset that it even happened, the zoo and its team had to make decisions about the immediate problem. Moving forward, yes, let’s consider how zoos and visitors can prevent this from happening again, but honestly there’s no point in shaming the parents (and of course, the mother is being shamed MORE than the father). Shit happens and life is appalling every. fucking. day.

    Finally, I want to end on a few things I’ve recently watched on tv. The OJ Simpson series and Confirmation, about the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas debacle. And now, the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp situation. It’s not easy to be a woman who steps forward. I remember that I was only a child during the Justice Thomas confirmation hearings. I didn’t follow the news closely, but somehow as a child, I had determined that she was lying. I didn’t like how she described such graphic disgusting exchanges in a formal setting and why had she come forward so late? Looking back, I clearly had a bias, one that dismissed women and supported men. Where did I pick that up? As an adult, it saddens me that I thought that way of such an accomplished and brave woman: rather than be infuriated by Mr. Thomas and his gall in talking to a colleague with such inappropriate and sexual details, I somehow blamed her for his harassing behavior. And the whole OJ thing? We see this theme over and over again where famous men get some kind of pass for criminal behavior just bc they contribute something else that we admire, enjoy, or value. Roman Polanski. Woody Allen. Ray Rice. Bill Cosby. Jerry Sandusky. Michael Jackson. Forgiveness for men is so easy. It’s like we can’t possibly fathom that men are complex and deceptive. They’re just good ‘ol boys, just bros. Johnny Depp’s daughter and ex came forward insisting he was a gentle soul. He never abused them. Well, OJ never beat the shit out of anyone other than Nicole. Whatever. Just another day where women get dismissed, discredited, and/or vilified with an incommensurate level of anger and outrage.

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  • Long Night, New Day

    I had an awful night’s rest yesterday. Marty was appearing visibly weaker (even the neighbors agreed), and his appetite was not coming back. J and I started talking about how this setback was seemingly different… In the past, it just took fluids and/or a quarter pill of mirtazipine, and his appetite would come back with a vengeance. Not. this. time. He is also starting to sleep even more soundly than before, something I remember Remy started to do towards the end. Some sign like the body is shutting down. I couldn’t sleep. I tried to distract my mind by studying my real estate book, by reading about the Bernie sham (I support Clinton), by reading about the ethics and legality of password sharing (As much as I’m into deals and saving money, I’m not comfortable with this), by thinking about all the things I need to do (should I order Marty’s fluids by the case?). Yeah, I was up late.

    Eventually, I did fall asleep, but then I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I dreamed that my grandmother had died. In my dream, the entire cascade of shit communication with my family (immediate and extended) began, rife with confusion and misunderstanding and paralysis.

    This morning, we had an appointment with a contractor to talk about the heating/cooling unit for the master bedroom. I know, that project is dragging ass– mainly bc the vendors are so vague with their estimates and also, the estimates are all over the fucking place. This was my final quote though. $5500. Comparable to another quote, but $2k more than a third one. We will likely proceed soon, bc Bubbey needs his AC this summer. 

    After the contractor left, Marty woke up and to my pleasant surprise, he ate his food. What a fucking relief. Is he coming around again? Too early to tell. Now to see if he’ll go to the bathroom. I haven’t seen solids for two days. I was relieved with this latest bit of good news though, and then I went back to bed.

    I awoke again past noon. I haven’t slept in this late in a long, long time. I still feel tired, but I gotta get moving. Gremlin juice (Diet Coke) is in order and then back to the gym. I’ve been doing the elliptical now, bc I can listen to my real estate podcasts and well, to be honest, I’m yearning for my Shanghai days of fitness when I could do cardio for 45 min easy.

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  • Chinese Parents

    I’ve watched this video three times, and every damn time, I cry tears of pain, anger, and frustration. When I first watched, the subtitles were limited to just a few scenes, and I had to watch again to better capture the full dialog. So many of the most heartbreaking moments weren’t translated… But now this version is complete.

    I cry bc this video illustrates just how integral Chinese parents link their happiness to their childrens’ life choices. It reminds me of something I once read regarding Tiger Moms: something to the effect that American parents just want their kids to be happy. Chinese parents just want their kids to be accomplished.

    For sure, Chinese culture is all about struggle and sacrifice, and yet the irony is that while the parents sacrifice to give their kids a better life, payback is a royal beotch. And ultimately, what the parents demand back is ridiculously selfish.

    It just kills me, watching the mother explain that bc her daughter is not very pretty, that’s why she’s leftover. (Insert nervous laugh… also a very Chinese thing.) And then that dad?? Jesus, basically saying her status is going to be the cause of heart problems for him… It just makes me sick. And I thought Catholics had the guilt thing down.

    Some of the women choose to be single and are fine with it, except that the peanut gallery won’t fucking stop harassing them. In the cases where the women clearly want to find love but just haven’t (and surely it already upsets them), now in addition to the existing disappointment, they’re criticized for embarrassing the family, for causing the parents shame and heartbreak, and for deliberately depriving their parents of a fulfilling life. Sound familiar? It’s goddamn exhausting. That’s the annoying thing about filial piety: singledom (and child-free living) is a form of disrespect.

    And then that scene where the daughter breaks down and apologizes to her parents… Argh, the whole thing is just so wrong! I’d like to send this video to my parents to show them how ridiculous and hurtful they and their family can be; then again, they’ll probably totally miss the point and just insist that the video reaffirms how important their stance is. I mean, the video itself is supposed to be uplifting at the end, with the parents seeing the true beauty and strength of their daughters, but I dunno: I’m skeptical. Those values are fucking deeply engrained. No quotes or profiles posted in a public park gonna trigger an epiphany. Just saying: these days, I have very little faith.

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  • Horrible Mothers

    I’ve noticed this thing lately about women and guilt. I consider most of my good gal friends feminists who are educated, accomplished, self-aware professional women. Still, something about motherhood makes them say the damnedest things. For example, four of my friends are mothers. I don’t hang out with them often anymore bc well, parents have a totally different life and all, but I have heard all of them say at various times when interacting with their kids, “I’m a horrible mother.” Sometimes I think it’s in jest or with sarcasm, like my friend had to take away the kid’s toy and he started crying, so “Yes, I know, I’m a horrible mother.” But other times, it’s said with this notion that she’s not good enough. Like, she doesn’t understand what he’s saying or she can’t correctly/accurately anticipate the kid’s needs, so she’s dumb or stupid. And I’ve never heard them talk about themselves that way before.

    I mean, as someone who is constantly self-bashing bc I perpetually feel insufficient, this isn’t a foreign concept to me, but to see it in my friends… it’s kind of disturbing. Maybe they felt guilt or inadequacy before and I just wasn’t aware of it, or perhaps motherhood is now what has brought it to the forefront? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have never EVER heard the fathers utter those words. And so it reminds me of a bunch of things I read the last time I was job hunting: Women consistently lack confidence, have self-esteem issues, and blame themselves for things not going right. From applying for jobs to negotiating terms to getting (or not) new jobs, women often don’t think they’re good enough, don’t think they deserve more, and/or they completely blame themselves for any negative outcome. On the other hand, for men, the culprit is always some external factor: the hiring manager wasn’t clear on what s/he wanted for the role or the fit was bad or whatever, the place was a bunch of yahoos…

    Anyway, it’s an interesting observation that only goes to emphasize how fucking hard it is to be a woman. We want to be so many things all at the same time.

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  • Kudos to Kdash

    Being the prude that I am, I wasn’t particularly thrilled this week when Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie (with strategic blacked out areas). In fact, when I saw it appear in my pop culture social media feeds, I kinda rolled my eyes thinking “self-absorbed” and you know, generally “overexposed as usual.” Then the Bette Midler/KK twitter storm happened, and I gotta say: Kdash has a point. Why am I being so critical/judgey about a grown woman’s choice to do what she wants? Admittedly, in my younger years, I was all about being judgmental. Judgement was practically my middle name: why is she being so trashy; why is she celebrating sex rather than intelligence? Why is she objectifying herself? As I got older though, I started to come around. Perhaps I started to get a taste of my own judgey medicine, enduring the judgement of my parents, my relatives, and even my friends, regarding anything from my choices on profession, family, politics, philanthropy, attire and/or spending habits…

    It’s one thing to be judged when you’re young and foolish (and obnoxiously self-righteous– been there, done that!), but it’s an entirely different thing to be judged as an adult. Sure, my parents didn’t hide their displeasure even as I entered my mid 30s: the child-free thing, the non-career job hopping thing, the living abroad, the casual attire (jeans!?!)… I suppose some part of me just came to expect their constant criticism, although by now after all the recent shit I’ve had to handle for them, they are finally letting up. I can’t necessarily say the same is true for my friends. Sure, I def went through a phase of you know, “hit me with the truth.” I don’t shy away from radical honesty, so at times, I ASKED for brutal honesty. I actively solicited the feedback. But issues arise when we disagree on our choices, and people start telling me what I ought to be doing or how I should be behaving AFTER I’ve already expressed that I’ve decided for myself. That’s when shit starts to get messy and irritating. And so for Kdash, I see her point. What she posts to her feed is her choice. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to follow it. On a related note: if Bette Midler were indeed friends with Kdash, does that mean Bette has to agree with Kdash on everything? I don’t think so, but apparently, Kdash expects complete agreement (maybe she interprets that as loyalty) from her friends. I think that part is kinda immature.

    But let’s take a real example: politics and/or philanthropy. My top causes are the environment, women’s health, and medical/humanitarian services. Those are my core issues. I know the Bay Area is in the middle of a housing crisis. I know there is low supply, high demand, and sky high rent/purchase prices. Cost of living is through the roof. Clearly, this area is NOT affordable. But when I’m asked why I’m not attending town hall meetings or supporting rent control policy and legislation or whatever, it should be enough when I say that it’s not an issue that I want to spend my time/energy/resources on. My choice on what I prioritize shouldn’t be questioned, and I shouldn’t be harassed.

    The bottom line is this: my parents are immigrants, so there’s no notion that you HAVE to live in any given place. I have lived in five different states and in two different countries. I know there is abject poverty in the US, but shit, there is a very different prevalence and intensity of poverty that I have seen in other parts of the world. I have never felt that any given city/place is my “rightful” home. In other words, I’m not entitled to live anywhere just because I grew up there or bc my family lives there or whatever. In Shanghai, people go where the jobs are. Housing is also crazy expensive, so people live in zero space with multiple roommates, or they live far away in the suburbs or somewhere else entirely. Sure, the Bay Area is well beyond affordable even for educated, yuppie professionals. If yups get priced out of the area, they should move. Isn’t this a natural progression for cities? They get expensive and people move away (but there are always people who can still afford to live there). I have seen this play out over and over again: Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo. Life doesn’t guarantee anyone a home anywhere. And then with all the recent news attacking tech workers bc they are earning higher income. Why are tech workers obligated to support any given cause? I mean, sure, in general, civic participation is a good thing, but should it be mandatory? Should it be an expectation? And if tech workers, as high wage earners, have a responsibility to the community, what of the average American who is living in ridiculous extravagance compared to people in developing countries. And what about parents? Do they have an even greater responsibility or obligation to be involved in the process? After all, they have kids who are the future. Why aren’t they at all these meetings? Most parents I know don’t even keep up with the news, and shouldn’t they bc they actually are invested in the future? Who is to say?

    You see, I’ve been on both sides of the judgement spectrum. How many times do people consider me selfish or insular for not having kids. It’s as if, I just want to live my own life and not care about other people or the community or the future. Partly true, but when Jennifer Aniston was harassed in yet another interview about being child-free, she countered, “just bc I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I don’t care/nurture people or friends or animals. There are many ways to demonstrate care…” Yeah people. Back the fuck up. Don’t act like you’re God’s greatest gift just bc you are raising a kid. I’ve always argued to my parents that kids aren’t a purely selfless act: at least for the Chinese people I know, kids are an investment in the parents’ own future– it’s their way of ensuring someone is around to take care of them when they’re old. Anyway, long story short, Kdash just really got me thinking about choices and judgement. I guess I’m saying it’s hard to have an opinion and yet refrain from being judgey. Still, I try my best to catch myself and to stay vigilant.

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  • Raunch Overload

    So there’s been a common theme with me lately… everywhere I turn, I’m faced with major raunch. Is this how the world has always worked and I’m only seeing it now, or maybe it really is just me? First, dance class continues to be ridiculous. Tonight was my very last class, and I’m kind of relieved to be honest. Surprisingly, I kept up with the routine today, but man, teach is just too much for me. For reals. The final step was basically this move where my weight is on the right foot and the left knee is bent with the left foot pointed on the ground and then there are five hip thrusts with the feet staying in place. I had some trouble getting this movement down (I basically just kept bending my right knee), so I asked him to go over it again. Big. mistake. Holy fuck. He lifts that left leg up as if it’s on an imaginary chair and then again, he says, “You know, imagine you and hubby are going at it and uh, uh, uh, yeah, get in there deep!” WHAAAATTTT??? OMG. I was so embarrassed. I don’t even know how to respond other than to make a nervous laugh, shake my head, and cover my eyes. Holy crap. Are gay dudes really this sex obsessed???

    Then yesterday, K and I went to a relationship play. It’s been forever since I got my theater on, so I was really stoked about catching this production at a small black box theater in San Jose. The play was Closer, based on that movie from a few years back starring Jude Law, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, and Julia Roberts. In retrospect, it was a fucked up movie with a lot of mind games and dysfunction. Somehow I just got caught up with all the good reviews and I dunno, I also forgot that the Clive Owen character was a sex/porn addict. Needless to say, we’re in this small theater with like 20 other people (mostly bluehairs– typical), and suddenly a scene begins showing an online chat dialog on the projection screen. It’s a chat convo for a sex forum. OMFG. The language. The raunch!! The c word, the p word, everything crass and more! And then there’s this old couple in the row in front of ours where the woman can’t read the text on the screen, so her hubby starts reading her the lines. Holy. shit. I about died. The thing is, I’ve found so many damn winners through Goldstar, but every single time K and I do a Goldstar activity, it’s a fucking dud. Argh, what a fail!

    Meanwhile on the homefront, Bubs is in NYC this week for work, which means I have full control of the tv. Holy crap, there is a ton of shit on the airwaves. Of course, I enjoyed KUWTK. I don’t watch the Kardashians consistently, but when I do, I enjoy it. I know they have a lot of haters, but I dunno: there’s something curious/intriguing about their tight family and about all their moguling. I mean, they have their brand EVERYWHERE. They can’t be total bimbos to amplify that shit all over the damn place. Plus, it’s one show that doesn’t get me all stressed out. 

    In addition to the Kdashes, I recently discovered there is a Real Housewives of Potomac. I only watched the Atlanta one ocassionally a few years back ,but I was curious about this one since well, I’m from Maryland. Oddly enough, I learned yesterday that the cast is predominantly black, which is def not how I picture the demographic of Potomac, where Bub’s oldest sister lives…

    Tonight, I came home and the tv was already tuned to the Bachelor. I have to say, I have not watched a single episode of this show, bc the premise just makes me so fucking angry. Apparently, in tonight’s episode, he’s like meeting the families of the four remaining women. Are these women for real? I mean, how can you keep insisting that your connection with the dude is so authentic and that it’s “real love” when you KNOW he is multi-timing you!! I mean, it’s so standard that the guy hooks up with like every single chick on the show from the beginning!!! Ugh. This show disgusts me. And then when the parents are like talking to him and asking him questions, he never even gives specific, genuine answers. Like “Why are you interested in my daughter? How is she different from the other ladies?” And he just gives generic answers, like “From the moment I met her, I just felt a connection.” Puhlease. 

    Wow, holy crap. With the last family, the two brothers just grilled him hard!! But then the parents were all empathetic, saying the bachelor is in a tough spot. Really? You’re going to feel bad for a dude who plays 20 women at the same time??? OMG. Why do people do this show? WTF??? Of course, I will watch this episode to the end bc I have to give it a full review. Haha. Btw, how can these women say that he has all the qualities that they want? Is one of those qualities being a player?? Every single one of the four women says she’s in love with him… after TWO single dates and a few group dates. Fucking tards. Married at First Sight is so much better than this crap. Off to bed early to clear my mind of all this raunch. Tomorrow’s a new fresh day, I hope. Clean slate.

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  • Let’s Do This!

    So on Tuesday, I was back on campus for another interview– this time with the VP of University Relations. Yup, uber big dog. I had prepped all this shit beforehand: reviewed the strategic plan, got the 411 on his career, reviewed the uni’s budget, values, mission, fundraising breakdown, etc. We met for ten minutes. He just had me tell him about myself and answer a few other questions. Done. Afterwards, I felt good but you just never know. Sigh. Come what may.

    When I got home, I resumed reading up on all the news stories surrounding the controversy. Late Tuesday night, I found a new article dated that day that said the state of California was requiring coverage. Whew! California saves the day!! It’s kinda funny, because the whole practice of getting up to speed on the issue really took me back to my Feminist Majority Foundation days when I was writing their news stories and action alerts. You gotta do your research. I was in the zone, man. It was an intense several hours.

    Then, this morning, I got the call. Yippee, I scored a verbal offer. But I had also prepared an outline to broach the issue. Yeah, I know all the experts say job search is like dating: leave out all controversial issues and topics. Well, in typical VGo style, I was compelled to bring it up. It was stressful, hard, and risky. But I put my shit on the table, man. That’s how I am. She was pretty taken aback, and the tone definitely changed. But she shared her perspective and practice as a communications professional. In the end, she said it was my call. Given that the law currently holds strong, the uni population is super diverse and progressive, people generally love working there, and none of these topics will be on social media, I’m good moving forward. What?? Yeah, did you hear that right? I freaking got a job offer. And I accepted it. All verbal, of course. That said, at the end of the talk, she didn’t sound entirely convinced. I mean yeah, social media stuff is all fun and fluffy. Here, I just dampened the mood talking about politics. I went over a few of the other benefits. No wiggle room at all regarding negotiations. Then, I reiterated that I wanted to proceed. She agreed to contact HR for the next steps.

    The rest of the morning, I felt a little uneasy. I think mostly I was coming down from all the stress of preparing and leading a risky conversation. Plus, even beyond the job hunt, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately (Martin is still not eating enough…). In the end, I talked out the job offer with some friends, a career adviser or two, another random person, and I started to settle down. I reached out to the director again in the afternoon, reaffirming my interest and also thanking her for giving me the space to speak my mind. After all, this is what communications is about, right? I gotta exercise my judgement and handle it.

    John worked really late and came home around 9p. I was just getting off a conference call for my mastermind class about Leadership and Influence (John Maxwell book). I was just so exhausted from everything. But John said the sweetest thing to me. He said he was really proud of me and of all that I had done. He said earlier in the day while he was at work, he thought about all the people we know: who among them would have done all the things I did to get here? Who would have gotten up after facing disappointment so many damn times to step outside the comfort zone again and again? Honestly, I think my friends COULD do this: people never know their full capacity. But I was really touched by his acknowledgement. I think back to those days not so long ago, when J and I almost called it quits. We had fallen out of sync and stopped understanding each other. And now, through a little bit of good fortune and a lot of perseverance, there truly is NO ONE who knows me better. He really grasped the severity of this dilemma for me. Some people reacted with some exasperation, suggesting I was being too picky or too perfectionist with my conditions. Others thought maybe it was just a simple “no” and move on kind of decision. John never questioned why it troubled me or why this was important to me. His acceptance helped me to accept myself.

    And in the end, as I worked through the conundrum, I ultimately arrived at an answer that aligns with me and my values. I feel good. Bubbey tells me now to embrace the choice and move forward with happiness and joy, in celebration of this major victory. My Bubbey. I am so very lucky to have found him– in a world of 7 billion people.

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  • It’s Complicated

    Oh, the irony! Of course, the day before I received this latest notice that I had advanced in the recruitment, I was on campus having an info interview with someone who works in one of the graduate schools. I was getting a better sense for the environment, the resources, the vibe, etc. Then, I asked this final question: “I see that that a new president and administration came in a few years ago. Have you noticed any big shifts in leadership and priorities?” Apparently, there was a HUGE controversy on campus a year or two back where the president directed that a change in the uni’s health care coverage: elective abortion would no longer be covered, because it is “incompatible with the Catholic identity.” OMFG. Internally, I was fur-reaking out.

    I knew the Catholic history, and before I applied, I had read their mission statement. My values align with the principles of a holistic education, compassion, community, integrity, academic excellence, etc. And despite the Catholic framework, I had read very specific statements claiming that all religions and denominations were accepted: they embrace diversity, inclusion, all faiths, blah, blah, blah. I asked the lady a few more questions, because as part of my own due diligence, nothing had come up on my radar, and I had scrolled back in the uni’s press releases with recent news and social media postings. Turns out, the issue first arose in October 2013, and on their website, coverage was minimal.

    I could NOT believe this. WTF. I tried to remain calm: I thanked the lady and then hurried home to research this further. Holy shit. There was huge campus backlash and protests when this decision came out. One professor even resigned over the issue, saying there was no dialog about the policy change, and it doesn’t align with the uni’s pluralist values. The changes were originally scheduled to take effect January 2014, then they got pushed back to January 2015 to take into account changes from Obamacare, regs, and the like.

    So fine, many could argue: Duh, the uni is Catholic. Catholicism is anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-gay, etc. It’s not that surprising. On the other hand, this is California. Abortion is classified under basic health care. And interestingly, there are a host of other Catholic universities in California who do NOT have this exclusion in their health care coverage. In fact, right now there are ONLY TWO higher ed places that have moved in this direction. Plus, if the administration is going to pull the “align with the Catholic identity” line, then why will the plans continue to offer birth control and sterilization? And will gays be banned from campus? Aren’t they committing “moral sins”? Will the institution only hire and admit staff and students who are Catholic? And who’s definition of Catholic? I have met so many Catholics who are pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-contraception, pro-divorce (well, you know what I mean…). Society is changing, folks. The rules need to evolve to accommodate what we learn.

    Anyway, the good news is that the policy has not yet gone into effect. Also, due to the controversy, Jerry Brown’s office is going back and reviewing whether insurance companies in the state can even offer plans with this exclusion, so it’s possible the change will be legally blocked. I’m also comforted by the fact that the general sentiment on campus is opposed to this.

    Abortion rights is a huge deal. I feel so strongly that women must have ultimate say over their bodies. The ability (and right) to control this equates to the ability to shape their lives and select their opportunities. And access to birth control is just as critical as access to abortions. Women need to have know about family planning: it’s all tied together, because better health education and access to birth control reduce the number of abortions. Women who can control the size of their families can better manage and support the brood.

    If the university accepts all faiths, then it shouldn’t impose its ideals on people who have never claimed to share their belief in this area. Needless to say, I have been reminded again about this ongoing war against women. More than a decade after I worked for the Feminist Majority Foundation, we are still fighting for the same rights. Argh!

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  • Long Road Ahead

    A few years ago, I remember it was early March– March 8 to be exact– and I had wanted to go out to lunch with some of my female coworkers to celebrate International Women’s Day. Most of my closest friends know that I self-identify as a feminist, as I believe in social, political, and economic equality for all, but I remember that one of my colleagues replied to my invite with, “I don’t get feminism. I mean, I don’t really see that it’s relevant at all in this day and age.” I tried to remain calm, but man, that comment just irked the shit out of me. Really? You really think women have the same access, opportunity, and respect as men? Puhlease. Wake the hell up. Women still have a super long way to go: unequal pay for the same work. Little/no female (not to mention minority) representation in the higher echelons of corporate America. Women politicians like Hillary Clinton are still repeatedly having to field questions about what they are wearing (whereas male politicians can stick straight to business). Women continue to be bullied/harassed in the tech “brogrammer” culture. Viagra has always been covered by insurance but birth control? Super controversial and only recently recognized as basic, preventative healthcare thanks to Obamacare. Uh, lame, insulting, inadequate punishment for rape. Persistent “rape culture” and sexual violence epidemic on college campuses. The list goes on…

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this unrelenting and pervasive violence against women. And I’m not just talking about the egregious, nearly incredulous brutalities in far away places like war-torn areas of Africa where rape is systematically used as a tactic in war, or in India where women are raped/killed on public buses or raped/hung going to the bathroom in the middle of the night… No. Violence against women is happening everywhere, in every country, even in our own communities. For example, in nearby San Leandro, the police were recently busted for participating in a human trafficking, drug, and prostitution ring. Last summer, SF-based RadiumOne’s CEO was caught ON VIDEO beating his girlfriend more than 117 times for 30 minutes straight. He never apologized and in fact, he even tried to justify his rage, going on Twitter to explain that “she had unprotected sex with people for money.” Who the fuck does he think he is? He’s professionally successful, so he’s entitled to beat someone to a bloody pulp because she “provoked” him? For reasons unknown, she eventually refused to testify against him, and the damning video was thrown out on a legal technicality. I don’t want to judge why women stay with their abusers or why they back out of testifying or pressing charges, but shit, something is just so abhorrently wrong with the system when a guy is recorded on video beating the shit out of someone, and he gets ZERO jail time. Why are we not absolutely outraged by this?? He lost his job. Boo, hoo. He still retains tons of stock in the company, and more importantly, the guy is walking free, still unapologetic, still cocky as hell, and still carrying some form of professional/societal legitimacy. WTF?

    Then this whole Ray Rice deal. Wow, if he knocks her out in a public setting, I don’t even want to know what happens behind closed doors when all the filters are off. Ugh. I’ve read countless articles on the Ray-Janay situation. There’s so much blame on her for not leaving him. Shit, as if she deserves to be beaten because this is the path she has chosen. If only spousal violence were that cut and dry, that fucking black and white. Anyway, I thought this article was especially sobering. Violence against women builds in environments and cultures where women are disrespected and where there is a desensitization to violence. Don’t even get me started on the modern-day gladiator sport of football. Can we really be surprised that these gigantic men who are trained day in and day out to ram their bodies into one another cannot control how they wield their force off the field? Sure, I want to believe in gentle giants, in big teddy bears. But training and habits are powerful influencers. After all, how does the military get ordinary humans to do the dirty work that they do? Training, desensitization, and psychological manipulation. As for the random tech CEO or whatever? I dunno. Can we maybe point to violence against women in gaming or sexism in the brogrammer culture? I want to know what ever happened to this Russian telecom millionaire. Last I heard, he was on the run after beating the shit out of his girlfriend. Seriously, the pictures are straight out of an alien movie. Makes me so f-ing sick to my stomach.

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