Posts From May 2010

The F Word

I was feeling pretty uninspired this week and so I ended writing a column about how much I love “30 Rock” even when it occasionally annoys me.

Elsewhere, I wrote about being a 40-year-old feminist. At first this was a really tough essay to write. I hadn’t thought about what it meant for me to be a feminist for quite a while. It’s not that any of my convictions had changed or that I thought, perhaps, the equality had finally shifted to the center and that we didn’t need to think about it anymore–it just wasn’t, at this point in my life, an all-consuming issue.

But then when I heard that one of our contributors who, if you connected the dots of her ideology is most certainly a feminist, claimed she didn’t identify with the movement, didn’t want to be called that F word. That got me thinking about my own beliefs and how they formed.

My feminist beliefs were, most certainly, formed first and foremost by my mother although, to be honest, I don’t know if she’d use the F word to describe herself that way either. My mom is a mix of old-school ladylike and modern toughness which meant that even as she advised me not to bite my nails so that my hands would “feel nice as you hold a boy’s hand” she also pushed me to think beyond any society-imposed gender boundaries when it came to thinking about a career.

I wasn’t allowed to call boys but I also wasn’t allowed to take shit from boys.

I couldn’t dress provocatively or wear too much make-up but she thought the school was absolutely ridiculous for sending me home for wearing knee-length shorts.

I could watch “Charlies Angels” but she subtly encouraged me to  like the Kate Jackson character best of all because she was smart and resourceful.

I’d better not sleep around but if I did I had options, I had choice.

I don’t know if I ever heard her use the word “feminist” and I know she never participated in a single protest, rally or group but, to this day, she is insanely independent, smart and resourceful and I admire her and aspire to live my life as such.

So, maybe it’s not a big deal that young women don’t want to use the F word – maybe it’s outdated, maybe its connotations don’t resonate, maybe there’s another word that better defines what it is we are and what we do.

That’s not to say I won’t still call myself a feminist — I am one, I always will be one, even when I don’t think about it all the time.  That said, I won’t get freaked out when some woman 20 years (or younger) my junior speak a different cultural language of change (maybe it’s similar to how I cringe at the word “lady” or “ma’am” in certain contexts) at least not as long as she’s actually out there living the life.

Happy New Year – Whoa is Me?

The other day I received a message in my Facebook in-box. It was from somebody named “Jennie Her” and it read: “Are you a lesbian? You’re so wo is me. It’s a turn-off. People don’t like that.”

I pondered over that message for a few minutes. I don’t know this Jennie Her and when I tried to look at her Facebook page, I couldn’t see anything except her photo because she’d set up her profile to “only share certain information with friends” although apparently Facebook deemed it OK for her to share insults with anybody.

Cory thought it was just a spam message and although I marked it as such (and so it disappeared forever from my in-box)  I couldn’t stop thinking about that whole “wo is me” part and how it related to the idea that I may or may not be a lesbian and how this was making me less desirable to the world at large …

Wo is me…what did “Wo” mean? Did she mean “woe”? That would be the most obvious, of course and she wouldn’t be the first to tell me that, sometimes, I can be a bit too “woe is me,” a bit too mired in the misery, too down, too fixated on what isn’t going right. I can see how people might not like that trait but how it relates to being a lesbian is beyond me. Is woefulness a same-sex preference characteristic?

But then I thought, maybe she meant “whoa is me” – that perhaps I’m just too laid-back. Maybe I’ve been Spicoli-ing my way through life and people are finally tired of my stoner ways, they want me to stop, it’s such a turn-off.

Again, though, how does this possibly make me someone who is so out-of-touch with her own sexual preferences that she’s been living a marital lie for 10-plus years?  Dude, I’m so confused.

I do know this, however: wo, woe or whoa I don’t really care what people like or don’t like about me or what does or doesn’t turn them on.  And by “people” I mean those I don’t know or with whom I’m not already friends. My friends and family know me and, last time I checked they liked me. Oh sure, they occasionally tell me to (take your pick) snap out of it, get over yourself, lighten up, et al…but they do it with care because that’s what friends and family do.

So, sitting here at the dawn of 2010, sipping coffee and listening to the Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard record, I’m struck with the idea of how my life has seemingly shaped up to be what it’s supposed to be.

I have goals and resolutions for this coming year….some are the usual (lose that 5 pounds, read & write everyday, cook more, buy less, be more adventurous), some are deeply personal, others are just seedlings of inspiration, ambition and desire.

Wo, woe or whoa, I’m eager to see where and who I am at the end of this year’s journey – but I’m also ready to enjoy every little step it takes to get there.

My guess is that 365 days from now I’ll be just as wo, woe or whoa as ever and I probably still won’t be a lesbian although I do understand from first-hand observations that these things can suddenly change in mid-life and if that does happen I’ll be very sorry for Cory’s sake but, you know, shit happens….

So fuck you Jennie Her – whether you’re real or a spambot — and to everyone else, a very Happy New Year …..