An unexpected dividend of starting a blog has been 'meeting' some amazingly funny, eclectic, and strange women via the blogophere. Some of them have been writing posts about what they're thankful for in this mortal coil. So I've got a list of my own thankful stuff.
Let's automatically assume all the assumable things: God, family, health, friends, funds for the trappings of middle-class suburbia. Don't misunderstand me...just because they're grouped as such doesn't make me any less thankful (sorry for the double-negative, grammar Nazis). But let's get to the wacky thanksy list, shall we?
Some of you reading this are probably too young to remember life before Caller ID. Bless your hearts. Let me tell ya, it was God awful. You had to actually talk to people, most of them beyond annoying because they wanted to sell you stuff - or worse - people you knew, but had successfully avoided in person. Now, thanks to caller ID, I've avoided whole hoards of people for, like, decades. Pure awesomeness.
Being a Woman in the United States
I'm not saying being a woman is always easy, but dagnabbit I'm uber thankful I get to share my witchy-woman-ways in this country. And I
want to thank this country for allowing me to take out more money in student loans than I'm worth in insurance money...but hey, at least I was able to earn a top notch education and utilize it to make $.77 for every buck a guy makes.
Ok, all snark aside, I love my country. I'm a patriot with roots dating back to the American Revolution and beyond (from my non-Jewish side, but hey, it still counts). This country may still objectify women, undervalue our paid and non-paid labor and fail to fully represent our interests in corporate and government affairs, but better here than almost anywhere else, where I'd probably be stoned to death by leaving my head uncovered or expected to cook and clean while tending my in-laws goat herd. Have you ever been around goats? They smell nasty and they're the a-holes of the animal kingdom. Just saying...
If I only had to cook once every fiscal quarter, or just for major holidays - and major is defined by either a school closing or a Hallmark card display - then having to cook wouldn't be a big deal. And in fairness, I should report that Hot Hubby does his fair share of cooking. That said, having to come up with a dinner every-friggin'-night sucks weinis.
That is why food delivery is a beautiful thing. I wish my lil' town in Northern Virginia had more to offer than pizza, Thai, and Chinese, but I am grateful nonetheless for my limited food delivery. My ass isn't, but the rest of me is.
Being Born in the Age of Frequent Showers, Antiperspirant, and Braces
As a former history professor, I used to entertain the well-worn fantasy of when and where would I travel back in time for a visit, equipped with my DeLorean time machine, of course (sorry for the bad 80s movies reference. My husband would be proud). Anyway, as I've aged and got-me-some-learning, I've realized a couple of things:
1. Thank God for orthodontics because without them, there wouldn't have been enough donkeys and lactating cows in my dowry to marry me off. Not to brag, but I had quite the overbite in my day.
2. People stink. Can you imagine how putrid it was in the Middle Ages, when deodorant was non-existent and showers were a rarity? Dear GOD I reek like the most unholy of beasts if I miss one day alone.
I'm a typical American in that I prize straight, white teeth and artificial smells which mimic the idea of nature - with scents like Fresh Breeze, Happy Beach Day, and Sunshine Rainbow Morning Dew - instead of the real thing like Horse Manure, Dog Flatulence, or Rotting Fruit on the Ground. Guess I'm funny that way.
Privilege - The Other White Meat
I'm a social worker in training, which is the short version of stating that I believe in the inherent decency within people. And being a white, blonde haired, green-eyed woman allows me a magical power to see the kindness of strangers all the time. Clerks smile at me when I come into their stores. Men hold their doors open for me - a bonus living in Virginia. And I can occasionally - although not as much as when I was younger - talk my way out of a ticket with that nice police officer stopping me while doing his or her job.
I lived in that bubble for a while - until I realized that I was enjoying the byproduct of white privilege. I found this out because once I got out of my lil' white suburban bubble by the sea, I made friends with varying shades of colorful characters and would be surprised, then saddened, to discover that my 'friendly' grocer down by the corner of where I lived in New Orleans didn't give the same greetings and smiles to my black friends as he did to me. I also found out that my some of my grad school peers got stopped by the police weekly, and not because s/he had a lead foot.
Of course, I'll be more thankful for equal treatment for everyone and I'm happy to say I see more of that here in my town than I ever saw in Miami, New Orleans, or even San Francisco combined. Yeah Vienna! But until then, I'm sadly grateful that just as I give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, I am able to experience such treatment myself.
I have more to be thankful for - but that's it for today. What are you grateful for? Blogs not ending in prepositions?
P.S: Click on the Thankful link below to be magically transported to some of the funniest and most thought provoking bloggers - EVA!
When I earned my first masters degree in Gender History, I got asked a lot "what the HECK are ya going to do with that degree?" I'm literally laughing to myself as I write this because, truthfully, I wondered the same thing myself. However, when I saw Lori Duron on the Today Show this morning, I realized my education would finally be relevant in a way that won't have people's eye glaze over like they do when I mention these issues at cocktail parties.
Lori Duron is the author of the book and blog Raising My Rainbow, chronicling her family's life with a son more comfortable playing with Barbies than with Batman: or in Duron's words, gender creative. He loves everything pink. He enjoys dressing up in princess costumes. He revels in tea parties.
While I was attending San Francisco State University's grad program, we discussed at length how gender is socially constructed, meaning, how much did our sociocultural environs influence what we liked, how we spent our time, and how such factors influenced our self-conceptions as male or female. By the way, if you ever want to go to the perfect place to test your ideas of what's straight, gay, bi, transgendered, pan-sexual, or androgynous, plug San Fran into your GPS because every shade and permutation of gender identity and sexuality were in that city - and often sitting next to me in one of my classes.
By the time I graduated, I almost believed that most everything about us is dominated by nurture versus nature. We were by-products of our rearing, which meant we could 'fix' inherent disparities by raising our kids in gender-neutral or gender creative ways.
Living in the Bay Area, I got to hang with lots of different types of families, each testing their theories onto their offspring with earnest, zeal, and more than their fair share of self-righteousness. One family I knew refused to allow anything blue or pink in their house and refused to have any corporate sponsored 'tools for gender subjugation' (i.e. Disney, Barbie, etc) into their children's hands. One of my former gender studies' professors had a household of boys with tons of gender neutral toys (blocks, puzzles) and a fair share of 'girlie' stuff (dolls, playhouses) but weren't allowed any GI Joes or play weapons like swords or guns.
Know what those boys used to build with their Legos when their parents left the room? Swords and guns. Know what the other family's kids did when they came to my house with the Disney costumes and baby dolls? Made a beeline for them like junkies to a crack den.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that if you go to either extreme, either subscribing exclusively to gender roles or admonishing them altogether, we run the risk of leaving vast areas of our internal landscape unexplored. I myself was a 'tomboy', refusing to wear dresses or play with the other girls because I thought playing house was the most boring activity in the world. Why would you'd want to pretend to vacuum and clean the kitchen when you could play with a train set or peg someone in dodge ball? I remember signing up for shop class in eighth grade and my parents having to petition the school when they said a girl couldn't enroll. I was the only girl in that class and I got a taste of architectural drawing, woodworking, and photography. Why those subjects were identified as male pursuits, I have no idea, and while I still can't draw a straight line with a ruler to save my life and have no interest in whittling a tree, I'm thrilled I had parents who fought for me to have those opportunities.
That said, let's be brutally honest for a sec - it's still more socially acceptable for a female to pursue socially constructed male pursuits than it is for a male to enter more female-dominated arenas. In the case of Lori Duron's son, C.J., they have a boy who is not just looking to play with a doll, he wants to look like a Barbie. Most parents wouldn't be as accepting and open as the Duron's; there's a reason why the suicide attempt rate amongst transgendered youth is a high 41% (according to a survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released in October 2010). Ironically, if I see a man in drag, it doesn't bother me in the least, but when I see pictures of C.J., - or when I saw the film on the same topic called La Vie en Rose, I felt unnerved, unsettled - like something was fundamentally not right. And I'm the same parent who constantly talks with my own daughters about the meta-messages our media sends to them about what is feminine or masculine, what constitute self worth through the physical, emotional, and intellectual. Yet, when I see that happy little boy in lipstick dancing around in a tutu, it feels inherently, well, off, in some way.
Guess what though...that's my problem - and I shouldn't place that on any child. I'm working on it - and in the process of that work I have to ask the next logical question: why am I uncomfortable with the masculine commingling with the feminine and not the other way around? The unfortunate answer is that such people and actions challenge what I have been constructed to believe is the inherently dominant 'correct' order of nature - and the feminization of a subject somehow weakens or degrades its essence or power. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loathe admitting this about myself. How can I - a self-proclaimed feminist - state that seeing a boy dress as a girl skeeves me out more than it should?
I am admitting it because the more we bring to light the ugliest, non-politically-correct aspects of ourselves and our beliefs, the likelier we are to question their etiology and change ourselves and our communities. Growing up in South Florida was actually a fairly segregated existence mid-20th century...I used to feel the same uneasy queasiness about interracial couples as I do about boys like C.J. I remember someone asking me as a young teen how I take my coffee and I said, "light and sweet" and my dad saying "hopefully like your men, too." Btw, that kind of joke wasn't unusual where I grew up, where the Jews always voted for the Democrats but called black people "schvartzes" (not a kind word for African-Americans in Yiddish). The point is, the more I admitted and realized my prejudice and from where it derived, the quicker the bias dissipated. Now interracial anything is a non-issue for me. Perhaps, hopefully, sooner than later, gender creative identity will be too.