Category Archives: #womenslives

How much Privilege do you really have?

 So I have been talking about privilege for many years.  I have gotten into arguments on Facebook and Twitter about privilege.  People almost always come back with (particularly white heterosexual males): “I am not privileged.  I have had to struggle”
Ummmm, okay, so privilege is not about whether or not you have had to struggle in your life.  It is about how society in general perceives you and judges you with regards to things like your gender, sexual orientation, race and financial status.
My friend Tonya posted this Buzzfeed (I LOVE Buzz feed, btw), with questions about privilege and to be honest I think it is a very comprehensive list, so I am going to copy it (and give credit of course) here so people may have an understanding of privilege and how it works. So, How much Privilege do you really have?
Please feel free to share your number (if you are comfortable) in the comments on the blog so it becomes more apparent to all how privilege works.
privilege-definition
Give your self one point for every comment you can say yes to: (I added the stuff in Italics)
1.  I am white.
2.  I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
3.  I have never been the only person of my race in a room.
4.  I have never been mocked for my accent.
5.  I have never been told I am attractive “for my race.”
6.  I have never been a victim of violence because of my race.
7.  have never been called a racial slur.
8. I have never been told I “sound white.”
9.  A stranger has never asked to touch my hair, or asked if it is real.
10. I am heterosexual.
11. I have never lied about my sexuality.
12. I never had to “come out.”
13. I never doubted my parents’ acceptance of my sexuality.
14. I have never been called “fag.”
15. I have never been called “dyke.”
16. I have never been called a “fairy,” or any other derogatory slur for homosexuals.
17. I have never tried to hide my sexuality.
18. I am always comfortable with P.D.A. with my partner in public.
19. I have never pretended to be “just friends” with my significant other.
20. I have never been ostracized by my religion for my sexual orientation.
21. I have never been told I would “burn in hell” for my sexual orientation.
22. I have never been told that my sexuality is “just a phase.”
23. I have never been violently threatened because of my sexuality.
24. I am a man.
25. I feel comfortable in the gender I was born as.
26. I still identify as the gender I was born in.
27. I have never tried to change my gender.
28. I have never been denied an opportunity because of my gender.
29. I make more money than my professional counterparts of a different gender.
30. I have never felt unsafe because of my gender.
31. I have never been catcalled.
32. I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
33. I have never been raped.
34. I work in a salaried job.
35. My family and I have never lived below the poverty line.
36. I don’t have any student loans.
37. I have never gone to bed hungry.
38. I have never been homeless.
39. My parents (or someone else) pay some of my bills.
40. My parents (or someone else) pay all of my bills.
41. I don’t rely on public transportation.
42. I buy new clothes at least once a month.
43. I have never done my taxes myself.
44. I have never felt poor.
45. I have never had to worry about making rent.
46. I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender, or salesperson.
47. I have had an unpaid internship.
48. I have had multiple unpaid internships.
49. I went to summer camp.
50. I went to private school.
51. I graduated high school.
52. I went to an elite college.
53. I graduated college.
54. My parents (or someone else or the VA) paid (at least some of) my tuition.
55. I had a car in high school.
56. I’ve never had a roommate.
57. I’ve always had cable or Direct TV
58. I have traveled internationally.(not military service)
59. I travel internationally at least once a year.(again not for military service)
60. I studied abroad.
61. I’ve never skipped a meal to save money.
62. I don’t know what “Sallie Mae” is. (Or know what it is but have never had to use it)
63. I spent Spring Breaks abroad.
64. I have frequent flier miles.
65. My parents are heterosexual.
66. My parents are both alive.
67. My parents are still married. (or would be if they were alive)
68. I do not have any physical disabilities.
69. I do not have any social disabilities.
70. I do not have any learning disabilities.
71. I have never had an eating disorder.
72. I have never been depressed.
73. I have never considered suicide.
74. I have never attempted suicide.
75. I have never taken medication for my mental health.
76. I can afford medication if/when I need it.(and have a co-pay I CAN afford, even if I think it is too high)
77. I have never been told I’m overweight or “too skinny.”
78. I have never felt overweight or underweight or “too skinny.”
79. I have never been shamed for my body type.
80. I consider myself to be physically attractive.
81. I can afford a therapist.
82. I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.
83. I have never had an addiction.
84. I have never been shamed for my religious beliefs.
85. I have never been violently threatened for my religious beliefs.
86. I have never been violently attacked for my religious beliefs.
87. There is a place of worship for my religion in my town.
88. I have never lied about my ethnicity as self-defense.
89. I have never lied about my religion as self-defense.
90. All my jobs have been accommodating of my religious practices.
91. I am not nervous in airport security lines.
92. I have never heard this statement: “You have been randomly selected for secondary passport control.”
93. I have never been called a terrorist.
94. Nobody has ever tried to “save” me for my religious beliefs, or my sexual orientation
95. I have never been cyber-bullied for any of my identities.
96. I was not bullied as a child for any of my identities.
97. I have never tried to distance myself from any of my identities.
98. I have never been self-conscious about any of my identities.
99. I have never questioned any of my identities.
100.  I feel privileged because of the identities I was born with
I originally thought I scored a 30, but I actually scored a 31.  Which is a bit better but not by much!
I believe my score is only 30 because as a JEWISH, WOMAN in a SAME GENDERED relationship who has also struggled financially as a SINGLE MOM, I cannot get as many points as if I could remove one of those labels.
This also brings up intersectionality.  Look how many words in the above sentence  are bold.  I could also add OVERWEIGHT to those categories……I have many “adjectives” that describe me…. that is what intersectionality is in a nut shell.  We are many things, not just one, and each one of those adjectives, (or intersections) forms how we view ourselves and how society as a whole views us.
Please feel free to comment about how this made you feel if you are comfortable.  Until we start having a discussion about privilege it will be more difficult to remove these labels that cause separation in our society.
#womenslives  #blacklivesmatter

Same Sex Marriage……..Maybe not for me….

OK, so unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard the news that the Supreme Court of the United States, (aka SCOTUS) has struck down the ban on same sex marriage, and it is now legal in every state in the United States to get married if you are a same sex couple.  Interestingly, according to CNN, the US is the 21st country to make marriage legal for ALL citizens.

The Netherlands was the first country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in 2001, when their Parliament voted 107-33 to eliminate discrimination from their marriage laws. The law requires that at least one member of the couple be a Dutch national or live in the Netherlands, and it took effect on April 1, 2001. 14 years ago……..hmmm.    Twenty countries have approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland), while Mexico allows the freedom to marry regionally and has  court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry. In Slovenia, Parliament approved a marriage bill in March 2015 and is headed to the president’s desk. Many other countries provide some protections for such couples. As more and more countries win the freedom to marry, families are helped, and communities and countries made stronger, by protecting all loving committed couples.

I have lots of thoughts on this matter.  As a matter of fact, when I went on vacation last summer to visit my mother, who lives in Kissimmee Florida, she asked me what my thoughts were on gay marriage.  My mother is  NOT homophobic in the least, but she doesn’t really understand it.  She is 76 and comes from a different era than I do.  It does not bother me at all that she does not understand, the fact that she is accepting of me and Karol, and loves me anyway, is all that matters to me.

In the past, quite a few of my friends have said that Karol and I should get married in a nearby state and then wait for Virginia to catch up.  We just chuckled, and the questions stopped.  Then marriage became legal in Virginia and the comments started again.  That time we said we didn’t want to get married until EVERYONE could get married, well, now it is legal all over the US and the comments and questions have started again……sigh…..

However, recently, when my mother asked me about it, and two of my besties also asked me when we are getting married, I had to delve deep into my own thoughts and really think about why I don’t want to get married.

gay wedding

To be honest there are a few reasons why we don’t want to get married….yet…..

First and foremost is that fact that most of our household income comes from Karol, and if we marry my children will no longer be eligible for grants and some student loans.  So to marry now means my kids will lose money to help them pay for college, and I feel that to do that just to say I am “married” is extremely elfish…

wedding rngs

Another reason is harder to explain and believe me these are MY OWN thoughts and I believe them ONLY for myself, and I do NOT think everyone, (or anyone) has to believe the way I do, but here it is:

As a die hard feminist I have a hard time participating in a traditional “wedding” which I believe is a patriarchal heterosexual ideology.  Let’s face it, “marriage” has always been a heterosexual thing.  I don’t believe anyone should be exempted from getting married if that is their desire, so I do support same sex marriage, but I am just not sure it is for me.  I do think at some point it will be important for Karol and I to be legally bound to each other, (social security, retirement, etc), but I would like to find a nontraditional way to do that.

Plus, we have both had the traditional wedding before, and I don’t “need” to have a wedding dress, guests, cake, reception wedding in my life as any kind of statement about my relationship with my partner of 11 years. I don’t want our marriage to be a bigger deal than our wonderful, complicated, sometimes difficult, mostly completely happy,  living together lives already are.  We have been together for 11 years.  We have lived together for 8 years.  It has been easy, it has been hard, we have fought, we have yelled, we have loved……through it all we have loved…..each other and our 4 kids.

I like the idea of having a “love party”.  Getting legally hitched at the Justice of the Peace quietly with just our kids and maybe one or two others in attendance and then having a party (a backyard BBQ) with our friends and loved ones…..but that will have to be years from now when the kids are out of college and since the youngest one is about to turn 16, by then same sex marriage will be routine………

I guess we will revisit the idea in about 6 years or so…. I will let you know…

#womenslives

Why do friendships break up?

I have been fortunate to have some amazing friends in my life.  I have also had the problem of not so great friends in my life. But even worse is when a wonderful friend turns out not to be so wonderful.  Or maybe you are excited about a new friendship and see a promising future, and somehow, something happens that pulls the rug out from under you and you have a sudden realization that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Interestingly, as I sat  down to write this I had a specific friendship in mind that I had to walk away from, but as I started writing, other situations came to mind, and I suddenly realized that I have been through a friendship break up quite a few times in my adult life.  But why do friendships break up?

A friendship breakup can be even more devastating than a breakup with a lover or boyfriend/girlfriend.  Sometimes we have been even more emotionally intimate with our friend than our lover/boyfriend/girlfriend, and so the loss of the friendship seems to cut a little deeper.

But as I think about it more deeply, I now realize that I have usually been the one to end the friendship.   In all of the cases where I have had to end a friendship it is because what was at first a seemingly wonderful, loving, friendship ended up being toxic to me. Let me explain.

Picture found on www.xojane.com

Picture found on www.xojane.com

My whole life people have felt comfortable talking to me about deeply personal things.  I have always found it interesting that people will tell me really intimate details of their lives without me even asking.  Sometimes it is people I don’t even know that well.  Something about my personality (I guess) makes people feel comfortable and able to talk openly.

To be honest, this morning I was looking in some high school yearbooks to find a certain teacher, and started reading the comments of people who signed my yearbooks.  Apparently even in high school people felt they were able to “really talk” to me, and that I would always listen to them.

This continued into my adult life, but unfortunately it has resulted in me having friendships that start out great, but I soon realize that the person I am friends with is toxic to me.  In one case I had a very close friend who I realized was toxic when she needed me to come break up her fights with her husband, or her daughter called me because mom and dad were fighting, or mom was drunk and had taken too many meds.  This woman stayed at our house many times, and while that woudl have been okay, the love and caring was never really given back.  The final straw was when she asked me about some confidential information I just couldn’t share with her, and I told her I couldn’t share it, and she just wouldn’t let it go.  She kept asking and asking me about it, and although I said I couldn’t talk about it, and that talking about it could jeopardize my job, and cause a difficult situation for my child, she still just “had to know” what had happened.  I finally realized that she would never give up asking for the information and I would never truly be able to share it….ever…..so I had to walk away.

That one really hurt because we had mutual friends, and had been very very close for about two years.  We also had a business together, and that was complicated to separate. In the end I just walked away from it, and started my own business.  I had to completely cut her off, and I cried about it for awhile.  To this day although we have friends in common, and I have thought about reaching out to her, I just know I can’t do that.

I think the most painful part of a breakup is the loss of what could have been.

picture found on pinterest

picture found on pinterest

I am actually currently grieving the loss of a friendship that I thought would be amazing for my life and my family’s life.  I have a friendship that I have invested a lot of time and energy and love into, but I just feel that it is a one sided relationship, and it won’t go where I thought it would go, and  have had to come to that sad realization.  This loss I have recently actually grieved over, and cried for a week after I realized it had to end.  Because I am a person who doesn’t like confrontation, and can’t just walk away in this case, I have had to resort to making it a “superficial” friendship.  I have slowed down communication, I am keeping conversations light, and stopped having deep heart to hearts.  I am hoping he will just lose interest in me and move on, but it may come down to an actual friendship breakup conversation and I am truly dreading that!

So I guess the bottom line is that friendships do break up, and they can be even more painful that a romantic relationship breakup.  I think we always know when it is time to move on, but we are sometimes reluctant to end a friendship.

Nontoxic people can become toxic.  Friendships can change  and become unhealthy, or no longer what we want.  We can change. Friends can change and start moving in different directions and we have to walk away.  Sometimes we just start having less and less in common with someone as time goes by. There are many different reasons we have to break up with a friend, but my advice is to always listen to your heart and gut and do what is best for you and your life.

#womenslives