Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Daughter Test

Ugh! It is hard to be non-judgmental of the judgmental. How can anyone be against equality for all?

This week the Supreme Court is hearing two issues that affect marriage equality and so many on Facebook and Twitter are using the above avatar to voice their support. I'm not sure there will be one ounce of sway touching the SCOTUS but I think it is important that people voice their support even so. 

I'm not married and am not planning on it anytime soon, but as a gal who likes to keep her options open I find it so odd that whether or not I could would hinge on who I love and where I lived. So I could fall in love and marry a man in Illinois but not a women in California?

Let's get back to the people who want to marry... why should someone who has benefited from marriage be able to tell others they can't? 

Last week Republican Senator from Ohio, Rob Portman, announced his support for marriage equality. He did this because his son Will came out to him two years prior and he had finally felt it was time to speak up on the topic. Sure, it's nice of Sen Portman to stick up for his son- even if it took him a few years and being bypassed as a VP candidate- but why shouldn't the test of passing laws be: how would you vote if it affected your daughter? And I use daughter on purpose because I wonder how many of the politicians now passing anti-abortion laws would prevent their daughters from having one in the case of rape. 

Do we really need to wait for our politics to become so personal? Let's instead consider healthcare, unemployment, rights to our bodies, equality, poverty, starting wars, etc. not as someone else's issues. Instead ask:
What would you do if it was your daughter? 
And then, act accordingly.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bomb Throwing Cowards

Sunday I watched a wonderful interview Oprah did with Dr. Brene Brown and it was filled with so many great thoughts and truths. But the first one that struck me has stayed with my now for the last three days. She was sharing how she came up with the title of her most recent book Darling Greatly and I won't spoil the story for you but part of it stemmed from people posting rude comments after she did a TEDXTalk. Mostly focused on saying mean things about her looks. After she came upon a quote from Theodore Roosevelt she was determined to not pay attention to people not in the arena and putting themselves in the game. She challenged anonymous commenters to:
Put your name on it. Own it!
OWN station irony aside... BRAVO, Brene, Bravo!!!!

One of the beautiful things about technology is that we have instant access to communicate with more people than ever; the downside is more people can hide behind a screen typing things they would never say to someone's face in real life. And here is the thing: her talk was wonderful, she is a beautiful woman, and she was asked to speak, she wasn't hollering at someone in the town-square. Those nasty people came to the posted talk, chose to watch it, and the only criticism they could come up with was cheap shots at her appearance?

If an accomplished woman allowed herself to be wounded by these cowards, imagine what teens and kids go through when they are bullied and don't have the intellect and experience to put these barbs aside?!

I was still mulling this over when I attended a talk last night by Arundhati Roy, part of which adressed the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. While I don't agree with all her views, she nailed it when it came to the wars we have fought this decade and the destruction and cost they have wreaked.

Obviously some hurtful comments are not even remotely comparable to the loss of life and harm caused in a war-- however there is a connection between how easily we throw around words and actions and then avoid owning, standing behind, and cleaning up the aftermath.

Dick Cheney even today claims he would do it all over again (a person who conveniently deferred his military service). President George Bush is at home painting self-portraits of himself in the bath while soldiers and their families are trying to put back together their lives if they've been lucky enough to still be here. 

I am not a pacifist,  I think war is sometimes necessary. But I don't think the last two were worth it and the Iraq War was a foreseeable mistake. And I would resolutely say this to all involved.

We should never be fearful of speaking up, sticking up for convictions, or even going at someone if our lives or country depends on it... but even with minor things like TEDTalk comments, let it not be us throwing bombs and leaving a path of destruction for others to live with. The very least we can do is: put our names on our thoughts, words, and actions... and own it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

People, Time Has Come To Parent Up!

Today is International Women's Day, which is a national holiday in many countries including: China, Russia, and Afghanistan. The day is designed to celebrate and push forward the rights and place of women in society. Instead of going on about what is needed to ensure the safety, let alone the education and advancement of women in other countries, I'm going to focus on the state of how parents raise children that makes this day even necessary.

As I see it we only need this sort of day to start with because Mothers and Fathers have raised children that oppress, rape, demean, kill, and let's even take it to the basics... bully other people.

For the last week there has been big buzz in the publishing, business, and social media worlds about Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. Are they good role-models, good feminists, good bosses? The press on Ms. Sandberg and her new book Lean In and the movement she is trying to launch with it is hostile enough. No wonder few women leaders want to start these important conversations. Does she have all the answers- of course not. But, is she trying to be part of the solution- hell yes!

People assume that things are the way they are in business because it's a man's world and part of the criticism regarding Lean In is that women should change the rules vs play by already established (read: men's) rules. To me the only way to build in velocity and real change for women's equality is for women to stop raising weak daughters and sexist sons. And this goes for fathers too!

For the life of me I can't understand how anyone, let alone mothers, can give money and still support a church that only allows male leaders and let's many of them commit or cover up child rape. But people still raise there children to respect that sort of institution. Same thing with business, violence as entertainment, etc.

If in our homes we raise the children to believe that daddy is the boss, the bread winner, the decider- what message do we send both our daughters and sons? Misogynist men don't create themselves. And women aren't the only ones who want this to change. The great majority of men out there don't want to be around these guys either and aren't happy with the conditions the women they love have to put up with. Real men know true manning up means respecting yourself enough to treat women with respect.

Now women who allow abuse, either verbal or physical, in their homes send a strong message about what girls should put up with and what boys have the right to do. Men who treat their wives (or employees) poorly show their sons they don't need to respect women and their daughters it's ok to be second class citizens. It's as blatant as alluding to how much more important of a job he has, or that money from his job is more important then what Mommy does.... or as subtle as the emphasis on boys' sports games vs daughters' activities. There are loving parents who don't realize the differing messages they send their kids.

If we want the world to treat women better and as equals we need to start with raising kids with respect for all. Teach our daughters to stick up for themselves; and sons to treat themselves, and their future wives and daughters with the same respect their fathers and mothers treated each other with. 

We have a sexists, violent, unequal world because the parents of generations past did a shitty job. Unfortunately, they probably did the best they could with what they were taught as well.

Fortunately, we now know and can do better. We can raise our kids, teach our students, supervise our staffs, interact with our neighbors in a way the next generation will learn from and will make this day a thing of the past. 

So Men: treat all women and as you'd like someone to treat your daughter one day. Women: stop looking up to men who are looking down on you- in any arena; and treat yourself as you'd want someone to treat your daughter as an equal. 

In full equality with our partners let's create a family plan to address how we want all our children raised, how we'll treat each other, and how we'll expect our children to carry a message of respect for all out into the world and into the families they create for themselves.  

The best way to celebrate Women (and Men) is to Parent Up!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Art of Asking, The Joy of Giving

Last week was the TED Conference and all everyone could talk about on social media was Amanda Palmer. Her TEDTalk is amazing and inspiring and a really good investment of your 13 minutes to watch. It got me thinking about asking which lead to thinking about giving- the two sides of the coin (pun intended).

Amanda talked about artists giving their gifts to the world and then asking those that are truly touched to give back so they can do more art or simply make a living. Being able to express one's art is a gift, being asked to give a TEDTalk is a gift, being inspired by someone's message is a gift, having good fortune and ability to give money is a gift, and appreciation expressed and received is a gift.

Asking isn't easy. Creating art that doesn't get out into the world is worse. And yes, not wanting to give for whatever reason is uncomfortable. All of the commerce of art is weird and no one's got it all figured out.

I say: create art and don't be embarrassed to ask for contributions, but don't judge if folks don't give. Give if the art touches you but don't be resentful or feel pressured into giving if you're asked and it doesn't feel right. Let's all appreciate whatever form each individual's work takes. Some people have a job, some create art, some both, some neither, each of us is trying to be happy while getting our gifts into the world. Sometimes it's lawyering, teaching, creating art, banking, homemaking... let's all just see, acknowledge, and honor each other along the way.

If you are in a position where you'd love to give to an artist but you yourself have limited resources you can always: offer a review of your favorite writer's book, promote a local band on FB to your friends, pin/like/tweet your friends' art on social media, send them a note of encouragement for following their dreams, pass on their TEDTalk...

Making this personal to what I think is my art / gift / message to the world I'm following Amanda's lead and offering my next workshop, on March 16th, at pay what you'd like fee. You can donate to the Joy Fund (a totally made-up for-profit experiment) whatever you'd like. This is what I have to offer up, is worthy of my life's work, and believe touches the people that participate. But, if you're reading this and have taken anything else from my writings or projects but not interested in coming to the workshop, I'm happy to receive your offerings for those too :)

More art, more giving, more receiving, more connecting to each other sounds like pure Joy to ME!

(Simply enter the amount you'd like to give and indicate if you'll be "joining" or "skipping" the workshop.)
Click & HERE