Ladies, we’ve come a long way, but…

There are some guaranteed ways to get me all fired up and ready to fight. They include but aren’t limited to spewing rhetoric about keeping women in their place, limiting their options and thus their potential, or blaming them for being raped. Recently my fired-up button was pushed. Salon.com had picked up an article, “6 Reasons (+2) to Not Send Your Daughter to College” from FixtheFamily.com. Please read it if you dare. I wasn’t going to but had to acquiesce in order to write this post. As I figured, it is misogynistic nonsense. Lindy West at Jezebel.com wrote an excellent rebuttal—one that I could’ve written, minus all the expletives. Keep it classy is my motto, even when angry—well, at least when speaking or writing for the general public. I highly recommend reading both pieces.

A fellow Evergreener shared the Salon.com post on her Facebook page and as you can imagine, women were responding with objections and hurling insults at the FixtheFamily guy. There was a comment from at least one man. I checked out after I left a comment in response to his because I dislike getting into back-and-forth political arguments on other people’s social media pages; I’m fine doing that on my own page with people I know, but not with complete strangers.

Anyway, the guy wrote, and I am paraphrasing, that we (women) were trampling on this Catholic man’s freedom of speech and that we were being dishonorable to those who had fought for that freedom of speech with our harsh rhetoric. To reiterate, I’ve greatly simplified his response to focus only on the elements that caused me to clench my jaws and release a low growl then a sigh, ending with a major eye roll. I would’ve also banged my head on my desk in one final dramatic display of disdain, but I was on the bus heading home, not at the office.

My response was, and again, I’m paraphrasing because I haven’t gone back to revisit the exchange, but basically it read: “No one is interfering with his freedom of speech. He can say what he wants, but we also have the freedom of speech to disagree vehemently with him. That’s the beauty of this country. Furthermore, there is nothing dishonorable about this, especially where women see oppression and speak out against it.”

Thank goodness my parents didn’t buy into this garbage. They had three daughters and always believed the three of us deserved the same rights and opportunities that boys were afforded. It was never a question of whether or not their daughters would go to college. Neither of them possessed college degrees, but as long as I can remember, the plan was that I and my siblings would attend college, one way or another. They wanted their daughters to have a better life than they did. I will forever be grateful for that. Furthermore, I was brought up Catholic, and I know no Catholics who believe what FixtheFamily guy does—some probably do, but I don’t know them personally.

Now, I am not saying all women must or should go to college or work outside the home. If a woman chooses not to further her education or chooses to stay at home and raise her children, that is fine as long as it is her choice and not her parents or someone else forcing that decision on her. I feel the same way about men. Their choices are limited too. I know a few stay-at-home dads but not many. Why? Because even in the 21st century, society still sees men as breadwinners and women as caregivers. If a man decides to stay home with his children, he is a slacker or a sissy – he’s not a real man because he is not providing for his family. Give me a break. Until we eliminate these archaic gender-role assignments both sexes are doomed to limited life choices. Hopefully, future generations will be more enlightened.

I’m glad my small-town, high-school educated parents (Dad received an Associate’s degree in Criminology after I graduated high school) were wise enough, and dare I say progressive enough, to want their daughters to fulfill our potential. I am proud they are my parents and that even with their limited exposure and experiences in this great big world, they expected me and my sisters to thrive and succeed. They allowed us and encouraged us to go out into the world where we made our own decisions and choices, and yes, we made some mistakes—we still make mistakes—but we’ve always learned from them. Happily, I can report that we three college-educated ladies have made the most of our lives, in our own unique ways, and contributed to our communities.

Maybe Mr. FixtheFamily wants to stifle his daughters’ potential and their futures, but he should stop encouraging others to do the same to their female offspring. Women have come a long way baby, but we still have a ways to go. I will not stay silent or not write about that which I find demeaning and oppressive to women, and I don’t care who thinks I am being dishonorable. I repeat, I will not stay silent or remain unengaged.

Internet memes: love them, hate them

Oh, social media, you entertain us on myriad levels. As a frequent Facebook user I am subjected to Internet memes on a daily basis. Sometimes they are inspiring and funny, other times they are annoying and infuriating. I rarely comment on the ones I find offensive or misleading, but two memes I recently saw compelled me to respond.

The first:

992818_417971588319625_366082048_n

This image was posted by ClashDaily.com with Doug Giles with the following hash tags: #‎irs ‪#‎nsa ‪#‎benghazi ‪#‎doj ‪#‎fastnfurious ‪#‎scandals

If the guy who posted this and all the hateful commenters had done a minimal amount of research, they would know the “scandals”—IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and Solyndra—were overblown, in particular with regard to allegations of direct White House involvement or malfeasance. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be investigations or at least assessments about what went wrong in these situations.  Darrell Issa, however, in his zealousness, has made repeated attempts to connect the White House (e.g. – President Obama) to these incidences, with little success. On the other hand, the NSA surveillance issue has major privacy implications and should be investigated thoroughly.

Still, conservative calls for Obama to resign are hypocritical. We heard nary a peep from these same quarters when George W: lied about weapons of mass destruction, started a war of choice that was a major disaster on so many levels—both financial and in American and Iraqi lives; allowed the torture (illegal) of suspected terrorists; and surveilled Americans without warrants through telecom companies.

The Obama bashing in the comments section was disgusting to say the least. Liberals are good at bashing the other side too, so I do not expect a different standard of online conduct from conservatives, though reasoned disagreement instead of slinging insults would be nice from everyone. Yeah, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world.

The second meme was posted and shared several times on Facebook: “You tell me…what’s the difference?”

meme

Let me tell you the difference.

The difference is that while both killings are tragedies, the police in Charleston did their job and arrested the killers of this white teenager and conducted a solid investigation. However, the same cannot be said in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, the Florida police in that community gave a collective yawn over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, basically slapping Zimmerman on the wrist and sending him home that same night, and only further investigating the murder after a national outcry.

The difference is not that a black child received national attention while a white child was ignored. If that is the argument some are trying to make, then one could refute it by pointing out that when girls/young women go missing in the United States and receive national media attention, they are mostly white. Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS) is a phrase coined by social scientists and media commentators to describe the “wall-to-wall coverage” given in media reporting, especially television, to missing person cases involving young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Examples are here, here, here, and here.

When I researched this meme further, I discovered that the woman who created it did so because it hit close to home, not because of the racial component and media attention that many people have been suggesting. Still, the fact that she created it and asked the question about the “difference” makes one question her motive; it does seem to suggest a racial bias message.

Memes, political ones in particular, create quick impressions by fusing images with words and phrases that incite the emotions, causing us to respond very quickly to a post without taking a moment to pause about why it resonates so strongly with us, be it positively or negatively. The two memes I discuss in this post, are relatively tame; many others are not. Use  caution on social media and understand what it is you are “liking” and/or sharing before doing so. Remember, it’s your reputation out there in cyberspace.

Read both stories here:

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal