Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Unassailable Aunts

"Aunt Margaret told me that if I lived my life as a nonreader, I could experience seventy or eighty years of the world, but if I read, I could enjoy three thousand years of the world's most enlightening thoughts and stories. "

--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia

Reading Pipher's reflections on extended family brought to mind Miss C's spectacular Aunts, as well as my own incredible and incredibly diverse Aunts. 

More gems from Aunt Margaret to her young niece,

You need to read all of Pearl S. Buck, though her later books were inferior to her earlier ones.

You should live in Paris, Rome, or New York in your twenties.

Never trust anyone who uses the word 'frankly.'


He had an interesting life, but he is not an interesting person.

About unnecessary pennypinchers, Aunt Margaret quoted Oscar Wilde:

He knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Pipher's lesson from this Aunt:

"I learned from her that no one's ideas were unassailable.  I heard her assail my father's and my uncle's opinions almost daily. "

All quotes are from Pipher's memoir Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Question of the Day: Discretion Advised

Here it is.

The NCAA tournament is in full swing.

You are watching a game. 
You notice that the opposing team is playing dirty and not being called on it. 
You go to your twitter account and you energetically tweet that the other team is:

"playing dirty & can kiss my team's free throw making a—"

Now for the question.

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the response tweets include calling you:

a cunt
a whore
a bitch

telling me to suck a two-inch dick

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the responses include threats of rape?

Who is permitted to have passionate feelings about sports?

Ashely Judd, apparently, crossed the invisible line and received a tsunami of tweets letting her know she had gone too far

Here is her assessment:

I love March Madness so much that even now, what I really want to talk about is how Sunday's strategy did not, in fact, work. I really want to talk about a deeply distressing dream I recently had that UConn beat us in the finals, in which we scored a scant 49 points, not to mention the oddity of why my awful dream featured UConn and not Wisconsin.
Instead, I must, as a woman who was once a girl, as someone who uses the Internet, as a citizen of the world, address personally, spiritually, publicly and even legally, the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else.
What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually.

Here is the op-ed she wrote about this, where she bravely discusses her own history of sexual abuse, and why the backlash of threatening tweets are pulling her forward to speak, instead of be silenced. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barbie Spy: Coming Soon (or take 10 seconds to sign a petition )

I was in Trader Joe's last week and I saw that they had peanut butter with chia and flax seeds mixed in

And peanut butter with the jelly already swirled through.

And some kind of peanut butter that had cookies in there too. 
Or maybe it was just liquid cookies in a peanut butter jar.

There are people whose job is to sit in a room together and create. 
To think of something that does not yet exist, and then commission it to be made. 

It makes me marvel at the awesomeness of creativity, and also makes me wonder if the chia and flax seed camp had a heated argument with the liquid cookies camp.

Making up new things in the US is a vastly supported venture.

But sometimes, creators and companies suck make bad choices.
And we have to remind them to cut the crap make more ethical decisions on how to make money without taking advantage of 5 year olds.

In the US, there are no regulations which limit marketing to children.
I've posted about this before, when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood drew our attention to the fact that Scholastic was joining forces with the American Coal Foundation (see here and here), and when Fisher Price was selling the iPad Bouncy Seat (see here).

And now, CCFC has brought attention to more nonsense:

A Barbie.  That talks to your kid.  And records what your kid says.  And stores all that information in a cloud.  And uses that information to market to children more specifically.

To a teenager with this idea, we might say, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

To a creative and entrepreneurial 12 year old we might ask, Do you think that is a good thing to do?  To take advantage of your little sister by giving her a doll that records her private thoughts and musings and then uses them for your own profit at a future date?

The company might say, But Fisher Price is doing it!

And we can say, If Fisher Price were jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you jump too?

Or, I can cease all these analogies where I compare terrible company decisions to parenting conversations and we could just sign a petition. 

The good news is that: these things work.  Companies don't like to upset their customer base, and so sometimes, they listen. 

Here's a synopsis of Hello Barbie.

Here's a link to sign a petition.   (I'm signature 1675!)

Make interesting peanut butter, not data-recording cloud-storing Barbies. 

Let's remind Mattel to make good choices.

Image result for trader joe peanut butter chia

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Second Agreement

Some years ago, I read a brief and wonderful book called The Four Agreements.

The four agreements, made even shorter, are these:

Be Impeccable With Your Words
Don't Take Anything Personally
Don't Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best

This week, I started reading To Kill A Mockingbird. 

A conversation between 8 year old sister Scout and 12 year old brother Jem:

"Scout, don't let Aunty aggravate you."

It seemed only yesterday that he was telling me not to aggravate Aunty.

"You know she's not used to girls," Jem said, "leastways, not girls like you.  She's trying to make you a lady.  Can't you take up sewin' or somethin'?"

"Hell no.  She doesn't like me, that's all there is to it, and I don't care."

She may not be impeccable with her words, but Scout lives by the 2nd Agreement. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need

My little sister is going to have a baby any minute

She has brought 2 lovely little people into the world, and she has high hopes for this 3rd little person. 
Rather, one high hope: that this little person will sleep. 

In honor of the fact that at a certain point of parenthood, you throw the book against the wall (if you are reading a parenting book)  (mine was the one that had sleep schedules and the acronym EASY, which stood for Eat, Activity, Sleep, and I forget what the Y stood for...yurts, or yaks, or Yemen or Yugoslavia or something), I am posting this fascinating little opinion piece titled

The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need, by Michael Erard

Just because.  Read it.  You'll see what I mean.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Trust your self.

I once opened a fortune cookie that read:
You should listen to yourself more often.
I hung it on my fridge with a piece of Scotch tape.

I see it still, and sometimes wonder: How different would this world be if women did this, instead of listening to those who demand trust, instead of earning it?

Cindra Ladd writes here and proves it is never too late to speak  your truth. 

If history teaches anything it is that truth can come in bits and pieces.  Or sometimes, a landslide.

So why speak out at all and why now? The simple answer is that it's the right thing to do. The truth deserves to be known.  
We are only as sick as the secrets we keep. Once those secrets are spoken aloud, even if to just one person, they lose their power.
Thank you, Cindra Ladd.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.

Why aren’t people listening to these women? Is it because most of this allegedly happened so long ago? Is it because some of them went into Cosby’s hotel room alone? Is it because there are no polaroids? Is it because he’s so famous? Or is it just because they’re women?

---Larry Wilmore

When it came to light that actor Stephen Collins had sexually abused three girls, some of the commentary sounded like this, "But I loved him!" 
Meaning, I loved the character he played on TV
On TV, he was a minister.
And a father of 7 children.

I attributed some of the initial shock at the Cosby allegations to the fact that we loved him. 
Meaning, Heathcliff Huxstable. 
Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable: devoted husband, father of 5, funny face maker.

Beyond Heathcliff, we loved Cosby, or the man he played in life: charitable, comedic.

There can be such kickback when we don't want to acknowledge  what I will label "difficult stories" presented to us, especially when they challenge an already formed loyalty.

As these stories continue, it doesn't appear that we are as attached to the TV personas as much as to the need to have 300 confirmed victims, a semen stained dress, a time limitation on when this this could have taken place, eye witness accounts, and a description of what she was wearing.

May we listen as these difficult stories come forth, and remember how very hard it is for someone to speak about something for which they know they will be further attacked and discredited. 

This is why it has taken so long.
This is why there are so many.  Women are finding strength, years later, in finding that they are not the only one.

Can you imagine being a lone voice saying, I have something to say about the man you adore and revere. 

Good luck to that lone voice.

We still confuse power with greatness, and persona with goodness.  They are not the same.