The New Feminism

FEMINISM

Here’s a little thing about me.  I love being a girl.  I can get down in the mud with the best of them, but in my daily life, I like things that would be labelled ‘feminine’.  I like pink and lace.  I like having smooth legs and bouncy curly hair.  I love experimenting with make-up and feeling light and girly.  But I also believe strongly in equality.  Not just for women, for everyone.  I thought standing up to fight put me in a category that would ridicule me for my ‘girly-ness’.  I was no naive.

Growing up I believed that calling someone a ‘feminist’ was an insult.  No joke!  As a child I was a tomboy, and for a little stretch I even cut my hair short like a boy and didn’t wear make-up.  I dressed in tracksuits every day and spent my time playing soccer and fighting with my mom about ‘looking nice’ for events.  If there was ever going to be a cliche feminist in my school, it would have been me.  But I hated it!  I shrunk back, just wanting to be me.  Why do I have to label myself?  Why couldn’t I just be a girl that like the dress like a boy?  Why did I have to be a ‘feminist’?

Emma Watson said it best in her speech at the UN Conference back in 2014 when they launched the campaign #HeforShe.  If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s a must!!  She talks about this very cliche.  We’re hearing the word ‘feminist’ and putting a very ugly picture on it.  I think of a very belligerently obnoxious woman dressed to look like man, ranting about gender equality without ever giving a second to have a serious discussion or hear other opinions.  A sermon, pushing her beliefs on the rest of us.  Our opinion is wrong if it differs form hers.  Sometimes when I think of a ‘feminist’ I hear my friends mom going on and on about the disgusting cruelty of men as she smoked and refused to shower.  I see the kids teasing me at school, or the teacher who had armpit hair that they all laughed at.

(Here’s the link: Emma Watson UN Speech.  Feminism has become a bad word.)

A few months ago there was a girl in my go-to coffee shop with armpit hair and hairy legs.  I couldn’t care less about those choices, but she was being very obvious about holding her arms up and spreading her legs like she was a guy sitting down.  Her entire self said ‘look at me, I’m a feminist and I’m going to get in your face’.  I wanted to tell her that I agree with a lot of her views, but I don’t respond to her aggression.  You attack me, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying, I’m going to be defensive.  Of course it’s not all about me, but there are a lot of people who respond the same way I do.

I shy away from people like her not because I don’t believe in the same things they do, but because in my experience they look at me like I’m the problem.  Something for them to fight and pressure.  They want to tell me I’m wrong just by looking at me.  This coffee shop girl didn’t ask me a single questions.  She saw my heals and pink hair streak and labelled me.  I’d conformed to the way ‘men’ saw me.  I was playing by their rules.  Her mind was made up about me based on a single look.

What are we really fighting for?  What does being a feminist mean? Continue reading

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Red Christmas Cups

Starbucks Red CupsI’ve hesitated writing this for the last few days.  When such strong opinions start to surge through social media, pointing out the absurdity in them can often come across just as belligerent and uneducated as the original argument.  But I feel strongly with this one.  I feel we’re missing the entire point.  Instead of accidently offending everyone of one believe we’re missing that this entire debacle speaks directly to how far we still have to go to accept all the people of this world.  This is my opinion, and if I offend you, I am profoundly sorry.

From what I understand, Starbucks is under fire for being ‘anti-Jesus’ by refusing to celebrate Christmas with simple red cups.  Because they haven’t written ‘Merry Christmas’ on them (which they haven’t done in years), they’ve inadvertently sent a message to all who celebrate Christmas that they no longer support the Holiday.

I’m going to skip this overreaction and go directly to the simple fact that ‘not everyone celebrates Christmas.’

My best friend is someone I love with my whole heart.  She’s loving, caring and above all else, compassionate.  I honestly can’t say two words together negative about her.  If I were going to give a list of the attributes that make a wonderful, beautiful person, I would be listing her virtues.  We’ve been friends for ten years and the memories we’ve created together are magical.  Why do I bring her up?  She doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Her family is Vietnamese and they celebrate Chinese New Year the way we celebrate our Christmas.  I don’t know enough about Vietnamese culture to know if this is true generally, but it is true of her family.  When she and I first met working at a movie theater as teens, she quickly agreed to work Christmas Day if I would work Chinese New Year.  I immediately agreed because Christmas was such an important thing for my family.  I  never once thought anything of it.  She used to tell me about her families celebrations and once I even got to participate with her family.  It was so much fun!  I was absolutely thrilled to take part in something that means so much to her.  Every year I get her something for Chinese New Year, and every year she and I go do something Christmasy together, like see the lights at Van Dusen Gardens or see VSO choir singing Christmas Carols at Saint Andrew’s-Wesley church.  She loves the lights and festivities, and she loves the beauty of the songs and laughter.

My friend is not a judgemental person.  She’s never once walked through the thousands of stores that pour Christmas out in waves and complained that they were offending her religious beliefs.  She’s never said that she felt excluded.  She doesn’t care.  She sees our culture of Christmas and sometimes participates, but it’s never been part of her life.  When she walks into Starbucks right now and is handed a red cup, she knows it’s because of Christmas.  No one is hiding it.  It doesn’t matter to her.  Maybe it should.  Maybe she should get angry that they don’t incorporate any of her beliefs.  But instead she drinks her coffee and does the most important thing; she thanks the barista!

When I heard that this argument was taking place I was stunned.  I love Christmas!  I was raised Christian and I understand what Christmas is supposed to be about.  I’m not a practicing Christian anymore, but I grew up with nativity scenes and stories from the Bible.  I also love Starbucks.  They have gotten me through many a long day and I like their coffee.  I know there are people who prefer other companies, but that’s not the point of this.  I personally like Starbucks.  And as a raised Christian, I don’t feel offended in the slightest at their red cups. Continue reading

Most Inspirational Award

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I see a lot of blogs talk about the people that they admire, and I’ve always loved the idea.  I’ve made a list of the people I’ve always looked up to and there are some big names on there.  Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Ella Woodward…  I could write about any of them and the reasons they inspired me.  But I haven’t managed to really write something that truly affects me.  If I’m going to talk about someone who inspired me to become the person I am, and still inspires me, there is only one person that stands out.  My mom.

There’s a joke in our family that’s stuck with us for years.  My mom failed gym in high school.  We laugh about it now because she’s come a long way since then.  But still, how do you fail gym?  All you have to do is show up!  School wasn’t her top priority when she was young, and after high school she didn’t go to college.  She worked and lived with friends, and from what it sounds like, had that house everyone congregated at.  We tease her and say she had the ‘party house’ and she denies it with a smile.  It was in this timeframe she met my dad.  They were married for a few years before they decided to have a family.

Neither of my parents had post-secondary educated when they got pregnant, but with a family looming, my dad decided to go back to school and my mom became a stay at home mom and wife.  She supported my dad through school by managing the house and raising what turned into three children.

My childhood was wonderful, and I think both my parents worked extremely hard to raise three relatively well-adjusted creative and happy children.  With my dad working and going to school, I never remember a time he was absent.  They made sure that he took time out of every day to be with us.  My mom worked extremely hard every day, and I have lots of memories of activities and events she found to do for free because money was always tight.  She built a community around us and there was nothing we didn’t experience. Continue reading

Don’t Sacrifice too much for Love

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Over the weekend I met a friend for a walk around the seawall.  Dee is a wonderful person I met a few years ago and we’ve often said that we met exactly when we both needed one another.  She was going through a divorce and I was struggling through the end of a horrible relationship.  We supported one another through the healing process and really gave each other the courage to heal and have the courage to believe in our biggest dreams.  She and I have talked often about our past and currently relationships in very supportive ways, so it was no surprise that we started talking again about how we were doing in our love lives.  She said something during our talk that really struck a chord.  She thought the reason my past relationship failed was because I sacrificed too much.  At first I wasn’t sure that was right, but she started lining it up for me and I couldn’t say anything .  We all sacrifice for the people we love, but there is such thing as giving too much for not enough return.

Here’s the list.  I gave up my home in the city for his home in the suburbs.  I’m the type of person that loves the hustle and excitement of the big city, so moving to a place where the closest coffee shop was fifteen blocks away and everything closes at 7 was a real change.  I don’t usually get home from work until 7 or 8, so basically once I got home there was nothing to do.  He was a hiker and mountain biker, so I gave up my lifestyle to make his easier.  At the time I didn’t mind because I loved him and I wanted him to be happy.  I tried to make it work.  Moving away from the city meant I gave up the ease in which I saw my friends.  They went from living a few blocks away to at least a 30 minute drive away.  I gave up my food routine and adapted to his way of eating because he complained about not getting enough of certain things and I was the only one who cooked.  I gave up big portions of my weekend because we moved into a bigger place than I was used too, and he didn’t really help clean.  He tried sometimes, but he just didn’t get it and I didn’t want to nag.  Now none of this seems particularly huge to me.  We all give certain things up.  But what Dee pointed out was that I got nothing in return.

I’m not a give and take person all the time.  I believe in karma and positive energy, and sometimes you help someone just to help them.  I don’t always need a reward or payment.  But in a relationship, there needs to be a certain equality.  After awhile, the things I was sacrificing piled up until I started to resent it, and because of how unhappy I was, more and more things started falling away from me.  I sacrificed my health because I was depressed.  I was eating poorly and eventually ended up medicated for anxiety.  I stopped seeing my friends because getting to them was too difficult, and I felt guilty about asking them to trek out to me.  I sacrificed every ounce of confidence I had at events because I was constantly worried about him and his social anxiety problems.  I sacrificed time with my family, because his anxiety made it hard for him to visit them, but it had no affect on seeing his family, so we visited them way more than we visited mine.  In short, it became all about him and not enough about me. Continue reading

Personal Review

Self reflectionI have this new friend who just started working with the company a few months ago.  Super interesting guy with all these ideas of how to make a workplace as happy and effective as possible.  I sat down with him today to talk about what makes a good work environment, and things veered off into the world of psychology.   He showed me his blog, and talked about the things he does to ensure his own personal growth.  One of the things he does is a yearly review.

This is sort of like a review you would go through at work, only you’re looking at your life as a whole instead of your professional world.  I found it so interesting I decided to use his guide to do my first ever personal review.

Here are the categories he used; Love, Purpose, Community, Evolution, Inspiration, Health, Work, Finance, and My Drivers.  Basically you look at each one of those categories and figure out where you are.  So here goes!!

Love is the first one.  The ultimate question.  Do I have love in my life?  Now this isn’t all about a significant other, it’s about love everywhere.  I am not dating anyone right now, but I have love in my life.  My family loves me, my best friends love me, and what’s even more important, I love them back.  I’m confident in saying there’s all kinds of love floating around my world right now.  I just need to remember to appreciate it.

Community is about giving back.  Am I helping anyone?  Honestly, not really.  This whole year for me has been about self-reflection, and trying to get back to a place where I’m happy with myself.  I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of my success.  But maybe it’s time to start looking outside myself again, and to put the same effort into helping others.

Evolution.  Am I the same person I was this time last year?  Heck no!!  My personal journey has been massive this year!!  This time last year, I was just getting over my biggest breakup ever.  I was hitting the gym hard, trying to quickly get ready to move on and up.  I was living with my friend, who was basically taking care of me.  I had all these plans for a great future.  Now, I’m living on my own, I love my apartment, my health is steadily coming under control, and what’s most exciting, is I’m generally happy!!  This time last year I was all about hiding my pain, and convincing the world that I was fine.  Right now, I’m about living life to the fullest, and achieving the things I want. Continue reading