Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

I am a humanist, and by default, that makes me a feminist.

I used to feel weird with that term…it seemed akin to saying, “I know the struggle, sisters!” when I really don’t.

But in ways…while I can’t say I know the struggle completely, I can at least sympathize.

Single Mom; Big Sister

My parents divorced when I was five years old. My father became a summer thing — someone I saw during summer break; someone who had little bearing on the man I became. The women in my life shaped the man I’d later become. I’m proud of the man I became, and I owe much of that to my mother and my sister.

My father resented that in ways. During summers, he tried turning me into the angry bigot he became, and when I would not abide, he blamed it on my mother — even though it was my own innate morals that prevented me from being swayed.

In that move — blaming my mother for me not becoming the son he wanted — it became clear to me that there were men in the world who would brand certain women Jezebels. If only my father could have seen the angry drunk I saw.

(For all my father’s faults, he was a very loving man with us — even when drunk…which was kind of all the time. It is not my intent to slam on those long gone who cannot defend themselves, but I also refuse to elevate the dead to some higher stature simply because they are gone. My dad and I had our share of arguments, and they all ended with him feeling shamed and me feeling bad that I scolded a man I believed I should have held in much higher regard.)

Life Was Not Perfect

My mom was not always there for us. Some would hold a grudge, but as I grew older and my mom became my friend, I got it. My mom was handed the shit end of the stick. My father paid $120 a month in child support for my sister and me and, if he didn’t feel like taking us for the weekend, my mom was left with the fallout. My mom was also flawed — most of us are when we are younger, so this is not a case of “Mom was better than Dad.” By their own admissions, they both — at times — professed that they should not have had children together. (This never bothered me, but it bothered my sister.)

My mom was a keypunch operator. By that, I mean she punched keys on cards that were inserted into rudimentary computers to run statistics for an insurance company. She busted her ass while my father was sometimes in between jobs and sometimes couldn’t pay the $120 a month he owed for my sister and me. My mom, to my knowledge, never gave him shit for that.

Da Bitchez!!!

My father, as much as he loved me, was a bigot and a misogynist. My mother was the bitch who left him; my step mother was a cunt who deserved to die when she left him. Everything was everybody’s fault but his own.

This was my male role model.

Even sadder, I know more than a handful of men who make my father seem like Jane Fonda.

I never understood branding a gender as harpies when I could look at the men throwing out that name and see all their faults. Even today, I know men who look at the rare exception of a woman screwing over a guy and saying that’s the way “all bitches be,” and getting mad at those of us who say, “Are you calling my wife and all the other women in my life ‘bitches?'”

When Friends Breed

When I was 20, a friend announced he got his girlfriend pregnant. It was a boy…and almost 25 years later, they are still together — with another boy and a girl…smart young men and a young women about to have their shot at ruling the world.

A very good friend has two daughters; my best friend has a daughter and wonders what the future has in store for her. I like to think that they will have the shot I have — maybe even more.

How can a man look at the women and girls in his life he cares for and not call himself a feminist?!

Feminism

I saw a quote by John Marcotte today:

John Marcotte quote: "Don't allow men who hate women to define feminism as women who hate men."

Check out http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/feminist-man-know-john-marcotte-founder-heroic-girls/

I don’t get it: any man who has lived long enough has, at some point, met a woman who’s important to him. For me, early on, it was my mother and my sister. I’m not saying they are/were perfect (my sister died when I was 33 and she was 38), but they were vital to who I am. My wife and I have been together for more than 22 years — how could I not want the best for her?! I look at female friends and the daughters of friends — and to even think they are somehow less than male friends would make me a loser if I felt that way.

I do not feel the need to protect these women any more than I feel the need to protect any friend, but I see these women taking more shit than the men and guys I know.

And that’s why I don’t mind saying I am a feminist. It still feels a bit weird, I’ll admit. It’s a word that I feel I can’t lay claim to because…well, I pee standing up — and while I do not have the privilege of some white males, I’d be lying if I said I’ve lived a life without some privilege.

The Cockroach Effect

There are people in the world who seem very loud: tea party ranters, flat-earth embracers, and others of that ilk. But it’s a death rattle — the prattling of those who feel their easy ride to a snug and smug life is being denied.

They are being buried, lost in the wake of even young conservatives who see that their gay friends marrying is not the end of the world. They are loud because they’re living on borrowed time and being buried by progress.

Much like that, men who hate women fume. They say women who are raped are “lying bitches,” and they turn their 8th-grade views of women into a false realities and then scream that they are being oppressed more than any other group on the planet when their hate is called out for what it is.

As long as tiny man-boys like that exist, I will have no problem saying, “Yes, I am a feminist!”

LinkedIn Traffic Tip

This is from an entry I recently wrote on The Juggling Writer.

I recently did one little thing that increased traffic from LinkedIn to my websites almost three fold: I customized my link descriptions.

Before and After

My link descriptions used to read “Personal Website” and “Blog” — the standard LinkedIn defaults (along with “Company Website”).

Also, I never used the third slot LinkedIn allows for links to user websites.

Instead of “Personal Website” and “Blog, ” now it looks like this:

The Importance of LinkedIn

Since I started freelancing, LinkedIn has become more important than ever to me. By customizing links (and using the third slot LinkedIn offers for websites), more people are coming to my sites through LinkedIn and seeing that I can produce regular Web content.

How To

This is how I customized my website links:

1. While logged into LinkedIn, select Profile > Edit Profile

2.Under Websites, click Edit.

3. Change the websites dropdown from the default settings (“Personal Website,” “Company Website,” “Blog”) to Other.

3. In the center column, enter what you’d like viewers to see for your LinkedIn website links.

4. In the right column, enter the site URLs.

5. Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

Use All Three

Even if you only have one or two websites, use all three fields available to you.

Link to an about page, or another page you’d like people to see. (I have a link to the main Juggling Writer page and a link to my About page to fill all three fields.)

The slots are there — why not use them?

There’s Still More You Have To Do

Simply changing the look of your website links on Linkedin won’t drive traffic to your website — you have to be active on LinkedIn.

If I only wrote fiction, I wouldn’t go to this effort, but since I pay the bills writing Web content and as a technical writer and editor, LinkedIn is where I’ve been finding work.

In my case, I answer questions on LinkedIn, post useful information instead of just collecting contacts, and reply to people there.

I didn’t change any of my LinkedIn habits before making these simple changes to my website links; once the changes were made, though, I saw traffic to my websites increase.

If you’re active on LinkedIn, hopefully this will work for you, too.

(And if you’re on LinkedIn and want to add me as a connection, feel free.)

Looking Up

I’ve bumped into quite a few down people lately.

When we chat about it, they feel bad for venting because — with the exception of one month — I’ve been unemployed since December, 2009…

They know I’m uninsured and essentially pay the equivalent of another rent for medication each month…

They know I have a pituitary tumor that leaves me feeling dizzy and cruddy…

Some of the people I’ve chatted with feel like they have no reason to be down, but it’s not a contest.

If they hurt, they hurt…

*          *          *

When I look at the last year of my life, maybe I should be down.

I’ve watched the emergency fund disappear and I don’t know when I’ll find my next job.

My wife isn’t working, either — we’re a zero-income household. (I’m sure we’re not alone.)

When I look at things, though, all I see is a good year.

Here’s why:

  • I see more friends than usual, and I’ve made new friends.
  • I attended two conferences I scheduled while employed.
  • I go for walks whenever I want.
  • I swim.
  • I juggle.
  • I write.
  • I edit.
  • I write some more.
  • I’m about to start podcasting.
  • I’m back to pitching articles.
  • I spend a lot of time with my wife, which has been the best part of this past year.

I have less security than I’ve had in years, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

I wish I could help the people I know who are down. I’m sure I’d be very down if I wasn’t doing things I love in between job hunting and taking care of responsibilities. The best I can offer to anybody who’s down is to not just do something you love, but do it consistently!

Doing something you love on a regular basis is the best way I know to avoid the blues.

I can look at my feet and feel sorry for myself, or I can look up knowing I’ve been having the best year of my life because I’m working on things I love, even though they aren’t yet making any money.

A New Year

Chatting with friends and watching the news, it seems many people are glad to see 2009 go.

I spent the first half of the year dealing with a health issue that’s bothered me since 2004. I watched the calendar approach May 26 (when I turned 40) and spent too much time  thinking about the writing I hadn’t done. I was laid off the week before Christmas.

I could say I’m glad to see 2009 go…but I’d be lying.

I made a lot of progress with the health issue in 2009. In looking back at the writing I hadn’t done, I realized how much I have done in the 20 years I’ve been writing seriously. I turned 40 on the top of Enchanted Rock with my wife at my side on a perfect morning. While I was laid off from a job I liked, I see the opportunity before me. I spent hours and hours over miles and miles of walks and runs chatting with my wife about our dreams. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years, and got iced in at my mom’s apartment on Christmas Eve. I made great progress of my third novel — enough progress that I’ll have it done in a couple months.

2009 was definitely not without its rough spots, but it would be a shame to not look at the good things that happened, too.

As I look back on the good and bad of the past year, I look forward to 2010 even more than I usually look forward to a new year.

I can see why many people didn’t like 2009, but I’m betting if they really looked at it, they’d see a lot of good things that prepared them for the year of possibilities ahead!

White Christmas

A white Christmas in north Texas?

Yes, it actually happened!

My wife and I were iced in at my mom’s apartment on Christmas Eve; it was one of the best holidays ever! (Check out The Juggling Writer blog for a blog post about the gift of books.)

I hope everybody’s been having a great holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

The Layoff

On the Thursday before Christmas, I was laid off from the job I’ve had for the last five years. The group I was in dodged all previous rounds of layoffs, but that afternoon, they reduced the group I was in [Technical Publications] in half.

I kind of saw this coming; in fact, I helped myself out of the job!

One of the several clients I worked with for years wanted to take over what I did for them. I knew that if I were successful in training them that they would succeed and no longer need my help. No longer needing help meant that my biggest project was gone, and that I was part of the cuts this time.

It’s fine, though: I got to visit Oregon several times and have the satisfaction of helping clients who became friends over the years. I’ll miss working with them, but I’m glad I helped them grow and become self sufficient.

I know the economy is rough, but I see this as a great opportunity. I understand why the company I worked for had to cut back, and I hope they are able to focus on the clients they have and grow again. It’s a neat little company, and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunities I had there to edit, write, and train people. I made many great friends and learned and taught myself many things.