Friday, February 13, 2015

Matt Walsh & "Mansplaining" at Its Finest



Matt Walsh is a popular conservative* who describes himself as a blogger, writer, speaker, and professional truth sayer. His blog posts and articles on The Blaze are widely read and shared by many on social media. In the “Donate to me” section of his blog, he explains that he “spends hours writing and working on the absolute truths you love to read and share.”

*I say conservative, because he is mostly read and shared by citizens who share similar conservative beliefs. I do not know if or how he votes politically, but if you read enough of his blog posts, you will find he leans toward Republicans and away from anything that could remotely identify as feminism or liberalism. He often states that he is simply a justice seeker upholding the constitution. You will need to read for yourself to get a better understanding of his beliefs across the board (or don’t.) 

Today I’m just going to reference one topic that he’s touched on a few times recently: Birth Control. (I know, I know—white men will never get tired of sharing their opinions on women, their bodies, or their meds.) 

He recently wrote an article entitled: “Birth Control Pills: Men Get Free Sex, Women Could Get Cancer”.

I’m not part of the “meme scene”, but, in reference to that headline, I feel like this is an opportunity to say that escalated quickly. 

Before I give you the link to THAT article, I want to give you a bit of back story. 
Matt Walsh has also written articles on why women shouldn’t expect their employers to provide birth control; he says, if we want it, we should just go “spend the $15” and get it ourselves. Spoken like someone who has never purchased birth control. 

You can read his reasoning in his article below—and while I understand and agree with religious protections, his argument that women only use birth control so we can have "free sex" is stupid and so is the argument to exclude birth control. I would say it’s offensive, but this type of thinking is too commonplace to be shocking or offensive anyway. It’s just dumb. 

http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/03/25/a-brilliant-and-innovative-solution-for-women-who-want-birth-control/

His argument is that companies with a moral, religious opposition to birth control shouldn’t have to supply it to their employees through their company health insurance coverage, because that would violate employers’ constitutional rights.

His “brilliant and innovative solution for women who want birth control” is to…

"Pay for it yourselves.
Or find an employer that chooses to provide it.
Or have sex and don’t use it.
Or don’t have sex.
Basically, take responsibility for your sex life, one way or another.
There you go. I’ve solved this dilemma. You’re welcome.”

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he writes so flippantly about this because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and is trying to be funny. Also, because he’s a man, who doesn’t ever have to worry about getting pregnant. 

We all know how cost effective it is to buy prescription pills out of pocket. We all know how easy it is in this economy to just pick and choose the jobs you want based on their health benefit options. (I hope you can read the sarcasm here.) 

He makes it clear that women need to take responsibility for our sex lives. Matt Walsh seems to firmly believe that the only REAL reason women are ever on birth control is because they hate babies and they want to have “consequence free” sex all the time. This is way of shaming women for having sex lives—while the men are… absolved? It takes two to tango, buddy. So in the same argument, he says that we need to exert self-control over our bodies and reproductive systems, BUT we should feel duped and guilty if we do so in a way he does not agree with [by using birth control]. 

He says: “…Of course — birth control is popular. It’s popular because it helps you have less babies, and we all know that babies are a disease (which is why the morning after pill is called “preventative medication”) and a punishment (according to the president, anyway).” 

This is a spoken like a guy who has never had to worry about becoming pregnant and will never have to actually birth a child. He also happens to be super good at jumping to conclusions, “wry” humor aside. 

What is wrong with not wanting as many kids are your body can physically produce?
I am going to come out and say it here. I will decide if and when I want to have children. 
Do accidental pregnancies occur? You bet! Statistics show that almost half of all pregnancies are unplanned. These babies can be born healthy and into fully functional family who have the means and will to take care of them. I have nothing against kids. What I do have a problem with are the people who have a million kids (exaggeration) by choice and not enough means to care for them. Matt Walsh doesn’t believe in government handouts either—so he’s not going to be advocating to help feed or clothe those kids. 

I am not shaming or judging women who chose to have families and raise children. I say “More power to you” to those mothers who are able to be stay at home moms and chose to do so, because that shit ain’t easy! I’m impressed by mothers like mine, who work two jobs and go to college at night with four kids, and rarely a complaint. The bottom line is, it’s your choice! Good for you, not for me (as spoken by the wisest, most beautiful funny-woman ever, Amy Poehler). 

What I don’t understand is how people use religion and MORALS as an excuse to judge and shame women who decide to work for a living. These days, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) for true middle and lower class families to afford to have a stay at home parent and make ends meet. It’s also difficult for two working parents to be able to afford day care on top of all the other expenses that raising a child can bring. 

I’m not saying children aren’t rewarding, but parents should get to decide when they’re ready (if ever) to have them in order to provide them with the best possible living situation—as well as maintaining the mental sanity of the parents. 

There are people who believe you are interfering with God’s will if you’re not actively trying to get pregnant every time you have sex. These people don’t believe in birth control, but they also don’t believe in condoms either. They believe in having as many kids as your womb can possibly hold until you’re too old to do so. Sounds fun, right? If it’s something they’re into—go for it. But it’s also very taxing on the female body (and, I would also imagine—psyche). 

Methods aside, you don’t need to think babies are a disease to understand that you may not be prepared to have one. You don’t need an excuse or a justification to be a responsible person who decides they don’t want to get pregnant at this (or any) point in time because they don’t want children or can’t afford them or whatever else your reason is. The end. 

I probably don’t need to explain to you that women (& even teens) can have issues with their “lady parts” that are sometimes best remedied by the use of hormonal birth control. 

Here are some LEGITIMATE medical issues that hormonal birth control can help treat or control. (Beware—there’s some mention of “periods” here, which many dudes may find “gross”.)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Endometriosis
Irregular Periods
Lacking Periods
Heavy Periods
Menstrual Cramps 
And even Acne.
It’s also been shown to reduce the likelihood of anemia, ovarian cysts, ovarian and endometrial cancers. 

Unless you have suffered any of these issues, which I doubt Matt Walsh has, you may not know that many doctors and gynecologists recommend birth control as treatment. You also might not know how uncomfortable and inhibiting some of these conditions can be. (Keep this in mind, because he will later try to explain that women need to liberate ourselves by putting down the birth control and “reclaiming” our lives and biology. He will go onto explain that birth control is anti-feminist. It gets good.) 

To Matt’s credit, he does seem to rethink his original blanket statement about the REAL reason women use birth control, because at the end of his article he added the following, patronizing disclaimer: 

Update: despite closing this post with “the end,” I feel the urge to offer a few responses to the most frequent(ly off base) responses from Nanny State Proponents.

Response: “But lots of women use birth control for medical reasons that extend beyond preventing pregnancy.”

Answer: Yes, some do. There’s absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of birth control users are using it to prevent pregnancy, but some women do, in fact, take them for difference reasons.

On the other side of that equation, it’s also true that many of these medical issues — hormonal imbalances, acne, etc — can be, and often should be, addressed in other ways. But what about the medical maladies that absolutely cannot be treated through ANY other means, aside from birth control? Well, now we’ve whittled the percentage down even further.”

Matt Walsh is speaking like a doctor who knows best about women’s bodies and medical issues. He also sounds like he knows all about treating these issues and that there MUST be other ways to treat female reproductive problems that don’t involve hormones, and align more with his train of (erroneous) thought. He also claims that he speaks in absolute truths, and when he ends an article with “THE END” that must be all there is to it. It’s one thing to have an opinion—we’re all entitled to them—it’s another to imply that your opinion is absolute truth. 

He also went on to explain that he wants LIBERTY for everyone! Including organizations that don’t believe in antibiotics. He writes:

“Response: “Well, what if a Scientologist/Jehovah’s Witness/Whoever doesn’t want to provide health insurance that covers antibiotics, due to their religious beliefs?”

Answer: Then that is their right. See, you can’t back me into a corner with this liberty thing. I’m not afraid to take my convictions to whatever extreme and unlikely conclusion you can conjure.”

(I would assume, by this logic, that his fervent efforts to throw big government off the backs of job creating America would also include emancipating anti-vaxxers from the shackles of employee insurance coverage that includes the MMR vaccine. That’s just my opinion though—you’d have to ask him.) 

I laid all of this out there for you to read and understand his point of view before reading his more recent article “Birth Control Pills: Men Get Free Sex, Women Could Get Cancer”.
http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/birth-control-pills-men-get-free-sex-women-get-cancer/

Where do I even begin?

Well, Matt starts his article off by stating: “I saw on the news last week that birth control pills are now potentially linked to brain cancer.” 

He included a link to this Time Magazine article: http://time.com/3677129/birth-control-risks-may-include-brain-cancer/

Check out the second paragraph of the Time article Matt used as the basis for his argument. The Doctor who conducted the study that shows a POSSIBLE link between hormonal birth control and a specific and rare type of brain cancer explained: “Their results, published Thursday in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, raise questions about the connection between oral contraceptives and brain cancer, but shouldn’t yet be interpreted as a reason to stop taking birth control.”

This study was legitimate and it did raise questions—but I find it interesting that Matt Walsh chose to write an entire article based on a single study that raised questions

The Doctor went on explaining the rarity of this certain type of brain cancer (glioma) and said, “If you look at women in Denmark aged 15 to 49, about five in 100,000 experience that terrible diagnosis in a year, and that figure includes women on hormonal contraceptives, so it’s a very rare event….with the present knowledge we have, I would still favor using contraception in eligible women, but we need to do more research to get a better handle on the issues.”

So—the study shows that 5 in 100,000 women per year may be diagnosed. Considering the popularity (and for good reason) of birth control, would it be too hard to believe that half of those 5 women a year were on birth control? That’s not a very big percentage when you consider the actual rates of that specific type of cancer. I bet half of those women also ate fast food or smoked cigarettes or drank more the 3 glasses of wine per week. Or perhaps 3 of those women had a genetic disposition to cancer. 

I don’t want to come off as someone who is not empathetic to men and women who get cancer. It’s tragic, and awful, and has personally affected my own family. I hope that scientists and doctors continue to run studies and trials to find a cure SOON. However, Matt Walsh (Not-a-Doctor) loves jumping to conclusions and, in this case, he likes to use fear mongering to make his point.

I am not na├»ve. I am not saying to dismiss health warnings. I am aware that all prescription (and even OTC) medications can have side effects; some may even cause long term damage that we may not yet know about. I am not belittling anyone’s struggles with the side effects of birth control. I personally notice that my chances of getting migraines, especially around my most hormonal times of the month, increase when I am on BC. Some people actually use BC to TREAT migraines, so it can affect everyone differently.

However—I made a conscious decision to put up with that side effect in order to not have to deal with all of the other issues I experience when I’m not on [it]—like irregular or extended periods that are so painful, sometimes I throw up in the shower or have to call out of work. For me, it’s the lesser of two evils. That’s my personal choice. One day, I might decide to change my mind.  I have some friends and family who experience no side effects whatsoever (I’m a bit jealous of them). When Matt Walsh and my doctors come up with a better solution for me that doesn’t involve hormonal birth control, I’ll most definitely consider it!

I am not a doctor, and neither is Matt Walsh. The only person who should be helping you decide whether or not birth control is a good fit for you is your doctor. If you’re unsure, get a second and third opinion. Do your research online, as well, so you know what they’re talking about when you make your appointment. 

Do not listen to people like Matt Walsh who think it’s their duty to blog at home all day and tell you what is right—physically and morally— for you and your body. 

The article went on to compare cigarettes, trans-fats, and sugary sodas (all things that are bad for you—duh) to birth control. It read that the only reason BC wasn’t getting as severely scrutinized [as these other bad things] was because [it] is the “Eucharist to liberal feminism,” because the pill is viewed as ‘a “liberation” from their feminine biology.’

He goes on to make this point: “If a woman’s reproductive powers were seen as powers, rather than a disease or a burden or an oppression, I think conservatives and liberals alike could find many common reasons to reject the pill.”

I find that I can get behind some of this statement, but who is ADVOCATING for women’s reproductive powers to be seen as powers by the rest of society? Not Matt Walsh—unless he’s counting this article. 

The work force is not especially conducive to women in general, particularly women of the childbearing age. (This is a whole separate issue for another day.) 

If society was more accepting and accommodating to women who wanted to have families AND work (in order to afford families), then perhaps more women would be having more children, or having children earlier. But people like Matt Walsh making this argument are not the same people advocating for flexible work hours or better maternity leave benefits. They would consider this an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of businesses. They don’t want the government giving “handouts” and tax breaks to women who need to put their children in day care in order to work, because we should be paying for our sexual consequences ourselves. Matt doesn’t view babies as diseases, but they are most definitely our own consequences.

He has a lot of opinions and zero solutions. 

This generation is totally different from our parents. Lots of twenty-somethings are stuck living at their parents’ houses, because they can’t get jobs that pay enough to live alone right out of college (and many college educated students are in LOADS of debt). At my age, women in my mother’s generation were working on their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd kids. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable to be a stay at home mom in a middle class family back then. Today, times have changed. 

Women don’t get enough credit for the amazing feats we pull off—like growing a tiny person inside of us, pushing it out, and then taking care of it for the next 20+ years. However, if society were to suddenly change, embrace motherhood, offer more than 8 weeks of for maternity leave, offer flexible schedules and fair pay….THE PILL probably still wouldn’t need to be extinguished, because there would still be women who chose to take it because they just don’t want kids. There would still be women who have medical issues (not-withstanding any medicinal breakthroughs). 

Matt Walsh implies that if WOMEN would just stop taking the pill, THEN they would be truly liberated in society. That is some backwards reasoning, sir. 

Matt then pretends to understand feminism, and, of course, allows himself to speak on the behalf of feminists (I’m not saying that men cannot get behind or understand feminism or call themselves feminists. I’m saying Matt Walsh is not one of those men, and he makes that clear.)
He says, “Feminists are on a constant quest to find double standards, yet they miss the most obvious ones. Women assume the enormous risk and consequence of birth control, and men just get free sex out of the deal. Where is the feminist outrage when you need it?”

Yes, like we discussed, there are risked associated with taking birth control pills, but who says men are getting FREE SEX because of it? People like Matt Walsh always like to subtly (or not so subtly) imply that women who feel the need to be on birth control must be sluts, sleeping around with anyone who will have them. I laugh to myself when I think of my lesbian friends who are on/ or have been on birth control at some point, usually for medical reasons. (I doubt they’re trying too hard to prevent a pregnancy.) I’m going to ignore the whole “men get free sex part” because it’s irrelevant, speculative, and sexist. 

Would Matt Walsh say that men choosing to wear condoms are promoting FREE SEX with women? 

If a woman chooses to have sex with a man, and both parties consent—it’s sex. If she doesn’t consent and sexual relations happen anyway—it’s rape. There’s no in between and nothing is “free”. 

This is a typical reaction from the kind of people who share Matt Walsh’s mind set. A medical matter—a woman’s choice that does not need to revolve around men somehow revolves around men. That’s why men think they have a right to MANSPLAIN these kind of things to you, silly woman!

SIDE NOTE: This is a good place to share the Urban Dictionary's definition of  

Mansplain: to delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.

Use in a sentence: 'Even though he knew she had an advanced degree in neuroscience, he felt the need to mansplain "there are molecules in the brain called neurotransmitters."' 

It’s not the most eloquent explanation (it IS Urban Dictionary, after all), but I think you get the point. I also saw this funny “article” just this morning that seems quite fitting. Check out #9! http://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinharris/reporters-asking-female-celebrities-the-wrong-damn-q#.gxWjVBYw2e

Matt then goes on to explain why hormones and chemicals are bad for women. I don’t disagree that we are a society quick to medicate, and in an ideal world, everything would be organic and we would never have to put anything potentially harmful into our bodies. That is not the world we live in, and again, most women on BC have understood the implications and have realized that the benefits outweigh the possible risks. There are so many things that could be harmful to our bodies as women and as humans. This particular thing is easy to jump on because it helps backs someone’s agenda. 

Matt believes that by taking birth control, you are diseasing your own body. (He also said we believe babies are diseases.) He said that anything that affects the natural course that our reproductive organs would take is wrong. Even if that natural course means causing us extreme, pain, discomfort, inconvenience, or illness— we should just deal with it, because that’s how are uteruses are supposed to be, and God made them that way. I wonder how he would react if, under the same logic, we concluded that men with erectile dysfunction should just deal with it because God made those flaccid penises and taking a little blue pill is unnatural.

Matt Walsh: “The birth control pill is a dramatic and potentially harmful “medication” designed to “cure” a natural function of a woman’s body. It seems that men who develop and push these pills are vaguely sexist and anti-woman (OK, not vaguely) because they have literally made a female’s reproductive system into a sickness.”

Matt Walsh speaking out against sexist men, people! 

He continues to outline the possible harmful side effects. I think it’s funny that he believes we are all too stupid to read or understand the warning labels ourselves. Or that we don’t have conversations with our own doctors. 

He cites an article in which a breast cancer oncologist and surgeon emphatically proclaims that there is a high risk of breast cancer and birth control. I am also not a doctor, and I’m not going to undermine what she says, because she is. It all depends on who you ask, however. Like I mentioned earlier, other scientists and doctors have found that birth control has been shown to reduce the likelihood of anemia, ovarian cysts, ovarian and endometrial cancers. 

If we knew exactly what causes breast and other cancers, we would be far more advanced in our treatments of it. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure YET.

Today, we are aware of some of the more obvious causes of cancer: UV rays, tobacco, radiation, asbestos, and genetics. I’m sure you’ve all read articles claiming wine, chocolate, milk, red meat, alcohol, fluoride in the drinking water, and even cell phones could cause cancer. Then I’m sure you’ve read that red wine and chocolate and coffee could actually prevent cancer. And everything gets really confusing.  

I hate cancer, and it would really suck if, years down the road, we discovered that BC is as likely to cause cancer as cigarettes. It may happen. And for the last time, I’m not telling you to start taking birth control. I’m telling you to do your research. Know what you’re putting into your body, know the risks, weigh the benefits, and make your choice. Do not let someone pretending to care about women’s health and well-being dictate your health choices to you. 

My favorite part of Matt’s article is where he blames divorce on birth control. He cites some studies that show the hormonal effects of birth control can overcome a woman’s brain (and sense of free will and choice) and cause her to be attracted to men she otherwise would not be attracted to. The same can be said for beer goggles I guess. 

These studies (Which rely heavily on the words “may”, “might”, “likely”) say that women on the pill who then get off the pill are more likely to cheat on their partners. Again—blame the women for everything. I personally have been on and off the pill for 5 years. I usually like Brian all the time. The pill has no effect on whether or not I find him attractive. The times he decides to cut his own hair however….. (Ha Ha. Kidding!!)

Matt cites the correlation between prevalent pill usage and divorce rates. He says, “This is one, though not the only, reason why the rates of birth control usage and divorce track almost identically. As the pill gained prevalence, so did divorce. That doesn’t necessarily prove anything, and you certainly can’t blame a pill for your decision to get divorced, but it’s a correlation that no honest person can ignore.”

IT DOESN’T PROVE ANYTHING, BUT…

Here’s a good, informative NY Times article that actually shows declining divorce rates in our country, citing birth control as a factor in that decline.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/upshot/the-divorce-surge-is-over-but-the-myth-lives-on.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

The article explains that birth control helped get more women into the work force, and “as a result, marriage has evolved to its modern-day form, based on love and shared passions, and often two incomes and shared housekeeping duties.” Go figure. 

I would like to think that divorce rates also went up as women realized they could provide for themselves, and didn’t have to be stuck home all day watching 5 kids if they didn’t want to be. They had a means to leave abusive relationships—something many women in the 50s and 60s (pre-birth control and feminism movement) did not have. 

Matt claims that the divorce rate among couples who practice “natural family planning” are less than 3%. Natural family planning is great for those who have the patience for it (tracking your ovulation cycle with monthly calendars), and if you’re OK with the fact that in order for it to work and not get pregnant, you can’t have sex (even in a happily married relationship) for about 1/3 of the month. Also—the average “user failure rate” is around 25%. Which means even people who are trying really hard to follow it to the T, still have a 25% chance of an unplanned pregnancy. That’s a pretty high chance, if you ask me. 

I would be interested to see the real reason why Natural Family Planners have significantly lower divorce rates. I would take a wild guess and figure it has something to do with the fact that people who don’t believe in using condoms for moral reasons have even stronger moral reasons against getting divorced. (I’m not making a pro-divorce statement—just making an observation.)

He finishes his argument by claiming that people creating and selling the pill to women are degrading their worth by making money off of them. I’m going to try not to point out the fact that anyone who partakes or purchases anything is allowing someone to make money off of you.

Matt Says: “I am rarely one to play the “S” Card*, but perhaps this is where we ought to be looking in search of workplace sexism. I can tell you this: if scientists ever develop a birth control pill for men that renders them impotent, potentially causes cancer, requires them to take a dose every day, and makes their testicles shrivel, I can guarantee that drug would not be among Rite Aid’s best sellers. Even the men who love the female birth control pill would suddenly find the whole idea rather distasteful and degrading.”

*Note that Matt does not seem to BELIEVE in sexism, and refers to it as “the S card”.

I can tell you why men are not into the idea of male birth control (and why it hasn’t been developed yet in 2015)—it’s because men and women who are anti-Feminism believe that it is the women’s job to handle the whole kid thing. Your body, your pregnancy, your kid, your responsibility. It’s our fault if we get pregnant. It’s our fault is we poison our bodies with BC in an attempt to avoid getting pregnant. I can also tell you that I am not impotent and I don’t have a shriveled uterus… (Thanks for the imagery though, Matt!)

I read an article the other day about a man being hailed as a HERO because his Armenian wife gave birth to a baby with down-syndrome in Armenia (a country not known for its good treatment, inclusion, or aid programs for mentally or physically handicapped people) and decided she would prefer to give the baby up for adoption. He claimed she threatened to divorce him if he kept the baby (which he did). He then went on to crowd fund the internet and raised tens of thousands of dollars to help him raise his son. I am glad the baby will be taken care of by a parent. I am glad this baby won’t be shipped off to an Armenian orphanage, but I don’t think the dad is a hero. He’s a father taking care of his kid. 

If a woman was hailed in the news for every time she stepped up to the plate and took care of her kids after their father left—there would be NO AIR TIME to talk about anything else on the news. Let’s not get into crowd funding child rearing. 

This was a rare situation, and since it’s so rare—the public seems to think it’s an amazing story. A DAD who didn’t leave his kid when his evil mother did! Her side of the story has more recently come out—though not with the viral sensationalism as the father’s— and seems to contradict much of his sob story. This woman was demonized because she felt she couldn’t handle raising this baby with special needs in a country where she would likely receive no support. It is so common place there, that the hospital gave her the choice immediately after the child was born—keep it or give it up for adoption.

In a world where men reign supreme, our AMERICAN news media decided to make this story about an Armenian mother and a New Zealander father front page news. Probably, because that kind of stuff rarely happens here, and it was a “feel good” story. 

(This is not a commentary on the treatment of mentally and physically handicapped people. I personally believe that they should be compassionately cared for by the people who are best able to do it. I believe in support systems for the handicapped and their care takers, along with both private and government programs that help them (and their care takers) adapt mentally, physically, and financially to the world around them in order to provide them with the best quality of life possible. However—just remember that not every country is as advanced or capable as we are. It is never easy to raise a mentally handicapped child, but it is definitely much more difficult in other areas of the world.) 

I’m going to wrap this up, because this is getting long, and the more I write and think about it the more aggravated I get. All you have to do is read the comments people leave on Matt’s blog or Facebook posts to realize that MANY men & even women agree with his train of thought.
There is a common practice of using MORAL, “Christian*” guilt to make women feel as though they are fully responsible for the results of sex with men. People like this are the same people who complain and protest when OBAMA wants to offer free or reduced cost child care. Why should we have to pay for SOMEONE else’s kid?! THANKS, OBAMA!

 Do you see the contradictions in their beliefs? 

*I put “Christian” is quotation marks because real Christians following the MAIN COMMANDMENT of Jesus (Love God & love your neighbor as yourself) have no place judging or making others to feel guilty about their choices. It’s not their business, and they won’t win more brownie points with God being insufferable on their soap boxes. I know plenty of lovely, Christian people who do not act this way—they are charitable and loving towards everyone. I also believe that feminism and Christianity need not be mutually exclusive. Don’t lump all Christians in with this dude.

The REAL problem (and Matt doesn’t even know it) gets summed up in his closing remarks:

“…If I worked at a place where I thought my chemically imposed impotence was the only way to get ahead, I’d quit and find an employer who won’t expect me to sacrifice my manhood for his sake. But then, I guess it’s OK for me to feel that way because that’s how I feel about the female version of this.”

No Matt—it’s OK for you to feel this way, because you’re a man and that kind of thing doesn’t happen to you in our society. There is no “male version” of this. 

You don’t hear any penis commentary debates on the news.  No panels of women discussing male reproductive organs. 

Men don’t have to sacrifice careers in order to start a family. Men aren’t subtly questioned by prospective and current employers, trying to figure out what your marital status is and whether or not you’ll be having any kids soon. (It’s illegal—but it happens. That innocuous question about your ring on your finger? It’s not because they want to make small talk with you. They are trying to figure out where you are in life. Are you going to be a liability? Expensive to insure? Taking time off for maternity leave?) How many men are asked “How do your kids feel about you taking on this more demanding promotion?” Or when jobs include a lot of travel “How will your family feel about you being away so often?” 

There have been times where I have had to lie to my boss, professor, whoever about why I needed to miss work or class, because doubled over in my shower with the world’s worst cramps isn’t an acceptable excuse. Nor should it be. And I don’t even have kids! I see what my mom went through raising 4 of us, and I can’t imagine having to do it myself. Having to leave work to pick us up if we were sick, or bringing us our lunch when we forgot it, not to mention making doctors’ appointments and PTA nights. 

If we want true equality as women, we need to be up to the damn task. And we are. We are just as smart, and organized, and funny and business savvy as men. We work just as hard and just as long, and sometimes, birth control helps accomplish everything we need to do by making sure we can plan our families and by providing relief from some fun womanly ailments.

We do what we need to do in our jobs and get paid less to do it. We can’t make excuses, and we don’t want to, because we know we are just as capable. All we want is for these ignorant, whiny men (#NOTALLMEN – I know—I’m talking about the Matt Walsh Types and followers and anyone else whose first instinct when reading this was to get offended) to stop trying to explain to us how our bodies work and how we should be living our lives.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Walk & Talk – For Ladies Who Love Literature



Part One: Why friends (& especially lady friends) are important. 

I’ve realized over the years that it is much harder to make new friends. I’m no longer in college where most of my peers are my age and we have similarly crazy schedules and lots of excuses to hang out. I am the youngest one in my office by about twenty years. I recently moved about an hour away from most of my friends after getting married to have less of a hellish commute, and frankly, maintaining my current, valuable friendships requires a lot of time and effort (not that I mind one bit) so making new friends isn’t really a huge priority.

I look through Facebook, and while some of you are people I hold dearly and maintain meaningful friendships with outside of cyber space, many of you are acquaintances, friends of friends, and [somewhat sadly] people with whom I used to be very close, but over time and distance and busy schedules we’ve drifted apart. Relationships on all spectrums are hard work! 

I must admit that there is something thrilling about new, budding friendships, however. It’s a lot like the exciting first few weeks and months of dating someone—you learn your likes and dislikes and what you have in common. You slowly divulge your less-than-polished parts and nuances about yourself that you wouldn’t want your everyday acquaintances to know, because, let’s face it, you’re kind of a weirdo. 

When you make a new friend based on a shared interest—it’s great; things feel comfortable and you always have a fall back plan on what to talk about if you’re having an especially boring day. You find new friends begin to pass “friendship tests” or meet subliminal standards you didn’t even know you had—they pep talk you when you need it most; they don’t tell anyone about your latest embarrassment or Instagram a super unflattering picture of you; they make you a meal and show up with wine after a bad day; they hate the same TV show characters you do; you accidentally clogged the toilet at their place, and voila—you’ve slipped into a more intense and honest friendship territory. 

Those are the kind of friends I love, and when you have those friends, you don’t need to worry about how many you have or how often you see each other, because they will always be there when you need them the most. You can go weeks or months without talking sometimes, but you’ll always pick right back up where you left off. Treasure these people.  

I have male and female friends, and I cherish all of them. As a woman, my lady friends usually just get me better, and this is who I’m speaking to today.

I am lucky to have some of the most beautiful friends (inside and out)—smart, ambitious women who also are respectful and caring; they don’t always have perfect lives, but they are always moving forward, and doing so without stepping on or tearing down others. They overcome hard times, tight budgets, and complacency. They’re buying houses, and having babies, going to grad school, adopting puppies, and making big moves! I’m always amazed. 

And these women with their busy, eventful lives, are the same women who will spend an hour listening to me bitch about a bad day. They encourage and also straight talk. These are the kind of people I hope everyone is fortunate enough to have around them. If you’re not—talk to me! I’ll give you the hook up!

Part 2: Get to the point

I started writing this because I was wondering—what if some of my “internet friends” are thinking like me? Like “Gee—I wonder how so and so is doing? I’d love to catch up but after this long I’d feel like an idiot initiating it.” Most often, I hear from long lost people when they need a favor—no shame! If I can help I will! It’s just how things work on the internet. 

And then I was thinking about ways to get some nice, intelligent ladies together to either meet new friends or reconnect with old friends and/or acquaintances. And then I was thinking…hmm I’m not really that interesting….and I don’t DO a ton of different things. 

I’ve learned that the ability to meet new people is often based on your willingness to A. Try new things and B. Put on real clothes outside of your work hours. You know who meets people? Young adults who go to outdoor beers gardens in the summer or play indoor soccer or teach yoga classes. I ATTEND yoga classes, but while I’m there my glasses are off so they don’t sweat off my face or fog up, so I can’t see anyone anyway. Once class is over, I look such a mess and feel so gross that I just jettison my ass right out of there—minimal small talk= missed opportunities.

If you were to ask my husband what I like to do, he would tell you “Bake & Read.” He thinks I’m pretty lame because I’m not into paintball or RC airplanes.

That’s not entirely accurate, because I DO enjoy doing other things (this statement will be even truer when the weather starts creeping above the freezing point), but it’s pretty on point. 

I love to read. I will read almost anything and everything—from fantasy fiction (HELLO, Harry Potter!) to historical biographies. I love true crime novels and funny autobiographies. I love Tolkien and Dumas.  Poehler and Fey. Knipfel and Piccoult.

I’ve read lots of books turned major motion pictures: Gone Girl, Hunger Games, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Book Thief, etc. (I’m that kind of person who always says READ THE BOOK FIRST! And I will be a snob about Game of Thrones and gripe about how poorly adapted the TV show is!)

When I was a kid, my mom would diligently take me and my siblings to the library once every other week or so. It was awesome, and I would walk out with the maximum number of books my library card would allow. She fostered my love of reading, and loathed cable TV, so I either had to entertain myself outside climbing trees and pretending to run away or read a book. My time was usually spent split between the two options.

When I lived at home, whenever my sisters or I would buy a new book, within a few months, it was almost always passed around and read by all three of us. Now that I’ve packed up my books (I may have stolen a few of my sister’s….) and moved out, I really only rarely swap books with one or two friends. 

What I really enjoy about reading is gathering my own opinion about the book, and then conferring with someone else who’s also read it and getting their take! Literature leaves so much to the imagination (especially when compared with movies, TV, and other forms of entertainment—both stimulating and less so) that it’s amazing how differently characters, themes, and “lessons” can be interpreted from one person to the next. 

Whenever I hear about book clubs or see them portrayed in movies, it’s usually a group of middle aged women getting together to discuss the latest romance novel they’ve read over wine (not a terrible idea) and get a night away from their demanding families. I don’t judge anyone for any reading choices ever (except for maybe Fifty Shades of Gray…because…well, I’m gonna judge you.) 

I am sending an open invitation to my friends and acquaintances in both the real and virtual worlds who have a passion for reading to get together with other intelligent women with similar interests. 

At the risk of sounding supremely corny—I’d like to propose the Walk & Talk: a “book club” of sorts that reads one book a month and gets together at the end of the month to take a group walk—whether it be a stroll on the boardwalk, a hike through the mountains, or a march through the mall—and discuss our thoughts on the book. We get some exercise, we get to express our innermost feelings about the books, and we can to hang out with some awesome ladies!

Does this sound like something that would interest you? Please, share your thoughts : )