Archive for February, 2014

13
Feb
14

“A boy named Lyric” – gender stereotypes suck!

Gender may seem like an odd thing for me to write about in this blog, but it’s important. Confidence, experience, career, income, life choices – these all are contributors to attitude and ability to be self-sufficient. Inequality in pay, income, education and benefits often contributes to women staying in bad relationships and not having freedom of choice in their lives. Since I try to write about empowerment and evolution in my life, the gender issue really applies in how I got here, where I’m going, how long it will take me and how much I’ll be paid. Thus, I’m writing about it.

Gender has been on my radar this morning. First, I had an unexpected interaction with a cop prior to my morning coffee today. One is generally a bit interested and concerned to see a cop outside their house at 6:30 in the morning – I stuck my head out the door as my guy was heading to work. He & the cop exchanged “good mornings” and my fella got in his car. The cop said “don’t you want to know what’s going on?” My guy said “nope” and left. I came out right after and the cop praised me for my interest (there was an armed robbery nearby and the suspect seen in my neighborhood.) The officer then asked who “that guy” was and proceeded to tell me how irritated he was that he didn’t care why there was a cop at the foot of our driveway. He asked how long we’ve been dating. He said “you can do better. He’s not good enough for you.” I made excuses like I was some sort of abuse victim and Officer Friendly opined that he couldn’t believe that a man would leave his home and his woman with a cop outside without knowing what was going on. He said “what kind of man does that?” I eventually went into the house and copper once again shouted “he’s not good enough for you! You have my vote!” It wasn’t until after I’d had some coffee and a moment to think about it that I realized how sexist this exchange was. I had treated it in a jokey, flirty manner, but my guy summed it up best by answering the “what kind of man does that” question: “The kind of man who knows you have it under control and can take care of yourself. I had to get to work & didn’t have time to chit-chat. Besides – you were perfectly safe – there was a COP there!” Heck yeah!

After that bit of weirdness, I sat down at my computer to read that Soliel Moonfrye has had a third child. A boy named Lyric. That’s how Bing promoted the article too. “A boy named Lyric.” So what? She likes non-traditional names. Who decided that “Apple” and “Lyric” were feminine and “Ryder” and “Sage” were masculine? For that matter, who decided that pink is for girls and blue is for boys and why are we continuing to buy into this freakish gender binary?

As I was contemplating on that subject, two separate friends posted this article on Facebook about the 1981 LEGO ad girl and how gender neutrality has actually gotten worse in the past 33 years:

http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/little-girl-1981-lego-ad-grown-shes-got-something-say/

Well, crap. My friends know that gender issues are a huge hot button for me. I imagine that my children might be aware of this as well. When my oldest was a little guy at the McDonalds play-place, they would often ask if I wanted a “boy toy or girl toy” – I used to emphatically state that my SON would like the BARBIE. They still do this today, yet it shows up on the receipt as “DOLL TOY” or “CAR TOY” – secret gender code for male/female I guess. Would it kill them to ask if you want the doll or the car? Or “would you like the Angry Bird toy or the Bratz doll?” Easier still? A 6-piece gender-neutral mini Lego set. A notebook. An invisible ink pen. A magnifying glass. Something that allows for creativity & expression without pigeonholing kids into societal roles. The LEGO ad girl is right – it’s gotten WORSE – at least from my viewpoint. I currently work with one kid who is so deeply mired in gender stereotyping that they actually get stressed at the notion of a boy with long hair or a girl wearing a football jersey.

Last Christmas, when one of my siblings was expecting a baby and did not yet know the gender, I wanted to get some gender neutral baby clothes. I was seriously unable to walk into a retail store and find just PLAIN STUFF to purchase. Ninety percent of the clothes that I saw were blue & covered in footballs or pink & covered in ballerinas and completely divided into gender categories.

As a parent, woman & educator, this worries me. But here’s an interesting sub-plot that I just have observed using very limited data: the LEGO ad girl doesn’t have kids. The two people who shared this article don’t have kids. Are the people who are most concerned about this issue childless folks? Is it possible that we parents are simply ashamed to admit that we are constantly losing the battle of the pink and that sometimes it’s easier to give in than fight?

11
Feb
14

Our First Valentine’s Day

I have so much to write about – so many pending topics scratched onto little notes on my desk. But life and love are keeping me busy and I decided to write about a very current and pressing topic: Valentine’s Day! Oh crikey if I haven’t become one of those damnable smoopie pie gross coupley people who is all mushy about Valentine’s Day. Dammit. But this is my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend in…decades! In fact, if I think about it…it might be my first one ever. Put it this way: by 1988 I had a fiancee, later husband. Last year, I went out to dive bar karaoke with a bunch of single friends. It turned out pretty well because I did meet someone interesting that night, but that wasn’t the goal and he wasn’t ever my boyfriend – only briefly a lover. I’ve certainly never had an adult boyfriend on Valentine’s Day before. This year is different!

This year finds me with a live-in boyfriend that I am stinking crazy about and have been seeing for nine months. (A substantial chunk of time.) Also, our “poly cult” (as one friend jokingly referred to it the other day,) has been pretty mono these past several weeks. He had a couple of weeks of heavy texting and one date with some little bit of fluff with a stripper name, but it didn’t pan out. His two other girlfriends are out of the picture – one since Thanksgiving, the other since Christmas. I’m not naive and we have managed to have a few conversations about monogamy and whether we see our relationship evolving into that, but I think we’ve both decided to just enjoy each day we have together. And boy do we ever! As I said, I’m a little grossed out by how gooey happy I am but I’m spoiled rotten and fucked silly by a sweet, sexy, funny man every day. What’s not to like? Well, I admit it – I don’t like the sort of loosey-goosey, ill-defined unknown. My guy points out that I am his girlfriend – period. He reminds me that even if we define our existence beyond that, definitions mean different things to different people. The feeling that this might all go away plagues me as well – but again, I’ve been in a very long-term relationship that did go away…despite the legal documents, the children, the family…and I need to be independent and strong to survive that possibility. And I need to trust what I have, relax and enjoy these fantastic days and nights that I have with my guy, “Whimsy”. It’s just a little weird building a life and a home together while not being sure if you are going to do the holidays together or if you will be the +1 at that wedding he was invited to.  Well, we did address that one recently by clarifying that we are in a primary relationship. Right now, neither of us are seeing other people and we became…Facebook Official. Yep. “RD is in a relationship with WW.” That one acknowledgement went a really long way with me. That might be the saddest thing that I’ve ever said, but it was very nice to be recognized publicly as the girlfriend.

I have mentioned how Whimsy is not a “grand gesture” guy – he’s more a small deeds every single day guy. He’s thoughtful and kind – he leaves out my vitamins, calls on his way home to see if we need anything, often welcomes me home with a nice dinner, sends sweet little texts. He’s affectionate – always touching, rubbing, kissing, hugging – and he tells me that he loves me all the time.  Our sex life is creative, satisfying, very frequent, extremely generous and goddamn fantastic! On the other hand, he’s never bought me flowers and tends to be very relaxed and casual in his romancing. So, when he sent me a text link to a ring and the message “would you want this?” It was…typical. Yep, you just stopped my heart by offering a ring for God’s sake…but you did it in a conversational, casual way that is not dissimilar to asking if we need milk or what’s for dinner. He said he didn’t want to surprise me with something that I wouldn’t like but that he was thinking of getting it for me for Valentine’s Day. No acknowledgement of what, if anything, it might mean to give your girlfriend a ring, but he wanted to get it for me. That’s cool. I said yes, discussed what I preferred, gave my size and he ordered it – only to find that it was back-ordered until April, so he canceled the order, lamenting that he thought he had my Valentine’s gift all figured out & now was back at square one. Well, after a few days of talking about other options and ideas, I finally suggested another website, another jeweler, another ring…and he ordered it last night.

*squee*

So…my man got me a 1.4 carat sapphire ring. What do I get him? I’m stumped. Oh, I have plenty of ideas. I just can’t decide if I should go serious or casual, practical or whimsical. I thought about just getting something sexual in nature. Perhaps some nice under-bed restraints and a bottle of lube? But what message does that send? “I want you to fuck me and I trust you to tie me up.” Okay, that’s not bad and I’m sure it would be well received, but it’s as much of a gift for myself as for him and maybe doesn’t adequately commemorate our first Valentine’s Day together. Plus if I flash my sparkler and people say “oooh, what did you get him?” I guess I could coyly say “well, that’s private” but…I’d like to get something a little more substantial and romantic. Perhaps the sex stuff will just be an add-on gift.

I thought about getting something practical as well, but I feel that the same problem exists in the “not romantic” department. The guy needs a new office chair in the worst way, but it’s not sexy is it? Even if I say “I want your body to feel good because I love your body” or something like that, it’s still…kinda lame. But I do worry about his back and body and I would like for that body, that provides me so much pleasure, to feel good. A chair is a bit of a personal purchase though – something that someone ought to try out for themselves rather than have someone else buy.

My guy also really needs a new phone – I thought about getting him one, but the best way to do that would be to add him to my cell plan and get a free or cheap phone with a two-year-contract. Well heck, that says serious commitment, doesn’t it? Heh. Again, this seems like something that I would need to consult him about – which may be sort of like his point about “not really being into surprises” – does he want a new phone number? Which phone? I think this is the same reason that I didn’t get him one for Christmas. Still, it’s a good gift and something that he would like, but would probably want to be involved in.

So how about jewelry? My Working-class Whimsy really manages to pull off wearing jewelry better than most men. He has a casual artistry about him that lends itself to hats, jewelry, scarves, accessories and interesting clothes. He also manages to rock some varieties of facial hair. His funky style is one of the things that first attracted me to him. I’d love to get him a ring or necklace to add to his collection, but he has a couple of nice necklaces already and a ring could be a bit of a tricky thing. If he gets me a ring and I get him a ring…yeesh…is the symbolism there a bit too matrimonial? I mean, it’s a conversation  I’m willing to have, but he has to be the one to initiate it. 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m afraid that even the simplest silver band might be a tad…spousal. Maybe I’ll get it in a large size to wear on a thumb or middle finger. Or hell, maybe I like the idea of us wearing rings from each other on our ring fingers. Maybe I should just go ahead and get the “serious” jewelry.

If I opt for the “casual” jewelry rather than the serious, I’m thinking about leather bracelets. Which could be funny – get him some bondage cuffs for private and a leather bracelet for public? Maybe that’s the way to go. Funny, funky and sexy – like my guy. I like that idea.

Meanwhile, I’ve been browsing and shopping in another window the entire time that I’ve been writing this post. I know that I’m on a time deadline and that the worst thing I could do would to be show up empty-handed on Valentine’s Day. (Though I suppose with a card and some hot lingerie I would probably be forgiven.) Anyway, since my fella and I both like variety, I ultimately decided to go with that! I got the wedding-band-like ring, the funky leather bracelet and also the soft bed restraints. Hopefully he will enjoy experiencing all of these with me! Only a few more days!




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