When are YOU getting married?

I’m getting really tired of people hinting, subtly and not so subtly, that I should be getting engaged soon. I’m 23 years old, still in law school, and still not sure what direction I want my life to go in. The fact that I have been dating the same guy for two and a half years is irrelevant.

Why should I get married if neither myself nor my boyfriend have any income? Why should we get married when we don’t even live in the same state? And furthermore, why is it anyone else’s business??

In some ways, the questions of “so is there a ring in the future” and “have you guys thought about planning a wedding yet?” are remnants of the ancient but ever-present idea that a person is not really a full adult until they are married. When I used to babysit in college, kids would ask me “Are you a grown-up?” Yes. “Are you a mommy?” No. “But how can you be a grown up if you are not a mommy?”. Getting an advanced degree is nice, but getting a husband is clearly what counts more.

In addition, I have some qualms about my current relationship. Things were great while we were in college, but recently, I’ve been having some doubts. I have a friend who says you can know after 6 months of dating someone whether or not they have marriage potential. I disagree. I didn’t see this side of my boyfriend until after we graduated. People may have the same inner personality, but you don’t know how they are going to react to various situations until they’ve been in them.

I’m perfectly fine with waiting this through, seeing how things end up, and making a decision about marriage when I’m ready to get married. Other people may not want to wait, and that’s fine for them. The whole idea of liberalism is to allow everyone to be able to make their own choices…not push your own thoughts onto others around you.

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Women at Work

In the July 11th &18th edition of The New Yorker, Ken Auletta wrote a profile of Facebook’s female C.O.O., Sheryl Sandberg. The piece was a rather typical woman-in-the-headlines profile, highlighting her career path and using some strongly worded quotations to exemplify her view on women in the workplace (she describes her ideal world as one in which “a world where half of homes are run by men, especially raising children, and half our institutions are run by women, especially armies.”)

She exemplifies mainstream feminism. She was educated at top schools, worked her way up on the corporate ladder, got to the top of one company (Google) and then moved to the top of another (Facebook). The article also is an excellent feminist piece. The article spans 9 pages online, only 2 of which talk about balancing work/home life, challenges of being a female executive, and sexist encounters she’s had to deal with. The rest of the 7 pages talk about her business strategy, her career and company goals, and her work ethic. It’s a truly inspiring piece, and I encourage you all to read it.

Unfortunately, some people didn’t like the article. This person wrote in complaining that while Sheryl is blessed to be able to afford full time child care (which, by the way, she tries not to rely on too much. She and her husband have a deal that at least one, if not both, parent will be home every night to have dinner with the kids) not every family is able to do so, and that results in women being forced to stay home with the children. The author of the letter to the editor blamed California for it’s lack of providing state-funded child care facilities.

Apparently, she was referring to the proposal by Arnold Schwarzenegger to cut $1.2 billion of state funding for childcare facilities. The proposal caused so much uproar that the actual cuts ended up being only $256 million.

Certainly, the state cutting $256 million in any sort of funding is going to cause hardship to the citizens. But this is not a feminist argument. The author of the letter claims that there are “systematic probems that inhibit women’s ability to achieve leadership positions equal to those of men”, and cites the California budget cuts as one such problem.

The budget cuts are not systematic, anti-feminist problems. The budget cuts do not automatically mean that women can not achieve positions equal to those of men. They may mean, however, that families will have to reevaluate the cost of child care, and if it financially responsible for both parents to work. Many families will come to a decision that the cost of childcare is more than what a second income would provide, and therefore only one parent should work.

This DOES NOT mean that women will or should be the ones leaving their jobs. It does not mean that men will or should do that either. It means that families will have to evaluate who is going to stay home, and who is going to work. This should be a conversation that does not start with the assumtion that the women will stay home.

This is exactly what Sandberg was saying in her quote above. Half the men will be taking care of children, and have the women will be working and running armies. Feminism does not mean all women and all men work at all jobs. It simply, in it’s most basic sense, means that women and men are equal and should be treated as such. And that’s achievable by every person in every socioeconomic class in every state.

SlutWalk DC

I got an invitation on facebook to SlutWalk DC.

SlutWalk is a march to protest blaming the victim in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. The official SlutWalk DC website lists the demands that the protestors assert, essentially just that every DC resident should have equal access to reproductive health care (including abortions), every victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment should be able to receive treatment, and that all people should be able to report sexual assault/harassment without fear of other legal repercussions, such as deportation for undocumented aliens.

The demands are not so farfetched. I completely, one hundred percent support them.

Apparently, SlutWalk was started because Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer, gave a talk to college women at Osgoode Hall Law School in which he said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to avoid being victimized”.

It is true. Women and men should also avoid walking through inner city streets to avoid being mugged, children should avoid walking alone in order to avoid being kidnapped, and consumers should avoid using their social security number to avoid identity theft.

That being said, muggers should stop mugging, rapists should stop raping, and men (and women!) should stop thinking of women as sex objects. Of course. And, people that are victims of these crimes should certainly have the right and the security to report the crimes and get treated, if needed.

However, if your goal is to avoid getting raped, there are some things you can do to prevent it. Dress like you want to show off your brains, not your body.

Of course, sexualization of women in the workplace is all too common, and should be avoided. But lets be honest, is a bunch of women marching through the city scantily clad, showing off their bodies, and advocating for “sluts” really going to make chauvinists think any higher of women? I think not.

Young Sexualization In Vogue

I am not outraged by this.

People are raising questions about the ethics of French Vogue for using images of 10-year-old model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau in their magazine. The image are sexy, fashionable, and in traditional vogue manner. In one photo, Ms. Blondeau is wearing high heels, red nail polish, laying on a lounge chair and petting a tiger. In another, she is standing straight, wearing a gold satin shirt, low cut but not revealing any of her (barely existent) cleavage.

People are bemoaning the young sexualization of girls.

I am not.

More to come later.

True Social Welfare

The long anticipated post on social welfare is here.

Working in an office which deals with cases of inner city child abuse and neglect on a daily basis has given me a completely new perspective on this issue of social welfare.

I have some pretty conservative leanings politically. I have always been a high achiever, and tend to have similar expectations for the rest of the world. A little unfair, yes, but so be it. If you want to eat, you have to work. Almost everyone in America has the ability to go to work. You’re a little disabled? Ok, get a job that your disability won’t hinder. You’re not the smartest key in the shed? Get a job that doesn’t require brains. You can’t stay sober enough to get to work everyday? You don’t get paid. Harsh, yes. Unfair, no.

However, there are certain aspects of social welfare which are really, truly, social welfare. I say that in comparison to what I call “personal welfare”. If one person can’t afford to eat and the State gives him food, that’s not for the good of society, thats for the good of a single person. Even if the state gives out thousands of benefits to thousands of recipients, these are all essentially lots of gifts that benefit lots of people individually.

Truly social welfare is different. It benefits society as a whole.

Every day, I interact with parents that have been accused of child abuse or neglect. One of the fundamentals in the field of domestic violence is “the cycle of violence”, essentially, an abused person is exposed to abuse for so long that they think that is how everyone acts, and they, in response, abuse others. Almost ALL of the parents that come into our office accused of abuse/neglect are already in the system as children of abuse. It’s a whole cycle. I probably have one client a week come in because they voluntarily put their child in foster care. These people live in a culture where many of their peers are in “the system” and they thinks its a completely responsible way to live. Find a guy who wants to have sex with you, get pregnant, stay with the guy even though he cheats on you/beats you/forces you to do things you don’t want because he says you’re pretty and that makes you feel good, get overwhelmed with being in highschool, having a baby, and dealing with your abusive boyfriend, decide you don’t want your baby being exposed to the bum baby-daddy, put the child in foster care, party, get clean, attempt to get your child out of foster care. Repeat.

The financial strain on our government from all this is infinite. The police officers that respond to the domestic violence calls, the State’s Attorneys and Public Defenders, the judges hired solely for child abuse cases, the foster parents, the medical care for foster children…the list in endless.

In many ways, the strain on our government budgets would actually be alleviated by providing birth control, sex-ed, health clinics, therapeutic centers, and state-funded education to underprivileged populations. Now, this may not be “fair” to the hard working people that actually pay for these things (and don’t be fooled by the recent law that requires no co-pay for birth control, you actually just pay more for your insurance premiums), but it benefits them as well. Crime is reduced. Taxes are reduced. More educated, achieving citizens are produced which in turn work and benefit their communities.

And that is TRUE social welfare.

Dress The Part

The hardest thing about working in a law office is having to get dressed up in a suit, makeup, and jewelry everyday.

I thought I would enjoy wearing suits. They’re so easy, all you have to think about is what shirt to put underneath. Wrong. There’s a whole lot more to the female suit. The clothes-i.e., deciding on pants or skirt, A-line or pencil, dark or light, and which goddamn blouse highlights my silhouette without making me look like the office slut-are just the beginning. Theres the shoes, the makeup, the hair, the jewelry. It never ends.

I put up with all that in the name of professionalism. I tell myself that clients will respect me more if I look put-together. But WHY? Shouldn’t they prefer that I spend that hour in the morning working on their case, rather than trying to remove the clump of mascara in my eye while throwing foundation on my face while deciding on earrings, all while the curlers are warming up my head? Such is our society.

Recently, I read an article in Marie Claire magazine about a female MIT Physics professor. She said that one of the hardest things for her was forcing herself to not wear makeup to work, so that her male colleagues would take her seriously.

Seriously?

She was complaining that she was taken more serious WITHOUT makeup, and that bothered her? What I wouldn’t give to be able to be that Teva and jeans wearing professional, judged for her work performance and not for her appearance.

And yet, she was being judged for her appearance, only in the opposite way I was. She was more professional if she didn’t dress up, and I am considered more professional if I do dress up.

I could easily fall in to the trap of blaming the male-centrist society, the society that reduces women to nothing but pretty faces who might have brains if they look like they have brains, but it goes beyond that. Men are judged on their appearance too. Like it or not, the lawyer who dresses in a sharp, fitted suit with the shined shoes and the silver cuff links is more “professional” than the one who comes in dressed in khakis and a polo. The problem is that we judge people, all people, based on appearances.

Some may say that’s not so bad. They say that there’s a reason we judge books by their covers, the covers convey what the author thinks is a central theme of the book. Our dress is what we present to the world.

The truth is, the covers don’t convey what the author thinks is the central theme of the book. They convey what the publisher, publicist, and managing editor thinks is the central theme of the book. Someone way back when decided that professionals wear suits, so suits indicate a professional employee. The employee that takes more time for his work and less for his appearance, he’s not professional. Neither is the hard worker who saves her paycheck to invest and buys fake jewelry rather than expensive gems. At least not according to the publicist. And frankly, why should they get all the say?