Posts Tagged ‘independent women’

We write a lot about history here, but no necessarily our personal history. I am a firm believer that if we pay attention to the lessons of history, we can learn from them. In that spirit, here is a portion of my history, and I hope it helps someone.
I once dated a real jerk, let’s call him Jerkface Root. Don’t get me wrong, he had good qualities, too. He was brave, good-looking, intelligent, and funny. Unfortunately, he was also a liar, inconsiderate, selfish, and had a temper. For a while our relationship was good. Yes, I saw the bad qualities he possessed, but I thought it had to do with his time in war. I thought those unpleasant tendencies would ease up after he spent more time stateside. After all, I’m not one to shirk from a challenge, and I have a pretty nasty temper myself. We fought occasionally. (Not physically, mind you. True, Root had some PTSD issues. However, I only ever felt he would actually hit me once, and to his credit he restrained himself.) We had a lot of good times, too. Most people really liked him. Most people thought we worked very well together.
We talked about our future, about getting married. As we talked a funny thing began to happen, I noticed that the more we talked about our future the more it seemed like his future. He had very specific ideas about his life and very little concern about what that meant for mine. We fought.
However, at this point, about two years in, I was convinced that we were meant to be together. I actually started thinking about different ways to change my plans to match his. He never budged.
Everything shifted when I spent a summer in a foreign land in which I did not know a soul. I was happy. I realized I didn’t actually need Root for my life to be fulfilling. I could be happy all by my onsie. Still, I wanted to make it work with Root. I did love him after all. When I returned to the US, I began to stop budging myself. I decided that if he wanted a life with me, he would have to work with me instead of me just giving in constantly. I really dug in my heels. We began to fight a lot more.
Right before a holiday celebration we had a doozy of a fight about his unwavering position, and how that would absolutely not be possible with what I wanted to do, and couldn’t he just move an inch to help me out. He didn’t. I gave him an ultimatum: he had to either change and compromise with me, or he would lose me. I gave him three weeks.
He did not change. We broke up.
For a while after breaking up we maintained a friendship. He saw other people. I saw other people. We remained on good terms and even went camping together. (Separate tents and all, no worries.)
Twice after we broke up, he asked me back. He said he had changed. He said he wanted a life with me. Twice I believed him. Twice he shattered my heart.
I was wrong. He was still the same inflexible, inconsiderate person he had always been, and probably always will be.
Do me a favor, if you find yourself in my position, get out when you first notice these inhospitable traits. Get out before you waste four years or more of your life on a man who does not deserve you. Because whoever he might be, he is not worth re-directing your life when he would not do the same.

This is just my side of the story. I shouldn’t have to point out that I’m no saint. I have not-so-good qualities in my own personality. However, in my defence, I have managed to remain on friendly speaking terms with all of my other ex-boyfriends, which I figure is a pretty good character reference.

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We normally do not write about movies here, but I had to share this documentary because it is brilliant! Prohibition: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Prohibition Doc by Burns and NovickIn all fairness, I do have a soft spot for the 1910s-1920s. (I think I would have made an excellent spunky suffragette.) However, if you’re interested in American history, or just a well-made documentary, you should probably check this one out. I learned a lot about the era, and I really enjoyed all of the actual footage used.

Interesting tidbits among many that can be learned from the documentary:

After 1830, the average American over 15 years old drank almost seven gallons of pure alcohol a year! That comes to about three times as much as we drink today. Frankly, I don’t know how they functioned properly. If I drank three times the amount I drink now, I’d be completely useless.

The figures in terms of the economic consequences of Prohibition are staggering! In the state of New York, prior to Prohibition, nearly 75% of the state’s tax revenue came from taxes on liquor. Nationally, Prohibition cost the U.S. $11 billion in lost tax revenue. On top of which, it cost America another $300 million to enforce a practically unenforceable law.

I knew women played a large role in the Dry movement. With rampant alcohol abuse and the fact that spousal rape and abuse were not illegal, who can blame them? The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was quite a force. It’s still around, too. It is the oldest non-sectarian woman’s organization if the world. It also played a large role in women’s suffrage. What I did not know was there was another large, powerful woman’s group which was behind Repeal. The Woman’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform was founded by heiress and the first woman to serve on the Republican National Committee, Pauline Sabin.

Also, my new favorite historical figure is Lois Long the indelible flapper and writer for the New Yorker.


Watch Women in PROHIBITION Lois Long on PBS. See more from Ken Burns.

All of the facts (except maybe the bit about the WCTU which is on their website) can be found on the documentary or on the doc’s website: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/  You can basically watch all of it online, if that suits better.
A big thanks to PBS for funding such stellar productions.
Another big thanks to my pal, Brandon, for giving me the documentary as a Christmas present. I love it!

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I’ll admit, I’m not the greatest at keeping up with the goings-on of the world. Considering I have a B.A. in journalism, it’s probably a good thing I never went on to pursue a career in journalism. There are, however, a few things that I keep watch on–namely gay and reproductive rights.

Today, I came across this petition and letter. Personally, I’m shocked that the Susan G. Koman corporation revoked funding for Planned Parenthood, based on new company rules that exclude supporting foundations under investigation from the government. I don’t care what your views are on abortions or birth control, I think it’s amazing that the Susan G. Koman, a BREAST cancer research and funding organization, stopped funding another organization that provides medical services to underserved and/or insurance-less women in America. These medical services include Breast exams.

I really, really, wish the people wielding the power in these situations would stop and think about what they are doing and saying. Imagine you lost your job and no longer had insurance. Where do you (or your wife/daughter) go for their yearly pelvic exam? Not the doctor’s office, because that would cost far more than you can afford at this point in time. In these situations most women turn to Planned Parenthood. Yes, there are other organizations, and they are just as important. However, Planned Parenthood has a history and a following. You might think you’ll never need them, but, come times of trouble, you’ll know at least one place to turn.

I know this from experience. I won’t go into detail, but I had a scare while in school. I was still under my parents health insurance, but I couldn’t find a doctor’s office near me that accepted that particular insurance. I could go to the clinic at school, but since I didn’t have the school’s health insurance the visit would cost $80-$100. Being a poor, lowly student, I couldn’t afford that. The first place I turned was Planned Parenthood. Without that option I shudder to think of what would happen (nothing health wise, well maybe mental health. It turns out I was fine, but I was getting really stressed  and scared).

In my opinion taking away organizations like Planned Parenthood (once PP goes away, you know smaller groups will slowly die) will bring us back to the days of yore. Yes, we at 3 Bluestockings love history and historical fiction. But do we really want to live in those periods? Sure they have some advantages, but there are several disadvantages. Like lack of suffrage. Terrible treatment of women in lower positions–if you watched Downton Abbey the past few weeks you’ll know what I’m talking about (although it can be argued that this problem still exists today, see this video about slut shaming). Taking away women’s rights would bring us back in time, and not just to the turn of the century and earlier. Have you ever watched Mad Men? Granted it’s a fantastic show, but I cannot watch it without feeling for my grandmother, my mother and her sisters. It’s unfathomable to me that my mother was a teenager at time when sexual innuendoes and what-we-call-harrasment today were an everyday occurrence.

My mom worked at a factory before going to college, and once I asked her about Mad Men and whether or not the office interactions are accurate, she told me this story: Apparently there was this foreman type guy at the factory who would ask the female workers to sit in his lap and “see what comes up.” As a child of the late 80s, I am totally appalled at this type of behavior. What scares me most, is that this interaction happened around 1969. That’s only 43 years ago. Technically, 1969 does not fit our (mine, Sapphire and Cornflower’s) definition of bygone times.

I have a really hard time accepting the view that it’s okay to deny basic human rights to someone just because they can’t afford health insurance, and yet this, along with rampant sexual harassment was the norm only 40 years ago. We’ve come so far, yet we could fall back so easily. The first step is denying women basic health rights. Which include breast exams, which if you ask me requires an experienced medical hand. Breasts are naturally sort of lumpy…  Also, cancer and STDs terrify me, and if we got everyone in the United States to get tested regularly I truly believe the world would be a better place.

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For my second selection in the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, I opted for Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I think younger teens and tweens would like the book even more than I did.

Daughter of XanaduThe heroine of story is a fictional granddaughter of the Great Khan and a great-granddaughter of Genghis Kahn, Princess Emmajin. The feminist in me cheered at Emmajin’s spunk and desire to be a great warrior. She’s athletic, brave, not the smartest person in the room, but not dumb either, and not a great public speaker; she seems like your average female jock a few centuries early. Basically, a cool tomboy that many not-so-avid readers could relate to, and I do hope they find this book. I also liked the opportunity to read about a time and place that I don’t read about very often.

My only real problem with the book is that the writing isn’t stellar. It’s not bad per say, but it’s a bit lacking in details and unique descriptions. However, the writing style suits its audience very well, and just because it doesn’t quite live up to my adult standards doesn’t make it a bad YA book.

Generally, I liked it; after all, I didn’t put it down. However, I doubt I’ll ever read it again. In fact, I was going to donate it to my public library, but by chance I have a signed copy. Therefore, it’ll stay in my collection. Sorry, library!

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Warning, I’m about to have a little pity party here. And a push for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Like Sapphire so eloquently put it a while back, technology brings along its own special brand of problems, along with incredible advantages. Take Facebook for example. It’s made keeping in touch with my high school, study abroad and college friends so easy. If I were to rely solely on the phone could I plan weekend trips to Vegas with people who all live in different states? Could I easily figure out who on my college swim team is also interested in sharing a room when I go to another swimmer’s wedding in September? Probably not, because frankly, I’m not the greatest at keeping in touch with the traditional methods. I hate talking on the phone and I will send out letters or emails but not on a regular basis. Facebook and Twitter is an (almost) instantaneous way to keep in touch, even if I don’t actually speak or write to a person–their status updates or other wall posts update me just as much as a quick text message or phone call.

The other reason to see this movie, and the reason why I'm going to read The Help.

So what’s the problem? You know too much. At least I have this problem. For example, several friends from high school who I didn’t really keep in touch with through college got engaged this past year, one yesterday. Suddenly, seeing everything on the Internet and seeing their excitement makes me so incredibly jealous.I know that’s mean-spirited of me and I know their happiness wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t have access to pictures etc. I guess at this point in my life I figured I’d at least have a boyfriend. The two most meaningful relationships I’ve had were either one-sided (mine) or a glorified friends with benefits.

Seeing what seems like the majority of my high school classmates finding happiness of some kind is just depressing and highlights my lack. At least while I was still technically in grad school I could pretend I had the career part of my life figured out, but now that I’m officially an MS and unemployed there’s no covering up my lack of career. Sure my contemporaries probably don’t have their careers figured out either (except one and she’s also engaged, so part of me kind of hates her, but not really), but at least they have love figured out. They have someone besides their mothers to rely on and cry to when job interviews turn up nothing.

Oh, Ryan

The other thing that totally bums me out, is that every single one of these girls I mentioned met their fiances in college. Do you know how incredibly hard it is to meet guys outside of college? Sapphire and I just got back from watching Crazy, Stupid, Love and Ryan Gosling plays a womanizer. During the montages of him seducing the ladies I have to wonder, what self-respecting woman goes home with the random, albeit HOT, smooth talker? Not that all men in bars do that, but at least in the bars I’ve been, getting the girl to go home with you seems like their ultimate priority.  And if you don’t meet in bars where do you meet? Given that I’ll probably move to some strange new state I won’t have friends I can mingle with and meet new people.

Actually, scratch meeting guys, where on earth do you make girlfriends? I can’t say I’ve ever made friends outside of a school setting. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. I just pray I won’t become a crazy dog lady (I’d say cats but they make me sneeze). Actually, I probably won’t even be able to become a crazy insert-animal-here lady because I won’t be able to afford the upkeep–hello student loans!

So, I’m sorry for my pity party, but I feel like I have nothing going for me now. I’ll be moving in with my brother for goodness sakes. And go see Crazy, Stupid, Love. Not only is Ryan Gosling über attractive, but the clothes made my friend E melt into a puddle of fashion inspired mush.

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A Review of My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

I must first report that this is only the second American Civil War-era book I’ve read from the perspective of a Union sympathizer. (The first being Little Women.) I found the perspective interesting. Especially since the book only covers up until the Battle of Antietam in detail, the half of the war wherein the South actually stood a chance of seceding. So the concern about our Union was made very real.

The book follows the adventures of a young midwife who wants to become a surgeon, Mary Sutter. The book is well-written, and the pace is fast enough to keep me engaged. There is an element of a love story, but the focus is the Civil War and a woman breaking into a man’s profession. A warning: the book details mid-19th century birth and amputations. This book is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

My Name is Mary SutterMary’s physical description is basically, attractive “though there was nothing attractive about her. Her features were far too coarse, her hair far too wild and already beginning to silver” (1.) However, at least two men fall for Mary throughout the book. If nothing else, that was refreshing. All too often heroines are either beautiful, or described as “plain” but when further details emerge they seem to paint a picture of loveliness. I personally believe that attraction is less about looks and more about confidence, and Mary is full of that.

I loved how Oliveira describes the battles, and even more, how she describes President Lincoln. He makes several cameos throughout the novel. Lincoln is portrayed as an intelligent, humorous man forced to make some of the most difficult decisions our country has faced. Judging from every other account I’ve read, it is an accurate picture of the 16th president.

It’s probably the Feminist coming out in me, but my favorite part of the book was Mary’s struggle to become a surgeon and prove to men that she was just as capable. The first amputation she aides is a complete accident. The doctor did not even want her in the room, but the man who was supposed to assist ran out of the building scared. *High five women everywhere!*

Basically, this is an excellent book. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Civil War fiction, accounts of women’s experiences, an older teen considering medicine, or just someone interested in a well-researched historical fiction book.

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As I’m sure  many of you know, The Princess Bride is one of the greatest movies ever made. There’s love, sword fighting, giants, a little Fred Savage and Miracle Max. But there’s one thing that’s always bothered me about the movie. When Westley is posing as the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup says, “I have loved more deeply than a killer like yourself could ever dream” Westley raises his fist as though to strike Buttercup. He says, “that was a warning, Highness. Next time my hand flies on its own. Where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies,” yet two seconds later he’s all “aaas yooou wiiissh” as he tumbles down the hillside (after Buttercup pushes him) and she’s all, “Oh my sweet Westley what have I done?” Now, if my boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, love of my life etc) tried to hit me there’s no way I’d jump down a steep hill after him. He’d be lucky if he ever heard from me again.

Yet, abuse is an ever-present (horrible) occurrence. According to a recent study, “on the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.” The phenomenon is even more common amongst young, white couples.

Until recently, I thought domestic abuse was largely a thing of the past, or (please don’t hate me) something that occurred in poorer, less educated families. Yet many of the women interviewed in the article are intelligent and hold advanced degrees. At the risk of sounding like I’m blaming the victim, I agree with those experts who believe part of the problem stems from women’s general increase in power in our society. Is women’s power a bad thing? Absolutely not. It only causes harm when we, as women, become too confident in our power and are unable to ask for help. Which seems like a general trend. I know that I hate asking for help or showing signs of “weakness,” but we have to realize that some situations shouldn’t be dealt with individually. As the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

I don’t want to say abuse was ever acceptable, but it definitely isn’t now. Yet, Westley’s almost abuse isn’t the only thing that relates to today’s (scary) romantic world. Humperdink marries, or at least plans on marrying Buttercup, in order to kill her. His hope is that her death will cause a war between two countries. I’m assuming he hoped for increased land or riches or something although the outcome is never specified. Yet, I highly doubt that Gabe Watson or Shrien Dewani were planning on starting a war when they killed their wives shortly after the wedding.

This terrifies me. Especially since I like to think I’m strong and smart etc, but I’ve never been in that situation. How do I really know how I would respond? Add to that, I tend to like the “bad boys,” at least in literature. As if the fear of rejection, STDs and other intensely scary dating and relationship worries weren’t enough, we now have to think about abuse, or worse, death.

While the Westley character never really appealed to me (when Buttercup is about to kill herself, why does he think a comment on the perfectness of her boobs is appropriate?), I want to find mine. I want to have the kiss that ranks in the top four in the history of the world. But, now I’m afraid that I’ll be too afraid to find him, or that when I do, I’ll be too afraid to make that leap of faith.

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