Entries Tagged 'Feminine Heritage' ↓
August 20th, 2012 — Feminine Heritage, Life Coach
The Feminine Mistake
Several years ago my Between the Covers Book Club read The Feminine Mistake, by Leslie Bennetts.
This was an intense discussion between women who had made a variety of choices for a variety of reasons, who were experiencing differing amounts of internal conflict about their choices. Because let’s face it, they aren’t easy choices and many of us feel we are choosing between “this sucks” and “this sucks worse.” It was such a stimulating book club discussion that one newly-converted-evangelical-self-designated-submissive-(though paradoxically truly domineering)-wife, who happend to visit our book club that night, claimed it was the worst night of her life.
Bennetts is a New York City writer who had teenaged children, a mythical egalitarian marriage and a much-loved, long-time nanny.
The book is an examination of the REAL long-term cost of women abandoning their careers in order to be stay-at-home-mothers or part-time workers, rather than continuing their fulltime professions during the years of mothering.
The real cost of this choice is substantially higher than you might imagine. Having made the stay-at-home-choice myself it was a real eye-opener in terms of the long-term financial impact on SAHMs and part-time workers, as well as the broader impact on the economy, and even other mothers who do stay in the workplace.
You’ll Eat Dog Food When You’re Old (if you can afford it)
For starters, you don’t accrue Social Security points as a stay-at-home-mom, and very few if you’re a part-time worker (if you are self-employed you must contribute to the system to get them) so taking 10 years out of your career will significantly decrease your retirement income. You also don’t get your husband’s points if the marriage ends prior to 10 years, even if you had 10 children by him.
You do not contribute to a 401K plan, which means no matching funds from an employer, during these years. Many families, going through the poverty spell of having a single income, can’t save in a separate IRA. If you divorce, his 401K may be divided, but it’s still retirement income lost. In fact, the way 401K and IRA investments work it’s the length of the investment more than the dollars put in (meaning if you put in $1,000 in 1999 and $5,000 in 2012, you would have more in 2020 from the $1,000 than the $5,000), which literally could equate to a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars by retirement.
This is why there are so many senior women below the poverty line.
You think you’re going to waltz back in?
Mothers often don’t realize how difficult it is to get back into their original profession, many times because of motherhood discrimination. But, Bennetts points out, is it discrimination? Or have employers realized that investing in mothers can be risky because they actually do tend to jump ship when motherhood responsibilities interfere, whereas fathers typically do not?
Yes, from a broader feminist perspective mothers who abandon their careers do hurt other women, mothers especially, who do stay in the workforce. Not only because the mothers who stayed are outnumbered and have to deal with discrimination on their own, but because employers look at mothers with less credibility, because they do appear less committed to their profession than the men on staff, precisely because they are prioritizing mothering.
Then there is the broader economic impact of not having more women involved in the economics of the country. Women have been shown to be more prudent investors, more intuitive business professionals and bring a vital perspective to the workplace. The entire economy benefits from their involvement, as such, it is negatively impacted when women check out.
Though many professional women end up spending their entire income on actually working, with childcare expenses, commuting, work clothing, etc., Bennet points out that fiscally, you’re better off doing that because by the time children go off to school and childcare costs are eliminated you will be higher up in your profession and making more money. You will also have accrued Social Security points, 401K income and seniority. If you take those years off, you’re losing experience years that equate to a significantly higher income over the lifetime of your career.
Now You’re Screwed
If you divorce, of course, you’re screwed. Because he now has many more years invested in his career and the reality is that you don’t get half the money. Courts value the father’s role as a parent and typically give him joint custody now, which means there is little to no child support and maintenance lasts only until you can feed yourself, in most cases. Either way, you’re not living your middle class lifestyle anymore. Now you have a big huge gap in your resume that means you’re starting somewhere near the bottom again, or at least not as high as you would have been, and answering to a 25-year-old woman who is still idealistic enough to think that she will make it through motherhood unchanged, and will be perpetually wondering what exactly your problem is.
This is according to Bennett. She’s a tad cynical. A Debbie Downer.
Shit. Now What?
I now find myself in the exact position that Bennetts’ apocalyptic tale warns of.
I am a newly-divorced 39-year-old woman, the mother of two children. I have been a SAHM/part-time worker for almost 11 years. A choice that my husband did not agree with, but which I made anyway. A choice which played a significant part in the destruction of our marriage. Not only because of the poverty spell and the constant struggle to make ends meet and the never-ending stress that put on our marriage, but because we were battling over control of my choices. Ironically, I fought extraordinarily hard for the opportunity to be in this financial position.
I have kept my finger in the professional pot, producing clips and a work history, but accruing no Social Security points. I did mark the 10th anniversary required to use my wasband’s Social Security points, which is prudent.
I have no medical insurance. I have a pile of debt. I have a big fat mortgage, which it turns out is more affordable than renting. My half of the measly little 401K we had finally managed to save was cashed out to pay for the divorce lawyer. I have no IRA or a savings account. I get enough money from him (he who went from a college-educated waiter to a middle manager in a Fortune 500 company on his way up at my insistence), to pay the mortgage and not much more. For four years. Which means he accrued 11 years of professional experience and a salary to match, while I have to start wherever I can and I have four years to get my financial shit together. He, and the marriage, it turns out, actually was a pretty shitty investment, according to Bennetts’ perspective. Or, looked at another way, he financially supported my choice to stay home for 11 years and will continue to help me until I get on my feet and become self-supporting.
I figure I have about 21 to 26 years in which to focus on earning money before retirement starts beckoning to me.
Still. I don’t regret it. Isn’t that funny? See, the thing that Leslie Bennetts doesn’t account for in the book is the fierce magnetic pull I felt towards my children. The deep longing I had to spend all that time with them. The inherently feminine drive to mother them I felt, still feel, though it’ s lesser now that they are past five.
Those mothering years are years I won’t get back. The thought of spending them riding a subway for two hours a day, or sitting in a cubicle doing unfulfilling work 40 hours a week, was something I couldn’t stomach. The thought of dealing with workplace stress while trying to mother was not something I felt up to. Not when they were developing their selves. I didn’t want to miss it. I felt like their early childhoods would be a blink in my lifespan and it was a blink that I wanted to be present for. I have 11 years of my children’s childhoods to look back on, childhoods vanish you know. They come once, for a short period, and then they are gone.
It cost me dearly, true. But, I got to experience the deliciousness of baby skin, the intoxication of breast feeding, the exuberance of them experiencing the color yellow for the first time, the exasperation of potty training, the joy of teaching them to read, the high of seeing all of their firsts. Even though it was hard in a million of ways, these are things money can’t buy. I grew people. Humans. Awesome humans. Trade that for money that can vanish with the pop of a housing bubble? Not I.
I don’t regret for a minute having those years. Sure, I wish I were in a better financial position now. I wish I were swimming in a claw-footed bathtub full of $1,000 bills. Funny thing though, I know I’m going to be alright. I know that I will make money. I feel freed by their being in school all day. They don’t need me like they used to, they are independent and happy and well-adjusted. I did my job exceptionally well. I can make generating a big fat bank account more of a priority in my life now. I have to.
No, I don’t regret it. But, now it’s time to put my big girl panties on and shift my focus to making a mountain of cold hard cash!
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July 18th, 2012 — Family Life, Feminine Heritage, Life Coach, Mother-Daughter Emotional Osmosis
Me, laid up on vacation.
First a whisper, a comment from someone, an article that catches your eye. Next a pebble, pay attention. Along comes a stone, it smarts. A brick or two, that shakes you a little. Make a vow, ignore it, justify. When the whole damn wall comes crashing down on you, attention is forced.
I rush. I rush from thing to thing, assignment to assignment, appointment to appointment, dawn to dusk. I harbor unrealistic expectations about what I can and should get done in a 24-hour period. My to-do list on Monday generally takes a week to accomplish. My life is, I would say, typical of the lifestyle of American women. Dangerous.
First there were a few comments from others telling me to slow down, enjoy the journey, breathe. There were hormone tests proving I had adrenal exhaustion caused by stress, plus the stress acne, stress eating, stress drinking. An article by Martha Beck 5 Ways to Bring Yourself Back from Burnout, then her entire book about the necessity of rest to bring about creativity and productivity, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. The work resonated with me to such a degree that I texted my friend “you have to read this.” And I tried. Really. To slow down and rest. I would rest, then I would compensate for all the resting and meditating by rushing to do everything quicker.
Go Slow, the still small voice inside my head whispered.
Then I got a speeding ticket. I was rushing home . . . for no other reason than I think 30 mph is absurdly slow. Then came another ticket, for no other reason than faster is better, really. I rushed.
I multitasked. I rushed from a relaxing massage therapy session and fell down the stairs while reading a text and attempting to make a phone call and get to my next appointment (to deal with the stress acne) simultaneously. I sprained or maybe even broke my ankle.
On a Monday in May I had that adrenaline “rush” I get when I’m kicking ass and getting everything done. I was feeling so productive. For no real reason, I went rushing to the park on a child’s pink razor scooter and broke my ding-dang clavicle. Luckily I didn’t hit my head, because if I had they would not have shot me up with gallons of morphine and heavy painkillers, and it hurt so freaking bad. I was having a difficult time determining if birth or breaking my shoulder was more painful. Scratching my arm brought me to my knees crying for weeks.
Still. I had a lunch meeting planned the next day and I went. I had deadlines and I need to pay my bills. I thought I would take a nap on Tuesday and get right back at it. I couldn’t. I winced through that whole lunch meeting. I couldn’t create a coherent thought to write worth a damn.
Even still, I did not have time to stop at a stop sign on my way home from the grocery store. I had not had time to go searching for my insurance card either, (I knew it was missing because of my ticket weeks before when the cop gave me a warning). This cop threatened to handcuff me and haul me off to jail for not having insurance. He threatened to make me and my children walk home with our groceries. I thought he was an overreacting power-tripping douche bag. Mainly, because he was.
The fact remained that I was still rushing through my life, aiming for the finish line and it had become both dangerous and expensive. Ignore the voice and pay the consequences. Worse I wasn’t even enjoying my life, because I was too busy rushing through it.
I finally accepted the finite nature of my time and energy. I got slow. I made being deliberate a meditation. I gave up my agenda and tossed my to-do list in the garbage. I sat. I napped. I meditated. I watched the OWN network and Soap.net. I went to church. I did no yard work and little housework. When I worked, I worked very slowly. I stayed home. I read books, lingered in the bathtub. Sat by the pool. I took a vacation.
There’s a quality to what I’m doing now that is markedly different. When I’m not rushing I’m enjoying what I’m doing whether that’s cleaning out the tub, mowing the lawn, snuggling with my kids, making dinner or working through my to-do list. I’m making time to drive slower, allowing more time to write with consciousness.
I’m going to trust Martha Beck and rest my way to success. Hopefully I’m also becoming a better listener to that still small voice inside directing me in the ways I should go.
Busy-ness is a disease of which I am hopefully cured.
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June 18th, 2012 — Education, Feminine Heritage, Fit Girl, Mother-Daughter Emotional Osmosis, sacred feminine
This evening at 6 pm Mountain The Girl Revolution will be appearing on Holy Hormones Honey radio show on KRFC.
Holy Hormones host Leslie Botha is a hormone and menstrual health educator, author and radio show host. She is a leading expert on women’s hormone issues from first menses to menopause and everything in between.
We will be discussing my book Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories. We will also discuss ways to create a warm and loving environment for girls, welcoming first menses by creating ritual and celebration, marking this wonderful right of passage. Regardless of how old your daughter is when she experiences crossing over this first threshold of womanhood, mothers and fathers can create a positive experience for their daughters.
Listen up folks!
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March 2nd, 2012 — Feminine Heritage, Girl Culture, sacred feminine
The New York Times has an article, They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve, about how new studies have found that girls and women direct language for the rest of the population.
The article is slightly condescending in tone, in that, well just look at the title yourself. Then look at this little cartoon. They cite Valley Girls and the Kardashians as the evidence of girls’ influence on language. The rest of the article is about how girls are using language to create bonding relationships and to convey emotion. You know, girl stuff, acting cute and being cute. Even though it makes them appear stupid and not to be taken seriously.
I’d like to point at that just because researchers just started studying female influence on language does not make it a “new” phenomenon. Nor is it limited to trendy teenage girls with reality shows. Have you read a Mommy Blog or Friended a woman or two on Facebook? Women are inventing new words, new syntax, new inflections and sounds, adding new meaning to existing words every second of the day.
Nor do women use language simply to create bonds and convey their feelings. They use language to get what they want. They use language to make political points. They use language to draw boundaries — in the home, in the workplace, in politics. In every arena in which they participate and women and girls participate in every arena.
You should meet my friend Jenny. She appears to have invented a new word or phrase that conveys complex meaning for things that, as yet, have no known definition every time I talk to her. Just yesterday I learned the word Suck-tastic when a woman described the month of February on my Facebook page. I intend to use it frequently now.
Women have superpowers when it comes to listening to language. From the moment their babies are born they can distinguish their cries for hunger, tired and overstimulated; they can tell their baby’s cry from another, they can hear complex levels of emotion in their children; they can hear a lie.
From the earliest of ages girls can distinguish between a truth and a lie. Young girls will tattle on other girls for saying something cruel and hurtful like “I love your hair” or “that dress is so pretty.”
In other words, this condescending theory is craptastic and straight from Crazytown.
Words are the most powerful thing in the entire Universe. In fact, we know from the Bible and many other faith and folklore traditions, that whole entire Universe was created with “The Word.” The pen IS more powerful than the sword. While men point out statistical evidence for this or that legislation, women bring the power to it by evoking emotion and personalizing the political by means of Story. I promise you that Story is one of the most powerful means of changing people’s understanding and changing their minds. Statistics evoke nothing in us, they don’t touch our humanity and they don’t invoke change. But if someone perceives the Story behind the statistics — that a child is going hungry, that people are left suffering for lack of healthcare, that women die from breast cancer leaving their beloved children without a mother, that gay teenagers are in such pain for lack of acceptance that they often consider suicide — only then do they consider changing their original beliefs and taking action. Story is feminine domain.
Women make language their Bitch, bitch is the new black (Tina Fey). We direct the entire culture with it. We add layers of meaning where there is none. When called for, we can reduce the strongest biggest man to a cowering wuss, using language as a vicious sword to emasculate him. We seduce with language. We reframe perceptions with language. We expose truths with language. We create definitions and invent new concepts with language. Words are our playground. Language is feminine domain. We conquer entire nations with it. There’s no stopping a girl or woman with something to say.
Women invented language.
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February 15th, 2012 — Feminine Heritage, Politics & Legislation
Women Invented Language
You know how “they” always say that women weren’t allowed to be literate until like the 1800s or something ridiculous like that?
Well that’s just stupid.
One only has to compare the verbal and written communication skills of a boy toddler and a girl toddler to know what one is more naturally gifted with language than the other. Surely every Kindergarten and preschool teacher has witnessed the obvious. One only has be in a relationship to know that the idea that men felt the strongest desire to communicate is a down-right absurdity.
Women invented language. They formed words and wrote them down and then taught those skills to men, finding a way to force them to communicate.
At some point in history men got intimidated and wanted to flex their muscles and burned, destroyed and otherwise silenced women to gain power. Destroying a vast amount of world history in the process. Which is a tragedy.
It’s true. I would prove it, except they destroyed all the evidence.
Equal Pay Is A Dumb Idea
We’ve been begging congress to give women equal pay since 1963. They don’t want to. If they did, we’d have accomplished this by now. It’s not because they are sexist (well, maybe it is), but it’s mostly because they are capitalists and men derive pleasure from competition. It’s the merit system.
Equal pay as a law was probably a good idea in 1963 when men held all the power and ran all the companies and women were just barely entering college in mass.
But, in 2012 it’s a low, low bar. We shouldn’t rob ourselves and our sisters the opportunity to out-earn their male counterparts after 2,000 years of economic oppression. That would be short-sighted and wrong.
Women are attaining higher degrees than men. In large cities young professional women are out-earning and out-advancing their male counterparts.
Most important, women are starting more businesses than men. THIS is how we’ll achieve equal pay — if such a low bar is to be achieved. Women CEOs will decide whether they choose to reward gender, merit or pay a flat rate for each employee in a certain job. It will be interesting to see what we choose when we hold the power in our own hands.
Smart Women Don’t Run For Office
We always say we want more female representation in political office. Well, mostly liberal women say that. Of course, they don’t mean they want more female representation, what they really mean is we want more pro-life Democratic female representation. Republican pro-life women are to be publicly tarred and feathered.
Personally, I think a more feminine Republican party benefits everyone. If only because it’s getting stale looking at those smug stubborn grey-haired men’s faces. Women are more creative. A good maternal Republican woman would slash the hell out of extras in the budget and lock those smug men in a room with generic bags of cold cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until they could agree on budgets and bills.
Still, that would be the only fun part. The rest of it sounds like a lot of crap that no woman in her right mind would want to deal with. I mean, what’s great about the job? First you have to spend all your money in the ridiculously junior high school popularity contest they call campaigns, you have to put up with rude, disrespectful and insulting questions from journalists and tabloid writers calling themselves journalists, people dig in your garbage to find scraps of paper with something incriminating on them, they hack into your email, you have to make your taxes public, half the world hates your guts and wants to see you dead, they drag out all your old boyfriends and lovers to say something bad about you, they Photoshop your face on naked people and have porn stars pretend to be you in ironically titled adult films, they rake your religion over the coals, they harass your children, they criticize your every parenting choice and the neighbors tattle about the time you yelled out the door “Get your butt in here and clean up your room or you will face DIRE CONSEQUENCES!”
Then, you get the job and every word, choice, haircut and lipstick color gets picked to death by the blogosphere. You can’t accomplish everything you said you would because that’s how the system was designed — but they blame you anyway. You never make enough money to make back what you spent on the campaign in the first place. Then you have to pay for an apartment in Washington and kiss people’s ass all the time.
Who in their right mind would want this job? Essentially it’s committing quality-of-life suicide. If you love yourself Ladies, don’t run for office.
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