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And thus ended the date.  Well, in my mind anyway.

What prompted this?

I said something along the lines of my typical evening is going home, snuggling my cats, maybe watching a movie while I sew or spin.  Basically what I enjoy was stuff that wasn’t going out to bars/parties with friends or staying up late.   I’m thirty-seven, for peetsake!

I realize that it was probably a not-entirely serious comment, I realize that it wasn’t really meant to be mean, but what it told me was that my idea of a relaxing evening wasn’t comforting and relaxing but was in fact lame and boring and that based on someone else’s opinion I should be doing something else with my evenings to be worthy of the label of “having a life.”

But y’know what?  I’m happy.  Going home to relaxing evenings with my hobbies, snuggled on the couch with cats watching the rain fall, enjoying the quiet moments life has to offer is not lacking a life.  It’s living my life.

There’s lots of similar phrases that get tossed around these days.  “You need to get a girl/boyfriend!”  is another one I’ve heard far too often, as if someone who enjoys being single and doing things that aren’t considered the typical single party things to do is therefore in *need* of someone else to validate their lives.

It was really a bummer because it wasn’t like he had been a jerk or anything.  He was nice enough, I had even been looking forward to the date, but when he told me that I decided he didn’t seem to respect me or my life enough to be further considered for inclusion in it.

If you want to be part of my life, you have to respect that I already have one without you.

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Ladies, let’s have a chat.

We live in a culture – as my last post stated – where, as a female, not only do I not feel grounded in being female, but that I’m surrounded by expectations of what a female should be based on what men want me to be.  There is no shortage of rants we can go on about this topic, about male ignorance, male chauvinism, male ego…

But guess what?  None of that excuses women being sexist, either.

None of that excuses ranting against all men as if all men do anything, because men, being roughly half of the entire population of the world, don’t all think with the same head.  (Nope, not even that one.)  Just like women, men are individuals, with their own ideas, their own ways of being, and especially here in the US, they have sadly short circuited many of their own natural tendencies in the blind pursuit of what they think  it means to be male.

Women, let’s not fall into the trap of following in the footsteps of those whose actions we ourselves didn’t like!

We don’t like being marginalized, let’s not start marginalizing men.  We don’t like being harassed for our sex, let’s not start harassing men for theirs.  We don’t like all being lumped together as being whiny, emotional, manipulative, unfaithful, or  irrational, let’s not lump all men together as being overbearing, sex-crazed, misogynistic, predatory, or emotionless!

Why not you may ask?  Why not, when it seems “only fair” to fight fire with fire; when we do it, it doesn’t “hurt them like it hurts us”?

But it does.  It does, not because men are afraid to walk down the street alone, not because men get harassed at tech conferences, not because men are less likely to be perceived as intelligent or get hired…

But because us treating them like they have treated use does NOT restore balance to our culture, it just makes it even more unbalanced.  I don’t mean that we should just take it.  We absolutely should stand up against it when we are dismissed, marginalized, harassed, threatened, and objectified.  But using this as an excuse to bash men does not solve the problem.

Women are still largely the caretakers of children, whether as mothers, teachers, nurses, daycare providers, babysitters, and more.  Women largely hold these roles in society, to greater or lesser degrees, and therefore our actions and attitudes have a profound effect on these children who may still be searching for where their place in the world is.

That means when a female teacher stands in front of a class of girls and boys and bashes men, she is not restoring balance to a culture out of balance, she is damaging male and female students alike who hear her words and feel her anger.  As women, we do need to have conversations with girls and boys, but it should be in the context of why the negative words and actions are negative, and why they’re damaging.  The conversation should not be shaped by talking about why men are bad or wrong.

Boys don’t just need to be slammed over the head with how awful they are and how horrible they will be when they grow up.  They need to be shown a better way of being, be taught why the current social views are harmful, not just to women but to themselves.

“Why can’t men do that?!”  That’s a good question.  Why can’t they?  We should ask them.  But that doesn’t mean we get to wipe our hands and say “not it.”

Why?  Because it matters more to us!  We’re the ones ultimately affected the worst, so like it or not, we’re the ones who have to keep pushing and keep fighting and keep working toward it.  We’re the ones who have to adopt the most effective means to do this, we’re the ones who have to force the change for the better, because if we sit back and say that’s men’s responsibility, it won’t happen.  And we all know it.

Girls need to be taught why the current social views are harmful, also!  They need to be helped so they don’t just absorb all the negativity and stereotypes.  They need to be encouraged to follow their dreams in the face of opposition – from both men and women!  Even if those dreams are to grow up, get married, and stay home with the kids!  That is a perfectly acceptable dream to have!  And I’m tired of women who want to belittle other women for it.  I’m tired of men thinking they get to dictate my thoughts, thinking I owe them my body, thinking that being angry is the same as being ‘whiny.’

I’m tired of women treating each other like competition, using boys as scape goats, dictating what are or are not acceptable “female aspirations”.

Men being sexist hurts women, girls, boys, and anyone who does not fit a binary gender or biological sex identity.

Women being sexist also hurts women, girls, boys, and anyone who does not fit a binary gender or biological sex identity.

We need to know better than to perpetuate it.  We need to realize that copying negativity does not cancel out negativity.

We need to realize that many, many men don’t know any of this is going on.  That when they do things that are harmful, they aren’t consciously being sexist, they are following the examples that have been taught by society; they’re following the rules they’ve been brought up with; they’re following other men.  So when we confront men about doing something harmful, it isn’t *him* we’re fighting.  It’s the society that taught him, the culture that shaped him, the men that modeled this behavior for him.

A lifetime of learned behavior is not undone in a day.  A lesson of this depth is not understood in a single conversation.  Not for men, not for women.

It “takes a little time to turn the Titanic around,”  Patience and perseverance are things we need to hold to.  It’s personal to us, but we can’t make it personal against them.

Anger, resentment, and bitterness are all understandable feelings to have, but they will not solve this problem, either.  With thousands of years of momentum, we can *want* but we really can’t *expect* even a hundred years to be enough to reverse that course.  We just need to hold to patience and perseverance.

Keep working, keep fighting, keep pushing: but remember we as women are not fighting against ‘men’… we’re fighting against a society and culture that has been shaped by a form of masculinity.  Neither men nor masculinity are the enemy, just the society and culture we’re in.

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This isn’t even a joke.  Okay, I mean it is, but it isn’t.

So we’re expecting snow tomorrow in the greater Seattle area, and I was just thinking, I hope the snow plows are out nice and early so I can get to work… and I had to add “too” at the end, there, because well, first I won’t be the only one trying to get to work, but in order for me to get to work those drivers have to have already been at work for quite a while.

Which got me seriously thinking, how do they get to work when the snow is really bad?  I’ve seen street trucks with plows on the front, maybe that’s how?  But yeah, it’s amazing how often we don’t think about who else has to do their part so we can accomplish something.

And what’s worse, we’re getting more and more selfish about making sure we get ours and not caring who has to sacrifice what for it.

We want stores not just open first thing dark and early on the day after Thanksgiving, now we want stores open on Thanksgiving itself!  Never mind that the people having to work are being denied their holiday with family and dinners (at least, I hope that’s what they’d be doing otherwise), we want our stuff and we want it now and nobody had better inconvenience us by *closing* on holidays!

I’ve had people pass me, while I was in the left turn late, heading into oncoming traffic, because wherever it was they had to be was more important to them than considering the accident they might have caused by their impatience and reckless driving.

I’ve heard people talk about a bank who denied them loans as “not giving me my money!”  But it wasn’t their money!  This idea that someone else is denying you access to *their* money is now equated with being denied access to *your* money. (And no, I’m not going to get into the actual details of that not even being the bank’s money, that money was created out of thin air from nothing at all… that’s a different rant.  Being denied a loan for prejudiced reasons is also a different rant, but that happens, too.)

But in general, we’ve become very self-centered, spoiled, and entitled.  We don’t care about lifting up one another, only ourselves.  We don’t care who is denied something, so long as *we* aren’t denied something.  We aren’t grateful for what we have, we’re indignant that we don’t have more.

I suppose it could be the country going through it’s terrible two-hundreds…  (not that it was all that good in the first place) but wouldn’t it be nice if people remembered we’re all in this together?  You can’t climb a latter if you keep sawing off the rungs because they’re “in your way”.

Take a minute today and think of who around you helps you ‘get where you’re going’, either literally or metaphorically.  Think about the janitor (or maybe the family member!) who replaces the toilet paper rolls so you can… ehem.  Think about the person working at the check-out counter so you can buy your things.  Think about the snow plow driver who has to get to their work so you can get to yours.

Just… take a moment and think about others.

And Merry Christmas.

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Wearing high heels is like drinking until you throw up.

There are many reasons you do it: peer pressure, an attempt to fit in, maybe you just think you like doing it… but it always ends the same, face down in the toilet swearing to yourself you’ll never, ever do this again.

And then a little bit of time passes… the headache goes away and the nausea subsides and you can eat normal food again.  And a bit more time passes and you sort of forget how bad it was.  And then you find yourself toying with the idea of doing it again.

Only to end up remembering – when it’s far too late – exactly why it is you promised yourself last time you were never going to do it again.

Wearing heels is like that.

There’s the pressure to be ‘fashionable’, or maybe to add height, or you just like the ‘click-clack’ sound of walking on linoleum flooring in them.

The day wears on, and you’re walking a little slower, a little more gingerly.  And soon you realize your little toe has that really painful blister forming on it, and you have to run hobble to the first aid kit to get a bandage.

By half-past lunch you’re cursing whoever made these shoes and wondering what possessed you put them on that morning, and why on earth didn’t you think to bring a simple pair of flats to change into after that big meeting?

And yet what happens?  You go home, and kick them off and oooohh it feels so good, and maybe you give yourself a foot bath and drink a glass of wine and even as you swear you’ll never wear them again, you find you’ve put those shoes back into your closet… where they’ll lie in wait, lurking for the next time you forget, and slip them on…

Tonight when I get home, these things are going in the ‘donate’ box for the local thrift store!

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I was gonna write this whole wordy rant about this, but really, that’s all it comes down to.   I am not lacking.  My biology is not impaired.  My physiology is not dismembered.   I am not a deviation from the norm.  My vagina is not the lack of a dick.  It’s an organ in its own right.

My worth is not diminished.

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A response to this post, because No, I am not content to silently disagree: no-homosexuality-is-not-like-left-handedness  I’ll never disable comments, because I welcome differing points of view.  How on earth can we ever grow living in a bubble to ourselves?

The above indicates an opinion that homosexuality is wrong because there is no chance of pregnancy.  I will refute one thing, homosexuals are actually just as capable of producing children, just not with others of the same gender.  However, if the topic of acceptable sex is whether or not children are produced…

So to be barren or post-menopausal is similarly to have no right whatsoever to engage in sexual intercourse since a baby can never be the result.  Just making sure I’m clear on sex and it’s purpose, here.  No children = no sex.  No matter the reason, because sex without children is selfish and wrong and clearly a mental disorder.

Oh, you must similarly abhor birth control of any kind, because that allows for sex without the possibility of procreation.  And of course surgically having your tubes tide or cut (male or female) is akin to choosing to be homosexual because you’re now creating a situation where you are having sex without the possibility of procreation, and should be labeled as having voluntarily adopted a mental disorder.

Every time I have sex with my theoretical future husband, I had damn well sure better be prepared to get pregnant and under no circumstances – no matter how many children we’ve already had or what our financial situation – should I attempt in any way to prevent the possibility of again becoming pregnant, or else I’d just better clamp my legs together and say, “Not tonight, honey, we can’t afford it!”

Because before these pesky homosexuals came along, no heterosexual couple ever dreamed of having sex without having a child.  Yes, it was those homosexuals who corrupted us “straighties” into thinking birth control was ever an acceptable choice.

Though I must wonder, if the only function of sex was to have a child, then why would women who are “legitimately raped” have bodies that could have a way to “shut all that down” and prevent pregnancy?

Clearly there is something *wrong* with women who are raped if they can prevent their own pregnancies.  Right?  Just making sure I understand the whole line of thinking here.  Raped women had damn well better be sure to have that child so it isn’t confused with being selfish or having a mental disorder!

Non-sarcastically now: Sex can create children, yes.  Sex also nurtures intimacy, trust, compassion, mental well-being, stress-reduction, and a host of other things that are beneficial to long-lasting relationships.  Having sex for pleasure is as much about your *partner’s* pleasure as your own, while for some, having children can be an extremely selfish thing to do.

To assume that sex for pleasure always equals selfishness and sex for children is always some selfless higher calling is just plain ignorance at it’s … best? worst?

It’s disturbing that this isn’t obvious to more people.

Really, I don’t think it’s Authority you have a problem with, Matthew.

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Why do some people think that acknowledging the suffering of others somehow diminishes their own?  That in order to validate their suffering, they must deny the suffering of others?

Was the African slave trade a blight on the face of humanity?  Was the African slave trade a horror that none of us can truly comprehend?   Is there anyone at all who will argue that the answer is anything but a most emphatic yes?

Since that is so, why isn’t the Irish slave trade similarly acknowledged as even existing, let alone acknowledged as that same blight, that same horror?  Why are the white slaves taken in Africa not likewise acknowledged as existing?

Why is acknowledging European slavery in Africa a threat to the memory of black slavery?

I’m not talking about racism, discrimination, civil rights issues.  I’m not talking about comparing the suffering as if one can be found to be more worthy of notice.

I’m talking about slavery.  Real slavery.

When the population of Ireland was cut by nearly two thirds within a single decade (1641 to 1652), with an estimated 300,000 Irish slaves shipped to the New World to work for English masters and another 500,000 killed outright, that is a reality of history.   They were every bit as much slaves as the Africans brought to the Americas.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

And don’t kid yourself.  These were not indentured servants who labored for some years and then were set free.  They were slaves.  Every bit as much as the Africans were slaves.  They were slaves who were sent to the Americas to labor and die by the master’s hand, to be seen as property and chattel, not people.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these [Irish] women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

Is it true that many descendents of slaves today have lighter complexions because their ancestors were raped by white masters?  Undeniably.  However, it is just as true that many are the descendents of slaves both white and black, that their lighter complexion is from an African slave father and an Irish slave mother, rather than a slave master.  And the descendents of those slaves are as much descendents of their Irish mothers as they were of their African fathers.

When the Barbary pirates captured white slaves from Europe and took them back to Africa, they were every bit as much slaves as the Africans brought to the Americas, suffering under brutal conditions.

By extension, for the 250 years between 1530 and 1780, the figure could easily have been as high as 1,250,000 – this is only just over a tenth of the Africans taken as slaves to the Americas from 1500 to 1800, but a considerable figure nevertheless. White slaves in Barbary were generally from impoverished families, and had almost as little hope of buying back their freedom as the Africans taken to the Americas: most would end their days as slaves in North Africa, dying of starvation, disease, or maltreatment.

As per the above quote, the number was smaller than the African trade, but does that justify forgetting them?  Does that justify pretending that there were no White slaves in Africa, taken by Africans?  Does that justify pretending that there were no white slaves in the Americas?

Ignoring this piece of history does nothing to correct the injustices today.  Ignoring this piece of history does nothing to ease the suffering of those who continue to suffer, so what is the goal of such willful ignorance?

The suffering of those today is not validated through denial of others suffering.  It is validated through the suffering itself.  Those feelings are their own validation, they need nothing more than that.  To attempt to use ignorance of history as a validation for feelings can only serve to diminish that validation when history is illuminated.

There is no data, no statistic, no historical fact that can diminish the horror of the Africa slave trade.  Why, then, is data and historical fact so quickly brushed under the carpet as if to acknowledge that the suffering in slavery was not one-sided somehow detracts from the suffering of Africans?

My ancestors were Irish.  My people, too, suffered slavery, both at the hands of the English and at times the hands of the Africans.  I won’t pretend that I have forgotten this history, and I won’t stay quiet when someone else tries to ignore it.

That does not mean I am pretending to understand the current discrimination that happens today.  The Irish have been integrated into society in a way that blacks have not.  They became “normalized” whereas blacks have not.

I learned about the African slave trade in school.  But I never learned about the Irish slave trade.  I never learned about the white slaves in Africa.  These things were quietly ignored.

This has nothing to do with justifying racism.  It has nothing to do with detracting from African suffering.  It has nothing to do with telling someone to ‘get over it.’

I am not asking for anything beyond the simple acceptance of facts.  I am not asking for pity, or sympathy, or empathy.  I am not asking for anger, or guilt, or any emotion at all.

It has everything to do with acknowledging the reality of history.  We can’t learn from history when we refuse to accept the whole of it.  And accepting the whole of history in no way diminishes any one part of it.  Tragedies are tragedies, there is little chance of having any major tragedy of history watered down through the knowledge of others.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/white_slaves_01.shtml#two

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/mar/11/highereducation.books

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076

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If they really wanted to defend marriage, they should have tried outlawing divorce.

Otherwise, no one has yet adequately explained how one couple’s marriage has any affect on another couple’s marriage in any way.

Well, unless they’re swingers… but pretty sure DOMA didn’t outlaw that, either.

Given the name, things I WOULD have expected the Defense of Marriage Act to actually address:

Divorce
Marriage counseling (as, of course, a free, tax paid initiative to prevent divorce)
Financial counseling (as finances are one of the major reasons for divorce still, I believe?)
Adultery

Because really, if what you’re after is to defend the “Biblical” definition of marriage, then the following are all legal and moral:

Marriage to your half sister (Abraham and Sarah)
Sex outside of marriage to your wife’s handmaiden (Abraham and Hagar)
Marriage to your wife’s sister (Jacob, Rachel, and Leah)|
Sex outside of marriage to your wife’s handmaidens reinforced (Jacob, Bilhah, and Zilpah)
Marriage to the girl you raped, but only if she wasn’t already engaged (Deuteronomy)
Marriage to the daughters of the people you just defeated/killed in battle (Deuteronomy again)
Marriage to 700 wives (and 300 concubines) (Solomon)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to hold the Bible up to modern moral standards, only pointing out that modern moral standards are more often not found in the Bible.

In fact, the only place where the bible actually dictates that a man should have only one wife is in the New Testament letters, and specifically for church leaders, not applied to all laymen.  The idea that marriage is between only one man and one woman, that they choose one another themselves, and that it has anything to do with love is a rather modern concept, certainly not the ‘Traditional’ nor the ‘Biblical’ definition of the word.

The traditional definition of marriage is much closer to:

One man, and as many women as he wishes and is able to afford, purchased from their father like property, or arranged by the parents of the couple, often without the couple having ever seen one another prior to the wedding.  Whereafter the woman is now considered the man’s property.

And while that is certainly far more historical and traditional, it really comes down to: marriage was defined by the cultures in which it existed, and there is no *one* traditional definition.  In some cultures, homosexual marriage really was allowed.  In some cultures, a woman could take more than one husband.  In some cultures, marriage for love was celebrated.  But not in all.  There is no *one* definition of marriage to be changed.

So really?  All those people who whine about who is changing traditional definitions are doing far more to change the traditional definition themselves.

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There are two kinds of context.  The one in which something is presented, and the one in which something is consumed.  Words are spoken in the first kind of context, and they are heard in the second.  And these contexts do not always see eye to eye.

There are people who say that your intent doesn’t matter, only your words.  It doesn’t matter if you weren’t thinking of *that* when you spoke, if the person who heard you was, you’re still to blame, apparently.

I don’t agree with that.  It puts the burden of having to know the context of the lives of everyone who might possibly hear on you, and that is an impossible burden to bear, and it removes any possibility of reaching cultural understandings and simply makes one party “wrong”, end of discussion.

A person is responsible for their words, yes, but only to the degree that they can reasonably be expected to know or anticipate the reaction to them.  That means they are not responsible for every possible reaction based on a listeners individual context.

A person who makes rape jokes, then apologizes because he didn’t know one of the people listening had been raped… is not being defended here.  The context of the so-called “joke” is the problem in the first place, regardless of whether the person hearing has experienced it of not.   They may claim the intent was not to offend but such “jokes” are offensive by their very nature.

What I am saying is, if a person says something that they intended to be entirely innocent or mean something very different, they are not responsible for someone else misunderstanding what they meant or how they meant it.

This struck me today by way of a humorous almost-accident at work.

The manager, having reviewed the resume of a potential computer drafter, wrote a reply back that it looked as if she had excellent qualifications and experience in the field, but was concerned that the resume offered “no example of modeling experience.”

Once the reply was finished, he re-read the reply (which is something you should always do, by the way) and realized that what he meant was something very different than what might be taken by the recipient.  He quickly changed it to “solid  modeling experience,” but then realized that might not be any better.   After a brief moment of laughter as he was trying to come up with a reply that could not be misconstrued, he settled on “solid parts modeling experience.”

It got me thinking about how what we say can so easily be taken the wrong way, but that if he had sent off his first reply, would it have been fair to accuse him of being sexist because “What, the female drafter wasn’t a model, so that’s why you didn’t hire her??”   No, obviously that was neither the intent of his words nor the context in which the reply was being sent.

If he *hadn’t* noticed the possibility of being misunderstood, it still would have been his intent to inquire as to her experience in solid parts modeling not personal modeling.

That stuck in my mind, because people seem too quick to say intent doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t *intend* to offend anyone, you did.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t *intend* to sound sexist, you did.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t *intend* to sound racist, you did.

Well, I wonder about that.  If you didn’t intend to offend, and your words were not ones that by their nature are offensive, then yes, it does matter that you didn’t intend to offend someone.  Someone being offended is on their shoulders.  Understanding has to go both ways.  You can realize that in some contexts or with some people, what are otherwise innocent words can be misunderstood.  But you can never know what every person who hears/sees your words may possibly understand them as, and there is no phrase PC enough that you can avoid every possibility of offense.

If you meant to ask if a person had ‘solid parts modeling’ experience when you asked if they had ‘modeling’ experience, that is not the same thing as being sexist, even if someone else did not understand the context in which you asked the question and became offended.  Them misunderstanding you is not proof of your bigotry, nor does it somehow infuse your words with inherent bigoted language.  It should not become an issue where you must issue some sort of press-conference sized apology.

Them misunderstanding you is only an indication that further communication needs to take place to bring the speaker and the listener into a shared context of understanding.  It is *not* an indication that the listener has no obligation to understand what the speaker meant and that the speaker is the one who must make every concession towards understanding.

Yes, in this instance, it was noticed that ‘modeling experience’ could easily be misunderstood, because the speaker (writer) had a shared context with the perspective listener (reader) that allowed him to reasonably anticipate the possibility of misunderstanding and forestall that.

However, there are often times when a speaker can not anticipate the way his or her words would be understood because there is no shared context between the two of why the words are (or are not) offensive.

An example of this is a discussion I had with an Australian, in which I asked what – to me – was a simple and very innocent question, “which sports team are you rooting for?”  In American English, ‘rooting’ in this context would mean cheering for or supporting.  In Australian English, it meant something very, very different (and very vulgar) and lead to a momentary embarrassment before the usage of the word in our respective cultures was understood by the other to be very different than what our understanding was on our own.

In this case, there is no possible way I could have anticipated the vastly different definition we applied to the same word, or how my question could have been misunderstood or caused possible offense.  There is no way I could have known, because I had never before been in a position to learn.  And that is the crux of many misunderstandings, not that a person should have known better, but that they had never had the opportunity to learn.  Ignorance is a human *reality*, not a failing.  There is more in this world that we don’t know than what we do, so we should always be open to learning, and we should always be forgiving to those who simply haven’t learned yet.

So my intent was not to be vulgar and offensive, and even if my words had caused offense, such misunderstandings need to lead to communication and understanding on both sides.  It would not have been appropriate for the listener to demand an apology, to insist that what I meant didn’t matter because what I said was so offensive it was beyond intent, or that I should carry some burden of shame for having been misunderstood.

In this case, I did not cause offense, even if offense was taken.  Now, as a nice person, you should obviously apologize when your words hurt, but there should always be an effort to be understood as not having meant to cause hurt, and that really should count for a lot.

Again, there are examples of the meetings of cultures in days gone by, where what may be considered neutral or even good in one culture was considered very offensive in another.  But of course, until these cultures meet and communicate, there is no possible way for either to have known!  The burden should always be on gaining understanding, not holding onto our hurt feelings as if they truly are the only things that should matter.  Because really, if we understand others better, it is likely our feelings won’t be hurt by such things in the future.

Understanding goes both ways: the person speaking learns a new context and hopefully seeks to remedy that source of misunderstanding, and the person hearing learns to let go of a possible source of pain/offense.  Win-win, right?

That is why I get so upset when people say intent doesn’t matter.  Yes, it does.  Intent matters just as much as words do.  If a person says or does something that you find offensive, before you simply put it back on the person as being “obviously in the wrong”, consider that there are always two contexts, and just because you understood something as being offensive does not always mean that offense was intended to be given.

Now obviously this can sometimes be a cop-out.  I’ve snapped at a co-worker for making snarky remarks about a person’s last name in relation to whether they could speak English and of course he immediately replied “I didn’t mean to offend”… well, yes he did, he just didn’t think it would offend me.

There may be people you know who would not be offended by certain things, and it’s fine if you get your group together and say whatever you want knowing that you all share a context in which no offense will be taken and everyone walks away fine. I’m not talking about that.  What a few do in privacy between themselves isn’t up for anyone else to debate.

What I am talking about is what level of responsibility we can reasonably lay upon a person for their words, and what level of responsibility we must take on ourselves as the recipient (intended or not) of those words.

Just because you were offended doesn’t mean they were being offensive.  Your reaction is not the end-all of the argument, nor the only part of the equation that matters.  There is responsibility on both sides to understand and seek to better the dialogue, it is not a burden to be placed on just one side or the other.

Thoughts?

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Weight A Second…

I am 5’6″ and 189 pounds (as of this morning).  I am not ‘fat’.

I am just a little larger than Marilyn Monroe, she was a size 14, I’m a size 16.

Most people can’t believe how much I weigh because they insist I don’t look it, that I must be a lot less than I’m claiming…  I think really, people just have no idea what ‘weight’ looks like because either people lie about how much they weigh (who wouldn’t, when telling the truth generally gets you teased at best) and we’re so inundated with images of girls who are anorexic that we think that is somehow normal.

Now don’t get me wrong, many people, girls and boys, are naturally slim.  That’s fine, if that’s what your body gravitates toward.  But when you’re developing a disorder just to look like the people in a magazine, that’s neither physically nor psychologically healthy.

Back to me.  I am not unhealthy.  I would like to lose about 20 pounds, but I’m not unhealthy.  I have good blood pressure, low cholesterol, eat plenty of whole grains and vegetables, low on meat, and get semi-regular exercise in.

BMI is a ridiculous number that has no real medical foundation.  BMI was developed by taking an average of people during a single period of time and deciding that must be what is normal and healthy.  That assumes that that period of time was more “normal and healthy” than any other period of time when things were different.  It also makes absolutely no distinction between bone weight, fat weight, and muscle weight.  It’s such a useless number.

Besides, look at all those old Renaissance paintings, or even Greek statues!  Those women were curvy.  Heavier used to mean healthier back when it meant you had enough to eat.  Skinny equated to poor.  Of course, there is a level of overweight that is unhealthy because of the stress it can put on your heart, but that does not mean that today’s models are the epitome of health and should be aspired to by all.  Skinny does not necessarily equate to healthy these days, either.

It’s funny how people try to pretend that, with the vast differences in body style, bone structure, and height, that somehow weight has one perfect ideal.  Some people seem to be just naturally tiny.  Some people seem to be just naturally large.  Telling either one that their body has something wrong with it, or that it’s their fault they aren’t conforming to some social ‘ideal’ is ridiculous and offensive, really.

It’s sad how American Culture pushes food at ever opportunity, celebrates gluttony, idealizes overindulgence, standardizes unhealthy “food”, then has the gall to shame people who are their definition of overweight.

Whenever anyone tries to tell me I need to lose weight, I tell them, I have the body of a Greek goddess!  But even so, I would like to lose a little weight.  I think 170 would be a bit better for me.  But even if I never do, I’m never going to be unhappy with my body just the way it is.

I just want to make sure I’m as healthy as I can be!

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