Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Something you should know about me--there are two aspects of my soul that are in constant conjunction. They are two broad pillars that have remained within me from infancy. One is the fact that I abhor dishonesty. I cannot deal with deceit and lies. The second is how I ALWAYS stick up for my friends. Always. Loyalty to my friends is practically the Gospel of my soul. These tenants, loyalty and honesty have always worked well with each other. But recently, I was put in a situation where I had to choose between the two.
I lived in an apartment complex last year, two different ones for fall and spring semester. I had serious issues with my first batch of roommates--the issues going along the line of them being lying bitches who felt I should pay the majority of the electric bill because I 'supposedly' left on more lights than anyone else--so that's why I didn't have a year long lease at that apartment. My second batch of roommates were a lot better. I made friends with the two girls and even kind of sort of dated the male roommate for a month or two.
Now I live in a house, a cute two-bedroom house with my darling roommate whom I shall call Sun. I shall call her Sun because Sun was one of my favorite characters on Lost and my new roommate is also one of my favorite people.
Plus they're both from South Korea.
Moving right along, I recently got the account balance from the apartment complex. There were little tiny charges that they knocked me for and I didn't mind so much. This was a very CHEAP complex so I pretty much figured from the beginning they were going to fine me and my other roommates for whatever they possibly could. But there was one fee that was completely outrageous. It was a 400 dollar flee treatment fine.
Now I do have a cat. I also have a desire to bring my cat to my university. This however, is a bad idea because my cat is very old and wouldn't deal with the transition well. So I never brought him to my apartment. My other roommates, however, had five cats. FIVE cats, all together. And unfortunately, one of them had this really bad habit of letting her cats roam around outside when she took them home and eventually they gave the whole place fleas. She was also a bit of a compulsive liar. And she told the complex that I also had a pet, so I should pay the fine as well.
I did NOT have a pet there. I DID however, watch Sun's cat for about three weeks before taking him home with me for the summer. Sun's cat came to me flea-free (with documentation from the animal hospital he stayed at) and wasn't even there with me for half of my lease. Not even for a third of my lease.
I called management, they told me they had spoken with all of my roommates (which was not true, they'd only spoken to ONE, the compulsive liar) and they'd said that I had a cat. I explained my situation with Sun's cat and pointed out that the other two girls had five cats all together. The management lady went, "Five?!" because five cats running around a tiny apartment without their knowledge is sort of a big deal. I believe only two of these cats were registered.
After a while, I ran into my other roommate, my friend, who was not the compulsive liar. I'll call her...LC. Because she really loves The Hills. LC was furious about the fine too, because she'd taken care of her cats and found it grossly unfair that she had to pay for my other roommate's idiocy. I suggested going to the complex and speaking with them and we both made plans to do so the next morning.
That day, I met her at the complex. We strode in and laid out the situation for the manager lady, who I'll call...Manager Lady. Manager Lady promptly asked LC in all honesty, if she had ANY cats from the duration of her lease to the finish.
LC looked her in the eye and said no.
I didn't know coming in that she would lie straight to their faces. Not knowing what else to do, I backed up what she said, agreeing with her which confused Manager Lady even further because two weeks ago I'd said there were five cats roaming around. Manager Lady told me she did find it unfair for me to pay the fine and they were going to lift it for me but if we didn't get our stories straight, we'd all have to pay. LC and I left.
I drove home.
I began to pace my house. This wasn't right. I could not make my family pay this fine. LC and I would lose this fight. I felt sick to my stomach. There was this agonizing gut-wrenching feeling in my abdomen. I tried to distract myself. I popped in a movie and immediately popped it out. I thought about reading a C.S Lewis book--definitely a bad idea. I thought, What would C.S Lewis do?
Well, I knew what C.S Lewis would do. I'd go to his house, he'd make me a cup of tea, I'd explain the situation to him.
C.S Lewis: Well my dear, what do you think God would want you to do?
Me: Can't we leave God out of this?
C.S Lewis: Have you forgotten who you're talking to?
Me: Oh yeah. Right. So, you think I should go back there.
*C.S Lewis takes a sip of tea and says nothing, but still gives me a raised eyebrow*
Me: But I don't want to! Why on earth would they believe me? I already lied by backing up LC.
*C.S Lewis takes another sip of tea*
Me: STOP BLOODY DRINKING TEA AND TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
C.S Lewis: You KNOW what to do. You're just avoiding it by pretending to have a conversation with me. I've been dead for forty years, remember?
I basically told LC that if the complex called I wouldn't lie again. What I didn't tell her was that I got back in my car, drove back to the complex, waited in the lobby for thirty minutes, and spoke to Manager Lady again. I was literally shaking. I told her that I'd been put in a situation where I had to choose between sticking up for a friend and following my conscience. I'd made the wrong choice. I apologized and told the truth, that LC did have three cats. Manager Lady was actually very cool with me. She told me she'd lifted the fine for me and they knew LC had lied because during maintenance checks they'd seen the five cats. I went hope feeling immediately better. The gut-killing feeling was gone.
However, the complex apparently called LC and told her what I'd done. She told me in no uncertain terms that she never wanted to speak to me again and didn't need people like me in her life.
I hated having her mad at me. I hated having to put aside my loyalty to my friends. I really, really hated having that awful streak of integrity inside me. Integrity is a total bitch and definitely made me its bitch. But I think the point of it all, is that if I have to compromise myself for a friend, then that's not right.
My friends all sent me comforting texts. So did my wonderful family. Sun took me out to dinner. It's good to know that I do have people who love me even when I make that annoying right choice.
It's also good to have C.S Lewis as your imaginary friend.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I’m going to talk about feminism today.
Now hold on—before you roll your eyes, groan to yourself, and click out of this blog, bear with me. I am not here to go on an anti-man tirade, I promise. Nor am I here to scream at you if you open a door for me. But one of my darlings has requested to hear my views on feminism and why I call myself a feminist. I’d also like to clear up a few misconceptions about feminism.
Saying the word ‘feminist’ is kind of like saying a really dirty word. People grimace, look at each other, and deny any involvement or association with it. That’s because the word is so loaded with connotations and stereotypes that people generally just tiptoe around it. Here’s a few of my favorite misconceptions about feminism:
1. Feminists don’t shave.
2. Feminists hate men and blame men for everything.
3. Feminists are lesbians.
4. All feminists are pro-choice.
5. All feminists are extremely liberal.
6. Feminists are angry at the world.
7. Feminists hate it when men hold the door for you, pick up the tab, give you their coat, or do anything chivalrous.
8. Feminists are ugly, fat girls who just can’t get laid.
There are loads more, trust me. So let’s go through this list one topic at a time,
then we’ll get to the real meat of the issue.
For number 1: Um, yeah. The personal habits of each and every feminist kind of vary, as far as I know. There isn’t a giant rulebook for feminists that order us not to shave. I’ll let you know now, I do shave. I have issues with hairy armpits. I have issues with hairy legs, though I will admit during the winter sometimes I’m just too damn lazy too. And don’t look at me like that, I know some of you girls don’t do it regularly during the winter. As for shaving anywhere else…none of your business, pervert.
Where this misconception came from: This comes from the first big boom of pornography in the 70s and the second in the 90s. Not to say porno hasn’t existed forever, but it had a huge popularization and acceptance in those specific decades. Women in pornos are big-boobed, shiny, and very, very, waxed. Media took waxing and ran with it, basically shaping society to believe that if you did not wax and shave every slightly hairy orifice, you are gross and dirty. Feminists didn’t like that. So in protest to society, a few of the more hardcore ones refused to shave or wax. And maybe I’m a weenie compared to those brave gals for caving to the demand to shave. But like I said. I have issues with hairy armpits.
Number 2: Feminists don’t hate men. Not really. Okay, anyone who knows me has heard my pissy men rants and dealt with my cynicism. Hopefully, they know that I’m joking or in a bad mood. Come on, we all rant about something when we’re feeling cranky. And yes, there are feminists out there that hate anything with a penis. But they do not represent all feminists just as Westboro Baptists do not represent all Christians. Osama Bin Laden does not represent all Muslims. A gay man who uses a lot of wrist movements and wears pink sparkly scarves does not represent all homosexuals.
So why is this the most common misconceptions with feminists? Because while we don’t hate men, we do not like living in a male-dominated culture. We do not like that a lot of businesses still pay a man more than a woman for doing the same job. We do not like that if a woman chooses not to get married or have kids she is looked down on. We do not like being patronized. Don’t pretend that this doesn’t happen. Come on, girls. Has one of your friends, grandparent, random stranger ever made you feel like a failure for not having a boyfriend? Ever had a guy, even jokingly, tell you to get back in the kitchen? Have you ever looked at an air-brushed model on a magazine cover and felt crappy about yourself? Ever wondered why we still don’t have a female president? (I am not advocating Sarah Palin or Hilary Clinton. I’m just asking if the thought has ever wandered through your head.) We do live in a man-dominated culture. For thousands of years, it was mainly men who ran things. Men fought the wars, men did the business, men led the countries. It’s a man’s, man’s world. Someone even wrote a song about it. And feminists, well, we don’t like that. We want women to have a say in society. But after hundreds of years of nothing but Y chromosome culture, it’s gonna take a while for society to adapt to that.
Number 3: This is like the shaving issue. Some women are, some women aren’t. This is a misconception about feminism, because during the second wave of feminism rebirth, around the 70s, this also takes place during boom of thousands of people who came out as gay. Some did one or the other. A lot did both.
But once again, this is by no means the case for every single feminist out there. I am straight. I have friends who are feminist and straight. On that same token, I have friends who are feminist and gay or bisexual. But it ain’t the case for us all.
Number 4: This is a really tough one, because I’ve had people yell at me about it from BOTH sides. But truth be told, the pro-choice/pro-life issue is NOT the litmus test for feminism. Pro-life feminism exists. Here, I’ll prove it: www.feministsforlife.org
And guess what? I’m one of those pro-life feminists. I’ve been yelled at by pro-choice feminists for being just that. Those pro-choice feminists see access to abortions as a health care issue, a woman’s right issue. There are also feminists who would never ever get an abortion but really hate the government telling them what to do if they get pregnant. I respectfully disagree, I see it more as a humanitarian issue. The government also tells me not to whip out a gun and start shooting random civilians and I’m pretty cool with that.
What really grinds my coffee beans is how some people see feminism as NOTHING but pro-choice/pro-life arguments. There is sooo much more to it than that!
Number 5: Goes right along with feminists not shaving and being lesbians. Some are, some aren’t. Most feminist periodicals and websites do have a liberal slant. But so do most TV channels, (exempting Fox News of course) magazines, newspapers, (exempting certain ones from more conservative counties) you name it. But I in fact, am not a liberal. I’m a moderate. Yeah, Hilary Clinton is a feminist—but guess what, so is Sarah Palin! Nancy Pelosi is feminist—so is Ann Coulter! (I get a certain amount of glee imagining Ann Coulter’s reaction to being called a feminist as she really loathes the term.)
Number 6: We are not. I admit I do hate the world most mornings, but that’s just cuz I haven’t had my coffee yet. See above, we dislike living in a male-dominated society and we are trying to be vocal about it. A vocal woman is not an angry woman. I like to think I’m a pretty positive person and most days I’m rather fond of the world.
Unless it’s early and I don’t have any coffee handy. Then the world can go screw itself.
Number 7: I’ll tell ya right now. If you take me out on a first date and do not hold the door for me, offer to pick up the tab, and insist on walking/driving me home, I will probably never call you again. I feel awfully repetitive, but this is not the case for every woman. Feminism can mean different things to different women just as any political ideal or even religious ideal. For the more hardcore (and kind of bitchy to be honest) feminist who sees a man holding the door for her as a testament to her strength or see him offering to pay as an insult insinuating that she can’t pay for her own meals—whatever. To each their own. I, and a lot of other feminists, don’t see it as demeaning a woman. I see it more as common courtesy. I grew up with three very gentlemanly brothers (and am excited to have a very gentlemanly brother-in-law as well) so I’m used to it. And on a more selfish lazy note, I am a broke college student. If you want to buy me dinner, feel free. If you want to spare me the agony of pushing a door open—go right ahead. If you want to offer me your jacket because I get cold when it’s 70 degrees out, go for it.
Of course, this may have more to do with my inherent laziness and stinginess than my appreciation of chivalry. Point is, for ever feminist it’s to each their own.
Now who wants to buy me another coffee?
Number 8: Okay, now you’re just being mean. I am perfectly able to ‘get a man’ if I want to, as many drunken frat boys have pointed out to me when I walk down the street to get a coffee. So are lots of women who call themselves feminist. Frankly, this is more of an insult than a misconception but I still hear it a lot. What it boils down to is, I do not NEED a man to be a happy, fulfilled woman. I do not need a man to feel pretty. I do not need a man to feel sexy. I can do all of these things just by trotting down to the coffeehouse in my red high heels and I don’t even have to suffer the pangs of a broken heart. That goes for all women. Unfortunately, it’s a very widespread idea that if a woman is single she is therefore unhappy. I love chick flicks, but I’ll be honest, if some guy chased after me while I’m in an airport, proclaimed his love for me and begged me to stay, I’d probably say something along the lines of, “Very flattered and all, but I’m off to Oxford, cheers!”
Yeah. Man does not equal happiness.
So how do I define feminism? Well, I’m pretty fond of good old Oxford’s definition of feminism. “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality.”
Wow, that’s pretty simple, isn’t it! I think that women should be allowed, authorized and even encouraged to run for president, senator, or Congress right alongside men. I think women should be allowed to vote. That’s political. How about social? I don’t think women should be treated as pieces of meat or robots made for male pleasure. I’d like society to be a little more equal-ended and not so masculine. I don’t want a totally female-dominated society either—but it wouldn’t it be nice if we had a society that was dominated by both genders equally? And economic—if a woman does the same job as a man, works as hard as that man, I think she should be paid as much as that man. I think she should have the same financial rights as a man.
Do these seem like horrible, terrible, unreasonable requests?
Here are a few things I’m active in as a feminist. I donate time and energy to women’s counseling centers, to help women who have suffered at the hands of an abusive partner. I am very against female circumcision that still goes on today in many African countries. I donate time and energy to centers that help victims of rape. I donate time and energy to women in the Middle East who have been tortured and maimed for allegations of infidelity, actually being raped, or even daring to walk down the street with painted fingernails. If you’re interested in helping me in any of these causes, contact me, and I’ll send you a ton of info and websites on the matter so you can help too.
That is what I mean when I say I’m a feminist. This is what a lot of women mean when they say that they’re feminist. I respect women who want to climb the corporate ladder just as much as women who choose to be a homemaker and raise a family. It shouldn’t have to be one or the other.
You don’t even stand a chance,
I’m not taking off my pants,
I’m here to start a one girl revolution!
I’m not a Barbie doll, shopping mall, silicone substitution!
I thought I told you, I’m a soldier,
And I ain’t leaving till the battle’s over—
ONE GIRL REVOLUTION!
What are we selling, our brains or our belly buttons,
Why are you buying, don’t you know that they’re lying?
What are you crying about, don’t just sit there and wait
As they’re selling us out!
ONE GIRL REVOLUTION!
--Saving Jane, “One Girl Revolution”