Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mansplaining 'Splained - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 12

Mansplaining - lately this term has been quickly growing as a trendy buzzword in the feminist and gender-equality movements. Initially, people (especially men)  may get defensive or think that this is just an incidence of man-hating lesbians being overly dramatic. And then there will be the "not all men" excuse that surely most men aren't like this.

Since I have heard this term circulating with ever more frequency, I have been reaching into my past and spreading my senses out in the present to see, if this stuff really does happen in real life. I mean, surely my friends are more enlightened than that and don't participate in this type of gender division. However, they actually do and I will illustrate 3 examples below.

Now, it is worth noting, that some of these things are likely so ingrained in society, in ourselves, that we don't realize what a negative impact we are having on our friends; on the people around us for whom we care the most.

The "official" definition of mansplaining is below:

(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.aa

Also interesting are the Urban Dictionary definitions, none of which I can take seriously, but they do in a way show the defensiveness that I have just noted: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mansplain

1. Showing superiority/knowledge 

Recently, inspired by the Wonder Woman movie, one of my friends on Facebook asked people to list out other women actions heroes in Blockbuster movies. Some of the examples were Katniss from The Hunger Games, Leeloo from The Fifth Elemet, Alice from Resident Evil, the Bride in Kill Bill (and the female villains as well), Red Sonja, Lara Croft, Kate Beckinsale's character from Underworld (sorry it's early and I'm tired) etc. (Side note: I also looked up to many of these characters. They have definitely inspired me to be stronger, more badass and more martial in my own life).

While most people of both genders were providing example, on man went on to note: "I don't really think many of these women are heroes because they are motivated by revenge, anger or selfishness whereas Wonder Woman is the true hero because she's motivated by righteousness." Um...excuse me? Should I begin to list out all the awesome male action heroes that aren't motivated by righteousness, yet are still admired? Oh wait....I don't have that much time this morning. 'Splained like a true man...

2. Taking credit for other's accomplishments in the form of words

I'm sure if I polled women, many of them would come back with experiences like this next one: You're telling a story of something crazy, scary, awesome that happened to you and a man keeps talking over you to explain the same story. This includes your opinions, feelings or even words of the story when you told it before. This is one of the most frustrating things that I experience. I am telling a story, trying to get to the big reveal, and someone keeps talking over me and ruins it or gives away the reveal before I get there.*

Now, on some levels, I get this - if you share an experience with someone you both want to talk about it. But I have had times where I  did something cool and as I was trying to explain that to someone, a guy would totally butt in and explain the cool thing that I did. Way to steal my thunder.

This is also relating to women in the professional field who have had their research, articles, proposals, or accomplishments explained back to them. There are some great articles online like this one that lists examples of these.

*Note: This is not just exclusive to men, however, I have found that guys do it more. Especially past boyfriends.

3. Explaining your feelings to you

This last one is probably the most personal AND the most insinuating. It happens primarily in relationships, but also possibly in mentor-student relationships or elder-younger ones (parenting), and again, is not exclusive to men. However, in my past relationship experiences, I have seen this happen A LOT and it took me a long time to realize what was happening.

This is when a partner tells you how you should/need to or shouldn't/needn't feel.  I say that this is very characteristic of men because when a heterosexal couple argues it frequently goes something like this:

Woman: "I feel X. I need X." or sometimes (not the best strategy but) "You make me feel like X".

"You don't need me to validate your opinion."
"You should not have to be told you're beautiful to believe it."
"You need to feel more OK with yourself."
"You shouldn't need to hear 'I love you' to know I love you."

The more I was told this stuff in my early relationship life, the more I internalized it. Then, the more internalized it got, the worse I began to feel about myself.  When I finally realized what was happening, it took me a looooooong time to crawl out of the hole I dug and admit to myself, "you know what? I have needs and these are what they are...."

Yep, I was lying to myself. For years. As it turns out that I do need validation. I need you to tell me that I am beautiful and to be excited for me when I have a good idea. Even if you don't care. A good partner will understand that and a bad partner will tell me that I am overreacting.  This is now my test. (And yes, in case you are wondering, James passed.) :-)

Funny thing, as I was writing this, I started to wonder if I was womansplaining this whole issue (is that really a thing?) but then I realized that I don't care.  This is something that needs to be said because, as I said in the beginning, I firmly believe that not a lot of people really realize they are doing it.

So, pay more attention - if you are a woman and see this happening, call it out! If you are a dude and see this happening, call it out! And if, as a guy, you catch yourself doing these things, just stop. Apologize. And move on...while not doing it again.

PSA over.

Image result for kate beckinsale underworld 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do We Need Someone? - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 11

Once, I thought I did. Need someone, that is.

As a Gemini, I didn't really feel myself without people around. I always felt that I was only 1/2 of a set of twins where my other half was one person, two people, many people - as long as it was someone(s) outside of myself. I would surround myself with people to avoid living with just myself.

This led me to get married to someone who really didn't give a shit about me. He liked much more the idea of me and what I could offer him than actual me, myself. And for my part of it, I liked not being alone. Not having to do all the hard things myself. I, too, liked the idea of him - someone who would be my partner in life. Someone who would go through adventures with me and be my complementing half. We would be like salmon and cream cheese.

Except we weren't. Sure, we may have been different at many things and some of those things may have complemented well, it was clear that neither of us were with the other because we loved them. We were together because that was what ya do. That is what our parents and society wanted us to do. And therefore, that is what we wanted to do.  But we didn't really want each other.

Instead, in the end, we wanted nothing to do with each other.

This is because we were together for all the wrong reasons. When I moved in with him, it was because I was tired of schlepping myself, my stuff, and my cats over to his place. He wanted to move toward the marriage train. He didn't really want ME living there. He wanted a live-in uterus, surrounded by a girl partner who could do all the wifely things - cook, clean, attend kid's soccer games.

When we got divorced, I spend the first probably...three...years trying to be OK with just being with myself. So yeah, I dated people. I slept with ALL the people. And I spent a lot of time out of the house. I also spent a lot of time alone. I had to figure out how to do home repairs myself or bribe a friend to do it. I had to learn how to get myself out of bed in the morning, feed my cat, feed myself and get to work on time.

I spent a lot of time sucking at this...like...badly.  On top of all that, I did it my own way. I didn't go to therapy or pay a life coach to tell me how to get over this hump of feeling not OK spending time with myself. I read a lot of online articles and I thought...at lot. I have come to some conclusions from all that thinking, but I have to admit, that I still don't know.

I would like to say that in those 3 years, it got better.  I still didn't like going to a coffee shop/bar alone to drink and write when no one else could go out on a Friday night. I still felt resentful of the fact that many people couldn't make plans with me because they were staying at home watching Food Network and eating pizza with their SO.

But I did learn something that I didn't have before. I was able to see people for who they really were and what they really wanted. I dated a lot of guys and even when I deluded myself about what they really wanted, deep down, I new. A guys says, "I'm OK with you being poly and seeing other people," I was able to look at it critically and ask myself what "OK" really looked like. If it meant them asking increasingly paranoid questions as their vocal pitch rose, then I knew that wasn't really OK. If it meant them jumping to conclusions about my actions without actually listening to me, then I knew that it wasn't really OK. If it meant them saying ridiculous absolutes that usually either elevated me on  pedestel or pushed me down deep, then I knew it really wasn't OK.

I got very good recognizing when it *wasn't* a good fit and when people were lying. However, I also realized something else....

It's really good to have someone around for things. I realized recently that I really don't like cooking for myself. I like to cook to share food. When it's just me, I'm just way to lazy to spend my alone time cooking. And TBH, if I am going to spend alone time doing something, I am much more interested in crafting, writing, playing video games, or picking cheeto crumbs off my shirt while binge watching Netflix.

Also, it's really nice to have someone handy and manly around to kill spiders, spray wasps, lift heavy/awkward things, and get stuff off the top shelf for you. I mean, I don't know how many people really sit there and revel in gratitude for your SO doing something that you either deplore with every fiber of your being, or physically/mentally struggle with. It's amazeballs. Seriously.

I know that relying on someone isn't the best strategy but let me tell you a story One time, I was home alone and a giant spider crawled across the wall behind my desk and settled right next to my bed. No one was around and I was losing my shit. So I took some hairspray to try and kill the little fucker, but it just ran farther behind my bed. Yeah, I didn't sleep that night.

So anyway, I was learning to be alone, even while allowing myself to develop intimate relationships with people. I think this helped me in a different way as well. It allowed me to change my expectations of my SO from "I need you when X, Y, or Z" to "I don't really need you, but there are times where you would help me handle a situation better" to "Well, sometimes, I may think I need you (Spider) but I'm going to muddle through and deal with the consequences of my decision. But it doesn't mean that I will turn down your help in the future."

Then, I met James. **

**I"m not sure if many of you you know the story of how I met him. I may put it in the appendix. Or, you'll just have to come to me and I'll tell you.

Anyway, I met James. I could probably write an entire post about why I like James, but I will just say this for now: In the wake of all the sub-optimal men that I have dated (another post in itself), James offered something different ...He actually gave a shit about me...

He wasn't worry about his reputation being different b/c he was associated with me. He wasn't looking for me to provide him anything: sex, children, housework, food, reassurance, ego-boosting. I think he is with me just, literally, because he likes me. And he likes what we have.

Is that supes crazy to think about, or what? He rarely asks anything of me and when he does, it's so....stupidly...practical. And yet he does little things for me without asking for any credit - feeding the cat, making coffee.

Does this mean that I need him?

I don't know...I can say that since he's been in Breckenridge, my sleeping habits have gotten all out of whack. I can barely remember all the things I need for work, much less  making myself coffee or sadly, putting my fencing stuff in the car. The routine that I have established with him has gotten completely off kilter and I am not adapting well. I don't fell like I have much to look forward to when I get home, just an empty house and a bowl of ramen or some cheese (and Sherman!) so I just stay out late.

I dick around on my phone in my work parking lot because I am not rushing to something. And I pretty much eat crap food for the week. The worse part of this all is that i can't get out of bed in the morning. When he's here, we get up together and I can have someone to chat with (and flirt with) which totally brightens my morning.

And then going to bed...I have someone to snuggle with and who will whine at me if he doesn't get to sleep on time. Talk about encouragement for success!

So, do I need him? Well, despite forgetting all my stuff for fencing and not knowing how to cut a board of oak plywood, I'm still alive. I fed the cat.  I made it to work (and not even late!) And I even did something productive (KAOS project in progress) with my night rather than devolving into a puddle of lonely, self-pity.

Obviously I am still figuring out how to function with optimal productivity, but I am managing to keep my life moving fairly normally. And, most importantly, I am learning that it's OK to be lonely. It's OK because I know

1. that I will live through it
2. that it will change in the near
3. That loneliness brings its own kinds of rewards. Because, I can tell you, I wouldn't have gotten a blog written OR step 1 of the KAOS project done if James were here tonight.

So, do I need him? No.

But I sure miss him when he's gone.