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Posts Tagged ‘Pecking order’

Dear St. Louis Wildlife,

I’m going to have to ask you to stay in your lane.

Spiders, please stay out of my basement.

Squirrels, please stop looking in my bedroom window.

Birds, please don’t come into my house.

I got home last night and opened my front door to get the mail. One of you flew in uninvited. Then had the nerve to fly upstairs.

My dustmop and I followed.

Luckily, your fowl emissary was smart. He (she?) settled on the floor. I gently placed the dustmop on top of him (her?) until I could grab a hand towel. I wrapped the scout in the hand towel, and we both went outside.

My niece said she thinks it’s a House Sparrow (which would be appropriate) or that I’m a Disney princess.

I had to make your rep skedaddle by flapping the towel.

But why? There’s nothing for any of you inside. No supply of worms. No room to fly high. No comfy nest.

Stay outside!

This is not the first time you outside critters have been lured by the great indoors, though. In my first apartment in Savannah, a rat came up from the dumpster outside. (I lived above a famous Southern restaurant. Loads of food waste.)

Luckily, my friend Brenon was on patrol with an ax handle. He went ham. Sorry, Remy.

That was the same night my immediate downstairs neighbor dealt with a bat from the chimney. And the neighbor below her had a random cat in heat show up.

Rat. Bat. Cat.

What’s up with that?

Anyway, you stay in your habitat, and I’ll stay in mine.

Thanks!
Beth

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Concept of mental load explained in one frame of a comic

Dear Men in Relationships with Women:

“Am I the Asshole?” on Reddit is alive with the sound of squabbling. One woman is upset about her boyfriend who doesn’t do chores (and doesn’t flush). A man thinks his girlfriend should do all the chores because she works from home.

Men, have you heard of the concept of mental load? No? Let me share it with you. (Thanks to Goat Yoga Lisa for introducing me.)

You don’t have time to read this whole thing? Yeah, women don’t either.

That’s the point. And the pandemic has made everything worse.

When did women sign up to be house managers? Hint: We didn’t.

Maybe in the Cleaver-style 1950s, things were more equitable. Men worked. Women stayed at home, raised the kids, and kept house. But now most women have full-time jobs and STILL have all the things to do at home.

Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, I’m oversimplifying. Yes, yes, yes.

But still my point remains.

I know you want to @ me with sentences that start with:

  • “But not all men … “
  • “But what about … “
  • “But I do … “

Please don’t.

Look. Listen. I’m sure you are lovely and think you are an equal partner.

But I bet you are not.

Ask the lady in your life. Listen to what she says.

Now that I’m conscious of mental load, I notice things I never noticed before. Gender roles are so ingrained.

A couple of weeks ago, we were visiting the house where my sister in law is staying until she gets her own place. It’s the home of a lovely professional couple. We were all outside chatting: three male adults, two male teenagers, three female adults. The lady of the house was being a good Southern hostess — getting drinks, bug spray, snacks, etc. My SIL disappeared. I found her in the kitchen alone making dinner. I rolled up my sleeves and started helping. We were in there working on dinner for about two hours while the guys had a nice chat outside.

To recap: Women inside making dinner or serving snacks/drinks. Men outside relaxing.

To be fair, when my SIL asked a couple of the men to help with one part of the dinner, they did.

But they had to be asked.

Now reread the article I linked.

That’s right.

Now do you see?

I thought you might.

Thanks in advance for taking on more of the mental load. Your partner will appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Beth

*Credit to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

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Dear People Talking About Election Fraud:

Look. Listen. I get it. I’m still not over the 2016 election.

I couldn’t believe that people would vote for Trump the first time. But they did, and he won. And we all got on with it.

We’ve had four years of (fill in your preferred adjective).

Why is it so hard to believe that the same sentiment that drove the “silent majority” to the polls against Clinton in 2016 could be the same thing driving folks against Trump in 2020?

His presser last night was … unhinged. It was made up of lies. It was embarrassing.

The election was not rigged. There hasn’t been widespread voter fraud.

Let’s look at the ways Americans had to vote:

  1. Early voting. This does not seem to be in dispute.
  2. In-person voting Nov. 3. This does not seem to be in dispute.
  3. Absentee voting. This is apparently what’s in dispute. By Trump.

With absentee voting, people could mail them in or drop them in a ballot box. State laws vary, but the mailed-in ballots usually are counted as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. The deadline to drop in the ballot box in Georgia was 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Again, states vary.

OK, stay with me here: Early voting and in-person voting are tabulated easily. Absentee voting takes longer because poll workers have to open and carefully check the ballots in a guard against — wait for it — fraud. Some states can open and count early. Some can’t.

I am a Georgia voter. I did not want to wait in line and be around people in a PANDEMIC. I requested, filled out and returned an absentee ballot via drop box by the Nov. 3 deadline.

Georgia had better DAMN WELL count my vote. (And I did NOT vote for Trump.)

As there were historic numbers of absentee voting, the processing will take longer. DUH.

Absentee voting has a long, strong history in America. It’s the way those in the military vote, for crying out loud.

Also, Trump himself has used absentee voting (as recently as August) and encouraged people to vote by mail. In Arizona. Where he thought he had plenty of support.

But you know what? Spitting on Arizona favorite John McCain’s grave has a cost.

You know what else has a cost? Calling war dead “suckers and losers.” Georgia has 13 military bases. Georgia also has Stacey Abrams, who has worked tirelessly to increase voter registration and voter turnout.

There are many reasons why people would want Trump to be a one-term president, just as there were many reasons why people didn’t vote for Clinton

Just as the Democrats have not engineered a worldwide Coronavirus hoax, they have not perpetrated voter fraud. Please note that Georgia and Arizona (two states you are wound up about) both have Republican governors. And Georgia’s Secretary of State is a Republican too. One Trump supported.

Nevada’s is too. Are you alleging that they are in on this plot? Please.

And if Democrats were going to rig an election, wouldn’t they flip the Senate too? Come ON.

So stand down, outraged Trump fans. This is our democracy — the one you profess to love.

This is our process and it works, whether you like it or not.

Your fellow American,

Beth

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Dear Certain Women,

I just don’t understand you.

In the words of that great sage Taylor Swift, “Why you gotta be so mean?

It’s hard enough for women to make their way in a patriarchal society — and yes, ours is one — without other women trying to take us down too.

Support isn’t like pie: If you give it to me, you don’t have less.

Here’s how I get into trouble: I assume good intentions. That may not seem like a bad thing, but considering that I have been burned by a surprising number of you over the past few years, I actually do think it’s bad for me.

(Pause for that “fool me once … ” saying.)

One good thing is that I’m smarter now.

And now I have to quote another great sage: Christina Aguilera.

 

To gain or maintain power, you don’t need to step on other people. Here’s Taylor again:

Being a good colleague and a good supervisor can be done. You can support other women.

One of the best supervisors I ever had was a strong, smart, supportive woman. She was adept at identifying people’s strengths, getting them into positions that matched those strengths so that they could thrive, giving oodles of positive feedback, gently providing constructive criticism when necessary, and offering opportunities for professional development and advancement.

And, by the way, she was at the top of the leadership ladder. She never kicked anyone down to lift up herself.

All my close female friends are dynamic, funny badasses who also have my back.

I wish I could say the same about all the women with whom I come in contact.

Come on: You can be better than this. Use your powers for good.

Let’s band together to improve the situation for all of us.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Beth

*Thanks, Xtina.

 

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Dear Gideon,

Thanks for hanging out with me at the AEW event Wednesday night. I know it won’t be long before the last thing you want to do is hang out with your mom.

To be honest, though, not many of the moms we know would want to watch professional wrestling. Er, RASSLIN’ (as it is known in the South).

(You know, if I knocked out some of my teeth, this and the taxidermy would give me the redneck trifecta. You would never know I had a doctoral degree. Yes, I know I’m stereotyping.)

But you and I have watched AEW since it started last year. We HAD to see it live.

Luckily, we like the same characters.

Jungle Boy (i.e., Luke Perry’s kid), Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt (Jurassic Express)? Yes.

Kenny Omega, whose hair looks like sea coral? No.

The Young Bucks, who look like they were coughed up by a Myrtle Beach T-shirt shop? Yes.

MJF, someone’s bratty prep-school little brother? No.

Orange Cassidy, who doesn’t wrestle but roams around looking like a cool knockoff of Macklemore? Sure.

Cody Rhodes, who started AEW, still wrestles and tries to be cool? Sorry, but no. (I know, I know. He’s homegrown. Still.)

Chris Jericho, with attitude to spare? Yes, please.

Sammy Guevara, who always has his tongue out? Hell no.

Our seats were decent, and we got to sit in a group of folks who were ALL IN for Moxley and Hangman Page, whose beer-grabbing is killing us (in a good way).

When they chanted, “This is AWESOME,” we did too.

When they chanted “Asshole” as Wardlow appeared for the cage match against Cody Rhodes (oh the cage match), we didn’t. You’re 13.

When one dude behind us shouted to Rhodes getting his butt whooped in the cage match,” Do less of that!,” we laughed.

We both marveled at Rhodes’ epic finish.

It was a great night watching men in panties fight each other.

I’m so glad we spent it together.

I’ll meet you on the couch for AEW Wednesday night, unless you have baseball practice.

Love,
Mama

At the Marta station, we spotted the lucky fan who scored the shirt Cody Rhodes ripped off his body.

 

 

 

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Dear Fellow Strong Women:

I went to see “Little Women” with a group of ladies from a professional organization to which I belong.

Despite my love of reading and being an English major for one of my undergraduate degrees, I have never read the book.

(I’ll pause for a collective gasp.)

It’s probably because I was expected to read it as I was named after Beth March. Yeah, the quiet one. Haha!

I know of it, of course. And I’m sure I’d like it as much as Joey did when he read it.

Usually, I read the book then see the movie. I’m that kind of person. (The only movie that is better than the book, IMHO, is “Misery.”)

Anyway, I thought Greta Gerwig’s creation was spectacular. I laughed. I cried. It was better than “Cats.”

At one point, Amy says she is going to be an “ornament to society,” and I was reminded of something that happened at the weekly meeting of this professional group earlier in the day.

The group is mostly older white men. (Typical.)

The leaders of the membership committee solicited ideas for increasing membership via distributing selected topics at each table. My table had the topic of how to increase membership among women.

The oldest dude (about 90 and deaf) at a table of four men and four women actually said this:

Their husbands are working 8-10 hours a day bringing home the bacon. It shouldn’t be too hard to recruit more women as their schedules are more flexible.

Right.

And there was silence.

Now, I’m a brand-new member of this group. I didn’t feel comfortable barking at this man that I work 8-10 hours a day bringing home the bacon. Instead, I got up to get coffee from the coffee table.

A woman who is a past president of the group was sitting next to him. She looked properly mortified. I don’t know if she said something to him privately later. I’m going to ask her at the next meeting.

When I shared this anecdote with my boss, who is a former member of this group (and an older white male, it should be noted), he also was mortified.

But he asked a crucial question:

He wouldn’t have said something like that about an ethnic minority group or the LBGTQ community. Why did he feel it was OK to share outdated views of women?

Why indeed.

It’s time to stop being “ornaments to society.” How do we do that? What should I have done? What about the other women at the table? What should I do now?

Please share your thoughts.

And go see “Little Women” whether you have read the book or not.

“The world is hard on ambitious girls.” That’s right, Amy.

Yours in solidarity,
Beth

 

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Dear Karma,

Sometimes I don’t think you really are a bitch. But then there will be an experience that renews my faith in you.

I had one of those experiences this week.

Or rather, the troublesome 14 year old in my life did.

We shipped Dominic off to stay with cruise friends Patrick, Petra, Ryder and Mia so that Ryder and Dominic could be counselors at a summer camp together.

I didn’t hear from Dominic all week, so I checked in.

So I asked the head camp lady if he could come back in two weeks. She said she would love to have him, but didn’t have anything for him to do. No room on the schedule for him.

I’ve raised a resilient, motivated, intelligent child, right?

Not so fast.

He still has trouble following directions. When to get off the bus, for example.

Also, look at what he did to himself in a bike accident:

How? He was rooting around in his backpack while driving the bike instead of paying attention. The speed bump won.

Anyway, thank you, Karma, for avenging me. For all those times he drove/drives me crazy, thank you for sending a plague of toddlers.

You’re the best.

Back to believing,
Beth

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March of the Pensioners
Narrated by Morgan Freeman (of course)

Each day, a truly remarkable journey takes place. Dozens of elderly women — likely awake since before dawn — don their supportive bathing costumes, abandon the security of their single-level homes, and make the long trek to the YMCA for their life-changing morning ritual: water aerobics (i.e., boot camp).

The goal? To stave off or reverse the damage done by a penchant for butter and sedentary living.

These be-grayed specimens tumble into the water of the indoor pool, nattering incessantly about ungrateful and noisy offspring.

1950s perms encased in swim caps, liver-spotted skin cleansed by the chlorine — their leathery haunches strain to move through the water.

Intrepid cultural anthropologist and writer Beth C. — also a lover of butter — attempted to infiltrate their ranks.

The pack was immediately suspicious of this young whippersnapper. (“Young” is relative.)

The alpha female tried to warn her off with a series of loud barks. Beth responded with barks of her own, indicating she would not be intimidated.

Resolute, indomitable, driven by the overpowering urge to rediscover her long-lost abs, she was determined to stand her ground.

The journey was hazardous as the women eyed her as a predatory threat.

Yet, after many long weeks of delicate maneuvering, Beth finally was accepted into the pack. They greeted her by name. Asked about her recent vacation. Swapped phone numbers.

Beth felt vindicated. Acknowledged. And (thankfully) streamlined.

Her magical journey will continue three times a week as she becomes further enmeshed in the pack’s routine.

 

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Dear Trish the Chicken (RIP):

A former graduate student of mine (now friend) sent me a link to this article today, and I immediately thought of you. And missed you, of course.

You would have made a great gang leader. You had a strong personality and did not suffer fools. You were never too chicken (har har) to go anywhere. You also were very loyal to me alone, much to Eddie’s chagrin.

I feel sorry for the little fox in the story, but the idea of a chicken gang is hilarious.

Anyway, I hope you are having a ball tearing up the landscaping and pooping everywhere in the great coop in the sky.

Yours always,
Beth

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Dear Reader’s Digest,

Thank you for your efforts to empower women. I’m sure this title didn’t seem patronizing when you published this pamphlet in 1973 — 10 years behind the start of the second wave of feminism.

Now, though …

I’m surprised every chapter doesn’t just say, “Call a man.”

To be fair, it doesn’t ever say that, but there is a whiff of condescension. For example, in the “Starting difficulties” section of the “Six dilemmas with your car” chapter, the unnamed writer states:

If your car refuses to start, but the battery has enough power to crank the engine, you may not be using the correct starting procedure.

You must use your delicate lady feet to depress the accelerator.

To your credit, there is some great information in here. But let’s be honest: Not all men are handy, and not all women take to their fainting sofas when faced with an emergency.

Shock? Or Reader’s Digest’s expectations of a woman’s general nature?

A better title would have been the simple, “Guide to household emergencies.” Oh wait — you thought of that as you published a similar guide in the same year under that exact title. Why not call it, “Men’s guide to household emergencies?”

Anyway, lucky for us, the women’s guide is enhanced with these special illustrations:

You too can change a tire without damaging your manicure!

Yet no self-respecting woman (or man, for that matter) should heed your advice regarding toilet clogs:

Try reaching as far as possible into the toilet to dislodge the blockage.

Um … no.

My 1950s June Cleaver-style mom clearly found this guide useful, as it was one of the few things she kept. (She wasn’t particularly sentimental, and thankfully wasn’t a borderline hoarder like someone else I know.)

My mom always liked to be prepared. In fact, she tucked in the pages of your guide this clipping from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

Note that the AJC did not select target audience gender. So that’s nice. And rather forward-thinking compared to you.

Anyway, thanks for providing amusement for me 45 years after publication.

Dying to get my mitts on the “men’s” version for comparison,
Beth

 

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