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Pending

6 Oct

I am posting this out of duty–it won’t be a terribly interesting post. Or will it?

The thing is, I am bursting with ideas and drafts for this series, but I don’t have the time every single day to develop them as much as they deserve to be developed. I demand quality, which of course is at odds with quantity. Some days, I push through and write my heart out till 1 a.m. with no regrets, but I can’t do that every day. Hence, posts like this.

I do love the challenge of trying to write something every day. Already, it has pushed me to explore ideas I wouldn’t have pursued otherwise.

But the interesting thing? Those posts that I’m not publishing on the blog because they’re not ready yet–I have big plans for them. I’m working through a couple of them, and plan to pitch them for publication. All, of course, TBD. Pending…

Manna to the soul

5 Oct

mannaThis weekend I’ve been absorbed watching the Mormon semiannual general conference. It’s hard not to gush about how wonderful general conference is. We get to listen to living prophets, apostles, and church leaders offer guidance and direction and love. Also (in many parts of the world), it’s a rare opportunity to watch church at home in our jammies.

Staying in line with this month’s topic of girl power: Lately I’ve wrestled with questions about the role of gender both in the administration of the church and in God’s eternal plan for His children. (In the words of Neylan McBaine: I’m not saying it is wrong, I’m saying it is hard.)

A theme I felt was woven throughout this conference was affirmation and reassurance that this church is led by a loving God and His humble servants, and that our spiritual questions require spiritual answers, which we will receive line upon line. One quote that stuck out was from Elder Neil L. Anderson:

We do not discard what we know to be true be of something we do not yet understand.”

I don’t mean to imply that one tidy quote answered all my questions. It didn’t. But it reflects the experience I had throughout this conference: reminders of what I already know, lessons on what I didn’t know, and renewed hope that I will someday understand what I don’t know. Every piece of it was manna to my soul.

Makeup-free

4 Oct

The past few days have been a blur of very little sleep and a whole lot of writing, headaches, self-doubt, flashes of inspiration, more writing, baby-tending, burnt-mac-and-cheese-cooking, procrastinating, motivating, and more writing. With not much time to spare, I decided to forego makeup.

And it turns out? The world did not end.

I was a bit anxious about it at first. I’ve always admired people who routinely don’t wear makeup but it’s been a long time since I went makeup-free myself. When I ventured out of the house, I considered throwing on some mascara, but out of both principle and time constraints, I resisted. And I began to question myself about why I felt the need to put on that mascara. How on earth would darker eyelashes help me in whatever I was trying to accomplish? Would it affect my interaction with people, or their opinion of me? Does their opinion of me based on my appearance affect my self-worth?

What helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin, what gave me power, was remembering my inherent self-worth. I thought of my closest relationships, and how none of the people I love would love me any less because of how I look.

My husband, for example: he loves, values, and respects me exactly as I am, with or without makeup. In fact, when I told him about this post, he admitted he did not even notice I hadn’t been wearing makeup. (I know, I am a lucky woman.) “I tend to think most women don’t need makeup,” he said.

Which basically proves one more way Clueless was, like, totally right:

clueless-1Anyway, the love of my husband and others helps me understand, in a small way, the love that my heavenly parents have for me.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in the recent women’s meeting of LDS general conference: “Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? … Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe? He loves you not only for who you are this very day, but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become. ”

We all know our culture reveres appearance, and that’s no more obvious than with celebrities. Somehow it is newsworthy, for example, that an actress would dare to go house-hunting makeup-free. Sigh.

But as we recognize our inherent self-worth and are confident in our appearance (with or without makeup), we can invest time and energy in other endeavors. As the women of Beauty Redefined put it:

“Our health, happiness, relationships, education and contributions to the world are damaged and stifled when we are dedicating a steady, invisible stream of mental and physical energy to monitoring and controlling our appearances.”

I’m not quitting makeup by any means, nor am I arguing that anyone else should (it’s your own decision anyway). Makeup can be fun. Makeup can help you feel more confident. It can even be empowering. It just also happens to be empowering to experiment with not wearing makeup.

 

P.S. I feel obliged to include this video as well. It’s always encouraging to see celebrities confront our culture’s unrealistic and skewed beauty ideals.

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon

3 Oct

binoculars{Image via Mark Roy/Flickr}

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is totally real. You know, when you learn or hear about something, and suddenly start noticing it everywhere? Ever since I decided a month ago to write this 31-day series on girl power, I have seen echoes of it everywhere.

I’ve been exploring* not only ways that girls are powerful but also ways their power is diminished, and it’s unsettling the evidence of diminished power I’ve come across. For example, in the past 24 hours:

  • BuzzFeed News detailed how some state laws treat a battered mother as a perpetrator for not protecting her children from her violent partner. Domestic violence advocates argued these laws further victimize the woman and “signal a deep misunderstanding of what it means for women to be trapped in abusive relationships” and “[serve] little purpose and [deprive] any surviving children of their mother.”
  • Ann Friedman enumerated the roots of tech’s girl problem and offers suggestions for making women more welcome. (So long, hoodies and beer pong.)
  • The Atlantic, in a less harrowing but nonetheless noteworthy report, announced that women’s clothes may finally include (real) pockets. A designer acknowledges: “I honestly believe the fashion industry is not helping women advance. … When we’re working we don’t carry purses around. A pocket is a reasonable thing.”

These stories serve as a reminder that though we have made great progress, the struggle for gender equality did not end with the 19th Amendment. They also bring out many characters in the drama that is continually playing out in this struggle. There are full-fledged bad guys, to be sure (see: domestic abusers). But there are also simply people who don’t respect women as much as they should (fashion designers). People who, consciously or not, subscribe to pervasive misconceptions about women (lawmakers who made harmful laws). And people who are a little clueless about how their actions and attitudes affect women (socially oblivious technologists).

This varied cast of characters shows that gender equality is not about good guys vs. bad guys, and it is not about men vs. women (do you hear me, Women Against Feminism?). It’s not a persecution complex or a victim complex; it’s confronting a complex set of challenges and opportunities related to gender. It is about men and women joining together to recognize, resist, and redefine** harmful attitudes and practices about gender. That is something I would love to start noticing everywhere.

 

* Clearly I’m also exploring using more bold text in my blog posts to make them more readable. Helpful? Obnoxious? Feel free to weigh in.

** Terms borrowed from the Redefine Beauty campaign (not the Dove one; it’s even awesomer).

Feminists don’t have a sense of humor

2 Oct

My planned post for today was far too ambitious and is still in the works. (It may involve a grand theory of Harry Potter and feminism. These things take time.) So today I’m doing a quick, fun filler post.

It was a few years ago that I saw this TED video of Nellie McKay’s delightful and clever song “Mother of Pearl,” but it’s ridiculous how often Dave and I quote/hum it. So alongside “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “Old McDonald had a farm,” Little Lars gets to digest lines like “Cheap objectification isn’t witty.” We hope he’ll learn that feminists do have a sense of humor.

If you haven’t seen it (or even if you have), watch and enjoy (the song ends at 3:20)!

31 days of GIRL POWER

1 Oct

Beginning today, I’ll be writing for 31 days straight about girl power.

31 Days of Girl Power | Spifftacular*****

Note: As I explained here, in the spirit but not the letter of the “law” of the 31-day challenge, I won’t be writing for 31 consecutive days, but you can bet I’ll keep writing about girl power, and I’ll link to the posts here. Thanks for reading!

*****

I’m taking part in 31 Days, an online writing challenge started by The Nester in which bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October. Last year I loved reading my friend Charlotte’s writing on gracious living, and now that I’m blogging a bit more consistently–and have a topic I was already itching to write about–I decided to give it a go.

Why I chose my topic: This series could be subtitled “Adventures in feminist summer reading“–I’ll be talking a lot about books I’ve read recently that happen to align with my topic.

That reading started amidst the many kerfuffles surrounding Ordain Women earlier this year. What stood out to me was the invitation of Linda K. Burton, general president of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to learn more about the doctrine of the priesthood. My attempt to do that led me to learn not just about the priesthood but the awesome power–and potential power–of women.

What to expect: My grand plan is to compose a heady mix of academic research of the feminist, linguistic, and historical varieties; Mormon doctrine; pop culture; current events; and personal experience. (Although Mormonism will make an appearance as always, I hope there will still be plenty to interest my non-Mormon readers.)

HA! Let’s be real. First of all, I am not an expert in any of those things but personal experience. Second of all, it’s hard to guarantee consistently highfalutin rhetoric when I’m committing to daily blog posts alongside part-time freelance writing and full-time mama-ing and generic obligations of being a grown-up. So this may feature only an occasional flash of insight. If you opt to stick with me this month, thank you, and please share your own thoughts along the way.

Girls have awesome power and potential power. Let’s talk about it, shall we?