Sex, Gender, and the Feminist Movement

Does the Non-Binary Gender Movement Threaten the Recognition of Female Special Considerations?

Raised by a feminist woman of the 60’s, my mother always taught me that, under the law, men and women should be equal. However, she also indicated that inequalities still exist within our society, because of differences biologically between the sexes. The most significant inequality, she told me, exists in the form of economic servitude-that is, women who do not exercise their ability to earn an income and remain economically dependent upon their husbands. This dependency began, she explained, because of the extended length of time it takes to raise a child. Feminism acknowledges differences between the sexes and makes special considerations for them. As a result, our society has taken steps to remedy the social inequalities created by the fact that women give birth and remain the primary caretakers for our society’s children. Examples include insurance that covers childbirth, maternity leave and working hours that allow women to retrieve their children from school. Stay at home positions have also been created, allowing for further flexibility required for childcare. Feminism also acknowledges that, biologically, women have less physical strength than men. Women are more likely to be raped or taken a prisoner of war. Furthermore, a rape occurring during wartime can lead to women giving birth while captive, creating a plethora of additional problems. As a result, placing women on the front-line during a war arguably creates an uneven playing field, thus constituting an unwise situation. Obviously, women have vulnerabilities during wartime that men do not, because of biological differences between the sexes.

The biological sex of men and women is a different concept than the gender roles adopted by them. Gender roles are defined as “a social role encompassing a range of behaviors and attitudes that are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex.” (1) Challenges arise when individuals perceive their gender roles as different than their biological sex. Some of the American states have requirements that transgendered individuals use their biological sex on legal and formal documents. The problems caused by this have resulted in some parents choosing to identify their children at birth as “non-binary,” or having no declared gender. That way, later in life, the child can select the gender role with which they most identify.

As a woman, I understand the plight of socially disenfranchised individuals-our struggles are similar and the discrimination real. Transgendered individuals are especially vulnerable. I also understand the perceived need not to identify a child’s biological sex on their birth certificate. However, not identifying a child’s biological sex does not negate that their biological sex exists, nor does it negate the special social considerations their biological sex demands. In essence, feminism acknowledges, accepts and embraces these biological differences, allowing for the meaningful consideration they require from our society as a whole so that the female sex can participate as fully functioning members.

The possibility exists that failing to acknowledge one’s biological sex can create an illusion of gender progressivism, while actually contributing to the further economic disenfranchisement of the female sex. For example, couples might simultaneously identify with the gender role opposite to their biology but still fall back into the traditional gender roles concurrent with their biology. In one arguably extreme scenario, the female sex, identifying publicly with the male gender role, gives birth and stays home with the baby, while the male sex, identifying publicly with the female gender role, economically provides for the female sex, and works outside the home. It seems progressive, with a person at home identifying with the male gender role, while the person at work identifies with the female gender role. In reality, however, the fact remains that the female sex is still economically powerless, and indentured to the male sex. Nothing has actually changed, save for the couple’s perceptions of themselves. While the perception of change exists, no meaningful social change has actually occurred. More dramatically, the lack of social change is actually hidden behind a social mirage of progressivism.

Regardless of sex or chosen gender role, one can argue that the elimination of acknowledging and/or providing special treatment for biological differences between the sexes creates further economic disenfranchisement for individuals on the margins. Identifying a child at birth as non-binary does not allow for the recognition and subsequent protections that are required for true social equality. In reality, our sexes are binary even if our perceived gender roles, or lack thereof, are not.

In conclusion, while some elements in our society wish to eliminate formal recognition of societal gender roles, doing so arguably negates the recognition of special societal considerations for which the feminist movement has wholeheartedly fought. Regardless of how individuals may or may not perceive themselves, the biological differences between the sexes remain very real. As a result, one can subsequently assert that any movement failing to acknowledge these differences and to make special provisions toward them is harmful to feminism and the female sex. Any ideology that wishes to eliminate such recognition of biological differences between the sexes will merely delay social change and result in false mirages of it.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_role

The Space Shuttle, Ted Bundy, and Unplanned Pregnancies

Should Women Have an Absolute Right to An Abortion?

The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger followed three previously aborted flight attempts. As a young elementary school student in 1986, we lined up our chairs for the fourth time to watch the Challenger launch. Our teachers, the news, and the entire country had us excited to observe a lesson taught from outer space. NASA, under pressure for the launch to occur, overlooked icicles on the landing pad. This led to the “major malfunction” that caused the Space Shuttle Challenger to explode after takeoff, killing all seven crew members. The explosion left school children bewildered and the nation shocked. A subsequent investigation led to the conclusion that the mission should have, once again, been aborted.

The word “abortion,” while appropriate in relation to the space shuttle, nevertheless has negative connotations in our society. In high school, I had a teacher who refused to use the word abort or abortion for anything, except in reference to a woman choosing to end her pregnancy. She found it offensive and inappropriate. Repeatedly, she stated, “Abortion is wrong because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Conversely, during my graduate degree, I had a tutor who worked as an attorney. Day after day, he would tell me about visiting his clients in jail, and how badly the place smelled. He also told me about consistent observations he made amongst the prisoners. The most astounding observation included the fact that the majority of the prisoners had been born out of wedlock. As a result, he found illegitimacy to be a serious threat to our society. If one has a child born illegitimately, he would say, one’s major goal in life is to then keep that child out of prison. Abortion, he argued, is for the good of society.

In 1986, the space shuttle took off, because NASA felt pressure to deliver to the children of America the “first teacher in space.” As a result, they killed every astronaut on board. Is it appropriate to compare aborting a space shuttle mission to a woman aborting her pregnancy? Perhaps not, but I am going to do it anyway. Pregnancy occurs because a woman has sex with a man. Sometimes this sex is consensual, and sometimes it is not. Pregnancy often includes the conduction of various genetic tests, determining if the fetus is viable, or suffering from genetic problems. At this time, if either of these problems arise, abortion is the most likely resulting scenario. Continuing with pregnancies that have severe problems can result in catastrophic hospital bills, overwhelming caretaking bills, and even the death of the mother, and/or child. Like the space shuttle that resulted in such cataclysmic devastation, sometimes, one can argue, abortion is the wisest solution to the problem or potential problems that are most likely to occur.

Society often puts pressure on young, unmarried women to continue with their pregnancies. For example, my father has a dear friend who asserts he is pro-choice-before conception. Once one is pregnant, he argues, abortion is not an option. But what about birth defects, I responded? Or if the mother’s life is at risk? No deal, he answered. As a Roman Catholic, he believes, the child’s life is paramount. As a young woman being raised by a feminist woman of the 60’s, this belief system did not sit well with me.

Can abortion, in cases of rape and/or incest, represent a sensible decision? Ted Bundy, the world’s most notorious serial killer, entered this world likely as the product of just such a scenario. Initially raised as his mother’s brother, he only discovered his true parentage later in life. Shocked by this betrayal, coupled with a devastating breakup, he embarked on a devastating trail of rape and murder. After wreaking havoc on young women across the country, Ted Bundy finally met his end in the electric chair. However, it can be asserted that, had abortion been legal at the time of his conception, many women and their families would have been spared a great deal of torment and pain. What is more moral-society ending a life before it’s birth, or far after, when the person is an adult? Does Ted Bundy represent an example of abortion representing a sensible decision?

Religion often takes exception to abortion, regardless of the circumstances resulting in the pregnancy. Like my father’s friend, many Christians believe that life begins at conception and that as a result, the fetus, representing the most vulnerable members of society, is entitled to protection by the strongest members of our society. As a result of this belief, I observed many girls in my Christian high school become pregnant and drop out of school. Some of them married the father of the child, and the majority of them divorced. Few, if any, of these women attended college, but all of them underwent the overwhelming struggle of young motherhood. Financially, emotionally, spiritually, these women gave everything they had so that these children could be born and raised. While speaking with them later in life, many of them indicated to me that they felt pressured into having sex, pressured into having the baby, never even contemplated birth control, and routinely encountered boys refusing to wear protection. After the birth, more often than not in a charity ward, the father disappeared, or showed little concern. The woman, in the end, almost always became the primary caretaker to the child.

Does a woman have the right to terminate a pregnancy if she does not feel ready to raise a child? Did the operators of the space shuttle have the right to abort the mission? Today, knowing the result of the space shuttle not being aborted, the result is an astounding yes-the space shuttle launch should have been aborted. The children of Christa Mcauliffe and the rest of the astronauts would have had a parent. Their husbands and wives would have continued to have spouses. Instead, because of pressure and expectations placed upon the operators of the space shuttle, they made bad decisions, and destruction occurred. On the same token, if a woman’s life is at risk by giving birth, and she does not find out until the twenty-eighth week, does she too have the right to abort her pregnancy? Is it worth risking her life so that, potentially, another can be born? What about the risk that her current children will lose their mother, or that her husband will lose his wife? Even more profoundly, should this question be left to our slow-moving judicial system, or to a woman and her doctor?

Our legal system is attempting to clarify this difficult situation. New York recently passed “the Reproductive Health Act, (in which) non-doctors are now allowed to conduct abortions and the procedure could be done until the mother’s due date if the woman’s health is endangered or if the fetus is not viable. The previous law only allowed abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if a woman’s life was at risk.” (1) Responses to this ruling have been comprised of shock and dismay. Children can now be aborted even if they are viable. How could such a ruling have occurred? Is this not murder? How can women have an absolute right to an abortion?

The Reproductive Health Act is likely a response to people in our government wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many of these individuals want to make abortion illegal in all instances, including rape, incest, and birth defects. This arguably extreme view has now been met with another-the Reproductive Health Act, allowing just the opposite- that is, abortion up until the time the fetus or child takes its first breath. The war is on. Who does society value more-the mother or the child? Who has an absolute right to life-the mother or the child?

As a feminist, I firmly believe that the life of the mother is always paramount. I am consistently and profoundly bothered by cases in which mothers, forgoing cancer treatments so their children could live, often resulting in their deaths, are hailed as heroes. In such cases, a family is left without a daughter, a husband is left without a wife, and a child is left without a parent. I find myself afraid of being in such a situation, where my society states I must stop treatment and die, so my unborn child can live. I often feel that our society does not value women and finds us expendable. This both frightens and saddens me.

There are no easy answers to the abortion question. As a writer and researcher, it is often easier for me to take an external point of view. The reality is, society may fight extraordinarily hard to have unplanned children live, only to ultimately execute them later in the electric chair. We are born to this life, and we learn along the way. Good sense must prevail in all things, and in this matter also. So what are we as a society to do? For now, the judicial system of New York has spoken, but the struggle between what is more important to our society-the absolute right to life for mothers, or the absolute right to life for unborn children is very real and ongoing. Only time will tell, and we may never have a firm and definite answer.

  1. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-celebrates-legalizing-abortion-until-birth-as-catholic-bishops-question-cuomos-faith

Eating Right, Exercise, Mental Health and Genetic Awareness

Why Our Raw Genetics Must Become an Integral Part of Our Overall Health Plan

Traditionally, the achievement and maintenance of overall health has included exercise, eating right, and mental health awareness. Children in the United States are provided school breakfasts and lunches that adhere to the official nutritional pyramid. Many children are required to attend gym class every day of the week, beginning in Grade one through twelve. Additionally, stress management and suicide prevention are routinely taught in school. After the high school years, colleges offer classes in nutrition, exercise, as well as breathing and relaxation. One important facet missing in this overall picture, however, is genetic health, or even the awareness of it. As a result, many children go on to suffer disastrous problems, fundamentally unaware that solutions exist for these various issues

The completion of the human genome project in 2003 set the stage for a health revolution. But this revolution would take time, and is still taking time. While researchers successfully mapped every gene in the human body, they needed to conduct additional research in order to understand the function of each gene. This research is still ongoing. Furthermore, the medical field is arguably traditionally conservative, so any significant changes to the health field would likely require a changing of the guard, or introduction of a new generation of more open-minded physicians.

The availability of tests such as 23andme to the masses is slowly and quietly creating an impact on the American populous. Founded by Anne Wojcicki, the ex-wife of one of the founders of Google, 23andme.com, coupled with sites such as geneticlifehack.com, squarely puts the power of genetic awareness, understanding, assistance, and treatment into the hands of the common person. Today more and more people are taking the test, yet many are still unaware that the results also contain their raw genetic data. Caught up in the findings related to their ethnicity, the health ramifications of their genetics is often forgotten. This overlooking of something so fundamental to one’s health has, inevitably, led to further delays in our popular understanding of the importance of one’s genetic health.

It can be argued, that for the American populous truly to be healthy, genetic health must be incorporated into the already existing health paradigm of exercise, healthy eating, and mental health awareness. In order for us to reach successfully the next level in our overall health, we must all be aware of our genomes, and what they specifically contain. By doing so, we can then not only be aware of our ethnicities, but also have an awareness of our genetic predispositions, sensitivities, mutations, and polymorphisms. One can argue that without the integration of genetic health into our public consciousness, many preventable, curable, and/or treatable conditions will be misdiagnosed, mistreated or overlooked.

My life has been directly impacted by awareness of my genetic health. As an American child in elementary school, I suffered from crippling anxiety that only exacerbated over time. Eventually diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, my life became of a regimen of counseling and pills. Doctors blamed my disorder on “a chemical imbalance” coupled with a range of emotional issues merely caused by life itself. Eventually, I came to completely blame myself and tried to tackle the OCD on my own. The sheer terror of living with this disorder ultimately led to TMJ disorder, muscle problems, and migraines.

It is better to discover one’s genetic health later rather than never. After exercising vigorously for years, eating according to the official health pyramid, and attending counseling with certified individuals, I received a referral that would change my entire game plan. At the age of 40, a physician’s assistant referred me to, what she called, a non-traditional MD, outside of Chattanooga. This physician sat and listened to my ailments, as well as my original diagnoses of OCD, and proclaimed he needed a blood sample. This physician also indicated he would be checking the levels of vitamins in my system. A few weeks later the results arrived, and his staff summoned me back to his office. Subsequently, a medical assistant informed me that I have a genetic polymorphism called MTHFR C677t. She also explained that as a result of this polymorphism, my Vitamin B levels fell to a critically low level of 13%. These factors led to my plethora of symptoms, but could easily be treated with Vitamin B pills, creams, and shots. The medical assistant than indicated to me that within six months of Vitamin B treatment, I would begin feeling better, and indeed I did. Today, my OCD symptoms are kept under control through this treatment of weekly Vitamin B shots, a diet high in Vitamin B, and exercise with a personal trainer. Additionally, I drink little to no alcohol, because I now understand that my genetic polymorphism makes me more susceptible to inebriation. Other factors include not drinking tap water, and the removal of mercury fillings from my mouth, because I am unable to push toxins out of my body like other individuals without this genetic polymorphism. My efforts have resulted in a quieted mind and a much happier life. At one point, I mentioned to a physician at an urgent care clinic that I had the MTHFR C677t polymorphism, and he looked at me in bewilderment. At that point, I understood that, while I had worked to become aware of the root causes of my issue, the medical profession, in many ways, had not kept up with this health revolution.

In order for the American populace to experience true overall health, genetic health must be incorporated into the basics. While exercise, eating right, and mental health awareness are important, there are a multiplicity of other issues that simply cannot be treated according to traditional medical methods. Without this shift in public consciousness, various conditions will remain mistreated, misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed. As a young woman growing up in the United States, my youth came before the completion of the human genome project. However, today, armed with my raw genetic data, I am free to interpret it, understand it, and treat it accordingly. As time goes on, I can only hope that others chose to do the same and that the medical professional ultimately catches up with these truly revolutionary health innovations.

Society, Cultural Norms, and the Application of the Law

Is the Commutation of the Original Sentence for Cyntoia Brown Appropriate?

The case of Cyntoia Brown, the young teenage prostitute who murdered Nashville native Johnny Allen, has become the cause of the day for various celebrities. While some feel that her original sentence of fifty-one years to life represents a fair and just application of the law, others have argued that Cyntoia’s age and circumstance make this particular case worthy of a second look. This turn of events then begs the question-is our law static, and not subject to change, or is it flexible and subject to change with the evolution of societal norms?

Cyntoia Brown conceivably represents many of the poor, black females we observe walking the streets. Rather than acknowledging or helping these women, we glance away and judge them for their poor choices. The reality is, however, that many of these young women are runaways, with no authority figure other than a violent pimp. Their lives consist of humiliation and sexual objectification, often spiraling into a deadly cycle of violence and drug abuse. This cycle is often only ended by the murder or drug overdose of the prostitute. Like the state of nature itself, their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.

Cyntoia Brown’s life started in a daze, just as her victim’s life ended in one. Born to a drug-addicted, alcoholic single mother, her life quickly devolved down the same destructive path. Running away from her adopted parents, she fell into the claws of a savage pimp. One night, a real estate agent in his forties picked up Cyntoia. After rebuffing his many attempts to have sexual relations with her, Cyntoia ultimately shot him in the head. Was it in self-defense from Johnny Allen, or did she do it while he slept beside her? Either way, Johnny Allen died, and Cyntoia immediately took what should carry and ran.

Justice for the victim, Johnny Allen reigned down swiftly on Cyntoia. When prostitutes are murdered, society often fails to notice they are missing. When the Johns of the world go missing, it usually results in anger and a trial. The outcome of this case is arguably cliche-the disadvantaged, black, female prostitute, sentenced to fifty-one years to life for murdering an advantaged, white, professional male. Following the trial, with justice duly served, society forgot about Cyntoia and moved on….for a while.

As society changes over time, so do the views and values of its citizens. (1) The year 2004 represented a world quite different from today. The conservative George W. Bush had just defeated the liberal John Kerry. Conservatism pervaded our society, and the Iraq War remained in full force. As a country, we had little time, interest, or sympathy for an underage, black female prostitute. The sacrifice of Cyntoia Brown simply represented good sense, according to the cultural norms at the time.

Today, our culture has perhaps evolved into one of greater responsibility toward our youth and redemption for our sins. Many celebrities have taken up their own particular cause de jures, with Cyntoia Brown being among them. Consequently, many people have found it hard to stomach incarcerating, effectively for life, a once sixteen-year-old, sex-trafficked by adults. Society has changed so much that, despite having commuted her sentence, many still say Governor Haslam should be ashamed for requiring Cyntoia to serve another eight months.

Like our current society, the business culture has evolved also, into one of custodial and transformational leadership, rather than one of dictatorship. As the CEO of a digital marketing company, I feel a responsibility toward my staff, to make their lives better, more hopeful, and more productive. I am not just their boss in many ways I consider myself a parent, not only here to make sure the company prospers, but that their personal lives prosper also. My office has food for the staff, web seminars for continued learning, lights dimmed to protect their eyes and paid vacation for those on salary. I am constantly thinking of new ways to improve their lives because the welfare of the individuals within my company has become just as important as the welfare of the company itself. This is quite different than just a few years ago, where the bottom line mattered the most, even at the expense of the staff’s private lives and paychecks.

The case of Cyntoia Brown, including her conviction, and the commutation of her sentence, represents broader changes occurring within our society. Rather than our law remaining static, it is instead dynamic, and changing with societal norms. In 2004, at the height of conservatism and a foreign war, the case of Cyntoia Brown generated little interest. Today, however, our society simply cannot stomach locking up a sex-trafficked child for life. Tomorrow may be different, but today, society dictates that Cyntoia Brown shall be freed. Society also dictates that business owners care more for their employees than they ever have before. Consequently, it will be interesting to see what societal norms hold for us in the future.

  1. https://www.google.com/search?q=Is+the+application+of+the+law+static%3F+or+does+it+change+over+time%3F&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS790US790&oq=Is+the+application+of+the+law+static%3F++or+does+it+change+over+time%3F&aqs=chrome..69i57.22919j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-)

The Federal Government, The Partial Government Shutdown, and the Ordinary Citizen

Would Daily Life Really Change if The Federal Government, As We Know It, Disappeared?

Years ago, while a student in college, I learned about the various Antitrust Acts that redefined the power of the Federal Government. I also learned that, originally, the Federal Government had three strictly defined purposes.

  1. A united military
  2. A united currency
  3. The elimination of tariffs between the states

However, the rise of commerce led to to the rise of monopolies, arguably damaging consumers with high prices created by the lack of competition. This resulted in Antitrust laws. “United States Antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulate the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers. The main statutes are the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914. These Acts, first, restrict the formation of cartels and prohibit other collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade. Secondly, they restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations that could substantially lessen competition. Thirdly, they prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power.” (1) It is the compilation of these three Acts that led to the formation of the Federal Government as we know it today. While as a Feminist, I appreciate the rules and regulations that protect women and other minorities in the workplace, as a business owner I feel the burden of taxation that hits my business every other week from the Federal Government. As a citizen, I feel like our government is a bloated fish that needs an enema.

As our current government is deadlocked on its current funding situation, we are now faced with a partial Federal Government shutdown. We have all heard about this on the television and the radio, but visibly, nothing in my life or business appears to have changed. Past government shutdowns led to the Chickamauga Battlefield being closed, but people simply took down the barriers and went in anyway. We were told that, as a result of the government shutdown, the Battlefield had only “essential workers” taking care of it. As a business owner, I can assure you that everyone in my business is essential, and people who are not, are eliminated, for the sake of efficiency. Our Federal Government, while once with defined duties under its original purposes, is today very, dare I say, INEFFICIENT, with the additional purposes created for it by the passage of Antitrust law.

As an average citizen and business owner in the United States, the partial shutdown of the Federal Government has not noticeably changed my life or my business at all. I remember in the past, during partial government shutdowns, hearing that the police would no longer be funded. I suppose one could be afraid of such a prospect, and yet, I could not help but feel that we govern ourselves pretty well. Furthermore, in the American South, we all have guns, with the police essentially there to take reports after the fact. Additionally, as an advocate of Laissez-Faire economics, I tend to question the value of the Antitrust laws, that led to the bloated monster we now call the Federal Government. The “invisible hand” of the economy would likely take hold, and the matter of monopolies and unfair competition would sort themselves out, according to the laws of efficiency, supply, and demand. Again, it is hard to believe that, with the shutdown of the Federal Government, anything would really change in our day to day lives.

As our Federal Government continues to grow, comparisons with the Roman Empire are inevitable. Reaching across Europe, Asia, Northern Africa and into the Middle East, the Roman Empire arguably brought order to a vast group of people. However, like a bloated animal that keeps taking in more water, it ultimately exploded in a most spectacular manner-or did it? Did the day to day life of the people change during the fall of the Roman empire? Did Rome actually fall in a day?

An examination of the fall of the Roman Empire reveals that the day to day lives of its citizens actually changed very little. Rather than a catastrophic blow, the citizens merely gradually changed their allegiances and continued on with their daily living. Reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire include:

  1. Invasions by Barbarian tribes
  2. Economic troubles and overreliance on slave labor
  3. The rise of the Eastern Empire
  4. Overexpansion and military overspending
  5. Government corruption and political instability
  6. The arrival of the Huns and the migration of the Barbarian tribes
  7. Christianity and the loss of traditional values
  8. The weakening of the Roman legions (2)

The reality is, just like today, while these issues impact civilization on a broad scale, they arguably have very little impact on the average person’s day to day life. The typical Roman citizen engaged in local commerce, like buying food and clothing. They loved their families and spent time with them. They enjoyed walks and experienced the change of seasons. None of the factors listed above had a real impact on their day to day life. Studies of this time period focus on leaders, and the wealthy. The peasants are virtually ignored because their lives consisted of uninteresting factors and primarily stayed the same, regardless of regime charges.

I have often felt that if the Federal Government shutdown, we would never even know it, except for the media. Power would simply fall back to the states, and day to day life would continue on as usual. The average Americans would still get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, love their children, etc. One could argue that most of us have an internal locus of control, and would not simply start killing or stealing from one another. As the Queen of England says, we would simply, “Keep calm and carry on.”

The Federal Government originally had three very narrowly defined purposes. Various Antitrust Acts created the path to the over bloated American Federal Government we know today. It, therefore, begs for comparison with the Roman Empire, that ultimately fell under the burden of its own weight. However, just like the Romans during the Empire’s fall, our day to day lives have changed very little, if at all, during this partial government shutdown. Is our government on the same path as the Roman Empire? Only time will tell, but even thousands of years after its fall, there is still a Rome, only now it is a city instead of a country, with people living there as they always have, for thousands of years. While the elite battle amongst themselves, life for the common man changes very little, as we continue to find happiness or otherwise on our own terms, in our own worlds.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_antitrust_law
  2. https://www.history.com/news/8-reasons-why-rome-fell

Fairy Tales, Feminism, and Their Effect Upon Women

Are Fairy Tales Harmful, Or Do They Have A Productive Place In Modern Society?

People have always had a fascination with fairy tales. To this day, they are still being reimagined in the general public’s imagination. The likes of Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty continue to inspire young women throughout the generations. Young girls, from a very early age, are read these stories about damsels in distress, and the prince that saves them from a long slumber with true love’s kiss. These girls also learn about the ensuing beautiful wedding, followed immediately by “happily ever after.” This then begs the question-are these fairy tales realistic, or do they create unhealthy stereotypes and expectations for our daughters? In essence, is encouraging our daughters to believe they need to be saved by a knight in shining armor a storyline that needs to be buried and forgotten?

Growing up in the 1980’s, my generation received more than just stories. Disney pandered to our imaginations, bringing us movies, books, toys, and even theme parks, all easily available for our parents to purchase. Trips to the grocery store consisted of the obligatory stop in the magazine section to select our future fairy tale wedding dresses. Throughout all of these fantasies, the message remained clear-girls are princesses, and somewhere in the world lived our prince charming. In essence, life really began after we found him and married him.

I distinctly remember the day, in 1981, when I realized princesses really exist. Walking through the grocery store with my mother, my eye caught a picture of Lady Diana Spencer on a magazine cover stating “Diana, Princess of Wales.” Suddenly, a light bulb switched on in my head. At that moment, I realized princesses really exist, and not just as fairy tale characters, but as real people making real differences; and my life changed.

Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles promised us a traditional fairy tale, but failed to deliver. As it turned out, our damsel in distress evolved into her own woman, who instead of conforming to a traditional role, chose instead to reinvent herself. This decision inspired countless women, including me, this decision inspired countless women, including me, to look up to her up and follow suit. Instead of waiting for prince charming, many women emulated Diana’s sense of independence coupled with good deeds. For example, many of these women spent their time volunteering in soup kitchens and churches. A poignant moment occurred when Diana stated, “People think that at the end of the day, a man is the only answer. Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me.” The fairy tale had not ended but instead been reimagined, as a beautiful princess, bravely facing the world alone.

The arrival of an independent, and dare I say, feminist Princess Diana, led to the reimagination of the fairy tale for many women around the world. Rather than planning our royal weddings, many of us began planning our own futures, and that future no longer relied upon finding a prince. I personally expressed to my mother that I would never get married, and instead began planning to successfully brave the world alone. Many women of my generation excelled in school, and then their careers, but continued viewing themselves as princesses. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had changed. This generation of women arguably navigated into uncharted territory.

Girls born in the 1970’s, today represent some of the most independent women in history. They are CEO’s, physicians, professors, and priests, amongst other professions. Many are married, and many are not, but what distinctly stands out with this generation of women is their level of financial independence. Most of my female contemporaries emulated Princess Diana in some way at some point in their life, and still carry fond memories of her to this day. While dressed in the obligatory Diana dress and hat, we count ourselves amongst the highest levels of volunteerism. For us, the fairy tales read to us in childhood evolved into a representation of financial independence and professional success. Whether we married or not is now of little consequence, because we learned through Diana’s example that the knight in shining armor is no longer necessary. In essence, we did not need saving, because we saved ourselves.

As a woman of the Princess Diana generation, I consider myself lucky to have learned how to reimagine the fairy tale for myself. Quite simply, this could not have been done without the fairy tales of my youth, coupled with the reality of Princess Diana’s life. For me and my generation, throwing out the fairy tales, and branding them unseemly, would have arguably negatively impacted our lives. Perhaps the fusion of fairy tales and feminism, that has so defined my generation, will serve as an example for future ones to come.

Eileen Padberg, The Republican Party, And Its Relationship with Women

Why One Prominent Republican Finally Decided to Leave It

It has been hard for Eileen Padberg as a long-standing Republican and a woman. Incessantly questioned by her female friends and co-workers over the years for her political activism, Eileen nevertheless held firm. A believer in individual rights and liberties, the Republican Party seemed the right party for her when she registered over fifty years ago. Eileen proudly campaigned for Barry Goldwater in the 60’s, Richard Nixon in the 1970s. In the 1960’s she joined the John Birch Society and then led The Young Republicans. Eileen went on to campaign vigorously for the Republican Party on local, state and national levels, advocating the party’s core values that she held near and dear to her heart.

Eileen first started questioning her loyalty to the Republican Party in the 1980s during debates for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). One Republican stated, “If we pass this bill, husbands will leave their wives for their secretaries, and everyone will have to use the same restroom.” (1) This absurd statement became a cathartic moment for Eileen. She realized that in politics, we need more women at the table, and that “if women are not at the table, they will be the main course.” (1) Most significantly, in that moment, Eileen Padberg became a Feminist.

As the years went by, Eileen continued to hope that her Republican Party would change. She advocated for the removal of abortion from the party platform, considering it contrary to the Republican core values of individual rights and liberties. Eileen states, “How much more in your life can the government get? Abortion should be a personal decision-not one made by a white, male congressman.” (1) She also experienced the decimation of Title IX women’s insurance, including the removal of birth control as a covered benefit. Furthermore, Eileen and her fellow female constituents failed to receive support from the male-dominated Republican Party on most bills regarding environmental issues. As a result, she witnessed most environmental bills fail to pass, signaling an even greater divide between the two genders. The undertone surrounding these debates revealed a very dark, insidious, anti-woman rhetoric. These events left Eileen feeling utterly alone in the Republican Party, advocating for women’s rights and causes about which women generally felt strongly, but men generally did not.

Eileen began to feel the Republican Party “dying by a million cuts.” She received a call four years ago from Loretta Sanchez, a former female congresswoman, stating “There are at least a hundred bills every day, on the floor of Congress, that are anti-woman and threaten women’s rights… in some shape or form”(1) Eileen went on to say that “We do not have enough Republican women to fight this. Last year we had 23 Republican women, This year we have 19. Republicans do not help women get elected. It is very disheartening.” (1)

Indeed, women are sorely unrepresented in our country. Statistics released in 2017 reveal that the United States ranked 97th on the list of countries with adequate female representation, with 100 being the worst. (2) In fact, the US ranked as having the lowest representation of any developed country, just above Kurdistan. For example, Rwanda has 39% female representation, while Afghanistan has 27%, and the United States has 23%. (2) Eileen viewed these statistics as a reason to stay within the Republican Party, and to continue advocating for women’s rights. She states, “Equal representation of women in our Congress is essential. The fact that we do not have it is incredible to me. We have so much work to do in our own country.” (1) For as long as Eileen can remember, women candidates have lacked the support of her party. The Republican Party is still shaped by what is known as “the good ol boy’s network,” where men use their positions, power, and influence to help other men. This makes politics today more about who you know rather than what you know, which is alarming considering these are the men making decisions regarding our lives, businesses, and femininity.

For Eileen, the Kavanaugh hearings represented the straw that broke the camel’s back. Eileen states, “I do not surmise that she (Christine Blasey Ford) was right or wrong, but …I know the Brett Kavanaugh’s of the world. I’ve met hundreds of them in my career. He is the ultimate party boy and probably did not think what he did was abusive or wrong. My point is, the treatment of her was so atrocious… She was a credible witness, not somebody looking for a job or to make money. Her family suffered. She had to flee her home. She suffered death threats. And Brett Kavanaugh? He was appointed to a lifetime position … to a position that is going to affect women for their whole lives… she suffered immensely.” (1) After the last day of the hearings, Eileen Padberg called and changed her voter’s registration from Republican to nonpartisan. She simply could not support a party that no longer supported her or her fellow women and treated them with such disrespect. Eileen Padberg, a woman with a stellar reputation in her party, a woman who supported her party against all odds, and a woman who tried repeatedly to assist her party in evolving and attracting more women, finally left it. She states, “people who found out were incredulous, but I could not take it.” (1)

Following the Kavanaugh hearings, Eileen Padberg reflects on the future of the Republican Party and its relationship with women. When asked if she thinks the Republican Party will ever remove abortion from their platform, she answers, “No, and they are doomed until they do.” She goes on to assert that “The Republican Party has a huge problem with women. In this last election we really saw it. Anne Wagner, a well-known, vetted, and experienced politician was going to run for the National Republican Congressional Committee…Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader for Republicans would not support her. He picked (to support) a less experienced white guy. “ (1) In essence, despite her best efforts, nothing really has changed in the Republican Party regarding women.

In the aftermath of Eileen’s resignation from the Republican Party, she has moved on to nonpartisan politics-specifically in the areas that will help her fellow women. Last weekend she helped organize and participate in a fundraiser for a women’s shelter called WISEPlace, which stands for “Women Inspired, Supportive, and Empowered.” This shelter assists unaccompanied, homeless women, and has provided such assistance for the past thirty-one years. The capital campaign, of which Eileen co-chaired, raised a quarter of a million dollars. Now that, Eileen, is something that WILL make a difference.

 

  1. Phone Interview, Eileen Padberg by Katherine Fry, December 10, 2018
  2. http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2017/4/women-in-politics-2017-map

Suicide, Society, and Varying Degrees of Perception

Is Suicide a Sin, a Crime, a Symptom or a Right?

Children in the United States are taught early on, that suicide is unacceptable. In school, they are taught that it is a symptom of mental illness. In church, they are taught that it is a sin against God. In Sunday school, American children are taught that only God can decide when their lives are to end, and taking such a decision upon themselves is both inappropriate and possibly unforgivable. In essence, God decides when our life is to end. The decision to end one’s life is most certainly not a personal choice.

In many parts of the world, suicide is criminalized. The criminalization of suicide has a historical basis. Louis XIV of France issued an ordinance stating that the body of persons who committed suicide should be “drawn through the streets, face down, and then hung or thrown on a garbage heap.” Additionally, the state confiscated all of the person’s personal property, depriving their heirs of an inheritance. (1) In other parts of the world, including the US, it is illegal to assist or even encourage others to commit suicide. Doing so can result in a felony, accompanied by heavy fines and jail time. For the person attempting suicide, an unsuccessful suicide attempt can result in involuntary confinement in a mental institution, and involuntary psychiatric treatment. Continuous treatment plans are put in place, that must be followed by the patient, or involuntary treatment will again ensue

My “foster brother” killed himself in 2013. He had been at odds with my family for quite a while. Living in my parent’s basement, he never contributed financially, despite being in his late 40’s. My father, being the kind soul that he is, took my foster brother in as an adult, and offered to assist in putting him through nursing school. However, despite my father’s best efforts, my foster brother failed out of school, with my father having co-signed the student loan. Beginning nursing school again elsewhere, my parent’s hopes remained high. They continued to believe that this relatively young man would graduate, get a good job, and ultimately pay back his student loans. However, this desired result did not occur. Instead, my foster brother committed suicide, leaving my parent’s “holding the bag.”

When my parent’s first told me of my foster brother’s suicide, my feelings emerged as conflicted. An episode of Jerry Springer came to mind, because of the sheer insanity he had wrought upon my family. But soon, the reality set into my mind. This individual, who had once been a dear friend, had left this life of his own accord, by suffocating himself with a helium-filled bag. On the verge of failing, yet again, out of nursing school, he had perhaps seen no other alternative but to take his own life. Or had done it to get back at us? One family member stated, “He killed himself because he was a loser and he knew it.”

Our friendship had ended, and my father had given him a non-negotiable move-out date. A million questions went through my mind. The families of suicide victims are often left with a plethora of questions, and no definitive answers. In essence, this became our reality.

In 2016, the United States recorded 44,965 suicides. (2) This represented the highest rate recorded in twenty years. Risk factors include “depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse. “ (2) Other reasons include exorbitant debt, divorce, break-ups-essentially the list is endless. One of the hardest parts is the reason may never truly be known.

Many people believe suicide should be a right. “The right to die is a concept based on the opinion that a human being is entitled to end their own life or to undergo voluntary euthanasia. Possession of this right is often understood to mean that a person with a terminal illness, or without the will to continue living, should be allowed to end their own life…” (2) Many people disagree. When my foster brother committed suicide, I refused to attend the memorial service, because my hurt, disbelief, and disgust, all compiled together, resulted in me stating, “We are not allowed to kill ourselves, so why is the church even giving him a memorial service?” My mother responded by stating that the church no longer viewed suicide as a sin, but instead as a symptom of a very severe mental illness.

In light of this suicide epidemic, many have begun to suffer from “suicide fatigue.” The sheer number of people threatening it, to whoever will listen and offer them sympathy, has resulted in what some have called a backlash. One member of my family has stated, “I do not believe in suicide prevention. If you want to kill yourself, go ahead and do it. Just please don’t talk to me about it.” It has been stated that when a person is truly suicidal they simply do it, telling no one. This remains the case with my foster brother who told no one of his deadly plans. Is my relative unreasonable in her statement regarding suicide? There is something to be said for “calling someone’s bluff.” For literally a year, a friend of mine told me consistently of her desire to kill herself. When I eventually told her to go ahead and do it if that is truly what she wanted, she immediately ended our friendship. I can only surmise that suicide is not truly what she wanted, and that her words to me expressing otherwise represented half-hearted attempts at attention that resulted in words from me she did not want to hear.

The debate over whether or not human beings should be able to kill themselves is still very real and ongoing. Some believe it is a right, while others consider it a crime. The epidemic of suicide in the United States has resulted in criminal legislation and mental health reforms. Once regarded as a crime, it is today largely decriminalized, and viewed by many as a sign of mental illness. Others, however, feel fatigued even discussing it, preferring to view suicide as an individual right. Wherever one stands on the spectrum, this largely explosive issue promises to remain a hot topic for many years to come.

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide
  2. https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_the_united_states

Mary Boleyn, Contemporary Working Women, and The Rise of the Underdog

Mary Boleyn, Contemporary Working Women, and The Rise of the Underdog

During the reign of Henry VIII, Queen Anne Boleyn reigned supreme, while her sister Mary suffered banishment from the royal court. Mary, formerly the King’s mistress and mother to two of his children, betrothed a low-level courtier in an unsanctioned marriage. This marriage caused a major uproar, resulting in the banishment of Mary and the removal of both children from her custody. Katherine and Henry Carey, the two children shared by Mary and King Henry, thus fell into the care of Queen Anne, their beloved aunt and step-mother.

Mary Boleyn, separated from all near and dear to her, nevertheless survived the massive pillage of her family. Her father, sister-in-law, and even her cherished sister Queen Anne, all lost their lives to the executioner’s ax. Mary’s banishment resulted in her survival, and her children lived on in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Both children made fabulous marital matches, ultimately bearing children of their own. Yet the memory of Mary, living far away from court, lived on through her enigmatic nickname of “the great and infamous whore.”

The royal courts thought they had seen the last of Mary Boleyn. Dead six years after her banishment, her children resembled their father enough to evoke a certain degree of deference. Their cousin and half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I, a niece of Mary Boleyn, died childless, effectively ensuring that no Boleyns would ever again sit on the royal throne. Indeed, the Stewart’s came to power, and the Boleyns retreated to the background of history. However, a closer examination reveals that sometimes history is not all that it seems.

History has a funny way of favoring the underdog. The least expected outcome is often the one that takes center stage. This certainly seems to be the case with the likes of Mary Boleyn. With her humble beginnings as a royal mistress, to her disgraced exit from her family and the royal court, Mary Boleyn seems the least likely candidate to make any sort of meaningful appearance again in the pages of history. And yet, here she is, staring us in the face-or rather, her 12th great-granddaughter, stares at us through the papers and our televisions, as our very own very Queen Elizabeth II. Yes-a 12th great granddaughter of “the infamous whore” Mary Boleyn, sits on the throne of England. Through her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of Mary Boleyn through her daughter Katherine Carey.

It’s as though Mary Boleyn has reached out from the grave, assuring that her bloodline remains on the throne of England. As a matter of fact, the late Princess Diana is a descendant, as is Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, and mother to his two daughters. Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, third in line to the throne, is also a descendant. In essence, catastrophic deaths could hit the royal family of England, and Mary Boleyn’s descendants would still sit on the throne of England, as her descendants are heirs from nearly every direction. This is quite incredible for a shunned, and disgraced ex-mistress to King Henry VIII.

Like Mary Boleyn, women have emerged as the underdog in today’s business world. Previously relegated to positions of either the Madonna (Queen Anne) or the whore (Mary Boleyn), within the realms of the bedroom and/or the realm of childrearing, women have now emerged as leaders within the business world. From Facebook and Yahoo, to Hewlett-Packard and eBay, women have proven themselves as more than capable of leading businesses to financial success. Just as Mary Boleyn reaches out from the grave into the modern-day royal family, so do the late women who entered the business world in WWII as temporary replacements for men serving abroad.

History has a way of constantly favoring the underdog. As the “great and infamous whore,” Henry VIII banished Mary Boleyn to the footnotes of history. But her descendants have gone on to the comprise the contemporary house of Windsor. Just as Mary Boleyn rose from the grave, modern-day working women also represent the rise of the underdog. While initially considered merely temporary replacements for men serving abroad in WWII, today’s women can be found in all four corners of the business world. Like the modern-day royal family and the presence of Mary Boleyn, a catastrophe could hit the business world and women would still emerge as leaders. Like Mary Boleyn, against all odds, women in the workforce are here to stay.

Emotions in the Workplace. Is there A Place For Them?

Emotions in the Workplace. Is there A Place For Them?

Before the advent of WWII, men comprised the majority of the workforce. These men encompassed the backbone of industry in America, and represented what we call today “men’s men.” Individuals such as these lived by the unspoken standard of “boys don’t cry,” and “work… is… not a place for (the) display of emotion.”(1) When the US government called these men to war, they left their positions, as well as that mentality, to the women who stepped up and took over their professional positions. The country thrust these women into environments where the philosophy advocated, “work should be a place of logical, rational thought, where you don’t give in to emotional thinking.” Furthermore, these working environments asserted that one “certainly (does) not display any emotions… (because) it’s both not professional and leaves (one) too vulnerable.” (1) However, then and now, women have often struggled to follow these unspoken rules of how they should conduct themselves in the workplace.

Scientific studies have shown that men and women are different physiologically. In essence, we process information differently. For example, one study showed that the “neural circuitry recruited during emotion processing differed between the sexes. Women showed neural activity in the anterior insula cortex, which processes bodily sensations. This means that they deeply experienced emotions within their bodies. Men, on the other hand, showed neural responses in the visual cortex. While processing these images, male brains immediately activated circuitry involved in regulating shifts of attention to the world (i.e., the dorsal anterior insula cortex and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex). This allowed them to shift the emotional impact of the images away from themselves.” (2) Essentially, women feel emotions deeply-even physically-while men are able to shift their thought processes away from an emotional response and deal with the matter at hand. With differences like this now being unveiled by science, and with women comprising 47% of the total workforce, is it really fair to expect women to think like men? And is this line of thought what is best for the workplace as a whole? (3)

Critics argue that differences such as these make the workplace better suited for men, then for women. Others argue that women bring authenticity to the workplace, in line with the “woke” movement or the “authentic living movement.” (4) Either way, it can be argued that it is not realistic to require women to literally change the way their brains process information. But if women are being held to an unreasonable standard, then what is the solution regarding their inclusion in the workforce?

One solution for women in the workplace is learning to disassociate themselves from emotion. Some scientists argue that this is an adaptation women can learn, and thus contribute to a rational and logical workplace for all. Indeed, learning to remove personal feelings for others in the workplace can help women prevent burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed. Learning to categorize thoughts and responses can lead to an overall less dramatic work environment. However, women who fall short of this expectation often are categorized as “crazy” when they display emotion, and women who don’t display emotion are categorized as “lacking empathy.” One can also argue that, since men and women spend more than half of their lives at work, this lack of emotion can and will bleed into our homes and society. “Such distancing….allows one to ignore the pain of others or to freely inflict such pain with little distress to oneself. Such distancing may be adaptive for combat, torture, or cruelty, but can prove problematic for developing prosocial competencies.” (2) Is a workplace and thus a society without empathy really what is best for humankind?

Another solution lies in compassion training for both genders. If women process emotion deeply-even physically, and men dissociate themselves from feelings of emotion, then “such training allows both sexes to learn to disengage in a manner that fosters benevolent action rather than succumbing to overwhelm or resorting to uncaring dissociation.” (2) Thus, with both genders learning to show compassion to others in a benevolent way, a more harmonious and empathetic workforce may likely result.

In conclusion, men and women process information differently, leading to conflicts in the workforce over proper standards of behavior. While most men dissociate themselves from emotion, most women process emotions in a deep, often physical level. Such differences can, arguably, be reconciled through compassion training for both genders. Such training teaches men and women to disengage in a manner that is benevolent rather than one lacking empathy. The result may well be a more realistic standard of behavior for both genders and a more authentic workplace for all.

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/06/06/emotions-at-work-needless-or-necessary/#714a656a917b
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-thinking/201406/are-males-and-females-equally-emotional
  3. https://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-laborforce-10.htm
  4. https://psychcentral.com/lib/ways-of-living-an-authentic-life/