words

Words have power. I think people forget that, as basic as it is. Words have power. And one way to diffuse the power other people’s words have over us is to “own” those words.

For instance, words like “gay” or “queer.” Both started out as negatives, slurs, insults. Now the LGBT community is reclaiming those labels, redefining them into the positive. So much so there is a politician out there right now trying to get the word “gay” outlawed in his state’s public school.

Words like “bitch” or “cunt.” When a man calls a woman a bitch, it’s for one of two reasons. One, he’s saying she’s not measuring up to his standards of the ideal woman. She’s not being passive, agreeable, shiny and happy and sunny. Or two, he’s saying it admiringly, as in, “Wow, you did not act like a girl right there. Good on you.” Bitch is not meant, when referring to women, to be positive. It is a derogatory term, meant to undermine a woman’s self-confidence in her feminine self. So women are reclaiming it — women are taking hold of this derogatory term and saying, “There is no such thing as a person who is always calm, always sunny, always happy, always patient.” Pop-culture feminist magazines like “Bitch” abound, and the term is blogged and dissected in pro-feminist culture. Being a bitch is not an unreasonable thing; expecting a woman to be perfectly calm and happy and peaceful 24/7 is.

We all know words like that, words that were meant as insults and reclaimed. We also know that whether or not a word is reclaimed, it is the meaning behind it that matters. If you call a woman a bitch because she “stepped out of line,” or because she wasn’t as sweet-tempered as you would prefer, or because she stood her ground — then you are being insulting and derogatory. If you use “gay” in a derogatory manner — “That’s gay,” or “How gay is that?” — then you are being insulting and derogatory.

I’m not, by the way, floating any opinions on your choice to be insulting and derogatory. I’m just saying, own up to it. I’m sick of people hiding behind passive-aggressive jokes and blaming their dickishness on others — “I wouldn’t insult you if you weren’t such a bitch.” It’s a stupid cycle. Own up, admit that you loathe the person you’re insulting, and be done with it.

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perfumes

I recently worked at a place that banned smoking and said they would fire anyone who so much as smelled of cigarettes smoke. They claimed the owner was seriously allergic to cigarette smoke, which was obviously false on a few levels:

  • I twice smoked on my lunch break while walking around, return, wash my hands, and was called into an emergency department meeting. The owner showed no awareness or reaction.
  • Her husband smokes. Saw him at the Christmas party.

Once the HR department sent out an e-mail claiming that the owner had been getting headaches because people were taking 15 minute breaks during the day and came back smelling of cigarette smoke, which then stank up the halls. This not only obviously relies on the social stigma against smokers (all smokers smell and are dirty, filthy, and unhealthy people), but it also proves that she does not have a serious allergy. A serious allergy is when you have a potentially-life threatening physical reaction, like a rash or swelling, and you need to either use an epi-pen or book it to the hospital for treatment.

If anything, she had a sensitivity, as she was only experiencing headaches and fatigue. I’m not discounting it; I have a sensitivity too — to perfumes. There are one or two citrus-based essential oils I can stand, but every other scent out there and marketed spirals me into a serious migraine. Unfortunately, because of the non-smoking policy at work, my co-workers would drench themselves in perfume and cologne. Some perhaps because they just liked the smell. Others because they smoked and were trying frantically to hide it. But I would walk in to that building and my eyes would start watering, my nose would start tickling, and within minutes the headache would settle in.

There is obviously a social stigma against smokers. I disagree with it, personally. At this point, smokers have gone along with every price hike and every legal restrictions. I can no longer smoke in bars, restaurants, or within 25 ft of an air vent or door. I pay nearly $8 a pack, with all the federal and state taxes lumped in. Recently, our state voted down a law that would have slightly raised the tax on candy and soda pop. Slightly — we’re not talking cigarette-type taxes, which are well over a dollar per pack for the STATE tax (not even addressing the federal tax on top of that). Despite the fact that I’m actually willing to pay taxes on my unhealthy habit, despite the fact that I obey the laws, and despite the fact that most people who meet me are shocked when they learn I smoke because I don’t, “smell like a smoker,” there continues to be a massive social stigma against smokers. My favorite argument is, “Smoking will kill you.” I’m sorry, so if I quit, I get eternal life? Is that the secret? No, because guess what — LIFE will kill you. Morons.

Now, when I present these arguments in support of my freedom of choice to smoke, the discussion invariably devolves to the other party stating flatly, “Well, it stinks and I don’t like it.” Super, but that’s not a good basis for laws. Seriously. If that was, I would start drafting a proposed legislation to outlaw perfume and cologne in all public areas. I don’t even get why people wear perfume or cologne — when I walk by someone wearing scent, my automatic assumption is that their shower is broken, or they’re temporarily homeless, or they lack a sense of smell.

another day

Not much going on in my world lately. Good lord, not having a job is booooooring. I seriously think I actually get more done around the house when I’m working, because I know my time is limited. Here’s how my time generally breaks down:
Working/ attending school/ volunteering 

30-60 minutes commute
3-8 hours working/ school stuff/ volunteering
6-8 hours sleep
2-3 hours family time (chillin’ w/ John, helping Kidling with homework)
4-12.5 hours chore time
. . . and this is how it breaks down otherwise
Not working/ attending school/ volunteering
Wake up, take Austin to school.
Eh, I have all day to do chores. Maybe I’ll play a video game
or read a book
or go on a walk w/ John
or sleep
or take a shower
or play on the internet for a bit
or write some blogs/ hubs/ something that is not my book
Crap! It’s time for bed and I didn’t do the chores!
Anywho, you can see the trouble. So yes, I am looking for work still (preferably paid, but even volunteer stuff is good.) Surprisingly, volunteer work is harder to get than I thought. I want to do something that will develop/ maintain my skills and I can put on a resume, but I don’t seem to be the only person with this idea. Grrrr.
Today we did do a few things. First off, Kidling woke up not feeling at all well this morning. Feverish, cranky, tired. He’s spent the day mainly on the couch sleeping, so I’ve been keeping tabs on him all day, trying to make sure he’s hydrated and whatnot.
Second, John had a doctor’s appointment today, so we went to the orthopedic surgeon to see what’s the what with his knee. The doctors are really confused, because the injury it looks like he has (PCL strain, calf ligament strain, dislocated knee cap) are not the sort of injury you get falling down at work. They’re the sort of injury, according to them, you get playing in the NFL. Now, obviously John’s not in the NFL (he doesn’t play or care about football at all), and the weirdness increases when you think about the circumstances he got the injury in: He literally slipped on the ice while doing inventory and fell 3 feet. That’s it. Nothing dramatic, nothing even terribly physically-demanding. I mean, John’s been in motorcycle accidents and had less injury. So we’re all (including John) kind of confused as to how, exactly, a fall did this. For now, he’s going to be doing physical therapy. If it improves, yay! Back to work. If it doesn’t, well . . . looks like surgery.

Oh, and Tim Minchin is coming to Seattle. How yay is that? I’m so excite!

funny on facebook

So FB is doing their new polling thing or whatever. A few days ago, some friends of mine answered the question, “Do you think Planned Parenthood should be Defunded?”
Now, since Planned Parenthood provides low-cost women’s health care, I’m absolutely, 100% against defunding them. I think anyone who would suggest such a thing is either a) hugely ignorant of what they do or b) a vicious, selfish excuse for a human being. So of course I voted, “No,” and didn’t think much further about the poll.
Today, it came up in my husband’s feed. Apparently he’d clicked the little “follow” button or something when he voted in it (also, “No,”) and was now getting updates. And somebody pointed out that a Pro-Life page had posted this question, and was now upset and wanting to delete it. We laughed a bit, and then John went onto the Pro-Life page. And holy fucking shit.
Okay, leaving aside the whole fetus/human debate, I just don’t get pro-lifers. I may have mentioned a time or two that I was raised LDS? My upbringing was definitely pro-child, pro-birth, pro-life. Up until I had my first kid, I was convinced I would have a brood, a passle of children. I would have a dozen of ’em! I was personally horrified at the idea of abortion for years.
I remember once, as a teenager, talking with a friend of mine. She told me she didn’t ever want to have children, and she wasn’t even sure about marriage. I was shocked. Shocked, and horrified, and totally lost on how to react to such a statement. I couldn’t reconcile it —  she is my friend, she’s a good person, and she doesn’t want children?!? The very idea was foreign to me. I asked her what she’d do if she accidentally got pregnant, and she shrugged and said probably get an abortion. I remember how conflicted and horrified I felt — that someone I loved and esteemed so highly could so casually speak of such a horrific act.
I struggled over this for weeks. I’d bring it up randomly in conversation, I’d quiz her about it. I’d ask things like, “Well, what about adoption? What if you really loved the guy?” She was really patient with me, and eventually I let it drop and stopped nagging her about it. Even later, I realized that even if I personally could never have an abortion, I could hardly deny my friend her right to choose how she lived her life.
Eventually, I realized I was pro-choice. I used to jokingly call myself pro-choice, but pro-life. Now I just leave off the “pro-life” part, because it really doesn’t matter what decision I would or would not make if abortion was on my list of options. It’s my decision. It’s my choice, it’s my life — and I suppose that’s the part of the pro-life movement I simply cannot comprehend. Why do these people think they have the right to strip other people’s rights from them? I just don’t get it. Pro-choice does not necessarily correlate to pro-abortion — it simply means we accept that it is, in the end, a choice. A personal choice, and one to be made with relevant and current medical information (not debunked studies), while surrounded by professional, sensitive, and compassionate people (not screaming lunatics waving signs with dead babies on them).