Category Archives: Politics

You’ll Never Be President Because You Are A Girl

The other night, as I was folding laundry, Tiny-Small ran over to me and said, “You’ll never be president, Mom.” I turned to her and was about to respond, but, before I could, she said, “…because you’re a girl.” Now I have no desire to be president and obviously never will be, but to have my four year old daughter state so confidently that girls cannot be president just made my blood boil.

I decorated her nursery in yellow and green to keep it more gender neutral. I bought her toys from both sides of the Toys R Us store. I’m a huge advocate for gender equality and human equality. I am raising a little girl during a time period where a woman very well may be president. Fingers crossed. Prayers answered. I am hopeful to see that happen in my lifetime.

Sadly, I am repeatedly shocked by how little an impact my beliefs and values seem to have on my daughter. She is completely rooted in gender stereotypes. She likes pink and ballerinas and thinks boys cannot be pretend princesses and should only have “boy” hair.

We have had long conversations about whether boys can have long hair or even wear dresses. I told her that, despite what she thinks, some boys do wear dresses, have long hair, and even wear makeup. We have also discussed at length that some girls have short hairstyles and drive trucks and even play with swords. To really blow her mind I told her that men marry other men and women marry other women. She couldn’t fathom it. We live in a place where she doesn’t see these things happening very often. So she often doesn’t believe a single word I say. She has to see it to believe it.

You'll Never Be President Because You Are A Girl

I asked her to explain why women couldn’t be presidents. She said, “Because they don’t dress like presidents.” That’s when I realized what she was getting at. The other day when a bunch of men in ties walked by she said, “Where are all of those presidents going?” She clearly believes presidents wear ties and that wearing a tie means you must be a president. She doesn’t see people in her life wearing ties too often. We are pretty laid back in the West. People often joke that to dress up is to wear “new” jeans. She mostly sees men in ties on TV during elections and Presidential debates. For her, clothes truly make the man…or woman.

I try not to worry about what our culture is teaching her about men and women. I hope the examples we set at home and the conversations we have (or she overhears) will help form her opinions, but sometimes her perceptions are truly a slap in the face. When she said girls couldn’t be president I had no woman president to show her, as an example (or proof), that it was possible. I mean, we haven’t had a female president in this country yet. In some ways what she says rings true…I find myself wondering, can a girl really be president?  She’s right about other things too because what people wear really does seem to be an important factor in how they are perceived by others. When Tiny-Small wears her pink tutu and has bows in her hair people stop to compliment her. When she shows up in sweatpants and a Batman T-shirt nobody says anything. She is paying attention. She knows, at the age of four, that embracing gender stereotypes is rewarded with social acceptance. She has witnessed another parent berate his son for wearing a dress and pretending to be a princess during pretend play. She sees the writing on the wall and there is little I can do to persuade her otherwise. At times it feels like there is little I can do to prevent her mind from being polluted by harmful social and cultural expectations.

The other day I went to a thrift store and bought a bag of doll clothes for Tiny-Small to play with. When we opened it we discovered a child-size clip on tie in the bag. Later that day as I came around the corner she had her dolls set up on the coffee table. She was wearing the clip on tie and delivering a speech to her audience. I almost cried because finally she believed she could be a president. This gives me hope that maybe at four years old her brain can only process so much information and that as she grows and has new experiences her ideas about the world will change. That her world will expand beyond what she has seen in the small town she lives in. That she won’t feel limited by stereotypes, or judge people by the clothes they wear, or think she cannot be president even if that is what she truly wants to be.

Weather Is No Longer A Polite Topic Of Conversation

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation. It’s suddenly, or not so suddenly depending on how you look at, very controversial. Weather used to be something you could talk about with strangers, your grandparents friends, and family without too much trouble.

“It sure is a nice day” you might say, or, “It’s unseasonably cold for May.” You might complain about it being a hard winter. You might complain it’s too humid. You might just be basking in the sunny, balmy perfection of a lovely June morning. It was all an acceptable topic of conversation. Mostly because weather oddities were, well, oddities. We could pretty much count on the next season getting back to “normal” with summer being summer and winter being winter.

Winter Robin Alcohol Ink Painting by Lillian Connelly
“Winter Robin” based on a photo by Gary Jones. Alcohol inks on yupo paper, 11×14.

Now weather is not an acceptable topic of conversation. Now talking about weather is talking about politics, which can often be dangerous and divisive when speaking with strangers, your grandparents friends, or family members. My political views are probably almost at the opposite spectrum of most of my extended family. I’m a bleeding heart liberal swimming in a sea of republicans. It’s entertaining and I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. Or rolling my eyes, or with my mouth open in disbelief. Especially on Facebook.  Don’t even get me started on the insanity I see on Facebook. I just put on my horse blinders and skim past it all as much as possible. I am pretty sure my family does the same thing with me. I mean, we’re still family. We still care about each other. We just see the world in very different ways. That’s not always a bad thing. I’m open to different ideas and opinions. I like to debate. I like to learn about another point of view. Sometimes I even change my mind. Mostly though, you do what you can to get along. You stick to those polite topics of conversation whenever possible.

I try not to talk about the weather too much, even though it’s sometimes really hard to avoid talking about it. I mean, we are in a drought here in New Mexico. One that keeps getting worse with each passing year. California, Texas, and Arizona want our water which means we might have even less eventually. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it. My rain dances aren’t getting the results I had hoped for. Meanwhile, my friends back East are just putting away their winter jackets, with some trepidation I might add. There still may be a flash of freezing rain or a night that requires the heat be turned back on. There is flooding and forest fires. There is rampant fungus in Central America on coffee beans. I don’t know if that is caused by the weather changes for sure, but it seems likely. I could list all sorts of problems that seem to be developing from our weather problems, but you watch the news and read the Internet newspapers. You know what’s going on.

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation.

When I was in college studying environmental science I was running around like Al Gore talking to anyone who would listen. I was reading about the bees and the butterflies and the ocean rising and the earth warming. I was obsessed with ants.

Nobody wanted to hear about it.

I remember being out with some of my Grandmother’s friends and somehow the weather came up. I had all of these scientific facts to add to the conversation. I remember this older gentleman sort of laughed at my “child-like” ways and politely told me I was full of crap. I was young and I was taught to respect my elders so I just stopped talking about the weather. It seemed like a lost cause. It was no longer a polite topic of conversation. It was politics.

Plus, trying to explain how “global warming” meant we were going to have extreme weather, not just warmer weather was impossible to convey. I just got emails from people, buried in the snow, saying “Where is your global warming now?” I just gave up on talking about the weather. Nobody was listening anyway.

Here I am, over a decade later, and judging by the arguments I read on the Internet everyday, talking about the weather is still pretty impolite. It’s still a political issue. That doesn’t make much sense to me. The seas are rising. My friends in the East are getting buried in snow. There are hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes making headlines in the news far more often than I remember ever happening before. Our weather is a problem.

Maybe it’s time to start talking about it politely again. So we can make some decisions. So we can do what we can to make our planet more habitable. So we don’t run out of water in New Mexico and my friends back East don’t have to start building arks. Maybe we can stop making the weather a political issue where people have to take sides. Maybe we can start working together.

Maybe.

I know, I sound like a dreamer, but did you read that part where I said I was a bleeding heart liberal? When I look at my daughter I see the future. I want it to be a good place. So, please, talk about the weather. Collaborate. Find solutions. Americans are known for their creativity and ingenuity. Why aren’t we focused on that instead of on who is right and wrong? Why aren’t we focused on fixing the problem? Why aren’t we dreaming bigger, creating more, and offering some hope to future generations?

When did we stop caring about our children’s children?

 

Dear Facebook, Stop Trying To Sell Me What I Just Bought

Facebook is watching me. So is Google. So is the Government, apparently. I read the news. I see the Facebook statuses. I listen to the radio. So, now everyone knows I bought my husband some shorts. Everyone, now even you know. I bought some shorts! I bought some shorts!

Jim surrounded by shorts
How many shorts can one man wear?

I bought the shorts a week ago and ever since I have had ads in my stream, in my side bars, in my everything for the exact same shorts. Now, I could go on and on about privacy issues and how this is against our constitution, but I think I will leave that to better writers than I. Nope, instead, I am going to complain about how this is the worst marketing strategy ever. I have already bought the shorts. Three pair to be exact. It’s done. It’s over. I’ve been sold on the product, obviously. Showing me the exact same product every time I turn on the Internet is not going to make me buy more of the exact same product (unless they are 95% off and I lurve them so, so much). How many shorts can a person wear? My husband gets new clothes when the old ones are practically falling off his back. He’s not exactly a fashionista, which Google should know because according to my spam box Google reads my blog pretty regularly. Also, my every move is being tracked, so, seriously, they should know more about my families clothes preferences than I do.

Facebook should know better too. Don’t they pay marketing geniuses large amounts of money to set up algorithms and ad campaigns and all of that stuff? I mean, don’t they know if a person just bought shorts it might be better to try to sell them some T-shirts, some socks, maybe a few other essentials? Or maybe a vacation to wear those shorts on? Couldn’t this information they have collected be put to better use, I mean from a marketing perspective?

It amazes me that with all of the data collection and selling opportunities available to these marketing gurus (and big companies) that they still manage to get it so very, very wrong. I mean, if I buy a refrigerator online do they really think I will buy another one the next day and another one the day after that? I don’t think so. I mean I know very little about marketing, but even I know most people only need one refrigerator and just a few pair of shorts. Do the people buying these ads know their product is being marketed to someone who just bought said product and probably won’t buy that product again for another decade? Would they pay for those ads if they knew? I mean, I thought the point of these online ads was to target very specific people. Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe other people keep buying shorts day after day after day…and refrigerators too, but I doubt it.

Anyway, I can’t help but wonder, if the people and corporations trying to sell us stuff can get things this wrong, what’s the government going to do with all of my information? I mean, corporations have the money to attract the best, brightest and most talented employees out there, right? I am a bit concerned that the best they can do with all of the data they have collected about me (and trust me, I am on the Internet a lot) is to try to sell me the same old pair of shorts I bought last week, which to be completely honest, I am really tired of looking at (and they haven’t even arrived at my house yet). The algorithms need some work, obviously. So, what if the government’s algorithms are even less fine tuned or less accurate than Facebook and Google’s? That’s a little frightening to think about. In the big scheme of things, shorts are pretty inconsequential, but if the same technology is being used to determine who is a good guy and who isn’t, I think we might be in for a heap of trouble.

P.S. If you are reading this one Google spam-writer, please stop trying to sell me what I just bought. Pass it on to Facebook. Thank you.