first fig

my candle burns at both ends…

Month: March, 2009

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko

I don’t have a ton of time today as I’m headed off to a Mormon feminist retreat in Southern California, but I couldn’t leave with out nominating my weekly wacko. As I’m in a hurry I’ve picked a video for you all to watch, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory as to why this is my pick for weekly wacko.

This makes me so insanely angry that I can barely even talk about it. It really would be nice to live in a country where women were trusted and allowed to make informed decisions on their own behalf. The fact that we are not only goes to show how far we have to go in order for women to have true equality in this country.

For better analysis into Personhood USA, see here.

God’s Wrath Completly Satisfied (or Karma): A Two Scene Dramady

Scene One: A woman walks out of trendy salon basking in the relaxation of being pampered for two hours. Just as the relaxation is going to her head, the woman is approached by an earnest young man.

Earnest Young Man: Do you know what “the gospel” means?

Woman: (The woman answers but looks unsure as to where the conversation will go) Yes…?

Earnest Young Man: It means the good news. (The Earnest Young Man hands the woman a card.) Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Woman: Yes.

Earnest Young Man: That’s awesome! And do you believe the only way back to God is through Jesus Christ?

Woman: Ummm…Yes.

Earnest Young Man: And do you believe that all those who do not believe in Jesus Christ will be condemned to hell and suffer eternal torture? (Earnest Young Man is becoming orgasmic with anticipation.)

Woman: No.

Earnest Young Man: (Looking completely crestfallen.) But that is in the scriptures, how can you not believe that?

Woman: Because I believe in a God of love and mercy. I do not believe in a god that gets pleasure from the suffering of his children.

Earnest Young Man: And who taught you that?

Woman: Nobody needed to teach me that (taking umbrage with the young man’s patronizing tone). I have felt the truthfulness of God’s love for myself. But if you’re wondering if I belong to a church, yes, I am a Mormon.

Earnest Young Man: Oh really? (Looking as if he has just been introduced to Satan himself). Do you know that Mormons aren’t Christian?

Woman: I know that you believe that and I am ok with that. I also know that, regardless of what you think or believe, I am a Christian.

Earnest Young Man: I know you are not a Christian because you do not believe in the word of God. The scriptures tell us that we are all born enemies to God and none of us is good. Because of this, God will pour out his wrath on the day of judgement, which is coming! God provided Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins. Do you know what propitiation means (using patronizing tone again)? The reason Jesus is our propitiation is that while he was hanging on the tree, God poured out his wrath and fury on His son. It pleased God to crush His son and to unleash His justice on Christ. Jesus is now sitting on the right hand of God until He returns with vengeance on all who disobeyed the gospel. That is scripture!

Woman: That is your interpretation of Scripture. I have a different interpretation. I have a knowledge of God’s goodness, God’s love and mercy. You cannot convince me that it is wrong. I am glad you have a faith that brings you peace, my faith brings me peace as well. Now I have to get home to my babies.

Earnest Young Man: Are you leading them down the road of hell too?

(The woman rolls her eyes and smiles to herself as she walks away.)

End of Scene

Scene Two: The woman walks through the door to her home and is greeted by her husband. He looks at her adoringly and lovingly touches her hair to examine the new cut.

Husband: Your hair looks great! Did the stylist thin it out?

Woman: Yes, she told me that I have more hair than anyone she has ever seen.

Husband: Yeah, it was kind of like a red, furry monster was growing out of your head and eating your face. Is that why it took so long?

Woman: (the woman ignores her husband’s quip about her previous hairstyle.) No, I was getting condemned to hell by a street preacher. (The woman hands her husband the card.)

Husband: Oh, fun! (Husband looks at the card.) This is completely incomprehensible. It’s worse than a legal document.

(He flips the card over.) Hmmm, ironic that they misspelled “completely”.

Woman: (Woman takes the card from her husband and looks at it intently.) I guess God’s wrath is only nine-tenths satisfied.

End of Scene

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko[s]: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

The Irish Times recently published a charming op-ed piece by Newton Emerson entitled, “Working Women Almost Certainly Caused the Credit Crunch.” Here are a few highlights:

The answer to all our problems is staring us in the face…Does the woman
in your life really need a job?…

Of course there will always be a place in the world of business for
exceptional women. Women also have an important role to play in jobs that
are too demeaning for men, like teaching. But the general employment
of women is another matter. Indeed, working women almost certainly caused
the credit crunch by bringing a second income into the average household,
pushing property prices up to unsustainable levels…

It would be ludicrous to suggest that women should be sacked purely to give
men their jobs…In many cases, their jobs should be abolished as well…

While the economic case for fewer women in the workforce is irrefutable, we
should also acknowledge the social advantages. Women make the majority of
spending decisions in Irish households and make almost all of the
purchases. They are far more likely than men to regard shopping as a
leisure activity…In short, women were the driving force behind the greed,
consumerism and materialism…and it was female employment that funded their oestrogen-crazed acquisitiveness.

Pretty funny, huh? No? Well it was supposed to be. Apparently this was a satire piece taking aim at the chauvinist media. The problem was that nobody got it.

The article quickly went viral and set off a firestorm. There was an account of this article being forwarded three hundred times in the space of a couple of hours around one large company that employed most men. Reportedly, these men viewed the article in a positive light.

As you might expect, women were none to happy about this op-ed. Hundreds of women sent in angry letters to the editor only to receive a curt letter back informing them that the piece was satire, along with a suggestion that they develop a sense of humor.

After reading through Newton Emerson’s essay several times, I can see that it is satire, it is bad satire but, satire nonetheless. However, the reason people didn’t get it was because there was no clear target, the piece was just too broad. Satire is not funny if it is overly believable. I picked this piece as an illustration of a weekly wacko because there is no cognitive dissonance in believing that a person could hold this kind of opinion.

Women have historically been blamed for the downfalls of society. We can start with Mother Eve and wind our way through the annals of history to today where working women are blamed for everything from increased juvenile delinquency to childhood obesity. (I heard that one over the pulpit).

So yes, I can understand how this unfunny piece of satire was misunderstood; it hit too close to home to the bullsh*t that working women have to put up with everyday. Is it not enough that working women have to face their own guilt every morning they walk out the door, do we really have to blame them for all of societies ills?

Shame on Mr. Emerson for being a horrible satirist. Shame on the Irish Times for exploiting pervasive and pernicious sexism. And shame on any man or woman who truly thinks that all of society’s problems will be solved the moment we kick women out of the workforce. You are all my weekly wackos.


A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

~Emily Dickinson

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko

I am instituting a new weekly feature: The Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been told that the feminist movement is no longer relevant because now women can open bank accounts, work outside the home, get abortions and supposedly receive equal protection under the law. I can’t even begin to tell people how far from the truth this is. So from now on, I will be posting weekly examples of why feminism is still relevant and desperately needed.

Drum-roll please. This week’s anti-woman wacko goes to…Mark Belling.

For those of you who don’t know Mark Belling, he has a right-wing talk radio show in Milwaukee. Belling is known for his outrageous and often incindiary antics, including the use of a racial epithet that got him suspended from the airwaves for a week. I can’t say anymore about him without feeling the need to take a shower, so I think I will just let Mr. Belling speak for himself.

“Without regard to what you think about women who get off by behaving like sows by pulling out their you-know-what in front of everybody else in the world and letting their babies start sucking, whatever you think about that, you don’t have the express it so crudely, well why not? It’s a crude practice, given how adamant some of these sows are, that’s an appropriate term, isn’t it? It’’s what a pig does and it does it in public, right? I mean, I don’t, I – hehehehe…”

And my mother wonders why I despise talk radio? Anti-woman rhetoric doesn’t just hurt feminists; it hurts all women and, in this case, babies. Free speech is important but hateful ignorance only has power if there are people willingly listening and agreeing. This bozo wouldn’t have a radio show if there weren’t people out there who believed that breastfeeding women and babies are more like barnyard animals than human beings.

So Mr. Mark Belling, thanks for being our inaugural weekly wacko and…stay classy.

h/t to Feministing for the quote. You can listen to this lovely little vignette here.

Can I whine for a minute?

I am still feeling burned out. Last week I really wanted to write on my blog every day but every time I went to go post, I felt a wave of immense tiredness wash over my body.

Things are really hard right now. My job is depressing and apparently I have compassion fatigue. It’s no wonder when none of the women I work with can get jobs, no longer have access to subsidized childcare and have had their cash benefits cut by 30%. All of this means that none of these poor women and children will be able to be self-sufficient and obtain safe housing. It isn’t fair. Also, mr.mraynes and the kids are sick. I am now feeling sick. The economy sucks, effectively limiting the job prospects of mr.mraynes. And there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

What’s a feminist girl to do? (other than be incredibly grateful for a loving, supportive family, a secure job and a comfortable life)…Why, eat her body weight in carbs in a futile effort to self-soothe. Here is what I ate yesterday:

  • 1 bowl of organic chocolate grahm cereal
  • 1 doughnut
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 brownie
  • 2 large scoops of cheesy funeral potatos
  • 1 bowl of chili
  • 1 bag of fruit snacks
  • 1 rice crispy treat
  • 3 chocolate kisses
  • 6 dinner rolls
  • 1 New York strip steak
  • 1 sweet potato w/ caramel sauce and marshmellows
  • 1 ice cream sandwhich

When I gave tihs list to mr. mraynes, he looked at me with horror in his eyes and suggested that I not get on the bathroom scale anytime soon.

I’m still resolved to post more frequently but I’m thinking about lowering my standards of what is post-worthy. So, any tips in dealing with pre- spring, bad economy doldrums? Also, I am taking requests for post topics.

Mistress of History

Over the past couple of weeks I have felt very little ambition to keep up on this blog. I think this is due to feeling a little burned out with life. I wrote the following post for Exponent and with it, I am re-committing to take charge of my life. So from now on, you can look forward to much more frequent posts at First Fig because if I don’t document my thoughts and experiences, who will?


I once had a boyfriend who told me that women have no history outside of their husbands and children. I was a young history major at the time and was only just discovering where my interests lay but his ignorant remark sparked in me a profound desire to prove him wrong. Needless to say, our relationship did not last much longer but I was left with a new found feminism and a love of women’s history.

Over the next couple of years I would study the lives of Hildegard Von Bingen, Martha Ballard, Alice Paul, Betty Friedan…all women who left a mark on history outside the framework of domesticity. Also around this time I received a copy of my grandfather’s memoir which included his version of the end of my grandparents’ marriage. As I read through this story of my grandfather’s life, I wondered how different my grandmother’s version of their divorce would be. She probably would not have painted herself in the light my grandfather had. Unfortunately, her story is lost to history and what remains of her life is only in the memories of her sons and ex-husband.

By the time I graduated from college, I knew the importance of women’s stories but I also understood that historically, women have had to go to greater lengths to get those stories heard. As an idealistic young feminist, I was determined to create my own history; husband and children might come but I would not allow them to define my life, let alone allow myself to be lost in their history.

What I did not understand as an idealistic young feminist was how easy it is for any woman, feminist or not, to fall into this trap. I fully admit that I have lost some of my resolve. None of us can write our history in advance and so as my life has failed to follow the course I imagined, it has become easy to define myself in terms of my husband and children. It is so easy to proudly talk about my husband, the orchestral conductor who is so smart and so talented.
It is a delight to revel in my beautiful Monster who dances and laughs in and out of my presence or Baby Valkyrie who thrives on my love and brightens my life with her smile. I have re-defined myself in the terms of my family because it is the one thing that I feel truly good at, that I am proud of. Yes, I have a life and a career outside of my home but those things are not as fulfilling as I imagined them to be.

I feel at times that my life is at a standstill, waiting for my husband to finish school and get a job, or for my babies to grow up a little or for me to go back and get my graduate degrees. Often I feel like I am just waiting for my real life to begin. I suppose that we all need times of limbo to help focus ourselves, to make the way forward more clear. But how sad if I allow myself to get stuck here.

And so in honor of Women’s History Month, and in honor of my fore mothers, I resolve once again to make my own history. But this time I make my resolution with a little less naivete, with the understanding that my husband and children are part of my history. Part of my history because I have given so much of myself to them and in return they have given themselves to me. And with this gift I realize that it is up to me to be the mistress of my own history.