Women and Feminism

If you think Gender did NOT play a role in this election…

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Today a white left-leaning political comedian posted the following on social media.

Voting for Hillary Clinton was not an act of feminism. Now it’s time to prove your true feminism.

I wasn’t the only woman on his thread to react negatively to his statement.  I posted two comments. One was along the lines of

Wow that’s tone deaf

Then I waited a moment, thought about it again, and completely unloaded a rant about feminism, putting up with misogyny, and how liberals are far from immune from white male privilege.  I kind of lost my shit and blocked him.  I didn’t know this man well but there was something about the paternal quality to his request that set me over the edge. He might believe he has empathy for feminists, but he honestly has no idea what it would be like to put up with sexism EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE.  He also doesn’t understand the complexities that gender played in this election.

Voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching this election cycle unfold has been intensely difficult for many women.  To act as if Hillary’s gender did not play a role in how she was perceived by the media and the public at large is a complete farce.

To give an example, let’s take both Trump and Hillary at face value. Now imagine them switching genders.  We would then have a wealthy, bombastic, outspoken political novice with five children by three different husbands.  Her current spouse would be a former model, over two decades younger than her, and a stay-at-home dad.

She’s a self-purported billionaire, born into wealth with a self-aggrandizing ego the size of the moon.  She announces her candidacy with an overbearing, profanity laden, extended rant in which she tears apart entire ethnic groups, and repeatedly declares the United States is deeply broken. Over the course of her primary battles, she encourages violence against protesters and stokes the flames of racial tension. She also flings personal insults at her opponents, mocks a disabled person, and gets in late night twitter battles with private and public citizens.  She even insults the mother of a dead soldier and a Gold Star family.  Any time she is criticized, she reacts in an emotional and dramatic way often resorting to harsh language and personal insults.

The same candidate doesn’t bother to prepare for all three presidential debates, and only keeps her cool for the first 25-30 minutes each time.  Instead of discussing her policy specifics she hurls insults at her opponent and moderators.  She is caught in lie after lie during interviews, and gets basic facts about US foreign policy completely wrong.  This woman even goes so far as to speak admirably about dictators and despots while managing to insult our allies.  She never releases her tax returns, despite promises of the contrary, and openly admits that she hasn’t paid federal income tax for the past two decades.  She’s caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting much younger men; and audio footage is released in which she admits to walking in on teenaged boys just to get a peek of their naked bodies. Nude photos of her unemployed, formal-model husband are released to the press.  In speeches and interviews she declares that she does not seek help or advice from others, and that she is the only person who can solve all of the country’s problems.  Then to top it all off, she’s endorsed by the KKK and the Alt-right movement.

If anyone believes for a moment that the female version of Trump would have lasted more than a week in this primary battle they are living in a bastion of male privilege or they’ve wrapped themselves in a blanket of patriarchal delusion.  In reality if Trump was a woman, he would not even be considered a viable candidate based on his two divorces, and five children by three different men.  That fact alone would have caused the public to turn against him.  Even ONE emotional outburst or twitter war would have doomed her candidacy.  Women are simply held to a different standard than men.

Watching the fall of Hillary on Tuesday night felt personal.  What I saw was a professional and immensely qualified woman get trounced by a boorish, thin-skinned, sexist man-child who had no intellectual curiosity or desire to learn anything new.

Every woman, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal has been made to feel lesser at some point in her life based solely on her gender.  We have worked twice as hard, only to have someone reduce us to our looks or break us down into body parts.   We’ve sat silently in the room when a man in a position of power makes degrading remarks about our gender. We’ve had to overlook and ignore sexually inappropriate behavior because we didn’t want to lose our jobs or get a bad grade in school.  When we have spoken up for ourselves we are labeled as bitchy, shrill, difficult, mannish or worse.  We’ve had to walk down the street as strange men hurled insults at us, blocked our paths or even grabbed us simply because we didn’t stop to chat, smile, or make eye contact with them. We’ve consented to sexual acts we didn’t want to do because we realized giving in would be easier than fighting back. We’ve had every boundary pushed and ignored by men who decided we were more object than human being.  Many of us have been sexually assaulted, beaten or stalked by men we knew and trusted.  We have learned to fear all men in certain situations – to not walk home late at night, to be constantly aware of our surroundings, to not get too drunk, to worry about our drinks getting drugged, to avoid wearing short skirts or low-cut tops, to understand that we could be sexually attacked by a random stranger.

White men in this country have the gift of being neutral.  They are judged on their words and actions.  Everyone else, in every demographic, is filtered through a lens of gender or ethnicity.  Throughout the entire ordeal of the process the public and press measured Hillary by a totally different standard than they did Trump.  With all of his talk about the media bias against him, the overbearing white male could say and do anything, while the woman had to carefully watch and monitor her every move.  Even then she was criticized for being too inauthentic, robotic, and finely polished.  Voters would declare they just didn’t like her, they didn’t know why, but something about a strong and an accomplished woman shook them to their core.

So yes, voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching her lose to an undisciplined, abusive, ignorant, sexist, racist and xenophobic bully hurt me deeply as a woman.  I couldn’t help but think of all the times in my own life I’ve been underestimated, torn down, humiliated, picked-apart and ashamed just because I was born female.  I could list all of the incidents but this article would become far too long, and every woman I know could also fill several pages with stories of her own.

The smug white progressives can save their advice for how I, or any woman should process this loss.  For me Hillary represented all of us, with all of her flaws and shortcomings she was the woman working twice as hard getting half the credit.  She won’t be the last woman to run for president, but in many ways she was the sacrificial lamb for the next woman to follow.  Maybe by then, our first female president will be judged more on her words and actions, rather than the narrow constraints of what it means to be a woman.

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What I’ve learned as I enter the Disney Villainess stage of my life…

If I was a character in a Disney princess film, I would most likely be the villainess.  I kind of fit the profile.

  • I live alone.
  • I am childless.
  • I live with two cats.
  • I’m not just single, I’m divorced.
  • I look young for my age.
  • I dress young for my age.
  • I own a lot of fabulous heels, dresses and coats.
  • I love makeup.

At first glance these traits might seem like nothing but put them all together and I’m basically the Evil Queen in Snow White,

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The twisted Fairy Maleficent

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Or even the aging Mother Gothel in Tangled.

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This is me in a mermaid costume, you can see it now right?

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In Disney’s universe and in many of our iconic fairy tales the most dangerous threat to a young maiden’s well-being is a scheming, jealous, aging beauty.

The bitter fallen woman antagonist is so ingrained children’s fables you’d think there be some basis in reality for the archetype.  We all know bitter angry women but where are the marauding mobs of middle-aged gals destroying modeling schools, poisoning cheerleaders, or torching beauty pageants?  There is the popular Real Housewives series on Bravo but those ladies are mostly Disney villainess types attacking other Disney villainess types.

In the real world around 77% of murder victims are men, and men commit about 90% of all murders..  Statistically speaking women have far more to fear from the men in their lives then they do from other females..  Intimate partners, former intimate partners, relatives, neighbors and co-workers are the most likely to murder or maim any woman.  Female murder victims (41.5%) were almost 6 times more likely than male murder victims (7.1%) to have been killed by an intimate.  Men are also more at risk of violence from men they know well, as more than half of them are killed by an acquaintance, but for the most part women aren’t much of a threat to either gender.  Of course women do make up 10% of murderers and 15% of serial killers but it does seem odd that most fairy tales showcase the exception and not the rule.

Our most iconic fables were obviously written by men, in a time when women were lucky if they even had a rudimentary education.  The theme of an older jealous homicidal female might have made more sense when women had far fewer choices.  Until fairly recently most women had four basic paths in life – wife, nun, prostitute or domestic laborer.  Women and girls also had little agency in their choices.  Most families decided the fate of their daughters, as women had few rights to make their own decisions.

Since it’s 2016 and I’m not limited to whatever choices my family wants for me, I don’t see young women as adversaries.   I see someone who will soon learn how hard it is out there to just exist as a woman.   I know she’s going to go through situations where she won’t be taken seriously, when she’ll have to use her husband or boyfriend as some type of mouthpiece to get her point across. I know she’ll face disappointment after she sees man after man promoted ahead of her for no reason. I can hear her sigh with disgust when she reduced to nothing more than breasts, butt and legs.  I can feel her cringe as a man in power touches her in a way that makes her skin crawl.  I can imagine the many painful years ahead of her when she’s been let down by her husband, becomes frustrated by screaming children and disillusioned by white picket fence dreams.

I also reject the notion that I’m in competition with young women for attention from men.   A man’s affections aren’t necessarily worth much.  I’ve just seen too many marriages fall apart or turn into something less than fulfilling.   More than a few married men have sent me awkward emails in the middle of the night, or dropped their wedding ring into their pockets while chatting me up, or confessed that they hated their wives.  After these examples and my own divorce I know marriage is mostly a crapshoot.  Some are beautiful unions that strengthen both partners but many are sad and tragic illusions.    I also can’t help but think of the bad relationships I’ve had with emotionally needy and draining men who demand constant reassurance yet give little in return. Then there are the pretty boys who have to chase every woman they find to help feed their insatiable egos.  A good partner is hard to find for both genders and I’d rather be alone than be in a toxic disaster.

Sure there are some younger women who frustrate me. I do get annoyed when I see them treating themselves like doormats just to keep their boyfriend or partner happy.  My heart hurts when I see them trash each other or buy into the notion that women must always compete with other women.  I roll my eyes a bit when they seem to crave and demand attention based solely on their appearance.  I also remind myself that we’ve all been brought up in a culture that reinforces the notion that women are only valued for their appearance.  I try to give younger women a break too when I remember what an insecure, attention seeking mess I was at their age.

I’ve often said I want to rewrite all the fairy tales.  If I were a Disney villainess I would wrap the young maidens in an invisible cloak that would warm them every time they makes a misstep or danger approaches.  I’d bequeath magic potions to detect date rape drugs, weapons to protect against would be predators, and magic mirrors that would offer daily affirmations not criticism.  I’d give them glitter bombs to throw on aggressive cat callers and tutus to slap on angry misogynistic bullies.  I’d create a kingdom where there were no glass ceilings, no demeaning remarks by men in power, no boys clubs, no cyber-stalkers, no angry internet trolls, no sexual predators, no gender biases, and no assumptions that women are lesser or only the sum of their physical parts.  I’d do it all in my fallen woman finery with dresses that are “too young” for me, tight skirts, high heels, full hair and bright red lipstick.  I wouldn’t wear a coat made of puppy skins or a high-necked caped gown but I would include all my sisters young and old to celebrate in the sisterhood of womanhood.

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Dear Mom: Thank You for Working

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I’m writing this in response to the much maligned article that appeared in the Huffington Post “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work” by Lydia Lovric. The author takes a lot of pride in her decision to stay at home while raising her kids.  It’s great that Lovric is happy with her choice, but she also made quite a few condescending and false assumptions about working mothers.  I could break down and analyze all the rude things the author implied about working moms, but I decided to write a letter to my mother instead. Since I’m the grown daughter of a working mother.  I’m living proof that a mom can work outside the home without harming her kids.

Dear Mom, thank you for working.  You had all four of your children during the difficult recession of the seventies.  Interest rates were sky-high and the country was facing runaway inflation.  When we were toddlers, you had no choice but to stay at home, as the cost of child care would have exceeded any wage you would have earned.  Yet, as soon as we were in school you tried desperately to get a full-time job.  You didn’t work because you wanted a fancy car, vacations, nicer clothes or a bigger house, in fact you rarely spent money on yourself.  Your income paid for things like food, clothing, the electric bill and our mortgage.

Thank you Mom for working and showing me that with enough effort you can accomplish anything.  You started out with a bachelors in French, and eventually worked your way up to a Master’s Degree in education.  On your own time you got a certification to teach Spanish and enough credits that you almost got a PhD.  You did this all while working full-time as a foreign language teacher and raising four kids.

Thank you Mom for working as without your job we never could have dreamed of a higher education.

Thank you Mom for working to support us in case Dad got sick or died prematurely.

Thank you Mom for working as it made us self-sufficient and independent.

Thank you Mom for working because we know it gave you a sense of self.  You enjoyed your job even though it sometimes frustrated you.

Thank you Mom for working, as it helped you not obsess over us.  Even though you shuttled us around and were active in many of our sporting, social and academic activities, you still had other things to worry about.

Thank you Mom for teaching me that feminism isn’t a bad word.  You would never call yourself a feminist, but you believed your daughters should have the same opportunities as your sons.

Thank you Mom for working, but I would thank you if you hadn’t.  I know you love and supported all four of your children, and you would have regardless of your work situation.   No one would think to ask dad why he got up every day at 5 am to work 8-12 hours a day fixing cars.  His choices were always just accepted, while you and every other working mother face scrutiny for everything you do.  Many moms don’t have a spouse or partner.  They must work and some even work more than one job to support their kids.   Some moms choose to work because their spouse doesn’t make enough to support a family.  An increasing number of families must have dual incomes for basic survival.

Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and it doesn’t matter if a mom works one job, two jobs, or stays at home while raising children.  Every mother is trying to do the best for her kids and her family, including moms who work simply because they enjoy having a job.  Life is one big crap shoot.  What is best for one family might be awful for another, and all mothers have their own style of parenting.  Instead of criticizing mothers for working, or not working, we should realize we’re all in this together.

I want to thank my mom one more time.  Her original plan was that she’d get married, have babies and stay at home to raise them. Her life didn’t work out that way, but was she was the best mom she could be, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her.

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Street Harassment: A Challenge to Men

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Once while crossing the street in Washington Heights a man screamed out at me, “Hey Sexy!”  I was wearing baggy jeans, a sweatshirt, a baseball cap and glasses with no makeup.  I looked a step away from a vagrant.  I didn’t respond.  Just then, I heard the same voice shout back at me, “Ya fat ass. Bitch”

I was crossing the street at the light.  Was I supposed to stop, walk over to the sound of the voice even though I had no idea what car he was in.   I knew the man was talking to me as there were no other women around, but I looked so grubby it seemed strange that he would call me “sexy.”  This same scenario plays out daily, sometimes several times a day no matter what I’m wearing or how I look.

In the worst examples I’ve been grabbed by random strangers.  They usually grab me by my arm and try to pull me into them.  It’s so inappropriate it borders on assault.  If a man did that to another man, he’s libel to get punched, pushed, shoved or slapped.  It’s just unacceptable.

One night while walking home from a comedy show a group of young teenagers walked up to me for no reason, and one of them pulled my hair and then ran away laughing.  It was near Union Square, the streets were quite busy.  My response was to immediately start screaming at the boys.  It ended with me chasing them down the block.  I did get some satisfaction when they finally decided to start running from me, the look of fear in their eyes gave me hope they wouldn’t try it again any time soon.

The infamous video that is making the internet rounds lately stirred a fairly heated debate among my friends.  When I watched the video, I saw a woman dealing with street harassment as she wore a t-shirt and jeans and did nothing more than walk silently through the streets of New York City.  What my friend saw was a racially biased video that portrayed black men as the primary source of this type of harassment.  Interesting how people from two oppressed groups can see the exact same footage and get something completely different perspectives from it.  The video did contain some white men who were harassing the woman, and a few voices were of undetermined ethnicity.  However the makers of the video did make a mistake by only using a white woman.  It would have been a better experiment to use women of various ethnic backgrounds.  Not only would the non-white women still get comments, they would probably get racist remarks on top of it.

Since I’ve lived in New York City for 13 years, I have friends from every background imaginable.  Street harassment is something that nearly all of my female friends complain about.  It doesn’t matter if they are white, black, Asian, Latina or some combination.  Every woman under a certain age regardless of size has experienced it.  Some women just block them out, but for many of us the remarks feel like acid, constantly wearing us down as we are just trying to get from one place to another.

I’ve had to deal numerous sexually charged incidents of violence over the years.  I would list them all here but I’d rather not.  I don’t really want to go there again.  A few of them were so bad though, that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  PTSD is normally associated with men coming back from war, but anyone who has lived through traumatic experiences can develop the disorder.  When I was 19 years old I got jumped by a guy after coming out of a bar.  I was thrown up against a wall and the man was trying to rip open my clothing.  I was too terrified to do anything.  Luckily someone else noticed what was going on and the man stopped.  But that incident left scars.  Now when someone grabs me on the street I explode.  I tend to start screaming, my blood pressure rises, my heart races, and I go into full flight or fight mode.  I struggle to control myself when this happens, but it’s as if a demon has been unleashed.  Luckily for me this usually causes men to immediately drop their hands, and back away.

To really prove this is a universal problem Hollaback should remake their video and show it happens to all women, and that men of all shades of skin engage in this behavior. I could see my friend’s point that it looked biased.  What troubled me instead were the comments that so many men were making regarding street harassment.

  • It doesn’t exist – women don’t really go through this
  • We should be happy to get such attention
  • If we don’t respond we are stuck up snobs
  • Women have nothing to fear from men
  • Men don’t mean any harm by these comments
  • Men can’t help themselves when they see women walk by
  • Women should just put up with this because it’s not harmful
  • If the guys were attractive we wouldn’t mind the comments
  • This is just how men act and we should accept it

Several women tried in vain to point out that this really is unwanted attention.  Why would women feel less safe when random strangers invade their personal space and try to force them to connect with them verbally or otherwise?  Why are we so guarded when walking down the street?  Why can a man just walk down the street without experiencing this?  Sure some women might make a comment towards a man, but women overall are far less of a threat to anyone’s physical safety.  About 90% of all murders are  committed by men, and 95% of all sexual predators are men.  Now this isn’t to say all men are violent, of course they aren’t.  Most victims of violence are men, and most victims also tend to know their attacker and be the same race as their attacker.  But the chances of a woman committing the same acts of violence is extremely rare.  Violent criminals tend to re-offend, so it literally is a minority of men who are the problem.  Because of this, women are far less likely to assume that every man who she encounters is going to be harmless.  Every day we have to judge if  “Hey Beautiful” just an innocuous statement or if it is the start to a physical assault?  Most of us have found that if we engage with men on the street, some will take that as an invitation for more contact.  In my own experience I’ve found even eye contact is an invitation to a few deranged individuals.  I’ve just been grabbed too many times to assume it won’t happen again.  It’s also sobering to note that according to a recent government survey 1 in 5 American women reported to be a victim of rape, or an attempted rapeAbout 80% of those women reported that it happened before the age of 25.  So any cat caller has about a 20% chance that he’s chatting up someone who might very well been a victim of a previous sexual assault.

Instead of logically trying to explain this to the men who don’t understand, I’ll simply say this.  If you don’t believe me, and you don’t want to read my stories then I implore you  to sit down with your close female friends, your sister, your girlfriend, your mother, your daughter, your niece or your aunt.  Ask them if they’ve ever been sexually intimidated by a man.  Ask them if they’ve experienced sexual violence.  Ask them if they had a man follow them down the street, block their path, or grab their arm when they were minding their own business.  I think you’d be surprised what you would find.

And if that still doesn’t get you to change your point of view then think of a young girl in your family.  Think how you would feel if your 8-year-old niece had to put up with the same comments.  I’ve seen girls who are clearly underage get lewd and creepy remarks from men in their 40’s and 50’s.  Think about what that does to their self-esteem to have a man older than her father treat her that way.  If you wouldn’t want your mother to put up with this, or your sister, your niece, your granddaughter, your daughter, your girlfriend or wife, then why is it OK to do it to random woman?

Among my circle of friends it’s usually harder to find the woman who hasn’t had some type of scary incident in her past.   I know one friend who was attacked with a hammer just last year.  She fought off her attacker but had to have staples put in her scalp to repair what he had done to her.  I know of another who admitted to being nearly raped by a man who held a gun to her head, and another still who was driven to a remote location and attacked by a cab driver. Most women have stories like these, the incidents are not rare, and it’s exactly why we are on guard when we are walking down the street by ourselves.

Sadly the woman in the video got rape threats in youtube comments.  Men trying to defend this as simple harmless behavior in the same breath threatened to sexually assault the woman.  It’s as if they are proving our point.  If it really was a compliment, “Hey Beautiful” shouldn’t be followed by “Bitch.”

So start a dialog.  Start it right now.  Talk to your trusted female friends and family members and see what they tell you. Ask your daughter if she’s ever had a man treat her like this.  We aren’t going to get past this with a simple “boys will be boys” attitude.  I’m willing to concede that a lot of men don’t realize that this is upsetting to some women.  Many honestly do think it’s complimentary or a nice thing to do.  Women we just want to live our lives like anyone else, and sometimes that means silently walking down the street without interruption.

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Life After Divorce: The Fetishization of Marriage

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If I were to write a fairy tale for young children, especially young girls it would go something like this.  Once upon a time there was a young girl who lived in tiny beaten down shack.  She didn’t have a lot of money and her parents were poor.  She decided she was going to get out of her situation no matter what, so she worked hard and went to school.  Despite the obstacles she started her own company and employed a bunch of other poor kids to come and work for her.  It wasn’t always easy and she nearly lost everything several times but she kept working hard and survived.  At some point she got married, and the guy was alright.  She also had children and loved them with all of her might.  She taught he kids to dream big, work hard and try to do right by their fellow-man.  Her marriage didn’t work out and she got a divorce.  She continued to live as happily as with her children and company.  When she died she looked back at her greatest achievements – creating jobs for so many other poor kids, and her beautiful children.  The end.

It could be easily rewritten where she’s an employee but takes great pride and satisfaction in her work.  I could also re-write it where she doesn’t have kids, and gets fulfillment through helping others or by using her creativity. The example of fairy tales is a powerful one for me since I work with kids in my day job.  I can’t help but see how much influence our myths, legends and pop culture have on young impressionable minds.

Why are we only told one story our entire lives?  With a few exceptions there are few fairy tales or fables that do not include weddings as part of a happy ending.  Why are weddings mostly absent in fairy tales geared towards boys?  Why do so many of our fables END with a marriage followed by the phrase “Happily Ever After.”  Every married or divorced person knows that a wedding is not the ending, it’s the start of a new chapter.  A fairy Godmother does not descend from heaven and make everything magical on the day we say “I do.”  In many ways everything gets harder, as the stakes get higher.

If our marriages end in divorce we are not lesser than our married counterparts. We all know dysfunctional and damaging marriages.   Just because two people remain married doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a happy or healthy union.

The wedding industry is big business the US.  With some estimates being as high as $51 billion dollars spent annually.  Yet despite all the extravagance and hoopla fewer people are getting married.  The media decries this trend as some sort of crumbling of our social fabric.  Personally I think it’s a good thing.  Marriage is not necessarily the end all, be all of happiness. Not everyone thrives in marriage and it’s much easier to walk away from a relationship that’s not legally binding.

When I was 27 I gave up my job, relocated to New York City and left my friends and career behind for a man I thought I would be with forever.  From a young age, we’re encouraged that to sacrifice for love is not only acceptable but a nobel thing to do.  Now it’s one thing to stay with a partner in a time of crisis, staying with them during a prolonged illness, or supporting them in a time of crisis.  That is a beautiful thing and a testament to the human experience.  Our bonds with each other can reach such depths that we do want to sacrifice for the ones we love.  At the same time, the emotions I have for my family and friends are just as strong as what I could have for a romantic partner.

We need a new narrative.  We need to stop telling the same story.  Marriage isn’t the only recipe for happily ever after, and honestly happily after doesn’t exist.  We live, we love and go through a lot in our lives and for most of us it’s nothing like a fairy tale.  I’d rather have a life with ups and downs than some Disney fantasy anyway.

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Dear Susan Patton: Take Your Advice and Shove It!

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Susan, I know you really think you’re helping out young women by encouraging them to nab an eligible bachelor while they’re still in college.  Interestingly though the divorce rate is much higher for women who marry for the first time under the age 25.  If women actually take your advice they might pick what you think is a brilliant mate, but if they marry him before age 25, they’ll battle the same genius in divorce court later.

Here are your eight reasons why women in New York City can’t get a husband.  I know this article was published back in March, but a friend just sent me the link and I felt compelled to respond.  I left my husband nearly five years ago, and haven’t had a serious long-term relationship since.  You claim to know WHY women like myself are still single, so I’m going to answer each one of your reasons with my own personal experience.

1. We drink too much – I actually don’t drink alcohol often, and do absolutely no drugs.  I’m a vegetarian and you would probably encourage me to seem less complicated and start eating meat.  Well that’s not going to happen.

2. We spend too much time on iphones and other electronic devices – My ipod has been broken for the past several months.  I miss it.  The earbuds drowned out the constant cat calls.  I live in a less gentrified area of Brooklyn, and it never stops.  Am I supposed to stop and engage an intoxicated gentlemen the next time he makes a comment about my ass?  Maybe that’s why I’m not meeting Mr. Right!

3. We wear too much black – Of course that’s it.  Black makes us look like witches and men hate witches.  I know Angelina Jolie gets no attention and she wears black all the time.  She even plays a witch in Maleficent and everyone knows, men can’t stand the sight of Angelina Jolie.

4. We are dating too many guys at work – I’m self-employed and have no co-workers so I’m not sure how I’m doing that.  I guess I’m dating myself too often.

5. We spend too much time with our gay friends – This is New York City, are you out of your mind?  I don’t just have gay friends.  I’ve got transgender, gay, bisexual, pansexual, polyamorous and several who identify as gender-flexible.  I’m not giving up my non-heterosexual friends.

6. We are ignoring our biological clocks – I know I’m 41 and am well aware of it.  Am I supposed to get pregnant by any random man?  That would seem a bit reckless.  How about I just accept it’s not going to happen and focus on something else.  Adopted kids need homes too.  I don’t have to grow one in my womb.

7. We hook up too much – OH HOW I WISH THIS WAS TRUE!  Honestly I’m fairly picky, I’ve got trust issues, and I just don’t feel safe hooking up with most of the guys who offer it.  It’s not their looks so much as its how they treat me.  If a guy is rude, I have very little interest in sleeping with him. I also don’t like bad sex, and hookups are like rolling the dice.  I don’t know the last time you hooked up with anyone but it can be absolutely dreadful.

8. We overly rely on NYC conveniences – Actually I don’t. Take out is pricy. You also implied this lifestyle is making us fat, but New York City women are some of the fittest in the country.  And Susan you are a full-figured gal, I would just celebrate it and stop blaming General Tso’s chicken.

So that’s your eight reasons, and I answered every one of them.  Now I have a few questions for you.  Susan you’re divorced.  How did that go? My divorce pushed me to the brink of madness and into a literal death spiral.  I had massive depression, anxiety attacks and suicidal tendencies.  I eventually went on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.  I’m fine now, and drug free but, It was a regular horror show.  I’m sure your divorce wasn’t easy.  Since marriage is about a 50/50 chance nowadays why would you promote anyone to enter into a legally binding relationship that could end in a catastrophic divorce?

Here are my five reasons, why I doubt I’ll ever say “I do” again.  

1. I never want to combine my money with another person – This is the MAIN reason I never want to get married again.  I used to work with my husband, and when my marriage fell apart my income evaporated.  Now I make my own money and decide how I spend it.  It’s amazingly liberating and I never want to go back to even a joint checking account.

2. I don’t want to move – I like living in Brooklyn.  If I choose to move, it should be my choice.

3. I’ve accepted I’m never having my own children. – If I do decide to have a child, I’ll probably adopt.  The adoption process is long and expensive but having a baby at my age is not without problems.  I’ve also accepted that I might never be a parent.  A lot of women never want to have kids.  I did, but my life didn’t work out as planned.  I don’t feel like a failure because I won’t be a parent.

4. I feel complete and fulfilled as a single person – I know this might shock you.  I don’t know how you manage as a single person yourself.  The daily torment must be getting to you.  You must be so miserable that you write books encouraging young women to desperately get what you don’t have.  I would love to date someone special but the longer I’ve been single the more I’ve grown to love it.

5. I never want to get divorced again – If someone wants to get married four or five times good for them.  The prospect of going through another divorce though is so terrifying to me, I think I’ll avoid doing it again.

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The Hatred of Women: Elliot Rodger’s Killing Spree is not an isolated incident

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A couple of days ago a 22-year-old named Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree.  He stabbed his three male roommates, and shot at least six other victims before taking his own life.  His intended victims were women who had spurned his advances. The son of a Hollywood director, he went out in a theatrical fashion, releasing several youtube videos before his death.  One was a confession, the others were video diaries meant to convey his loneliness and pain.  What they showed was an extremely socially awkward man, with a grandiose ego and enormous sense of entitlement. He also left a 140 page manifesto filled with self-pity and cries of his overwhelming victimization.  Quotes from a transcript from one of his videos:

I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

 

On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut I see inside there. All those girls that I’ve desired so much. They would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them. While they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.

He repeatedly spoke of women as if they were objects.  In his mind a beautiful blonde was no different than his flashy BMW or an expensive watch   The concept of women as human beings with their own feelings, dreams and desires seemed lost to him.  A young man of great privilege, he saw himself as the ultimate victim just because the women he wanted, didn’t want him back.  It’s fairly obvious this man had deep-rooted emotional problems and mental illness but what struck me about him was his sense of entitlement.  He felt he deserved to have sex with whatever women he wanted to simply because he thought he was more worthy than other men.

Some will say this is an isolated incident of a deranged or mentally ill person.  I can’t help but see a pattern.

Just yesterday it was revealed that school officials were caught destroying evidence in the infamous Stubenville rape case.  Llast week a girl was stabbed to death for spurning a date to prom.  Another young woman killed herself after being cyber bullied for making an amateur porn video.  A college Freshman at Duke University was also “outed” and harassed for working a porn actress.  A few months ago a 14-year-old rape accuser was bullied in her community to the point that she attempted suicide.  Her family’s home was later burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances.  In March the US Army’s Top Sexual Prosecutor was accused of committing sexual assault himself  In Florida a man drove up to a 14-year-old girl and offered her $200 to have sex with him.  When she refused he violently physically assaulted her and then ran her over in his car several times.  A Texas man was acquitted of murder after he shot and killed a prostitute who refused to have sex with him.  He argued the death was justified because he was trying to retrieve “stolen property.”  There are so many other examples that I could literally fill several blogs with graphic account after graphic account.

In the past few years politicians have repeatedly attacked women’s reproductive rights, even to go as far as to try to outlaw many common forms of birth control.  There was a bill introduced in Georgia that would have required police investigations into miscarriages.  Then of course there was Representative Todd Akin who argued that pregnancy a result of a rape was quite rare.

I seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.

Misogyny is alive and well in the United States.  They even have their own chat rooms and websites dedicated to their cause.  Eliot Rodger was Men’s Rights Activist or MRA.  He subscribed to several men’s rights channels on youtube. He was an active member of the PUhate forum, an anti-woman site that’s since been taking down.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has a list of some of the worst groups.  Most rail against the evils of manipulative cruel women and paint men as the ultimate victims. Common themes include: women should go back to their traditional roles, all statistics about women being victims of violence are fabricated, men are entitled to sex, women are inherently manipulative and evil but above all women are objects.

It seems Rodger immersed himself in this community and mindset.  He even went so far as to include much of their terminology in his manifesto and video rants.  Instead of getting proper mental health care, joining these groups was like putting a match to a stick of dynamite.  The misogynist rhetoric acted like a chorus in his head supporting his own beliefs of victimization.  To him being a 22-year-old virgin was the worst possible existence.  Since he was from a wealthy family, he could have easily paid for sex with a prostitute, but that wasn’t good enough for him.

Of course the vast majority of men in the US do not hold the same opinions or values as these groups. These forums are dangerous because they feed the flames of disenchantment and disillusionment in frustrated men. Women are wrongfully scapegoated as the source of their misery and isolation. We can ignore these echo chambers and hope they go away, or we can expose them for what they are – hate groups.  What makes this whole movement even more infuriating is that men still hold every position of power and wealth in this country.  Even though we make up 51% of the population women hold  18.3% of House seats and 20% of the US senate.  Women only make up 4.8% of CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies.  Yet with such lopsided representation, and disproportionate distribution of wealth and power, according to these Men’s Rights Activists – women have every advantage over men.

Of course there are militant feminist groups on the internet that are full of diatribes about the evils of men.  But where are the news stories of men being murdered simply based on their gender?  Where are the cases of men being singled out and shot for no other reason than being men.  For every female serial killer like Aileen Wuornos there are hundreds of male counterparts.  90% of all homicides are committed by men in the United States. Why is it that rape accusers are often harassed while alleged rapists so passionately defended?

II wish we lived in a world where women weren’t gunned down on the street, raped, harassed, cyber-bullied or treated like property.  Even though it’s 2014 we still a long way to go.  Ignoring this movement will only make it grow.  If we refuse to take it seriously there will be more Eliot Rodger’s who decide that someone’s wife, daughter or sister needs to die, simply because she’s a woman.

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Don’t make your Crazy Boyfriend your Job.

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We all want to receive and give love.  It’s a universal human need.  As social creatures we seek out acceptance and affection.  Some of us will do nearly anything to get it.  I’ve held onto relationships far too long, overly romanticized partners, and dedicated far too much of my energy into my romantic endeavors. We will go against all common sense and logic and cling to completely hopeless situations.

I’m writing this from a woman’s perspective, women tend to fall into this pattern more than men.  We’re simply conditioned to view men as projects to fix, or as people to save. Our culture encourages women to put the needs of their partner ahead of their own.  We mistakenly view a relationship, as a more noble cause than our own happiness and well-being.  Some men will fall into these bad patterns too, but it seems more culturally acceptable when a women subjugates her own needs for the sake of a relationship.  I’ve been incredibly guilty of this in the past, but being on the wrong side of a bad marriage has given me tremendous perspective.  Recently, I turned to a friend and said simply:

If you were in college, your major would be your crazy boyfriend.  Just think what you could accomplish if you put all of this energy into yourself.

Although it briefly upset my friend when I said this, she eventually agreed with me.  She was spending all of her waking hours devoted to a totally lost cause.

It was the classic story of boy meets girl, only to have the boy blow up at the girl in a controlling rage.  Then the girl breaks it off, only to have the boy beg her back.  The same inane cycle became stuck on repeat ad nauseam.  She pretty much was breaking up with him, the minute they started dating.  Three then four months went by with no change.  Small details of possible infidelity, a ray of hope of changing behavior, maybe a brief vacation from the madness, but the chaos would return.  Another knockdown, drag-out fight complete with name calling, insults, slurs, and it would all start over again.

My friend stopped everything in her life.  She stopped working, because her boyfriend didn’t like her job.  He paid her bills and her rent and she became completely dependent on him.  He resented her for being so needy and she blamed him for putting her in a dependent situation.  She felt like she couldn’t completely break it off with him since was financially dependent.  It was a simply ridiculous situation. Becoming financially dependent on a partner completely throws off the entire power structure.  It literally makes it next to impossible for the dependent partner to leave.  Some partnerships work well in this dynamic but it’s generally a bad idea to give up everything for the sake of a man.

Some of use fall in love with an idea or a romanticized notion of another person and despite EVERY red flag blowing in the wind we refuse to see reality.  Sometimes what we think of as love is just a form of narcissism.  A person looks so good on paper, we think they should work out.  Or we like some superficial quality about them, and it gets us hooked.   They might have a great job, a wonderful apartment, or drop dead gorgeous but they are still completely wrong for us and we won’t let go.

As a person who has been there and back, I can tell you that if you aren’t living with a person, you’re not married and you don’t have kids, then absolutely nothing should keep you in a bad relationship.  Living on top of one another can create all sorts of problems and tensions, marriage puts an enormous pressure on a relationship, and children are like miniature nuclear weapons of chaos wrapped in high-octane emotions.  You probably won’t agree on how to handle every conflict or situation your kid present, and despite loving them with all your heart, those little ones will push you to your limits.  So, if you’re just dating and it’s taking all of your energy to simply function – BREAK UP NOW!  If you haven’t been together long, and you are working so hard at keeping it together you’re simply incompatible.   Of course relationships take work, and they aren’t always easy but they shouldn’t take over your life.

When I look back at the sacrifices I made for my doomed marriage I want to grab myself by both shoulders and shake some sense into my head.  No one is perfect and we’ve all made these mistakes, but after losing everything in a brutal divorce I will never go back there again.

We all want and deserve love in our lives, but that love should not come with such a great cost.  Ultimately we can only rely on ourselves and if another person is creating such havoc and grief, they aren’t worth it. No one should dictate what we do for a living, where we go, or how we spend our time.  No matter how beautiful they might be, or how much we want them as a partner, no one is worth giving up our own hopes and dreams.  Jettison a toxic partner and move forward, the perfect match could be waiting for you, and you won’t have to go through hell to have them in your life.

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A friend of mine was viciously attacked – Please help.

I don’t normally use my blog for things like this, but last night something horrific happened to a woman I know.  The police are still searching for her attacker and I’m sure there will be a criminal investigation and hopefully an arrest.  I don’t know the name of her attacker, and so far he hasn’t been apprehended.

This is what I know.  A man entered my friend’s apartment under the guise of looking at leak in her bathroom.  The man worked with the building’s owner and was not some random guy off the street.  For reasons still unknown this person beat my friend across the head with a hammer about 15-20 times.  She managed to escape and ended up with 60 stitches and a few staples in her scalp. She also broke a toe during the ordeal.

So many of us have been victims of random violence.  I’m sure a lot of my readers can relate to what happened to my friend, or have known someone who went through a similar experience.  Another friend set up a fund for her medical and other future expenses.  She’ll probably have to move since her home is not exactly safe for her anymore.  The police know the identity of the person who did this but so far they have not apprehended him.

Even if you aren’t a position to donate to a total stranger, please consider sending her a kind word or virtual hug.

Here is a link to her Give Forward campaign.  She is a highly skilled costumer in the New York burlesque scene and the name associated with the account is a nickname of sorts.

Much Love to all of my regular readers.  I hope you are all safe and out of harms way.  🙂

I will probably delete this post after a few days.  I would hate for any legal trouble to come from it for myself of my friend.  Hopefully justice will prevail and this violent criminal will be taken off the streets.

Street Harassment: Why “Cat Calls” Suck Big Hairy Balls

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Hairy balls (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I purposefully gave this article a ridiculously provocative title.  I don’t mean any offense, as some people really enjoy doing a lot of things with testicles.   I just wanted to use heated sexual language directed at men to make a point. Gentlemen, imagine hearing a phrase like that yelled at you all day long.

Some men resent women because they think we have it so much easier when it comes to dating.  In some ways we do.  For instance it’s a lot easier for the average women to get no strings attached sex. Of course, a few men have a lot of luck hooking up with multiple partners, but for the most part, women usually have no problem having casual sexual encounters.  The downside is that women are often the victims of forced sexual advances, sexual harassment, rape and sexual violence. For most of us, unwanted sexual attention comes at us all day long.  This is exactly why cat calling sucks big hairy balls.

Now because men and women do have different realities when it comes to street harassment, I don’t know an easy way to put this.  If you are male and are reading this please picture the LEAST sexually attractive person you could imagine coming on to you. If this real or imaginary human were to overtly make some type of advance, your skin would crawl.  The thought of having sex with this individual makes you want to vomit.  It would be so disgusting, you would never want to have sex again.  Really burn that face into your psyche. Now imagine if nearly every time you stepped out of your apartment or home, there they were…ready to make some graphic or illicit sexual remark directed at you.  They might follow you down the street, prevent you from walking, lean in close, physical touch or intimidate you.

That is what many women deal with, every day, all day long, all year round in nearly every conceivable situation.  Has it hit home yet?  Maybe? OK I’ll try to tell it from a woman’s perspective now.

When I’m walking down the street, I’m usually thinking of the next place I have to go, I’m not thinking I about any number of men:

  • Who I know nothing about
  • Who might be drunk, or flying high on drugs
  • Who might be much younger or older than me
  • Who could get violent at any moment or try to assault me
  • Who chances are I have no physical attraction to whatsoever

Believe it or not lovers of cat calls, street harassment is quite intimidating.  In fact, there have been several cases of rape, and even murder have begun with seemingly innocuous cat calling.  So no, I’m not overjoyed when some stranger treats me like a sexual object when I didn’t want the attention.

In my short 40 years on this planet, I’ve had to deal with the following scenarios of street harassment.

I have had men assume I was a prostitute – They would pull their cars over, open their doors and ask “how much?” – this happened several times when I was going to work at a coffee shop in college at 5AM.  I was always wearing khaki pants, a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt, tennis shoes and carrying a bag.  I usually also had a hat on, so I have no idea why this read as prostitute.

I been groped by strangers – I wish this wasn’t true but it’s happened at clubs, bars or on the subway. The physical touching wasn’t ambiguous. Men would grab my ass when I was a cocktail waitress – every time it happened a security guard threw them out of the club.

I been followed, threatened and stalked – You name the threat I’ve heard it.  From “I’m gonna cut your head off” or “I’m going to smash your brains in” and the usual “I want to fuck you so hard”

I have had total stranger grab me, or block my path – When this happens I totally blow up at the man, which usually leads to one of the “I’m going to smash your brains in” type of comments.  But honestly why should any stranger physically touch or grab someone they don’t know? No one has a right to touch another person or prevent them from walking down the street.

I had men expose themselves and masturbate towards me – This has happened more than once and both times on the subway in Chicago.  I learned after my first experience to completely ignore the man. The second time it happened I refuse to acknowledge anything was going on, and luckily this strategy worked and he got bored and stopped.  Again before this might sound HOT to any men reading picture the someone you who actually sexually repulses you doing this to you!  Not so fun now is it.

It happens every day, all times of the year, all day long, regardless of what I’m wearing, or how I look. Even mild interactions tend to wear me down.  Here is a typical one.

It was 5:30 a.m.  I was walking down the street dressed in a conservative skirt suit while hauling a rolling suitcase behind me.   A sanitation worker blocked my path on the sidewalk and physically prevented me from moving.  He said simply, “Hey baby.”

I don’t look up, and politely walked around him with my suitcase.  As I walked past him he shouts, “Bitch.”

Was I supposed to make myself late to work, and just start talking to guy who chose to say “Hey baby.”  Should I have smiled back only to invite even more attention?  Why can’t I just ignore it?    This type of attention is grating, annoying and seriously starts to make women angry at the men who do it.  We don’t view as complimentary.  It’s harassment plain and simple and sadly no joke.

If none of this has swayed your opinion and you are man who still thinks street harassment is welcome, picture your daughter, niece or a friend’s defenseless young child walking down the street…now imagine grown men making sexually lewd comments to her.  The first time I was sexually harassed and intimidated I was about five years old.  So it really does start when girls are extremely young.  Would you want your daughter, sister or mother to go through it?  Of course you wouldn’t.  So the next time you think of making a kissing noise at a random woman, or shouting at her about her ass, or blocking a female on the street, stop yourself.   Your tactic not only won’t work, but you are probably making that woman’s day that much worse.  If a woman thinks you are cute, she will probably find a reason to talk to you, but when you scream “Hey baby you look so good I want to fuck you”, you’ve just lost any chance that it will happen.