communication, controversies, divorce, family

“Wicked” stepmothers are people, too!

It seems to be a very popular thing these days to ask people on Reddit if one is “an asshole” for acting in a certain way. The popularity of the “Am I the Asshole” (AITA) posts has spun into people turning them into very active Facebook posts or people even writing articles about them. The comedian behind “God” is no exception. Yesterday, “God” posted an AITA article about a woman who refuses to share sanitary products with her stepdaughter. She wanted to know if that made her an “asshole”.

Below is the Reddit post in question:

To be honest, I would probably be annoyed about this, too. The stepdaughter should have asked for the pads instead of just taking them. The last bit about not wanting to share things might make the OP a little bit of an asshole… especially under the very personal circumstances involved with having periods.

God’s article seemed to try, at least on the surface, to be fair to the stepmom, allowing that it’s difficult to try to “parent” someone who is only 13 years younger. But the rest of the article is decidedly slanted against the stepmother, making her out to be immature, petty, and mean. So I went to the comments, which was obviously a mistake, unless you consider that the comments gave me fodder for today’s post. πŸ˜‰

From the get go, lots of people were chiming in with stories about their own evil stepmothers. Since I am “technically” a stepmother myself, I see the role from a different perspective. I decided to ask, “So, any woman who marries a man with children is evil?”

I did not provide any information about myself. I didn’t explain that I have two stepdaughters whom I have only seen in person once. I just asked a question, and I didn’t target anyone in particular. People could have just ignored me, but of course, they didn’t.

The first response I got was this: “My stepmother tried to poison me, so I have a different perspective.”

I was a little troubled that the guy who wrote that didn’t clarify that he only meant HIS stepmother was evil, not that all stepmothers are, as his first comment seemed to indicate. I fought the urge to write something angry to him. Instead, I tried to be measured. I wrote something along the lines of, “I am truly sorry that you were apparently so traumatized by that experience that your overall view of stepmothers is negative. That’s too bad.”

That comment triggered at least three other people, who each decided to take me on. One immediately called me a “karen”. One gave me an angry reaction and said I was “proving” the guy’s point somehow. The other wrote, “No one said that, but you sure made a leap.” To each of these folks– all apparently women– I wrote “Have a nice day.” I was not going to get into arguments with people who immediately start off their communications with insults and assumptions, with no attempt to even try to be empathetic. I have learned that getting into arguments with strangers is pointless. They won’t understand, because they choose not to. You can tell by the way they lob insults like “karen” and go right for the proverbial jugular with verbal nastiness.

Listen– I get that stepparents– especially stepmothers– are a contentious topic. A lot of people are traumatized by their stepparents, especially the women who dare to marry their fathers. However, the fact remains that a whole lot of marriages end in divorce, and a lot of people will either marry subsequent spouses, or they will become stepparents themselves. No one I have ever met has ever said their life’s ambition was to be a stepparent. And dammit, stepparents– including and especially stepmothers– are people too!

While no one specially stated that women who marry previously married men with children are “evil”, that was definitely the attitude that was coming across loud and clear. Insulting and making assumptions about perfect strangers, simply because they don’t go with the comment flow, is pretty lame. Critical thinking and mindful responding are good things in a comment section, rather than just popping off with stale 2019 era insults like “karen” and assuming the worst about every person one meets online.

It just seemed to me that instead of responding to the specific case in question, people were using that space to comment about their own “wicked stepmothers”. I’ll bet the vast majority of them have never once tried to see things from their stepmothers’ perspective. But I know better than outwardly making that assumption about people I don’t know. It would only open up a huge, unpleasant can of worms. I think posting “Have a nice day.” to people who are determined to argue and are immediately rude is a good policy. I’m going to try to do it more often… or, even better, just ignore the haters completely.

It’s funny, though, that some of those folks apparently think I am a “wicked” stepmother myself. For many years, maybe I kind of was. You see, I was legitimately livid with my stepdaughters because of the truly awful way they treated their father. I was angry with them because I know and love their dad so much, and I saw the devastating effect the estrangement had on him. They would not so much as speak to him on the phone, send an email, or even tell him to kiss their asses. And, for years, younger daughter in particular seemed to have a haughty, mean-spirited attitude toward Bill that I found insufferable. She was the one who, as a nine year old, was emboldened to slap Bill across the face for having beer in his refrigerator. I couldn’t abide the disrespect, especially given that my bio father was in my life and often treated me with contempt. Here these girls were with a father who adores them, and they just threw him away.

In retrospect, I have since realized that my reaction to younger daughter was based on limited information, and I was wrong. I have since found out that she and her sister were pretty much forced to behave the way they did. When she later reconnected with Bill, I learned more about younger daughter when she’s not influenced by her mother’s toxic craziness. I then realized that she’s actually a very nice– and surprisingly mature– young woman. It makes me sad that she had to become that way so young, due to the way she was raised. Her mother’s immaturity made it imperative that she step up and be an adult many years before her time. But she’s clearly a great wife and mother, and she’s made it clear that she will not be raising her kids the way her mother raised her. She even lets her kids call Bill “Papa”, which is absolutely adorable!

But here’s the funny thing, though. After many years of being angry with my husband’s daughters, and finding out that younger daughter is really not as awful as she seemed, I’m now actually being appreciated by her– even though I haven’t seen her in person since 2003. This morning, Bill got an email from his daughter. In it, she included two photos taken nine years apart. The first photo was taken for her LDS missionary packet. She has a pretty smile, but it seems kind of forced and contrived. She looks a little bit uncomfortable. In the second photo, she’s smiling, obviously relaxed, and looks genuinely happy.

Younger daughter wrote that many people who knew her nine years ago and have seen her recently have commented on her improved “countenance”. She’s really happy now, and it shows. She says she likes to think it’s her husband’s genuinely loving influence on her that has made her appear to be genuinely happy. And then she wrote to Bill, “I’ll bet Jenny has had the same effect on you.”

In fact, I did once see a photo of Bill, taken when he was in his 30s, still married to Ex, and working at a factory where, all day, he supervised men making refrigerator doors. It was a job he hated, coupled with the misery of being in a toxic, loveless marriage to someone who didn’t appreciate him at all. I told Bill that he looked much older in that photo than he does now, as a man in his late 50s. Nowadays, he does genuinely look happy. And I know that apart from getting away from a disastrous marriage to a narcissist, he’s happy because we’re compatible, comfortable, and genuinely love each other. Our relationship is not parasitic in nature. We work together to build our lives. It’s too bad that he didn’t meet me first, because if he had, he would not have ever been through divorce. But then, the divorce helped make him who he is today.

This was taken a couple of months ago. We were enjoying local wines.

I really appreciate younger daughter’s kind words. I am grateful that she understands that, just like her, I love her dad, and I want him to be happy. I do my best to make him happy, so we can both live our best lives. I think he has a similar attitude. That’s why we’re still happily married after almost 20 years. Ex, on the other hand, lamented today on Twitter that she will never have “true love”, because no man looks at her with “awe”. I guess she and #3 aren’t a match made in Heaven, after all.

That experience of changing my mind about younger daughter also reminds me of a few I’ve had with dogs. Yesterday, I posted about meeting a dog who usually snarls at me because I have Arran and Noyzi with me. But, when I met her at the weekly market, without my big dogs, she was perfectly sweet and gentle. Kind of like years ago, when one of the neighborhood kids on Fort Belvoir commented that she hated my beagles, Flea and MacGregor, because she thought they were mean. She based her opinion on their loud barks and baying when they were on their walks, catching scents among the old trees on post. But then another neighbor kid– our next door neighbor who knew my dogs well– explained that actually, my dogs LOVED kids. And then Flea went up to the girl and stood stock still so she could pet him. She looked up at me and BEAMED. Her opinion was changed, because now she had personal experience to the contrary to what she had previously believed. Ha ha ha… given these examples of minds being changed due to dogs, maybe I am kind of like a “bitch”. πŸ˜‰ But anyway, the point is, with more information, one’s perspectives can quickly change.

Now… getting back to the AITA case that prompted this post. I want to comment on something I noticed in God’s “responses”. The person who wrote that article wrote it as if the stepmother was the girl’s parent. I know that all situations are different, but the stepmom specifically wrote that she doesn’t see herself in a “mom” role for that young lady. And, assuming the teenager has a real mother out there somewhere, I think that’s entirely appropriate. She is, after all, only 13 years older than the girl is. Given that she doesn’t see herself as a “mom”, she probably lacks the empathy a mom would have for a girl who needs sanitary napkins. Personally, I don’t think I would have blown up at the teen, but she did explain that her “hormones” were everywhere. And while wacky hormones aren’t really an excuse to be nasty and abusive, I do know from personal experience that they can affect a person’s mood. If I were the stepmom in this case, I would not appreciate it if the girl was in my room, going through my stuff, and taking things without asking first. That shows a lack of common and basic courtesy that, by age 16, I would expect in someone. Moreover, it actually IS her father’s, and her mother’s, responsibility to provide for their daughter– or at least provide her the means to obtain those items for herself. I know a lot of stepparents do become de facto parents, but it doesn’t sound like that’s how it is in this particular case.

Was the stepmom an “asshole” for blowing up at her stepdaughter? Well, yeah, she probably was. But I can see why she blew up. I think perhaps they need to have a serious chat about respecting each other’s space and belongings, particularly since there isn’t a “mom/daughter” dynamic in that relationship. Maybe they need to try to define what the stepmom’s role is, and act accordingly. Is she expected to be a mom? Or is she just a friend who happens to be married to dear old dad? If she’s a de facto “mom”, then yeah, I can see her talking to her stepdaughter about things like periods and helping her out when she needs supplies. That would be a kind thing to do regardless. But if she’s really just more of a “friend”, and the teen doesn’t see or treat her as a “mom”, then I would expect the teen to stay out of her “friend’s” bathroom cabinets, right? She wouldn’t dare brazenly go through a peer’s cabinets without permission, would she? Besides, stepmothers can’t seem to win for losing. A lot of people would blame them for trying to act like a “mom” to someone who already has a mother. And others would blame them for NOT acting like a mom and loving their stepchildren instantly and unconditionally. While it’s wonderful when stepparents can bond like that with their partners’ offspring from other relationships, the reality is, that simply doesn’t always happen, for a huge variety of completely legitimate reasons.

I am, technically, a stepmother myself, but I don’t feel like a mom to younger daughter. I’ve only met her once in person. On the other hand, she has made it clear that I probably have been more of the kind of mom she would have chosen for herself, if only because I don’t say or do toxic things, and I don’t interfere with her budding reconnection with her dad. In fact, unlike the stepmom in God’s article and Bill’s ex wife, I am delighted to share!

Seriously, though… I do know that some stepparents are truly awful, and I sympathize with those who are traumatized. But you know what? Some bio parents are awful, too. Regardless, most of us would do well to try to see things from another angle from time to time. And everyone should stop using the derogatory term “karen” as an insult. It’s a very stupid and unoriginal thing to do.

Standard
condescending twatbags, language, modern problems

“Using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

Last night, I read a post on God’s Facebook page that is very timely, as kids all across America head back to school. The article was derived from a lively Reddit thread, where poster BlueCarrot002 asked if she was the “asshole” for getting personalized stationery for her daughter.

I must admit, as a childless child of the 70s and 80s, this trend of parents being asked to buy extra supplies for classrooms is a strange idea to me. In my day, everybody brought their own supplies to school. And parents would put their child’s name on their stuff, so it wouldn’t get “borrowed” or redistributed. I’m sure it sucked back then for kids whose parents didn’t have a lot of money. But, if you think about it, we all knew whose parents had money, and whose didn’t. Hell, I used to be jealous of my classmates whose parents bought them Trapper Keepers for every subject, while I had cheap plastic binders with shitty plastic rings. Or they had those cool erasable pens, while I had some cheesy ballpoint pen my dad got from some business. My mom wasn’t one to pander to my desires for fancy school supplies, and we would usually shop for that stuff at AAFES. And AAFES, at least in the 80s, was not a high end store.

This was THE status symbol, when I was in the 4th grade.

Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. Some kids are more athletic than others are. Some are more attractive or musically talented or funny. Some kids are academic geniuses. And some have parents who have money, and can buy them pencils with dinosaurs on them, personalized stationery, or lefty scissors. Or they have parents who are willing to deal with the child’s sensory issues by getting them notebooks with plastic spirals instead of metal ones. Some people prefer to write with certain types of pens and pencils. If that helps them succeed in doing their work, what’s the big deal? Part of growing up is learning to accept that life isn’t fair, and doing the best you can with what you have.

I don’t remember this ad, but we liked our Paper Mates, too.

I can understand the reasons teachers might have for asking parents to contribute supplies. I also understand why they would want the parents to get things that are generic. However, based on God’s article, it doesn’t sound like the teacher specified that the supplies should be the cheapest available. She was likely fine with genuine Crayola crayons over the generic ones that are found at the Dollar Tree. It sounds like the mom in this instance simply wanted to provide the best available supplies for her child. I don’t blame her for that.

What really got my hackles up, though, was the fact that the teacher sent home what the Redditor describes as a “very passive aggressive note” inviting her to come in for a “talking to” with the teacher. Now, it could be that the teacher’s note wasn’t actually passive aggressive. Maybe it was a friendly note. But since the actual note isn’t provided to Redditors, I will just assume the mom’s assessment of the note’s tone is correct.

I don’t blame the mom for refusing the teacher’s request. I would do the same thing.

Generally speaking, I am very pro-teacher. I think they are underpaid and disrespected. I know they have a tough job, and they literally put their lives on the line working in education these days. I still think it would grind my gears to have a teacher dictate to me that I must buy extra supplies for the classroom, to cover the kids who don’t have what they need, and then tell me that I can’t provide the school supplies that work best for my own child. And I would not take kindly to a “request” to come in for a discussion about my kid’s perfectly good school supplies, especially after I contributed the “generic” extra supplies that were requested. In fact, I would probably end up complaining to a higher power. My response to the teacher’s “request” (which sounds more like a demand) would likely be a resounding “NO.” However… It does seem strange to me that the mom would buy “personalized stationery”. In my day, we all just used college ruled loose leaf paper.

No more chalkboards!

Most of the people on God’s page were all about the mom providing personalized supplies for her child. I see on Reddit, the commenters are offering good reasons why the policy of redistributing supplies is potentially traumatic, as well as unfair. One person wrote about how they were going through tough financial straits and sent their child with used supplies from their older siblings. The teacher sent the used supplies back, explaining that they weren’t appropriate. Why not? The used supplies work as well as brand new ones do. And then the poor kid was humiliated in front of their peers.

Others wrote about how they were asked to buy tons of supplies every year that never got used, or were items that should last for years, like scissors, protractors, rulers and compasses. Specifically, one poster wrote “those things will last for years, if you take care of them.” Exactly… and part of the experience of being in school should be teaching children to take care of their things, and maintain possession of their own stuff. So yeah, if I were the mom in this scenario, I would be raising some hell.

A pretty good representation of what it was like for us in the 80s.

I read some of the Facebook comments… and then I had to stop. I must be turning into an old lady now, because one comment literally made me cringe. A man from Minnesota (I checked to make sure he wasn’t a Brit or living in Britain), wrote something along the lines of, “That woman is just a cunt. She just wants to show off how much money she has. Fuck her!”

Wow. I’m not sure what prompted this guy– name of Ryan– to leave such a misogynistic and completely inappropriate response to that article. However, against my better judgment, I felt compelled to respond to him with what I think is a gentle rebuke.

I wrote, “Ryan, using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

I fully expected Ryan to come back and call ME a cunt. Usually, that type of person has no qualms about spewing their nastiness on anyone in the strike zone. I did pause before I commented, because I don’t want to be called a cunt. Especially after I’ve had a beer or two, as was the case last night. But then I realized that I can always block Ryan if he lobs verbal abuse at me. Lately, I’ve been blocking people I haven’t even engaged with, simply because I can easily tell that they aren’t people with whom I wish to interact.

After I commented to Ryan, I had to sit and contemplate for a few minutes. I must be getting old. I have often stated, and I do actually believe, that all words are useful sometimes. I do think there are even some times when the word “cunt” is appropriate. However, in the United States, that’s generally a term that is saved for the end of an argument. Sure, if you’re a Brit, you might use it to describe a silly fool, or something. But that article was written for and mostly read by Americans, and to Americans, the word “cunt” is among the worst of the worst insults, especially to women. We would all be up in arms if someone casually dropped the n bomb on social media. So why is it okay for Ryan to call some mother he doesn’t know a “cunt”, simply because he has unresolved issues regarding women? I mean, I know I’m assuming, but why else would he go there so early?

Anyway… I was surprised at myself, because after I read Ryan’s comment, it turned me off of the comment page. I had to click off of it. I shared God’s post on my own page, and a few friends who are teachers chimed in. Most seemed to think the teacher’s policy of redistributing school supplies is ridiculous. I mean, I guess some teachers pass out and collect the supplies at the beginning and end of each session. I still think there’s value in teaching children that they have to keep up with their own stuff, and that labeling things, especially when you’re working in a group, is a smart policy.

Count me among those who also think that if a stranger’s behavior seems wrong or unfair, it’s better not to call them a name that connotes so much hatred for a group of people. The fact that Ryan felt perfectly fine in referring to a concerned mother as a “cunt” who is “showing off” her money, tells me that he has some serious issues with women, and probably people with money, too. It’s not a good look, as the orange turd would say.

Reading this story makes me glad I don’t have children.

Bonus video… this one is pretty funny!

Standard
love, Memes, silliness

Being a “vulgar” woman…

A few days ago, my friend Alex shared with me a post he found on the God page. It was about people taking some guy on Twitter, named Eric, to task for posting this…

For some reason, Alex thought of me when he saw this…

Not that I think Alex is offended by vulgarity… it’s just that he thought I’d appreciate people slamming this Eric guy for being such a judgmental asswipe. And, I would imagine Alex also identifies me as a “vulgar woman”. It’s true, I like to cuss. It’s something I’m really good at, despite my parents’ efforts to quash it. My dad, in particular, didn’t like cursing. I rarely heard him say anything stronger than “hell” or “damn”, despite his almost 22 years as an Air Force officer. My dad flew on missions in Vietnam that very likely resulted in people’s deaths, but God forbid if I ever said the word “fuck” in front of him (and I did on more than one occasion). He wouldn’t hesitate to knock me upside the head for that.

I remember often getting in trouble for having a potty mouth when I was growing up. I also remember being hired to work at a Presbyterian church camp and actually worrying about my vulgarity getting me into trouble. Little did I know that my boss was going to be a hilarious Scotsman who also cusses… even though he eventually became a minister and performed my wedding. Of course, now he’s left the ministry and converted to Catholicism.

Bill doesn’t cuss as much as I do, but he seems to enjoy my foul mouth. He likes it when I randomly burst into song, making up little ditties about dicks, vaginas, asses, and unusual sex positions. I always ask him what he sees in me whenever I fall down the rabbit hole of made up silly songs. He laughs and says he admires my ability to come up with weird shit on the fly. He appreciates my ability to let things fly… I think he kind of enjoys a vicarious satisfaction from it, because he’d like to be more that way himself, but is too buttoned up to let it all hang out. That’s probably also why he’s employed and I’m not. πŸ˜‰

I’ll bet this guy is a barrel of laughs at parties.

Anyway, when Alex tagged me in that post, I laughed and typed “moi?” But I know why Alex thought of me. For some reason, a lot of my friends, especially the guys, have noticed that I’m kind of a vulgar woman. It used to bother me. Actually, it used to hurt my feelings when some dude would get disgusted and ask me if I “kiss my mother with that mouth.” Actually, yes, I have kissed her with “that mouth”. Why do people get so hung up on curse words? They’re only words! Another guy said I have a “potty mouth”. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to kiss my potty mouth… but the funny thing is, I actually find open mouth kissing rather disgusting, anyway. I’d be fine with never having some guy’s tongue in my mouth ever again. Yuck! I’ve actually never kissed Bill like that in almost 19 years of marriage.

Truth.

Personally, I prefer raw language to raw brutality. I think it’s healthier to “use my words” than use my fists. But I will acknowledge that language can be hurtful… People can use words to abuse others. But a lot of times, it’s all in good fun.

I wonder why Eric is so offended by the word “vagina”? There’s nothing wrong with that word. It’s the name of a body part. What would he have gynecologists do? Especially if they’re female? He probably objects to women being doctors, though… It sounds like he’d prefer a trophy wife who stays silent, gazes adoringly at him, and has no spirit or spunk… except maybe the spunk he shoots in her mouth. Yep… I would not be surprised if he was that type of guy– the Josh Duggars of the world– who preach about family values and decency, then behind closed doors, abuse women and children and treat them like objects.

I was gratified by my friend Andrew’s comment. His response was,

Jenny – please don’t ever change. Those who need to change are the ones who mistake a vibrantly expressive personality for vulgarity or vice.

Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate that very much. The older I get, the happier I am when I find people who appreciate me just the way I am.

I have just checked out Eric’s Twitter account. It’s very interesting. He’s supposedly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but it also says he’s in Kenya. And his email address is a Kenyan account. In that case, I guess I can understand the misogyny and judgment. Not all of his advice is bad, either. But then he resorts to calling women “sluts”. That’s a shame. Also, he doesn’t like women who get angry and “throw tantrums”. I can only shake my head at some of this stuff. And, I suppose I would tell Eric what I tell everyone who doesn’t like me… he can go fuck himself. He’d probably enjoy it more. I’ll just keep being a “vulgar woman” and shocking people with my “loose morals”. Actually, I’m a pretty moral person who is the very opposite of a so-called “slut”. I just cuss like a sailor. I also drink like one.

Somehow, I managed to find a really nice husband as well as quite a few good male friends who appreciate my vulgar language and potty humor. So Eric and his ilk wouldn’t like me. So Eric and his ilk prefer a quiet, obedient, sober woman. I prefer guys who like a woman who’s a little crazy– a little, mind you. I am crazy in the fun ways, not in the destructive ways. I probably drink too much beer and wine. In fact, I know I do. But at least I’m not a smoker or a slut… or a thot– whatever the fuck that is. Actually, I just looked it up. A thot is a woman who has many casual sexual relationships. That’s definitely not me. Apparently, it stands for “that ho over there.”

At least she’s not cooking wienies.

There’s all kinds of commentary about this phenomenon on the Internet. Quite a lot of people are offended by “feminism” and the idea that women might like to make their own decisions. And the idea that she might curse who use indecent finger gestures is abhorrent to these folks. Tragically, some women agree with the men who have a problem with mouthy women… and they end up married to guys like Josh Duggar, pregnant and facing many years alone. Today’s women really need to learn how to say “fuck you”. They need to learn to be strong for themselves and their own survival. In fact, I think that’s truer now than it’s ever been.

Nah… I think this is a lie we don’t believe anymore.
Okay, Boomer.

I know my dad preferred the women in his life to be more ladylike. I probably wouldn’t have turned out that way, even if I weren’t rebelling against his authoritarian parenting style. I’m just not a prissy type. I don’t think growing up fundie would have caused me to be that way, either. It would have been an uphill battle. I think the men in the independent Baptist circles would be revolted by me. But that’s not a bad thing. Who wants to wind up married to some dickhead in the Baptist church who acts like a reprobate? I look at Anna Duggar. She ain’t married to a prize. Below is a post that came from the Duggar Family News snark group. The top part was on Reddit… the bottom part appears to be satire.

If being “dainty” and ladylike scores me this lifestyle, you can count me out.

I, on the other hand, am not very ladylike, but I have a husband who adores me for who I am… he cooks for me, takes me on dates, and cherishes me. He listens to what I say… he listens to me sing and doesn’t mind my laugh… and he doesn’t try to break my spirit by criticizing me for being who I am. Some men like “vulgar women”. I’ve found that the BEST men appreciate women who are a little earthy and weird. I think a man who tries to squash a woman’s true self is one I’d like to avoid. I don’t think Eric would like me at all… but that’s okay. I don’t like him, either. And he really should go fuck himself. It would be more likely to be sex with someone he loves.

Sing it, Lyle.

At my age, I figure I’m never going to change into a lady with a clean vocabulary. If I did, it wouldn’t be me. I pride myself on being authentic, even if it offends some people. As Bill’s ex says, “I can’t help how they feel.” I do try not to be offensive. Sometimes, I fail. But I think if the worst thing someone can say about me is that I’m outspoken and vulgar, I’m doing okay. At least I don’t plot violent crimes against Bill when he sleeps, right? Ex did… despite her cleaner language and “churchy” visage. No thanks. It’s not for me. I’ll keep cussing and drinking wine until it doesn’t work for me anymore. As Sinead O’Connor says, “How About I Be Me, (and You Be You)”. Good advice. Words to live by. Sinead is wiser than people know.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, racism, rants

Why I unfollowed “God”…

I don’t remember when I discovered the God page on Facebook. I remember liking it when we lived in Texas, which was about seven years ago. I probably liked it in North Carolina, too… which was about ten years ago. It used to be a genuinely hilarious source of laughs on a daily basis. But now, it seems to be full of self-righteous virtue signalers who want to live in an echo chamber. And since this past year has been unlike any other in my lifetime, I find that I have less time for people who try my patience. It’s not so much God that tries my patience. It’s his “followers”, many of whom are, frankly, very obnoxious, narrow-minded, and hypocritical.

I may decide to follow God again at some point, but I’ve found that many times, once I get sour on something, I don’t want to return to it. I used to follow George Takei’s page, but I had to quit following him a couple of years ago… again because of the other people who follow him. Same with Janis Ian, although I did recently re-follow her. And Wil Wheaton… had to stop following him, too. I just can’t hack it.

So what brought on the unfollowing? It was a post God had shared about a woman who went maskless into a grocery store in New York. The woman– who is now dubbed “Bagel Betsy” (again with the hijacking of people’s names and turning them into insults)– was asked to put on a face mask. She adamantly refused. Security asked her to leave the store, and she dropped the n-bomb at the cashier. Later, when people gave her hell on social media, the woman posted a picture of a report from 23andme, claiming to be biracial, and wrote that all of her children have a Black father. She also defended her right to call the cashier a “bitchass n-bomb” because she claims that she, herself, has Black ancestry.

Screenshot of the justification for dropping the n-bomb.

As you might have guessed, the post was quite inflammatory and there were over a thousand outraged comments. A few brave and intrepid souls tried to inject some reason into the flood of hatred. One woman bravely posted that words only have the power that we give them. She got a huge ration of shit for that. Another asked why it’s only okay for certain people use certain words. Again… tons of insults lobbed at her for asking a serious and honest question. Below is just one example of the exchanges on that thread.

Here’s a comment from Pam:

She does have a point. I’ve often heard black people say that word. If it’s ok for them to say it, but not white people, isn’t that racist too?

Oh boy… that opened the flood gates of hypocrisy. One guy, name of John, wrote this:

my friends and I call each other all sorts of names but god help anyone else who tries it on with us! You have missed the point by a stratospheric amount.

So Pam asked:

“Again, its an honest question. I’ve never understood why its bad”

And John responded:

“really, please tell me you are being sarcastic. As a Scot I don’t mind being called a “Jock” by other Scots. But don’t you dare call me a Jock if you aren’t Scottish. It is about the use of the language. Using the N word if you aren’t black is normally a way of suggesting that people of colour are inferior to whites.”

At this point, I have to ask… how would we even know where exactly someone is from? How would we even know what their racial makeup is? At what point is someone “Black enough” or “Scottish enough” or whatever, for someone to use a widely accepted insult and not face repercussions? I have mentioned before that when in was in college, I studied African-American literature and Women’s literature. Both classes included slave narratives that we read and discussed. I distinctly remember learning about concepts such as the tragic mulatto and the one-drop rule in both of those courses. The one-drop rule held that anyone who had even just a drop of “Negro” (in historical terms) blood was considered Black.

By that definition, my husband Bill, who looks very much like someone who is European to the core, would be considered Black. He has ancestors from Nigeria and Ghana. Of course, no one would know that to look at him. He would never dream of dropping the n-bomb in an insulting way. But 120 years ago, he technically could have been classified as a Black person, based on the one-drop rule– which, thank Heavens, was never codified into a federal law, but was codified as a state law in some states. Direct from Wikipedia:

The one-drop rule is a social and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States in the 20th century. It asserted that any person with even one ancestor of black ancestry (“one drop” of black blood)[1][2] is considered black (Negro or colored in historical terms). 

This concept became codified into the law of some states in the early 20th century. It was associated with the principle of “invisible blackness” that developed after the long history of racial interaction in the South, which had included the hardening of slavery as a racial caste and later segregation. It is an example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status, regardless of proportion of ancestry in different groups.[3]

The one-drop rule is defunct in law in the United States and was never codified into federal law.

In no way do I think that the racist outburst by the maskless woman at the grocery store was a good thing. It was absolutely disgusting behavior, and I do not condone it under any circumstances. But I also think the barrage of negativity that comes toward anyone who questions the logic of people losing their shit over racist epithets, but thinking nothing of insulting total strangers with hateful and dehumanizing words like “bitch”, “cunt”, “white trash”, “slut”, and “asshole” simply because they have a different perspective, is mind bogglingly non-sensical and hypocritical.

I’ve just gotten to the point at which reading that stuff makes my head (and heart) hurt, even if I also fully admit to being hypocritical. I like using a couple of those words myself. πŸ˜‰ I just think that if equality is what we all seek, we have to realize that using degrading language toward any person, regardless of their racial makeup, is offensive and wrong. I’m working on myself, too, and reading that stuff makes it harder to break the habit, even if it does sometimes provide blog topics.

A small sampling of the verbal carnage…

Is it really a good thing to wish for people to be unemployed? Especially when they have children? It seems to me that we’d be better served to wish for “Bagel Betsy” to grow up and be civilized. We should want her to raise her own kids, rather than have them taken by government authorities and put in foster care. We should hope that she becomes a better person tomorrow, rather than trying to destroy her livelihood and break up her family. Many people in that thread were commenting that “Bagel Betsy” should lose her kids over this outburst. Have they even thought what that might mean for the children? Foster care is a crap shoot. It’s a blessing for some children; for others, it means going from one bad situation straight into another.

I don’t approve of what “Bagel Betsy” did, but I don’t wish her dead, injured, ill, unemployed, or for her to lose her family. It’s my experience that people who behave the way she did have reasons for behaving that way. Making things even worse for her, and for her family by association, will not teach her a lesson. It will probably just make her even more hateful, inconsiderate, and mean. Moreover, this is just a tiny sliver of her life. I’ll bet there are people in her life who love her. If there aren’t, perhaps that’s why she’s dropping n-bombs in public.

I find the single-mindedness of people’s negative comments disturbing. I’ve written about this before, but it really is creepy when a horde of people insist that we must all subscribe to a certain viewpoint, or we’re worthless and must be destroyed with insults. And, as much as I can’t stand the Trump mindset, I also dislike the super left-wing politically correct crowd who can’t see their own hypocrisy and hubris. Here’s another comment that indicates that you don’t have the right to use certain insulting words unless you’re in that group yourself…

There are words acceptable among your friends, your in-group, that you are a part of that are NOT acceptable in the general public or if you are not part of the group –this is true of some terms used for women, disabled persons, LGBTQ etc. Again you need to BELONG to the group to have the right to choose what you call yourself and your community.

Who gets to decide what “group” a person is in, that makes it okay to use denigrating language toward that group? Can a person decide for themselves, or does it take another person or more to make that decision? I don’t understand this rationale, and it’s exhausting to try to understand it. If you ask the question among these folks, they resort to insults and shaming. They never answer the question in a mindful, serious way.

Another example of why I unfollowed God was this below post, which appeared this morning as I was unsuccessfully trying to find a lone wise comment in that huge thread about “Bagel Betsy”.

Many people think this is behavior that ought to be encouraged…

The few brave folks who wrote that this is not a good idea were promptly drowned out by the self-righteous. Many people who have declared themselves fully onboard with the anti-covidiot crowd feel perfectly free to harass, judge, and insult those who have a different view. And even if you declare that you agree with wearing face masks, but disagree with the above obnoxious behavior, you will be aggressively called out by God followers who can’t have a civilized discussion.

The last comment is mine.

The lady who posted the above comment got so much hate from the peanut gallery for simply suggesting that people pick their battles. Frankly, I think paying your kids to call people out over a lack of a face mask rather than doing it yourself (if you feel so inclined) is the height of cowardice. Having your kids do your dirty work is potentially dangerous and very stupid. At what point is it no longer going to be okay for them to call people out? When will people stop thinking it’s “cute” that a kid took an adult to task over absent or improper mask wearing?

There’s a good reason why the adults don’t want to call people out themselves. It’s because you never know who’s carrying a weapon and having a bad day. The adults figure people won’t harm a child, so it’s somehow “safer” for them to “innocently” chastise an adult for not following the rules. But children get harmed by the unhinged all the time. And, as easy as it is for you to whip out a camera and put someone’s bad behavior online, it can be just as easy for someone who is angry and unsettled to whip out something and do the same to a child, who is being encouraged by an adult to be obnoxious to strangers. If you’re lucky they’ll whip out a camera, rather than a firearm. Personally, I wouldn’t want to put my hypothetical child in that position, and I hate to see it being encouraged by “God”. Seriously speaking, I think it’s a very bad idea, even if it’s being suggested in jest.

Really, though, the main reason why I’m no longer following God is that the page just isn’t funny anymore. It used to be about jokes. Now, it’s mostly inflammatory articles about people behaving badly in public, and insufferable strangers reacting to the bad behavior in extremely hypocritical and self-righteous ways. Instead of promoting better behavior and civility, these folks are not a lot better themselves. Their comments often indicate that they’re just as immature and offensive as the perpetrators are, only they’re on the “right” or “left” side of public or political opinion. It’s exhausting and annoying to read that shit, and everyone knows I can’t resist the comments. So I have decided to bow out. Maybe, now that a year has passed since we lost Jonny the would be rescue hound to negligence, it’s time to follow the dog rescue pages again. That might help me keep my blood pressure down.

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family, memories, musings

The Heavenly Thanksgiving Party…

Thanksgiving has historically been my favorite holiday. For years, I loved it because it meant going to my Granny’s house, hanging around my mostly fun extended family, seeing the mountains of Virginia, and eating good food. Then afterwards, we’d have a party. There are a lot of musicians in my family, so on Friday after Thanksgiving, there was typically dancing and live music. I remember a few post Thanksgiving Friday night “hops” over the years that were real “barn burners”. Almost every year, for as long as I can remember, there’s been a big Thanksgiving family reunion party at Granny’s. It was something we could all count on, except for a couple of exceedingly rare years when it didn’t happen. 2020 is one of those years.

I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2014. I went there to sing at my dad’s memorial service, which was held over Thanksgiving so more people could come to his memorial. He actually died in July 2014. Since then, a lot more people have passed away, but living in Germany has kept me away from home for their funerals. Some deaths have hurt more than others.

I’m not a very religious person, but I do like to think that Heaven is a real place. I imagine my cousin Karen, who died on Saturday, arriving in Heaven, being greeted by long lost loved ones like her parents and our grandmother. I think of my Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Bob waiting by the Pearly Gates, ready to embrace her and lead her to see Granny, who passed away in 2007.

I love Rhonda Vincent’s music… even when she sings about Jesus. I picture the Homecoming kind of like this.

I like to think of the arrival of a new soul in Heaven as a big party, like the ones we had years ago at Granny’s house, when everyone was still young enough and healthy, and wanted to stay up visiting. My mom would have a couple of drinks and get on the organ and play with my Uncle Brownlee’s band. Or my Uncle Steve would play trombone. There was a lot of dancing and singing and drinking too much… Maybe that’s what homecoming was like for Karen and my other relatives. Maybe they’re all sitting around a big table, as if they’re waiting for more people to join the party up in Heaven.

Actual footage from one of our Thanksgiving parties… That’s my niece dancing with one of my cousins. I’m pretty sure the music was live, too. It usually is.

I picture my Aunt Nance serving turtle cheesecake that has no calories. I picture my Uncle Kenneth sitting at the table telling stories with my Uncle Carl and his wife, Aunt Betty. I think of my Aunt Susan, who died in 1962, healthy and making up for lost time with her brothers and sisters who have finally passed the bar. I think of my Uncle Brownlee playing organ while my dad nods along approvingly. I think of Granny and Pappy looking on adoringly. No one is drunk or angry or being obnoxious. Everyone is having a great time, just like we did at so many Thanksgiving parties over the years… and they’re all waiting for the rest of us to arrive.

Thanksgiving 2014. A number of the people in this picture are no longer with us. They’re at the Heavenly Thanksgiving Party.

Then I start thinking about all of the people I’ve found as I’ve searched our genealogy. I wonder if they’re at the party, too. Will I somehow know my ancestors in Heaven? What about people I’m related to by marriage? What about Bill’s dad, who died just nine days ago? Somehow, I think if Heaven exists, he’ll be there. Because anything is possible in Heaven, right? And there will be no worries about not enough bathrooms, cleaning up the mess the next day, lack of parking spots, or paying for anything. There will be room at the table for everyone; everyone will be heard and appreciated; and there will be no talk about politics or controversy. And no one will be sneakily taking any unflattering photos, either. πŸ˜‰

Me and my sisters in 2014… this picture was taken by my cousin, Karen, who just passed away a few days ago.

My Uncle Brownlee was probably my favorite relative. We had a lot in common. His birthday was the day after mine and we shared a love for music and off color humor. He died in 2019. I couldn’t be at his funeral due to the logistics. Now that we have COVID-19, it’s even harder to go home. And even if we were in the United States, people would probably shame us if we tried to have a gathering this year. In fact, attending Thanksgiving with a bunch of relatives on Earth might hasten our own arrivals at the Heavenly Thanksgiving Party.

I don’t think about God as much as a lot of my relatives do. Some of my people are super Christian types. They don’t curse and they go to church a lot. They figure cursing offends God. Personally, I think if God is as perfect as people claim, S/he (does God have genitals?) is probably above being offended. Being offended is a human thing. I don’t think God is human. Humans aren’t perfect. I’d like to think that God is nothing but wisdom, kindness, and love, but that’s probably too simplistic of a description. The fact is, I can’t imagine God, although I’m not quite at a point at which I don’t believe in God. But even if there is no such thing as God or Heaven, I do think that concept has inspired a lot of people to do incredible things. And that’s mostly a good thing. On the other hand, the concept of God has also inspired some pretty horrible things, too… albeit for very flawed human reasons.

Granny’s house… it’s been the family homestead since the 1930s.

Anyway, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am picturing my long lost relatives, all of whom loved being together on Thanksgiving (I presume, anyway), and enjoying the holiday up in Heaven, eating, drinking, laughing, singing, dancing, and visiting, with no worries about anything. They could have that Heavenly Thanksgiving Party forever, if they wanted to. Because Heaven is a perfect place, where there’s no suffering. Or, if they hated parties on Earth, maybe they’re somewhere they loved to be. Sitting by a quiet, rushing brook in the most beautiful place, with nothing but the company of beloved pets… actually, that sounds more like Heaven to me. Ditto if I’m surrounded by books and music and maybe enjoying the company of my favorite person, Bill.

Maybe this perfection doesn’t exist. Maybe death just means cessation of life. In that case, it means there’s no more pain or problems. That’s not a bad thing for the person who’s gone. It’s bad for the people who miss that person, left here on Earth, stuck in a cumbersome body that eventually fails for everyone. But eventually, everybody gets an invitation to the Heavenly Thanksgiving Party. Or so I’d like to believe. And I find it comforting to think of my relatives and friends enjoying their time at the Heavenly Party, waiting for the rest of us to join them in the fun.

As for our 2020 Thanksgiving celebration, it promises to be as quiet and peaceful as the last five have been. We’re just not going to cook. This year, we’re ordering a Thanksgiving takeout meal from a restaurant. It makes sense– less cleaning up and leftovers, and we do our part to keep the restaurants going until we can get a vaccine against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. I expect our 2020 Thanksgiving will be much like our anniversary was yesterday… kind of boring in some ways, but extraordinary in others. Bill’s daughter wished us a happy anniversary yesterday and even sent us a gift. Up until a few years ago, I never thought she would speak to Bill again, let alone acknowledge our anniversary. So even though our 2020 celebration had no naked dips at Irish Roman baths or palatial accommodations, it was remarkable just the same. We had originally planned to see Keb’ Mo’ in concert in Mainz. Naturally, that concert has now been rescheduled twice, thanks to COVID-19. I expect we’ll still be here when it finally does occur… at this point, in September 2021.

The featured photo is my dad and his mother… looks like maybe it was taken at my sister’s wedding, which was also a pretty epic celebration at Granny’s house. My dad died just seven years after he lost his mother, so they probably had a pretty awesome reunion in 2014.

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