Monday, March 27, 2017

Some Good Old Fashioned Feminist Entertainment

A lot of old movies are sadly misogynistic and out of date. And of course, it’s a cliché to complain about the dis-empowerment of women in Disney movies. But every now and then I watch a classic movie and am struck by the pro-woman messaging in it. The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews is one of these movies. 
First let’s look at the romantic subplot of Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp daughter. She is 16 (going on 17), and in love with the telegram delivery boy, an adorable 17 year old named Rolf. In typical Disney fashion, he declares his affection for her in song and offers her his wisdom and protection. 
“You need someone / older and wiser / telling you what to do. / I am 17 going on 18 / I’ll take care of you.” 
Liesl ecstatically agrees to this arrangement and gives over her self reliance to Rolf. “You are 17 going on 18 / I’ll depend on you.”

But then the love story is inverted, as Rolf chooses politics and career over relationship and betrays the entire Von Trapp family, including Liesl. While this is not normal in movie love, it is sadly all too normal in every day life. 

What I like about my 5 year old daughter seeing this in a movie is that it presents the possibility of relationship failure in a realistic and neutral way. Rolf isn’t a horrible guy. I mean, he IS a literal Nazi, but he’s not an abusive brute who set out to deceive Liesl. He’s a boy who chose career over love. That happens. I like that she can enjoy a movie, see that a romance can be fun and sweet and innocent and yet still end in heartbreak. Again, real life. And an important lesson: sometimes, we choose to depend on people who let us down.

Which brings us to the more overt feminist message of The Sound of Music: Maria. Maria is an empowered woman, who creates her own destiny without any reliance on another person, male or female. First, she chooses the convent, which for hundreds of years was an actual career option for women who didn’t want to get married. Ironically, a woman could be far more empowered and independent as a nun than a wife in Western civilization. When Maria is sent out of the convent to serve as a governess for the Von Trapps, she is apprehensive, and sings I Have Confidence in Me to herself. 
“I have confidence they’ll put me to the test / But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me.” 
She believes that she is capable, she asserts her own opinions without apology, and she faces challenges by choosing confidence and optimism. And what happens? She succeeds. She earns the trust and admiration of the seven children. She earns the respect of their father, not by being tactful or polite or successful, but by standing up to him without apology.

I love that my 5 year old daughter gets to hear an optimistic empowered song like “I Have Confidence in Me” and then see the singer be justified in her self-confidence. I love that she sees a woman assert herself to her male employer without being a “bitch.” I love that she sees a woman staying true to her ideals and also finding ways to overcome obstacles (the children’s pranks, the lack of fabric for play clothes, etc.).

If you’re looking for a great family movie that can start some interesting conversations with your daughters, The Sound of Music is the way to go!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

10 Ways to be Pro-Life That Have Nothing to Do With Abortion

One criticism that is often leveled against the pro-life community (sometimes by me) is that it is really “pro-birth.” That is, they focus their efforts on eliminating abortions, but do nothing to support children or people who are already born.

In the spirit of defying labels and provoking discussion, here are my thoughts about how you can be pro-life and never even talk about abortion.

10. Work to prevent suicide. One way to do this is to offer financial support or volunteer time to a suicide hotline. Learn more about how to do that here.

9. Another way to fight against suicide is to refuse to participate in abusive language: choose to be politically correct. When we use words like “gay,” “retard,” “pussy,” “welfare queen,” “oreo,” “coconut,” etc as slurs, we participate in abusive culture. Members of the groups above (LGBTQ, mentally challenged, poor, people who don’t fit stereotypes) are emotionally hurt by these abusive words, which can contribute to depression and suicide attempts. There are many wonderful disparaging words in the English language that do not insult people. Here’s a handy list of my favorites: asinine, ridiculous, inane, reckless, illogical, absurd, hateful, insipid, worthless, banal, ludicrous, nonsensical, or outrageous. There’s a real pushback against “political correctness” these days, but really, there is power in our words. Think about the words you use: make them accurate and not abusive.

8. Another way to prevent suicide may be to support same sex marriage: this article in JAMA Pediatrics shows that same sex marriage policies are associated with a 7% reduction in high school suicide attempts.

7. Fight against slavery. Outright slavery exists in many countries in the world, but even in the USA, covert slavery still exists. Some great books to start with are Disposable People by Kevin Bales, Nobodies by John Bowe, and Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen. These books will open your eyes to the complex issue of modern slavery and give you ways to fight against it.

6. Another way to fight against slavery, both covert and overt, is to shop for fair trade products. Buying locally made products is one good way to do this. Another way is to research the clothing you buy and buy clothing made in accordance with OSHA labor laws. This will cost you more money.

5. Support programs that feed and clothe people. The Meals on Wheels program has gotten a lot of attention lately, but there are many other charities: food banks, Note in the Pocket, homeless shelters and ministries, Backpack Buddies, etc. You can choose to advocate for this through government intervention (local, state, or federal) or through individual intervention (donating your time and money).

4. Vaccinate your children and support vaccination programs. Vaccination eliminates diseases. There is zero credible evidence that vaccination causes harm.

3. Shop locally. Big corporations are not evil, but their primary goal is to earn profit for their shareholders. Paying high salaries, providing benefits, investing in local economies: none of these things increase shareholder profits. Small corporations exist to earn profit for their owners. They will naturally want to provide benefits to keep good employees and invest in their local economies. So buying local products improves quality of life in your community.

2. Reduce pollution. How can you reduce pollution? Buy an electric or electric hybrid car to reduce the amount of exhaust in the air. Reduce your use of electricity. Invest in renewable energy sources. Support government policies that reduce energy pollution and encourage renewable energy measures. This will require government involvement in the USA because public energy companies are regulated by the government (basic economics). Notice that I have not said anything about global warming. Regardless of where you stand on that issue, it is clear that pollution destroys life. Burning coal and oil contribute to pollution, while wind and solar do not.

1. Look for ways to build relationships in real life. Invite your neighbors over for beverages once a month. Join a religious organization. Host a party that DOESN’T involve selling a product. One of the most effective ways to combat the various ills of society is by spending time with other people face to face, rather than on social media. The more time I spend with people, and the wider variety of people I get to know, the more I fall in love with people.

And is there anything more pro-life than loving all people, regardless of whether they agree with my communities, opinions, or worldviews?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Stitch Fix!

Oh joyous day, my Stitch Fix arrived! I love me some Stitch Fix, and I was especially excited about this Fix because I didn't give ANY notes to my stylist. Of course, she had access to my Pinterest board, and she's never disappointed me before, and the trend continues with this Fix.

My five pieces this month were 2 tops, 1 blazer, 1 pair of jeans, and 1 skirt. The colors were perfect for spring. Don't they just make you drool?
First off, the skirt. That lovely polka dot pattern is the skirt, a fun swirly Hanneli Print Swing Skirt for $54. I just loved it. Sadly, it was too darn small. I could barely zip it up, and the waist cut pretty deep into my 42 years worth of padding. I didn't get a picture. I mean, no one except my husband actually wants to see my tummy bulging out. Wait. I'm not sure that came out right...
Here's a picture of a very similar skirt. Mine had smaller dots.
So I was bummed, because this is a very cute skirt and I think it could be very flattering on me, in the right size. But it's already back in the return bag, which means I also need to say goodbye to my 25% Buy 5 discount.
But there are many things to rejoice over!
First, this graphic print top. I love the colors and the pattern, the shirt tail, and the neckline. Even though it's not an exact color match, I think it looks great with my kelly green cardigan. And I think it pairs really well with the peach pants I got in my 2016 April Fix. Clearly, my stylist has access to all the items I've bought in the past and is stealthily matching new items to existing ones. Good for her!
This is the Renee C Jensine Split Neck Blouse for $48. I also enjoyed pairing it with the OVI Pennie Collarless Blazer, as seen in the next photo.
I have a lot of blazers, but none in navy blue. This one has slight stretch to it, and cute little zipper details (although sadly, no pockets). The collarless style gives me flexibility with what shirts to pair with it and freedom to wear big scarves or necklaces. And it only costs $68!

The last top is a "jewel tone purple" top (I would call it closer to magenta) by 41Hawthorne. It's the Matthias Button Detail Blouse and I really like it. These kinds of floaty tops can be too loose on me, but this one seems to say "earth mother" rather than "pregnant." I love the little gold tone button detail and the fullness in the back.

Final item is Kut From the Kloth Maribel Straight Leg Jean, for $88. They fit well although I was unsure about the tapered ankle. I think it looks OK with sandals, and I know it would be nice for boots and booties. Ultimately, however, I don't normally pay $88 for a pair of jeans. If I were keeping all five items, the discount would make the jeans essentially free. But since I already know I'm returning the skirt, the jeans are probably going to go back as well.
So right now I'm definitely keeping the Renee C blouse ($48) and the OVI blazer ($68). I'm on the fence about the cute 41Hawthorne blouse. If I keep it, my total spending is a lot closer to $200 than $100! I'll have to contemplate it with the rest of my closet items for a little bit before I make a final decision.

Interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself? Here's how it works.
You sign up and create a style profile, including your color preferences, sizes, and price range. If you have a Pinterest board, you can link it as well. I highly recommend doing that - I know my stylist follows my board closely! You schedule a Fix, either monthly or every other month. You'll get an email before any Fix is sent, so you can cancel a month if you want without any penalty. When your Fix is scheduled, you are charged a $20 styling fee that is non refundable. Then you get your 5 items. You have 3 days to try them on and make a decision. If you keep all 5, you get a 25% discount! Your $20 is also credited to whatever you purchase. Once you've made up your mind, you send back whatever you don't want in the envelope they include. Use my Referral Link to try it out now!